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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cruising the Web

Nancy Pelosi has a very short memory as she claims that the Democrats "never treated President Bush the way they treat President Obama."

Could this be the time to restore powers to the states? We've gone so far from the original idea of power divided between the federal and state governments, that it seems impossible to put that genie back in the bottle.
Now, however, states increasingly are complaining and pushing back or ignoring federal laws and mandates they say are out of touch, excessively burdensome, or unconstitutional.

And with Washington immobilized by partisan gridlock, states find themselves in the best position in decades to redress the balance of power and remind the feds that there is a 10th Amendment. The amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation, a Texas public policy think tank, said, “This is the biggest push back that I’ve seen in my lifetime, even more so than, I think, you had in the Civil Rights era.There’s this growing sense out there, that there are areas that are the purview of states, and the states ought to be allowed to do that.”

Guy Benson explains why it is indeed quite possible for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Individual state polls don't demonstrate anything close to the sort of wave election in the Senate that many Republicans are hoping for.

Renewals for Obamacare for next year could generate its own kind of mess.

Victor Davis Hanson explains the assumptions underlying Obama's approach to ISIS. And he's right. Once you understand those assumptions, all the administration's shifts and self-contradictory statements on their policies become explicable. For example,
3. The current ascendancy of the Islamic State has nothing to do with a sense that the credibility of the United States in the region is diminished, or that enemies in the Middle East are emboldened by past non-enforcement of loudly announced red lines, step-over lines, or deadlines. Nor does it have to do with the situation on the ground after the bombing of Libya, or with the promise to vacate Afghanistan, or with the shunning of our old allies in the Gulf and Egypt.

5. The principal source of the ongoing violence is past U.S. presidents — especially George W. Bush — who stirred up the hornets’ nests by bombing Iraq. The upheaval in the Middle East cannot be blamed on Barack Obama, who simply inherited a mess and so cannot be faulted for matter-of-factly trying to pass it on to the next president.

6. The American people are horrified by the televised beheading of American journalists and want something done. Indeed, they are seething at videos of the innocent people slaughtered by sadistic jihadist bullies. But they are also exhausted by Iraq and Afghanistan and sick of the Middle East — enemies, neutrals, and perhaps even allies alike. Therefore, a loud but limited bombing campaign may soothe angry American feelings without making long-term costly commitments that could turn unpopular. The Islamic State can be waited out.

James Taranto ponders why President Obama is thinking about being an adviser to ISIS.
He's a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, a better political director than his political director, and to hear President Obama tell it--or, to be precise, to hear the New York Times retell others' retelling of Obama's telling it--he's a better terrorist than the terrorists:
If he had been "an adviser to ISIS," Mr. Obama added, he would not have killed the hostages but released them and pinned notes on their chests saying, "Stay out of here; this is none of your business." Such a move, he speculated, might have undercut support for military intervention.
Jim Geraghty is also puzzled by Obama's thoughts about advising ISIS.
Notice Obama’s assessment presumes ISIS wants to avoid a U.S. military intervention. Is this a manifestation of the mirroring effect, where Obama projects its own values and priorities onto its foes? (Think about how often he insists publicly that seizing Crimea and moving into Ukraine isn’t in Russia’s interest, or that bellicose or provocative actions on the part of Iran aren’t in that country’s interest.) ISIS appears to want to send the message, far and wide, that they don’t fear a clash with the U.S. military. Perhaps they want to demonstrate that they can commit horrific crimes against American civilians with no serious repercussion. Maybe they think God wants them to do this. Maybe they’re nuts! In the end, the “why” matters less than the “what.”

Viewed from another angle, President Obama’s comment sounds like a complaint. If ISIS hadn’t beheaded Americans, there wouldn’t be such widespread demand for action against ISIS in the American public.
Iowahawk responds: "Obama: if I was advising ISIS, I'd have them pin notes on hostages instead of beheading.
Me: if you were advising ISIS, they'd be bankrupt."

Ah, the Clintons - always phonies.
Mrs Clinton, her husband and Senator Harkin staged a mini-grilling of steaks for the press at a single barbecue grill in a fenced-off enclosure, framed by a handsome tree and a picnic table filled with some patient Iowans. Mrs Clinton gamely posed, pretending to grill a steak that had been pre-cooked for her.
Jim Geraghty is reminded of another phony food photo op that the media had coniptions about.
Remember all those relentless media references to George W. Bush’s alleged “fake” “plastic” turkey while visiting the troops in Iraq?

