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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Asterisk

I have on a number of occasions assessed the laughable tactics of the Democrats as they sink ever deeper into Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Their Keystone Cops antics subject them to ridicule by thoughtful political observers (e.g., It's been said that Nancy Pelosi delayed the release of the Articles of Impeachment until her gold autographed pens arrived), but it's the Dems' viciousness, hypocrisy, and dishonesty that may very well do them in.

Victor Davis Hansen writes:
Democrats may also be hoisted by their own petard in the ongoing impeachment psychodrama. They more or less rigged the House impeachment proceeding, by using their majority to depart from past practice. They monopolized the witness lists, selectively leaked, and rushed to indict Trump on the theory that every day the president was not impeached was another day the country was endangered.

Then when bipartisan support never appeared, when there was no special counsel’s damning report, when there was no public majority support, and when there was not the appearance of constitutional indictments for treason, bribery, and specific high crimes and misdemeanors, the impeachment writs simply sat, ossifying as if the House prosecutors suddenly wished to be sober, judicious, and reflective, when in truth they were finagling ways to fortify their anemic writs before what they feared would be a disastrous and embarrassing Senate acquittal.
Over the next few days, you'll hear a Democrat narrative that uses the words "cover-up" and "fairness" over and over again. You'll hear the Dems' trained hamsters in the media break "bombshells" that will be later proven to be nothingburgers. You'll hear and unending demand for "witnesses and documents," but only certain witnesses and documents.

VDH continues:
Democrats insisted that the Senate trial have witnesses and that Republican senators conduct the proceeding in a nonpartisan fashion antithetical to the partisan manner in which they had rammed through impeachment in the House. In other words, Democrats demanded that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) not replay the roles of Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Yet the obvious expectation in such a free-for-all impeachment and trial circus was always that Hunter Biden and Joe Biden would be the most preeminent witnesses called, given Trump’s logical defense that the younger Biden was utterly corrupt, was known to be corrupt but found useful by Ukrainians, and thus naturally such a high-profile case justified presidential suspicions of Ukrainian requests for aid—with the corollary that the elder Biden, the font for Hunter’s ability to leverage money for access, would not be able to testify honestly about the degree to which he knew of his son’s skullduggery.

Joe Biden, despite his senior moments and his lifelong reckless speech, may be for now the Democrats' only hope to carry the Midwest swing states that sent Donald Trump to the White House. Thus, the Democrats in the very fashion they have conducted themselves throughout this impeachment farce, may be insidiously destroying the candidate with the best chance of regaining the White House—even while likely enhancing Donald Trump’s polls.

That the Democrats realized such risks and ignored them, either suggests the Left wants to finish off the Biden candidacy, or their obsessions with destroying Trump outweighs any practical considerations of replacing the president with one of their own.
I think both factors can be true at the same time. Biden is not a rabid leftist and is therefore anathema to the angry left base of the new Democratic party. At the same time, even savvy political operators are so driven by TDS that they're unconsciously willing to burn their own house down, just so (to quote many progressives), "Trump has an asterisk following his name."

UPDATE:
------------------

Bill O'Reilly adds a comment on the media from which he sprang:
... the primary reason the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat members knew the national press would give them cover and blatant support. The media portrayed Adam Schiff and other anti-Trump zealots as heroes. This despite strong evidence the Ukraine whistle-blower secretly coordinated with Schiff, a blatantly political and deceptive act.

From the very beginning, there was no balanced coverage of the impeachment story, no attempt to put forth both sides or to provide perspective. Mr. Trump was portrayed as guilty of “high crimes” in the Times and Post, as well as on television, in Hollywood, and in the publishing industry. Any high profile person who had the temerity to disagree was mocked or worse.

The cold truth is that the men who preside over The New York Times and The Washington Post, and they are all men, believe THEY should be running the United States, not Donald Trump who is a vulgarian in their eyes. These men well know the Democratic Party will blindly follow their editorial lead as will TV news executives at CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS.

Thus, the so called “free press” in America has become an industry that now seeks power over Americans. The far left vision these operations usually champion cannot be realized at the ballot box, the bosses know that. So it must be imposed by destroying progressive opposition, which the media does with enthusiasm. Just ask Brett Kavanaugh.
The hysteria that surrounded the Dem's (and their media hamsters') despicable behavior during the Kavanaugh hearings is just under the surface today. It will likely emerge and when it does, the ugly viciousness we saw during Kavanaugh's 'lynching' will again infect us all. Shameful ... simply shameful.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Be Damned

The impeachment "trial" of Donald Trump begins tomorrow. This travesty is the culmination of three years of Democrat hatred of a man who defeated them in 2016, and who continues to accomplish things that actually benefit the American people. Even more frightening to the Dems, Trump continues to accomplish things that resonate with the constituencies (e.g., African Americans, Latinos, the middle class and even the working poor) that the Dems always count on for votes. #Walkaway and #Blexit are real and very worrisome for the Democrat elites.

Matthew Continetti discusses the hyperpartisan politics surrounding the impeachment:
... The rushed [House] inquiry and polarized vote on two vague and weak articles betrayed the political motivations behind the enterprise. Impeachment shields Pelosi from leftwing recriminations in the event that Trump is reelected and Democrats retain the House. And the investigations, hearings, and trial guarantee a steady stream of bad press for Trump and hostile questions that make some Republicans squirm.

Pelosi is more than happy for additional evidence to be disclosed and for the Senate to call witnesses, even after the House has impeached and when the resolution of the trial is foreordained. It's not justice she's after. It's victory in November. Expect leaks of damaging information before key procedural votes just as happened during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. When Trump is acquitted or the charges against him dismissed, Democrats will pronounce the verdict illegitimate and accuse Republican senators of involvement in a cover-up. No charge is too outlandish. Pelosi and impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries have advanced the ridiculous conspiracy that McConnell has "Russian connections" of his own. "It's a win-win," Chuck Schumer told the New York Times.

