Monday, February 09, 2015

Cruising the Web

Eli Lake explains how Obama's foreign policy is not part of the "reality-based community."
There are good reasons to support America's disengagement from the region. But to pretend this disengagement will have no cost on America's ability to shape events in the Middle East is delusional.

Because the reality is this: For all of the problems posed by significant U.S. ground forces in the Middle East, it is the only option right now if Obama wishes to stop the advance of the Islamic State without aiding the advance of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Andrew Ferguson describes how Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie have all demonstrated recently why they'll be losers in the GOP race for the nomination.
They didn’t do anything to disqualify themselves directly, just revealed the traits that will make them appear unsuitable to most voters by the time the campaign really heats up, say, when the presidential election is a mere 18 months away. As it is, all three of them—Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Chris Christie—can pack it in right now and save months of time and tons of money. They’d be doing themselves a favor, and us too.
Good riddance, I say. I wasn't pulling for any of them. Huckabee never interested me. As Ferguson writes, the combination of being a preacher and talk show host do not make for an attractive candidate. It might go over on a talk show to slam Beyoncé and, by association, the parenting skills of Michelle and Barack Obama, but politically, that's just stupidity squared. Of all the things to slam Obama on, Huckabee chose their association with one of the most popular cultural figures today? Who's next? Oprah?

And then there is Rand Paul's idiocy in doubling down on questioning vaccine mandates. Paul seems surprised that any interviewer would question him on his pronouncements.
It’s no surprise that a candidate who chooses Twitter to engage his adversaries would be uncomfortable with the longer, more demanding form of a six-minute TV interview with a CNBC cupcake. In this case the interviewer took no time in riling Paul over awkward comments he had made about the responsibility of parents to vaccinate their children. Perhaps he was caught off guard by the revelation that TV news readers can be obnoxious. His inability to control the interview made him petulant. “Calm down here a bit, Kelly,” he said. He put his fingers to his lips: “Shhhhhh .  .  .” Stop asking these stupid questions. It’s hard to imagine what candidate Paul will do when he’s faced with such interrogations several times a day for months at a time. The interviewer asked about running for president, and Paul said, “Part of the problem is that you end up having interviews like this where the interview is so slanted and full of distortions that you don’t get useful information. I think this is what is bad about TV sometimes.” Back to Twitter.
And Christie's behavior recently along with more questions about his accepting gifts and trips from wealthy supporters are increasing questions about his suitability as a candidate. Though it does seem as the latest breathless reporting on another federal investigation into Christie's behavior is pretty much of a nothingburger. He might not be in Governor McDonnell territory yet in accepting inconvenient gifts, but why take a chance? And then there is this.
Many observers noted the difficulties that Christie’s lifestyle would have for his reputation as a populist. Another item from the Times story may in the end be more ominous.

“King Abdullah of Jordan picked up the tab for a Christie family weekend at the end of the trip. The governor and two staff members who accompanied him came back to New Jersey bubbling that they had celebrated with Bono, the lead singer of U2, at three parties .  .  .”

Does America want a president who bubbles for Bono? It’s hard to square such behavior with greatness, or even competence, much less good taste. Did FDR bubble for Bing—did Reagan moon over Madonna? The revelation will revive the most harrowing piece of reporting in the Christie literature, in which a writer for the Atlantic magazine accompanied the governor of New Jersey to several concerts given by Bruce Springsteen. The writer stood by as Christie hopped up and down, as best he could, and waved his beefy arms, and mouthed the words to Springsteen’s tuneless anthems, and then tried, without success, to score a meeting with Springsteen himself. The jets, the meals, the concerts, the parties with celebrity pop musicians—we have at last learned that Christie is neither a populist nor a plutocrat, but a man striving to live out the fantasies of a teenage boy.
Being starstruck by Springsteen and Bono isn't unusual, but Republicans are looking for candidates who don't get startstruck in the first place. If Ferguson is correct and Huckabee, Paul, and Christie have already cemented their also-ran status, that's all to the good for Republicans.

Instead of depending on hollow men such as Huckabee, Paul, and Christie, Scott Walker is seeming more and more to be "the hero the conservative movement has been waiting for." Though conservatives shouldn't be waiting for heroes. That doesn't seem quite like the conservative approach to government.