David Gelernter answers the Yale Muslim Students Association that protested Ayaan Hirsi Alli's speech there today.
ou have written, with great restraint, about “how uncomfortable it will be” for your friends if this woman is allowed to speak. Uncomfortable nothing. The genital mutilation of young girls is downright revolting! Who ever authorized this topic in a speech to innocent Yale undergraduates?
Far better to have performances of The Vagina Monologues at Yale than to have a victim of genital mutilation speak out against the way women are treated in Islam.

The Democrats are really scraping the bottom of the barrel as they search out imaginary insults to claim that Republicans are fighting a war on women candidates. Now it becomes sexist if a male candidate calls a female candidate by her first name even if they've known each other for years.

I bet you didn't know what Hillary Clinton had in common with Nelson Mandela and what Bill's affairs had in common with apartheid.

Ah, so a woman can't be more like a man.

The last thing the NFL needs in fixing up its problems is to have Congress get involved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cruising the Web

President Obama sure does sound whiny about how tough his job is and how unfair it is that people criticize him. John Hinderaker comments on a NYT story on Obama's decision-making on attacking ISIS,
Obama is “reluctant to decide” because “deciding often forces you into a more one-sided position than you’re comfortable with.” Of course it does! Before you decide, you can ponder the pros and cons, the one hand and the other hand, the various shades of gray, and leave it at that.

But when you decide, you have to choose: to go to war; to bomb; to take a side; to incur casualties; to face the consequences. When a president makes hard choices that involve life and death, in all likelihood he will be “force[d] into a more one-sided position than [he is] comfortable with.” It is always more comfortable to stay on the fence. But making tough decisions, knowing that there are pros and cons, that every course is perilous, and that the consequences of any decision will be mixed, is what we have presidents for. After nearly six years, Barack Obama still doesn’t seem to understand that.
Examining pros and cons without making a decision is something that a professor or a senator can do; a president doesn't have the luxury of ambivalence. If Obama hadn't wanted to have to make tough choices, he shouldn't have run for the office in the first place.

Meanwhile, Richard Epstein explains why Obama is so ambivalent about committing American military forces to fighting ISIS.
The Obama personal hesitation stems, unfortunately, from reasons unrelated to the military and political issues. Part of his problem is that he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that he was wrong to oppose the Iraqi surge in 2006, and wrong to pull out American troops from Iraq as President. A strong president learns from his past mistakes, but Obama does not.

One reason for his dogged persistence lies in his flawed world view, which deep down, regards the United States (and Israel) as akin to colonial powers, whose actions should always be examined under a presumption of distrust. His ingrained uneasiness with the values of western civilization makes it impossible for him to think and act as the leader of a western nation. Instead, he much prefers to regard himself as a nonpartisan critic and a bystander to world affairs. He has no firm conviction in the rightness of his cause, and hence no confidence in his ability to get others to act as perils mount.

President Obama draws another red line for Syria.

Just in case, you were deceived into thinking that Hillary might not run for the presidency, think again.

Ben Shapiro offers much evidence for why Republicans should forget about playing nice with Democrats.

How odd. New York Democrats coordinated with an activist to get a letter printed in the local paper questioning the romantic history of the Republican candidate, a 30-year old single woman, for the House seat in New York's congressional district.

San Francisco liberals want to make okay for female babies to be aborted. Why is this even an issue?
I don't support a legal ban on the practice. For one thing, women simply can lie about why they want an abortion; there really is no way to enforce such a law. China has outlawed sex-selective abortions -- which proves bans don't work.

Still, I do not understand why Chiu would make this an issue. Yes, California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove introduced a bill to ban sex-selective abortions, but it died in its first committee by a 13-6 vote in May.

Grove notes that China, India, Australia and the United Kingdom have outlawed sex-selective abortions. "Are all these countries' laws motivated by racism?"

....So why go out of your way to defend a practice that in Asia alone, Hvistendahl reported, has eliminated more women than the entire female population of the United States? Puri talked to immigrant women who had aborted girls because their husband or mother-in-law wanted a male heir. Some feared a daughter eventually would grow up to bring shame on the families. Women who delivered girls were subject to verbal and physical abuse.

