Friday, November 20, 2015

Cruising the Web

Charles Krauthammer exposes the President's pretense about us actually doing anything to defeat ISIS.
His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing.

The only time he showed any passion was in denouncing Republicans for hardheartedness toward Muslim refugees. One hundred and twenty-nine innocents lie dead but it takes the GOP to kindle Obama's ire.

The rest was mere petulance, dismissing criticisms of his Syria policy as popping off. Inconveniently for Obama, one of those popper-offers is Dianne Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She directly contradicted Obama's blithe assertion, offered the day before the Paris attack, that the Islamic State (aka ISIL) was contained and not gaining strength. "I have never been more concerned," said Feinstein. "ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding."

Obama defended his policy by listing its multifaceted elements. Such as, "I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters." An "entire" discussion, mind you. Not a partial one. They tremble in Raqqa.

....Obama complained of being criticized for not being bellicose enough. But the complaint is not about an absence of bellicosity but about an absence of passion, of urgency and of commitment to the fight. The air campaign over Syria averages seven strikes a day. Seven.

In Operation Desert Storm, we flew 1,100 sorties day. Even in the Kosovo campaign, we averaged 138.

Obama is doing just enough in Syria to give the appearance of motion, yet not nearly enough to have any chance of success.
Obama's priorities lie elsewhere. For example, climate change, which he considers the greatest "threat to our future." And, of course, closing Guantanamo.

Obama actually released five detainees on the day after the Paris massacre. He is passionate about Guantanamo. It's a great terrorist recruiting tool, he repeatedly explains.

Obama still seems to believe that — even as the Islamic State has produced an astonishing wave of terrorist recruitment with a campaign of brutality, butchery and enslavement filmed in living color.

Who can still believe that young Muslims are leaving Europe to join the Islamic State because of Guantanamo?
But President Obama clings tenaciously to his delusions. That's his pattern for every one of his failed policies.

There is a reason to be skeptical of our intelligence agencies' ability to vet people's actions and ideology. As David French points out, that ability has been failing for 14 years. And those failures have come when we had armed forces on the ground.
Since September 11, we’ve been vetting allies in Iraq and Afghanistan and promoting them to positions of power and authority in the Iraqi and Afghan security services. While we haven’t been able to vet every local recruit, we’ve made serious efforts to screen for known members of terrorist organizations. Yet again and again, our vetted “allies” have bombed or shot American soldiers. From January 1, 2008 until April 8, 2015, there were 91 so-called green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan, killing 148 coalition troops and affiliates and wounding 186. Insider attacks happened when I was in Iraq, with one Iraqi colonel actually using his own personal security detail to plant roadside bombs.

We know ISIS is trying to strike America. We know ISIS has already successfully infiltrated the West through the refugee system. And we know from other contexts that our vetting process can be deadly deficient. Can someone then please tell me why the Obama administration and its allies are so derisive and condescending towards those who would rather help refugees overseas than bring them to America?

Rich Lowry justly ridicules President Obama's newly found morals on helping the Syrians.
It’s remarkable the president feels justified in lecturing anyone on humanitarianism. He has stood by while Syria has descended into a hellish chaos, and hasn’t betrayed any guilty conscience. There are roughly 10 million Syrians who are refugees (4.2 million) or internally displaced (6.5 million). At 10,000 over the next year, we are offering to take .1 percent of them.

.... Obama believes in the .1 percent doctrine, which is that if he supports settling a minuscule portion of displaced Syrians here and you don’t, he’s a much better person, and much more American, than you are.

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL,” the president said of Republican proposals to accept only Syrian Christians, “than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate.” He should think harder. It’s safe to say that ISIL establishing a quasi-caliphate in the Middle East is a better recruitment tool than Ted Cruz’s musings on refugee policy.

One wonders when Obama begin caring so much about Syrians? If you put those 10,000 Syrian refugees back in their native country, and let them get gassed, barrel-bombed, shelled or shot, would he bat an eye, or would they just be part of the ever-growing casualty count?

The Syrian refugees are most useful to the president as a symbol of his alleged cosmopolitanism and of the supposed backwardness of his opposition.