Maureen Dowd unloads on Brian Williams and the MSM. It's almost as if she's been a conservative blogger criticizing the arrogance of the MSM for years. Of course now that Brian Williams has beclowned himself, it's safe for her to unleash her inner media critic. And note that NBC executives have known for a while that Williams was telling lies to make himself sound important and told him to stop lying, yet they did nothing about it until it all became public. I'm sure they would have sat on their qualms forever if Williams hadn't been outed by someone who was on the actual plane that got shot at.

Charles Lifson explains why mocking Brian Williams benefits democracy.
Reporters need to know that, no matter how famous they are, they will be held to the same professional standards as everyone else. Systematic, deliberate fabrication is a hanging offense.

Holding reporters accountable helps democracy function better because we need reliable information to make choices about candidates and issues. The better the information and the more diverse the sources, the better we can perform our tasks as citizens and voters. That’s why freedom of the press and speech are essential to democracies and why our First Amendment guarantees them.

Solid, honest reporting is the only way we can get the information we need. We cannot read the US budget ourselves, much less the Affordable Care Act. We can’t see for ourselves whether Veterans are dying in Arizona because they can’t see a VA doctor. We are not on the ground to see what’s happening in Baghdad, Berlin, or Beijing. We depend on TV, newspapers, and websites to find out. We rely on honest reports from reputable outlets. When they are unreliable or, worse, dishonest, our civic world is impoverished.

To interpret these complex stories, we depend on a free marketplace of opinions from columnists, op-ed writers, and the guy tottering on the next barstool. Editors may have their own slant on which stories matter most. The left cares more about income inequality and cheating corporations; the right, more about high taxes, bad regulations, and government overreach. But whatever the stories, we expect them to be truthful. It shouldn’t matter whether MSNBC, Fox News, or the National Enquirer says the Department of Labor reports this month’s unemployment is 5.8%. That should be the number.

Some mistakes are bound to creep in. We all make them. But there is a crucial difference between unintentional mistakes and deliberate lies. Whatever the error’s source, it should be disclosed soon after it is discovered. It shouldn’t be downplayed.

Joseph Curl writes on why it was much worse of Hillary Clinton to blatantly lie about having been under sniper fire in visiting Bosnia is so much worse than Brian Williams' fabrications.
But he’s just a TV personality, another hubris-filled, shallow egotist. NBC doesn’t care what you think, and if they decide he stays, he stays. You don’t have any say in the matter: It’s a corporate issue.

But not at all so for Hillary Rodham Clinton. In March 2008, giving a foreign policy speech on Iraq about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she delivered an unbelievable tale.

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

So, picture that: Chopper lands, sniper bullets pinging and zinging everywhere, she and her comrades sprinting across the tarmac, perhaps zigzagging to throw off the sharpshooter.

But it didn’t happen. None of it. Right after the speech, she was asked about the sniper fire. “There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened,” she lied.

A week later, she changed her whole story, telling the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board that she “misspoke.” Yes, she said that word. When she said snipers had fired at her, when really a little girl had given her a poem, that was her just “misspeaking.”

The next day, she told reporters: “So I made a mistake. That happens. It shows I’m human, which for some people is a revelation.” Ha ha, oh, she’s so lovely — and human.

Oh, and an incredible liar, a valor thief, a fabulist. And dangerous.
There is video of her being greeted on that trip to Bosnia and accepting flowers from a child who recited a poem. That's quite a difference from her tale of running while under sniper fire. And this woman thinks she should be our commander-in-chief making decisions for the men and women or our armed forces who undergo real fire from enemies instead of lying about it to win an election.

Isn't this cozy?
resident Obama, Michelle Obama, and Malia Obama are dining at the home of CNN executive Virginia Moseley tonight, according to the White House pool report. Moseley's husband is Thomas Nides, a former (and probably future) aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Larry Sabato examines the historic trends that favor the Republicans in 2016.

Well, this is just typical.
Joe Biden will skip Israeli Prime Minister’s Congressional speech in March. He is going to leave the country. Minority Leader Pelosi says Democrats will be busy and she hopes the event won’t take place. And the Obama administration told Black Caucus members to skip the speech and to publicly speak out against it. But Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Labor leader Isaac Herzog this weekend in Germany. Kerry and Biden scheduled an under-the-radar meeting with Netanyahu’s election opponent Isaac Herzog while in Munich over the weekend.