Civil rights activists who rightly look at genocide with horror nonetheless suggest that San Francisco take a step back from condemning wholesale femicide. Soon San Franciscans will find out whether City Hall is so afraid of offending politically active Asian women's groups that it dismisses as racism any effort to curb a practice that aborts millions of little girls.

This is what Democratic policies have done to our competitiveness.
With the developed world's highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.

With the developed world's highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.

Ah, the hypocrisy of Harry Reid. Matthew Continetti explains the efforts of Senate Democrats to hand political speech over to the control of two unelected entities, the FEC and the IRS. And we have so many reasons to trust the IRS in politics, don't we?
Special interest money and super-wealthy individuals are two of the most prominent features of today’s bourgeois liberalism. The unions, the foundations, the colleges, the liberal-leaning or rent-seeking corporations, the residents of Manhattan and Silicon Valley and Beverly Hills and Ward 3, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Tom Steyer, Marc Lasry, Steve Mostyn, Michael Bloomberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chris Hughes—these groups, these men, they are not misshapen appendages of the Democratic Party. They are its innards. Its guts.

Indeed, one of the reasons that Reid scheduled a vote on a measure that was sure to be defeated was, in the first place, to curry favor with, and solicit checks from, rich donors to progressive causes who have a sentimental and moralistic aversion to money in politics. It is part of Reid’s plan to smear Republican candidates as instruments of the wealthy brothers Charles and David Koch, and thereby prevent a GOP takeover of the Senate.

From a financial standpoint, Reid’s strategy is working. His Senate Majority PAC, which does not disclose its donors, has run more advertisements than the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity, and has spent almost as much money. The fundraising of Democratic Senate candidates is competitive with that of their Republican counterparts. The top three individual contributors to federal elections this cycle are Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg and Fred Eychaner. They are not Republicans. The day that Reid opened debate over the Udall amendment, the DCCC issued a fundraising appeal tied to the vote. Ironic.

The scale of the progressive infrastructure is staggering. It is coordinated and funded by the Democracy Alliance, a secretive group of millionaires and billionaires that plots strategy and giving at meetings in fancy resorts. Documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal that there are at least 172 groups inside the Democracy Alliance network. “113 of them have attacked us,” Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden said recently, noting that far fewer groups—31—make up Koch world. The Kochs may spend up to $290 million in the 2014 election. Sounds like a lot. But Holden says the progressives may spend “somewhere in the ballpark” of $2.2 billion.

These numbers make clear that the goal of Reid and Udall is not to expunge money from politics. Their goal is to expunge conservative money from politics—money that could be used against incumbents, money that could be used against them, money that could be used to organize and promote alternatives to the Hegelian god-state coming into being before our eyes. Their goal is no less than a silent coup, a renegotiation of the American social contract and the structure of the constitutional order, performed outside the public’s notice and without the public’s direct consent.

The Udall amendment subverts freedom in two ways. First, by exempting media from regulation, the government would determine who or what “the media” are. Certified institutions would become the few remaining outlets for free expression. Perhaps you have noticed that the press tends to favor a certain ideological standpoint. In a post-Udall world, the influence of press barons such as Buffett and Bloomberg and Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim would increase. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would silence conservatives further.

There is only one Rupert Murdoch. If someone of like mind as the Koch brothers tried to build a press operation of their own, we know what would happen. The liberal media would revolt.

Second, by endowing governments with the power to ban anonymous political giving, the Udall amendment would usher in an era of witch-hunts and public shaming, with the media using their new powers to condemn and malign and stigmatize and penalize the advocates of unfashionable causes.
Kevin Williams has a very good column on the Democrats' efforts across the country to try to criminalize freedom of speech for conservatives. He concludes,
The same Texas prosecutor behind the indictments of Governor Perry and Mr. Hall was also behind the indictments of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Representative Tom DeLay, both of which ultimately were laughed out of court. The point of these indictments is not to obtain convictions; the prosecutor did not even present a case against Senator Hutchison when the matter came to trial. And the point of the Ohio Inquisition was never to achieve a legal victory against the Susan B. Anthony List: The point was to bully the group, and the billboard company, into remaining silent and forgoing criticism of Democratic candidates. In that, the censors were successful: SBA List won in court, but those billboards never went up.

