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

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Bernie Sander's rallies draw large, enthusiastic crowds of naive young people and aging Leftists. He talks about lots of "free" government programs for young people, and rails against "millionaires and billionaires" in language that is very, very close to the words of socialist/communist demagogues of the past. He tells them that the economy is "rigged" and that big government is the solution. Bernie wants a socialist America, one that follows the failed model of other socialist utopias, now long gone or struggling to survive.

With that in mind, let's take our bi-annual look at Venezuela — a country that bought into the socialist promises of Hugo Chavez and his predecessor, Nicolas Maduro. The Washingon Post reports:
The only question now is whether Venezuela's government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is "completely." Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela's ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it's hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever. Incumbents, after all, don't tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It's no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

That's not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it. How? Well, a combination of bad luck and worse policies. The first step was when Hugo Chávez's socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there's nothing wrong with that — in fact, it's a good idea in general — but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend. And by 2005 or so, Venezuela didn't.

Why not? The answer is that Chávez turned the state-owned oil company from being professionally run to being barely run. People who knew what they were doing were replaced with people who were loyal to the regime, and profits came out but new investment didn't go in. That last part was particularly bad, because Venezuela's extra-heavy crude needs to be blended or refined — neither of which is cheap — before it can be sold. So Venezuela just hasn't been able to churn out as much oil as it used to without upgraded or even maintained infrastructure. Specifically, oil production fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2013.
With smiling faces, enthusiastic cheers and righteous moral preening, Bernie Sander's followers cheer a septuagenarian crypto-communist as he offers to lead America on Venezuela's path. They, like the citizens of Venezuela did, cheer Sander's class warfare rhetoric. They, like the citizens of Venezuela did, idolize their "Chavez"—a champion of the people, after all. They, like the citizens of Venezuela, are either too stupid, too naive, or too ideological to learn the lessons of Venezuela—to understand that unemployment, food and drug shortages, (even worse) government corruption, and bad times accompany the socialist model as surely as empty election promises and crowds fade into memory. They're too uninformed to recognize that "free" stuff isn't free, that redistributionist policies will not lead to "income equality," that big intrusive government will hurt, not help, those in need.

Bernie sometimes talks about Denmark—you know the country which has an effective tax rate that comes close to 80%, ranks 192nd out of 213 countries in economic growth, and has per capital indebtedness that is among the highest in the West. Odd that he never mentions Venezuela.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Smash Mouth Defense

In the coming months, based on facts already publicly known, it's highly likely that the FBI will produce sufficient evidence to justify a criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton. This will be passed on the the Obama's Justice Department. After lengthy evaluation, probably taking us past the presidential election, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, an Obama appointee, will conclude that no indictment is warranted ... OR ... the enmity that characterizes the relationship between Clinton and Obama will bubble to the surface, and the DoJ will decide to indict before the election. In either case, all hell will break out. Get out the popcorn!

As the investigation continues, Hillary and her minions will apply a proven strategy that the Clintons have used when they have been cornered. The Wall Street Journal describes their approach:
...the familiar Clinton method is to depict anyone looking into their dealings as partisan maniacs. In the 1990s they converted the respected center-right jurist Kenneth Starr into Torquemada, and the first lady herself smeared the special counsel. “We get a politically motivated prosecutor who is allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband,” she claimed on the “Today” show in 1998, adding that Mr. Starr was “using the criminal justice system to try to achieve political ends in this country” and “very frankly, to undo the results of two elections.”

The airstrike on Mr. Seide [counselor and acting senior adviser to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick] is also notable because the Clinton campaign claims the conspiracy includes the intelligence community’s Inspector General Charles McCullough, who confirmed that her emails contained hundreds with classified material. Yet Mrs. Clinton dismissed the controversy in an interview with NPR last week as little more than “a continuation of an interagency dispute that has been going on now for some months” about what information ought to be secret. Now Foggy Bottom is apparently out to get her too.

The Democratic frontrunner apologized in September for her email infidelities, but at CNN’s town hall this week she seemed to retract it: “I’m not willing to say it was an error in judgment because what—nothing that I did was wrong. It was not in any way prohibited.”

This legalistic evasion and the return of smash-mouth defense likely means the Clintons are more anxious about the email investigation than they care to admit. It also may be intended as a warning to FBI Director James Comey that he too will get the Ken Starr treatment if the bureau recommends a criminal prosecution for her willful disregard of government procedures in handling America’s national security secrets.
The reason that the Clinton camp is "anxious," I suspect, is because the FBI investigation may be looking at more than just the criminal disregard for treatment of top-secret information. In going through recovered emails that Clinton purposely erased, the FBI may have found evidence of quid pro quo dealings with foreign powers and/or international corporations while she was Secretary of State. I would guess that he cost for such favors was large 'donations' (well hidden with cutout entities) to the Clinton Global Initiative. If such evidence is leaked, Hillary will have to burn Washington down to escape the consequences.


I had dinner last night with a long time friend—a life-long democrat and supporter of Hillary Clinton. Knowing that I lean to the right politically, she smiled and asked who I supported, and what I thought of Hillary. I told her (in a nice way) that I firmly believed that Hillary was both dishonest and corrupt—a bad combination of traits for a president.

"Because of the emails?" she asked. "Because that was just a misunderstanding. Besides, no one really cares. It's just partisan politics, that's all."

This seems to be the prevailed meme among Hillary supporters—a "misunderstanding," nothing purposeful, no one cares, and besides, it just the GOP going after her.

John Schindler comments on all of this:
Why Ms. Clinton and her staff refused to use State Department email for official business is an open and important question. Suspicion inevitably falls on widespread allegations of pay-for-play, a corrupt scheme whereby foreign entities gave cash to the Clinton Global Initiative in exchange for Ms. Clinton’s favors at Foggy Bottom. The FBI is investigating this matter in connection with EmailGate.

Regardless of whether Ms. Clinton was engaged in political corruption, she unquestionably cast aside security as Secretary of State. She can’t quite keep her story straight on why that was, and she is at pains to deny that there is any real issue here at all, suggesting that it’s just another right-wing propaganda ploy. Ms. Clinton is veering hazardously close to her infamous “What difference at this point does it make?” claim, which she touted about the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Yet, as any seasoned intelligence professional will tell you, it matters a great deal—just not in ways visible to the American public. The communications of America’s top diplomat are closely monitored by dozens of foreign spy services, and anything sent out unencrypted, as Ms. Clinton’s email was, should be assumed to be read by numerous countries, including some who are not our friends ...
Government officials and military officers have been indicted and many have gone to jail for far lessor violations of national security. One has to wonder whether Clinton will be held to the same standard.

Friday, January 29, 2016


It's interesting to observe Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail. He is a hero to those on the left and is enormously popular among young people. Those on the Left have already internalized his tales of a socialist utopia in which the federal government is the center of everyone's universe, private enterprise is controlled and regulated from Washington, and income inequality is eradicated not through the creation of new businesses or better opportunities, but via income redistribution all paid for through taxes on the rapacious "rich." Young people love his promises of "free" college, "free" healthcare, and debt forgiveness. Because they are too young and too incurious to understand the broad failure of the socialist model in country after country, they are easy marks for promises that never seem to come true in the real world.

In an editorial entitled, "Bernie Sanders’s fiction-filled campaign," the left-leaning Washington Post writes:
Mr. Sanders is not a brave truth-teller. He is a politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it.

Mr. Sanders’s tale starts with the bad guys: Wall Street and corporate money. The existence of large banks and lax campaign finance laws explains why working Americans are not thriving, he says, and why the progressive agenda has not advanced. Here is a reality check: Wall Street has already undergone a round of reform, significantly reducing the risks big banks pose to the financial system. The evolution and structure of the world economy, not mere corporate deck-stacking, explained many of the big economic challenges the country still faces.
Once the "bad guys" have been identified and defeated, Sander turns to healthcare. The WP editors write:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from.
Massive savings, I suppose, just like the savings that Barack Obama promised with Obamacare. Of course, those saving never materialized, and the ACA is a disaster at every level.

The universal healthcare program that Bernie promises will become a financial black hole costing taxpayers trillions of dollars over the next decade. Even worse, if other country's experiences are any indication, the quality of healthcare in the United States will be degraded and we'll have what Bernie might call "medical inequality"—poor services and availability for the masses and private doctors for people of means—including virtually all of the elites who would be champions of the abstract idea of universal healthcare.

But you don't have to believe me. In a startlingly honest assessment of Sander's universal health care proposal, left-leaning writes:
Bernie Sanders's health care plan is underfunded by almost $1.1 trillion a year, a new analysis by Emory University health care expert Kenneth Thorpe finds.

Thorpe isn't some right-wing critic skeptical of all single-payer proposals. Indeed, in 2006 he laid out a single-payer proposal for Vermont after being hired by the legislature, and was retained by progressive Vermont lawmakers again in 2014 as the state seriously considered single-payer, authoring a memo laying out alternative ways to expand coverage. A 2005 report he wrote estimated that a single-payer system would save $1.1 trillion in health spending from 2006 to 2015.

