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

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Although nothing is yet definite, it looks like a deal with Iran is coming, at least in principle. What that means is the parties—an incompetent president who has been wrong about virtually everything he had tried in the Middle East; a bumbling Secretary of State; their Team of 2s who support this president's actions like robots who have been programmed to make excuses, dissemble, and sneer at critics, and a compliant media—will tell us that because the deal won't be fully completed until June, providing insight into the details would upset the delicate negotiations that are to follow. Basically, they'll tell the congress and the American people, "Trust me."

Of course, it's the details that matter.

Looking toward the construction of a presidential library and a legacy, it appears that Barack Obama doesn't much care about details. John Kerry's job is to get the deal done at all cost, regardless of the consequences, regardless of the concerns of our allies, regardless of the reservations of a bipartisan congressional majority. Obama keeps telling us to "trust me" and then "trust me" some more.

Here's the core problem. Iran is completely, demonstrably, and unquestionably duplicitous and untrustworthy. Yet Barack Obama and his team of 2s will tell us they can verify Iran's actions, can uncover Iran's buried programs to build a nuclear weapon, and control the development of nuclear grade materials. They tell us that a "deal" will not lead to nuclear proliferation in the most unstable region of the world, that Iran is not focused on annihilating Israel and its Sunni adversaries, that the Mullahs are rational actors. All of this is untrue, but untruth is the daily currency of the Obama administration, so none of that comes as any surprise.

Richard Fernandez comments:
In a relatively short period, president Obama will place a very large bet. When he makes the deal a coin will be tossed. On the one hand he may have saved the world from a major war. On the other hand, he may have guaranteed it. No can know for sure while the coin is spinning in the air. We will only know when it lands. Such is the nature of risk in this world.

But surely everyone will agree that it is only prudent to examine the coin before it is tossed or to inspect the dice for loading. At the very least Congress and the Senate must look it over and kick the tires. There should be none of this nonsense about “trust me”. The more serious the outcome, the more finely you must weigh the odds. President Obama is hungry for a legacy. Let’s hope he remembers that an administration legacy is not the same as an epitaph.
If the consequences of Obama's "deal" with Iran were only an epitaph for Barack Obama, I wouldn't be concerned. With or without this "deal," history will judge his presidency harshly.

But the consequences could be an epitaph for an entire region of the world. Hey, maybe that's been Obama's intention all along.

UPDATE (3/30/2015):
As I noted in the main body of this post, the Obama administration will, if a deal on principles with Iran actually happens, tell us that the details are not yet finalized and that it would prefer not to discuss any substantive matters at this stage. Of course, that will allow the Team of 2s further room to capitulate on the details—and the details are all that matter.

Jeffrey Goldberg defines a few important issues that each of us should look for, should a "deal" be announced in the next few days:
1) What will Saudi Arabia do in response to a deal? If the Saudis—who are already battling the Iranians on several fronts—actually head down the path toward nuclearization, then these negotiations will not have served the underlying purpose President Obama ascribed to them ...

2) If the underground enrichment facility at Fordow—which had been hidden from Western view for several years, and which the U.S. and Europe have repeatedly said needs to be closed—is allowed to run centrifuges, even to spin germanium and other elements that cannot be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, then doubt could legitimately be sown about the strength of this deal ...

3) The Iranians have never answered most of the questions put to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency about the possible military dimensions—the so-called PMDs—of their nuclear program. These questions must be answered before sanctions are even partially lifted. Otherwise, the West will never get answers.

4) The proposed speed of sanctions relief is, of course, something to watch carefully. The Iranians want immediate sanctions relief, but the West should only agree to a stately pace of sanctions-removal, predicated on 100-percent Iranian compliance on intrusive inspections, among other issues.

5) The largest question in my mind concerns the matter of break-out time—how long it would take for Iran, once it made a decision to violate the terms of a deal and go for full nuclearization, to actually make a deliverable weapon.
There's also the details of "verification," but realistically, that's only words on paper. Verification of Iran's nuclear ambitions has never worked and has been resisted by the Iranians at every stage. Words on paper will do nothing to make this deal  safer or lower the risk of a bad deal.

If Iran does walk away from a "deal" that by virtually all accounts is a capitulation on the part of the West, and therefore, a major win for the Mullahs, it will be because the Mullahs believe that Barack Obama does not have the will or the political support of foreign leaders to escalate sanctions to crushing levels. It's pretty obvious that the Mullahs also assess Obama's desire to launch a military strike to be vanishingly small. So ... Iran will win either way, making this deal uncertain. Sadly, the West loses either way, making the risks extremely high.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rigging the Game

The adjective "McCarthyism" is often used to condemn any thuggish attempt by a political entity to use the federal government to attack an opposing ideology. Here's a brief description from Wikipedia:
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion.[1] He was noted for making claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the United States federal government and elsewhere. Ultimately, his tactics and inability to substantiate his claims led him to be censured by the United States Senate.

The term McCarthyism, coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist activities. Today the term is used more generally in reference to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.[
McCarthy was an ideological thug, a man who saw conspiracies everywhere and terrorized many decent Americans using the government as a weapon. Many less thuggish members of the Republican party followed his lead and did little to stop his inquisition.

Fast forward to 2015. Today, many in the Democratic party and virtually everybody who self-identifies with the Left has adopted "climate change" as a ideological equivalent of a religion. Rather than considering the scientific evidence in full, noting that some data that causes alarm has been cherry picked and doctored, and even solid scientific measurements conflict with other solid scientific measurements, members of the climate change religion attack those who ask questions with the fervor of ... well .. Joseph McCarthy.

Richard Lindzen comments:
The latest example [of climate change McCarthyism] began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeace noted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.

The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals—David Legates,John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr., Steven Hayward and me—about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.
Hmmm. It is truly ironic that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) is doing exactly the same thing that was done by Rep. Joseph McCarthy (R)—using the power of the government to intimidate those who he disagrees with. Grijalva is an ideological thug. Many less thuggish members of the Democratic party have followed his lead and have done little to stop his inquisition.

Now, Kim Strassel reports:
A trio of Senate Democrats is working to muzzle more than 100 nonprofits and companies that have questioned the climate agenda, with a fishing expedition into their correspondence.

Largely unnoticed is that the congressional climate crusaders didn’t come up with this idea on their own. For several years a coalition of liberal organizations have been using “disclosure” to sully the names of conservative professors and try to shut down their programs. Their particular targets are academics who benefit from funding from the Koch Foundation, which has for decades funded free-market professors and groups on U.S. campuses.

Giving money to universities, and earmarking it for certain purposes, is common, though the left has largely cornered the market. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and his wife several years ago pledged $40 million to Stanford to start the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy ...

Apparently the only kind of thought not allowed is that which might “undermine,” according to UnKochMyCampus, “environmental protection, worker’s rights, health care expansion, and quality public education.” Stopping such research is the mission of this organization, which is spearheaded by Greenpeace, Forecast the Facts (a green outfit focused on climate change), and the American Federation of Teachers.
Leftist groups have every right to argue their positions publicly and test those arguments in the area of opposing ideas. But those same Leftist groups want to rig the game—to remove and or demonize any opposing ideas and any research that might question the veracity of their positions—particularly at Universities, where a new generation forms its view of the world.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I have watched each president closely throughout my adult lifetime. Although I have disagreed with some of their policies,  I do believe that each had tried his best to improve the lot of Americans at home and conducted a foreign policy that was in the best interests of the country that elected him. Each of those presidents had successes and failures—sometimes, impressive successes and sometimes, serious failures. Almost all were flawed men, but that's no surprise, because all were human.

President Barack Obama is absolutely unique among these men. Brett Stevens (no friend of this president) comments:
There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.

He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.

He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.

To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.
For the Obama administration,  I would add—deceit is truth, incompetence is achievement, and divisiveness is a good thing.

I wish this were not so. I wish that Barack Obama wasn't a prisoner of an ideology that warps his worldview, causing him to look at decades-long friends as enemies, and allows him to hope against hope that vicious adversaries will change their ways. I wish this president valued honesty as a virtue, and placed competence above ideology. I wish that Barack Obama were a better president and a better man. Sadly, he isn't.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


After he helped in overthrowing U.S. ally, Egypt's Hosni Mubarek, when the "Arab Spring" was at its peak, Barack Obama embraced his replacement—Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Disregarding clear evidence that the Brotherhood represented radical Islam, was a strong proponent of Sharia law, and would silence their internal critics with violence, Obama told us that they were "moderates" and that he would support them as Egypt's ruling party.

