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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

36 perecent

A recent national poll, I forgot which, indicated that 54 percent of the public think Barack Obama is doing a weak job in the foreign policy realm, but 36 percent think he's acting commendably.

36 percent! That. Is. Amazing!

Sure, it's likely that a combination of "low information voters,"  mindless Obama supporters, and other citizens who never look at the news might reflexively agree that this president is doing a good job in his dealings with Russia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and ISIS, along with his  blatant anti-Israel positions. But 36 percent? Come on. Can't be. But it is.

A headline in Obama's favorite media outlet, The New York Times, states: "Obama Urges Calm in Face of Two Crises in Ukraine and Syria."

Richard Fernandez responds:
The president’s right: it’s not time to panic. The time to panic was about six months ago. It’s essentially too late to halt the dynamic of events now. Timing matters. Once the batter misses the ball it doesn’t matter how hard he subsequently swings. Someone should tell the president the time to bat is over and the janitor can’t keep the stadium lights on much longer.
Recently, Obama was criticized for stating: "we don't have a strategy yet," but that's not true. Obama's  strategy is:
  • dither for as long as it takes for events have become so screwed up that there are no good moves left to make, then
  • send mixed signals, having members of his Team of 2s (e.g., John Kerry) say one thing about a policy and then have Obama say something else entirely, then
  • complain that there are no good moves left to make, then
  • blame others for your own inaction.
And once criticism from across the political spectrum grows (e.g., Democrat Senator Diane Finestein was harshly critical of this president on this Sunday's morning shows),
  • look like you're considering alternatives, but
  • always place pre-defined restrictions on what you're going to do (e.g., limited air strikes against ISIS), so that
  • your alternatives become meaningless or counter-productive. 
That's the strategy. This past Thursday, Russia invaded the Ukraine, and ISIS continued its march in the Levant.
And 36 percent think Obama is doing a good job.

You would think that because Barack Obama is the 'smartest guy in the room,' he'd be a quick study. That after one or two foreign policy debacles, he would learn. He would jettison fantasy and embrace reality. You'd think he would recognize that projection of strength, decisiveness, and national will are all that keep hard men at bay.

You'd be wrong.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Post apocalyptic novels are always dark, describing the the breakdown of society, as services (e.g., electricity, readily available food and medical care, police protection) no longer exist. In his classic novel, The Road, Cormac McCarthy presents a very dark, yet somehow compelling, view of post-apocalyptic America. From Wikipedia:
[The Road] is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth. The novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2006.
At the core of McCarthy's story is the love between a father and son, juxtaposed against a human landscape in which survival of the fittest rules supreme. The Road is a very dark novel, set against an unnamed apocalypse that allows the reader to focus more on human interactions than on the cause of the downfall of society.

I'm reading One Second After, by William Forstchen et al, another post-apocalyptic novel that is far from science fiction. It's not nearly as well-crafted as The Road, but that's not the point. One Second After is the story of an EMP attack against the United States. In case you're not familar with EMP, here's a brief commentary that recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal:
In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt.

Recent declassification of EMP studies by the U.S. government has begun to draw attention to this dire threat. Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.

The much neglected 2004 and 2008 reports by the congressional EMP Commission—only now garnering increased public attention—warn that "terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or a military base, they may gain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack."
One Second After tells the story of an EMP attack, originating from a small container ship in the Gulf of Mexico. From the ship, terrorists launch scud-like missles with small nuclear weapons 20 miles up in an EMP attack pattern that covers the entire United States. The rockets detonate at altitude and fry every electronic device (much like a lightning strike) making the entire electric grid and every electronic control system, every computer, every car built after 1980, every mobile device, and every unprotected military system inoperable—permanently inoperable. The recovery from such an event would take months if not years, and the consequences just might destroy the United States as we know it.

In One Second After, transportation, the electric grid, and communication all fail catastrophically. The consequence for water supplies, food distribution and supply, and medical care become dire within a few days. Within a week, the rule of law begins to break down as mass migrations out of major cities begin (on foot). Things become progressively worse as the weeks pass with no central authority, vanishing food supplies, disease, and other apocalyptic scenarios.

As someone who lives in an area of the country that (until recent years) suffers hurricanes (with consequencial lose of power and communication, however temporary), it might be that I can appreciate the plausablity of One Second After better than some. Even one day after a hurricane, store shelves are bare, electicity is out, curfews are in effect, phones are out ... but that's temporary, and everyone knows it's temporary. What if it wasn't? What if a post-hurricance scenario lasted for months or years with the added problem of little or no motorized transportation.

An EMP is a nightmare scenario that would cripple the United States like no other. It's a perfect goal for Islamic terrorists and it is technically achievable in the very short term.

So ... what are Barack Obama and his Democratic colleages worried about from an "apocalyptic" point of view? Climate change. After all, despite evidence that questions the scientific integrity of the predictive climate change models that are used, despite data that indicate that temperatures have not risen significantly in almost two decades, despite the fact the prediction of near-term calamity have all been proven wrong, despite the fact that no one can accurately assess the contribution of human endeavors to climate change—that's the BIG worry.

Obama wants to spend a trillion dollars combating a progressive boogieman, because he believes that self-serving hundred-year climate change predictions are real (when 10 year predictions have been proven false). It would take less than 1 percent of that money to protect our grid from an EMP attack, but Obama and the Dems can't seem to find the money.

Here's a thought ... if an EMP attack occurs, the climate change models that progressives treat like a modern-day bible/prophesy won't be able to operate, and we won't have access to the 100-year Chicken Little predictions that seem to energize them. That alone should be reason for this president and his party to push hard for funding that would combat an EMP attack— a real existential threat and a real present danger.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Just imagine, if you will, that a major government agency, say the IRS, under the direction of a Republican president (say, George W. Bush), repeatedly and abusively did everything possible to impede an investigation looking into evidence that progressive organizations were targeted for audit and harassment. Imagine further that the major government agency repeatedly lied before congress, actively destroyed evidence of wrong-doing that probably lead to the GOP White House, and stonewalled every attempt to get to the truth. Further assume that this agency was aided and abetted by the sitting president and his administration, his attorney general, and his party.

Gangsta? Right?

Do you think the the main stream media might have interest in the situation as it's described above? When the GOP president said there's not a "smidgen of evidence, "do you think the media would take that statement at face value and move on? When his AG did nothing to investigate and when pressured, then had the chutzpa to appoint a DoJ lead investigator who recently worked for the IRS, do you think the media would shrug their collective shoulders and look away? When members of his party filibustered congressional investigations, suggesting that they were a waste of money, do you think the media would trumpet their comments without critique?

Yesterday, we learned this from Sidney Powell of The New York Observer:
The IRS filing in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court reveals shocking new information. The IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry AFTER it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. As an IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury, the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.

We all know by now that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar “crashes,” leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner’s Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry—and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.

Judge Sullivan has had to pry information from the IRS to learn anything about Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry. Now, with these latest revelations, I’m confident he’s not finished.

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

The IRS did not even attempt to retrieve that data. It cavalierly recites: “There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this investigation,” according to Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategy & Modernization.
There's plenty of evidence, plenty of corruption, plenty of reason to investigate, but for Obama's trained hamsters in the media, there's not a "smidgen" of interest.

There are few real heroes in this major scandal, but U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan is one of them. He seems committed to get to the truth, has been angered by the stonewalling he has encountered from the Obama administration and the IRS, and is doing something about it. I, for one, hope he succeeds and that the people responsible for the acts and the coverup go to jail.

UPDATE (8/28/2014)

Is there a strategy behind the "gangsta" behavior of the Obama administration with regard to the IRS scandal? Seth Mandel believes there is. He writes:
If the latest revelations about the IRS are correct, then its officials have approached the abuse-of-power scandal with a clear strategy, pretty much from the beginning. They have been betting that, since their illegal targeting campaign against those who disagree with President Obama has had the backing of Democrats in Congress, they needed only a media strategy, not a political one. And that media strategy appears to have been: conceal or destroy potential (and actual) evidence, and assume that this activity will be less damaging than whatever is in the files they’ve worked to hide.