But he nonetheless concludes that single-payer at a national level would be significantly more expensive than the Sanders campaign believes, and would require workers to pay an additional 20 percent of their compensation in taxes. He also argues it would leave 71 percent of households with private insurance worse off once you take both tax increases and reduced health care expenditures into account.
The WP editors show still more skepticism when they write:
He [Sanders] would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.
Yet as Hillary slips, Bernie ascends.

The WP editors have it right when they state: "Mr. Sanders’s success so far does not show that the country is ready for a political revolution. It merely proves that many progressives like being told everything they want to hear."


Peggy Noonan comments:
Mr. Sanders makes it sound so easy. We’re rich, he says; we can do this with a few taxes. It is soft Marxism. And it’s not socialism now, it’s “democratic socialism” like they have in Europe. You’ve been to Europe. Aside from its refugee crisis and some EU problems, it’s a great place—a big welfare state that’s wealthy! The French take three-hour lunches.

Socialism is an old idea to you if you’re over 50 but a nice new idea if you’re 25.

Do you know what’s old if you’re 25? The free-market capitalist system that drove us into a ditch.

Polls show the generation gap. Mr. Sanders does poorly among the old. They remember socialism. He does well among the young, who’ve just discovered it and have little to no knowledge of its effects. A nationwide Marist poll in November showed Mr. Sanders already leading Mrs. Clinton, 58% to 35%, among voters under 30. She led him among all other age groups, and 69% to 21% among those 60 and older. By this month a CBS/New York Times poll had Mr. Sanders up 60% to 31% among voters under 45.

Bernie Sanders is an indicator of the Democratic future. He is telling you where that party’s going. In time some Democrats will leave over it, and look for other homes.
Socialism may very well be the future of the Democratic party. If the party dominates American politics in the years ahead, the United States will continue a period of decline that has already been initiated by the current Democratic administration. The young, who naively support the "fiction-filled" socialist promises of a Bernie Sanders, will get the future they deserve. And it won't be the utopian fantasyland of higher earnings, income equality, and social justice that Bernie promises.


It occurred to me as I was writing this piece that the amazing and uncharacteristic anti-Bernie commentary quoted in my post might be inspired/suggested by the Clinton campaign. Afterall, both the WP and Vox are left-leaning and this level of criticism for any Democrat, much less a socialist,  is uncharacteristic.

Frederik deBoer, a liberal commentator, writes:
Recent weeks have seen a large, simultaneous anti-Bernie Sanders effort by Democratic media. This movement is an attempt to ensure that a specific establishment, corporate candidate receive her scheduled coronation.
He goes on to suggest that "Democratic media" (an interesting choice of terms, isn't it?) should spend all of its time attacking conservatives. He fails to note that they do spend 99.9 percent of their time doing just that.

But I digress. I do think deBoer might be right in his analysis of the WP and Vox hit pieces on Bernie. The cruel truth, however, is that both WP and Vox are accurate in their criticisms of Bernie and therefore are doing a service to their progressive readership.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Noose

It's often difficult to make sense out of actions and events that at first look, appear to defy common sense. Over the past year, the West's actions with respect to Iran, lead by Barack Obama, defy common sense. The "deal" that Obama cut with Iran is a prime example. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, imprisons dissidents, kidnaps innocent journalists and other unfortunate visitors, murders gay people, is a regional hegemon, subjugates women, is wholly intolerant of other religions, and advocates the annihilation of Israel. It is a country that shouts "Death to America" regularly, and as if to show contempt after agreeing to Obama's deal, fired missiles across the bow of a US aircraft carrier and a week later, humiliated our sailors under mysterious circumstances off the Iranian coast.

But the leaders of the West look the other way, hoping against hope that making nicey-nice and returning billions to will change Iran's world view.

Richard Fernandez writes:
Tolerance of tyranny has been normalized, even in Western democracies. It is disturbing that president Obama is politically embracing Hillary Clinton just as she expressed delight at the prospect of appointing him to the Supreme Court. But they would understand such quid pro quo in Obama's home town, where according to Chicago Magazine, it has long been custom to buy off gangs in exchange for political support.
Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance ... In some parts of Chicago, violent street gangs and pols quietly trade money and favors for mutual gain. The thugs flourish, the elected officials thrive—and you lose. ...

During the meetings, the politicians were allotted a few minutes to make their pitches. The former gang chiefs then peppered them with questions: What would they do about jobs? School safety? Police harassment? Help for ex-cons? But in the end, as with most things political in Chicago, it all came down to one question, says Davis, the community activist who helped Baskin with some of the meetings. He recalls that the gang representatives asked, “What can you give me?” The politicians, most eager to please, replied, “What do you want?”
It is not therefore surprising that the [Obama] administration's Smart Diplomacy so closely resembles Chicago's gang policy. He's trying to buy the bad guys off -- and they don't come cheap. The trouble is, that like the Chicago gang policy, it only fertilizes the growth of gangs. Following Obama's grant of $150 billion to Iran, the Ayatollahs embarked upon a massive purge of moderates, banning thousands from politics. According to Reporters Without Borders Iran is now one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists. The administration's rapproachment toward the Castro regime has been similarly one sided. It has cozied up to the Castros while distancing itself from the dissidents. Just like in those gang meetings.
As a product of Chicago politics, Obama and his Team of 2s seem to be asking the ayatollahs, "What do you want?"

The problem here is that Obama's newly minted sycophant, Hillary Clinton, understands the inner working of quid pro quo even better than Obama. It's almost certain that while she was Secretary of State, Clinton was asked (probably in coded language) "What do you want?" in exchange for influence, favors, and regulations that might help the questioner. The question came from nation states, international corporations, and possibly, wealthy individuals who understand quid pro quo all too well. The resultant transfer of money flowed to the Clinton Foundation in the form of "contributions."

The West's gentle treatment of Iran stinks of quid pro quo. It assumes that payoffs and gentle language in the face of outrageous anti-Western actions will lead to better behavior on the part of a country that has no real incentive to better its behavior. After all, why should it? Iran acts as it wants, and Western leaders fawn.

Fernandez goes on the observe:
Ironically the result of normalizing corruption will not be greater stability, but less of it. Regimes that are built on crony economics, upon the dominance of special classes, whether they are called a nomenklatura or simply "the community" simply don't last very long. What stabilized the West after World War 2, what made the Long Peace possible, was the democracy, core Western values and borders that survived until the elites decided to kill it.

By abandoning these and tacitly embracing authoritarianism the modern elites have not bought themselves safety. On the contrary, they've unleashed all the perils from which they were formerly safe; they have mounted a scaffold from which it will now take every ounce of effort to escape. If at the last pinch of the vise a noose is tightened round their necks, they would do well to remember for edification at least, if for nothing else, a paraphrase of Leon Trotsky's. "You may not be interested in tyranny, but tyranny is interested in you."
As the noose tightens, the Democratic candidates for the presidency bemoan the "threat" of income equality, climate change, and Islamophobia.

As you listen to these candidates throughout the year, keep the image of the noose clear in your mind. It will have a way of concentrating your thinking as November approaches.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

13 Hours

I had the opportunity to see the movie, 13 Hours, the other night. It left me with a combination of admiration for the heroics of the military contractors (ex-special ops soldiers) who, outnumbered 10 to 1 by heavily armed Islamic terrorists (absolutely not a spontaneous protest to a video), undoubtedly saved the lives of dozens of Americans in the CIA annex in Benghazi Libya, contempt for the military brass who hesitated in providing military assets (air support, quick reaction teams) that were readily available (the big question, as yet unanswered is why, who gave the order to stand down?), anger at the Obama administration (including Hillary Clinton), who, although they never were mentioned in the film, appear to have orchestrated a "stand down" order, and seething at a media that has refused to fully investigate a story that is far bigger and more important than Watergate.

Ex-CBS reporter, Sharyll Attkisson, one of the only true journalists who has been following this story from the beginning, provides two excellent video segments, here (part 1) and here (part 2).  Both are compelling rebukes to the gaslighting narrative espoused by the Democrats.

For those unfamiliar with the term, gaslighting is a psychological technique used to obfuscate the truth by telling a counter-story that has no basis in fact, but nonetheless, sounds believable. In the context of Benghazi, gaslighting obfuscates the lies, incompetence, and culpability of the Obama administration following the terrorist attack that we all know as Benghazi. Wikipedia defines gaslighting in the following manner:
Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
The abusers in this case are the president and his secretary of state and their respective Teams of 2s, along with their training hamsters in the media. The victims are low information voters and true believers who have been gaslighted for so long they honestly think "what difference does it make."

In many other posts, I've outlined the key issues that swirl around the Benghazi incident, the many lies that have been offered to protect the Obama administration, and the key questions that to this day remain unanswered. See here, here, here, and here.

Early on I described Benghazi thusly: "The entire Benghazi affair stinks to high heaven. It began with a tragedy that morphed into a lie, that transitioned into a full-blown cover-up."

