Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger writes on the President's seeming insouciance about what is going on around the world.
As the world burns, the president spent this week fiddling at fundraisers in the living rooms of five Democratic Party fat cats in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri famously explained, changing the president's fundraising schedule "can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis."

Alarmed? Who's alarmed? What false sense of crisis? Vladimir Putin's masked men in eastern Ukraine shot Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's 298 people out of the air just about the time Israel and Hamas commenced their death struggle, not long after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham occupied a third of Iraq within seven days. Now ISIS is cleansing Mosul of its Christians.

If news coverage defined reality, you'd think the civil war in Syria was over. There just isn't space to fit it all in. The homicidal Islamic fanatics of Boko Haram may soon establish statelike control of northern Nigeria, as ISIS has in Iraq. Last week the April kidnappers of the world's now-forgotten "our girls" gunned down another 44 Nigerians, then days later killed 100 more in villages abandoned by the Nigerian army. After Boko Haram grabbed a German citizen in Gombi, Germany's foreign ministry said it was "aware of the case."

On Monday, Barack Obama showed up on the White House lawn to make clear that he, too, is aware of what's going on. Addressing the war in Gaza for about three minutes, Mr. Obama urged "the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting." He said, "I have asked John,"—that would be our squirrel-on-a-wheel secretary of state—to "help facilitate" that. That is a foreign policy whose arc begins and ends with the phrase, "stop the killing."

More revealing, though, was what Mr. Obama said on the airliner shoot-down and Russia's role. "If Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty," he said, and if it still backs the separatists who are becoming "more and more dangerous" not just to Ukrainians "but the broader international community," then "the costs for Russia" will increase.

What does this mean? Mr. Putin will really be in hot water with the U.S. president if one of his proxies does something worse than shoot a passenger jet out of the sky?

Here's what it means. It means that "the situation," as the White House routinely euphemizes all the world's chaos, is going to get worse. It means in the next two years many more people are going to die, and not necessarily in the places where they are dying now. Why should it stop?
And Hillary Clinton's response isn't much better.
On Sunday, another telling event slipped in. Bosnian Muslims buried 284 bodies recently found in a mass grave from the Balkans war in the 1990s. That war was a genocide taking place on post-World War II European soil, which didn't stop until the U.S. acted to end it. Now with Dutch bodies strewn across Ukraine, president-in-waiting Hillary Clinton ludicrously says, "Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this."

As a White House veteran of the Milosevic slaughters in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, Mrs. Clinton knows Europe won't act until the U.S. leads. Europe today mainly wages war on Google, Microsoft, and Intel. Its leaders won't do much more than hope nothing like a Flight 17 happens one morning in the subways or on the streets of their capitals. Hope alone won't protect them or us.

This week the original 9/11 Commission put out an update on global terrorism. The report says the "complacency" that led to 9/11 "is happening again."

How, then, to explain someone who claims he can run the country and a troubled world out of his back pocket while he flies from fundraiser to fundraiser? Barack Obama is the most provincial U.S. president in at least a century. The progressive Democrats who displaced the Clinton machine in 2008 and came to power with Mr. Obama have no interest beyond consolidating political and electoral power inside the U.S. Not even the White House of Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate pol, was so purely politicized.

The fundraising is a frantic effort to protect this new Democratic voter machine. The world doesn't vote, so the world doesn't matter. Unless, of course, the American people in November decide that a world defined by events like Flight 17 does matter.

And this isn't an example of competence in foreign affairs:
Obama refused ‘repeated requests’ since August 2013 for drone strikes against ISIS

But, as Jim Geraghty writes, there is just no rest for President Obama.

David Horovitz writes in the Times of Israel about the terrible cost that Israel is paying as their soldiers fight through Gaza to find and destroy the tunnels through which Hamas has been using and was planning to use for terror attacks against Israeli civilians. They've built tunnels targeting an Israeli Kindergarten.
But Israel is paying a heavy price. Soldiers have been killed in booby-trapped buildings. Six, maybe seven died when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile in Shejaiya. They are fighting off kidnap attempts. They report being charged by Gaza children as young as 13 wearing suicide-bomber belts laden with explosives. The losses are mounting. “We’re in a war,” said Col. Uri Gordin, commander of the Nahal Brigade, on Tuesday.

