Friday, October 09, 2015

Cruising the Web

I guess Trey Gowdy decided that, if his committee was going to be criticized as political game-playing, it might be time to release a little of what the committee has uncovered.
House GOP Benghazi investigators are charging that Hillary Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal acted as her "de facto political adviser" on Libya despite having a financial stake in the country that Clinton eventually became aware of.

In a lengthy letter to skeptical Democrats on Thursday, Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi said that a new trove of emails recently turned over by the State Department offers more details on Blumenthal's role advising Clinton while he developed a business venture that stood to profit from State Department decisions. Republicans plan to call in Blumenthal to testify for a second time about revelations in the emails, which Republicans intend to release next week.

....In 2011, Blumenthal — a longtime Clinton friend who was barred by President Barack Obama from working for Clinton at State — wrote Clinton a series of intelligence memos on everything from the movement of Muammar Gaddafi’s forces to disputes within the Libyan rebel groups and their plans of attack.

He later admitted to GOP investigators that he did not write or even confirm the information he passed on to the nation’s top diplomat. Rather, Tyler Drumheller, a former CIA operative and Blumenthal business partner, did.

Drumheller and Blumenthal were working with on a new Libya startup called Osprey, headed by retired Army General David Grange. They hoped the company would contract with the fledgling Libyan government to full fill its needs during the transition period, including floating hospitals and, apparently, police or military training.

The GOP cites emails in which Blumenthal encourages Clinton to boldly address Libya, back a no fly-zone, arm the rebels — or, have a private contractor do so.

It is unclear exactly when Clinton learned about Blumenthal's business venture, but she knew as early as July 2011, at the height of the Libyan civil war, when Blumenthal first he mentioned Osprey and his connection to the company just before she was slated to meet with Lybian rebel leaders.

Clinton forwarded the email to a top aide and and wrote back to confirm receipt: “Got it. Will followup tomorrow. Anything else to convey?”

Republicans contend that her claim that the memos were “unsolicited” is bogus, arguing that half of her emails on Libya relate to Blumenthal in some way. Of the 1,800 new pages of emails they received, for example, 500 pages were with or about Blumenthal.
It's clear that Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to assist her husband rake in money from speaking engagements and for the Clinton Foundation. Why should we be surprised that she allowed a Clinton crony to advise on Libya while making money from his advice? She and her defenders can hope to obfuscate everything by alleging it is all a partisan attack, but there is a lot of sleaze here that should make anyone uncomfortable with what we're learning about her leadership at Foggy Bottom.

Kimberley Strassel describes "the real Benghazi investigation" and how it's been conducted.
One pity of the McCarthy comments is that they tainted the committee’s work with politics. The bigger pity is that they are dead wrong. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy is 18 months into the committee that the House purpose-built to investigate the 2012 terrorist assault in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. His Benghazi investigation has been a model of seriousness, professionalism and discreetness.

The statistics alone bear this out. The committee has so far reviewed 50,000 new pages of documents. Less than 5% have anything to do with Mrs. Clinton’s work as secretary of state. It has interviewed 51 witnesses. Forty-one of those were brand-new—no committee had bothered to speak with them before, though seven were eyewitnesses to the attack.

Not that you will have seen any of this testimony. Congress generally loves public hearings—members relish parading in front of cameras, grilling and humiliating witnesses. But Mr. Gowdy, a former prosecutor, is more interested in getting information. All 51 of the committee’s interviews have been done in private, attended by committee members or staff from both parties. In a public hearing, the majority Republicans get more time than Democrats to speak. In private interviews, time is divided equally. Mr. Gowdy is fine with that.