The cover-up continues. Nothing much has changed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bernie's Dream

Bernie Sanders is cheered by Leftists and most young people when he offers up a dream recipe of tax and spend proposals that will allow "the people to take back their government." A desperate Hillary Clinton tries to 'out-Left' Sanders by parroting his "millionaires and billionaires" mantra. When asked about how universal medical care, free college, massive infrastructure projects, and expansion of virtually every entitlement program on the books will be paid for, both revert to their socialist roots and demonize the rich, telling their naive followers that the rich don't pay their "fair share." Hillary chimes in with the canard that "hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than their secretaries" (are there still 'secretaries?"). No matter that the the top 20% of taxpayers pay about 84% of all income taxes collected, it's never, ever enough.

Most progressives are innumerate, either by genetic disposition or by choice. They want to believe that taxing "the rich" has no economic consequences for the "middle class" and that tax rates of 50 - 90 (!) percent can pay for the ever-expanding growth of Big Intrusive Government (B.I.G.). Of course, their fantasy of a socialist utopia funded by the hard work of others collides with reality when numbers are considered. The Wall Street Journal comments:
Perhaps you’ve heard President Obama’s talking point that the federal budget deficit has fallen by two-thirds on his watch. That overlooks that the deficit first soared on his watch, and then fell thanks largely to the GOP House and modest economic recovery, and that as he leaves office he is going to need one more asterisk: The deficit in 2016 has begun to rise again, in dollars and as a share of the economy. And after he leaves office, it takes off.

That was the news Monday in the Congressional Budget Office’s largely ignored annual budget and economic outlook. CBO’s gnomes estimate that the annual federal deficit will increase this year after six years of decline—to $544 billion from $439 billion in 2015. It will also rise as a share of the economy to 2.9% from 2.5%. The nearby table tracks the numbers across the Obama post-recession era.

December’s budget deal explains the $32 billion increase in 2016 in discretionary spending (the kind Congress approves each year). Defense spending will “edge up slightly,” CBO says, while domestic discretionary climbs by 4%. That leaves the big money to the usual suspects—entitlements. Outlays for Medicare (net of premiums), Medicaid, the children’s health insurance program and ObamaCare subsidies will increase no less than 11%, or $104 billion, this year.

Even an estimated federal revenue increase of 4% for the year can’t keep pace with this kind of spending blowout. Receipts will rise to 18.3% of the economy, which is well above the average of 17.4% from 1966 through 2015. So even as revenues return to their historical norm, they can’t compensate for the spending on entitlements that Mr. Obama has refused to reform.

Now for the bad news. CBO estimates that deficits will continue to rise each year after Mr. Obama leaves office. “As a percentage of GDP, the deficit remains at roughly 2.9 percent through 2018, starts to rise, and reaches 4.9 percent by the end of the 10-year projection,” says the budget office. This assumes that the economy grows by 2.7% this year and 2.5% next year before levelling off to an average of 2%, which also assumes there is no recession even though this expansion is already long in the tooth into its seventh year.

As ever, the big spending drivers will be entitlements, which are projected to rise to 15% of the economy from the current 13.1% over 10 years. This is the fiscal time bomb that Mr. Obama will leave his successor, thank you very much.

By the way, all of this is the optimist’s tale. The CBO estimates assume that discretionary spending will fall over the same period to 5.2% of the economy from 6.5%. This will never happen because it means defense spending would have to shrink well below 3% of GDP, a form of gradual unilateral disarmament. So without entitlement reform or faster economic growth, the deficits are likely to be much higher.

The federal debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—has already climbed to 73.6% of GDP (from 39.3% in 2008) on Mr. Obama’s watch and will increase to 75.6% this year. CBO expects it will keep climbing to 86% in 2026.
Here's the problem. The people who support the socialist (Democrat) model of B.I.G. are unwilling to consider the numbers presented by the WSJ. Either (1) their eyes glaze over when they read the above paragraphs, or (2) they live in the class warfare fantasy that only the rich will pay, or (3) they think that the numbers are rigged by "right-wingers." They refuse to acknowledge (the lessons of history) that tax and spend policies suppress economic activity in the private sector, reducing the availability of good jobs for the middle class.

No matter, I suppose. The young people who support Sanders' extremist view of the role of government will do so while living rent-free in their parents' basement and working as a barista after graduating with a college degree in the humanities.


In last night's Democratic Town Hall on CNN, The Washington Post reports:
Sanders was then asked about his plans for universal, government-provided health insurance. He made an admission that most candidates would be loath to make in any national forum: “We will raise taxes. Yes we will.” But, Sanders said, that’s because government would take the place of private insurers — and his system would save money on balance for middle-class Americans.

“We may raise taxes, but we also are going to eliminate private health insurance premiums,” Sanders said. He has found himself on the defensive in the last few days, as Clinton’s campaign has said that Sanders’ plans would be both politically unworkable and alarmingly expensive.
There is a certain delusional nature to Bernie Sanders pronouncements. His blithely recommends B.I.G. solutions to major national challenges, but in the context of healthcare, for example, he willfully disregards the inefficiency and incompetence in the federal government's implementation of Obamacare, the corruption of the VA healthcare scandal, the complete lack of choice and the long, long waits for medical care that are common in countries that have universal health care programs, the fiscal instability of medicare, and the rampant fraud and abuse that cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. After all, in Sander's socialist utopia, "the rich" will pay for it all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I recently learned a new arabic word—taharrush (h/t: The Belmont Club]. It means mass sexual harassment perpetrated by Muslim males against innocent females who dare to walk the public streets. It was foreshadowed by the attack on CBS's Lara Logan in Egypt during the so-called 'arab spring' demonstrations, and until recently, it was perpetrated by Muslim males against Muslim females in middle eastern countries. It was rarely, if ever, reported by Western media.

But taharrush migrated along with the flood of refugees from Syria (75 percent male) and manifested in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve. It was evident in Sweden, Denmark and other bastions of liberal Western governance—always under-reported and never called by that name.

Richard Fernandez provides an insightful analysis:
When the problem [taharrush] was largely confined to Middle Eastern women it is easy to understand why it was ignored. Now that taharrush has come to Europe it is easier still. Events are being covered up because it runs counter to the Narrative peddled by the Western left. The Narrative is the source of their moral authority, the justification for their special graft.

What makes the pathological denial so catastrophic is that a vast, almost unstoppable torrent of refugees is already on the way to Germany, the fragments of collapsing Islamic countries. Cologne is but a skirmish with the vanguard. The main host is still on its way.

In belated mea culpa former senior adviser to president Obama, Dennis Ross, at last took his boss to task in an article titled: "How Obama Created a Mideast Vacuum". It's too late Dennis. What "too late" means was driven home years ago when one of the volunteer members of the Philippine Airlines cadaver recovery team described an accident which took the lives of 5 members of a university mountaineering club. The party was trekking along a dry riverbed on the lower slope of an 8,000 foot volcano in Mindoro. The weather was fine and the mountaineers were doomed. Unknown to them a squall had dumped a slug of rain on the peak high above them. The first warning they had of oncoming tons of water was a rumbling sound round the corner of the gorge. Then the flood came and only those fast enough to clamber up the riverbanks survived.

In the same way the present calm in Europe can be deceiving. Even if its leaders were somehow to reconstitute its borders, a gigantic flood from that vacuum upstream of the old continent is already rushing with irresistible force upon it. The UNHCR says refugee numbers are expected to increase in 2016. Some estimates say as many as 10 million more are on the way. From the beaches of North Africa to the overcrowded camps in Jordan and Lebanon; from every nook and cranny in MENA -- they are on the way. One way or the other a terrible smash is now in train.
The tragedy is that Barack Obama and his Team of 2s (exemplars of modern leftist thinking] helped to create the chaos in the Middle East and the resultant flood of refugees. Now, in order to protect a multicultural narrative in which the refugees can do no wrong and represent no cultural or physical threat, the Left (including all Democratic presidential candidates) steadfastly refuses to examine things like taharrush and acts surprised when it surfaces in Western societies. That's why news of the Cologne sexual attacks was suppressed, and that's why suggested remedies are pathetically weak.

The squall is over for now, but a bigger deluge is coming. The walls of the river bed are high and sheer, and for those of us who refuse to be blinded by willful ignorance, a far-off rumbling sound will do little to protect our society when the next flood begins.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ideological Purity

Regular readers of this blog already understand that I am no fan of Donald Trump. The Donald makes broad, often boastful pronouncements with little solid policy to back up his statements. His claims (e.g., deporting all illegal aliens) are unworkable, would never withstand a court challenge, and would mire the government in political infighting that would make the debacle that was the Obama era seem mild by comparison. He is a supreme egotist and often appears to be one question deep.

Having said all of that, I disagree with the conservative National Review in its attempt to 'excommunicate' the Donald. Rich Lowry, an editor at the NR states their case succinctly:
"And the point we’re making is that for conservatives, Donald Trump — whatever his virtues are -- doesn’t truly understand the ideas and principles that make this country great. It’s up to those conservatives to stand up and say, ‘No, sorry. We oppose this guy ...’

If you truly are conservative, you believe in ideas and in principles. It’s not just attitudes. It’s not just who you dislike.

