Friday, March 20, 2015

Cruising the Web

Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor to contrast how Barack Obama delayed two days calling Benjamin or Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election win with how Obama quickly called Putin to congratulate him on his victory. Obama was one of the first to call Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the top Chinese communist, and Iran's Rouhani, and Turkey's Erdogan to congratulate them on their election victories. Yet Obama publicly delayed calling Netanyahu in public hissy fit that the Israelis dared not to vote for Obama's choice. Then Rubio goes to give the history of how Obama, since the very beginning of his presidency, has condemned and criticized Israel and showed preferences for the Palestinians. Listen to the entire speech. Rubio is excellent and all he says is absolutely true. All he has to do is report the facts. The conclusion is quite clear of how Obama has always shown hostility to Israel. The Obama administration is ticked off that Netanyahu has said that, as the situation now exists, there can be no Israeli acceptance of a two-state solution. Rubio reminds us of the land that Israel has already given up to Hamas and how the Palestinians use this to launch rockets into Israel while rewarding terrorists who kill Israelis.
Cheers to Marco Rubio for laying this out so very clearly. It is well worth listening to the entire speech.

William A. Joacobson looks at what Netanyahu said before the election and how the media distorted that statement. Bibi always said that the Palestinian's attitude toward Israel and his refusal to even recognize Israel made the acceptance of a Palestinian state. That has always been Bibi's position. but now the Obama administration is using this clear policy that Bibi has stated of not negotiating with an entity devoted to Israel's destruction as an excuse hint at shifting U.S. policy at the U.N.

Charles Krauthammer derides the delusion that there is some sort of peace agreement possible between Israel and the Palestinians that is being blocked by Netanyahu.
I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.

This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001 and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the past 15 years. Every one rejected.

The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.

Today, however, there is a second reason a peace agreement is impossible: the supreme instability of the entire Middle East. For half a century, it was run by dictators no one liked but with whom you could do business. For example, the 1974 Israel-Syria disengagement agreement yielded more than four decades of near-total quiet on the border because the Assad dictatorships so decreed.

That authoritarian order is gone, overthrown by the Arab Spring. ...

From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah-Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability?

There was a time when Arafat commanded the Palestinian movement the way Gaddafi commanded Libya. Abbas commands no one. Why do you think he is in the 11th year of a four-year term, having refused to hold elections for the last five years? Because he’s afraid he would lose to Hamas.

With or without elections, the West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight. At which point fire rains down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and the entire Israeli urban heartland — just as it rains down on southern Israel from Gaza when it suits Hamas, which has turned that first Palestinian state into a terrorist fire base.

Any Arab-Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, these would be written on sand.

Israel is ringed by jihadi terrorists in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic State and Iranian proxies in Syria, and a friendly but highly fragile Jordan. Israelis have no idea who ends up running any of these places. Will the Islamic State advance to an Israeli border? Will Iranian Revolutionary Guards appear on the Golan Heights? No one knows.

Well, say the critics. Israel could be given outside guarantees. Guarantees? Like the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which the United States, Britain and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”? Like the red line in Syria? Like the unanimous U.N. resolutions declaring illegal any Iranian enrichment of uranium — now effectively rendered null?

As David Harsanyi looks at the partisanship behind the liberals' desire to abandon Israel.
Israel is a liberal nation—in the best sense of the word—but it’s not a leftist one. And for increasing numbers of Democrats, the center-right consensus of Israeli politics is unacceptable, immoral and bigoted, incompatible with their conception of American values....

In the interim, I understand the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration and its media poodles at the spectacular success of the foreign leader they loathe more than any other on the planet. The consequent seething and sputtering are understandable, if unseemly. Blaming Netanyahu for banishing peace, however, is mindless.
Mindless foreign policy - what a shocker for this administration.

Well, this is typical and yet one more reason to despise the UN.
Guess who is the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today? Israel. Violating the rights of Palestinian women.

At least that is the view of the UN’s top women’s rights body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). CSW ends its annual meeting on Friday, March 20 by condemning only one of the 193 UN member states for violating women’s rights – Israel.

Not Syria. Where government forces routinely employ rape and other sexual violence and torture against women as a tactic of war. Where in 2014 the Assad regime starved, tortured and killed at least 24,000 civilians, and three million people – mostly women and children – are refugees.

Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing, are almost entirely excluded from political life, cannot drive, cannot travel without a male relative, receive half the inheritance of their brothers, and where their testimony counts for half that of a man’s.

Not Sudan. Where domestic violence is not prohibited. There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex. The legal age of marriage for girls is ten. 88% of women under 50 have undergone female genital mutilation. And women are denied equal rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.

Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified. “Adultery” is punishable by death by stoning. Women who fight back against rapists and kill their attackers are executed. The constitution bars female judges. And women must obtain the consent of their husbands to work outside the home.

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran is an elected member of CSW. Sudan – whose president has been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity – is currently a CSW Vice-Chair.

The 2015 CSW resolution on Israel will repeat, as it does every year, that “the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society…”

Not Palestinian men. Not religious edicts and traditions. Not a culture of violence. Not an educational system steeped in rejection of peaceful coexistence and of tolerance.

A man who worked early in Bill Clinton's presidency to devise a formula to key-search White House emails to try to distinguish personal from government emails writes in the NYT to explain how that worked out. His results lead him to conclude how Hillary's claim about how the search of her private server got all the government-related emails.
The results were abysmal. Even after significant tweaking, I don’t recall achieving more than a 70 percent success rate, which is particularly poor when you consider that random sorting would yield 50 percent if the distribution were even. IMC ultimately scrapped our troubled sorting project in favor of a feature that allowed users to manually flag messages that should not be archived.

Our problem was that natural language — the way people ordinarily speak and write — is notoriously difficult to parse. To make sense of natural language, it’s not sufficient to recognize the words; you also need to understand grammar, appreciate nuance, interpret metaphors, grasp allusions, infer from context, and even have a sense of humor. Right now, only humans can do that reliably.

Machine learning has made great strides in the past few years. With enough training, an advanced natural-language processor would be able to sort Hillary Clinton’s emails much more effectively than the simple keyword approach that my colleagues and I devised. But Clinton’s press statement offers no indication that her team employed such technology. On the contrary, her account of the process sounds remarkably like the name and keyword filters that we tried in the 1990s...

It’s possible that Clinton’s team used more advanced techniques than described in the statement. Or perhaps her team included technical wizards who designed a flawless keyword search. If so, she should release technical documentation of the search algorithm, the test procedure, and the test results — assuming they tested it. Without that information, we have no basis for sharing Hillary Clinton’s “absolute confidence” that the State Department has received all her work-related email communication.

John Fund has an excellent rejoinder to Obama's complaint that too many people don't vote that perhaps wouldn't it be nice if we mandated that people vote.
It is entirely rational for someone to think his vote might not make a difference, either because the candidates don’t represent real change or because of the simple laws of mathematics. As Ilya Somin, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University, points out: “Even a smart and hardworking person can rationally decide not to pay much attention to politics. No matter how well-informed a person is, his or her vote has only a tiny chance of affecting the outcome of an election.” Do we want to deny such persons their freedom by forcing them to make a choice they view as either unpalatable or meaningless?

Liberals tend to see anything that increases voter turnout as a positive for democracy. “The more people who are exercising that right (to vote) the better,” asserts a Slate article on Oregon’s new mandatory voter registration. That’s one reason liberals give such short shrift to measures to promote ballot security and reduce fraud. Conservatives, on the other hand, often emphasize the rule of law and the fact that if procedures aren’t followed not every ballot is a valid vote. That can sometimes lead them to not see the forest for the trees.

But what both sides should agree on is that nothing good comes of coercing people into voting. The idea has, of course, been tried in countries ranging from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to the old Soviet Union. It’s also been tried in free countries, but half of them no longer enforce the requirement and in several of the others enforcement is sporadic. By resurrecting the discredited idea of mandatory voting, President Obama has shown that, even as he touts his old stint as a constitutional law instructor, he gets a failing grade when it comes to understanding the notion of liberty.
It is not difficult to vote these days. You can register, not only at the DMV, but at the library, online and mailing it in, or with any of the mass efforts to register voters before any election. You don't have to wait until a Tuesday to vote. States now have early voting programs that makes voting available before election day during the week and on the weekend. It is relatively easy to get an absentee ballot. So don't assume that people aren't voting just because it is too difficult. Just ask nonvoters why they don't vote. Here is one set of poll results from 2012.
A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives.

Even so, they cite a range of reasons for declaring they won't vote or saying the odds are no better than 50-50 that they will: They're too busy. They aren't excited about either candidate. Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway.

W. James Antle celebrates a country where people are not forced to vote.
Part of this is simply the progressive mindset that everything good must be mandatory. From seat belt use to health insurance, if it’s a good idea for you to have it, the government should force you to have it.

It simply never occurs to Obama that if someone doesn’t want to participate in the quadrennial game of pin the tail on a Bush or Clinton, that is their choice. We don’t have to live in the White House to ignore Congress.

As Rush — the band, not Limbaugh — says, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

Just as everything good can be mandated, everything bad can simply be legislated or regulated away. The liberal approach to gun control, for example, resembles nothing more than a frantic grandmother trying to hide dangerous objects and baby-proof her house before the little ones come over.

