Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Cruising the Web

How does John Kerry think that Russia's invasion of the Crimea is behaving in a "19th century fashion?"
"You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text," Kerry told the CBS program "Face the Nation."
He liked that 19th century line that he used it twice. Hasn't he ever heard of the two world wars in the 20th century? Or the Korean War? Or the first Gulf War? The 19th century actually had longer periods of peace in Europe than the 20th century. How ignorant of history is this guy?

George Will is similarly dismayed by John Kerry's ignorance of history.
One hundred years after a spark in Central Europe ignited a conflagration from which the world has not yet recovered and from which Europe will never recover, armed forces have crossed an international border in Central Europe, eliciting this analysis from Secretary of State John Kerry: “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century. It really puts at question Russia’s capacity to be within the G8.”
Although this “19th century act” resembles many 20th century (and 16th, 17th and 18th century) acts, it is, the flabbergasted Kerry thinks, astonishing in the 21st century, which he evidently supposes to be entirely unlike any other. What is more disconcerting — that Kerry believes this? Or that his response to Putin’s aggression is to question Russia’s “capacity” (Kerry means fitness) for membership in the G8?

The Democrats are trying to find a way to appeal to white male voters. It's not going well for them.

James Rosen ponders the difficulties that Hillary Clinton will have convincing people how marvelously she performed as Secretary of State.
Take a minute to play communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. Your task: come up with a 30-second spot to run in the early primary states about your candidate’s four years as Secretary of State.

What part of the world do you start with? Iran? John Kerry now owns, for better or worse, the effort to bar the mullahs from getting the bomb. The “pivot to Asia”? The pushback on China in the Pacific has yet to take any visible shape beyond President Obama’s patented phrase. The “reset” with Russia? Really? Putin’s a pal now?

Anyone putting together a brag clip about Clinton’s tenure at State faces the question a Democratic strategist put to me in a recent e-mail: “Can she translate her record into accomplishments that are meaningful to Iowa farmers and flinty New Hampshire Yankees?”

An equally important requirement for you, the messaging guru, will be to erase from voters’ minds the footage—currently running nonstop in opponents’ negative ads—of Clinton angrily responding to Republican senators probing what she knew, and when, about the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks that killed four Americans: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Suddenly it dawns on you, the communications director: This isn’t going to be so easy after all . . . .
I would expand the question. What has Hillary Clinton achieved ever as senator or Secretary of State? There is no law or policy associated with her Senate career. She totally failed in the policy job given her by Bill Clinton to devise a health care plan. Anyone with a memory knows that she got elected senator based on the sympathy people had for her as the spouse of a philandering husband. All she has going for her is her lack of a Y chromosome and that she traveled a while lot as Secretary of State. Rosen points out that the accomplishments her supporters point to as Secretary of State are all items that Condoleezza Rice did before her.

Senator Bob Corker responds to UAW critics who are complaining that he dared to state his opinion about the vote to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. His simple summary crystallizes how absurd the UAW complaint is.
Picture an election where an entity is given nearly unfettered access to voters for two years and then is allowed to call for a surprise vote with only a few days' notice. Then imagine that the entity loses the vote and complains that "outside forces"—who happen to be community leaders—should not have been allowed to speak or share their point of view. While most Americans can contemplate such a scenario playing out in another country, this is what has been happening in Tennessee.
Of course, who knows how the NLRB will act in response to the UAW's complaint. Although, the fact that the fate of the NLRB is in the hands of the Supreme Court right now might limit its ability to overturn the vote of Volkswagen's employees. One can hope.

John Podhoretz is dumbfounded on Obama and Kerry's perception of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Obama continues to live in the fantasy world that the Washington Post ridiculed yesterday.
The Palestinians, in Obama’s view, do not actually need to make changes; astonishingly, he says, they’re ready for peace. “The Palestinians,” the president says, overlooking every piece of polling data we have about the opinions of the Palestinians, “would still prefer peace. They would still prefer a country of their own that allows them to find a job, send their kids to school, travel overseas, go back and forth to work without feeling as if they are restricted or constrained as a people. And they recognize that Israel is not going anywhere.”

Ah. So that 2011 poll that says 60 percent of the Palestinians reject a two-state solution is bunk—a poll whose findings have not been contradicted since. If Palestinians refuse to accept a two-state solution, they do not “recognize that Israel is not going anywhere.” Rather, they are still engaging in a pseudo-national fantasy about Israel’s disappearance or destruction. And they are so eager for peace and coexistence with Israel that they remain the only significant Muslim population that still has a favorable view of suicide bombings, according to a Pew survey.