If Republican Rep. Darrell Issa were running this committee, is there any doubt that he would have put Clinton fixer Sidney Blumenthal in the public hot seat? Mr. Gowdy’s committee interviewed him privately. When Mr. Blumenthal’s lawyer said he would be out of the country on the proposed interview date, Mr. Gowdy rescheduled; he wanted the Democratic operative to have competent counsel. Former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills’s private interview concluded with the remarkable sight of her, Mr. Gowdy and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings together at a post-interview press availability, where she thanked the committee for its “professionalism” and “respect.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi has held three public hearings. Mr. Gowdy allowed Democratic members to choose the first two topics. They predictably focused on the work of the State Department’s Benghazi Accountability Review Board, which they like to claim has already settled what happened in Libya. Mr. Gowdy nonetheless committed to thorough hearings. When Washington Democrat Adam Smith looked likely to miss a hearing because of hip surgery, Mr. Gowdy set up a Skype connection so that he could ask his questions. Mr. Gowdy made the same offer to Illinois’s Tammy Duckworth, who’d just had a child. When she politely declined, he allotted her question time to Mr. Cummings—a fair-play move rarely seen in D.C.

Washington lawmakers love their powers, and Mr. Gowdy has plenty. He has exercised them prudently. The Benghazi committee has issued only threes subpoenas. One to Mr. Blumenthal, whom the committee had trouble tracking down. One to the State Department for a specific batch of emails. And one to Mrs. Clinton, when the news first broke that she had maintained a private server for her email. When Mrs. Clinton later claimed that she was not under subpoena, Mr. Gowdy didn’t complain, he simply released the subpoena to set the record straight. He has declined to answer questions about whether he thinks she has committed any crimes.

Mr. Gowdy hasn’t needed to use subpoenas because agencies are willingly giving him documents. He has obtained materials from the CIA and Defense Department that those agencies refused to give to other committees. The White House has also agreed to give him material. Mr. Gowdy inspires confidence that, unlike most congressional committees, his group isn’t going to leak information to sabotage political targets.

That’s because Mr. Gowdy handpicked a staff of 16 professionals, many recruited from law-enforcement and legal backgrounds, headed up by retired Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman, who was an Obama-appointed Army judge advocate general. Mr. Gowdy told every hire on day one that leaking was a firing offense.

Keeping the Benghazi committee on the straight and narrow hasn’t been fun. Democrats work with Mr. Gowdy in private but then berate his committee in public. Conservative activists and talk-radio hosts blast him for depriving them of the drama they crave—for not running a get-Hillary committee. The State Department blocks him. And now his own side has made his job that much harder.

Don’t expect Mr. Gowdy to give up. He has run his committee with one goal in mind: finding answers for the families of four dead Americans. Mrs. Clinton flatters herself if she thinks it’s all about her.
If only other congressmen would do their business with such professionalism without trying to grab the spotlight.

President Obama doesn't seem to care about breaking or stretching existing law, but he really is topping himself by ignoring a law he himself signed with his Iran deal.
Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.

Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.
So I guess he'll just cross his fingers behind his back and certify that Iran isn't sponsoring terrorism any more. If he says so, it must be so, right? That seems to be Obama's approach to foreign affairs.

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Michael Brendan Dougherty explores why "Rand Paul is fizzling." He's being hurt by his effort to move to the center from his father's positions. And there are lots of protest candidates out there. He's just not the most interesting one out there.
Paul was supposed to be a different kind of Republican. Instead, he has become merely the "kind of" candidate. He's kind of a libertarian. He's kind of against dumb wars. He's kind of for reaching out to new Republican constituencies. And therefore he's kind of...not that interesting anymore.

Rand Paul might be sinking out of view, but Eliana Johnson writes that Ted Cruz is going to be able to make a strong move whenever he decides to do so.

With all the sturm und drang over the GOP leadership fight, you might be interested of an even more fractious Speaker fight back in 1855. Whenever we think that partisanship has plumbed new depths, we can always return to the 19th century for examples that make our disputes seem like fights between toddlers in a sandbox.

While the Republicans grab headlines fighting among themselves, we shouldn't forget that the Democrats are also very divided on a variety of issues.

Byron York has a depressing column analyzing how things can get worse for the House GOP.
The fundamental cause of the disarray is lawmakers' inability to answer to this question: What is the role of a Republican Congress in opposing President Obama? Republicans took over the House in 2011, and they haven't agreed on that yet.