Kevin Williamson expounds on the coercive nature of liberalism.
The Wilsonian vision of domestic governance through expertise and fiat quickly devolved into a reality of goon squads, political persecution, crushing of dissent with formal and informal political violence, politicization of law enforcement, etc. The Occupy bomb-throwers and the imbecile hooligans committing arson to prove that “black lives matter” are not quite the American Protective League, but they’re of a piece with it. In the Wilson years, we had politicized police; in the Obama years, we have a weaponized IRS . . . and Justice Department, and police unions, and jailers’ unions. The Wilson-era progressives tried to use the Sedition Act to shut down critics of the great progressive. In our time, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Harry Reid want to throw people in prison for unpopular political activism of which they disapprove. The grand plans of 2009 are coming unraveled, as grand plans do, and so the Left grows ever more naked in its coercion. On the official side of the spectrum, you have Senate Democrats voting to repeal the First Amendment so that they can suppress political criticism. On the unofficial side — as the perpetually late-to-the-party Jonathan Chait has suddenly noticed — you have people such as Brendan Eich being run out of their jobs for holding unpopular political opinions, human-rights heroes such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali run off college campuses, and Trustafarians from suburban Boston shutting down emergency ambulance services because they are displeased about . . . something.

The fun part for the Left is that, in Mount Holyoke as in Pyongyang, totalitarianism is magnified by madness, and thus The Vagina Monologues must be suppressed on the grounds that not all women have vaginas. If you do not follow these sorts of things closely, you would not believe the vitriol — up to and including death threats — rained down on feminist groups who insist that while they sympathize with transsexuals they do not believe that a penis-and-testicle-bearing person counts as a woman simply on his own say-so.

The Left’s last big idea was Communism. When Lenin turned out to be the god who failed, the Left undertook wide exploration for another grand unifying idea: environmentalism, multiculturalism, economic inequality, atheism, feminism, etc. What it ended up with was an enemies’ list.

That and a taste for brute force.

The enthusiasm for coercion and the substitution of enemies for ideas — Christians, white men, Israel, “the 1 percent,” the Koch brothers, take your pick — together form the basis for understanding the Left’s current convulsions. The call to imprison people with unapproved ideas about global warming, the Senate Democrats’ vote to repeal the First Amendment, the Ferguson-inspired riots, the picayune political correctness and thought-policing that annoys Jonathan Chait, the IRS’s persecution of conservative political groups, Barack Obama’s White House enemies’ list, the casual violence against conservatives on college campuses and the Left’s instinctive defense of that violence — these are not separate phenomena but part of a single phenomenon.

It's been so long since Congress passed a budget in regular order that the GOP are having to hold tutorials on how to do so for the newer members.
Before Congressional Republicans can write a budget, they have to learn how — and the learning curve is steep.

In the House, more than two-thirds of Republicans were elected after 2009, the last time Congress conducted a formal, bicameral budget process from end to end. The situation is similar in the Senate, where Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., then the majority leader, killed the annual exercise of writing and passing a budget resolution through both chambers after Republicans won control of the House in 2010. Democrats were in full control of Capitol Hill from 2007 to 2010.

To close the GOP's information gap, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is convening rotating groups of about 30 rank and file members for budget-writing 101 tutorials....

With the exception of a bipartisan House-Senate budget deal negotiated in late 2013 by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Congress has basically been passing continuing resolutions to keep the government operating since fiscal 2010 ended. A continuing resolution generally adopts the previous year’s spending limits, making few alterations to the previous policies contained in past budget documents.

This is in part the outcome of the political gulf that separated the Republican House and Democratic Senate from 2011 to 2014.

In the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans campaigned on bringing back regular order as it applies to the budget. That means the House and Senate have to write their own budget documents and negotiate a compromise between them in a conference committee. Congressional budget resolutions cannot be filibustered in the Senate, and they aren’t subject to a presidential veto. So theoretically, there’s no reason the Republicans shouldn’t be able to get it done.

This could be a setback for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the case challenging Obamacare subsidies to states that didn't set up an exchange. It seems that Mr. King lacks standing to bring his case. I don't know why this wasn't covered at the lower court level. There are other plaintiffs who may or may not have the same problem so we'll have to wait and see what happens.

So now environmentalism is the basis for limiting America's consumption of red meat.

Even the New York Times displays skepticism about the White House's preferred statistic that one in five women is assaulted while at college.

President Obama had a week of "jaw-dropping" folly.

Alcee Hastings, a man impeached and removed from office by a Democratic-controlled House and Senate for perjury and bribery, called Texas crazy. So how crazy is Texas?

I'm sure you'll be upset to learn that federal bureaucrats can't have catered meetings or travel to conferences any more because of new regulations imposed after videos emerged of GSA workers whooping it up in Las Vegas.