Hamas is using every dirty trick in the book. Everybody now knows what Israel has said for years — that Gaza’s terrorist government hides its rockets in schools, fires from next to mosques, buries its ammunition under homes, sets up its command and control centers in hospitals. We all now also know that when its rockets are found in schools run by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), UNRWA gives them back to Hamas (and the US keeps on funding UNRWA).

Most despicably, Hamas warned civilians in Shejaiya not to heed Israeli pleas to leave the area — from where over 150 rockets have been fired, and numerous tunnels dug — ahead of the bitter fighting that has raged there since Saturday night; hence the awful scale of civilian casualties. The Hamas fighters, meanwhile, were lying in wait underground, preparing to ambush the Israeli ground forces.

Hamas is still resisting calls for a ceasefire. Why would it stop, when its popularity is high among Gaza residents for its “resistance” to hated Israel, and when it cares not a whit for the fate of those self-same Gazans? A hundred dead Israelis, even at the price of thousands of dead Gazans, would constitute victory in its eyes. Why stop, when it is being urged on by tens of thousands of demonstrators around the world — some suffering a surfeit of passion and a deficit of common sense, some consumed by hatred for Israel?

Most people here, however, feel that Israel cannot countenance a ceasefire either — unless it can be assured that Hamas would be unable to rearm, reorganize, rebuild those tunnels, research and develop rockets that can outwit Iron Dome, and dream up who knows what other strategies for killing us. And who can give us that assurance?

Israel certainly wants to put a stop to the loss of life — but the goal that Netanyahu set at the outset of this war, ensuring sustained quiet, can only be achieved through the long-term weakening of Hamas or its ouster. If there is no viable political solution, that means Israeli military action – bolstered by our fortunately burgeoning security partnership with Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s Egypt, preventing the influx of weaponry and materials into the Strip. (One fervently hopes there’s a great deal of Jerusalem-Cairo coordination going on right now.) Israel needs Gaza demilitarized, and the UN, US, EU et al are no more capable of ensuring that than the international community was capable of disarming Hezbollah in south Lebanon.
Even the EU seems to understand the evil tactics of Hamas. But the U.S. State Department still seems to regard the situation as one in which both sides are culpable. The administration seems to forget that Israel had already agreed to a cease-fire but Hamas turned it down.
It’s a sad day when, while the EU continues to regard Israel as safe for European citizens, the State Department issues a travel warning for US citizens against non-essential trips to Israel.

It’s a sad day, too, when the best that the administration can manage is to tell us we have “the right to self-defense,” rather than leading a global diplomatic offensive that champions Israel’s obligation to protect itself, and that musters any and every means to help its sole dependable Middle Eastern ally in that mission.

And it’s just a farcical day when we watch the US lead the abandonment of Israel by foreign airlines — a capitulation to terrorism that is simply not justified by the asserted security risk. This is the same United States leadership that is angry with us for failing to place our faith in high-tech security guarantees that, Secretary of State John Kerry swore blind, would assure our safety if we were to follow our withdrawal from Gaza with a similar full departure from the West Bank. Rather than simply cutting Israel off from American civilian flights, why have the US authorities not at least redirected flights to neighboring Jordan, where surely American security procedures could ensure the safe transfer of passengers on a short bus journey to Israel?

I hadn't realized this. I thought we'd have to wait for the Halbig case to go through an en banc hearing before it could be appealed to the Supreme Court, but since the side arguing against the federal subsidies lost in the Fourth Circuit in King v. Burwell, the lawyers for King could request an expedited appeal so that the issue could be settled without waiting the probably two years we might have to wait if Halbig goes to a full court hearing. As the WSJ writes everyone would benefit from an expedited appeal so that we could get this cleared up one way or another. And it would be an added plus to thwart Harry Reid's nuclear option shenanigans.
The Supreme Court could wait for another appellate conflict to emerge. Yet the delay could last two years or more and compound the policy harm if the Administration's ObamaCare rewrite is ultimately vacated. The sooner the Administration has to ask Congress to fix its mistake, the better for the country.