Thirty million Egyptians had another opinion, and when the Brotherhood was overthrown by popular protest, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi was named president. Barack Obama was not pleased. To this day, he has given a cold shoulder to Al Sisi, delaying the delivery of weapons to help fight radical Islamists and otherwise being aloof and unresponsive to Egypt's needs.

Al Sisi is the leader of those Muslims who are finally speaking out in favor of a Muslim Reformation, demanding that his fellow religionists reject violence and reach detente with the West. If there is one Muslim leader who Barack Obama should enthusiastically embrace, it is Al Sisi. Instead our foreign policy genius has decided to embrace the world's terror master, a clear opponent of any Muslim reformation, and an icon of radical Islam—Iran. Go figure.

The Wall Street Journal presents an interesting profile of Al Sisi. In it, the Egyptian leader states:
“The real Islamic religion grants absolute freedom for the whole people to believe or not believe. Never does Islam dictate to kill others because they do not believe in Islam. Never does it dictate that [Muslims] have the right to dictate [their beliefs] to the whole world. Never does Islam say that only Muslims will go to paradise and others go to hell.”

Jabbing his right finger in the air for emphasis, he adds: “We are not gods on earth, and we do not have this right to act in the name of Allah.”
Later he says:
“You can never reduce our relations with the U.S. to matters of weapons systems. We are keen on a strategic relationship with the U.S. above everything else. And we will never turn our backs on you—even if you turn your backs on us.”
Hmmm. Looks like a guy who is worth working with—cautiously, for sure, but certainly more trustworthy than the Mullahs of Iran.

After reading the WSJ profile, a commenter ("Herb Kay") writes the following:
This may be a moment when things look dark but when the Law of Unintended Consequences works in our and the civilized world's favor. Here is what I saw between the lines of this article:
  1. Al Sisi knows that Obama is incompetent and unreliable but since he lived and studied here he understands that presidents are transitory figures so he only has to wait him out.
  2. He understands better than anyone that that the real enemies of civilization are radical Sunni Islam and Shiite fanatics.
  3. He is working closely with the Israelis and understands that the two countries have common cause.
  4. Not one mention of Palestinians.
So, here is what I think is going on that we may all someday backhandedly thank President Obama for. The enemy of my enemy is my friend in the Middle East and we have inadvertently created a secret alliance between Israel and civilized Sunni nations to crush the bad guys. It is mostly covert since the Arab street is uneducated and needs to be respected. Good.
So ... we have Barack Obama working very hard to distance himself from Egypt and Israel (who he is now demonizing to the extreme). But maybe, Obama's bumbling, if not downright irresponsible, approach to Middle Eastern policy may have a silver lining.  Maybe not.

The real question is: Is Obama really so stupid that he cannot recognize his friends from his enemies? I doubt that. But then, why does he keep Egypt at arms length and suggest that Israel is now unworthy of our support? Why is he working so, so hard to mollify Iran—a vicious, untrustworthy and violent nation state that supports radical Islam and is a clear enemy of both Egypt and Israel?

Curious ... very, very curious.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Barack Obama has little credibility when it comes to his foreign policy decisions in the Middle East (and much of the rest of the world as well). Over the past six years, we have seen bad decision after bad decision leading to disastrous outcomes. Even Thomas Friedman, a staunch Obama supporter, has finally dropped his partisan slant and speaks the "grim" truth:
If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim.
Barack Obama is not solely responsible for what we're currently seeing in the Middle East, but he has had a significant part to play in the current chaos. In decision after bad decision, he has projected indecisiveness, weakness, and incompetence in a region that responds only to decisiveness and strength.

That's what makes his headlong push to cut a deal that will allow a nuclear Iran even more frightening. What is there in his past decisions and actions in the region that would make any trust him to act decisively and with strength in this situation? The answer: zero, nada, zilch.

Richard Fernandez adds to the gloom commenting first on Friedman and then on Obama:
We have come a long way from Hope and Change. In fact [Thomas] Friedman’s catalog of woes isn’t the half of it. Obama has managed the amazing feat of losing everything and gaining nothing and being despised by every side to boot. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Palestinians, Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon, Turkey, Libya — and what used to be called Yemen — have learned one searing lesson. There are people who are all hat and no cattle.

And now he’s managed the impossible. He’s actually on the verge of an open breach with Israel. There’s Russia and China on the periphery, circling like vultures, but let’s leave them out of the reckoning for the moment because if Friedman hasn’t ruined your morning, I’m not about to.

From a psychological point of view the president has to double down on Netanyahu — hurt him somehow — if only to demonstrate to anyone still interested, perhaps even to himself, that he can bite with his gums in the absence of teeth. But it’s pointless. Even Obama’s revenge is pointless. None of his proposed sanctions against Israel will move the needle in any direction that matters.

As I pointed out yesterday, the president has no winning hand left. He doesn’t even have the semblance of a game. It’s over.
Grim indeed.

Monday, March 23, 2015


On September 12, 2014,  Barack Obama told the nation that Yemen was one of his administration's success stories, that his vaunted anti-terrorism strategy is "one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years." Obama and his Team of 2s were happy to provide Yemen's security forces with $500 million in new military equipment, because ... well ... things were working out so well, weren't they?

Fast forward seven months. The Yemeni government, the same government that Obama called a success story, has been overrun by Iranian sponsored Islamist group, the Houthis. The American embassy was evacuated and a few days ago, we removed 100 special forces operators because the situation on the ground was too dangerous — for special forces guys!! Boy, that is a real indicator of "success," isn't it?

Meanwhile, CBS News reports:
Nick Rasmussen, who directs the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Yemen's American-funded army failed to oppose advancing Houthi rebels in the same way the U.S.-supported Iraqi military refused to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants last year.

What happened in Iraq with the onslaught of ISIS "happened in Yemen" on "a somewhat smaller scale," he said. "As the Houthi advances toward Sanaa took place... they weren't opposed in many places.... The situation deteriorated far more rapidly than we expected."
Gosh, whether it's ISIS in Iraq, the disintegration of Libya, or the fall of Yemen (to name just a few), it seems that we're experiencing so much Obama foreign policy "success" it's beginning to become troubling.

Richard Fernandez comments:
Trying to make sense of Barack Obama’s foreign policy has become something like a branch of Kremlinology. Opinions vary between whether the president has either cleverly set Iran against Riyadh [in Yemen] or he has let loose all the devils in hell. Early in February, Michael Doran “a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council” wrote a long paper trying to make sense of Obama’s strategy only to reach the conclusion that the president’s objectives are secret.

Doran tried to posit a framework consistent with the administration’s puzzling actions. At the end of his long analysis, which elicited responses from Eliot Abrams and a host of other foreign policy names, Obama’s goals seemed just as much a mystery as ever. I can hardly add to the observations of these distinguished scholars, except to suggest that the puzzle arises from the lack of any apparent numeraire, which is a fancy economic word for some means of keeping score.

There’s no score keeping system in which Obama is making points unless that scoring system is secret and we’re just too dumb to figure it out.

Losing Iraq, Libya, Yemen; being humiliated by Assad; and having the Taliban call the tune seems to matter not a whit to the president. Like the Black Knight in the Monty Python movie who can endure having his limbs lopped off, these events are apparently costless to the president, who serenely proclaims himself as “winning” every round though nobody knows what the game is; nobody that is, except him.
Leftists correctly point out that during the Bush years neo-cons developed a foreign policy that failed because they assumed—incorrectly—that they could build democracies in Muslim countries with opposing Sunni and Shia factions, rampant corruption, and a clear anti-democratic culture. They were wrong, but they did clearly state their goal and could be measured against it.

Obama has never attempted to establish any goal, allowing him to do what leftists love—step through the looking glass and call each of his many, many failures—a "success."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bloody Borders

Many of the Left's trained hamsters in the media would be more likely to do an on-camera interview (without protective clothing) with an Ebola victim than they would allow the public to hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali express her views on Islam. Here are a few recent comments, published in The Wall Street Journal:
“Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide. The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.

Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.

When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.
Hirsi Ali is a hero, an African woman who has suffered greatly at the hands of radical Islam, an activist who has been repeatedly threatened with death for speaking against the violence perpetrated by adherents of a religion she was born into, and a compelling spokesperson who tells inconvenient truths.