There's a cautionary lesson for Democrats in the Kavanaugh episode. As the allegations against Kavanaugh grew more absurd, and the D.C. climate more inhospitable, Republicans found themselves more unified. The senators that Democrats hope will side with them on procedural motions might demur. Susan Collins, for example, isn't anybody's pawn. "I don't think Chuck Schumer is very interested in my opinion," she said in a blistering comment to the Times. "I don't think he's really very interested in doing anything but trying to defeat me by telling lies to the people of Maine. And you can quote me on that."

After the House Intelligence Committee dropped a trove of documents from Lev Parnas, the former Giuliani associate under indictment for campaign finance violations, the day before senators were sworn in as jurors, Collins said, "I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it's only now being revealed." Good question!

House Republicans voted in unison against impeachment not because they fear President Trump but because the Democratic case was weak.
"Weak" doesn't even begin to cover it, but that doesn't matter when the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media go to work. More leaks, more lies, and more histrionics are guaranteed. The Dems will hyperventilate with every countermove made by Mitch McConnell and his colleagues.

The Democrats have demonstrated that they will never, ever be satisfied with any result that doesn't lead to Donald Trump's removal from office before the election. Given that harsh reality, the GOP should recognize that they'll be damned if they do and damned if they don't. Better then for the GOP to do what they want and let the predictable and ridiculous Dem and media tantrum be damned.

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Post Truth World

The technology community is expressing concern over "deep fakes," videos and even biometric data that is generated using advanced artificial intelligence techniques. James Rundle of the WSJ Pro Artificial Intelligence Daily Brief writes:
The use of AI to synthesize and manipulate increasingly realistic images poses a growing threat to national security, an FBI official warns. In fact, such video and imagery will soon be indistinguishable from reality ...

Deepfake technology is getting so good, it soon may pose a true threat to national security, FBI official warns. The FBI is worried that AI presents challenges to national security, particularly in the form of fraudulent videos created to mimic public figures. “As the AI continues to improve and evolve, we’re going to get to a point where there’s no discernible difference between an AI-generated video and an actual video,” said Chris Piehota, executive assistant director of the FBI’s science and technology division. He spoke at a WSJ Pro Cybersecurity Symposium in San Diego last week.

Really??? Deepfakes use AI to overlay a person’s likeness onto existing images or video, James Rundle reports for WSJ Pro. The technology can show people saying or doing something they never said or did. It also can be used to create realistic images of people who don't exist.

Artificial fingerprints. The FBI has conducted laboratory tests using deepfakes and other techniques to generate artificial personas, which have such high degrees of verisimilitude to real people that they can even pass some measures of biometric authentication, Mr. Piehota said.

Undermining elections. Such AI-enhanced threats can undermine public confidence in democratic institutions even if they are proven false, says Suzanne Spaulding, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Deepfakes for sale. The Washington Post reported that marketing and design companies have begun selling images of artificially generated people that can be used for promotional materials or used to create fake social-media profiles.

Rundle quotes Suzanne Spaulding, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. who states:
“It really hastens our move towards a post-truth world, in which the American public becomes like the Russian population, which has really given up on the idea of truth, and kind of shrugs its shoulders. People will tune out, and that is deadly for democracy."
Heh ... a post truth world ... That got me to thinking about the current state of American politics and the main stream media hamsters who supposedly report it.

Based on events of the past few years, truth no long matters. In fact, the media, who once helped the public sort out truth from lies, is now among the most prolific perpetrators of untruths. The hamsters promulgated the Russia collusion hoax; they continue to 'report' the "fine people" hoax; they called a high school student a "racist" when he was nothing of the sort; they uncritically reported that a respected judge was a member of a rape gang in his teens; they made countless "errors" that always seemed to benefit the Democrat narrative, and now, they push an impeachment narrative for "crimes" that are at worst, a minor exercise in bad political judgement, and more likely, trumped-up accusations that would NEVER be levied against a Democrat president.

Yeah, deep fakes generated by artificial intelligence apps are a threat, but the deep fake news that is disseminated daily by an unprofessional, biased media and their Democrat masters represents an even greater threat to democracy.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wrong

Nancy Pelosi could hardly suppress a smile as she participated in the "somber" signing of articles of impeachment. The articles were then turned over to the seven Democrat "managers" who in a ridiculous procession, walked them over to the senate. Obviously instructed to be stone-faced (remember--somber) the dems had succeeeded in achieving their political goal on three years—to impeach a duly elected President of the United States. It doesn't matter that the grounds are baseless or that their entire crusade is built on hyper-partisan hatred of the man—they succeeded, and their base is now mollified.

It also doesn't matter that this whole affair is an embarrassment to our country and a perversion of the true seriousness of a real, justified impeachment. The Dems are wrong in this, but for the past 3+ years, they have been WRONG about almost everything.

To begin, they were absolutely certain that their candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton, would obliterate the neanderthal Donald Trump. They were wrong.

And then ...
  • They were convinced that the Russians were responsible for Clinton's loss. Pollsters, election data, the voters, and common sense proved them wrong.
  • They were convinced that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to win the election. A special counsel proved them wrong.
  • They asserted that Trump obstructed justice in a bogus investigation of his wrongdoing. The investigation was never impeded. They were wrong.
  • They swore that Trump called neo-Nazis "fine people." Existing video and a transcript of his remarks proved them wrong (and dishonest for promulgating a bald-faced lie).
  • They contended that Trump's support for moving Israel's capital to Jerusalem would cause war in the Middle East. They were wrong.
  • They told us that withdrawing from the infamous "Iran Deal" (JCPOA) would somehow be worse than staying in an unenforceable and weak arrangement and that additional Trump-imposed sanctions were counterproductive. The sanctions have lead to significant popular unrest inside Iran that just might lead to regime change. They were wrong.
  • They argued that Trump's trade confrontation with China would result in economic war that we would lose. This week Trump is signing the first part of a trade deal that benefits the United States. They were wrong.
  • They tell us that only "the rich" are benefiting from Trump's economic policies as we experience the best economy in 50 years. The U.S. Department of Commerce (among others) indicates that the greatest wage and employment benefits accrue to the middle and lower class workers. Again, the Dems are wrong.
  • They told us that only "the rich" got tax reductions. IRS data indicates that isn't true. They were wrong.
  • They tell us that Trump's immigration policies would not stem the tide of illegal immigration. In fact, illegal entries into the United States at at a multi-year low. They were wrong.
  • They told us that the killing of General Qassem Soleimani was somehow unjustified and would lead to a major war. They were wrong.
  • They refused to express outright, unequivocal support for the Iranian resistance movement. That's morally reprehensible and politically suicidal. They are wrong.
And now, they tell us that Trump should be impeached over a phone call that led to no tangible action, no meaningful, long term withholding of foreign aid, and absolutely no investigation of a member of their party who had questionably corrupt dealings with the Ukraine while he was VP of the United States. They further tell us that the witnesses they failed to question must now be called by the judge and jury for impeachment because ... fairness when their House proceedings were anything but fair. Yet again, they are wrong.