A fast Fourth Circuit appeal would also do a public service by spoiling the Administration's strategy of packing the D.C. Circuit to guarantee an en banc ruling against Halbig. Last year the White House and Senate Democrats rushed to junk the filibuster in order to add three judges to the D.C. Circuit precisely to block these big cases from getting to the Supreme Court. The circuit has long been a way station for large cases but now is likely to turn into a somewhat less wacky version of the liberal Ninth Circuit.

Eric Holder is now saying that amnesty for illegal immigrants is a "civil and human right." How absurd is that? John Hinderaker explains why this makes no sense.
If you don’t believe in national sovereignty, if you don’t believe that a country is entitled to have a border, then it makes sense to say that a non-citizen has a civil (i.e., legal) right to enter the country and remain forever, regardless of any laws to the contrary. Otherwise, Holder’s proposition–which I think accurately reflects the thinking of the Obama administration–is nonsensical.
The NYT reports that the Democrat who was appointed to be Senator from Montana to fill Sen. Baucus's seat plagiarized the paper that he wrote to get his Master's Degree from the Army War College.
The breadth of Mr. Walsh’s apparent plagiarism, however, is rivaled by few examples in recent political history. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was found last year to have presented the work of others as his own in a newspaper opinion article, a book and speeches. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped his 1988 presidential bid when it was revealed that in campaign speeches he had used language similar to that of the British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attribution.

Mr. Walsh appears to have gone considerably further.

About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks.

The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.

For example, in the first paragraph of his paper, Mr. Walsh writes of George W. Bush: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisors made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”

At the end of this sentence, which Mr. Walsh included without quotation marks, he footnoted a reference to a 2003 article in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Carothers, a prominent foreign policy expert. The only difference between Mr. Walsh’s paper and Mr. Carothers’ essay is that Mr. Walsh wrote “advisors” rather than “advisers” and did not use “had.” In other instances, Mr. Walsh swaps a synonym for a word in the original document.

He writes on his second page: “There are deep disagreements about the appropriate theoretical framework, about whether democracy is simply an institutional arrangement for choosing rulers or an end in itself, about how to measure and evaluate democracy, and about the importance of prerequisites for democracy.”
Oh, dear. I spend every year trying to teach high schoolers what plagiarism is and why they shouldn't do it. It doesn't help when our nation's leaders are doing it.

Senator Walsh also plagiarized a bill he proposed.

Chris Cillizza had a post the other day positing that "It's virtually impossible to be a successful modern president." James Taranto has a great analysis ripping apart each part of Cillizza's argument. One of Cillizza's main points is that we're more polarized today than ever before. Those claims always amuse me because it seems so ahistorical. Things were even uglier in the 1790s or during the 1850s and the Civil War. Taranto links to a post by Steven Hayward to remind us of how liberals also thought that the U.S. was too difficult to govern in 1980. Hayward has quote after quote of people in the media and elites in academia were claiming about the weaknesses and difficulties of the presidency. Then Reagan became president and they forgot all about those complaints. And I'd remind Mr. Cillizza that President Obama was quite powerful in the first two years of his presidency. He was able to push his agenda through Congress despite not garnering any support from Republicans. Of course, his policies have had deleterious effects on the economy and employment plus the mess he's made of health policy. So he was clearly able to accomplish what he wished. The problems of partisanship blocking policy arose only when they lost the House in 2010. Gosh darn it! It is clearly just too difficult if a Democratic president should have to face divided government. Our Founders couldn't have wanted that to happen, could they? Oh, wait...

Democratic members of the FEC are pondering whether they have the power to regulate books published by politicians in election years. That's truly scary.

Gosh, everything the experts tell us about health seems to change. Eggs were bad for us; now they aren't. Fat was bad; now it isn't. Wine was bad; now it isn't. Carbs were good for us; now they aren't. And now they're saying we should get seven, not eight hours of sleep a night. I guess it will be like having Daylight's Saving Time every day. Of course, most nights during the school year, I'm happy if I get five hours.

For those of you who suspect you might have sleep apnea, you can now test yourself at home.