She is therefore shunned by the Left, despite her gender, her skin color, her harrowing story, her bravery—she is persona non gratia.

By promoting the fantasy that a very small percent of Muslims support Jihad (know one knows what the percentage is because know one wants to know), we refuse to call Islam to account. Hirsi Ali comments further:
Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.
Christians and Jews went through a reformation of sorts centuries ago, rejecting the most violent passages in their holy books. That's why the Crusades are a very distant memory (except, it seems, for Barack Obama who inexplicably raised the Crusades in a recent speech, and Islamic radicals, who raise the issue repeatedly). Islam must have their own reformation if it intends to become an active partner with the world's people as we progress into the 21st century, but there seems to be little progress in that direction. In some ways, that's as troubling as the Islamic thugs who terrorize vast swaths of the Middle East, threaten Israel with annihilation, and the West with extreme violence.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


The story of David Patraeus raises questions that remain unanswered to this day. Patraeus is a decorated general whose genius resulted in clear success late in the Iraq war, stabilizing the country and demolishing Islamist elements inside the country. All of that changed with the ascendency of Barack Obama. Appointed to head the CIA by Obama, he fought administration hacks in the aftermath of Benghazi, arguing against the lie (perpetrated to protect Obama during a close election campaign) that an anti-Islamic video was to blame for a terrorist attack resulting in the murder of a US ambassador and three other Americans. As a result, he was, many believe, outed for an affair he had with a biographer. Further, he was threatened with criminal prosecution with a clear intent of keeping him quiet. He retired and removed himself from the public eye. Then, inexplicably, he was then forced to plea bargain a federal indictment in a transparent effort to "controversialize" him and anything he might say that conflicted with Barack Obama's policies.

It looks like the administration coercion worked for a time, but no more. Patraeus probably realized that he had little left to loose and has re-entered the debate. Larry Kudlow reports:
Don't just rely on Benjamin Netanyahu's passionate advice to Congress on his way to reelection that Iran is our archenemy. Now we have the counsel of retired general David Petraeus, who gave a remarkable interview this week to the Washington Post. Petraeus agrees with Netanhayhu: Iran, not ISIS, is the real enemy.

His message: "I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq's long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by -- and some guided by -- Iran."

The general adds, "Longer-term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran."
With each passing day, it appears that a deal with Iran is in the offing. If Bibi and David negotiated the deal, I'd be confident that it is in the best interests of Israel, the United States and our other long-term allies. But with Barack Obama, John Kerry and their Team of 2s doing the "negotiating" ... my confidence in a good deal approaches zero.


Larry Kudlow also asks some very important questions that the Team of 2s has not adequately answered:
So why are President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry trying to do business with Iran? If we know who the militias really are and know that Iran wants to take over Iraq and control the whole region, why is the United States talking about lifting economic sanctions and negotiating some sort of accommodationist deal with our arch enemy?

And why is the U.S. doing this with oil down 50 percent and Iran a high-cost producer? The economic table is set for a catastrophic fiscal blow to Iran -- our enemy.

According to a Wall Street Journal news report, Iran needs $130.70 per barrel of oil to balance its budget. But the price of Brent crude is about $55, or roughly 60 percent below what Iran needs. It's hard to get credible economic numbers for Iran, but it's a safe guess that the budget is most of the state-run economy. Therefore, cheap oil is deadly for Iran.

So I ask again: Why are we helping them? We've got Iran on the ropes. Why loosen the sanctions?
Why ... indeed?


Yesterday, I briefly discussed the PR scheme that the Obama administration (and to a significantly lesser extent, earlier administrations) uses to combat good reporting on its many scandals, its foreign policy failures, and on its domestic programs. The scheme is called "controversializing." Sharyl Attkisson discusses it at length in her seminal book, Stonewalled, a study of the media in the age of Obama.

Attkisson, a journalistic hero who I have mentioned many times in this blog (e.g., here), describes the scheme in her book:
... the Obama administration has aggressively employed the addition PR strategy: controversializing potentially damaging stories, reporters, and opponents to undermine them. It can be a highly effective tactic, unless the public learns to recognize it. Just how does one take a fact-based, solid story and turn it into a controversy to therefore be questioned by an unsuspecting public? By putting into motion a well-oiled machine that launches complaint calls and emails [to media executives and editors], comments to other reporters (often not for attribution); bloggers who circulate manufactured outrage and counter spin; and personal attacks against the journalist. Pretty soon, the administration has controversialized an entire line of reporting. Not because it is controversial, but because their machine has made it appear to be ...

Journalist Michael Hastings once discussed this phenomenom. Hastings had authored the award-winning Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McCrystal [who was very critical of Barack Obama] that led to McCrystal's resignation. [Hastings] spoke of the "insidious response ... when you piss off the powerful. They come after your career; they try to come after your credibility. They do cocktail party whisper campaigns. They try to make you 'controversial.' Sadly, the Powers that Be are often aided by other journalists."
And there's the rub. Obama's trained hamsters in the media act as an extention of his PR efforts. They work with this administration to controversialize any fact-based story the reflects badly on this president or his people. That's why Fast and Furious is "old news." That's why Benghazi and the IRS scandals are "phony" or "politically motivated" or nothing but the imaginings of conspiracy theorists. That's why news reports about the administration's unprecedented attacks on the Associated Press were quickly silenced. And now, that's why the Israeli election is "controversial" and why Bibi Netanyahu is being characterized as an enemy of Obama, and by extension, bad for America.

In July of 2014, the Society of Profession Journalists, whose members include luminaries from progressive media like the NYT, the LAT, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and many, many others wrote an open letter to this president objecting to "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies." Later they noted that the problem has gotten worse and that  "We consider these restrictions a form of censorship."

The irony is that many of their colleagues are only to happy to aid and abet the censorship.

No Surprise

The Obama administration Jihad against Bibi Netanyahu following his election victory is amazing (and very troubling) to watch. This from Obama's flack, Josh Earnest:
You've also heard me raise significant concerns that we have here about the divisive election day political tactics that were deployed by the prime minister's political party on election day. And you've also heard me raise concerns about the prime minister indicting withdrawal of his country's commitment to a two-state solution and those are views that we have discussed in this venue over the last day or two and those were topics that the president raised directly with the prime minister in that phone call as I said that he would.
That's rich—Barack Obama criticizing Bibi Netanyahu for "divisive election day political tactics" after Obama worked overtime to divide his own country along class lines by dishonestly characterizing Mitt Romney as "uncaring" and those voters who preferred Romney (to a corrupt, dishonest, and incompetent sitting president) as somehow morally challenged.

Barack Obama and his administration are now in full-fledged anti-Israel mode—fulfilling an ugly bias that Obama had (and continues to have) long before he was first elected in 2008.

David Hirsanyi comments:
After years of ginned-up conflict, Barack Obama has finally found a pretext to change the contours of the United States-Israel alliance. Israel’s policies might not be changing, but the administration will “reevaluate” the relationship, anyway.

POLITICO reports that Obama may, among other things, stop shielding Israel from international pressure at the United Nations. So Americans can look forward to joining Sudan or Yemen—feel free to pick any autocratic dump, really—in condemning Jews for living in their historic homeland and relying on democratic institutions rather than a consensus at the United Nation to decide their fate.

So our morally chaotic foreign policy is coming to a predictable climax. At least on this issue. Obama, with no more elections to run, will now use these threats to pressure Israel into compliance on an Iran deal that looks more dangerous every day...
Obama is acting like a thug who thinks he can intimidate a small, democratic country into committing national suicide. The real questions are these: Where are the Democrats who purport to support Israel? Why are they not raising their voices in protest? Is there not a single Democrat senator or Congressman who finds Obama's coersive public language just the least bit offensive and is willing to say so, publicly? Are they all truly Stepford wives, roboticly following a president who appears to have become unhinged over another country's leader who questions his foreign policy?

The Left's rhetoric and support for Obama on this issue is a disgrace, but then again, it's no surprise.

Friday, March 20, 2015


The Obama administration has perfected a technique called "controversializing." In a nutshell (I'll discuss this idea in more detail my next post), it's a PR scheme that tries to make any negative report or commentary, any bad news for the administration, and anyone who reports the former "controversial." This is done by suggesting that reports of the scandal or event are "phony," or "old news" and that the people who report them are "politically motivated," or "conspiracy theorists."