For the past 3 years, the Democrats have been wrong consistently in things large and small. Someone please tell me why we should believe anything they say or assert about impeachment now?

More importantly, why should any voter believe that anything their candidates propose (if elected president) is anything but WRONG?

UPDATE:
----------------

This analysis by the editors of the Wall Street Journal is right on target:
The fundamental question is whether Mr. Trump committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” These should be defined as either exercising powers a President does not have, or violating some statute or constitutional prohibition. The former could be spending money not appropriated by Congress or quartering troops in the Capitol. The latter could be, say, lying under oath or using the IRS to punish political opponents.

In our view the facts of the Ukraine imbroglio don’t qualify as impeachable on either grounds. Mr. Trump exhibited poor judgment in unleashing Rudy Giuliani to ask Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. He did the same in undermining his own Ukraine policy by delaying the delivery of military aid.

But both efforts were resisted by his advisers and Members of Congress. The aid ultimately flowed and there was no Ukraine investigation. Mr. Trump broke no law, and other Presidents have tried to use foreign policy to serve domestic political ends. Voters may conclude these are grounds for denying Mr. Trump re-election. But if they are enough to short-circuit a presidential term, then many more Presidents will be impeached.

The second article—obstruction of Congress—is even weaker. Democrats want to oust Mr. Trump simply for defending his powers as President to have confidential discussions with his top advisers. Bill Clinton made similar privilege claims but lost in court. The House could have gone to court against Mr. Trump to see how its claims played out. But Democrats wanted to rush to meet their own arbitrary political calendar, and now they want the Senate to do what the House wouldn’t.
Yeah ... what the dems really want is to somehow allow the Senate and "impeachment" remove Donald Trump from office—something they fear that the voters won't do.








Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Paying a Price

Imagine for just a moment if the GOP members in Congress voted to block a resolution supporting the Democratic protesters in Hong Kong and warning/comdemning China for acts against dissenters and religious minorities within their country. The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media would go wild, suggesting that the GOP supported the Chinese regime and that it was all Donald Trump's fault.

This week, the media was silent when the Democrats in the House voted against a resolution condemning the mad mullahs of Iran for the shoot-down of a Ukrainian airline, the murder of hundred of protesters over the past few months, and the suppression of dissent that is on-going. Henry Rodgers comments:
Democrats in the House of Representatives blocked a vote Tuesday to support the protesters in Iran who are demonstrating against the regime.

Consideration and a vote on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s resolution was blocked because Democrats advanced the previous question, by a vote of 226-191. The resolution would have condemned the Government of Iran for killing 1,500 Iranian citizens who were protesting their government, as well as condemned the Government of Iran for shooting down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing 176 people.

In addition, the resolution; “(3) condemns the Government of Iran for repeatedly lying to its people and to the world about its responsibility for the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752; (4) calls on the Government of Iran to— (A) refrain from the use of violence; and (B) protect the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; and (5) supports the protestors in Iran, their demands for accountability, and their desire for the Government of Iran to respect freedom and human rights.”
It's all anti-Trump politics, of course, but it's still despicable. Trump, by all objective accounts, did NOT lead us into a war with Iran, despite what the Dems breathlessly predicted. The Iranian response was timid, at best, despite the wailings of armageddon by the Dems' trained hamsters. And after serial unanswered provocations, the Mullahs have been sent a stern message that was long, long overdue. Furthermore, the conditions precipitated by severe economic sanctions might just lead to regime change (one can hope). That's all bad news for the Democrats, so I suppose the last thing they need to do is show support for that eventuality.

Trump Derangement Syndrome has forced the Dems to defend some very bad people over the past 3 years—recall the MS-13 kerfuffle; their outright refusal to condemn documented Antifa violence; the muted condemnation (if any) of Venezuelan socialist leadership; the not-so-subtle suggestion that General Qassem Soleimani was unjustifiably killed, and now, incredibly, implicit support for the dictatorial mad mullahs of Iran.

It's quite remarkable how hatred of Trump can warp the Dem's judgement and decision making. They'll pay a price for this ... they just don't know it yet.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A White Swan Event

Late last week, if you were to believe the Democrat's trained hamsters in the main stream media, the country of Iran was in mourning over General Qassem Soleimani, who was a revered and beloved leader. Liz Warren called him a "senior government official," as if the guy worked for Iran's Treasury Department instead of coordinating Iran's worldwide terror network. This, of course, perfectly fit their narrative that Donald Trump is a warmonger who assassinated Soleimani without justification.

Now we find that all of that was fake news. Sure, there were Islamists who mourned Soleimani's death, but recent events in Iran indicate that the general was far from loved. Protests are mounting after the mad mullah's first lied (what else is new?) about their downing of a Ukrainian airliner, then admitted to the shoot-down. Not to be deterred by reality, a number of leftist Democrats and their media shills decided that the airliner tragedy was Trump's fault, even though Iran had been acting provocatively and aggressively for months, and Trump refused to be provoked (until an American was killed and our embassy was attacked). When the airline-shoot-down-was-Trump's-fault tack encountered a combination of derision and push-back they decided that "Trump lied" when he stated that four embassies were Iran's next target. Anything to reduce the positive impact of Trump's aggressive actions.