The fact is that, since our resources aren’t limitless, we are constantly slamming the door in the faces of refugees, as the president puts it. According to the World Bank, there were 2.5 million Afghan refugees in 2014; according to the office of refugee resettlement, in fiscal year 2014 we took 758 of them. There were 616,000 from South Sudan; we took 52 of them. There were 410,00 from the Central African Republic; we took 25 of them.

How can the president face himself every day betraying our values by taking so few refugees from these strife-torn countries? The problem with the argument that our values compel us to take refugees is that it isn’t subject to any limit.
We admit about 70,000 refugees a year. Is that the American level? Or would 700,000 be more American?
But self-congratulatory moral preening and arrogant attacks on Republicans seem to be the only shtick that Obama has left.

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What logic is there in this?
A report by a renowned journalist states that Christians are to be excluded from an impending official United States government declaration of ISIS genocide. If true, it would reflect a familiar pattern within the administration of a politically correct bias that views Christians — even non-Western congregations such as those in Iraq and Syria — never as victims but always as Inquisition-style oppressors. (That a State Department genocide designation for ISIS may be imminent was acknowledged last week in congressional testimony, by Ambassador Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of the State Department’s Near East Bureau.)

Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.

An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures.
Is the government really so unaware of what ISIS has been doing to Christians?
Recently the Melkite Catholic bishop of Aleppo reported that 1,000 Christians, including two Orthodox bishops, have been kidnapped and murdered in his city alone. In September, ISIS executed, on videotape, three Assyrian Christian men and threatened to do the same to 200 more being held captive by the terrorist group. Recent reports by an American Christian aid group state that several Christians who refused to renounce their faith were raped, beheaded, or crucified a few months ago.

Christian women and girls are also enslaved and sexually abused. Three Christian females sold in ISIS slave markets were profiled in a New York Times Magazine report last summer. ISIS rules allow Christian sabaya, that is, their sexual enslavement. Its magazine Dabiq explicitly approved the enslavement of Christian girls in Nigeria, and the jihadist group posted prices for Christian, as well as Yazidi, female slaves in Raqqa.
There is something both puzzling and despicable about this if Isikoff's report is true.

When President Obama says that there should be no religious test on which refugees are being admitted, he is betraying a decided ignorance about federal law. Our laws for accepting refugees, as Andrew McCarthy points out, specifies that being persecuted for one's religion is part of the legal definition for qualifying for refugee status. The law states,
The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion [among other things] …[.]
Yet the State Department and President Obama reject any special refugee status for Christians being singled out for extermination in ISIS-controlled areas.
In the case of this war, the Islamic State is undeniably persecuting Christians. It is doing so, moreover, as a matter of doctrine. Even those Christians the Islamic State does not kill, it otherwise persecutes as called for by its construction of sharia (observe, for example, the ongoing rape jihad and sexual slavery).

To the contrary, the Islamic State seeks to rule Muslims, not kill or persecute them. Obama prefers not to dwell on the distinction between the jihadist treatment of Muslims, on the one hand, and of Christians, Jews and other religions, on the other hand, because he — like much of Washington — inhabits a world in which jihadists are not Islamic and, therefore, have no common ground with other Muslims … notwithstanding that jihadists emerge whenever and wherever a population of sharia-adherent Muslims reaches critical mass. But this is sheer fantasy. While there is no question that ISIS will kill and persecute Muslims whom it regards as apostates for refusing to adhere to its construction of Islam, it is abject idiocy to suggest that Muslims are facing the same ubiquity and intensity of persecution as Christians.

And it is downright dishonest to claim that taking such religious distinctions into account is “not American,” let alone “shameful.” How can something American law requires be “not American”? And how can a national expression of compassion expressly aimed at alleviating persecution be “shameful”?

The Washington Post delves deeply into what it estimates are $3 billion that the Clinton's have raised over their political lifetime.

