Thursday, April 09, 2015

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger summarizes the Obama Doctrine.
Mr. Obama’s “doctrine” is essentially that if something bad happens, he will send in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he won’t. No Democrat whose view of large-scale U.S. military power was formed by the Vietnam War or the Iraq War will do that. Other than aerial bombardments, using the full range of U.S. military assets ended for Democrats with the Johnson presidency.

The last Democrat in that earlier tradition, former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, was expelled from the party precisely for this reason. The assertion today that they can take risks because of overwhelming U.S. power is a public-relations bluff.

Put it this way: Any conceivable Democratic presidential candidate would associate with Teddy Roosevelt’s foundational dictum—Speak softly and carry a big stick. That sounds like the Obama Doctrine, or what Hillary Clinton and progressive foreign-policy pundits call “smart” power. But the reality of modern Democrat foreign policy is—Speak softly and claim to carry a big stick, which you have no intention of ever using.

To understand the bluff, look closely at the Democrats’ Doctrine on paper or in practice, and you’ll notice that it’s always prospective. It promises to act at some point in the future if circumstances become so dire that they oblige the U.S. to “overwhelm” the problem with superior power. Never has there been a bigger “if.”

This verbal reassurance always gets rolled forward to the horizon, never quite arriving at a decision to coerce adversary behavior. “Smart” policy means stringing together endless casuistic reasons for not acting.

Instead, their real imperative is to temporize with high-minded “talks”—at the U.N., with allies, enemies, even with our own bureaucratic selves, as with the inability in 1996 to attribute blame for the Khobar Towers bombing.

U.S. responses to the crises in Ukraine and Syria are case studies of the “overwhelming-power” bluff. The Iran deal, a monument to talk, is its apotheosis.

The Democratic Party’s promise of threat when set against its doctrinal aversion to act means it is not credible, and so it is dangerous. It is dangerous because it incentivizes opportunists like Vladimir Putin or Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to act, knowing the U.S. will wait for the “mess” to build into a crisis beyond control. At that point, the U.S.’s options collapse to two—the massive, indiscriminate use of U.S. military power. Or losing.

The Obama Doctrine has been conventional Democratic foreign policy since the presidential election of 1972. It is not going to change in 2016.

Katie Pavlich summarizes the history of this Department of Justice misleading federal judges. It is not a pretty picture.
Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House he’s been accused of leading a lawless presidency and cheapening the rule of law through his Department of Justice. Many say these accusations are simply based in politics, but a closer look at the way the Department of Justice has handled multiple cases in federal court suggest misleading or lying to judges is a habit, not a mistake.

Most recently, we’ve seen this happen in the case surrounding President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. Twenty-six states are suing against the action, and in February, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued a stay in the implementation of the order granting temporary amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. Shortly after blocking the implementation, Hanen found out DOJ attorneys had issued false information to the court. He accused them of misleading the court because Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under DOJ guidance, had ignored his order to halt implementation and gave temporary amnesty and work permits to more than 100,000 people.

Hanen said during a contentious hearing in March that he fell for the DOJ’s arguments “like an idiot” and questioned if Obama could be trusted on the issue. Hanen is also weighing sanctions against the DOJ for its actions.
Late last year, U.S. District Court Judge Francis Allegra accused DOJ attorneys of not only being misleading in their arguments but of defrauding the court in the case of retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Jay Dobyns, in Jay Dobyns v. United States of America.

For some quick background, Dobyns sued the ATF after years of the agency ignoring death threats against his family and for framing him for the arson of his home. In August 2014 that lawsuit and trial came to an end with Allegra ruling in Dobyns’s favor and awarding him $173,000 in damages. In October 2014 Allegra obtained new evidence in the case, including information showing intimidation by the DOJ of a top witness, retracted his ruling and accused the DOJ of defrauding the court.