After the GOP's smashing victory in Obama's first midterm, in 2010, Republicans came to Washington and immediately began squabbling among themselves. Why had they won the majority? Was it because they promised to repeal Obamacare? Was it because they promised to reduce the size and scope of the federal government? Was it because, as the new Speaker John Boehner believed, they promised to create jobs?

The argument became so intense that Republicans actually commissioned a private poll, which found that by a large majority, Americans voted for Republicans to create jobs. Obama didn't seem terribly interested in jobs during his first couple of years in office, and frustrated voters wanted Congress to take action.

"There has been a misunderstanding over how we got our majority," says a well-connected GOP strategist who works closely with Hill Republicans. "In 2010, what was the number-one issue? It was not health care. It was jobs and the economy by a more than 60 percent margin."

Nevertheless, a lot of newly-elected GOP members were driven by opposition to Obama. They had never served in the majority before and did not come to Washington to get along and go along. They pushed Boehner to be more and more confrontational. They realized that with Democrats in lockstep defense of the White House, even a relatively small group of Republican members — 30 or 40 — could stop Boehner from passing spending bills or other critical legislation.
These new conservative members couldn't stand Boehner and McCarthy wasn't any better of them. But they're a rump group who has divided the caucus.
On the other hand, among the large majority of House Republicans who aren't part of the rebel group — that would be about 200 members — there are some who are deeply angry at the conservative firebrands.

"Didn't Jim DeMint say it very clearly?" asks the GOP strategist, referring to the very conservative former senator. "DeMint said he would rather have 30 true conservatives in the Senate than 60 that don't really have principles. Of course, with that, you won't have any say in how the government works. Now, what [the House firebrands] are saying is, forget if we don't have any say, forget if we can actually do anything, the key thing is to be able to say what we want."

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Pundits like to say that Republicans have a big problem attracting the votes of women. And Donald Trump would really have problems. But Hillary Clinton has a problem herself with mens vote. Polls show that she is less popular with male voters than Donald Trump is with women. That's pretty bad. Her response is to go full bore after the women's vote and hope that balances out.
If Clin­ton is look­ing to nar­row the gap­ing gender gap, she isn’t show­ing it. In­stead, her cam­paign looks to be do­ing the op­pos­ite—ral­ly­ing her lib­er­al base and try­ing to lock down sup­port­ers that once seemed squarely in her camp. She sat down for an in­ter­view last week with Girls cre­at­or Lena Dun­ham, where she un­der­scored her fem­in­ist bona fides. She’s ap­peared on tele­vi­sion shows with a siz­able fe­male audi­ence, in­clud­ing El­len, in hopes of mak­ing her look more re­lat­able. Her call for ro­bust gun con­trol in the wake of the Ore­gon school shoot­ing isn’t go­ing to make her any friends with Demo­crat­ic gun own­ers, who are dis­pro­por­tion­ately male. The early dia­gnos­is from the cam­paign is that she’s un­der­achiev­ing with wo­men—her nat­ur­al base—and that’s the most cru­cial short-term fix, not the dis­mal show­ing with men.

Casting her appeal to women who Hillary thinks are panting to vote for the first woman president is really rather demeaning to women. Heather Wilhelm exactly expresses my thoughts about voting for a candidate just because she lacks a Y chromosome. Wilhelm was nauseated by Hillary Clinton's exchange with NBC's Savannah Guthrie.
“So my question is,” Guthrie continued, “what are the merits of a female leader? What does a female leader bring that a man doesn’t?”

A short pause filled the room. “A WHOLE LOT OF RESENTMENT, MISSY, THAT’S WHAT!” Hillary roared, lunging for her spatula, which she had stored in her sock just in case. Ha, don’t worry! That didn’t really happen—or, if it did happen, it only happened with the miniature, uninhibited, Yosemite Sam-style Hillary who dwells deep inside the Big Hillary’s mind, jumping around, firing off cap guns, and randomly whacking pesky civilians with gender-oppressive cooking utensils.