While Donald Trump and many GOP politicians have expressed support for the Iranian protest movement, it's interesting to note that as of yesterday, not one of the Democratic candidates for president have tweeted or stated support for the masses of Iranian protesters, who unlike the #Resistance in the USA, actually do put their lives on the line by going into the streets. It's almost as if the Dems are somehow supportive of the Mullah's efforts to maintain high tension with the U.S., hoping that Trump will miscalculate, and we'll be dragged into a broader shooting war. Cynical, yes, but with the exception of his bombastic and sometimes obnoxious style along with the collusion and impeachment hoaxes, Trump hasn't given the Dems much to work with in 2020.

Roger Kimball writes:
Iran had indeed shot down the commercial airliner, but inadvertently. It was a mistake. The trigger-happy chap who sent the Russian Tor M1 surface-to-air missile hurtling toward the aircraft apparently mistook it for an American cruise missile.

Fun facts: a Tomahawk cruise missile, with booster, is a bit over 20-feet-long, with a wingspan of less than nine feet. A Boeing 737-800 is a few inches shy of 130 feet long with a wingspan of nearly 113 feet. Students of interpreting radar cross-sections will find that interesting.

Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, expressed a thought that will have occurred to many observers. “A country that cannot competently operate its air defense system aspires to possess #nuclear weapons! Really?! Just contemplate that for a moment.”
But the Dems insist that the Obama approach—you know, the one that gave Iran $150 billion and accepted a promise that the Mullahs wouldn't build nukes for 10 years is the best one—lead from behind, baby! Those would be the same Mullahs who lie about everything—including the shoot down of the Ukrainian aircraft. That would be the same Iran who technical incompetence mistook a large airliner for a cruise missile. What would they do with nuclear weapons? Ooops ... we didn't mean to launch on Tel Aviv, it was a "mistake."

The trained hamsters in the media refuse to consider an alternative to all-out war with Iran. Trump's aggressive stance with the Mullahs and the growing unrest that it has precipitated within the country, might, just might, lead to a different outcome. Ross Clark comments:
It is easy to construct a scenario in which tit-for-tat actions by the Americans and Iranians lead to all-out war, close off the Gulf, send oil prices soaring, crash the global economy — and, if you are really going to go for it, end in nuclear conflagration. But what about the alternative outcome: that conflict between Iran and the West precipitates a counter-revolution against the mullahs and leads to an end of the 40-year Iranian theocracy?

The overthrow of the Iranian regime is the black swan event — or maybe it ought to be called a white swan event — which no-one is talking about, which is odd given that there have been plenty of indications over the past couple of years that ordinary Iranians are finally growing fed up with their regime.

In May 2018, Iranian truckers began a nationwide strike over wages. The following month, market traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar staged a mass protest against the sinking Iranian currency, the rial. The protests quickly spread to over 200 cities.

Last spring, Iran’s teachers staged a sit-in, culminating in a mass protest against inflation outside the Parliament building in Tehran on May 1, with some protesters adopting the yellow vests of French fuel protesters.

The trigger for these protests, as so often in the collapse of dictatorships, is economic. Donald Trump might not think that existing western sanctions are sufficient, but the truth is that they have hurt the Iranian economy. People who might not be politicized or motivated to protest against a regime purely on the basis of individual freedom, the right to free speech and so on, do nevertheless tend to rise up in anger when their living standards are attacked.
What? Until yesterday, you didn't get many details about unrest in Iran? That's because the trained hamsters in the media (not to mention the Dems) desperately need to promote their WWIII narrative, hoping that American voters with flock to their failed appeasement agenda. As I recall, the Dems labeled Ronald Reagan a "warmonger" when he took a tough stance with the Soviet Union back in the 1980s. It's just possible that the result we saw with the USSR and Reagan then just might be the same result we see with Trump and Iran now.

UPDATE:
-----------------

Relatively few Americans are old enough to remember the Shah of Iran, a dictator no doubt, but secular, a friend to American, a man who tried to modernize his country, and a leader who resisted the crushing weight of radical Islam. Even fewer remember that when the Shah was deposed and hardcore Islamists took over, they were applauded as heroes by the Western Left. Yet again, the left was wrong, picking the side that ultimately abused its own people.

I can still recall that I warned those who applauded the Shah's departure that the Ayatollah Komeni was a bad guy. I was right. One dictatorship was replaced by another, but the new one was comprised of religious fanatics who were anti-American and even more repressive than the Shah. The Shah is accused of killing thousands. Ayotollah Komeni and his crew are responsible for the deaths on more than a million.

Komeni's successors are equally bad, and Donald Trump is the first American president refused to engage in the shadow war of the past four decades and instead, do something about Iran. The sanctions his administration have imposed are crippling. David Goldman writes:
Iranians face desperate conditions, if not actual hunger, due to the effect of economic sanctions. Add to this the long-term effects of mismanagement of the country’s scarce water resources. Afshin Shahi wrote recently in the Journal of Asian Affairs: “Approximately 97% of the country is experiencing drought conditions. Due to gross water mismanagement and its damaging impact on the country, Iran faces the worst situation in the water resources of any industrialized nation. Tens of thousands of villages have been deserted and most of the major urban centers have passed their limits to absorb new rural migrants. Some officials predict that in less than 25 years, 50 million Iranians would be displaced from their current homes because of the pressing ecological conditions.”

Few countries have endured this level of deprivation outside of full war mobilization, and few have seen such a drastic decline in the number of births. The only modern comparison is Venezuela. Governments with a monopoly of economic resources and the willingness to kill significant numbers of their own citizens can stay in power for quite some time, but there seems no question that Iran’s regime is fragile and prone to destabilization.
The sanctions are harsh, but if they ultimately result in regime change, they will have been worth it. Let's hope that fragility becomes more and more brittle and the mad mullahs' regime ultimately cracks.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Flower Children

3, 2, 1, .... Like clockwork, the hard-left progressive wing of the Democratic party (i.e., a significant majority of the party base) has decided that only an imminent threat justifies the killing of a long-time terror mastermind who is responsible for hundreds of American military deaths. And even when they're told that a threat did exist, they waffle, because ... Trump.