Likewise, the point of indicting Governor Perry and Mr. Hall is not to send either man to jail, but to harass them, to bully them, to bankrupt them if possible, and to keep them from functioning as effective critics of entrenched Democratic political interests.

The only thing stopping federal authorities from suffocating free speech — not only by independent groups such as the SBA List, but by individuals, trade groups, National Review, and the New York Times — is the First Amendment.

And Harry Reid wants to gut it. Figure out why that is and you’ll know everything you need to know about the Democratic party, which with each passing day functions less and less like a political party and more like a crime syndicate.

This is how Hillary Clinton develops her position on issues - she spent the summer in the Hamptons talking to the wealthy about how to talk about income inequality.

P.J. O'Rourke has fun contemplating "what a glorious catastrophe" Scottish independence would be.

But of course - the White House coordinated with the Department of Labor to hide information from the FBI about Hilda Solis's breaking the law by illegally campaigning for Democrats.

So this is what happens when universities try to write rules that make sure that there will be no sexual assault. At Ohio State University, both partners must agree “regarding the who, what, where, when, why, and how this sexual activity will take place.” Why? That should be an interesting discussion. Read Jazz Shaw's post to see how ridiculous this has gotten at OSU.

Could Mark Sanford make himself any more unappealing? Now he's taken to Facebook to announce that he's breaking up with the fiancée for whom he broke up his marriage and threw away his position as governor. I guess a guy can be a jerk on Facebook when he's running unopposed for Congress.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cruising the Web

A president should want a vote from Congress to give him authorization for his efforts against ISIS. That would give him a legal support and would limit opponents for criticism from all who would vote for such an authorization. The administration is claiming that they don't need anything beyond the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 to give the president power to go after anyone who attacked us on 9/11 or aided those who attacked us. Just last year Obama asked Congress to limit the AUMF because he said that all wars end and he had ended that war. Paul Mirengoff points out, "That’s how severely — criminally, I would say — Obama misjudged the paramount issue of protecting America from terrorism." If the 2001 AUMF authorizes these efforts against ISIS then there is now a very broad authorization for whatever a president wants to do militarily regardless of the enemy. Yale Law School professor, Bruce Ackerman, is quite upset at Obama's refusal to ask congress for an authorization of force against ISIS.
Even this was a big stretch, and it is not big enough to encompass the war on ISIS. Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate.

Mr. Obama may rightly be frustrated by gridlock in Washington, but his assault on the rule of law is a devastating setback for our constitutional order. His refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing.

Since ISIS poses a new problem for the president, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires him to seek a new mandate from Congress. The resolution, enacted over President Richard M. Nixon’s veto at the end of the Vietnam War, requires the president to obtain congressional assent within 60 days of commencing “hostilities”; if he fails, he must withdraw American forces within 30 days.

The administration gave Congress the requisite notice on Aug. 8 that it had begun bombing ISIS, and so the time for obtaining approval runs out on Oct. 7. But Mr. Obama and his lawyers haven’t even mentioned the War Powers Resolution in announcing the new offensive against ISIS — there is no indication that he intends to comply with this deadline.
Obama disregarded the War Powers Resolution for the actions he took in Libya and stayed in that conflict beyond the statutory deadline. Many in Congress are quite happy to let the President go ahead without their having to take a tough vote on the eve of tough elections.
Senators and representatives aren’t eager to step up to the plate in October when, however they decide, their votes will alienate some constituents in November’s midterm elections. They would prefer to let the president plunge ahead and blame him later if things go wrong. But this is precisely why the War Powers Resolution sets up its 60-day deadline: It rightly insists that unless Congress is willing to stand up and be counted, the war is not worth fighting in the name of the American people.

If Mr. Obama changes course, as he did last September, and submits to the commands of the War Powers Resolution, Congress can demonstrate that, despite all its dysfunction, it can still rise to the occasion. There are hawks and doves on both sides of the aisle, and leaders of both parties have signaled a willingness to engage in a serious debate.

But for now the president seems grimly determined to practice what Mr. Bush’s lawyers only preached. He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war.

In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.
That's why the administration is so determined not to say that we are at war with ISIS because there are legal requirements if we are at war. And a strong leader would not let those in Congress weasel out of one of their very most important responsibilities -- to decide if we should go to war.