Grandmothers know best will be the theme of the 2016 campaign....

The liberal tendency to stop just short of federally regulated bedtime is why many laughed at Hillary Clinton’s comments about sending adults to camp to reduce the “fun deficit” (yet another deficit we can only shrink by raising taxes).

No, Hillary hasn’t been watching those old Ernest movies. We are a village when it comes to telling each other what to do and children who belong in summer camp when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
Yes, indeed. Hillary Clinton did muse about how wonderful it would be if adults would go to fun camp.
As I have gotten older, I have decided we really need camps for adults,” she said to laughter. “And we need the kind of camps you all run.”

“None of the serious stuff, not of the life-challenging stuff; more fun!” Clinton continued. “I think we have a huge fun deficit in America. And we need to figure it out how to fill that fun deficit, certainly for our kids, but also for the rest.”

In these camps, Clinton wants Americans to really concentrate on the important things. “We need some reminder about life skills from time to time, maybe some enrichment, certainly some time outdoors.”

On an entirely unrelated note, “joycamp” was the Newspeak term for forced labor camps in George Orwell’s “1984.”

Politico examines Hillary Clinton's record as Secretary of State and whether she really advanced the cause of women, specifically with Saudi Arabia. The conclusions are, at best, ambivalent.
Clinton is silent apparently because she does not want the Saudi kingdom to stall or reverse ongoing, if slow-moving, progress for Saudi women. That in many ways is a justified stance, especially since the royals’ fall would be a catastrophe for Saudi women. At the same time, the Saudis not only export terror; they also are spreading the message of misogyny wherever their money and influence go. Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Syria—Saudi preaching of misogyny is making the lives of women across the Sunni world much harder. Effectively implementing the Hillary Doctrine, then, involves morally fraught decisions and unavoidable paradoxes. In the case of Saudi women, Clinton has chosen a course that appears to be penny-foolish, but is surely pound-wise. The problem is that Saudi women are not the only women affected by this choice. If the Clinton Foundation accepts Saudi donations, let’s hope they are used to offset that collateral damage.

Add in her fecklessness regarding Saudi treatment of women, the practice of the Clinton Foundation's efforts to raise money from foreign sources, including those with the most egregious records for treating women. The WSJ reports,
The Clinton Foundation swore off donations from foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. That didn’t stop the foundation from raising millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments, a review of foundation disclosures shows.

Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments. One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.

All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.

After Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013, the foundation resumed accepting donations from foreign governments.
Does anyone think that these foreign donors were giving millions to the Clinton Foundation simply because they were the very best charity around? Just to ask the question is to expose what a ridiculous claim it is. They wanted to win favorable attention from the Secretary of State and possible future president.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that, contrary to her promises, Hillary Clinton did not publish the names of donors to the Clinton Foundation.
At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons' charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.

The finding could renew scrutiny of Clinton's promises of transparency as
I'm sure we're all shocked, just shocked at Clinton mendacity and efforts to hide embarrassing donations.

Kudos to Hugh Hewitt for his interview with Ben Carson exposing Carson's vast ignorance on foreign policy.
Toward the end of the nearly 20-minute interview, Hewitt candidly told Carson that he’s worried the former neurosurgeon isn’t up to snuff on foreign affairs, likening him to Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign.

“What I worry about as a Republican, as a conservative is that because you’ve been being a great neurosurgeon all these years, you haven’t been deep into geopolitics, and that the same questions that tripped up Sarah Palin early in her campaign are going to trip you up,” Hewitt told Carson. “How are you going to navigate that because — have you been doing geopolitics? Do you read this stuff? Do you immerse yourself in it?”

“I mean, you wouldn’t expect me to become a neurosurgeon in a couple of years and I wouldn’t expect you to be able to access and understand and collate the information necessary to be a global strategist in a couple of years,” Hewitt said before asking Carson if it’s “fair for people to worry” that he hasn’t been involved in world politics enough.

“I mean, we’ve tried an amateur for the last six years and look what it’s gotten us,” Hewitt told Carson.
There is such delusional hubris on Carson's part to think that, just because he excites conservative crowds when he talks about Obamacare and conservative ideals, he should run for the top job in the country without any other political experience. I would say the same for Carly Fiorina. There is an open Senate seat in Maryland. Carson could run for that seat, but he shouldn't start out campaigning for the presidency as his first job, especially when he knows so very little about foreign policy. And Carson doesn't even seem to know what he doesn't know and claims that he will be fine because he will just gather the best advisers around. How will he even know which advisers are the best if he doesn't know all that much about foreign policy in the first place?