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Andrew McCarthy explains how the root of the problems for the French began when they gave up control of neighborhoods where the French authorities really have no ability to maintain order. The neighborhood where the leader of the November 13 attacks was killed this week, Seine-Saint-Denis, has one of the highest unemployment rates with more than 40% of people under 25 without a job. Sharia law has replaced French law. More and more are becoming radicalized. Violence is rampant and the inhabitants show support for suicide bombings and ISIS. For many of these Muslims, they're embracing "voluntary apartheid."
Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, regarded by many, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as the world’s most respected sharia jurist, instructs Muslims that the “quest for an Islamic state” calls for integrating into Europe and then pressuring Western leaders to accept a Muslim “right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a bloc of 56 Muslim countries (plus the Palestinian Authority) — has decreed that “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist president of Turkey who has systematically dismantled that country’s secular, pro-Western system, similarly pronounces that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in the West “is a crime against humanity.”

On immigration, our national-security challenge is not limited to keeping Islamist terrorists out. It demands the exclusion of populations that breed, encourage, aid, abet, and materially support Islamist terrorism, particularly Islamists themselves: Muslims who adhere to an interpretation of Islam that promotes the sharia system of governance. That interpretation is mainstream in the places from which Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Washington politicians want us to accept immigrants by the thousand.

Like us, France has a big problem in Syria. Unlike us, France has a bigger problem in Saint-Denis. When we can see how that problem is rending French society, why would we voluntarily replicate it here?

What's another law for this president to violate? Jason Riley exposes how Obama is exploring violating federal law as her pursues his goal of shutting down Gitmo.
With the end of his tenure in sight, the President is now looking for legal excuses to close the prison without Congressional approval. Since the KSM fiasco in 2009, Congresses run by Democrats and Republicans have specified in defense bills that no Treasury money may be used to transfer or maintain detainees to the U.S. The prohibitions in the most recent defense legislation—which passed the Senate 91-3 and the House 370-58—are the strongest ever.

Yet the Pentagon may soon announce a plan to transfer the remaining 107 dangerous combatants that no other country will accept to a domestic facility such as Fort Leavenworth or the Colorado supermax. Amid Mr. Obama’s many executive rewrites on carbon, ObamaCare and labor this flouting of the law would be the worst.

Mr. Obama’s legal surrogates including former White House counsel Gregory Craig now argue that Congress’s spending restrictions are unconstitutional. They claim the executive has exclusive Article II powers as Commander in Chief over the tactical conduct of war and diplomacy, including the custody of detainees.

But control over wartime prisoners is divided between the President and legislature. The Constitution vests Congress with the power to “make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water,” and not even the most zealous unitary executive theorists read the Captures Clause out of Article I. Congress cannot micromanage military operations, but it has a constitutional role in regulating them.

In 2009 Office of Legal Counsel chief Steven Bradbury wrote an opinion disavowing the legal argument Mr. Craig is now promoting, and Mr. Obama has abided by Congress’s restrictions for seven years. No current emergency justifies ignoring Congress, as Mr. Obama claimed when he traded five Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl in violation of a prisoner swap law.

So what do protesting students want? Whatever pops into their minds. Last night UNC Chapel Hill held a forum to discuss racial matters, but it was taken over by protesting students who presented their laundry list of demands.
The event, in a packed Memorial Hall, was tense at times, with black-clad protesters immediately seizing the forum from moderator Clarence Page, a journalist from the Chicago Tribune.

They chanted, “Whose university? Our university!”

Their demands were expansive – the elimination of tuition and the use of SAT tests in admissions, no outsourcing of campus jobs and no investments in prisons. They called for gender neutral bathrooms and the firing of the recently hired UNC system president, Margaret Spellings.

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Byron York examines the political implications of all the bad news that has been coming out about Obamacare.
On Thursday, UnitedHealth, the nation's largest healthcare company, announced huge losses from the sale of Obamacare plans and threatened to pull out of the exchanges altogether. "We cannot sustain these losses," CEO Stephen Hemsley said. "We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."

The news came on top of weeks of reports of rising costs for consumers. "Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings," the Wall Street Journal reported.