Obama's trained hamsters in the media have adopted the administration's "controversializing" strategy, doing the administration's PR work for it. This has been exemplified in recent days with the vicious anti-Netanyahu and anti-Israel rhetoric coming from supposedly objective reporters.

Mark Stein notes that this is not something exclusively American. He writes:
The media are also taking Netanyahu's re-election badly. Who said this?
Harper Backs Netanyahu's Controversial Israel Victory
And who said this?
"Over a million Arabs take part in Middle East's most democratic elections today"; "The Arabs in Israel are the only Middle East Arab group that practices true democracy"..."Israel is the world's most vibrant democracy."
The first is the reaction of The Globe And Mail, Canada's newspaper of record. The second is Ghanem Nuseibeh, a Palestinian supporter of the Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog. It comes to something when the Palestinians sound less unhinged about Netanyahu's victory than the western media do.

What's "controversial" about the Israeli election result other than that it's not the one The Globe And Mail [or most Western media] wanted?

Isn't there anything a wee bit "controversial" about the Palestinian election? Oh, that's right: They haven't held any for a decade or so - Abbas and his fellow Fatah kleptocrats in the West Bank because they want to continue bulking up their Swiss bank accounts with generous Euro-American subsidies, and Hamas in Gaza because they regard democracy as Erdogan in Turkey put it, merely a train you ride until it gets you to where you want to go. Which it did back in 2006.
So ... here we have the media in full throat about the "controversial" democratic election conducted without incident by a staunch US ally. The same media insists that a "two state solution" is absolutely, positively, unequivocally essential to world peace and any reservations about it are ... well ... unacceptable and controversial.

But a two state solution implies that the entity other than Israel reject terror, reject it's eliminationist rhetoric against Israel, reject the launching of thousands of rockets into Israel, reject a virulently ant-Semitic school curriculum, reject the terror group Hamas, reject the rampant corruption that leaves its leaders with great wealth and its people impoverished. The entity must also prove that it can run a civil, non-violent society. The palestinians have done NONE of those things. You'd think maybe calls for a two-state solution when one of the parties not only doesn't reject violence, or corruption, or bigotry but applauds it, would itself be "controversial." Not a chance.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hard Right

Reuters is typical of most news organizations as they report under the headline "Hard-right shift delivers upset election win for Netanyahu":
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Wednesday to form a new governing coalition quickly after an upset election victory that was built on a shift to the right and is likely to worsen a troubled relationship with the White House.

In the final days of campaigning, Netanyahu abandoned a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state - the basis of more than two decades of Middle East peacemaking - and promised to go on building settlements on occupied land. Such policies defy the core vision of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict embraced by President Barack Obama and his Republican and Democratic predecessors.
In the main-stream media, "hard-right" is used frequently as a pejorative phrase that is intended to delegitimize a group that the Left disagrees with. In the context of this Israeli election, let's examine exactly what the phrase "hard right" means:
  • It means people who are concerned—very concerned —about the Arab predilection to publicly and repeatedly express the desire for the annihilation of the State of Israel.
  • It means people who do not want a nuclear Iran and are willing to tell feckless Western leaders that a deal with a terror-sponsoring state that repeatedly lies about everything except its intention to destroy Israel (and ultimately, the West) is a bad deal.
  • It means people who don't appreciate one feckless leader in particular who actively tried to sway their election with political operatives and, it appears, taxpayer money from his own country.
  • It means people who do not see any reason to make peace with a group—the palestinians—who have no legitimate historical or lawful claim to Israeli land, who have no past "palestinian state" that was "taken away" or "occupied," and who have murderous intentions that have been played out repeatedly over the last 70 years.
  • It means people who have every right to build apartment blocks and other housing on land that is part of their country, and cannot understand how leftists somehow equate building housing  with the palestinians' rockets targeting schools and Israeli civilian population centers.
  • It means people who love their country, are proud of its amazing achievements, and are equally proud of the liberal democracy (unique in the Middle East) that respects women, gay people, religious freedom, the rule of law, and yes, even its Arab citizens who have the right to vote and participate it its democracy (something not present in most of it neighboring Arab countries).
  • It means people who say "never again" and live it every day in a country that must be strong in a very, very bad neighborhood.
That's what "hard right" means in this context, and if an increasingly petulant Barack Obama, some of his Democrat supporters, and Reuters, along with the other trained hamsters of the MSM, are upset by that reality, it's too damn bad.


It appears that there will be no attempt at rapprochement with Israel coming from the Obama administration. Instead a president who has been petulant and vindictive when he doesn't get his way now threatens (via leaks from the White House) to sponsor UN sanctions that would force Israel into a peace deal with the palestinians. Of course, the phrase "peace deal" is laughable because it would empower the terror group Hamas and increase the influence and threat from Islamist Iran—apparently, Obama's new friend in the Middle East.

The Wall Street Journal comments:
As for peace with the Palestinians, Israelis have seen Gaza become a launching pad for missile attacks on innocent civilians after Israel left. They have seen the Palestinian Authority reject reasonable land-for-peace offers and the terror group Hamas join the PA’s governing coalition. Israelis have shown they will take risks for peace—recall Oslo in 1993 and Ehud Barak’s sweeping concessions in 2000 that Yasser Arafat rejected—but they are not suicidal.

President Obama might also reflect on his own contribution to Mr. Netanyahu’s victory. Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction are most likely to take risks for peace when they feel secure in America’s support. But Mr. Obama’s looming concessions to Iran’s nuclear program have united Israelis and Arabs in opposition. The President has also been so personally and overtly hostile to Mr. Netanyahu, even trying to stop and then belittling his speech to Congress, that he invited a backlash.
But Obama never reflects on his mistakes, never adapts, never veers from a left-wing ideology that conveniently forgets the facts noted by the WSJ. My guess is that the Obama administration will punish Israel in a vindictive act that will allow an anti-Israel UN to sanction our ally. What's surprising is that the Democrats in the House and Senate will likely do nothing to stop him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Win

Every country has internal politics—the state of its economy, social issues, education, national debt, the plight of its underclass, immigration ... the list is long. Every political leader is flawed—by ego, by the people he or she relies on, by the supporters he must court ... the list is also long. But in the end, the best leaders stand on principle, tell the truth when the truth matters most, recognize that not every country is their country's friend and that some countries have malevolent intent, project strength (of principle and resolve) to the hard men who inhabit the world. The best leaders prevail, and Bibi Netanyahu is one of those leaders.

Barack Obama and his Democrat supporters had done everything possible to ensure Bibi's defeat. They demonized him domestically, send political operatives to help defeat him in his own country. There are even strong indications (another scandal that will never see the light of day) that this president provided taxpayer money to a group that worked in Israel to ensure Netanyahu's defeat.

Obama's trained hamsters in the media, had, I am certain, already written long epitaphs for Netanyahu, telling us how his "right wing" politics, his rejection of the notion that peace can be readily achieved with the [murderous, anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Semitic] palestinians, his "diss" of Barack Obama and his team of 2s, his "interference" with a speech to the Congress (41 ovations!) condemning the Iran deal, all contributed to his defeat. All of those pieces have now been relegated to the trash bin. I can only smile.

Bibi won, and with that win, the Middle East recognizes that Israel will remain strong and resolute, even in the face of pressure mounted by a leftist leader in the U.S. Bibi won, and with that win, there is absolutely no question that Israel will remain a strong horse in a very bad neighborhood. Bibi won, and indirectly, the United States won. The only loser is the man who currently inhabits the oval office.


The Weekly Standard reports:
On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
This is absolutely typical of this White House. Rather than doing the diplomatic thing (as a superpower) and congratulating the re-elected leader of our staunchest ally in the Middle East, Barack Obama (and make no mistake, it is Barack Obama) acts like a petulant 13 year-old who doesn't have the grace to recognize the victory of someone he doesn't like.

Recall that Bibi Netanyahu went out of his way during his speech before a joint session of Congress to praise Obama (a man who Bibi clearly does not like, with very good reason, I might add). Good men act with class. Bad men act like spoiled children.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


In an example of excellent reporting, Caroline Glick (read the entire article) describes the many facet's of Barack Obama's aggressive anti-Israel position and the growing danger that this will cause for the only Democracy in the Middle East.