“On October 29, 2014, the court, invoking RCFC 60(b) and other provisions, issued an order voiding the prior judgment based upon indications that defendant, through its counsel, had committed fraud on the court,” Allegra wrote in an unsealed opinion from December 2014. “The Sixth Circuit has indicated that fraud on the court consists of conduct: 1. On the part of an officer of the court; 2. That is directed to the ‘judicial machinery’ itself; 3. That is intentionally false, willfully blind to the truth, or is in reckless disregard for the truth; 4. That is a positive averment or is concealment when one is under a duty to disclose; 5. That deceives the court.”

Defrauding charges are so severe that Allegra has ordered a special master to be appointed to the Dobyns case. It should be noted that the appointment of a special master is rare.

When it was discovered in 2013 that the Justice Department was monitoring the private phone lines and emails of Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen and his parents, there were many questions surrounding how the DOJ was able to get approval from a judge to do. The department claimed in an affidavit that Rosen was a criminal co-conspirator who had potentially broken the law and committed a crime for seeking classified information from a source. But when the DOJ was caught monitoring him, it argued plans to prosecute Rosen were never in the works. Did DOJ attorneys lie to a federal judge about the “criminal co-conspirator” classification in order to get court approval to monitor him and his sources? With the department’s history, it certainly isn’t out of the question.

Steve Chapman explains why, as a libertarian, he can't support Rand Paul.

Rich Lowry adds in more reasons to dislike Rand Paul.
There used to be a time when Paul’s inevitable presidential campaign offered the prospect of a stark GOP debate over principle on foreign policy. Not anymore.

We now have the “new” Rand Paul. He entered politics as his father’s son on foreign policy and has emerged as a presidential candidate who wants to be known as the second coming of James Baker.

To believe Paul’s latest posture, he’s a me-too Republican on foreign policy, only a little less so — the most-hawkish dove, or most-dovish hawk, in the Republican field, depending on the day.
Forget all about how he once accused Dick Cheney of starting the Iraq War to benefit Halliburton. There’s nothing to see here other than a committed devotee of George Kennan.

This has been an awkward and often unconvincing transition. To his critics, Rand Paul is libertarianism’s John Kerry.

The senator got snippy on Wednesday when Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show asked him about his changing position on Iran. She pointed out that Paul said in 2007 that Iran is not a threat. Paul responded that 2007 was “a long time ago,” as if the statute of limitations on prior positions expires long before the passage of eight years.

One wonders how far Paul would push this. In 2012, Paul was the lone vote against a Senate resolution in favor of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and against containment. But, hey, that was three long years ago — when he was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible.

When Paul has tried to explain that one, it’s been a head-scratcher. On the Senate floor, he made the Delphic pronouncement: “While I it is unwise to say that we will contain a nuclear Iran, I think it equally unwise to say we will never contain Iran.”

Maybe it’s best not to say anything about Iran at all.

In 2014, he clarified by stating his unequivocal opposition to containing Iran, despite his opposition to saying we won’t contain Iran. He defended this as “strategic ambiguity,” and it was certainly ambiguous.

It turns out he has a knack for ambiguity....

Rand believes he’s in a different game, which is why he’s increasingly a House-broken libertarian. His attacks on career politicians are particularly tinny as he maneuvers his way around the rules in Kentucky to run for president and reelection to the Senate at the same time, lest he face the prospect all politicians naturally dread: relinquishing office.

Nevertheless, Rand Paul’s practicality compared to his father is a good thing. Libertarianism is a significant strain within the GOP and the less cranky and more serious its chief representative is, the better. On issues like criminal justice, Paul has been creative in urging his party to rethink its stale orthodoxies.

Yet it’s not clear what Paul will get from all of this. He is in a tough field, much tougher than his dad ran against in 2008 and 2012, and faces the risk of underperforming him, even as he compromises — and obfuscates — to try to make himself more viable.

The new Rand Paul will be hard-pressed to escape the old Rand Paul.

All the presidential candidates are, or will soon be, scrambling to win the support of South Carolina's Tim Scott.

The new liberal agenda item is to expand Social Security benefits. Just what we need to do - expand an already strapped entitlement program.
Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren's plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program's long-run fiscal deficit.