It’s a direct challenge to the media, in other words.
After reviewing recent news outlined in my post, Mandel goes on to write:
It is especially a challenge to the press if it’s true that the emails still exist but the government doesn’t want to go through the hassle of finding them. It’s actually more brazen, in some ways, than even trying to destroy them. It’s the sign of a government with nothing but pure contempt for the people. As Walter Russell Mead argues:
But if Fitton’s claim is true, then the IRS scandal really has arrived, and it is difficult not to conclude that we are dealing with a genuine constitutional crime. This wouldn’t be a matter of bribes or personal blackmail or sexual misconduct or any of the ordinary forms of corruption that are unfortunately far too common. Rather, it’s about the deliberate use of the power of the federal government to go after political opponents, and then a desperate attempt by others to cover it up. We’re still hoping that this story is exposed to a lot more light (and perhaps less heat), but the more we see, the worse and worse it looks.
Indeed, it would go beyond the sadly all-too-routinized forms of corruption, which are bad enough. The newest round of revelations describe a government agency (and its elected allies) not only thoroughly corrupted but also insistent on its entitlement to stand above accountability. The allegations warrant front-page headlines from the country’s major newspapers, surely. So where are they?
They're doing what trained hamsters have been taught to do—protecting Barack Obama, disregarding their ethics, their objectivity, and their job, and doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. The main stream media can no longer be trusted to 'speak truth to power.' Sad.

UPDATE (9/5/2014)

The Obama administration gangsta ethic keeps on coming. This from the AP today:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status.

The tax agency said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.

On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.

The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.
No evidence, huh? The emails for everyone involved have been "lost" and various "computer crashes" are to blame. No only is this the most incompetent administration in history, it's also the most dishonest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Durable Solutions

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal discusses a commentary by James Dawes, director of the Program in Human Rights at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dawes uses the prevalent left-wing narrative that demands that we understand the motivations of ISIS—and is very hesitant to use the word "evil" to characterize anyone or any entity. Dawes suggests that characterizing the Islamic State (ISIS) as "evil" is a way of allowing ourselves to do them harm—a justification as it were. Dawes writes:
We can say they are evil people doing evil things for evil ends. Or we can do the hard work of understanding the context that made them, so that we can create a context that unmakes them.
OOOOKaaay, then.

The only "context" that will allow us to "understand" the actions of rabid Islamists is to observe their actions (e.g., murder of large numbers of non-believers, gratuitous beheadings, subjugation of entire populations, genocidal acts toward other groups of non-believers) and make an immediate judgement as to whether those actions are evil. The only way to interpret their words and their threats is literally, with no nuance required. The only way we can "unmake" rabid Islamists is a context that leads to their death.

Like every good Leftist, Dawes goes on the denounce the "Shock and Awe" attitude that he contends is counter-productive. He writes:
While invasions and bombing can be effective in the short term, they are not durable solutions to terror-based violence.

Even if U.S. military force could effectively destroy ISIS, there will be similar groups waiting in the wings. If we are to have any hope of preventing the spread of extremist ideologies, we must do more than bomb the believers. We must understand them. We must be willing to continue thinking.

How is ISIS able to achieve the support it needs? What drives people into its ranks? What social pressures and needs, what political and regional vacuums, make it possible for a group like this to thrive? We can choose to answer these questions in two ways.
To paraphrase the fictional character Col. Nathan R. Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) in A Few Good Men, Dawes and his fellow travelers on the Left "... can't handle the truth." Dawes wants to "understand," to develop "durable solutions." Dawes wants context.

Okay, let me try.

The Islam practiced by ISIS and tens of millions of radical Islamists is an ideology, not a religion. It is an ideology that is pervaded by thinking that is more akin to the 9th century that the 21st century. It is an ideology that defeats any attempt at modernization, that demands blind compliance, that is bent on world domination, that has adopted sharia law that condones barbaric acts for minor crimes (stoning for adultery comes to mind), that justifies violence wherever it flourishes, that is belligerently intolerant of non-believers, that subjugates women, that terrorizes gay people, that wrecks the economy of any country in which it exists, that elevates its religious leaders to dictatorial powers (including the power to issue fatwas that are nothing more than death sentences), and that is intolerant of any criticism.

These "truths" are best evidenced in the Arab crescent. Using virtually any modern measure of political freedom, economic progress, or societal growth, the Islamic countries of the Arab crescent fall woefully short. Sure, they have oil (the luck of geography) but even with the enormous wealth it provides, the measures remain awful.

Even if Islamist sympathy pervades only 5 percent of the citizenry in Arab countries (and that's a very, very conservative estimate), it has a reach that has far greater impact on each of the countries in which it resides. As Barack Obama correctly noted, it is a "cancer" that is destroying any effort at modernity, allowing Islamic countries to fall further and further behind the West.

So when James Dawes suggests that understanding will somehow magically lead to ... well, he never really tells us what ... I say this:

Those of us who don't believe in fantasy already understand the context. In fact, we understand all too well. There are no "durable solutions to terror-based violence." The problem is that we can't solve this. It is an intractable problem. Therefore, we can only act to manage and constrain it. And if that means shock and awe, let's get started.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Waking up each morning and getting an international news update has become a cringe-worthy event. In virtually every geopolitical zone, our influence has waned, our mistakes continue to grow, and instability, trouble, violence, or chaos have become the norm.

This has happened on Barack Obama's watch, and although he is not responsible for all of it, his feckless foreign policy, bad decisions (and indecisiveness), and fantasy worldview have contributed to significant problems in many parts of the world.

Bret Steven summarizes this when he writes:
In July, after Germany trounced Brazil 7–1 in the semifinal match of the World Cup—including a first-half stretch in which the Brazilian soccer squad gave up an astonishing five goals in 19 minutes—a sports commentator wrote: “This was not a team losing. It was a dream dying.” These words could equally describe what has become of Barack Obama’s foreign policy since his second inauguration. The president, according to the infatuated view of his political aides and media flatterers, was supposed to be playing o jogo bonito, the beautiful game—ending wars, pressing resets, pursuing pivots, and restoring America’s good name abroad.

Instead, he crumbled.

As I write, the foreign policy of the United States is in a state of unprecedented disarray. In some cases, failed policy has given way to an absence of policy. So it is in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and, at least until recently, Ukraine. In other cases the president has doubled down on failed policy—extending nuclear negotiations with Iran; announcing the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
The most astonishing thing about Barack Obama and his Team of 2s is that they don't seem capable of adaptation. It's almost as if they are robots that have been programmed with a leftist narrative of how the world should be.

The Obama administration robot crashes repeated into the wall of reality (i.e., hard men with defined agendas who are unwilling to compromise when they perceive weakness). Instead of adapting to reality, the Obama foreign policy robot just keeps repeating the program—over and over again. Worse, the program is incapable of recognized a failed algorthm and with each collision with the wall, calls up a subprogram that makes excuses, but then returns to the same failed algorithm.

Never mind past history, never mind repeated failures, never mind that hard men cannot be cajoled with efforts at Kumbayah. The world was supposed to bend to the sheer magnificence of Barack Obama, but guess what? It hasn't.

Every successful president has adapted throughout his presidency. FDR adapted, LBJ adapted. Regan adapted. Clinton Adapted. Even George W. Bush adapted.

The problem with this president is that he seems incapable of adaptation. As a consequence, even some of his most ardent defenders are beginning to raise questions. We have two more years of this ... and that's even more cringe-worthy than the morning news.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What Should We Do?

With the ascension of ISIS, barbarians truly are at the gate. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Director (and past Directors) of our intelligence agencies, members of Congress, and virtually everyone else (but the most delusional isolationist or anti-war advocate) are convinced that ISIS has the funding, the skill set, and the will to mount a significant attack on the United States or in Europe.

The president rightly condemned ISIS with words that were on target (if a bit passive), but as I always say, pay attention to Barack Obama's actions, not his words. With some prodding, I suspect, Obama finally did the right thing by arming the Kurds and providing them and the Iraqis with air support. Ideally, this should have been done 18 months ago, but better late than never. Now he's "considering" broadening his air war on ISIS, but he appears tentative and indecisive (at best).

In my last post, I discussed what we can expect if we exhibit tentative actions and lack of will. If we know what to expect, that leads to a fundamental question: What Should We Do Now?