It’s limited government. It’s the Constitution. It’s liberty.
The NR wants ideological purity. All well and good. But what Lowry and the other writers at the NR fail to understand is that leftist ideological purity got us Barack Obama and his Team of 2s.

The broad electorate—the voters that any candidate must embrace—is hardly ideologically pure. We are a right of center country that wants conservatism in many government programs, in most fiscal policy, in almost all foreign policy, and at our borders. But the broad electorate also embraces many progressive social issues as a domestic imperative. An ideological purist, such as Barack Obama, can only get elected if he lies and tells the electorate what it wants to hear. He then has a decision to make—embrace the lie as policy and govern from the center, or compound the lie and govern ideologically. Barack Obama chose the latter, and we've suffered through eight years of gridlock, failure, incompetence, foreign capitulation, and ineffective policy, even as the government, the debt, and spending have grown significantly.

Based on the current crop of candidates, the ideologically pure conservatives (e.g., Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Jindal) do not lie about their positions on the issues. But because of that, the right-wing social positions all embrace will put off many voters in the center, many minorities, and the few democrats who might otherwise abandon a party that offers a corrupt woman with few real principles and an aging socialist whose ideas are extreme.

But there's an even more compelling reason to avoid ideological purity.The Democratic party countenanced the bad decisions (both domestic and foreign) made by the Obama administration, making no effort to reign in an imperial president who was wrong far more frequently than he was right. The Dems will work hard to draw attention away from their party's abject failure to improve the economy and jobs and protect the national interest in the international realm. They will focus solely on social issues if the candidate is an ideologically pure conservative. For that reason, a Trump candidacy would neuter the Dem strategy of misdirection, because Trump himself is agnostic on social issues.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingram notes:
Of course there is ample room to criticize Trump’s approach and his lapse into sloganeering where substance is needed — as I have done on many occasions. But if NR rejects the Trump voters, it will be reversing the decision by Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, and others to welcome blue-collar voters, Democrats, and independents into the conservative fold. Whatever that means for the country, it will do major damage to conservatism. If the conservative movement devotes itself to defending the legacy of George W. Bush at all costs, it will become irrelevant to the debate over how to make things better for most Americans.

In the end, NR’s attempted hit-job on Trump won’t won’t matter much. Folks who like Trump will continue to like him. Those who don’t will feel reconfirmed in their views.
That's probably true, but what this country needs isn't ideological purity. It someone who can enunciate a way forward—a leader who can undo the damage caused by the Obama presidency and provide a vision that just might "make this country great again."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Boss Tweed

I sometimes experience cognitive dissonance when following the broad Democrat narrative and then examining the Democrat campaign for the presidency. On the one hand, the narrative espouses diversity, tolerance, inclusion, concern about the "middle class" and the poor. But the campaigner themselves exhibit no diversity and little tolerance for any position but the one promoted by the party's Leftist base. A socialist 74-year old who rails against "millionaires and billionaires" is pitted against a corrupt, scandal-ridden 68-year old whose only saving grace is an appeal to identity politics (she's a woman). There isn't a Latino, a black person, or a young person to be found. In essence, the Dems offer the country two geriatric white people adopting worn positions of the 20th century as their beacon of hope moving into the 21st century.

Richard Fernandez answers asks how this has come to pass and then writes:
Maybe because liberalism is in a holding pattern. All it knows how to do is buy off competitors with taxpayer money and "send" anointees, like it's done since the end of WW2. It used to work. The problem is that it doesn't work anymore. In his book, Spoiled Rotten, Jay Cost argues that the Democratic Party "first formed by Andrew Jackson in 1824, that has always prided itself as the party of the poor, the working class, the little guy, is anything but that—rather, it’s a corrupt tool of special interest groups that feed off of the federal government ... a modern-day national Tammany Hall."

Hillary's problem is she's Boss Hillary, like Tweed was Boss Tweed. Her qualifications are her damnation. The historical Tammany Hall finally collapsed not from the efforts of its political opponents, but from the consequences of its own corruption. It finally provoked "an international crisis of confidence in New York City's finances, and, in particular, in its ability to repay its debts. European investors were heavily positioned in the city's bonds and were already nervous about its management – only the reputations of the underwriters were preventing a run on the city's securities. New York's financial and business community knew that if the city's credit was to collapse, it could potentially bring down every bank in the city with it."

A similar process of decline may now be threatening the status quo. The trillion dollar debt, the foreign failure, the economic insecurity. The themes that Donald Trump beats on relentlessly. [The Democratic Party is] not reeling from the punches of the Republican party. It's staggering under the weight of its own failures,
Commentators ask why there's anger out there. It's because of the abject failure of the Democratic Party to accomplish anything that matters to real people, in real economic circumstances in a dangerous and uncertain world. That's why, astonishingly, even some Democrats gravitate toward Donald Trump's angry rhetoric. They look and see:
  • Bernie Sanders offering us more spending, more taxes, a more intrusive government, while setting the stage for less business opportunity, fewer private sector jobs, and the continuing erosion of the Middle Class. Although it's difficult to conceive of foreign policy that would be worse than Barack Obama, I suspect Bernie will come up with one.
  • Hillary Clinton as Boss Tweet in a pant suit. She and her husband have used unethical connections, outright corruption, and potentially criminal behavior to parley a 35-year government career into a nine digit net worth. And from her perch among the 0.1 percent, Clinton has the chutzpa to talk about income inequality!
The anger is justified. The real question is how it will be channeled. That remains to be seen in the coming months.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Something Bad

The year was 1979, a long, long time ago. Iran was in turmoil. The Shah—a dictator who was secular, American's long time ally, and a man who worked hard and succeeded in bringing Iran into the 20th century—was under siege by Islamic radicals. The American media, even then, a left-leaning entity that was better at hiding their bias, but no less biased, was enamored of the first internationally recognized Islamist, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and was violently opposed to the Shah. Puff pieces about Ayatollah Khomeini appeared everywhere, and even President Jimmy Carter sang his praises.

Carter abandoned the Shah in much the same way as Barack Obama abandoned Egypt's Hosni Mubarek. Carter's disastrous decision has haunted the world to this day. It was the catalyst for an Islamist takeover of much of the Middle East and the beginning of a reign of violence and terror that grows every month.

At the time, virtually every American liberal was pro-Khomeini. I recall having a conversation with one of my aunts, a wonderful woman who was an unreconstructed liberal. She was celebrating the fall of the Shah and Ayatollah Khomeini's imminent return to Iran. She asked what I thought.

"I think," I said with a smile, "that we ought to shoot down Ayatollah Khomeini's plane as he leaves France for Iran. This is nothing to celebrate. It's the beginning of something bad."

The rest of the conversation didn't go well, my Aunt arguing that it was the beginning of freedom for the Iranian people and better times in the Middle East. She implied that I was far too young to understand the bigger picture.

You can judge who was right.

My aunt, long since passed, sounded an awful lot like Barack Obama, John Kerry and the Stepford Wives Democrats who keep telling us that our "deal" with Iran will lead to [paraphrasing here] "the beginning of freedom for the Iranian people and better times in the Middle East." It's a position that is typical of those on the Left—allowing hope to override common sense and belief to negate the long lessons of history.

Bret Stevens comments:
Today’s liberal foreign policy, to adapt Churchill, is appeasement wrapped in realism inside moral equivalency. When it comes to Iran policy, that means believing that we have sinned at least as much against the Iranians as they have sinned against us; that our national-security interests require us to come to terms with the Iranians; and that the best way to allay the suspicions—and, over time, diminish the influence—of Iranian hard-liners is by engaging the moderates ever more closely and demonstrating ever-greater diplomatic flexibility.

That’s a neat theory, proved wrong by experience at every turn. The Carter administration hailed the Ayatollah Khomeini as “a saint.” Our embassy was seized. Ronald Reagan sent Khomeini a birthday cake, along with secret arms, to facilitate the release of hostages in Lebanon. A few hostages were released, while others were taken in their place. The world welcomed the election of “moderate” President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities were exposed during his second term.

In 2009, on the eve of presidential elections, the New York Times’s Roger Cohen celebrated “the vibrancy of a changing, highly educated society” that he had found on his visits to Tehran. “The equating of Iran with terror today is simplistic,” he wrote. After the election, he ran for his life from the terror of the same street militia that had murdered Agha-Soltan.

Now we’re supposed to believe that the change Mr. Cohen and others had hoped for has finally arrived. The proof, supposedly, is that the regime has so far kept to its nuclear promises (in exchange for a $100 billion windfall), that it swiftly released U.S. sailors (after scoring a small propaganda coup), and that it let the other hostages go (though only after very nearly taking the wife and mother of one of those hostages in his turn, and then after an additional $1.7 billion reward from the U.S.).

Are these signs of a new-and-improved regime? Or merely one that is again being given good reasons to believe that it can always extract a bribe for its bad behavior? The notion of moral hazard, fundamental to economics, has a foreign-policy dimension, too. Any country that believes it will never be made to pay the price for the risks it takes will take ever-greater risks. It’s bad enough when the country in question is Greece. This is Iran.
Yet, the same liberal-left narrative that enveloped the country in 1979 is present today. My comment from that earlier time seems appropriate: "This is nothing to celebrate. It's the beginning of something bad."