“The voices for peace within the Palestinian community will be stronger with a framework agreement,” the president says. But why would the “voices for peace” need to be “stronger” if they reflect the actual views of the Palestinian people? They should be more than strong enough on their own now. Indeed, if they are so strong, we would not be hearing repeated denunciations of the “framework” process from Palestinian negotiators.

The president’s fantasies about the Palestinians also involve Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. “I think,” he says, “nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue.” Nobody would dispute? In 2008, offered a peace deal by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that involved Abbas actually drawing a new West Bank map giving the Palestinians something between 92 and 95 percent of the territory, Abbas basically fled the table and didn’t return. Granted, he didn’t do what Yasser Arafat did after a similar deal at Camp David in 2000 and begin the second intifada, but this hardly demonstrates a commitment to a diplomatic effort—except for one that fails. (links in original)
Meanwhile, as Thomas Rose writes, Obama and the world just prefer to ignore everything that the Palestinians have done to violate peace in preference from blaming Israel for all the tensions in that region.
The Middle East "Peace Industry" is much too vested to allow itself to see any perspective other than the one it has spent 60 years constructing. Since it wants peace (and most of it does), then obviously everyone else must want peace too. Since President Obama and Secretary Kerry want peace, (and they almost surely do) then obviously the Palestinian people and the PA and Hamas who claim to represent them must want peace too. Since the Palestinians want peace, their continued resorts to violence must be the result of something Israel has forced upon them. War can not be a goal in itself for Israel's enemies because it is not a goal for the Peace Industry.
Like Ptolemists struggling to defend geocentrism after Galileo, Obama can't focus on Palestinian media incitement for the same reasons none of his predecessors did. Focusing on Palestinian incitement or terrorism would make those doing the inciting and the terrorising look bad. That might drive them away from the negotiating table. Without negotiating partners, there is no need for negotiating tables and the UN, the EU and the US have bought far too many negotiating tables to turn back now.

....The President is hardly alone. Nearly the whole world has now developed an interest in ignoring Palestinian incitement. None more so than the world's media. Focusing on Palestinian incitement would make the media look not just foolish but dishonest. It would threaten the entire foundation upon which Middle East peace making has been built over the past 60 years. Jettisoning the current approach to 'Middle East peace making' would upend an entire industry. It would spell the end for lavishly funded Washington peace institutes; it would mean no more glamorous global conferences, no more UN confabs and worst of all, perish the thought, no more Nobel Prizes for Middle East Peace Making.

Count the crisis in Ukraine as another moment in Obama's presidency during which he was mystifyingly absent or uniformed.

For a president and secretary of state who are so enthralled with the importance of diplomacy in 21st century foreign relations, what do they think of the 1994 Memorandum on Security Assurances signed by the U.S., Russia, and the UK with the following provisions?
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.
Can anyone argue that Russia has kept up to its side of the bargain? If not, why would we trust them in any sort of negotiations anywhere today?

Bret Stephens contemplates the "feckless presidency" of Barack Obama as he dissects President Obama's seeming passivity in the face of Putin's actions.
Yet at no point in his statement did Mr. Obama make an effort to define, much less explain, the U.S. interest in all this. Why should Americans be alarmed that Russia is carving territory from a country they know little, and care even less, about? It would be good to hear the president give an account of just what is at stake for the American people. Instead, the closest he gets to identifying the American interest is to refer to the views of "the international community." Why should U.S. foreign policy be conducted according to the imaginary views of an imagined community?

....The liberal press is now filled with news analyses about America's limited policy options, beyond perhaps expelling Russia from the G-8. Nonsense. "In Russia," the historian Dietrich Geyer once wrote, "expansion was an expression of economic weakness, not exuberant strength." Mr. Putin's Russia is a petro-oligarchy whose survival depends on high oil prices and privileged access to the West for the politically connected elite. Raise interest rates, investigate the finances of Mr. Putin's inner circle, impose travel bans on Putin's cronies and broaden the scope of the Magnitsky Act, and we'll see just how resilient the Moscow regime really is. Only a president as inept as Barack Obama could fail to seize the opportunity to win, or even wage, the new Cold War all over again.
Should the government force businesses to hire former criminals? Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Divisions believes so and wants to block employers from making criminal background checks.

Regarding the other subject I spend this time of year focusing on - college basketball, here is Pat Forde deservedly ripping into the loathsome John Calipari with the questions he might have asked Coach Cal if the coach had appeared for a post-game press conference.