Obama's appeasement of Iran and the likelihood of an extremely bad nuclear dead that will lead the the Mullah's acquisition of nuclear weapons is only the most visible example of this president's headlong rush to put the entire Middle East, including our Muslim Sunni allies and Israel, in jeopardy.

But there's much, much more.

Back in 2007 - 2008, those of us who weren't in the thrall of Obama worship took the time to examine his past associations and words (Obama had accomplished so little in real terms, that there were few meaningful actions to examine). The media worked very hard to bury Obama's questionable relationships with pro-Palestinian activists and his various hard-left mentors who were—to a man and woman—virulently anti-Israel. The MSM ignored his equivocal support of the Jewish State. Each of those early indicators were a harbinger of today's Obama—anti-Israel in both word and deed.

Quietly, the Obama administration has replaced the National Security Council Middle East Coordinator Phil Gordon with Robert Malley. Glick reports:
Malley, who served as an NSC junior staffer during the Clinton administration, rose to prominence in late 2000 when, following the failed Camp David peace summit in July 2000 and the outbreak of the Palestinian terror war, Malley co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times blaming Israel and then-prime minister Ehud Barak for the failure of the negotiations.

What was most remarkable at the time about Malley’s positions was that they completely contradicted Bill Clinton’s expressed views. Clinton placed the blame for the failure of the talks squarely on then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s shoulders.

Not only did Arafat reject Barak’s unprecedented offer of Palestinian statehood and sovereignty over all of Gaza, most of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount, he refused to make a counter-offer. And then two months later, he opened the Palestinian terror war.

As Jonathan Tobin explained in Commentary this week, through his writings and public statements, Malley has legitimized Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Malley thinks it is perfectly reasonable that the Palestinians refuse to concede their demand for free immigration of millions of foreign Arabs to the Jewish state in the framework of their concocted “right of return,” even though the clear goal of that demand is to destroy Israel. As Tobin noted, Malley believes that Palestinian terrorism against Israel is “understandable if not necessarily commendable.”

During Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, then-senator Obama listed Malley as a member of his foreign policy team. When pro-Israel groups criticized his appointment, Obama fired Malley.
So ... when he needed money and votes, Obama cynically jettisoned the anti-Israel Malley, but now that he needs neither, back comes Malley. This is but one of many recent actions that signal Obama's accelerating anti-Israel stance. Glick notes them all.

If this was only an Obama thing, it would be over in 22 months. The danger is that we are already seeing a shift in support for Israel among some Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media—all driven by their mindless, and at times, robotic, support for a president who is taking the country in a direction that aligns it will sworn enemies and jettisons friends. In this fantasy world view, Obama and his supporters think that making nicey-nice with Iran or Hamas, or more recently, Assad (can you believe it!) will lead to peace in our time.

Exactly the opposite will occur.

Monday, March 16, 2015

End Run

With a smirk that has become one of his trademark expressions, Barack Obama indicated before the 2014 elections that he was not "an emperor" and did not have unilateral authority to make law. But this president has demonstrated repeatedly that he puts very little value on the truth when it gets in the way of his political objectives. It therefore comes as no surprise that he has acted unilaterally and intends to do so, not only in a relatively mundane regulatory context (although that, in itself, is potentially unconstitutional), but in a major nuclear arms deal that has created bi-partisan concern in the Congress.

Should a bad deal be reached (that's the only kind of deal that can be reached by Obama's Team of 2s negotiated with Iran, a terror state), Obama now threatens to block congressional approval by going directly to the UN, an organization only too happy to drop Iranian sanctions so that its members can benefit financially.

The Wall Street Journal comments:
The larger context here is that Mr. Obama is trying to make his Iran deal a fait accompli before Congress has any say. His plan is to strike a deal and submit it to the U.N. Security Council for approval, hemming in Congress. He’ll then waive some Iran sanctions on his own, while arguing that anyone who opposes the deal wants war.

Mr. McDonough’s letter includes a long list of previous agreements that “do not require congressional approval.” But the examples he cites are either minor accords or have had substantial bipartisan support. There is no precedent in the nuclear era for a President negotiating such a major arms-control accord without Congressional assent.

Mr. Obama might have avoided this showdown with Congress if he hadn’t treated America’s elected representatives as little more than a public nuisance. His minions have disclosed more details of the Iran talks to the media than to Congress. It’s little wonder that few Members of either party trust his negotiating skill or security judgment.

Mr. Corker has 65 supporters for his legislation, and he has already delayed it through March 24 at the request of Democrats. If he delays it any more, he risks conceding Mr. Obama’s desire to make Congress the irrelevant equivalent of the Iranian parliament.
If a bad deal is struck and international sanctions are dropped via an Obama UN end run, congressional approval is meaningless and Iran will march toward nuclear weapons—destabilizing the Middle East and presenting a major threat to world peace over the long term. This president is either too self-absorbed to be concerned about the collateral damage. After all, his failed presidency needs a "legacy" moment, doesn't it?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Dog Whistle

The President of the United States sets a tone for the country. The president must be very certain that the positions he takes on any social or societal issue is based a clear, unequivocal facts. His words should not serve to further exacerbate, rather than remedy, societal conflict. In general, the president should not insert himself into local events and must avoid drawing broad-based conclusions based on isolated anecdotal evidence. He and his attorney general should not imply that isolated events indicate systemic trends, unless there is clear and unequivocal proof, backed by compelling data from multiple studies, to indicate that a trend exists.

Barack Obama, possibly inadvertently, but more likely with intent, has done exactly the opposite—particularly when race is involved.

Investor's Business Daily comments on the shooting of two Ferguson, MO police officers during a street protest, spurred by a Justice Department report painting the entire Ferguson Police Department as "racist."
"Nothing in this travesty of a report proves that [the entire police department is 'racist'], and the fact that Justice produced a report so buffoonish, so replete with conclusions unsupported by facts, so lacking in basic methodological rigor, is an embarrassment," blasted U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow, who is black.

But "the report has accomplished its objective," Kirsanow added. "It's smeared police officers across the country, giving the administration excuse to exert greater control over local police departments."

It's also enlarged the target on their backs. Holder excused anti-cop violence that broke out after the Brown shooting, suggesting it was justified by his overall findings.

"Members of the community may not have been responding only to a single isolated confrontation, but also to a pervasive, corrosive and deeply unfortunate lack of trust — attributable to ... abuses, unreasonable searches and seizures, and excessive and dangerous use of force ... against African Americans," he said, only encouraging more violence against cops.
Progressive commentators and activists are fond of using the term "dog whistle" as a bludgeon to silence unpleasant discussion of race. When a Caucasian person uses a word like "thug," those on the left often claim that it's really a substitute for the N-word and therefore telegraphs the speaker's covert racism. I don't agree, but for the moment, let's stipulate that dog whistles do exist.

What Eric Holder did in releasing his report was to create a dog whistle of his own. By indicting the entire Ferguson, MO police department as racist, he "dog whistled" that all cops are racist and therefore provided warped justification for anarchists and the extreme left to agitate protestors to a level that results in attacks on the police, no matter where they are. Of course, Holder would argue he meant no such thing, just as the person who used the word "thug" would argue that its use had nothing to do with race. But if "dog whistles" do exist, the implications go both ways.

What Barack Obama and Eric Holder have done does nothing—absolutely nothing—to remedy the problems facing portions (but not all) of the African American community. The sad reality is that as African Americans themselves, Obama and Holder have a unique opportunity to speak honestly to the community. They could point our structural problems and propose realistic programs that address the underlying problems of family structure, lack of education, and attendant government dependency that have plagued portions of the black community for generations. Instead, their actions have served to convince African Americans that they are victims and that their future is beyond their control.  What they've done doesn't help. Not. One. Bit.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Stonewalling 101

Still another scandal associated with the Obama administration—this one involving Hillary Clinton's use of a privately controlled email server —moves into a steady state mode of ambiguity. For a few days, the main stream media seemed almost interested in delving into the details of Hillary's actions. Gosh, there was even an edge to the comments made by some reports on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC(!!), the NYT (who, to their credit, broke the story), the LAT (not so much). But now, everyone really wants to move on. No breaking investigations, no interviews with others who might have insight or information, and no "deep throat" who might break things wide open. At least not yet, and probably not ever.