Obama has done as much as possible to evade any sort of vote in Congress.
Since U.S. military advisers went into Iraq in June, the administration has maneuvered repeatedly to avoid coming into conflict with the War Powers provision that imposes a 60-day time limit on unapproved military action. Seven times, before each 60-day limit has expired, Obama has sent new notification letters to Congress restarting the clock and providing new extensions without invoking congressional approval. The most recent four notifications have covered the airstrikes against the Islamic State group that began Aug. 8.

An international law expert at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, Peter J. Spiro, described the letters as workarounds that avoided the controversy over U.S. bombing in 2011 in Libya. Obama said Libya didn't require congressional permission because the fighting there was not sustained and there were no active exchanges of fire with hostile forces. The seven recent notification letters, Spiro said, amount to "killing the War Powers Act with 1,000 tiny cuts. "
Are liberals going to be any happier when a Republican president emulates Obama's evisceration of the War Powers Act? Because that is what is going to happen.

Andrew Prokop writes on Vox, a liberal site, why Democrats are going to regret allowing President Obama get away with his expansion of presidential powers. As he points out, presidents build up their executive authority and ever expansion is then used by later presidents as a reason why they can do something else.
Howell, the University of Chicago professor, cited one example of how presidents can stretch their powers over time. "The president's commander in chief powers started off as a limited authority. What we've seen over the last 50 or 60 years is presidents interpreting that authority broadly, and getting away with it. As a result, we now say, ‘Of course, the president can do all of these things as commander in chief!' It may be 50 years hence that we say, ‘Of course, the president can issue waivers as he sees fit."

The problem for liberals is that there are many laws out there that conservative presidents dearly wish weren't enforced. Indeed, the precedents Obama is setting "probably benefit conservative presidents who want to stop regulations and have a smaller agenda, to the extent it helps them gain control of the wider executive branch," says Rudalevige, the Bowdoin professor.

So future Republican presidents will inevitably cite the new precedents Obama is setting to justify actions of their own. "I think Democrats are going to rue the day they did not push back against Obama on these things," says Sollenberger, the University of Michigan professor. "Just as Republicans regretted the same thing when they didn't push back against Bush."

Charles Krauthammer writes about the dangers of going to war under the leadership of such a reluctant leader. Obama seems most concerned on what he insists we will not do against ISIS rather than the potential success of his plan, whatever success might mean.
Even the best war plans run into trouble. This one already suffers from a glaring mismatch of ends and means — and a grand coalition that is largely fictional. Difficulties are sure to come. How will the commander-in-chief, already reluctant and ambivalent, react to setbacks — the downing of the first American pilot or perhaps a mini-Tet Offensive in Baghdad’s Green Zone engulfing the U.S. Embassy?

On that day, we will need a steady, determined President committed to the mission. Do we have one even now?
When Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in 1917, he said "It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war." Obama seems more fearful than ready to lead. That does not augur well.

And there is a lot that could go wrong with our efforts against ISIS. Byron York describes five things that could go horribly wrong with Obama. All the more reason why the President should want a vote in Congress.

And with people in the White House who are ignorant of the basic geography of the Middle East, there is even a greater chance that things can go well. Yeesh.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains how President Obama has destroyed his own argument for issuing an executive order on immigration.
If this extraordinary action were justified at all, it would have to be by reference to an emergency. Perhaps that’s why Obama, in June 30 remarks devoted to justifying unilateral action, said that Congress’s refusal to pass the legislation he sought had created a “humanitarian crisis” at the border. But the argument that legalization is a response to that crisis can’t really be made with a straight face. Nor is the presence of illegal immigrants in the U.S. an emergency that demands action this instant, as it has been going on for years.

No, the administration was considering this step purely to advance its policy and political goals, and now it’s delaying it for the same reasons. What the administration is suggesting is that we can’t wait for Congress to act -- but we can wait through the elections. That doesn’t make sense. Delaying the executive order undercuts the case for issuing it at all.

The VA scandal keeps on going. It just keeps metastasizing.

Senator Rob Portman lists four things that Republicans could do right away if they gained control of the Senate.
1. The Keystone XL pipeline. Support for the pipeline has been growing among red-state Democrats and when a nonbinding measure endorsing the project came to a vote in March 2013, the vote was 62-37 with 27 Democrats voting with all Republicans.