No, Big Hillary kept her cool. Women, she said, “have a very different life experience, I think it’s fair to say,” to a burst of female applause. Women, she argued, live through things like family, finances, sickness, and aging “in a much more real, day-to-day way, and I will bring all of those feelings and experiences with me to the White House. And people say to me, well, you know, folks want an outsider in this election. Who could be more of an outsider than a woman president?”

Honestly, there’s so much wackiness here, it’s hard to know where to begin. The “outsider” line is the most obvious and farcical—Clinton’s been an influence-sniffing creature of Washington, D.C., since the early ’90s, back when the original “X Files” launched and Lena Dunham was still wandering around in short pants. There’s also the weird “I’ll bring feelings to the White House” gambit, when most alert observers might fairly suspect that Mrs. Clinton long ago swapped all of her feelings for power. Then there’s the subtle slam of men, with the implication that they’re somehow detached, floating and hapless—here I picture a balloon Bill Clinton, puffy and oblivious, waving with a cigar, a golf club, and a grin—from the nitty-gritty of life.

Here we are in 2015, with the world increasingly resembling a rabid goat rodeo hosted over a flaming pit of spikes and giant rattlesnakes, and yet, amazingly, the gender police soldier on. Last week, ABC’s Jordyn Phelps hilariously labeled Carly Fiorina as “the other woman” in the race, then offered this gem of a sentence: “And while Fiorina is quick to tell voters she is not asking for their support on the basis of her gender but her qualifications, her gender identity serves as a contrast with the only other woman in the race.”

Seriously, what does this even mean? I’ve read it four times, and I still don’t know. I guess I shouldn’t worry about it: After all, these days, isn’t gender supposed to be “fluid” and a “social construct”? Don’t we have gender-neutral bathrooms in the White House now? Also, who’s really a “woman,” anyway? Isn’t that kind of exclusive and hegemonic and patriarchal? Man, I’m so tired. Friends, aren’t you tired?

Ridiculousness aside, here’s the bottom line: I don’t care if there is ever a female president, and you shouldn’t either. What I would like is a president who:

1. Actually likes human beings
2. Does not constantly act all exhausted and frustrated with the yokel dummies out in the hinterlands—that's you and me, of course—when problems arise in America
3. Does not claim to have the power to adjust sea levels
4. Does not have a name that rhymes with Schlonald Frump
5. Understands the value of limited government and the separation of powers
6. Maybe takes notice when rogue Russian agents are trying to sell nukes to ISIS
7. Is not a closeted socialist
8. Is not an actual socialist

I could go on and on, but you get my point. By the way, if that person turns out to be a woman, great! If not? That’s great, too. I’m officially off the identity politics train—which, not coincidentally, runs on the exact same tracks as the crazy train.
Preach it, sister!

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John Dickerson writes that, before Joe Biden decides to jump into the race, he needs to be able to answer one critical question: "Why are you running?" And, I would argue, whatever the answer is to that question, the next question should be: "Why you instead of Hillary?" He wasn't thinking of jumping in the race until she started experiencing so many problems and her poll numbers started declining. So clearly the main reason he's thinking of jumping in is because he thinks he has a chance to defeat Hillary Clinton. Will he attack her? Will he explain any positions where he differences with her? Are such differences enough to justify running or is he just being opportunistic?
But if Joe Biden runs, it will be a character campaign against Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean there won’t be specifics discussed about wages and health care and the U.S. role overseas. But at its heart what will have gotten Biden in the race and what will animate it will be character—both his own and the perception that Clinton’s isn’t strong.