Before I answer that, here's what we shouldn't do:
  1. continue with pin-prick air operations that help tactically but accomplish virtually nothing strategically;
  2. try to contain ISIS in place allowing their power to grow, their influence to increase, and their recruits to grow in number; 
  3. try to establish a "coalition of the willing" wasting precious time and energy establishing a coalition that will still demand that we do the heavy lifting, or
  4. limit ourselves to operations inside Iraq, thereby providing ISIS with safe haven in Syria.
  5. get involved in nation building of any kind, our object is to destroy ISIS, not be build a democracy in place.
ISIS must be destroyed or at least degraded to the extent that it is no long an immediate threat. To accomplish that, tentative half measures are not in order. If Europe and the U.S. had the will to destroy the Nazis in the 1930s, 60 million lives may have been saved. If we lack the will to combat these 21st century Nazis, millions of lives may ultimately be lost.

In 1944, the Nazis (the 20th century version) began rocket attacks on allied cities. According to Wikipedia:
[In] September 1944, over 3,000 V-2s were launched by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets during the war, mostly London and later Antwerp and Liège. According to a BBC documentary in 2011, the attacks resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 civilians and military personnel, while 12,000 forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners were killed producing the weapons.
In retaliation the allies applied "shock and awe" by bombing Dresden, Germany and other cities. Again, from Wikipedia:
In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[1] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre.[2] Between 22,700 and 25,000 people were killed.[3]
Some continue to argue the morality of the Dresden bombing, but a clear, unequivocal message was delivered. Attack us with barbarity and we will respond in the same currency.

Did the allies lower themselves to the barbarity of the Nazis? Perhaps. But just for a time, just until the Nazis were destroyed. Just until allied countries were safe and their citizens didn't have to fear death from the skies. Is ISIS any different, really, than the 20th century Nazis?

There's a very deep lesson in Dresden, and it can be applied to ISIS, but it must be applied before they come through the gate, not after. Because 70 years after the Dresden raid, ISIS can muster weapons and tactics that will make the V-2 rocket look like a toy.

So ... What Should We Do?

I believe we should apply the lessons of Dresden. To begin, we must use air power in Syria and Iraq to destroy ISIS's command and control, kill as many of their leadership as is possible, and cause others to go into hiding. If doing this results in civilian casualties, so be it. We cannot allow these barbarians to apply Hamas' strategy of using woman and children as human shields.

We should degrade ISIS's weaponry (much of it is US made) wherever it is, with precision munitions and with heavy bombers that drop "shock and awe" ordanance. The intent, remember, is to send a message as well as defeat an enemy—to be crude—"you f*ck with us, you pay a price—a very high price."

ISIS believes we are weak, it believes we have no will, it believes it can defeat us. When hundreds of ISIS soldiers have ruptured ear-drums from 2000 pound bombs, when they stagger dazed and confused from supposed safe-havens under the onslaught of air-power, their confidence may wane. And if it doesn't, at least their numbers will surely be reduced.

We must insert special forces in significant numbers (yes, boots on the ground), with one objective—to terrorize the terrorists. Kill them, their sympathizers, and for the very worst of the ISIS leadership, their families. Destroy their sources of food and water, hunt them with drones from the sky, make them worry about sniper teams and IEDs. Turn the tables. Let them understand that terror works both ways. I'm not suggesting that we occupy territory, but simply diver a harsh currency that ISIS understands—our goal is to terrorize them where they live.

But that's just the beginning. We need to provide an object lesson that emphasizes the allied principle: Threaten to attack us with barbarity and we will respond in the same currency.

If heavy concentrations of ISIS solidiers are identified in a small city in Iraq or Syria, and if the population of that city is sympathetic to ISIS's barbarous creed and ISIS has perpetrated some public form of barbarity (e.g., cutting off the head of an American journalist)... we destroy that city. Yes, this act is terrible. But remember Dresden, and remember that barbarity must be met with the same currency. If it is not, the Barbarians could prevail and that outcome is absolutely, unequivocably unacceptable.

But we're still not done. On the geopolitical front,* we must make quiet overtures to regimes that are (to put it mildly, distasteful) but who want to defeat ISIS and other Islamist groups. We must do more to encourage closer ties with Egypt. Their leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi violently opposes the Muslim Brotherhood (that would be the same MB that the Obama administration's team of 2s claimed was "moderate"). We must hold our nose and quietly assist Assad in Syria (yes, he's a murderous dictator) in his fight against ISIS.

Progressives wring their hands and argue that all of these aggressive actions will increase ISIS recruitment. Possibly, but there is no other option. As recruitment of Western Jihadists or infiltration of the same into our countries continues, should we suspend constitutional protections for those western citizens (Jihadis) who mean to destroy us?

Undoubtedly, the last question is difficult. However, ISIS and other Jihadists have declared war against us. An American citizen who openly advocates war against his own country should lose his right to constitutional protections. Terrorism is not a crime. It is an act of war!

Islamist ideology represents a clear and present danger. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year in an often futile effort to avoid singling out those citizens and visitors who have the highest probability of doing us harm. We frisk a grandmother and allow a 22 year old Somalian national to pass without questioning. We allow a porous southern border—an interstate for Jihadis. Idiocy!

We must profile with intensity. Regardless of politically correct nonsense that is used to justify a shotgun approach to security, Jihadists fit a distinct profile (e.g., national origin, age, itinerary over the past few years, job or lack thereof, religion, local affiliations, as well as immediate psychometric factors) that is well-known to security professionals. Every person who enters the United States should be assessed using that profile, and everyone who fits it should should be questioned thoroughly on entry.

We must limit "free speech" if it involves websites that espouse violent, Jihadist ideology directly against the West. This will help to reduce ISIS recruitment and at the same time, send still another message that Islamists cannot act or espouse hatred with impunity. Specifically, we must apply sophisticated cyberwarfare to shut Jihadist websites and social media feeds down, and continue it every time a new ones pop up. We can and should track every Jihadist website visit and post and use every tech tool available to invade the privacy of those who do visit and/or communicate with known Islamist entities.

Will any of this completely eliminate ISIS or other Islamists? Absolutely not. But it will degrade them in their efforts to attack us, and as important, it will demonstrate that we are at least as serious about this war as they are.

*  In all honesty, I believe that Barack Obama and his team of 2s should stay away from any significant geopolitical moves until he leaves the presidency. His record in the area is so abysmal, it's astounding.

In January, 2014, Obama said this about ISIS: "“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” A few days ago, Obama's Secretary of Defense (another prominent member of the team of 2s) stated: [ISIS is an] “imminent threat to every interest we have,” while adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” So under Obama's watch in 2014, the threat grew and grew and now his administration looks to be confused and in a panic. Interesting that this president missed it so completely.

Richard Fernandez comments on Obamas foreign policy missteps:
To salvage anything he has to go back to the known knowns. Like a man in a swimming pool who belatedly realizes that he can’t swim, his first step must be to extend his foot to see if he can reach bottom. If not, then where is the nearest gutter? The problem is the floundering man in the pool had introduced himself as the next Michael Phelps. Now he has to save himself without letting on.

The administration is caught between demoralization and the need to maintain appearances. More broadly, this is true of the left as a whole in this moment of crisis. Try as they might, the left can’t think of a way to reverse the catastrophes of their making because, like a bad leak that can’t be addressed by a washer change, the fault lies behind their wall. To fix things they’re going to have to rip everything out and start almost from the beginning.
Sadly, they can't "fix things," because they can't admit that major errors were made.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What Should We Expect?

Barack Obama's trained hamsters in the media tried very hard for a very long time to downplay the threat of ISIS (ISIL)—the barbaric Islamist group that has currently seized more than 35,000 square miles of territory in the Middle East. The reason was, as always, to protect this president from charges that his inaction (he dismissed ISIS as the "JV team" less than a year ago) over the two years enabled ISIS's power to grow.

ISIS fully intends to eradicate or convert all non-Muslims in the Middle East and to do so with a level of barbarity that is surprising, even among groups like al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezballah, Boko Haram and the like. They have likely infiltrated Western members of their group into Europe and into the USA (via our porous southern border) and have stated that they want to fly the ISIS flag over the White House. But the media remained relatively silent, until, ironically, one of their own was beheaded—that's right, beheaded—by ISIS on a video that went viral.

The usual suspects, in the media and in Washington, have asked the predictable question, "What Should We do?"

At this point, a better question might be: "What Should We Expect?" The answer to that might better inform a realistic answer to "What Should We Do?"