2. Trade promotion authority. A measure backed by President Barack Obama to give him more power negotiate international trade agreements is believed to enjoy bipartisan support. But the bill is politically difficult for some Democrats because it splits business and labor constituencies, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.Nev.) has said it will not come to a vote before the election.

3. Easing regulation. Mr. Portman mentioned as an example legislation to require more stringent cost-benefit analysis before federal regulations are issued.

4. Tax reform. Members of both parties as well as the White House have long talked a good game about rewriting the complex tax code to make it simpler and fairer. Despite bipartisan interest, it is so complex that it is hard to imagine it passing the Senate quickly.
Sounds like a good start.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cruising the Web

Too little, too late seems the general conclusion about the President's decision to bow to low poll ratings by announcing the US will be leading efforts to destroy the Islamic State. And of course, there was no acknowledgement that what he announced last night was the opposite of what he'd been saying just a few weeks ago about arming the supposedly moderate Syrian rebels to be the ground troops he refuses to send in from America. Just a month ago he was saying that it wasn't worth it to arm an army made up of doctors, lawyers, and pharmacists. And there was no acknowledgment that if Obama had not been so determined to pull out of Iraq that he didn't get a status of forces agreement to keep troops and intelligence forces there to guard against exactly what happened. And he didn't acknowledge that his ignoring the threat from ISIS as it had been developing already for several years.

As Rick Klein writes for ABC News, last night's speech was basically a Mulligan for Obama.
That last word – “strategy” – appeared four times in the president’s prime-time address. The repetition was an implicit follow-up to an already infamous quote from two weeks ago, when the president said “We don’t have a strategy yet” to confront ISIS in Syria.

Yet the president did not announce any new actions, beyond sending fewer than 500 new service members to Iraq, and repeated request for Congress to fund training of Syrian opposition forces. He said “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria,” but cautioned that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.”

It’s worth noting the tortuous path he took to get to even this point. Back at the beginning of the year, he famously compared the al Qaeda group that had taken over Fallujah, Iraq, to the “jayvee team” in Los Angeles Lakers’ uniforms.

By summer, as ISIS’ terrorist army marched across Iraq and into Syria, the American public was shaken by gruesome images of an American journalist beheaded by ISIS. The president angrily condemned the killing, then returned to his vacation, going golfing that afternoon.

As things stand, the public is scared of the threat posed by ISIS, and seemingly ready for the president to act.

This week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll found that nine in 10 Americans see ISIS as a serious threat to vital US interests, with nearly two-thirds of the public supporting air strikes in Syria. More than half of those polled said the president has been too cautious in responding to the threats posed by ISIS.

There was a calming tone to the president’s remarks: “America is safer,” he said, on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11.

Looking ahead, Obama is now looking to lead internationally. The White House would claim there’s nothing new there, but the fact is that “leading from behind” has competed with “don’t do stupid stuff” as functional definitions -- albeit usually derisive ones -- of the Obama Doctrine.

In an odd piece of timing, it was precisely a year ago where the president went in front of far more skeptical public to argue for airstrikes in Syria. He offered caveats that he could not and would not make Wednesday night:

“I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo,” Obama said Sept. 10, 2013.

A year after not conducting those threatened air strikes, the president used a White House speech to prepare the nation for a fight that seems open-ended and can easily become prolonged.

Of course, Obama didn't acknowledge his "long history of downplaying the threat" from ISIS. Now that polls show how concerned the American public is about ISIS, the President finally decided to announce action. Will he shut down that action if the polls change?

President Obama kept referring to our effort as a count-terrorism effort, presumably because that would poll better among the American people. But, as Frederick and Kimberly Kagan write, ISIS is more than a terrorist group.
SIL is an insurgent group that controls enormous territory in Iraq and Syria that it governs. It maneuvers conventional light infantry forces supported by vehicles mounting machine guns and occasionally armored personnel carriers against the regular forces of the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga—and wins.

It is purely and simply not a terrorist organization any longer. Neither is it the simple manifestation of nihilistic evil the president makes out.