On the Democrat campaign trail, Bernie Sanders, a candidate even further Left than Barack Obama, embraced the new leftist narrative and stated: “I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran.”

Hillary Clinton, to her credit, responded somewhat more hesitantly, “We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization.”

She was, of course, referring to the prisoner exchange a few days ago. You know, the one where the USA exchanged seven outright criminals for three people illegally kidnapped by Iran. The one where John Kerry bragged about the triumph of diplomacy, as if he had gained some significant concession from the Iranian "Death to America" regime.

Michael Totten
, one of the few true unbiased journalists covering the Middle East writes:
It’s not at all clear that their release counts as a good day. It’s terrific for the freed prisoners, obviously, and it’s almost as terrific for their friends, family and colleagues, but the ransom was insanely steep.

First the United States had to release seven Iranian criminals who were convicted of sanctions violations in a properly functioning judicial system. Second, Washington had to scrub the names of 14 Iranians from an Interpol watch list. And third, the United States is kicking 100 billion dollars in frozen assets back to the Iranian government.

A fair swap would have been three innocent prisoners for three innocent prisoners, but the United States doesn’t randomly grab foreign nationals off the streets to use as bargaining chips, so that was never an option.

If the Iranian government had released innocent people because they’re innocent like it’s supposed to—then we could say we had a good day. But that’s not what happened. That’s not even close to what happened.

It could have been worse, though. Secretary of State John Kerry said he thought he’d secured these peoples’ release months ago, but the deal fell apart because the Iranian government wanted the United States to release convicted murderers.

That demand shouldn’t surprise anyone. Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah convinced the Israelis to release convicted murderers like the notorious Samir Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of kidnapped soldiers who weren’t even alive anymore, who had in fact been mutilated by Hezbollah.
Hezballah is Iran's proxy—a virulently anti-Semitic, anti Western, pro-Islamist gang of thugs who view murder, terror, and continuous violence as their daily ritual. Just like their overseers in Tehran.

Anyone who believes that our current embrace with the terrorist regime in Iran will end well is a fool. Worse, anyone who suggests "normalization" with the leaders of Iran—a virulently anti-Semitic, anti Western, pro-Islamist gang of thugs—is a danger to the country that he or she purports to want to lead.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Connecticut's Lesson

Connecticut is my home state. I left almost 18 years ago, and it appears I was at the beginning of a wave of departures that continues to this day and is accelerating each year. Prior to my departure, I recall that Connecticut, a small northeastern state—blue to the core, had more state employees per capita than any other state in the country. Now, as many of those state employees—almost all unionized— move into retirement, an underfunded, poorly performing pension system is putting enormous stress on state taxpayers (who must foot the bill for pension payouts). A democratic legislature and governor, seeing the specter of default hovering in the air, have consistently raised taxes in a futile effort to shore up a weak balance sheet. At the same time, the same blue state politicians have increased spending, suggesting returning to toll roads and otherwise doing anything they can to increase revenue.

This was business as usual until a major news event occurred last week. General Electric Company, a corporate resident of Connecticut for almost 40 years, announced it is moving out of the state. Red Jahncke reports:
GE began considering a move when Mr. Malloy [Connecticut's Democrat Governor] and the Democrats jacked up corporate taxes summarily and retroactively last June. Thereafter, GE examined its future needs and settled upon a research-tech-urban environment as the most desirable for the future.

GE didn’t act just out of pique. It looked deeper and further than June’s tax hike. Connecticut is facing huge budget deficits of $355 million in 2017, $1.7 billion in 2018 and $1.9 billion in 2019, according to the state’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis. A cumulative deficit of almost $4 billion in an annual budget of about $20 billion is an abyss. Future tax increases are inevitable.

Nor are these projections dynamic. That is to say, they do not factor in the likely reaction of taxpayers, both businesses and individuals, to the coming succession of tax increases that the state will be forced to levy. Famously, Connecticut is the new Dodge City, the place that a 2014 Gallup Poll discovered half the citizenry wanted to get out of.

Well, they are leaving. The emigrants are higher income tax payers. Connecticut is the only state in the nation where the average income of taxpayers leaving the state is higher than those staying. According to the latest IRS data, between 2011 and 2013, about 95,000 taxpayers left the state; their average adjusted gross income was $112,000 versus an average of $101,000 for the remaining 1.4 million taxpayers. Only 78,000 taxpayers moved into the state, bringing an average income of only $86,000.

In other words, the state’s individual income tax base is eroding quickly. Indeed, after GE’s announcement, the state announced new shortfalls, with income tax receipts for the last six months coming in 2.6% below projections made just last June. So with GE’s departure, a slow exodus may turn into a stampede.
Incredibly, the failure of the tax and spend blue state model in CT, IL, CA, PR (a commonwealth), and many other cities and states doesn't provide an object level for left-wing democrats. They rally behind Bernie Sanders, a socialist who has proposed enormous spending and tax increases—increases so significant that they would result in the largest percentage of GDP in our nation's history. But in trance-like unison, Bernie's followers want to reprise Connecticut at a national level.

"Medicare for all," "free" college tuition, a $15 per hour minimum wage, a 52% marginal tax rate at the top and significant increases throughout the income scale, a class warfare narrative that demonizes business owners, a regulatory regime that will dampen innovation, start-ups, and expansion. But no worries, Bernie is all for 'social justice,' and that's all that matters.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rule of Disengagement

Barack Obama wants desperately (it's a legacy thing) to disengage from an enemy he refuses to name. Obama tells us that the war in Afghanistan is over; that the war in Iraq is long over; that the threat of Islamic terror in the West is much exaggerated. He does this even as more U.S. special operators enter Afghanistan and Iraq in what we are told is an effort to defeat ISIS, and as terror attacks by Jihadis from a wide range of Islamist groups now happen on almost a daily basis somewhere in the world.

After each barbaric act perpetrated by ISIS, writers throughout the media lament the fact that Islamic terrorists in general seem difficult to defeat. At the tactical level, it might all boil down to rules of (dis)engagement on the battle field.

Eli Lake writes:
"There are real restrictions about what they can do against the ISIS presence in Afghanistan," Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told me about the rules of engagement for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Thornberry said that the rules of engagement, combined with what he called micro-management from the White House, have led military officers to tell him they have to go through several unnecessary and burdensome hoops before firing at the enemy.

"My understanding is it's a very confused, elaborate set of requirements," Thornberry said. "I think the effect of going through all of that makes it harder for our people to conduct their missions."

He would not get into specifics about the rules, saying, "If the public were able to know all the restrictions placed on our troops, they would be unhappy about it, and if the enemy knew this they would have more of a leg up than they do now."
By severely limiting what U.S military forces can and can't do to defeat a brutal enemy, we appear week and ineffective. The greatest fighting force on the planet is humbled by an enemy fighting in Toyota pick-up and stolen U.S. military gear. But our rules of engagement are only part of the problem. Micromanagement from Washington or Washington's surrogates makes things even worse. Rather than allowing field commanders to react in real time, it appears that any aggressive action on the part of the U.S. Military against Islamic terror groups (ISIS is an typical example) must be approved through a series of time-consuming and increasingly bureaucratic requests.

It's almost as if our leadership doesn't want to defeat the enemy. That may be because they refuse to name the enemy and in doing so, have only a vague idea of who were are fighting. Or it might be our leadership wants to disengage, and for that reason, rules are established to force that to happen. All you can do is shake you head.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Strong Horses

In the salons of New York or Paris or London, it is the elite liberal who is revered—the doctrinaire artist, the knowing journalist, the crusading politician. Every word spoken by these "thought leaders" rallies the faithful to a “cause.” It matters little whether the cause is economic (income inequality), environmental (climate change) or cultural (war on women), the residents of the salons embrace the ideology of the elites so that they too can ascend to a high moral perch.

The ethic is always the same. First, an admission that those in the west have been and are sinners—we must apologize and atone for our successes as a culture. Second, all cultures are to be respected equally, and it is “racist” to expect newcomers to adapt to a country’s existing rules, mores, and laws if those are antithetic to the newcomer’s culture. Third, all conflict can be resolved through mutual understanding, and force (military or cultural) should never be used and is never justified. It matters little whether the thought leaders ideas are nonsensical, naïve, or unrealistic. They are to be followed blindly, even if the consequences are the equivalent of national suicide.

But on the mean streets of Arab countries across North Africa and the Middle East, a different kind of thought leader is revered—some call him the “strong horse.” Away from the salons of the intelligencia, it’s all about the strong horse—the leader who projects raw power, who threatens (either subtly of more directly) with words backed by deeds. The strong horse draws adherents not by his gentle moral preening, but though actions that exemplify power. If you want to be powerful, align yourself with me, says the strong horse. Others are weak, I am not. Others are soft, I am hard. Others have abandoned you, I never will.