It's readily apparent that ISIS gets off on terror—they acquire their power through terror (hence, the beheadings, the rapes, the genocidal acts). Their view of terror is much more expansive than, say al Qaeda's. I believe their leadership understands that terror must be used to create societal chaos, and that societal chaos will then lead to destruction from within.  Because they are barbarians, their target will be very broad (unlike al Qaeda, who attacked specific targets.) Their goal is to breakdown the fabric of our society, that they perceive as soft and weak, and to do so in a manner that is long lasting.

So ... what should we expect? Here are a few possibilities:
  • the destruction of critical nodes of our electric grid
  • the introduction of a deadly disease (e.g., Ebola) into the population
  • the detonation of a dirty bomb in one or more major cities
  • the destruction of major bridges or tunnels
  • an attack on one or more major hydoelectric dams
  • the use of nerve gas or some other agent in one or more mass transit systems
  • coordinated attacks on schools/shopping malls/stadiums
I know these possibilities (and many others) keep homeland security and intelligence agencies up at night, but the difference here is that ISIS, unlike al Qaeda, has a large number of western adherents who could operate much more freely in Western countries. After all, we can't profile "folks" (to use Obama's terminology) who are known to have visited the Middle East or who are associated with radial mosques, can we? That would be wrong, wouldn't it?

If ISIS were able to use any one of the attack vectors noted above, the resultant societal and economic chaos could be devastating. For example, if we lost the grid for even one month, food and water shortages would be severe in many places. First price gouging, then hoarding, then looting, and finally lawlessness might follow. It's not a pretty picture and we certainly don't want to find out what would really happen, except to say it wouldn't be good.

So ... that's what we can expect from the 21st century's Nazis.  Now, what can be done? More on that in the next post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The CupCake Rule

As a follow-on to yesterday's post, it's worth noting that the militarization of local police forces is decried by both the Right and the Left. However, the Left (in a fashion that characterizes much of its thinking) seems unable to connect the militarization of local police to its underlying cause—the inexorable growth in government at the federal level.

George Will comments:
In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything , from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.

Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism’s ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches’ contents, which validates regulation of what it calls “competitive foods,” such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.

What has this to do with police, from Ferguson, Mo., to your home town, toting marksman rifles, fighting knives, grenade launchers and other combat gear? Swollen government has a shriveled brain: By printing and borrowing money, government avoids thinking about its proper scope and actual competence. So it smears mine-resistant armored vehicles and other military marvels across 435 congressional districts because it can .
The "cupcake rule" exists because big government thinks it should. Forget common sense and the appeal of harmless local traditions. School districts have been co-opted by infusions of big government money, printed without regard to debt or spending. Once you're co-opted, the rest is easy.

CNSNews reports:
109,631,000 Americans lived in households that received benefits from one or more federally funded "means-tested programs" — also known as welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has not yet reported how many were on welfare in 2013 or the first two quarters of 2014.

But the 109,631,000 living in households taking federal welfare benefits as of the end of 2012, according to the Census Bureau, equaled 35.4 percent of all 309,467,000 people living in the United States at that time.
By comparison, CNSNews notes that there are "103,087,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States (including 16,606,000 full-time year-round government workers)."

As government grows, it becomes more voracious, more intrusive, and more inefficient, causing it to grow more, and demand more (in taxes and regulation). The Democrats seem either unwilling or unable to recognize this phenomenon and reflexively suggest that government provides solutions to every problem. Worse, they and their progressive allies demonize anyone who suggests that debt, uncontrolled spending, and intrusive government policies are a bad thing.

Yesterday, I wrote: "During the presidency of Barack Obama we have been forced to gulp big government from a fire hose. I can only wonder how long it will be before our country drowns." Maybe a better metaphor would be: With intrusive regulations like the 'cupcake rule,' I wonder how long it will be until our country chokes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Last Convenience Store

I've purposely waited to comment on the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO until at least a few facts were determined with some degree of certainty, and at least a small degree of clarity was achieved. The near-hysterical 24-7 coverage of this tragic event by the main stream media, the rush to judgment by the Left, the incitement by the same group of race-baiters who always show up when white-on-black violence occurs, and the appearance of the federal government in a local crime were all sadly predictable.

As more facts emerge, it appears that the original accusations of an execution style murder of a black "teenager" by an unprovoked white police officer are beginning to unravel. The black teenager is a 6'4" 292 lb. man who was caught on video robbing a convenience store and then according to a number of eyewitnesses, attacked the police officer who then shot him. The white police officer was hospitalized after the incident, according to breaking news reports and suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket”—a reasonably severe injury indicating significant impact with someone or some object.

Although emerging facts do not justify a shooting in and of themselves, they certainly fly in the face of claims that this event was an execution-style shooting and that no mitigating circumstances exist.

In recent days, the media and the usual race-baiters continue to fan the flames—rioting and looting ensue. The American Spectator comments on the race baiters:
“No justice, no peace,” scream protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Implicit in this menacing chant is that the rioting on display there for over a week has been justified. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, among other hucksters, disclaim the violence, even as they stoke it with reckless rhetoric. They aren’t interested in peace but power. Were they truly opposed to the violence, they wouldn’t coin chants that condone it.

“We’re not looters. We’re liberators,” says Sharpton. Liberating society from what? The rule of law? His view of justice is that the law be permanently suspended for the racially aggrieved. A police department can only satisfy his measure of racial progress by going soft on politically favored criminals. Sharpton is a “liberator” who enables looters.
But predictable media hysteria and the re-emergence of race-baiters are not the true story here. Richard Fernandez provides more detail:
Ironically, Michael Brown and the paramilitarized Ferguson Police Department are two sides of the same coin. They are the joint product of the politics of grievance and the growing expansion of government. The taxes that made the mobs dependent also armed the paramilitary police that contain them. You have one government department handing out Obamaphones and another handing out MRAPs to the cops. HHS gives out Obamacare and the IRS enforces it.

A giant bureaucracy tasked with providing all “positive rights” rumbles on, even as progressive politics unleashes more “community organizers” while erecting a giant political machine to meet those same growing expectations. It calls to and answers itself. The result on a community scale is Ferguson. The result on a national scale is Barack Obama.
Fernandez goes on to note that the shopkeeper whose business Michael Brown robbed, and the dozens of shopkeepers whose businesses were destroyed by the looters egged on by the "no justice, no piece" crowd, are but "bit players" in this drama. No one really cares about them. They're just staging for this racially charged drama.

Fernandez comments further:
Marxism has always had a particular hatred for “shopkeepers”; the guys who cook your ham and eggs in the diner or pick up the trash in the morning. It reviles as ridiculous the people who try and get by without being uplifted by noble thoughts of race, class warfare or the Engines of History. Yet the ordinary productive man is who actually makes the world turn; who builds the Obamaphones and who provides the cigars to steal.

The attitude “if you don’t want trouble, just hand me the cigars” is met by its fatal twin: Police Officer: “if you don’t want to get shot…just do what I tell you.“ In this universe there is no room for freedom or behavior based on shared culture. There is no room for individual responsibility or limited government. That went out of style along with the old document called the Constitution that nobody reads anymore. All that is left is an insistent crowd outside of a fortified distribution center.

The Great Society — that pale foreshadowing of the real thing into whose realm we are now beginning to enter — sketched out the draft of paradise. And its vision was a multitude demanding to be given things on one side and a great soulless, armored bureaucracy shoveling it out to them on the other. From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed ... Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to shoot you dead in the street, no questions asked. The only difference between socialism and national socialism is a single word.

Many are wondering why the president remains hunkered down in Martha’s Vineyard. Well, what else should he do? The dog caught the car. The greatest tragedy of Ferguson isn’t the bad that’s already happened there. It’s what comes after. When the last convenience store is burned and the last business leaves town, the moral of Ferguson, we will be told by the elites, is that we failed both the mobs and the police; and it will, without any more ado, proceed to give us more of both.
During the presidency of Barack Obama we have been forced to gulp big government from a fire hose. I can only wonder how long it will be before our country drowns.

UPDATE  (8/31/2014):
QuickTrip was a convenience store and gas station that was looted and destroyed in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Recently, it announced that it has no plans to rebuild the store and will be leaving the area,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Very Bad Things

Palestinians and their useful idiots on the Left throw around the word "genocide" when describing Israel's defensive actions to stop continual rocket attacks against its civilian population centers. This disgraces the memory of the millions who died in Armenia at the hands of the Muslim Turks, the Jews who were exterminated in the millions by Nazis in Europe during World War II, the millions who were slaughtered by communists in Cambodia just 40 years ago, and the millions who died in Rwanda and other African countries in past decades. No matter ... facts and logic are irrelevant when the Left (not to mention the "palestinians") gets involved.