ISIL has described a very clear vision of seizing control of all of the territory of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. It intends to abolish all of the borders and redraw them according to a new structure of governance suitable to its hateful version of an old Islamic heresy. That vision also makes it more than a simple terrorist organization. It’s awfully hard to develop a sound strategy when you start by mis-diagnosing the problem so profoundly. That’s why the “strategy” the president just announced has no chance of success.
Obama tried to sell his strategy as being modeled on what he terms successful operations in Somalia and Yemen. But, as Daniel Halper notes, the Obama administration itself has not been declaring success in Yemen and Somalia.
But what has Barack Obama said about both Yemen and Somalia? Well, in the last six months, the commander in chief has said that both nations "continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
Katharine Zimmerman explains
n an address Wednesday night to the nation, President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight. But the disconnect between the picture of success in Yemen and the realities on the ground is stark. If the strategy in Iraq works as well as it has in Yemen, we can be sure that the Islamic State will retain safe-havens, plan and conduct terror operations against Americans, and regain ground as the local security forces crumble. That is what is actually happening in Yemen now.

And the administration is not even coherent when they explain that they don't need to go to Congress for some sort of authorization of force to act against ISIS. Last year, he used not getting approval from Congress as an excuse for not doing anything against Syria and going along with Putin's phony fix to the problem This year, he is proposing more military involvement and he doesn't need Congress. George Will explains,
George Will said it is astonishing that President Obama does not want support from Congress as a precondition for his action against the Islamic State in Syria. “One year ago the president said, “I cannot act in Syria without Congress because I am the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” Now, he says, ”Not important”,” Will said. “There seems to be a distinction of constitutional dimensions between going to war in the air, not requiring Congress, going to war on the ground, requiring Congress.”
As always, the explanation is totally political. Vulnerable Senate Democrats don't want to have to take a difficult vote on supporting military action before the election. And the Democrats are all about shielding their members from difficult votes. That is why they evaded passing a budget plan for so many years. The votes would be difficult and easy to criticize. Why do we elect our representatives to vote in Congress if their whole aim is to be shielded from taking a vote that might be unpopular. Just imagine if these guys had been in the Continental Congress in 1776.

Noemie Emery reminds us that President Obama has failed on his administration's own policy of "Don't do stupid stuff."
Four little words – “Don’t do stupid stuff” – define the Obama Doctrine in all its non-glory, and the key word in this matrix is “do.” It implies in effect that wisdom is measured in negative energy, that by declining to act one can stay out of trouble, that passivity is the key to a guilt-free existence and a serene and an untroubled world.

Never use force, don’t threaten force, and no one will blame you for anything. Pull out of wars and your foes will stop fighting. Don’t send men to war and your hands will be clean.

In the belief that less is not only more but the sum of all wonders, he vacated Iraq, dithered with Russia, drew lines in the sand that Syria crossed with impunity, and ran for re-election in 2012 on his “smart” and “evolved” foreign policy, which was possible only because his foes hadn’t yet fully capitalized on the openings left by his innocent lunacies. By June 2014, they had.

In 2011, against the advice of generals who urged a residual force of 23,000, Obama pulled all of his forces out of Iraq, removing at once all restraints upon Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and losing access to an intelligence system that could have detected the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in its earlier stages.

Soon after, he refused — against the advice of Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus — to arm and equip pro-western rebels in Syria, ensuring therein that President Bashar Assad would keep power, and creating a vacuum into which sinister forces would flow. The two came together in 2013, when radical forces from Syria rolled into a weakened Iraq, raping and killing, and wiping out Christians en masse.

Mistake number three was when Obama blew off repeated reports of this rampage, dismissed the fall of Fallujah and Mosul as in any way serious, coming alive only when ISIS’s threat to the Kurdish capital city blasted him out of his reveries. By that time there had been hundreds of rapes, many beheadings, and hundreds of thousands were dead.
Patrick Brennan points to an assertion from the NYT Baghdad bureau chief that the administration has been lying to the American people for years about what the conditions are in Iraq in order to further their political claims of having successfully entered the war there. Ace posts what Tim Arango, the NYT's man on the ground in Iraq said on Reddit.
t's not my job to rate the Obama Administration's actions in Iraq. But i will tell you that after 2011 the administration basically ignored the country. they did not want to see what was really happening because it conflicted with the narrative that they left Iraq in reasonably good shape. In 2012 as violence was escalating I wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising.
Tony Blinken, who was then Biden's national security guy and a top Iraq official, pushed back, and even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near record lows. But that was not true. even after Fallujah fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about Maliki's sectarian tendencies, saying they didn't see it that way.