This is not an unalloyed good for Biden. The message of his Yale speech—that even under the worst circumstances, you can do good things—is powerful enough to change a person’s life when it’s heard in one context. But as a campaign ad, it flirts with appearing to exploit for political opportunity all that is sacred and powerful in Biden’s life example. A political campaign should not be a public catharsis for loss. That’s the last thing Biden would want, but such an ad or even well-meaning supporters’ use of your life story might send such a message. It’s what can happen when there’s no clear reason for why a candidate is running.
I wonder how many people are a bit queasy at the thought that he's using his family tragedies as a campaign tool. Just this morning, my students were discussing an assignment that they'd had to find examples in the media of different themes that we've talked about in our unit on the media and politics. As an example of the use of leaks, one boy had found an article about Joe Biden being the one to leak how his son begged him to run for the presidency while on his deathbed. My student told other students that he used to really like Joe Biden and think he was a good guy, but this story had changed his mind and now he saw him as just a cynical president. I don't know how many people will even learn of this story or how many would agree with my student, but Joe Biden needs to have to answer more about why he's running now and he needs more of a reason for us to vote for him than he has suffered terrible personal tragedies.

Well, one of the terms my students had to learn for this unit was "spin." Here is a really desperate effort at spin from an Obama diplomatic special envoy.
The Russian airstrikes on Syria are a sign that U.S. policy is working, a senior State Department official told shocked Syrian-American advocates in a private meeting on Monday.

The “Russians wouldn’t have to help Assad if we didn’t weaken him,” U.S. special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said, according to multiple participants in the meeting and contemporaneous notes. Russian intervention, he went on to say, is a sign of success for American policy on Syria.
Do they truly believe this or they just lame at spinning?

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Hillary Clinton may rage against Wall Street, but she and her husband have a history of raking in money from the same people she's pretending to attack.
Records detailing former President Bill Clinton's frequent paid speeches on behalf of major financial institutions were published just one day before Hillary Clinton took aim at Wall Street on the campaign trail.

Although Bill Clinton's acceptance of six-figure fees from Goldman Sachs and its ilk are well known, the new documents — and the timing of their release on Wednesday — add another wrinkle to Hillary Clinton's complicated relationship with the very financial sector she has vowed to tame.

But the Democratic front-runner has stopped short of the barn-burning, pitchfork-wielding rhetoric of her rivals when it comes to Wall Street, a posture that could frustrate some in her party who have sought to pull Hillary Clinton further left on a variety of issues.

Part of Hillary Clinton's dilemma lies in the fact that financial firms and their top executives have contributed heavily to her past and present campaigns, her family's foundation and their own personal wealth by paying her and her husband to speak at sponsored events....

Over the course of her Senate career, Hillary Clinton enjoyed enormous support from the nation's biggest banks. Four of her top five donors were on Sanders' list: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

At least 20 of the bundlers who have racked up $100,000 or more for her 2016 campaign — a group of donors known as "Hillblazers" — have ties to Wall Street.

Executives with Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are among her top campaign donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Firms such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Soros Fund Management appear on the list of donors for Priorities USA Action, a super political action committee supporting Hillary Clinton's campaign.

The State Department documents published Wednesday by the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch show Bill Clinton was compensated generously for speeches before a variety of financial firms while his wife served as secretary of state.
So it's going to be difficult for her to seize the mantle of being the candidate for the little guy against those big baddies on Wall Street from Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. She can make all the speeches she likes but the evidence is right there to demonstrate her constant hypocrisy. Not that hypocrisy ever stopped the Clintons before, but she's reaching the end of her abilities to say one thing and do another with the media ignoring it.

Greg Sargent, a liberal and great fan of Joe Biden, pleads with him to make a decision and stop "jerking" Democrats around.
But the game Joe Biden is playing now, in holding back on making his decision and telling us what he plans to do, just has to end, and fast. At best it’s becoming a farcical distraction that is beneath him. At worst it’s becoming a serious waste of our time.

The first Democratic debate on October 13th marks the start of a new phase in this campaign. The candidates who are in the race will be coping with a new level of intensity. The last thing they need — the last thing the frontrunner in particular needs, and an enormous amount is riding on her — is the distraction of gaming out strategies and positions in part around what would happen if Biden does enter the race. Democratic primary voters — and the national audience — will hopefully be tuning in with a new level of attention. The Republican candidates are eating up a lot of national coverage, and the Democratic candidates would benefit from as much media attention to their policy agendas as possible. So would the Democratic Party overall, particularly at a moment when GOP chaos and infighting seems to be heading into hyper-drive.