Interestingly, the main stream media was obsessed with Israel's actions (at least until Ferguson, MO came along) but has been remarkably silent when it comes the attempts by Islamists to eradicate entire Christian communities throughout the Middle East and Africa. Ron Lauder comments:
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014.
There is a very strange reticence by the main stream media to connect Islam to bad things—very bad things. ISIL—a vicious nazi-like Islamist army—if often referred to as "militants." No adjectives are provided, no further connection to a Muslim caliphate, sharia law or any other meaningful context is provided. Why is that?

I think most people would characterize the wholesale slaughter of entire Christian communities, the destruction of Churches, the forced religious conversion of additional thousands as "very bad things." Why doesn't the media report this with the same degree of focus that they applied to the Israeli-palestinian conflict? Why doesn't our president express outrage and name the perpetrators—using appropriate adjectives to describe the people who are doing this. Why doesn't the UN pass a resolution condemning these actions? Why do so few (yes, I know the grand mufti in Saudi Arabia made a statement condemning "terrorism") Muslim leaders express their outrage over these acts. Questions and still more questions. You have to wonder, don't you?

Friday, August 15, 2014


Even before Barack Obama was elected to his first term, I contended that his past words and some of his questionable associations made him ambivalent about Israel at best, and more likely, covertly anti-Israel.

Because one of the very few strengths that this president exhibits is fundraising, and because he relies heavily of the Jewish community to support Democratic candidates, his anti-Israel positions are only occasionally evidenced in his words. But as I have said many times in this Blog, watch Barack Obama's actions, not his words.

For years, the U.S and Israeli military have had an outstanding relationship. Our DoD rightly recognizes the quality of the IDF and respects it. Both sides regularly share technology, intelligence, and weaponry. The DoD has a long-standing relationship with the IDF that transfers armaments to them as they are needed.

Of course, that was until the Obama administration found out about it from The Wall Street Journal. Now, every transfer of weapons must be approved by the White House—an unprecedented move.

John Podheretz comments:
What on earth? In the middle of a war this country’s president publicly says is justified owing to the relentlessness of the rocket fire against civilian populations, U.S. officials proudly tell the Wall Street Journal, they are holding up weapons transfers to Israel:
They decided to require White House and State Department approval for even routine munitions requests by Israel, officials say.
Instead of being handled as a military-to-military matter, each case is now subject to review—slowing the approval process and signaling to Israel that military assistance once taken for granted is now under closer scrutiny.
These transfers were taking place through entirely traditional, legal, and uncontroversial means. Israel is an ally. It’s at war. War depletes stocks. So why is this happening?

Simply put: It’s a gigantic hissy fit, an expression of rage against Bibi Netanyahu, by whom the administration feels dissed. The quotes in this article are almost beyond belief. In the annals of American foreign policy, no ally has ever been talked about in this way.
It's quite evident that Barack Obama doesn't like Bibi Netanyahu. Obama has directly insulted Israel's Prime Minister on a number of occasions, and Obama's Team of 2s is all too anxious to leak the president's displeasure.

Of course, Bibi is everything that Barack is not—a strong, decisive leader, a man who recognizes the clear threat of radical islam, a man who will not accept the notion that Hamas or Iran or Hezballah will somehow come to terms with Israel's existence and make peace, and most important, a man who can ennuciate these things clearly and extemporaneously, without the need for teleprompters or equivocation.

This recent blockage of arms to our ally is still another example of Obama's passive-aggressive positions on Israel. Sure he sometimes says the right words, but watch his actions—always watch is actions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Campus Activism

I graduated from college at the height of the Vietnam war. College campuses were rife with protest, some violent. That era was the modern birthplace of campus activism. Much of the activism in the late 1960s was justified as anti-war and some (I emphasize: some) of it was arguably justified. But the activism of the 60s quickly morphed into an incubator for leftist students who celebrated everything from the murderous Che Guevara to a broad-based anti-capitalist agenda. Not much has changed.

Today, campus activists have adopted a leftist narrative that is rabidly anti-Israel. There is no logic and absolutely no justification for this position, but no matter—activists don't apply logic and their only justification is moral preening.

Peter Wood describes the current status of campus activism when he writes:
Campus activism is, by and large, the world of make-believe. Whenever students occupy a president’s office, Tinkerbell is not far away. Whenever faculty demand a boycott, Professor Dumbledore winks at Professor Snape.

The premise behind campus activism is always the same. The college campus is a microcosm of the larger world. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens at Oberlin or Sweet Briar is imagined to rock the foundations of the old order. Patriarchy trembles. The Zionist Entity is called to account. The coal-breathing capitalist Earth warmers feel the chill of a generation walking on their graves.

That premise, of course, is always mistaken. It matters not a whit to the energy producers that Pitzer College chose to divest from fossil fuel companies, or even that Stanford, with its much larger endowment, decided to pull out of coal company investments. Israel will do what it needs to do to defend itself against its enemies, regardless of what resolutions the American Studies Association passes. “Patriarchy” stalks the American college campus the way the plesiosaur stalks Loch Ness: oft reported, never actually seen.
As someone who has spent many years on a college campus as a student, a graduate assistant, and a professor, I generally excuse the naivete of college students who perceive themselves as activists. There's something refreshing about a young person's desire to change the world, fight for 'social justice' and speak truth to power. It's ironic, however, that they do this from the safe cocoon of a college campus where demonizing, say, Israel, and showing solidarity with, say, Hamas, doesn't require them to live under the brutal, misogynistic, homophobic, corrupt Hamas regime. Oh well.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Six Questions for HHS

There is very little that the Obama administration can call good news these days. News coming out of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, or Afghanistan—all places where bad foreign policy decisions (or indecision) have rapidly led to events that make them horrendous decisions. A case in point is the decision to ignore ISIL for almost 18 months. Now this barabaric Islamist group has established a "caliphate" and an army and has threatened to attack the United States itself. The president and his team of 2s seem paralyzed with indecision, half measures, and a belief in fantasy (e.g., that a unified government in Iraq will somehow result in an effective buffer against ISIL).

The only good news for the Obama White House is that the domestic scandals that are an integral part of this presidency have fallen out the news entirely. The IRS scandal, a far biggest abuse of government power than Watergate, has disappeared from most news sources (Obama's trained media hamsters are complicit in its disappearance). Benghazi has also disappeared. The other scandals? Most people can't even name them.

But Sharyl Attkisson continues to purse these scandals and notes a new one, fundamentally unreported in the MSM. She writes:
When it comes to accountability questions, one owes the benefit of the doubt to the U.S. government, whoever may be in charge. Managing the massive federal bureaucracy isn’t easy. Responding to the demands from the public, the press and Congress for public information can be time consuming.  However, it becomes increasingly difficult to suspend disbelief in the multiple instances in which the Obama administration is obstructing the release of, or losing, documents in major investigations ...

With the IRS, President Obama insisted there wasn’t a “smidgen” of corruption surrounding the tax agency’s targeting of conservatives. But a key IRS official, Lois Lerner, refused to testify to Congress. And the IRS “lost” subpoenaed documents generated by Lerner and other key officials. These may include documents that Lerner sent to outside agencies and officials. Though the IRS says it will turn over tens of thousands of other documents, it’s hard to feel confident that the most damning ones, if any existed, will have been miraculously saved.

Now, HHS–which has stonewalled subpoenas and Freedom of Information requests in the investigation of–has likewise announced that it probably destroyed some materials that have been subpoenaed in that probe.
Assuming the loss of IRS and HHS materials was accidental, it still begs several questions:

1. Is it reasonable any longer to expect accused federal agencies to conduct their own search for records that could implicate themselves and their top officials?

2. In the case of HHS documents that were not kept: why is “retraining” employees an acceptable remedy? If ordinary Americans were to fail retain documents as required under the law for tax purposes or other reasons, would they be allowed to “retrain” and continue on their way with no repercussions?

3. Specifically, is Ms. Tavenner, as the head of her agency (CMS), being disciplined for this apparent serious breach of federal records retention laws?

