Friday, August 08, 2014

Cruising the Web

The horror unfolding as ISIS moves through Iraq is becoming this generation's equivalent of Rwanda's genocide or the killing fields of Cambodia. Though we've already seen over 100,000 killed in Syria. The stories of what is going on in northern Iraq with children being slaughtered and women coerced into sexual slavery is simply horrifying. And it seems to be fated to go on without stop. It's just heartbreaking.

The Guardian explains who the Yazidis are in case you're like I am and never heard of them until they started getting slaughtered.

Now that President Obama has finally decided to go back to Iraq to try to prevent genocide, perhaps it's time to assess how much of the situation there today can be laid at his feet. John Podhoretz summarizes.
And so we come full circle. Nearly three years since Barack Obama decided to trade defeat for victory in Iraq by allowing his feckless vice president to fail to “negotiate” a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government he did not really wish to have—since the president wanted to leave, leave, leave, as he had said he would do in 2007—circumstances of the simplest human decency have compelled him to commit U.S. forces to stave off the genocide of the Yazidi sect in Iraq.

He is not responsible for the monstrous actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—in no way, and anyone who suggests otherwise is guilty of a great wrong. What Obama is responsible for is this: Having assumed we had lost in Iraq (and probably having believed that loss was just, given how little he thought of the war and the reasons for fighting it), he became president and was basically informed that the war had all but been won while he was assaulting it on the way to his landslide election. Only a colossal fool would have thrown the Petraeus-Bush gift of an Iraq rescued from civil war and on its way to a stable future in the garbage, and Obama is not a fool. So he didn’t. What he did do was remain ever mindful of his promise to leave and how failing to deliver on that promise might affect his chances in 2012.

So when the continued American presence in Iraq became contingent on reaching a legal agreement with the new government, he and his people trumped up reasons why Iraq was making that agreement impossible—because it refused to grant Americans immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, which was ironed out with the Bush administration in 2008 and which the Obamans could easily have ironed out if they had paid sufficient and proper attention to the matter—and America walked.

If you want to see Obama’s monument there, just look: ISIS on the march. The Christians of Mosul decimated and set to flee. Strategic Iraqi assets from oil to water in the hands of what is now indubitably the worst non-state actor in the region since al Qaeda’s heyday. And the possibility of some kind of super-terror state under ISIS control from the Iraqi border with Iran to the lands west of Iraq in Syria.

The United States could not stand by and watch these monsters cause 40,000 Yazidis to die of thirst up on that mountain—though it could, and did, watch as Mosul was made Christian-rein. Failure to act then was a sin of omission. Had there been no intervention now, that would have effectively been a sin of commission, a moral stain on the United States that Obama could have found no way to lay at George W. Bush’s feet.

He has acted, and that is a good thing. But the question is: What now? What now?

Why do we get stories that the President is considering airstrikes in northern Iraq. Either do it or don't, but why telegraph his consideration ahead of time? I'm with the NY Sun.
If the way this administration wages — or fails to wage — war just isn’t the damnedest thing our aging eyeballs have ever seen we don’t know what is. We’re put in this dudgeon by the news reports that the White House is “weighing” air strikes in respect of Iraq. The Congress has long since given the president the right to go to war in Iraq. There have been all sorts of editorials and opinions in the public press advising the repeal of the authorizations, but the Congress has decided not to repeal them. The commander-in-chief doesn’t have to ask anyone’s permission, neither Congress nor the United Nations. What is the logic of all this public “weighing”?

This time around the Democrats are the ones who need to worry more about the quality of their candidates. It figures that there would be a balance in the embarrassment quotient of candidates between the parties. Now their most recent embarrassment, Senator John Walsh of Montana has had to drop out of his race to win the office since the embarrassment of having plagiarized a paper for his Master's degree. Remember when it was considered a stroke of political genius when Obama appointed Max Baucus ambassador to China so that Walsh could be appointed senator and have an opportunity to run as an incumbent. That hasn't worked out that well.

And Nancy Pelosi is becoming even more of an embarrassing.
In the past few weeks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has referred to Hamas as a "humanitarian organization," likened the thousands of unaccompanied minors at the U.S. border to the "baby Jesus" and flouted House etiquette by heckling a GOP member.