Peggy Noonan summarizes:
Everyone knows what the [Hillary Clinton] scandal is. She didn’t want a paper trail of her decisions and actions as secretary of state. She didn’t want to be questioned about them, ever. So she didn’t join the government’s paper-trail system, in this case the State Department’s official email system, which retains and archives records. She built her own private system and got to keep complete control of everything she’d done or written. She no doubt assumed no one outside would ask and no one inside would insist—she’s Hillary, don’t mess with her.

She knew the story might blow but maybe it wouldn’t, worth the chance considering the payoff: secrecy. If what she did became public she’d deal with it then. When this week she was forced to, she stonewalled: “The server will remain private.”
Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the serial Obama administration scandals of the past 6-plus years, is experiencing a strange feeling of deja vu. Under this administration, stonewalling has become an acceptable (and effective) political strategy.

How does all of this begin? A scandal associated with the Obama administration breaks. Doesn't matter whether it's:
  • federally sanctioned gun running to Mexico in which US border agents are killed ("Fast and Furious"
  • improprieties at the Veteran administration (in which veterans were treated with contempt)
  • government intimidate of reporters (the AP scandal and the attacks on James Rosen)
  • federally sanctioned attacks on groups that oppose the politics of Barack Obama (the IRS scandal)
  • federally sanctioned intimidation of businesses who do not fit the politically correct left wing environmental agenda (EPA regulatory thuggery)
  • the death of a US ambassador and three other Americans and the immediate cover-up and misdirection motivated solely for political advantage (Benghazi scandal)
  • and now, a past Secretary of State, making decisions about what is public and what is private that by law, must be made by the government itself
It's worth exploring the rules of the game—Stonewalling 101, as it were— once a scandal breaks:
  1. Those accused of complicity in the scandal remain silent. The hope is that the media will quickly lose interest, that ideologically driven reporters will recognize that any reporting that will "hurt" the politicians they so admire and will shy away from the story.
  2. Supporters of the accused poo-poo any accusations, suggesting they are flimsy and that "there's no there, there." The media's trained hamsters give these supporters significant air time, ask softball questions allowing them to set the tone of the debate.
  3. As more damaging details emerge from outside the MSM, the opposition political party begins to comment and ask questions. The minute that begins, the administration's supporters and spokespeople people respond with "See, this is all politically motivated." 
  4. The trained media hamsters then create headlines like "GOP Attacks the President on<>" rather than "More Questions Emerge about <>. The intent of this wording is to diminish the substance of the accusations in the eyes of the public by implicitly suggesting that it's only politics.
  5. If the story has legs, media spokespeople or the principals themselves will emerge to  tell the public that this is nothing but a partisan attack. They misrepresent the facts, invent strawmen to denigrate legitimate questions, and outright lie. No matter, their comments are presented by the trained media hamsters with little, if any, push-back.
  6. If the hard facts begin to turn against the administration, they throw a few low-level functionaries under the bus. Recall how Barack Obama and his direct reports argued that the IRS scandal was all the work of a few GS-12s in Cincinatti, OH—until it wasn't.
  7. Once the low level people have been blamed, the administration expresses "outrage" that this could happen, argues that it's a unique circumstance, and states that it will work hard to correct the situation. This has been an administrative screw-up of no major import.
  8. To rectify these "administrative screw-ups" the administration names political appointees to conduct a "thorough investigation and produce a report." The report is delayed again and again, is edited to remove any culpability, and is a clear and obvious whitewash.
  9. When asked to turn over additional information, the administration delays and then delays some more. They use freedom of information requests to slow the process down as much as possible. They obfuscate and misdirect.
  10. When they are forced to turn over information (usually by court order many months or years later), they bury the investigators with irrelevant documents and communications. Anything that might have importance has been "lost," or "inadvertently destroyed" in some unrecoverable manner."
  11. If "lost" information is somehow found by intrepid investigators, the administration expresses surprise, but absolutely no remorse. Instead, the administration works hard to delay or impede access to the newly found information using privacy or national security excuses.
  12. At the same time, administration spokespeople express exasperation that the investigation has become "a political witch hunt" and that (this is rich coming from Democrats), further work is a "waste of taxpayer money."
  13. As time passes, the administration begins calling any investigation "old news." They claim that investigations have been exhaustive, xx,xxx pages of [meaningless] documents have been turned over, that nothing has been uncovered, that every question has been answered. Of course none of that is true, but the implication is 'there's no reason to give further questions any credence.' The trained hamsters in the media report the administration's "old news" claims without critique or comment—except to implicitly agree.
  14. Those who continue to ask legitimate questions about the original scandal are labeled conspiracy theorists or "haters" with the clear implication that they are crazies who are not worth any hearing.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should.

As we watch Hillary's "emailgate" emerge, keep the rules of Stonewalling 101 in mind. The Obama Administration has escaped culpability for some of the worst government scandals in modern times by perfecting the 14 rules I noted earlier. In a twisted way, that's kind of impressive.

But in a world where honesty and integrity still matter, it's absolutely disgusting.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


The Democrats and their many media allies are in a tizzy about the GOP "letter" sent to the Mullahs of Iran concerning the on-going nuclear negotiations in which a bad deal* is almost guaranteed, based on a number of leaks about the terms of the agreement. The Dems are suggesting that "arguments about diplomacy must stop at the water's edge" and the the GOP letter is "unprecedented. Here's a typical comment from Leslie Gelb:
That letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators could well destroy critical bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy for years to come and treacherously undermine the bargaining power of the person constitutionally authorized to conduct American affairs abroad—the President of the United States. On top of what House Speaker John Boehner did by unilaterally inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, this letter seriously points to one terrible conclusion: A formidable number of congressional Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.

These acts go entirely beyond legitimate criticism of presidential actions abroad. They are not like a few legislators wandering in foreign lands and expressing their disagreement with their government. They surely exceed the usual congressional resolutions of disagreement with presidential policy.

What the 47 did was not a trivial matter or “a tempest in a teapot,” as Senator John McCain has described it. It could well affect possible Iranian concessions in the end game. The ayatollahs could well conclude from that letter that concessions they might have made just aren’t worth it politically, as the agreement would go nowhere anyway. They’d be taking political risks for nothing.

Beyond these negotiations, the effects on our national security may well be profound and lasting. Just look at the future implications of what these Republican senators said in their letter. They maintained, in effect, that this thing a president of the United States has been negotiating will either be thrown out by Congress or discarded by the next president, so don’t waste your time. Did the 47 even consider how future Congresses would apply such words to future presidents?
And then, there's Max Fisher in left-wing Vox whose hyperbolic rant against the GOP is entitled "Republicans are crossing a dangerous new line: sabotaging US foreign policy"

The media wants us to believe that a simple letter (published publicly for all to see) undermines Barack Obama's negotiating position. They want us to believe it is unprecedented. Steve Hayes helps set the record straight:
The whole idea that this is controversial is preposterous on its face. Republicans write this letter, basically re-stating their long-held views that they’re not going to be bound, as Members of Congress, as Senators, by an agreement that President Obama doesn’t include them in. That’s stating the obvious. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And the idea that this is somehow new or this is ending the idea that foreign policy stops at the water’s edge, is totally preposterous.

Remember, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives flew to Baghdad – we later found out on a trip financed by Saddam Hussein -- appeared on Sunday shows from Baghdad – this is David Bonier – to trash the Bush administration and the arguments they were making about Iraq.

In 2007, Nancy Pelosi went to Damascus, despite the Bush administration’s request that she not to do that, embraced Bashar Assad and basically got his back, suggested he wanted peace with Israel.

In 1990 – go back to the Gulf War – Jimmy Carter wrote a secret letter to members of the U.N. Security Council telling them that they should oppose the resolution that George H. Bush was pushing that would have led to war in Iraq.

The idea that this is unprecedented or new is preposterous. The only thing wrong with the letter is it should have come earlier and should have included references to Iran and al Qaeda.
So ... it appears that when democrats don't stop at the border, it's okay with the media—as long as a GOP president is in office. Visiting vicious dictators—okay. Sending a secret letter to the UN security council—okay. Praising a blood thristy leader of Syria—okay. But when the GOP questions a really bad* negotiation that could lead to catastrophic consequences, their move is "unprecedented."

As I've noted many times over the past six years, virtually every foreign policy decision made by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and now, John Kerry has been wrong and in some cases disastrous (Libya comes to mind). Why should anyone believe that this time, Barack Obama and his Team of 2s will be right?