4. If federal agencies forgive and “retrain” their employees and top officials for failing to follow federal records retention laws, does the federal government retain the moral authority to prosecute, fine, or otherwise hold accountable ordinary Americans who commit similar infractions?

5. When did HHS (and who at HHS) realize(d) that Tavenner was not following federal records retention processes? How was this information communicated, to whom and when?

6. What searches have been conducted, by whom, and when, to retrieve the Tavenner material that she failed to save? (Aren’t such materials retrievable on archive systems and through ordinary back up methods?)
The administration has perfected the art of stonewalling, but far worse, it appears that it has crossed the line into near-criminal or criminal acts in which evidence is destroyed and legitimate investigations are impeded. Although I believed for a time that the truth would eventually come out, I now think that the Obama administration with the help of his media hamsters and obstruction by Democratic supporters may have succeeded in the efforts subvert any legitimate attempt to understand what really happened in the myriad scandals that plague this presidency.


A president and a party that believe in big government and contend that big government solutions are the best path to "social justice" work very hard to side track any news that might reflect poorly on the object of their affection. The Washington Examiner reports:
Billions of tax dollars are being lost every day to waste, fraud and corruption in the federal government, but President Obama’s administration is blocking inspectors general — the officials who are most likely to find and expose such wrongdoing — from doing their jobs. That’s the disturbing message given to Congress and the American people this week from a majority of the federal government’s 78 IGs. The blocking occurs when agency lawyers deny the authority of IGs to gain access to relevant documents and officials.

The 47 IGs minced no words: “Each of us strongly supports the principle that an inspector general must have complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials available to the agency that relate to that IG’s oversight activities, without unreasonable administrative burdens. The importance of this principle, which was codified by Congress in Section 6(a)(1) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (the IG Act), cannot be overstated. Refusing, restricting, or delaying an IG's access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency’s performance.”

Three specific examples were described in the IGs' letter, including blatant obstruction of important investigations at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and the Peace Corps. But many other IGs have “faced similar obstacles to their work, whether on a claim that some other law or principle trumped the clear mandate of the IG Act or by the agency’s imposition of unnecessarily burdensome administrative conditions on access. Even when we are ultimately able to resolve these issues with senior agency leadership, the process is often lengthy, delays our work, and diverts time and attention from substantive oversight activities.”

The experience of Justice Department IG Michael Horowitz is especially outrageous. In a Senate hearing in April, Horowitz said his office must go through Attorney General Eric Holder to gain access to DOJ documents and officials. Giving Holder the power to veto an IG’s access in that manner egregiously violates the 1978 law and other statutes. Obstruction like Holder’s risks “leaving the agencies insulated from scrutiny and unacceptably vulnerable to mismanagement and misconduct – the very problems that our offices were established to review and that the American people expect us to be able to address,” the IGs said in their letter to Congress.
But wait ... the 'hope and change' crowd told us we would encounter the "most transparent" administration ever. Promises. Promises.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I have on numerous occasions suggested that any military action against Islamists in a Muslim country is like stepping neck deep into a cesspool. Even if the Islamists are defeated, the gains are temporary. The populace of the Muslim country seems unwilling and/or unable to (1) govern itself, (2) field an effective counter force to tamp down Islamists as they rekindle their fervor and their violence, and (3) build an ecomony that might cause the "Arab Street" to reject the nihilist tendencies of a Hamas or Hezballah or Boko Haram or al Qaeda or ISIL (the acronym has recently been changed from ISIS).

When Barack Obama pulled all of our military out of Iraq and purposely (in my view) failed to gain a status of forces agreement that would have allowed us to maintain bases, equipment, and personnel in that cesspool, there were many who cheered him on. Unfortunately, his decision was one of an unending string a bad foreign policy decisions that bowed to domestic politics but ignored the three points noted above. He set the stage for ISIL.

Now, after a year of dithering in which ISIL grew in strength, numbers and through conquest of an ineffective Iraqi army, equipment (ours), Barack Obama has decided to act ... well, sort of. Instead of authorizing an air campaign that would decimate ISIL forces and equipment, he has approved a small number of pin pricks and some (much needed) humanitarian aid for the beleaguered Yezhidis. Incredibly, he has not approved military aid for the Kurds, a steadfast US ally and the only people in the region that would fight ISIL and might possibly defeat them.

But why do anything, if you have to step back into the cesspool? Bobby Ghosh provides part of the answer:
For sheer, brutal efficiency, ISIL is several steps above Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram or even the Taliban. The closest analog I can think of is the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian movement that killed more than two million people in the mid-1970s. There was a reminder of those horrors this week, when two top Khmer Rouge leaders were finally sentenced for their crimes. In their remorseless advance through eastern Syria and northern Iraq, ISIL’s fighters have demonstrated the same iron will and discipline that Khmer Rouge deployed against the Cambodian army and the Cambodian people. In territory Al-Baghdadi controls, he uses the same tactics of intimidation and public punishment that Pol Pot used to cow his fellow Cambodians.

In its appetite for genocide, ISIL seems to borrow from Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. It, too, has identified for extermination entire categories of people. Its fighters have systematically rounded up groups of “unbelievers”—and remember, that can mean anybody, including their fellow Sunnis—and slaughtered them in a manner Heinrich Himmler would have approved of. If the disturbing photographs (and be warned, they are very disturbing) in this Washington Post story were in grainy black-and-white, they could have come from a Nazi death camp. And online videos of these mass killings clearly show the zealous glee with which the executioners go about the work.

That, then, is the nature of the monster on which the US is finally turning its guns. It will not die easily.
ISIL will die only if our military has a serious conversation with our feckless president and convinces him that pin pricks simply won't work. Air power, applied with brutal efficiency will degrade ISIL, and supplying weapons to the Kurds will help to decimate the group on the ground. In case after case, Obama's inaction has allowed bad things to become horrendous things—monstrous things.

ISIL is only the latest example. It must be stopped.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Moral Close-Ups

It's hard to believe that any of the dozens of barbaric Islamist groups that populate areas of the Middle East and North Africa could be worse than Hamas. After all, Hamas places palestinian civilians (particularly children) in close proximity to rocket launchers aimed as Israeli population centers (almost 4000 launches over the past month). Hamas hopes for a propaganda victory when Israel tries to take out the launchers, and collateral damage occurs. For Hamas, human shields are a tactic, and Hamas's apologists within the Muslim community and among the useful idiots on the left take little notice. Even worse, once the fighting ceases, Western nations will give hundreds of millions of dollars of "humanitarian aid" to Hamas, who will not use it for the good of its citizens, but instead to acquire more rockets, build more terror tunnels, and enrich their leadership. Will we never learn?

But as bad as Hamas is, ISIS in Iraq is even worse.  ISIS is the culmination of a trajectory of evil that began with the Muslim brotherhood (you know, the group that our current administration labeled a "moderate"), metastasized into al Qaeda and Hezballah, then again into Hamas, Boko Haram, and now ISIS. Those of us who warned of an "Islamofacist" danger years ago, along with those who criticized Islam for not being far more aggressive in condemning and combating groups within its midst, have been proven right.

ISIS was allowed to grow and strengthen for more than a year. Early on, the group could have been crippled with U.S military action, but the Obama administration was singularly focused on leaving Iraq and couldn't be bothered. Over the past three months, ISIS has become a combat force which until yesterday, went unopposed by any western nation.

Barack Obama has finally approved "limited" U.S. military action again these Islamist barbarians, but it just might be too little, too late. Instead, he should have forcefully encouraged our military to obliterate ISIS where they stand—destroying their people, their weapons and their advantage. We have the firepower, we just don't have the will.

Richard Fernandez comments:
The Obama administration has reached what one might call the ‘Pol Pot Aftermath’ of its Middle Eastern policy. Michael Totten notes that ISIS is massacring the Yezhidis, people who practice “the original religion of the Kurds.” What is worse, according to the New Yorker magazine, this massacre is genocide ...

Of course the Yazidis are not alone in facing extermination. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years there are no Christians in Mosul. What no power of evil has been able to be accomplish in two millenia was achieved in a trice by the most moral administration in American history; perhaps by accident, perhaps by carelessness, perhaps even by design, but achieved nonetheless. Whichever way you look at it, that’s awesome.