After telling us that Trump's action would lead us to WWIII, and then becoming near-hysterical about Iran's retaliation, and then suggesting that Iran's mistaken shoot-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane was ... get ready for it ... "Trump's fault." That if only Trump had not responded to Iran's hijacking of oil tankers in international waters, or the attack on Saudi-Arabia's oil field, and dozens of other Iran-backed and Soleimani-planned terror attacks over the past few months ... oh wait, Trump didn't respond, showing considerable restraint until the Mullahs ordered a proxy Islamist group to attack Americans (killing one) and the US embassy.

But the Left has apparently decided that Iran can act with impunity regardless of who they kill or what they do.

Kim Strassel comments:
The targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani led the progressive movement to go full flower child...

Voters now know that a President Bernie Sanders would not take action against Iran or other rogue regimes, no matter how many red lines they cross. Mr. Sanders will take no step that might bring us anywhere closer to “another disastrous war” or cost “more dollars and more deaths.” A President Elizabeth Warren would similarly offer a pass to leaders of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, at least if they have an official title. The Trump strike, she said, amounted to the “assassination” of “a government official, a high-ranking military official.”

The House Progressive Caucus in a Thursday press conference laid out additional aspects of the left’s foreign-policy worldview. Member after member took to the podium to demand legislation that would hem all presidents in from further acts of deterrence. Rep. Ilhan Omar explained that progressives don’t oppose only military force; they also oppose “crippling sanctions,” which “starve the innocent people of Iran.”
Hmmm. I know who the Mullahs will be rooting for in November of 2020. Let's hope they don't get their wish.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Tantrum

In a detailed analysis of Iran and its intentions, successes and, more recently, failures in the Middle East, Ilan Berman writes:
Quite suddenly, the Islamic Republic finds itself facing serious setbacks in the Middle East. After years of strategic gains fueled by the dividends of its 2015 nuclear deal with the West, Iran’s clerical regime has started to weather significant reversals in the region in recent weeks. These developments — from unrest in Iraq and Lebanon to renewed grassroots protests within the Islamic Republic itself — suggest that, contrary to the public proclamations of its officials, Iran’s geostrategic position is in fact far from secure. These same indicators also suggest that the United States now has a crucial opening to further weaken the regime in Tehran, should the Trump administration choose to seize the opportunity.

Iran’s current troubles are both sudden and unexpected. They follow years of strategic expansion on the part of the Islamic Republic made possible by its 2015 nuclear pact with the “P5+1” nations (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA). While at its core the JCPOA was tactical in nature, designed only to delay and complicate the Islamic Republic’s path to nuclear status, the way in which the agreement was negotiated by the Obama administration — entailing hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic relief to the ailing Iranian economy — succeeded in putting Iran’s clerical regime on a path of sustained expansion ...

The results were dramatic. Years ago, Iranian officials were already boasting that their government had succeeded in capturing and controlling four separate Arab capitals in the Middle East — Damascus, Syria; Baghdad, Iraq; Beirut, Lebanon; and Sana’a, Yemen.[7] The message was clear: Iran had successfully exploited the “post-JCPOA era” to erect an incipient empire of influence and zone of control stretching from Afghanistan in the east to Lebanon in the west.
And then came Donald Trump. No fan of the "Iran Deal," Trump moved to end our participation, apply crushing sanctions, and otherwise isolate Iran. The Democrats, their trained hamsters in the media, and a number of feckless European leaders became hysterical, suggesting that now Iran would build nukes and kill us all. But instead we see pushback against the region's hegemon by Iraqi citizens (lots of them) and by citizens of Iran itself (although you run the risk of death if you protest in Iran).

Berman continues:
This regional ferment serves as the backdrop for fundamental changes in America’s approach toward Iran. On January 3rd, a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, commander of the regime’s feared Qods Force paramilitary arm, in Iraq in what amounts to a dramatic shift in the Trump administration’s approach toward the Islamic Republic. Up until then, the year-and-a-half-old “maximum pressure” campaign waged by the United States had succeeded in imposing heavy economic costs on the Iranian regime,[15] but had done little to diminish its regional presence or curtail its destabilizing influence in the Middle East. The killing of Soleimani, however, was designed to reestablish American deterrence vis-à-vis Tehran after repeated unanswered provocations, as well as to impose real costs upon the Islamic Republic for its regional activities.[16]

In its aftermath, the risks of U.S.-Iranian confrontation have increased dramatically. Iran’s leadership has publicly pledged significant retaliation against the United States for the killing of its top military commander, and has attempted to rally regional allies and domestic opinion to this cause.[17] The contours of that response are likely to take shape in coming weeks, as Iran’s regime carefully calibrates its actions to safeguard its revolutionary credentials while avoiding an overt military conflict with the United States in which it would have a distinct disadvantage.
Is it only me or did Iran's subsequent missile attack seem more like a tantrum intended for the consumption of their supporters throughout the Middle East than an actual kinetic military response? Donald Trump has gotten into the Mullahs' heads. They are now worried that a U.S. President might actually take their continuing war out of the shadows after demonstrating that their murderous actions have consequences. Tantrums are okay, as long as they don't lead to a spanking—and that's what has the Mullahs worried.

Of course, the Democrats want to be sure that Iran can conduct its shadow war without repercussions, so they're working to limit Trump's ability to act against Iran's aggression. The Mullahs can at least smile at that.

UPDATE (1/9/2020):
-------------------------------

Virtually every Democrat politician and their trained hamsters in the media told us that after Donald Trump's "reckless" or "impetuous" or "reflexive" or "insane" assassination of the world's leading terror organizer, WWIII was nye. In their hysteria, they told us that the killing of Soleimani was "provocative" and that it could have only been carried out after months and months of "debate" by congressional no-nothings. As usual, the Dems and the hamsters were dead wrong.