And one more foreign influence scandal for the Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton Foundation is accepting a major donation from a Moroccan government-owned company to hold a high-profile conference next month in Marrakech with the king of Morocco — an event likely to reignite concerns about the foundation’s acceptance of foreign money just as Hillary Clinton prepares to announce her presidential candidacy.

Clinton had been scheduled to appear at the meeting in Marrakech, dubbed the Clinton Global Initiative Middle East and Africa Meeting, on May 5-7. But an official with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation told POLITICO it’s “unlikely” the former secretary of state will join her husband, Bill. He is still expected at the event, as is Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
Story Continued Below

The event is being funded largely by a contribution of at least $1 million from OCP, a phosphate exporter owned by Morocco’s constitutional monarchy, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event.

When Hillary Clinton announced the Marrakech meeting in September, she praised Morocco as “a vital hub for economic and cultural exchange” in a region “in the midst of dramatic changes.”
But in 2011, Clinton’s State Department had accused the Moroccan government of “arbitrary arrests and corruption in all branches of government.” And while the country that same year enacted a new constitution that guarantees gender equality, women’s rights advocates say Morocco’s family law still falls short of that promise.
But what does that matter when there is money to be raked in?

Paul Mirengoff points to a big loophole in Obama's Iran deal.
But what if, in addition, Iran obtains faster centrifuges. Might not this development offset, at least in part, any benefit from the reduction in number? Come to that, might not Iran’s breakout time actually decrease?

The question isn’t just a hypothetical. As Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of Strategic Affairs, has pointed out, Obama’s deal allows Iran to continue its research and development on more advanced, faster centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. In fact, the deal facilitates this.

Why? Because, says Steinitz, at present Iran’s research and development on centrifuges is illegal. This makes it more difficult for the Iranians to purchase material and bring in experts from around the world. With such research made legal by Obama’s deal, Iran will be able to speed up its R&D, according to Steinitz. But even if the deal doesn’t facilitate the development of faster centrifuges, it doesn’t prevent this.

Steinitz contends that with faster centrifuges, the Iranians will actually reduce their breakout time from a few months to, perhaps, a few weeks. In his view, the ability to produce faster centrifuges is more significant than the number of centrifuges Iran is allowed under the deal.

Steinitz’s estimate of a few weeks may or may not be sound; here we seem to be back in the realm of speculation. I think it’s safe to say, however, that with Iran permitted to conduct R&D on more advanced centrifuges, we shouldn’t count on this deal to produce a breakout time of one year (no cause for celebration, by the way) for a sustained period.
And now we are learning that, according to the Iranians, inspectors won't have access to Iran's military sites. Michael Rubin writes,
So the Iranian government now contradicts President Obama’s announcement and the State Department fact-sheet with regard to when sanctions will be lifted, centrifuges, enrichment, and even plutonium. Now let’s add inspections and possible military dimensions to the list. Obama is right. The Lausanne agreement is historic. It will be studied by generations of diplomats who will use it to illustrate American naïveté, Iranian duplicity, and the dangers of not actually gaining agreements in writing.

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The past four years have seen one 150-year anniversary after another about the Civil War. Today is the anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. This is a truly important moment in American history and should indeed be commemorated.

There sure have been a lot of brouhahas in recent months that have been almost entirely ginned up by the media.
2015 is proving to be a year heady in the manufactured narrative category. It is not a surprise stating the press has an agenda, but what has been on display in just the first three months of this year is a clear frontal assault by the press to get manipulated storylines and fabricated narratives in the public discourse, all with an eye of the 2016 elections.
When you see the list, it really is startling the role the media have taken to excite public outrage, often with totally slanted or, worse, false reporting.

George Will summarizes what several legal experts have argued in recent years about how we have too many laws criminalizing action with the result that it would be impossible for any one person to have any knowledge of the laws he or she might be breaking.

And now the culture wars have polluted the Hugo Awards. Is there no area of life safe from such politicization?