Barack Obama contends that he can control Iran's rush toward nuclear weapons through arms control verification and peace talks. Unfortunately, when fantasy (Obama's view) and reality (the lessons of history) collide, reality has a way of winning.

Douglas Feith summarizes:
The Iranian regime is theocratic and revolutionary. It came to power in 1979 on a wave of extremist religious ideology and remains committed to exporting its revolution. Its leaders despise liberalism and democracy. They particularly hate Western respect for the rights of women and homosexuals. The regime remains in power through torture and murder of its domestic critics. It makes frequent use of public executions—the numbers have increased lately even though President Hasan Rouhani is commonly called a reformer.

Abroad, the Iranian regime acts as a rogue. Its agents and terrorist proxies have committed bombings and other murders in countries including France, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq. A U.S. court convicted Iranian agents of plotting in 2011 to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Iranian officials foment hatred of the U.S. and Israel and call for the annihilation of both.

Iranian leaders have a long record of shameless dishonesty. Their aid to the tyrannical Assad regime has been massive since the Syrian civil war began, but they routinely deny it. And they make a practice of lying to United Nations weapons inspectors. Commenting on how the inspectors have repeatedly been surprised by what Iran hides, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, told this newspaper in 2013, “If there is no undeclared installation today . . . it will be the first time in 20 years that Iran doesn’t have one.”

Iran is a bad actor, and history teaches that constraining bad actors through arms control and peace accords is a losing bet. The arms-control approach is to invite bad actors to sign legal agreements. This produces signing ceremonies, where political leaders can act as if there’s nobody here but us peaceable, law-abiding global citizens. The deal makers get to celebrate their accords at least until the bad actors inevitably violate them.

Nazi Germany violated the Versailles Treaty. The Soviet Union violated the Biological Weapons Convention, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, various nuclear-arms treaties and other international agreements. The Palestine Liberation Organization violated the Oslo Accords. North Korea violated the Agreed Framework.
If an "agreement" is reached with Iran, there is a 99% probability that Iran will violate it. History, both past and present, is a key indicator. Unless of course, you're Barack Obama or any one of his supporters. Then, well, the 1% is all that matters. Maybe that's because Obama and his supporters are obsessed with the 1%. Oops, that's a different context, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's "press conference" addressing her use of a private email server that only she controlled throughout her time as Secretary of State, The Wall Street Journal comments:
Hillary Clinton ’s admirers say she’ll run for President in part by invoking the glory days of the 1990s. For a taste of that era, we recommend her brief press conference Tuesday explaining why she had used a private email account as Secretary of State. It had everything nostalgia buffs could want—deleted evidence, blustery evasions, and preposterous explanations that only James Carville could pretend to believe.

In the preposterous category, Mrs. Clinton explained that she preferred a private email account simply as a “convenience” because it allowed her to “carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” We know plenty of people who have two accounts on the same device, and they don’t even have a retinue of aides to help carry their devices.

To allow for such splendid convenience, Mrs. Clinton had to go to the inconvenience of getting her own domain name for this secret email on the day of her confirmation hearing in 2009, and then setting up a system to manage it. Her “one device” excuse reminds us of her explanation from 1993 that she had made a 10,000% killing on cattle futures by reading the Wall Street Journal.
But this isn't about one or two "devices" or about the use of private email—a relatively common practice. It is about the use of a private, personally control e-mail server, allowing the owner (Hillary Clinton) absolute control over recordkeeping and record deletion. Of course, Hillary claims that she deleted nothing of importance, but the media hamsters who threw softball questions at her yesterday didn't ask:
  • Do you consider any email concerning the Clinton Foundation or donation to it to be "private?"
  • Do you consider personal communication between yourself and Barack Obama's political advisors "private"?
  • Why did you delete "private" emails, rather than archiving them for your future memoirs or simply for the historical record?
  • Did any "private" emails discuss government contracts, private contracts, or other political activities not related to the Department of State?
  • Did any "private" emails communicate with any Ambassador from the US or a foreign country?
  • How many of your emails discussed Libya or the Benghazi incident?
That's just a start, and I'm not a professional "journalist." But I'm also not a trained hamster.

As to Hillary's "complete disclosure" of all relevant emails ... If someone asked you for copies of a few hundred emails and you sent them as paper pages, that person might be justified in thinking that you lacked technical sophistication. If you send 55,000 pages of email as paper, it would be reasonable to think that something else was going on. And if paper was required by some idiotic government regulation, wouldn't it be helpful to send the digital files as well—particularly if your were so, so interested in full disclosure?

Richard Fernandez comments:
Hillary Clinton is responding to a request for her official emails in a calculatingly insulting way. She’s turning over the emails as printed pages, almost as if to show her displeasure at being questioned, the way a man might resentfully pay the balance of his home loan with barrels full of pennies.
Hillary Clinton doesn't lack technical sophistication, given that her crack team set up a private email server, with all of the attendant complexity involved. There is only one reason for establishing a private server for email, given the security challenges, the maintenance headaches, and the potential ethical (if not legal) hassle associated with a government employee doing this. Her intent was to tightly control access to embarrassing or incriminating emails, and when necessary, make those embarrassing or incriminating emails disappear without a trace.

As I noted in an earlier post, an investigation of the emails Hillary turned over (as paper, no less) will accomplish little. Her techies need to be subpoenaed and grilled under oath. It's just possible that the threat of perjury may help clarify the facts.

I think Hillary has learned much from the Obama administration, She observed how effectively this president and his Team of 2s have stonewalled serious scandals and to a large extent succeeded. I suspect she figured she could do the same. What she didn't factor in, however, is that stonewalling can only occur with the complicity of the main stream media, who protect Obama like his Praetorian guard. It appears that the media is not quite so anxious to provide the same level of protection for Clinton—at least not at the moment.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dangerous Fantasy

Barack Obama, John Kerry and their Team of 2s have been wounded by Bibi Netanyahu. The Israeli prime Minister had the courage to call out this president before he enters into a bad deal with Iran, and more important, Bibi significantly raised the level of consciousness of members of Congress, specifically with respect to claims of "verification." Hopefully, the media, the congress and the American people will take a very hard look at any deal that Obama cuts with Iran.

But what is a bad deal? First, it's a deal that allows Iran to continue to operate it centrifuges, thereby enabling them to enrich more and more uranium with each passing month. Second, it allows Iran to move toward a bomb after some prescribed period of time—say, the ten years that seems to be what Obama is looking for. Third, it relies on international verification to ensure that the Mullahs aren't cheating, something recent history indicates is a completely ineffective approach. Finally, it refuses to address 11 of 12 core elements that would enable Iran to build a bomb, focusing solely on Uranium enrichment, but disregarding things like ICBM research, development of a fusing, arming and detonator system, explosive testing and simulation, and construction of neutron initiator and nuclear core. It appears that any agreement being negotiated doesn't even consider these core elements.

The New York Times
comments on verification:
The I.A.E.A. inspectors saw hope of getting answers in mid-2007 when they agreed on a “work plan” with Iran meant to shed light on what happened inside the secretive laboratories run by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, said to be Iran’s atomic mastermind. More than two years later, in late 2009, the plan lay in ruins. Mohamed ElBaradei, then the agency’s director general, said the inquiry had “effectively reached a dead end” because of Iran’s intransigence.

In November 2011, the inspectors stepped up the pressure by publishing a detailed listing of a dozen major fields critical for warhead building, saying their cache indicated that Iran had deeply researched the topics. Iran repeated its disavowal. In August 2013, as tensions mounted, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, elected on a platform of getting international sanctions lifted, agreed to open negotiations about the overall fate of Iran’s atomic program.

While those talks have dragged on for 18 months, Iran has let inspectors deep inside its production facilities and observed every commitment on cutting back its production of nuclear fuel. But it has continued to stiff-arm the inspectors on the question of suspected “military dimensions,” despite agreeing to another work plan. The Obama administration has said little about that silence.

Last month, the inspectors reported that “Iran has not provided any explanations” for two of the three design questions now on the table. The other nine remain in limbo.
Yet, Barack Obama will tell us (should a deal be cut) that somehow, some way, we'll be able to verify now, when we couldn't verify over the past 8 years. Even worse, the other components of a bad deal remain in place.

The notion that a negotiated agreement with the Mullahs in Tehran is somehow in America's best interest is a fantasy—a very dangerous fantasy.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Round 'em Up

Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and virtually every other left-wing politician, along with the majority of all Democrats, decry income inequality as “the defining challenge of our time.” It will undoubted become a major narrative for the 2016 presidential campaign—class warfare is always a winner for the Left.