We’ve gotten a lesson in this over the past week. Iran wants to be the strong horse in the Middle East, and uses all psychological weapons at its disposal to achieve that goal. Recognizing that current American leader is not only weak, but willing to fawn to preserve a laughably bad (for us) deal with them, it captures two small U.S. Navy vessels, humiliates the crew, extracts an indirect apology from our national leadership, publishes the video of all this throughout the region, and goes about its business with impunity.

Mark Steyn comments:
There's no point pretending the illegal seizure and release of America's sailors is anything other a huge propaganda victory for Iran - and a humiliation for the United States. Insofar as there was a strategic calculation behind Obama's outreach to the mullahs, it was that the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions would incentivize the Islamic Republic to start behaving like any other house-trained member of the community of nations. In other words, they'd stop pulling this stuff.

As it was, Joe Biden and John Kerry could not resist bragging that the swift resolution of this situation was testament to the new hunky-dory Washington-Teheran relationship. Vice-President Biden:
They released them, like ordinary nations would do. That's the way nations should deal with one another. That's why it's important to have channels open.
Secretary Kerry:
I'm appreciative for the quick and appropriate response of the Iranian authorities... and I think we can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago.
We don't have to imagine how a similar situation might have played out, you botoxicated buffoon, because it's played out before, with mind-numbing regularity. This time round they seized ten US sailors. Nine years ago they seized 15 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines. One of the Brits was of the female persuasion. Here's what I wrote in 2007:

The token gal was dressed up as an Islamic woman...

Does that sound familiar? Why, golly, here we are in 2016, and this time round the token US gal was also made to wear a hijab.
The response of Biden and Kerry is no doubt being celebrated in the salons of Washington progressives. After all, that’s the world view that informs both Joe Biden and John Kerry. Calling them both “buffoons” is a gross understatement. Through their fawning acceptance of Iran's aggressive action, they, along with Barack Obama, are complicit in it. But this comes as no surprise.

When the Iran deal was signed, I noted in this blog that Obama’s Team of 2s would work hard to minimize any subsequent Iranian act or violation that illustrated the idiocy of their “deal.” And if the act or violation couldn’t be minimized, it would be spun into a victory for the administration. Hmmmm. Biden and Kerry make my word prophetic.

Steyn recalls his comments when the British vessels was captured:
But don't worry about any of that Geneva Conventions stuff:
If pictures had been unearthed of some over-zealous Guantanamo guards doing to our plucky young West Midlands jihadi what the Iranian government did on TV to those Royal Marines, two thirds of Fleet Street (including many of my Spectator and Telegraph colleagues) would be frothing non-stop.

Instead, they seem to have accepted the British spin that there's been no breach of the Geneva Convention because the Marines and sailors weren't official prisoners of war, just freelance kidnap victims you can have what sport you wish with.
Which is marginally less insane than the Biden-Kerry line that illegally seizing foreign sailors, forcing them to their knees and to submit to the dress codes of someone else's religion, using them for propaganda videos and making them issue public apologies testifies to how the new Iranian-American friendship is just peachy and going gangbusters.

In fact, the Iranians are doing exactly what they've always done. They got their nuclear deal, and it's business as usual. The only difference is that, a decade ago, they did it to America's allies but they never quite dared to do it to America itself.

Now they do.
In a world where the strong horse is revered, where hard men rule, and power determines the winner, it’s almost as if Barack Obama and his Team of 2s are trying to lose.

But Obama is now old news. For all of the massive damage he has done (and may yet do), the country must look forward. The decision for us is clear. Remain in the salon and commit slow motion suicide or recognize that only hard men (or women) can deal with the strong horses that have ascending on Obama’s watch.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Understanding Bernie

It's highly unlikely that Democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders will ascend to the presidency, but as Barack Obama's disastrous eight year run indicates, nothing is impossible in modern American politics.

The media has treated Sanders as vapor, mentioning him now and then with a snippet of video showing the Vermont Senator railing against "millionaires and billionaires," but otherwise assiduously avoiding any discussion of his policy pronouncements, his taxation ideas, his true attitudes toward the private sector, his stance relative to Islamic terror or any of a dozen other important issues. The reason is simple. Like Obama in 2007-2008, an in-depth probe of Sander's positions might trouble a significant percentage of independent voters—so better, like Obama of 2008, to represent him as a glossy image rather than a politician with ideas that might have flaws and consequences.

Should Sanders win the Iowa and/or new Hampshire primaries—an increasingly strong possibility—he will become a media darling. It's highly likely that the trained hamsters of the mainstream media will treat him much as they treated Obama—asking softball questions that play to his strengths and avoiding subjects, policy positions, and ideology that the public at large might find troublesome.

Let's take a look at some wholly legitimate questions that should be asked of Sanders, but before we do, let's consider the man for a moment.

I actually like Sanders, even though I strongly disagree with his politics. Unlike candidate-Obama in 2008 or candidate-Clinton in 2016, Sanders appears to be principled, has no tinge of corruption associated with his past, isn't afraid to articulate the positions he feels strongly about, and appears to be as honest as one could expect from a politician.

But Sander's socialist ideology is extreme. Here are some questions that any competent mainstream journalist (is that an oxymoron?) should ask the Senator:

  • As a young man you honeymooned in the old Soviet Union. More than most Americans, you got a first hand look at the communist system in action. Many years later, the Soviet Union crumbled. Why did that happen?
  • Today, many socialist countries around the world are in trouble. Some, such as Venezuela, are close to complete failure with shortages, food lines, crime, and corruption causing social upheaval. Others, such as Greece are in dire financial straights with a populace demanding benefits and rights that the government can no longer pay for. A few European countries continue to do relatively well, but even they are financially stressed and have economies that are not strong. Do you want to bring the socialist model to the United States? And if you do, why should we expect a different result than the one we see in other socialist countries worldwide?
  • As a socialist, you have said that government can provide effective solutions to many of the problems facing our country. However, we have seen government fail repeated to implement programs that work cost-effectively and provide true benefit to citizens. For example, the VA scandal of the past decade indicates that the federal government struggles to provide quality healthcare without incurred huge costs, waste, inefficiency, and fraud. Yet, you advocate replacing Obamacare with a single payer medical system. Please explain how such a system would avoid the huge costs, waste, inefficiency, and fraud that have plagued the much simpler VA medical care system.
  • Do you believe that there is substantial waste, fraud and abuse throughout the federal government? If not, how do you account for the many anecdotal reports delineated by government watchdogs outlining massive waste, fraud, and abuse? If you agree, how will growing the size of government reduce the amount of waste, fraud, and abuse?
  • Is the private sector responsible for job growth in the United States? If not, what entity drives job growth in this country? If the private sector is responsible for job growth, what incentives would you put in place to help the private sector generate more jobs? How will increased taxes on those who own businesses help to improve job growth?
  • The national debt is currently well-over $18 trillion. Within the next few years, interest on the debt will be the third largest expenditure made by the federal government. Yet, you advocate programs that will increase the debt substantially without massive tax increases. A few simple questions: How much debt is acceptable? Do you honestly believe that we can tax our way out of debt? If you do, who will be taxed? At what rate? Finally, what happens if the taxes on those who are taxed do not provide enough government income?
  • You have repeatedly stated that taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" should be raised substantially to pay for the programs you'd like to implement. Are you willing to acknowledge that many of the so-called "millionaires" are owners of small businesses that employ millions of middle class workers? Are you also willing to acknowledge that many of those small business are structured as Chapter S or LLCs—meaning that any profits generated flow directly to the owner as personal income that would be taxed heavily under your policies? If taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" approach confiscatory levels, do you believe that small business owners would continue to have the incentive to grow their businesses, add employees, and provide better wages, or would those core activities be dampened by heavy taxation?
  • You're a strong advocate on income equality. Yet under the Obama administration, income inequality has grown substantially. Why is that? As an aside, are you a proponent of equal opportunity or equal outcomes?
  • You have suggested the public college education should be "free" for all. Do you believe that everyone should attend college, regardless of their academic performance or career goals?
  • You have suggested that government guaranteed college debt be "forgiven," meaning that the tax payers would foot the bill. Do you believe that a person has a responsibility to repay the loans he or she has taken out? If not, why? If yes, how does this conform with your recommendation to forgive debt?
  • Do you believe that the United States of America is a racist country? If not, how do you address the arguments made by the Black Lives Matter advocates? If yes, how do you explain the demonstrable strides and broad opportunities that have opened for people of color over the past three decades?
  • Do you believe that there is a "war on women?" Can you provide data that indicate that equal pay has not been not achieved for equal work? 
  • Are you in favor of full amnesty for people who have entered this country illegally? Would you grant those people citizenship? Are you in favor of restricting further illegal immigration? If you are, how would you do that? If you are not, how do you justify your position within the rule of law?
  • You are a strong advocate of a higher minimum wage, please explain why a $30.00/hour minimum wage would not be a better, more socially just idea than a $15.00 per hour minimum wage? Are you concerned about recent published data indicating the loss of entry level jobs to automation would be accelerated if entry level wages rose substantially over a relatively short period of time? Do you believe that small businesses could afford a $12.00 or $15.00 or $20.00 per hour minimum wage without consequences to the health of the business?
  • You have argued that climate change is the biggest threat facing our country. Without an appeal to authority (e.g., the tenuous and unsubstantiated claim that 97 percent of all scientists agree), can you provide any data that supports that position? Can you tell the public what percentage of climate change can be attributed to human activity? Can you articulate the arguments against your position and explain why they should be dismissed?
  • You have on numerous occasions lambasted the obstructionist GOP, but don't you agree that it's the job of the new president to work with an opposition that has been elected by about half the people? Can you provide a few instances where you've worked successfully with the GOP to move legislation through the Congress?
  • You characterize yourself as the candidate "for the rest of us." As president is there a constituency—e.g., big banks, or wall street firms—that you feel you will not represent or that are antithetical to your values?
  • We'd like you to discuss the terrorist threat we face. First, can you describe it in a simple terms, essentially name it for us? Second, can you assess the threat level—low, moderate, or severe? Third, can you help us understand the underlying causes? Fourth, do you believe that the terrorists can be negotiated with or otherwise mollified? Last, explain your criteria for ordering the use of significant force to defeat and/or destroy the terrorists.
  • Are you a supporter of Obama's Iran "deal"? If yes, why do you think that Iran will be honest and adhere to the tenets of the deal? Do you think it's a good idea to give Iran $150 billion in sanctions relief that cannot possibly be recalled even if the deal disintegrated?
  • Are you a strong supporter of Israel? Do you believe that a two state solution is possible, given the rocket attacks, stabbings, bombings, and other violence regularly perpetrated by the palestinians? Do you believe that Israel has a right to exist, and if so, how can you countenance a people who think otherwise?
  • Will you commit to destroy ISIS and other violent extremists in the Middle East? If not, why not? If yes, how?
I can almost guarantee that not a single one of those questions will be asked of Sanders, and that makes 2016—2008 all over again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