Michael Goodwin writes:
If you went to bed early Tuesday, you were surprised to wake up Wednesday and learn that World War III has been delayed. No doubt you were also shocked that Iran blinked, oil prices were tumbling and the stock market was soaring.

Once again, the Chicken Little chorus got everything all wrong. The sky isn’t falling and Donald Trump pulled off a huge victory. Oh, and he’s still president.
The editors of the Wall Street Journal provide additional analysis:
Maybe the Apocalypse isn’t upon us after all. The lesson after Iran’s missile strike on U.S. bases in Iraq early Wednesday is that deterrence seems to be working.

More than a dozen ballistic missiles hit two U.S. bases in northern and western Iraq, but no Americans or Iraqis were killed in the attack. Iraq says Iran gave advance warning, so U.S. and Iraqi troops had time to disperse or seek shelter. Iran has made advances in missile targeting, as we learned in the attack on Saudi oil facilities. Yet this time the missiles seemed not to have been precise.

All of this suggests that Iran tried to make a show of hitting back at the U.S. for the killing of terror chief Qasem Soleimani while trying to avoid killing Americans. The latter seems to be the red line that President Trump has drawn for an American military response, and Iran knows the U.S. could eliminate much of its military and industrial capacity even from a standoff distance.
There are many things you learn when you grow up in a hardscrabble mill-town, and one important lesson is that bullies love capitulation and appeasement and hate, hate, hate it when their adversary pushes back. In fact, the harder the adversary pushes back, the more likely it is for the bully is measure his actions. At some level, Donald Trump recognizes that fact of life and has extrapolated it to geopolitical interaction. Too bad the new Democratic party never learned that lesson.

To repeat, Trump is living rent-free inside the Mullah's heads, and that's a very good thing.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Brutal Form

The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media worked overtime this weekend, figuratively clutching their collective pearls and telling us that war with Iran is imminent. The reason—the killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds force. What the Dems and their hamsters don't seem to realize is that 'war" with Iran has been ongoing since 1979—through proxies to be sure, but "war" nonetheless. As usual, Trump has been more honest than previous Presidents, bringing this internecine conflict out into the open. Most of the Washington elites would prefer it remain hidden, kicking the can down the road for others to deal with.

Even the Dems grudgingly admit that Soleimani was a bad guy, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troop and the maiming of thousands more. But it appears that in the Dem's view the Iranians can provoke, threaten, kill, conduct pin-prick attacks, take hostages, attack our allies in the region, and otherwise create havoc throughout the Middle East and yet, suffer no kinetic consequences. Sanctions are biting in Iran and the Mullahs are desperate to have them lifted. The problem is that they refuse to negotiate. In an odd way, their hatred of the United States and "the Zionists" is analogous to the Dems hatred of Trump and his supporters. Both the Iranians and the Dems seem mildly deranged as they allow their antipathy to guide their decision-making.

Ex-Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is an old-school moderate Democrat (hated now by the new Democrat base). He writes this in The Wall Street Journal:
President Trump’s order to take out Qasem Soleimani was morally, constitutionally and strategically correct. It deserves more bipartisan support than the begrudging or negative reactions it has received thus far from my fellow Democrats.

The president’s decision was bold and unconventional. It’s understandable that the political class should have questions about it. But it isn’t understandable that all the questions are being raised by Democrats and all the praise is coming from Republicans. That divided response suggests the partisanship that has infected and disabled so much of U.S. domestic policy now also determines our elected leaders’ responses to major foreign-policy events and national-security issues, even the killing of a man responsible for murdering hundreds of Americans and planning to kill thousands more.

... if we allow fear of a self-declared enemy like Iran to dictate our actions, we will only encourage them to come after us and our allies more aggressively. Some Democrats have said that killing Soleimani will lead us into war with Iran. In fact, Soleimani and the Quds Force have been at war with the U.S. for years. It is more likely that his death will diminish the chances of a wider conflict because the demonstration of our willingness to kill him will give Iranian leaders (and probably others like Kim Jong Un ) much to fear.
Iran is a malign force in the Middle East, and yes, they can and do create havoc. All the more reason to make them understand that there are consequences for their actions, and that sometimes those consequences can take a rather brutal form.

UPDATE:
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Talk about brutal form, conservative firebrand, Kurt Schlichter, goes off on the response of most Democrats and their progressive supporters to the events leading up to the killing of Soleimani:
Zapping Qassam Soleimani ruined an Iranian offensive that had started with such promise. When the dirtbag catspaws of the dirtbag Iranian mullahs surrounded the American embassy in Baghdad, American liberals were more excited than the old Weekly Standard’s staff would have been upon discovering that it was sharing one of its cruises with a pool boy and sexy gardener convention. Libs and their Fredocon submissives were practically salivating at the thought of fellow Americans being murdered by scuzzy foreigners and the opportunity such a tragedy would present for blaming Donald Trump. This was Trump’s Benghazi test, they chortled on social media.

Yeah, except Trump passed his test.

The Iranians had been getting uppity for a while, but then their punks killed an American contractor in a rocket attack on a U.S. base – and let’s not get distracted about whether we should still be there. They killed an American. We are there, and you don’t get a pass on murdering U.S. citizens because we may or may not have a good reason for them still being there. You get dead ...

This could escalate, sure. Maybe a show of force will be met by force in response. But if we roll over like gimps, our weakness will absolutely draw force in response. And we are never going to get every single American out of the Middle East. We’ll always have embassies, business contacts, U.S. citizens with family and Americans who just damn well feel like going there who can be targeted ...

We don’t want an escalation and we should show restraint where we can – but killing Americans must be a red line, a real one, not an Obama one. If this does escalate into a major confrontation, we need to keep some principles in mind. We need to do more than “send messages." Pain should be our message. Any strike should have a tactical (if not strategic effect). Hitting the arms caches means they have fewer arms, and they got the message. And we focus on destroying what the decision-makers in Tehran care about: sink some capital ships, vaporize a bunch of aircraft, flatten a refinery. It’s even better when it can support the Persian patriots in Iran who want to hang their oppressors from the lamp posts.