David Azerrad has a wonderful suggestion that will completely eliminate income inequality: "Round up all 136,080 taxpayers who make more than $2.16 million a year [the 0.1 percent] and ship ’em off to whatever country will accept them. Presto. Problem solved."

The Dems think that income inequality is a high priority issue. No matter that it never polls well as an important issue among average Americans. But those who believe that the "rich" are somehow to blame for all of the economic problems facing this country will not be swayed. It's fascinating that as government gets bigger, as debt and spending grow without bound, "income inequality" increases and middle class life degrades. It's as if the Dems, who are very fond of coining "War on ..." memes are conducting their own War on Achievement.

Azerrad comments further about his plan to deport the rich:
While exiling the wealthy will do wonders for inequality in America, it will put a serious dent in the government’s finances. Almost one in every five tax dollars that the government collects comes from the 0.1 percent. To make up for the shortfall, we should probably also confiscate all their assets before exiling them.

What about the jobs the 0.1 percenters create and the value they add to the economy? After all, we’d be losing all but twelve of the CEOs from the 300 largest companies in the country. The show business industry would collapse overnight with all the star talent in exile. Gone too would be the best investment bankers, financial consultants, surgeons and lawyers. One third of the NFL’s roster and well over half of the NBA’s roster would also be culled.

Since the confiscated wealth of the 0.1 percent won’t be enough to make up for the ensuing economic shortfall over the years, we will need to generate more revenue. That could be done rather easily by auctioning off the top-earning Americans to the highest foreign bidder.

One man’s 0.1 percenter is another man’s business maven, job-creator or international superstar. We should be able to fetch top dollar for our economic elite. Heck, we could even get bidding wars started between ambitious third-world countries for our best CEOs.
Sadly, as revenues fall and spending increases, deporting just the 0.1 percent won't be enough, so we'll have to do the same for the 1.0 percent. Round 'em up and deport them, but first confiscate their assets. Even that wouldn't work, but more important, it won't resolve the other less important "challenges" of our time.

Tongue still firmly implanted in cheek, Azzerad writes:
ISIL will continue to expand its Caliphate. Iran will not be any less likely to develop nuclear weapons. China and Russia will not scale back any of their ambitions. The climate will continue to change.

Nor will any of the domestic challenges facing the country have receded. It won’t be any easier to start a business or to find a job. Four in 10 children will still be born out of wedlock. Our entitlements will still face unfunded liabilities of almost $50 trillion. And a new class of 0.1 percenters—poorer than their predecessors, but still formidably richer than the average American—will continue to spend millions on elections.

We will however be able to boldly proclaim that we have addressed “the defining challenge of our time.” Our country will in no way be better off. But we will have satiated our lust for equality.
But the left would feel really, really good about itself. That counts for something, doesn't it?

Last year, the book, Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty was all the rage among those who believe that the only solution to "income inequality" is the massive redistribution of wealth. Piketty became a darling of the Left and was quoted widely by sympathetic pundits and media. But now Piketty has changed his mind. Robert Rosenkranz reports:
‘Capital in the 21st Century,” a dense economic tome written by French economist Thomas Piketty, became a publishing sensation last spring when Harvard University Press released its English translation. The book quickly climbed to the top of best-seller lists, and more than 1.5 million copies are now in circulation in several languages.

The book’s central proposition, that inequality in capitalist societies will inevitably grow, can be summed up with a simple equation: r>g. That is, the return on capital (r) outpaces the growth rate of the economy (g) over time, leading inexorably to the dominance of inherited wealth. Progressives such as Princeton economist Paul Krugman seized on Mr. Piketty’s thesis to justify policies they have long wanted—namely, very high taxes on the wealthy.

Now in an extraordinary about-face, Mr. Piketty has backtracked, undermining the policy prescriptions many have based on his conclusions. In “About Capital in the 21st Century,” slated for May publication in the American Economic Review but already available online, Mr. Piketty writes that far too much has been read into his thesis.

Though his formula helps explain extreme and persistent wealth inequality before World War I, Mr. Piketty maintains, it doesn’t say much about the past 100 years. “I do not view r>g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century,” he writes, “or for forecasting the path of inequality in the 21st century.”

Instead, Mr. Piketty argues in his new paper that political shocks, institutional changes and economic development played a major role in inequality in the past and will likely do so in the future.
Of course, the left will conveniently ignore Piketty's about-face and continue to promote the canard that "income inequality" is at the core of our of our economic problems.

Saturday, March 07, 2015


Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has been one of the very few Democrats who had the courage to question Barack Obama's headlong effort to appease the Iranians and ultimately, set the stage for the radical Islamist government in Tehran to build nuclear weapons. Menendez has also insisted that the Congress be involved in the approval of any "agreement" that the administration comes to with Tehran. Barack Obama is not pleased.

As an aside, Menendez has also criticized the Obama administration capitulation in Cuba, where, incredibly, the Castro brothers are allowed to make demands of us, and we cave. On both Iran and Cuba, Menendez is correct, and more important, I suspect he voices the feelings of more than a few Democrats in the Congress. Those other Democrats will now remain silent. Here's why.

By pure coincidence, I'm sure, Obama's justice department let leak that it intends to bring corruption charges again Menendez. An investigation has been on-going for almost two years, but by pure coincidence, the DoJ will bring charges right now -- not next month or next quarter, but right now. The reason, of course, is obvious, to destablize Menendez's push to defy Obama. More importantly, it is intended as a message to other Dems—don't mess with the White House.

The New York Times, Obama's public relations arm, reports:
The Justice Department is preparing to file corruption charges against Senator Robert Menendez, a scrappy 61-year-old veteran of New Jersey politics, after a two-year investigation into allegations that he accepted gifts and lavish vacations in exchange for political favors for a longtime friend and political benefactor.

A law enforcement official said on Friday that the charges would be filed within a month against Mr. Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, who rose from a childhood in the tenements to become the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is now the highest-ranking Latino Democrat in Congress.
In all likelihood, Menendez is guilty of doing what a majority of all politicians (Dems and GOP) do daily—sell their votes for cash, perks, and private sector access. But that's really not the issue. Why the indictment now?

The NYT finally buries the core of this in the 25th paragraph of their piece. They write:
Mr. Menendez has been a frequent critic of the Obama administration on its policies in Cuba and Iran, and on Friday, the senator’s defenders — as well as an unlikely ally, the Drudge Report —suggested that the Justice Department was attempting to embarrass or silence him.
Ya think?

If a good man inhabited the oval office, Dem or GOP, he would recognize that an indictment at this moment would be perceived for what it is, political payback, and would postpone it until the Iran issue is resolved. Lord knows, the DoJ has become just another political arm of this White House, so asking for a delay would be easy.

Just imagine for a moment the main stream media response if a GOP president were to indict a member of his party who was a vocal critic. The NYT, the LAT, the WaPo, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC would be far less concerned with the alleged wrong doing but would scream bloody murder that political intimidation was at play.

At the end of the day, this is all about corruption, but the more serious kind comes from the oval office, not Robert Menendez. This is Chicago politics at it worst, but comes as no surprise from this administration.


It's likely that Menendez is not corruption-free relative to his relationship with donors, but he did show political courage in his opposition to this president. It also looks like he knew there would be retribution. Bridget Johnson reports:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) foreshadowed today’s news that the Department of Justice is preparing corruption charges against him by hinting to AIPAC that his political enemies would try to “break” him for his resolve on Iran sanctions.

Menendez, the ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime proponent of tough measures on Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from getting a nuclear weapon, has long been a thorn in the side of the White House for his determination to keep and impose tough sanctions.

But last Friday, Menendez upped the ante.

On top of the reintroduction of sanctions legislation with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) that the administration disliked, he introduced a bill Friday that the White House really hates: one that requires congressional approval of an Iran deal.

Menendez introduced the legislation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill mandates that the president submit the text of any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.

Both the Kirk-Menendez sanctions and the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act are strongly bipartisan and likely to receive veto-proof majorities. Menendez has been absolutely critical to rallying Dem support.
It should be noted that Menendez' speech at AIPAC came the day before the Bibi Netanyahu speech. It must have infuriated Obama or senior members of the Team of 2s. The result is the leak of an indictment. Just a coincidence.