No Connection

There is an otherworldly, almost surreal, reflexiveness with which progressives react when an obvious act of Islamic terror occurs. It happened in Cologne, 12 days ago, when progressive city officials tried hard to minimize or bury brutal attacks on random women by close to a thousand Muslim Males on New Years Eve. It happened again in Philadelphia immediately after an attack on a Philadelphia police officer by a devout follower of ISIS. The attacker fires 13 shots at the officer, hitting him three times. The officer, even after being hit, returned fire and pursued the attacker who ran. He was captured a short time later.

Dorothy Rabinowitz takes up the story:
The wounded shooter, [Philadelphia Police] Commissioner Ross revealed, told police after his capture that he had mounted the attack in the name of Islam, that he believes that “the police defend laws that are contrary to Islam.” The man [once captured] apparently wanted to talk only about his devotion to Islam.

Undaunted by anything he’d heard so far, [Democrat] Mayor [Jim] Kenny then came to the microphone and declared: “In no way, shape or form does anybody in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam” had anything to do with the attack. “This was a criminal with a stolen gun.”

Mr. Kenny’s tone was fervent. Out of this event—involving a murderous assault on a police officer, and a heroic response by that officer—the mayor, awash in excitation, had divined what was, for him, the most important concern of this day. Namely, persuading citizens that this attack had nothing to do with allegiance to Islam.

It added to the surreal wonders of this scene that, immediately after the mayor’s pronouncement, the commander of the police department’s homicide unit calmly took the microphone. Capt. James Clark reported that the shooter (later identified as 30-year-old Edward Archer) had said, repeatedly, that he followed Allah, that he pledged allegiance to Islamic State and “That is the reason I did what I did.”

The mayor’s comments, so bizarre in their determined denial of the deluge of facts delivered by top police officials standing next to him, were, nonetheless, familiar enough. Americans have learned to expect, after every Islamist terror attack, lectures instructing them that such assaults should in no way be connected to Islamic faith of any kind.
Like a good progressive soldier, Mayor Kenny followed in the footsteps of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in his effort to deflect any possible notion that an attack might be the result of religious fervor driven by radical Islam. After all, ISIS and other Islamists and those who follow them have absolutely, positively, irrefutably in "no shape or form" no connection whatsoever with Islam. This mind-bending declaration by legions of progressives is an insult to the intelligence of the listener, a travesty when spoken by a public official in direct contravention of the facts, and a subtle implication that Americans can't be trusted with the truth.

Even worse, the lie and corresponding insult to the incredulous listener is amplified by the follow-on accusation that those who reject it are (1) too frightened to think clearly, (2) Islamophobic, or (3) bigoted.

Tonight at the State of the Union address, I suspect that we'll hear Barack Obama tell us that fears of "violent extremism" (no defined adjectives are allowed) are overblown; that those who state otherwise do so for political purposes, and that we must protect the Muslim community in the United States and worldwide.

One has to wonder why this president doesn't ask the Muslim community to help protect other diverse communities under attach by groups like ISIS around the world—oops, almost forgot, Obama has already told us that ISIS has absolutely, positively, irrefutably in "no shape or form" no connection whatsoever with the Muslim community.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


Consider the following fictional account: It's New Year's Eve in a major city in the United States. The city's mayor has worked hard to make the city a progressive icon. As the old year winds down a very large group of almost 1,000 young white males becomes very rowdy in the downtown area. They break into smaller groups of 12 to 30 men and begin to accost females who are walking on the street. They grab them sexually and tear off their clothes in some cases stripping them naked. In at least one and possibly more cases, they sexually abuse and rape the women.

It's highly unlikely that the above scenario would occur in the United States, but if it did, the outrage would be lightning swift and volcanic, police actions would be assertive, hundreds would be arrested, feminists would argue that their claims of a "rape culture" in the United States had been vindicated, the federal government would conduct investigations, the media would provide 24-7 coverage.

But here's the thing: Change the city to Cologne, Germany and the phrase "1,000 young white males" to "1,000 young Muslim males and many part of the recent immigrant wave from Syria" and the fictional account becomes reality.

There only one real difference. Outrage was muted for five days, the Mayor of Cologne essentially blamed the victims, the police did little, and the media coverage was tepid at best. That changed, but it took almost a week before serious reporting began to emerge.

Here's the story from the UK Telegraph:
Dozens of women trying to see in the New Year in the centre of Cologne found themselves trapped in a crowd of some 1,000 men, who groped them, tore off their underwear, shouted lewd insults and threw fireworks at them.

To make matters worse, a series of sexual assaults that would normally make headline news went almost completely unreported for five days - and the scale of what happened that night in the western German city is only now emerging.

Women looking for reassurance from the authorities, therefore, were shocked when Henriette Reker, the mayor of Cologne and a survivor of a far-Right assassination attempt, said that German women should behave according to a certain ‘code of conduct’.
She made a public announcement advising women to travel in groups and stay at “arm’s length” from men they did not know to avoid such attacks happening to them.

'This means they should go out and have fun, but they need to be better prepared, especially with the Cologne carnival coming up.
'For this, we will publish online guidelines that these young women can read through to prepare themselves,” she said.
It appears that bogus accusations of a rape culture in the United States aren't so bogus when "asylum seekers" from Syria and Libya are concerned.

The actions of the Muslim immigrants in Cologne runs counter to the prevailing left-wing narrative that the immigrants will be a net plus for Germany and Europe—hence the tepid reaction by authorities.

But as bad as this story is, there's an even bigger story here. In reality, there have been troubling increases in rape and sexual abuse in cities and countries that have seen significant increases in Muslim immigration. Scott Greer reports:
In the Norwegian capital of Oslo, a disturbing news report from 2010 found that all of the aggravated rapes in the city had been committed by “non-western immigrants.” The majority of non-western immigrants in Norway hail from Muslim states like Somalia, Pakistan and Iraq.

The situation is even worse in neighboring Sweden, which has now become the rape capital of the West due to mass immigration. Sweden currently takes second place in the category of highest number of rapes relative to its population, only behind the small African state of Lesotho. The Swedish government blames the problem on part to, ridiculously, men reacting violently to increased equality. But a 1996 report from that same government provides a better explanation for why sexual assaults have risen in the Nordic country.

The study found that North African Muslims were 23 times more likely to rape than ethnic Swedes. Considering that the country has opened its doors to more North Africans and Arabs since then, it’s reasonable to conclude that there’s some kind of relation between the immigration and the sexual assault figures.

And it’s not just adult women that may find themselves prey to these predators.

In 2014, the world was shocked at the uncovering of a large-scale child sex ring in the British town of Rotherham. The men behind the ring that victimized at least 1,400 young girls were all of Pakistani origin. But the Rotherham scandal wasn’t a lone outlier in showing men of Muslim heritage exploiting children in the U.K., as a disturbing number of other similar operations can testify.
Like all stories that address Islam, it's only right to state that most Muslims do not participate in and would condemn actions like those in Cologne, but it is truly troubling that a distinct pattern of sexual predation and abuse seems to correlate with a rising Muslim immigrant population. The real question is why.