The entire map of the Middle East has been transformed into a 21st century version of the European Bloodlands. But the most remarkable thing is this catastrophe was enabled in a fit of moral superiority. Roger Kimball, speaking to an audience in Sydney observed that most striking property of modern political correctness was narcissism. For the ultimate source of leftist legitimacy is the view that they are better simply persons than the rest; able to make moral judgments no one else can. Their self-regard is almost erotic. They’re in love with themselves. Or to paraphrase one the president’s campaign lines: ‘we are the people the world has been waiting for.’

We’re ready for our moral close-ups.
The Wall Street Journal comments on the atrocities that are everyday occurrence under ISIS:
In the corridors of realpolitik, it is always possible that even events that shock the conscience in seemingly faraway places will be seen as insufficient to justify U.S. involvement, especially after the opinion-poll fatigue of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is happening in Iraq, however, won't remain faraway. The men driving their Islamic State have no intention of settling down in dusty towns to a contented, Shariah-led home life. The Islamic State is a dynamic, messianic, outward-moving force.
And therein lies the problem. Islamist groups are on the move. They will not "remain faraway." They will not stop with Iraq, nor will they stop with Israel, or with Africa or even with Europe. Their evil ideology is bent on world domination, and they are using mass slaughter of other peoples, beheadings, violent intimidation, the destruction of any vestige of any religion they encounter, and a broad array of other terror tactics to achieve their goal.

It's time for the West to make a stand and to call on those who claim to be Muslim moderates to be on the front lines of that stand. Sadly, our current leadership prefers to sit far behind the lines, hoping against hope that bad things won't happen. That's fantasy, but then again, that's the hallmark of an administration that's more interested in a "moral closeup" that it is in doing what is right.

Thursday, August 07, 2014


In a scathing critique of Barack Obama, Rich Lowry expresses the reality of a president whose job approval numbers are tanking. Obama appears to have lost the American public, but for those of us who opposed his election in 2008, there's the strange feeling one gets after a bad dream in which you know bad things will happen, you try to warn people to beware, you're ignored, and then have the bad things happen (is there one word for that?)

In the run-up to Barack Obama's first election, I wrote many posts on his total lack of executive experience, his lack of private sector experience, his lack of accomplishment in any real sense (writing two books about oneself is hardly an accomplishment), his questionable (and hidden) academic record, his far-left ideology, and his extremely questionable associations (e.g., with Rashid Khalili, today a Hamas apologist of the highest order). At the time, I thought an Obama presdiency was likely to be rocky, but I never thought he'd do the damage that he has done—both domestically and internationally.

Lowry spares no words when he critiques this president. He writes:
It’s certainly true that the president is much further left than he’d ever admit, but the deepest truth about Obama is that there is no depth. He’s smart without being wise. He’s glib without being eloquent. He’s a celebrity without being interesting. He’s callow.

It’s a trope on the right to say that Obama has quit, that he’s not interested in the job anymore. It isn’t true. If you are smug, overly self-impressed and unwilling to bend from your (erroneous) presumptions of how the world works, this is what presidential leadership looks like.

Obama is incapable of the unexpected gesture or surprising departure. He evidently has no conception of the national interest larger than his ideology or immediate political interests. In terms of his sensibility, he’s about what you’d get if you took the average reader of The New Yorker and made him president of the United States.

The notion that Obama might be a grand historical figure was always an illusion, although at the beginning his rousing words lent it some superficial support. He gave a truly inspired convention speech in 2004 and a few defining campaign speeches in 2008. But that was long ago.

Once the magic wore off, it became clear he’s not really an orator. Few of his big speeches as president have been memorable or remarkable, and he’s almost always failed to move public opinion.

His greatest rhetorical skill turns out to be mockery. The man who once promised to transcend political divisions is an expert at the stinging partisan jab. What Churchill was to thundering statements of resolve, he is to snotty put-downs.
We have over two more years of an Obama presidency. The likelihood that he will learn from past errors, stop whining and negotiate with his political opposition, stop his near and/or actual violations of his constitutional authority, and in the end accomplish something meaningful are very close to zero. "Zero" is also an apt description of this president.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Dark Trajectory

During the Obama presidency, our national debt has increased by approximately $7 trillion ($7,000 billion). Most of this money is being spent on entitlements, both old and newly-enacted. The strategy is simple—give a significant percentage of people free stuff and they will vote repeatedly for more free stuff. In fact, they are voting their wallets.

Those who suggest that we should be fiscally responsible and reduce spending are invariably characterized as uncaring or worse. Those who favor increased spending play a class warfare game in which (they claim) there is sufficient money to pay for all this, if only "the rich" would pay their "fair share." The simple fact that none of that is true doesn't really matter.

The Obama administration is a strong proponent of BIG government—a federal government that tries to solve every problem regardless of the inherent incompetence and corruption that inevitably result. Big government increasingly inserts itself into the lives of its citizens, attacks its opponents, violates our privacy, and has a voracious appetite for our hard earned dollars (coersively collected with an array of new taxes, soon to be augmented with a proposed 'carbon tax.').

Glen Reynolds quotes Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburg, who in 1887 said the following:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover That they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”
It's impossible to say whether the United States will follow the dark trajectory suggested in Tyler's quote, but our profligate spending, our disfunctional government, our incompetent leadership, and our inefficient and often corrupt federal agencies do not bode well for the future.


But then again, maybe there is some hope that the young people of this country have begun to develop a clearer picture of where we're going and what needs to be done about it. Kara Mason of Colorado State University reports:
A newly coined voting bloc called Young Outsiders has two major attributes – they are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Really fiscally conservative.

An overwhelming majority of these Millennial-aged voters actually think government aid does more harm than good, that the government is at its max when it comes to helping the poor, and – get this – that people on the government dole have it way too easy.

These “Young Outsiders” – named by the Pew Research Center in its recently released political typology report, make up about 13 percent of the voting population and could very well swing future elections in Republicans’ favor, research finds.

Pew described this voting bloc as “wildcards,” noting that “these Young Outsiders currently gravitate toward the Republican Party based on their fiscal conservatism and distrust of government.”

“Yet …Young Outsiders tend to be very liberal on social issues, very secular in their religious orientation and are generally open to immigration.”

In fact, the group holds liberal social beliefs: only 25 percent regularly attend church, 67 percent believe marijuana should be legal, and 78 percent believe homosexuality should be “accepted by society,” Pew found.

But, fiscally they are a way different story, the research found.

A whopping 86 percent of Young Outsiders believe “government aid to the poor does more harm than good.” What’s more, more than three-fourths of them, 76 percent, said the government can’t afford to help the poor any more than it already is.

And an overwhelming 81 percent agreed that “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”
Social liberalism and fiscal (governmental) conservatism can co-exist. Let's hope the next generation follows through.


USA Today reports:
A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found.

And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on is “fully consistent with agencies’ records,” according to the report.

Among the data missing from the 6-year-old federal website:

• The Department of Health and Human Services failed to report nearly $544 billion, mostly in direct assistance programs like Medicare. The department admitted that it should have reported aggregate numbers of spending on those programs.

• The Department of the Interior did not report spending for 163 of its 265 assistance programs because, the department said, its accounting systems were not compatible with the data formats required by The result: $5.3 billion in spending missing from the website.

• The White House itself failed to report any of the programs it’s directly responsible for. At the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House, officials said they thought HHS was responsible for reporting their spending.

For more than 22% of federal awards, the spending website literally doesn’t know where the money went. The “place of performance” of federal contracts was most likely to be wrong.
$619 billion? Come on, let's listen to the Democrats and spend even more of our money so that next year we'll break the $1 trillion level for disappearing taxpayer dollars.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Barack Obama's trained hamsters at the left-wing New York Times write:
WASHINGTON — When the State Department condemned Israel’s strike on a United Nations school in Gaza on Sunday, saying it was “appalled” by this “disgraceful” act, it gave full vent to what has been weeks of mounting American anger toward the Israeli government.

The blunt, unsparing language — among the toughest diplomats recall ever being aimed at Israel — lays bare a frustrating reality for the Obama administration: the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has largely dismissed diplomatic efforts by the United States to end the violence in Gaza, leaving American officials to seethe on the sidelines about what they regard as disrespectful treatment.

Even as Israel agreed to a new cease-fire with Hamas, raising hopes for an end to four weeks of bloodshed, its relationship with the United States has been bruised by repeated clashes, from the withering Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peacemaking efforts to Mr. Netanyahu’s dressing down of the American ambassador to Israel.
So let me get this straight ...