“Proportionality” is a sucker’s game. Our goal should be pain. Screw with America and we hurt you, mullahs. Personally. Not just the idiots who do your dirty work. You and your toys.
As if on cue this afternoon, the Dems' Nancy Pelosi complained that Trump's actions lacked "proportionality." Incredible! Maybe it's time to make Iran pay for a war that they started in 1979 and continue all these years later. Maybe it's time that the Mullahs realize that their heinous actions have bloody consequences—for them.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Right Back Where They Started

In 2015, Barack Obama muscled through the most naive and stupid foreign policy move of a presidency that was distinguished by naive and stupid foreign policy moves. He decided to appease the mad mullahs who run Iran and accept their promise that they wouldn't build nukes, hoping against hope that they would moderate their hegemonic behavior throughout the Middle East. To encourage the deal, he released about $150 billion held because of Iran's bad behavior and then sent cash bribes that are estimated at over a billion dollars in the dead of night. That money has been used to fund Iran's terror network in Iraq, Lebabon, Syria, and North Africa, including the group of Islamist militants who attacked our embassy this week.

I consistently opposed the "Iran Deal" (e.g., here, here, and here) and castigated Democrats for accepting a catastrophically bad arrangement. Today, that's water under the bridge.

Although this week's attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad failed, you'd think the leftist media were on the side of the Mad Mullahs. Left-wing commentators responded with glee, calling the attack "Trump's Benghazi." Nothing could be further from the truth, but that never stops the trained hamsters. When the Benghazi analogy was dismissed as absurd by serious observers (i.e., there was NO penetration of the embassy, NO ONE was injured or killed, a U.S. ambassador was NOT murdered, U.S. military personal were rushed into action immediately), the hamsters moved on to mischaracterizing the success of the attack and the origins of the people who participated. Erielle Davidson writes:
The New York Times has labeled the attackers “mourners” responding to the U.S. strikes, while the front page of the first Washington Post edition of 2020 labeled them “protesters.” The latter is a particularly pernicious mislabeling. The media has done its best to conflate the attacks with anti-Iran protests that have been happening across Iraq for the last three months, but of course those actual protesters are pro-Iraqi sovereignty demonstrators fed up with the corruption and the broad perception that the Iraqi government is controlled by Iran.

Confirming exactly that accusation, the Iraqi government has repeatedly attacked the anti-Iran protesters, killing hundreds and wounding thousands, while giving a free pass and ready access to the Iran-backed fighters who stormed our embassy.

The media’s goal is to characterize the protests as a wholesale rejection of Trump’s policies in the region, hence the wall-to-wall disinformation about mourning and protesting. What’s actually at stake is Obama’s legacy. The Iran Deal was a bargain in which Iran would be handed control over the Middle East in exchange for some temporary limitations on nuclear activities.
Despite the media's attempts to give a victory to Iran, the embassy attack was a debacle for the mullahs. Richard Fernandez (@wretchardthecat) discusses this in a series of tweets:
1/ Could Benghazi have been saved? That counterfactual can never be settled definitively. But the present case demonstrates the embassy assault tactic cannot be repeated ad infinitum. The amazing thing was there were some, even among the punditry, who thought that it could.

2/ The idea that what worked against Carter, what worked against Obama would always work proved false. The ayatollahs will probably try something different next time.

3/ Winston Churchill once said there was no more exhilarating feeling than to be shot at and missed. Conversely there is nothing worse than to shoot at your sworn enemy and publicly miss. The ayatollahs have committed the ultimate diplomatic crime and walked out empty handed.

4/ If the object was to teach the US not to strike back at Iranian proxy bombers the exercise also failed. Things are right back where they started: the low level conflict and the strangling sanctions continue.
And that's the reality of the Middle East. Things always wind up "right back where they started." With the exception of Israel, a liberal democracy (that incredibly, leftists love to hate) the region is a mess, ruled by corrupt and ruthless theocrats, dictators and a collection of bad actors who will never do right by their people. History indicates that we should limit our involvement in the region as much as is possible. Donald Trump gets that while the foreign policy elites do not. It's worth noting those same elites have been consistently wrong about the region and our strategies associated with it.

UPDATE:
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Every strike and countertstrike has risks, but there are times when the risks must be taken in an attempt to decapitate an enemy. Donald Trump took that risk last night when he ordered an air strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, "commander of Iran’s elite Quds force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East."

Unlike the previous administration that preferred no action and/or capitulation as the Iranians ran roughshod over the region. Trump has decided to react aggressively to Iran's provocations. The Democrats, not surprisingly, are clutching their pearls warning against such moves, and Trump had shown great restraint in dealing with Iran up to now. No more, it appears.

In my view that's a good thing. When a bad actor—and Iran is a bad actor—thinks it can act with impunity, bad things continue too happen. That will probably be the case in any event, but now Iran understands that its actions carry risks as well.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Glass Houses

The recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks in NYC and other locales has the media all abuzz. They were quick to condemn the attacks and should be praised for that. But they were equally quick to promote the outrageous and mendacious claims made by Democrat Mayor of NYC, Bill DeBlasio (a staunch left-winger) and Dem Rep. Eric Swalwell (a left-wing member of Congress), who stated that Donald Trump was responsible for the atmosphere that created the attacks. The prevailing media narrative (encouraged by the Democrats) is that right wing white supremacists are solely responsible for the anti-Semitism that is increasing yearly.

Extremists on the Right have always been involved in anti-Semitism, and they have been rightly condemned for their words and actions. No decent person condones their position on Jews and even fewer applaud their actions in that regard. They are scum.

But an equally vicious form of anti-Semitism has evolved and grown over the past few decades, and it's coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Debbie Hall comments:
... unlike the right-wing “white” version [of anti-Semitism], those on the left seem to have a very difficult time admitting that there are murderous Jew-haters within their ranks and they will deflect and make excuses and twist themselves into pretzels to avoid the stark reality that antisemites live on the left as much as they do on the right. When antisemites ran for office under the Republican ticket, the Republican Party denounced them and refused to back them. When neo-Nazi Arthur Jones ran for Congress, Tim Schneider, Chair of the Illinois Republican Party responded by stating, “We’ll use every means available to us, social media, and our press releases, everything, to ensure that Republican voters do not vote for Arthur Jones in the primary.” To their credit, the Republican Party responded appropriately to the antisemites running under their banner.