Yet the Biden deliberations continue to be a distraction on multiple levels. As Ed Kilgore argues, all the parlor whispering and leaks to the press may be hurting the party at this point. This may or may not be Biden’s fault. But as Kilgore points out, one thing is true: he could put an end to it.

Nor is it clear there is a groundswell for him to enter the race, or even a particularly obvious rationale for his candidacy. Hillary Clinton may be facing a stiff challenge from Bernie Sanders, but she remains very well liked by liberal voters, and the party will easily unite behind her if she wins the nomination, as still remains very likely....

It was right and good that Democrats gave Biden plenty of space to make his decision. But at this point, every additional day that goes by makes his own viability that much less realistic. He’d have to ramp up a campaign organization and raise a huge amount of money in a ridiculously short amount of time. At what point do we get to say that a Biden candidacy is no longer plausible?

Charles Krauthammer explains the pointless script that follows every one of these terrible mass shootings. Liberals come out and make demands for changes that have no connection to what actually happened. President Obama followed the script when he came out before the bodies were even cold to brag about politicizing their deaths.
His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

Nor does Obama propose any legislation. He knows none would pass. But the deeper truth is that it would have made no difference. Does anyone really believe that the (alleged) gun-show loophole had anything to do with Roseburg? Universal background checks sound wonderful. But Oregon already has one. The Roseburg shooter and his mother obtained every one of their guns legally.

The reason the debate is so muddled, indeed surreal — notice, by the way, how “gun control” has been cleverly rechristened “common-sense gun-safety laws,” as if we’re talking about accident proofing — is that both sides know that the only measure that might actually prevent mass killings has absolutely no chance of ever being enacted.

Mere “common-sense” regulation, like the assault weapons ban of 1994 that was allowed to lapse 10 years later, does little more than make us feel good. A Justice Department study found “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. There’s a reason he didn’t bring up confiscation (apart from the debate about its actual efficacy in reducing gun violence in Australia). In this country, with its traditions, public sentiment and, most importantly, Second Amendment, them’s fightin’ words.

Obama didn’t say them. Nor did he seriously address the other approach that could make a difference: more aggressive psychiatric intervention. These massacres are almost invariably perpetrated by severely disturbed, isolated, often delusional young men.

Yet even here, our reach is limited. In some cases, yes, involuntary commitment would have made a difference. Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, was so unstable, so menacing, that fellow students at his community college feared, said one, that he would “come into class with an automatic weapon.” Under our crazy laws, however, he had to kill before he could be locked up.

Similarly, the Navy Yard shooter had been found by police a few weeks earlier in a hotel room, psychotic and paranoid. They advised him to get psychiatric help. Advised. Predictably, he fell through the mental health cracks. A month later, he killed 12 and was killed himself, another casualty of a mental-health system that lets the severely psychiatrically ill — you see them sleeping on grates — live and die wretchedly abandoned.

The problem is that these mass-murder cases are fairly unusual. Take Roseburg. That young man had no criminal history, no psychiatric diagnosis beyond Asperger’s, no involvement in public disturbances. How do you find, let alone lock up, someone like that?

There are 320 million Americans. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. That’s about 3 million people. Only a tiny fraction are ever violent — and predicting which ones will be is almost impossible.

Loner, socially isolated, often immersed in a fantasy world of violent video games. There are myriad such young men out there, but with different ages of onset, in different stages of derangement. Only a handful will ever harm anyone. What to do? Forcibly apprehend them, treat them, put them on perpetual preventive parole? By the tens of thousands?

Committing the Jared Loughners would have an effect. But even they are the exception among the shooters. Yet “common-sense” gun control would do even less. Unless you’re willing to go all the way.

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.

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