1. The Obama administration offers a cease fire to Israel in consultation with Qatar and Turkey (two staunch financial and ideological supporters of Hamas) containing everything that Hamas wants and nothing that Israel requires. It then gets correctly and roundly criticized by Israel for its ham-handed "diplomacy." Then, like a small child that isn't very sure of itself, it gets defensive and pulls out of the negotiations in a snit.

2. The Obama administration has the gall to use words like "appalling" and "disgraceful" when referring to Israeli defensive actions as thousands of rockets rain down on its civilian population, but has NEVER used the words "appalling" and "disgraceful" when discussion of Hamas' use of human shields is raised.

Finally, Obama and his team of 2s "seethe" because Israel won't go along with this administration's pro-Islamist tilt. Yeah, after all, Obama has demonstrated so many true successes in the middle east (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan come to mind) that his dictates should be accepted without question.

One can learn much about the Obama administration as this conflict rages. Without a doubt, the most important thing to be learned is that Barack Obama and his advisors along with his team of 2s at the state department and his ardent supporters in the Democratic party have adopted the same hard-left pro-Hamas meme: Israel in defending itself is an "aggressor," and the murderous Hamas, who would like nothing more than the annihilation of Israel, is the poor "oppressed victim." Like many things that the Left believes, the stupidity, dishonesty, moral inversion, and hypocrisy of the pro-Hamas meme are breathtaking.

As an aside, there are a number of reports (e.g., here) of pro-palestinian protesters (a combination of Muslims and leftists) in the U.S, Canada, and throughout Europe shouting "Heil Hitler," offering the Nazi Salute, and displaying Swastikas. Obviously their solidarity with Hamas in supporting the extermination of the Jews is quite apparent.

I wonder why the Obama administration hasn't issued a "strong" statement suggesting that such behavior is "appalling" and "disgraceful." Oops ... forgot. Nothing about the poor, "oppressed" palestinians can be appalling o disgraceful, can it?

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mindless Disdain

The promise of Barack Obama, when he was elected on a "hope and change" platform in 2008, was a new kind of politics. Obama suggested that there would be no "red or blue America" and that he would work across the aisle to get the business of our country done.

It is, therefore, doubly ironic that Barack Obama has become the most divisive president in modern history. He regularly attacks his opponents, in many cases making them the butt of laughter (among his supporters). He blames them for his own failings (to the applause of his supporters), and denigrates their ideas and objections to his policies, to the knowing nods of his supporters.

Apparently, this president has relatively little knowledge of human nature. He seems unaware that denigrating someone with whom you must negotiate is not a good way to arrive at a deal. That's part of the reason why most of his initiatives have failed and his presidency is in ruins.

Peggy Noonan discusses the accelerating political divisiveness that has become a hallmark of the Obama years. She notes that the America of past decades was so strong that no amount of rhetoric or political argument could threaten her core. But that is changing. She writes:
I think this keeps them [politicians] from seeing clearly the chafing, antagonized, even fearful present. No nation's unity, cohesion and feeling of being at peace with itself can be taken for granted, even ours. They have to be protected day by day, in part by what politicians say. They shouldn't be making it worse. They shouldn't make divisions deeper.

In just the past week that means:

The president shouldn't be using a fateful and divisive word like "impeachment" to raise money and rouse his base. He shouldn't be at campaign-type rallies where he speaks only to the base, he should be speaking to the country. He shouldn't be out there dropping his g's, slouching around a podium, complaining about his ill treatment, describing his opponents with disdain: "Stop just hatin' all the time." The House minority leader shouldn't be using the border crisis as a campaign prop, implying that Republicans would back Democratic proposals if only they were decent and kindly: "It's not just about having a heart. It's about having a soul." And, revealed this week, important government administrators like Lois Lerner shouldn't be able to operate within an agency culture so sick with partisanship that she felt free to refer to Republicans, using her government email account, as "crazies" and "—holes."

All this reflects a political culture of brute and mindless disdain, the kind of culture that makes divisions worse.
Barack Obama does not act like he is the president of all the people of this country. For him, there are friends and foes. Like an old time, corrupt Chicago politician, he rewards and strokes his friends and does as much as he can to manipulate, castigate, and figuratively exterminate his foes. For him, it's all about the next political event (election, fund-raiser, or ideological meme). It's never about compromise, bi-partisan agreement or doing what best for the country regardless of one's politics.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The World Is a Mess

For a time, I lived relatively close to then-Senator from Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman. I'd didn't know him personally and sometimes disagreed with him on policy issues, but I always admired his independent thinking. Lieberman was hated by Connecticut progressives for his strong advocacy for an aggressive posture against a variety of the world's bad actors. Like all politicians, Lieberman wasn't perfect, but he was reasonably genuine, surprisingly moderate, and a free thinker (particularly by today's standard when every Democrat seems to be cast in the Stepford wives mold).

Lieberman so infuriated Connecticut's Democrats that they nominated another to run in his place, only to have Lieberman run as an Independent and win!

In today's Wall Street Journal, Lieberman comments on the current state of our foreign policy (without mentioning that the foreign policy he's taking about is Barack Obama's). He writes that a nation should be loyal to its friends, and at the same time try to convince its foes to see thing differently, but never at the expense of its friends. He quotes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who recently said: "The world is a mess." He then states:
But it is at just such times when it is most important to get involved, to take sides, and make clear that we know who our friends and foes are—and that we will stand with our friends and against our foes. Over history that has proved to be an effective way for a superpower like the U.S. to clean up the "mess" of geopolitics and prevent regional conflicts from becoming wider wars.

Unfortunately, in recent years that has not been the foreign policy of the U.S. and our closest European partners in NATO. When other powers—Iran, Russia and China—have acted aggressively, we have reacted ambivalently, slowly or not at all. Too often we have sent a message of uncertainty to our allies and enemies, making the former more anxious and the latter more ambitious.

The conflict in Syria is a painful example. When the uprising against Bashar Assad began, it was dominated by patriotic Syrian freedom fighters who pleaded for our help. Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the Arab world urged us to provide arms to the rebels and offered to help. We laid back. Iran and Russia did not. They saw the larger importance of the Syrian conflict and poured in weapons and personnel to support Assad.

The result has been enormous loss of life, the "re-election" of Assad, and a big opportunity for Islamist extremists who now control large areas of Syria and Iraq that they have declared an Islamic caliphate from which they plan to attack America. The worst of that would likely have been avoided if we had supported our natural allies in Syria early on.

The disappointment and anxiety of our Arab allies and Israel have only grown as the P-5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran have gone forward in a way they believe gives too much to their foe, Iran, and listens too little to their counsel. In the clearly stated opinion of friends like the Saudis, we and the Europeans have been naïve and ineffective and, as a result, they have begun planning how to deal with a nuclear Iran. Those plans include obtaining their own nuclear weapons.

The actions of the U.S. in response to the current war between Israel, our closest ally in the region, and Hamas, a violent, extremist organization, have further divided us from our allies. The Obama administration has rightly supported Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas's missile and terrorist attacks, but the administration's recent efforts to broker a cease-fire sent an unsettling message. The White House seemed to be siding with Qatar and Turkey, supporters of Hamas, and against not just Israel, but also Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority, who don't want to see Hamas emerge stronger from the conflict. The U.S. succeeded in infuriating Israel, encouraging Hamas and Iran, and once again shaking the confidence of our friends.
The Obama administration is mired in a fantasy ideology that believes that hard men in places like Syria, Iran, China, Russia, and yes, Gaza, can somehow be frightened by words and words alone, by red-lines that are spoken, but never enforced with actions, or by continuous and meaningless gestures and sanctions that are laughably ineffective. Obama and his team of 2s allow "humanitarian concerns" to trump all other actions, and as a consequence, elevate a false moral equivalence when none exists. They either do not understand good from evil or are hesitant to define things in such stark terms.

Does this president truly believe that talking and more talking will somehow dissuade Iran from its headlong push for nuclear weapons? Does his still believe that his early indecisiveness and inaction in Syria was a "nuanced" move, rather than an unmitigated disaster? Does he currently think that his anti-Israel positions of late are best for our only friend in the region and will somehow cause a collection of barbaric Islamists to like and listen to us?

Madeleine Albright is absolutely correct—"the world is a mess." I wonder if Barack Obama understands why that is. Probably not.