John Podhoretz explains that, contrary to what some in the media might argue, Israel won and Hamas lost this recent conflict. But that doesn't mean that Israel can rest on their laurels. However, as Podhoretz writes, there is a reason why Israelis have as much reason to feel the same sort of national pride today as they did during the Six Day War.
Hamas wasn’t without its successes. It impressed and frightened Israel with the extent of its tunneling. It ambushed some soldiers.

It reawakened Israel to the unnerving, chilling reality that it isn’t just the Start-Up Nation with a rising per-capita income and inflationary housing prices, but a small country still very much under the shadow of evil.

And yet the country has also experienced a moment of national pride like the one at the end of the triumphant 1967 Six Day War.

That was when Israel and everyone else discovered that this tiny band of Jews had built a fierce first-class army vastly better than the militaries of the 22 enemy nations surrounding it.

Iron Dome is the cause of the current national pride.
For the first time in the annals of modern warfare, civilians living in cities under air attack felt secure in the knowledge they weren’t going to be hit by missiles and rockets.

Just as Israel proved itself militarily unmatched in 1967, it has proved itself technologically unmatched in 2014.
Unfortunately, there are many in the world who were much more fond of a weak Israel fighting with their back to the wall than they are of an Israel fighting from a position of strength.

Contrary to what kids might wish, being made to work does not constitute forced labor that would violate their rights. The Sixth Circuit has so ruled. I can't believe that such a question arose to the appellate court level.

Matt Lewis has some recommendations for Republicans. Be quiet and let the focus remain on Obama's inadequacies. Unfortunately, Republicans can't seem to miss an opportunity to mess things up and put the focus instead on their inadequacies.

Nicole Rusenko at The Heritage Foundation explains why the Export-Import Bank is a terrible government program.

Oh, like this is a surprise. When the VA scandal emerged and we were told how seriously President Obama took it, he only met once with General Shenseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Hands-on has never been this guy's style.

Charles Krauthammer explains why Obama's proposed executive action to grant amnesty millions of illegal immigrants has no rationale behind it to justify it.
If this is just a trial balloon, the time to shoot it down is now. The administration claims such an executive order would simply be a corrective to GOP inaction on the current immigration crisis — 57,000 unaccompanied minors, plus tens of thousands of families, crashing through and overwhelming the southern border.

This rationale is a fraud.

First, the charge that Republicans have done nothing is plainly false. Last week, the House passed legislation that deals reasonably with this immigrant wave. It changes a 2008 sex-trafficking law never intended for (and inadvertently inviting) mass migration — a change the president himself endorsed before caving to his left and flip-flopping. It also provides funds for emergency processing and assistance to the kids who are here.

Second, it’s a total non sequitur. Suspending deportation for millions of long-resident illegal immigrants has nothing to do with the current wave of newly arrived minors. If anything, it would aggravate the problem by sending the message that if you manage to get here illegally, eventually you’ll be legalized.

Third, and most fatal, it is deeply unconstitutional. Don’t believe me. Listen to Obama. He’s repeatedly made the case for years. As in:

“I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books. . . . Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the [immigration] laws on my own. . . . That’s not how our Constitution is written” (July 25, 2011).

“This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. . . . There are laws on the books that I have to enforce” (Sept. 28, 2011).

“If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws” (Nov. 25, 2013).

Laws created by Congress, not by executive fiat. That’s what distinguishes a constitutional republic from the banana kind.

Moreover, Obama had control of both houses of Congress during his first two years in office — and did nothing about immigration. So why now?
Krauthammer imagines that the only reason to take such an action would be as bait to get the Republicans to try to impeach him or at least talk about impeachment in order to whip up nonexistent Democratic excitement about voting. I have a similar, less cynical explanation. Obama just wants to give them amnesty and knows he can't get it through Congress so he figures he'll go ahead and do it by himself. After all, we've seen how the Republicans are impotent in stopping him when he takes such actions. Who would have standing to bring a suit to stop him? And even if Obama is followed by a Republican president, it would still be too late to undo Obama's actions. So, from his point of view, why not do it?

Obama's presidency has done for more moving the public towards the GOP on public policy than anything the Republicans have done. I guess the best argument against Democratic policies are Democratic policies in action.

When Hillary talks about how we've failed in recent years telling our story abroad, why was she all for cutting money to broadcast our message abroad when she was Secretary of State.