UPDATE - I (1/8/16):

It looks like Syrian asylum seekers in Finland (another country that extended a welcome to Muslims trying to escape the carnage in Syria) had planned to commit the same sexual assaults at a New Year's celebration in Helsinki. The Telegraph reports:
Asylum seekers who met in central Helsinki to celebrate New Years’s Eve “had similar plans” to commit sexual assault and other crimes as those who targeted women in the Germany city of Cologne, Finnish Police have reported.

Three Iraqi asylum seekers have been arrested for committing sexual assaults during the celebrations in the city’s Senate Square, where some 20,000 had gathered.

Security personnel reported “widespead sexual harrassment” during the celebrations, police added, with women complaining that asylum seekers had groped their breasts and kissed them without permission.

“This phenomenon is new in Finnish sexual crime history,” Ilkka Koskimaki, the deputy chief of police in Helsinki, told the Telegraph. ”We have never before had this kind of sexual harrassment happening at New Year’s Eve.”

He said that the police had received tip-offs from staff at the asylum reception centres.

“Our information from these reception centres were that disturbances or other crimes would happen in the city centre. We were prepared for fights and sexual harrassment and thefts.”
In this case, the police acted to thwart the attacks and largely succeeded. But I suppose that's not the point. Here we have immigrants who have been granted asylum in a countries that are under no legal obligation to do so. This is how these immigrants repay the hospitality. Disgraceful.

UPDATE - II (1/8/16)

Mark Steyn thinks back to the earlier Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack and the more recent events in Cologne. He writes:
Both Paris and Copenhagen were twofers: the attacks on free speech were followed by attacks on Jews, at a kosher supermarket and a synagogue, respectively. To Obama, this second group of victims were merely a "random" "bunch of folks". Couldda been anyone, but just so happened to be "a bunch of folks" who like kosher food. As I commented:
Bank robbers rob banks because that's where the money is. In Europe, Islamic supremacists shoot up kosher markets, synagogues, Jewish museums and Jewish schools because that's where the Jews are.

I think most of us understand that a huge percentage of Muslims really hate Jews. I have a high degree of tolerance for hate: I spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland during a period when many Catholics and Protestants seriously hated each other, and I came rather to appreciate the way they were entirely upfront about their mutual hatred. The problem here is that in the biggest resurgence of Jew-hate since the Second World War we're not allowed to say who hates Jews.

That's why free speech matters. Without free speech, there are only the official lies - about who's killing Jews in Copenhagen, who's sexually assaulting women in Cologne - and there is nothing to say in response to either except to crank up the old joanna for one more chorus of "Imagine".

What happened on January 7th 2015 was terrible. But our response to it made it more terrible, and emboldened civilization's enemies. With respect to the late Charb, the choice is not between dying standing up or living on our knees - for those who choose to live on their knees will die there, too, cringing and craven. As I said a year ago:

The weepy passive candlelight vigils - the maudlin faux tears and the Smug Moral Preening overdose - aren't enough. If you don't want to put out the fire, it will burn your world to the ground.
Why is it, I wonder, that the Left outright refuses to see the gathering smoke and argues that the flames will not burn us but instead, bath the world in the righteous glow of multiculturalism? Dangerous fools—whose willful ignorance may act as an accelerent for the fire.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Faux Islamophobia

The narrative must win out—at least that's what the trained hamsters of the main stream media think. Repeatedly, left-leaning media outlets (that means almost all mainstream outlets) parrot Hillary Clinton's warning that calling out Muslims to do far more than they're currently doing to combat Islamic terrorism worldwide will inflame the Muslim community. After all, "Islamophobia" is real and is evidenced by increasing numbers of violent acts against Muslims and Mosques. Except ... that simply isn't true.

Investor's Business Daily reports:
As the attorney general threatens to prosecute Americans for anti-Muslim hate crime, Muslims are faking anti-Muslim hate crimes across the country to prop up the fiction that Muslims are victimized in the U.S.

The latest fabrication involves the torching of a Houston mosque on Christmas Day. The arson was quickly seized on by the national media and Muslim-rights groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which demanded that police investigate it as a hate crime.

"We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this fire," CAIR's Houston chapter said in a statement.

Federal authorities did investigate, and they collared a suspect. Sorry, CAIR, he's not a Muslim-hating Trump supporter. He's a Muslim.

Not only that, he's a longtime member of the damaged Islamic Society of Greater Houston mosque, where he prayed five times a day, seven days per week.

Last Christmas, a similar incident was reported at a mosque in Fresno, Calif.; and in a similar rush to judgment, the media joined Muslim groups in accusing anti-Islamic bigots for the vandalism of the Islamic Cultural Center there.

Only, it turned out that the incident was not an act of "Islamophobia" at all.

As in Houston, the damage was self-inflicted by a member of the mosque. Police arrested Asif Mohammad Khan. They said that he was an admirer of Osama bin Laden.

These are hardly isolated cases of Muslim groups and their media apologists misleading the public about anti-Muslim hate crimes.
IBD goes on to recount another four cases of faux "Islamophobia" widely reported in the media. The trained hamsters breathlessly reported the initial incident as proof positive that Americans were anti-Muslim bigots. There was very little reporting once the true cause of the incident was uncovered.

I've called the left-wing narrative builders "memesters" in previous posts, and have warned that false narratives are intended to mislead the public and advance a specific agenda. All of that is true, but the narratives also provide insight into the mindset of those that promulgate them.

America is NOT the bigoted, violent, racist, misogynist, capacious, and yes, Islamophobic, society that the Left would have you believe. One can only wonder whether some on the Left see themselves in one or more of those categories, and to salve their guilt, lay blanket blame on all of us.

The Islamophobia narrative (along with many others) is a lie, but to paraphrase an infamous propagandist, repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. Sad.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


Dogs are wonderful animals. but they can be easily distracted when something more interesting presents itself. Let's say your dog is focused on finding a buried bone in the backyard. Suddenly, a squirrel appears, and the dog forgets the bone and gives chase. The bone is temporarily forgotten and the squirrel becomes the center of the dog's universe.

Barack Obama treats a willing media just like the dog in my opening paragraph. The media should be hunting for real stories—Iran's serial violations of the "deal" that Obama crafted with the terrorist sponsor and the reasons why this administration has done nothing about them; Saudi Arabia's cut-off of diplomatic relations with Iran and the potential for regional war as a consequence; the continuing atrocities perpetrated by ISIS; the Islamic terrorist threat worldwide, the government's inability to properly vet immigrants from the Middle East, and on the domestic side, a stagnant economy, ever increasing national debt, Obamacare's continuing death spiral, and a dozen other failures of this administration. Or maybe, the media should be hunting for inconsistencies in Hillary Clinton's statements about Benghazi, about the Clinton foundation, about influence peddling when she was secretary of state, about her email server, or questions about her role in the foreign policy debacle that is the Middle East. Instead it's:  "Oh look ... there's a squirrel!"

The media is in 'obsession mode' concerning Obama's "executive actions" on gun control —more significant for its hype and partisan slant that for any meaningful impact on gun violence.

Chris Stirewalt summarizes this when he writes:
Not only did the so-called “gun-show loophole” not play a role in any recent mass shootings, but anyone who was already habitually selling firearms at pawn shops, flea markets, or, yes, gun shows, is already licensed or already in violation of the law.

Leaning harder against those who sell firearms - what Attorney General Loretta Lynch deemed “a clarification” - will not do much, if anything, for what the president promised to do to “spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss” from gun violence.

So, in that way, Obama’s new actions are small beer. Much of his supposedly bold actions relate to directing federal agencies to do better at what they’re already doing. One wonders why he waited so long to think of that...

It’s easy to understand why the president would fancy up these measures as bold steps. For himself, Obama can certainly feel his presidency turning into that thin wisp of smoke from a snuffed candle. As with every year since Obama lost the House for his party in 2010, the president is promising to go it alone.
Personally, I support appropriate restrictions on the manner in which firearms are sold, but these restrictions must come from legislative action by an elected congress, not from border line unconstitutional and unilateral actions of an rogue presidency. And for those progressives who applaud Obama's "gutsy" decision to circumvent the congress, consider this scenario:
A conservative GOP president decides to place onerous restrictions on a woman's right to an abortion. He does so through "executive actions" even though a majority of the congress is opposed. He cites the precedent established repeatedly by Barack Obama from 2010 to 2016.
My guess is that the Left and progressives in general would scream bloody murder and the media wouldn't be far behind. That's the danger of unrestrained executive action and that's the Pandora's box that Obama has opened.

But back to "Oh look ... there's a squirrel!"

Barack Obama has demonstrated that he's really, really good at one thing—changing the subject when things are going south. It appears that this "gun control" gambit is an attempt to change the subject away from issues of great importance to the country to an issue that might be emotionally important to progressives, but will have very little impact on the reality of gun violence. No matter. A willing media swivels its head to look for the squirrel, and real issues fall by the wayside. Even GOP presidential candidates rise to the bait, taking their eyes off the many failures of the president and his past secretary of state.

Obama's executive action is indeed as meaningless "thin wisp of smoke from a snuffed candle," but the precedent that he has set in this and other borderline unlawful (and unconstitutional) executive actions may very well come back to haunt the very progressives who now cheer him.