So there was a concerted effort by the Administration to not acknowledge the obvious until it became so apparent -- with the fall of Mosul -- that Iraq was collapsing.
But, hey, the lies helped Obama get reelected so who cares?

George Will explains how atrocious the Democrats' proposed amendment to undo Citizens United is.
The 48 senators proposing to give legislators speech-regulating powers describe their amendment in anodyne language, as “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” But what affects elections is speech, and the vast majority of contributions and expenditures are made to disseminate speech. The Democrats’ amendment says: “Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections,” and may “prohibit” corporations — including nonprofit issue-advocacy corporations (such as the Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice America and thousands of others across the political spectrum) from spending any money “to influence elections,” which is what most of them exist to do.

Because all limits will be set by incumbent legislators, the limits deemed “reasonable” will surely serve incumbents’ interests. The lower the limits, the more valuable will be the myriad (and unregulated) advantages of officeholders.

The point of this “improvement” of James Madison’s First Amendment is to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It left in place the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. It said only that Americans do not forfeit their speech rights when they band together to express themselves on political issues through corporations, which they generally do through nonprofit advocacy corporations.

Floyd Abrams, among the First Amendment’s most distinguished defenders, notes that the proposed amendment deals only with political money that funds speech. That it would leave political speech less protected than pornography, political protests at funerals, and Nazi parades.

And who says that there are no real attempts at voter fraud? Exhibit one this week is what an ally of Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn has been attempting to do to forge voter registration applications.
In a memo sent to county elections officials, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in recent weeks his office has “received numerous complaints about voter applications submitted by the New Georgia Project.”

Kemp wrote, “Preliminary investigation has revealed significant illegal activities’ including forged voter registration applications, forged signatures on releases, and applications with false or inaccurate information.”
I guess the model is ACORN.

USA Today asks the question I've been wondering - why did NJ authorities decline to prosecute Ray Rice?
Domestic violence cases can, of course, be challenging for prosecutors. Some victims recant. Some, like Rice's wife, Janay, stand by their man. The situation is often "he said she said." But Rice's case was as close to a slam dunk as it gets.

As the nation now knows, a video camera captured Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, and then dragging her like a rag doll out of an Atlantic City casino elevator. It would have been pretty tough to find a jury to acquit Rice on a charge of aggravated assault. And pretty easy to drive a hard plea bargain.

Instead, Rice is walking around free — though unemployed as of Monday — after he was accepted in May into a New Jersey "pretrial intervention" program. If he stays clean for a year, the charge could be dismissed, poof, as if the beating never even happened.
Sure, it's fun to beat up on Roger Goodell and the NFL. Gosh knows, they deserve all the criticism they've been receiving. But if the NJ authorities had prosecuted Rice and used that video tape, the NFL wouldn't have had to debate what to do about Rice. Though they do seem to have trouble in taking action against Carolina Panther Greg Hardy who has actually already been convicted of assault yet was able to play. I'd prefer that punishment of athletes be left to the judicial system rather than the sports leagues involved, but that's tough when the authorities are the ones who drop the ball.

Charles Gasparino notes the disconnect between how the NFL treated Richie Incognito with how it originally dealt with Ray Rice.
Richie Incognito, an All-Pro offensive lineman, was branded a thug, faced countless hours of interrogation by league officials and their lawyers, and now can’t get a job in the NFL because he was found guilty of “bullying” a fellow lineman of equal size and strength.

Ray Rice, an All-Pro running back, was suspended for a mere two games, faced no similar league inquisition, and was heralded by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a decent guy who made a simple “mistake” when he was caught on video dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator, by her hair, no less, after what appeared to be a physical altercation.

Welcome to political correctness, Goodell-style....

Another obvious question: Why did Goodell initially throw his support behind Rice after an obvious physical altercation with a woman but throw the book at Incognito for name-calling a 300-pound fellow lineman?

I don’t expect Goddell to answer that question (an NFL spokesman didn’t return a telephone call or e-mail for comment). Nor do I expect the gentle souls in the media to raise it either. That’s because to do so would be to own up to the obvious fact that the scourge of “bullying” (which used to be called “name calling”), in our ever more politically correct world, has been deemed a worse offense than even physically abusing a woman.

Some words are more dangerous than some violent actions, according to the PC police.

New York Times' "correction of the year."