In contrast, when antisemitic Democratic candidate Maria Estrada ran for State Assembly in California, the California Democratic Party was silent on her antisemitism. Privately they acknowledged that she was a problem in my conversations with them, but publicly, I couldn’t find any denouncements of this candidate and they certainly didn’t actively work against her campaign as the Republicans did with their antisemitic candidates. In fact, the Democratic Socialists of America ENDORSED Maria Estrada and ultimately she came in second. Estrada was another leftist who touted the “wisdom” of Louis Farrakhan [a blatant anti-Semite].

Then we had the Women’s March antisemitism fiasco and their affiliation with and endorsement of Louis Farrakhan. Linda Sarsour [a blatant anti-Semite] spoke at one of his events and Tamika Mallory referred to him as the “Greatest of All Time.” Despite the leadership being called to task by most Jewish liberals, the liberal community at-large was not only silent, but they continued to endorse this Women’s March in spite of the antisemitic views of the leaders.

When Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib made outrageous antisemitic remarks on social media, there was the quiet slapping of Omar’s hand and total silence with regard to Tlaib by the Democratic National Committee and Speaker Pelosi. In fact, because the despised Donald Trump rightly called Omar and Tlaib out for their antisemitism, the kneejerk liberal stance was to defend them ...

In fact, so far, the only person of color who has had consequences for his antisemitism is Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired from CNN for reciting the genocidal mantra, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The editors of the New York Post are blunt when they write about a growing strain of anti-Semitism among some African Americans:
Some black leaders even promote anti-Semitism: Recall when City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo blamed a spate of violent anti-Jewish attacks on black fear of being “pushed out” by Jewish landlords? She later apologized, but Jersey City school-board member Joan Terrell-Paige stands by her remarks, after the killings in her city this month, calling Jews “brutes” who “waved bags of money.”

The national Democratic Party itself has been increasingly open to anti-Semites: Bernie Sanders has embraced extremists like Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar. After Omar smeared Jews with her “It’s all about the Benjamins” quip, House Democrats shied from censuring her; Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed Omar didn’t mean to be anti-Semitic.

And nearly every Democrat makes sure to kiss Al Sharpton’s ring, despite his role fanning flames during the anti-Jewish riot in Crown Heights.
But to be realistic, the Dems have their narrative and they'll stick to it. Hypocrisy, yes, but hardly unsurprising. In a perfect world, it's the media who would keep the Dems honest, pointing out the growing anti-Semitism coming from the left. Conservative writer Ben Shapiro comments on the media and its reaction:
The same media that will ask whether President Donald Trump's executive orders designed to protect Jews on campus are ackshually anti-Semitic will ignore the fact that former President Barack Obama sat in Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years -- the same Jeremiah Wright who railed against Jews and Israel routinely during those years; who said Jews kept Obama from talking with him after the election; and who avers that "Jesus was a Palestinian." Democratic candidates who suggest that Trump has emboldened anti-Semites will make pilgrimage to Rev. Al Sharpton, who was instrumental in not one but two anti-Semitic riots. The same commentators who will police Republican references to George Soros for hints of anti-Semitism completely excuse open anti-Semitism when it comes from Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. It's deemed completely vital by our intelligentsia to survey white Americans for signs of white supremacy and, by extension, signs of anti-Semitism. Those same intelligentsia will patently ignore the fact that anti-Semitic attitudes among black Americans far outweigh similar attitudes among other racial groups, according to repeated polling by the Anti-Defamation League.

Anti-Semitism grows when the victims become secondary and the perpetrators become primary. If you're only concerned about anti-Semitism from white supremacists but utterly blithe about Jews being beaten in the streets of one of the nation's largest cities by suspects who clearly are not white supremacists, you're part of the problem.
The Left loves to characterize itself as our moral compass—pure of thought, sensitive to the downtrodden, and oh-so-woke on social issues. Their problem is that their compass never seems to swing in the direction of leftists (including more than a few social justice warriors) who "morality" drives them to anti-Semitic statements and behavior. To use a well-worn cliche, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

UPDATE:
---------------

Dominic Green adds some additional commentary:
The guilt and possible motives of Grafton Thomas, the suspect arrested in the Monsey attack, remain to be established. Meanwhile, to the enormous embarrassment of white liberals, the Democratic party, the mayor of New York City and much of the American media, CCTV footage and police reports attest that the majority of attacks over the last three years have been carried out by African Americans or Hispanics.

It is no more than the sorry truth to say that African Americans poll higher on anti-Jewish attitudes than any other native-born American population, with immigrant Hispanics polling similarly poorly. It is another sorry truth of American history since the 1960s that a minority of radicals have claimed the authority to represent African Americans and then incited against Jews.

It is an even sorrier truth that the Democratic party has entered into a strategic alliance with these demagogues and bigots in order to win African American votes — and with the shameful connivance of a majority of Jewish American politicians. The fact that Republican presidents have pursued similarly unscrupulous and damaging strategies in their cultivation of white votes — George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton gambit, Donald Trump’s use of the ‘birther’ myth — merely confirms that squalid racial politics remain endemic in the United States.
We live in an era where victimization is emphasized and in some warped way, even celebrated.The Democratic party along with their trained hamsters in the media have worked overtime to convince selected minority groups that they are victims (think: the perpetual use of the phrases "systemic racism" or "white privilege" that are far too often used as an excuse for underperformance by some segments of minority communities). That seems to encourage an extremist fringe within these communities to act out violently against "oppressors" who their own leaders sometimes imply are Jews.

The old anti-Semitism comes from the Right. The new anti-Semitism comes from the Left. Both are despicable, and the only way to address them is to admit they both exist.