Deductibles and copays, in particular, have shot up so far, so fast, that many Americans feel as if they are paying for a policy but never see any benefit because they have to pay for so much of the costs out of their own pockets.
Insurance companies are planning to raise their rates next year because they just can't break even with Obamacare since healthy Americans are not signing up in the numbers that the companies need to break even. Watch for Obamacare to return as a campaign issue next year since Hillary is out there fiercely defending the law. Americans might feel differently.

A demonstration of the looming death spiral of insurance companies was the announcement this week by UnitedHealthcare that it may end its participation in Obamacare because its losses are just too high.
The nation's largest health insurance provider surprised the markets Thursday by saying losses from its 550,000 individual ObamaCare exchange enrollments were sharply cutting its bottom line. That's notable because ObamaCare exchange participation only forms a small slice of the $105 billion company by market capitalization.

Yet it was enough to make the giant company and all the value it creates throughout its many operations suffer enough to trigger, as IBD market reporter Jed Graham wrote, "a surge of red ink."
This is just what critics of the bill had warned would happen. And, as IBD writes, if United HealthCare can't make a go of it in ObamaCare, which company can? This is what the death spiral looks like.
In short, the ObamaCare master plan of having young and healthy consumers subsidize the oldest, sickest patients isn't working as the White House's central planners and self-proclaimed experts claimed.

What's striking here is that UnitedHealth is no tiny startup ship with a narrow margin of error riding the big ObamaCare regulatory waves. It's the biggest of the big, a conglomerate that's the product of the consolidation of the industry — Anthem and Cigna, UnitedHealth and HCA, HCA and private investors — that was supposed to enable the sector to absorb the blow of higher costs of insuring more customers and still continue to do well.

That's not happening.

What's more, UnitedHealth was in the ObamaCare exchanges for only a year, during a window of time when the government was supposed to cushion insurers against losses in the ObamaCare transition. The cushion ends next year, leaving companies on their own.

Will smaller health care companies really be able to make a profit in an atmosphere that even UnitedHealth found impossible to sustain a profit in? There's plenty of reason to wonder, as the markets did Thursday.

Bjorn Lomborg explains how the Paris UN climate conference starting in a couple of weeks is risking tanking the world's economy. Some representatives cheer on the goal of destroying capitalism. Lomborg reminds us of the benefits that capitalism has brought the world. But the proposals that Obama and the EU are putting forward will devastate our economy.
There is no official cost estimate for Mr. Obama’s promise to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. However, the peer-reviewed Stanford Energy Modeling Forum has run more than a hundred scenarios for greenhouse-gas reductions and the costs to gross domestic product. Taking this data and performing a regression analysis across the reductions shows that hitting the 26%-28% target would reduce GDP between $154 billion and $172 billion annually.

The EU says it will cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Again, there is no official estimate of the cost given, which is extraordinary. The data from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum suggests hitting that target would reduce the EU’s GDP by 1.6% in 2030, or €287 billion in 2010 money....

Another 127 nations have made promises for Paris that increase the total emissions cuts by one-fourth. The cuts on the table in Paris, then, will leave the global economy, in rough terms, $1 trillion short every year for the rest of the century—and that’s if the politicians do everything right. If not, the real cost could double.

All of these high-flown promises will fail to accomplish anything substantial to rein in climate change. At best, the emissions cuts pledged in Paris will prevent a total temperature rise by 2100 of only 0.306 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a peer-reviewed study I recently published in Global Policy.
But depend on it. Anyone who opposes such drastic proposals will be depicted as an ignoramus who hates the environment.

ISIS fighters seem to be getting jazzed up by a very addictive amphetamine called Captagon. Syria has become a major player in manufacturing illegal drugs and in consuming those drugs.
powerful amphetamine tablet based on the original synthetic drug known as "fenethylline," Captagon quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria's fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.

"You can't sleep or even close your eyes, forget about it," said a Lebanese user, one of three who appeared on camera without their names for a BBC Arabic documentary that aired in September. "And whatever you take to stop it, nothing can stop it."

"I felt like I own the world high," another user said. "Like I have power nobody has. A really nice feeling."

"There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon," a third man added.

According to a Reuters report published in 2014, the war has turned Syria into a "major" amphetamines producer -- and consumer.

"Syrian government forces and rebel groups each say the other uses Captagon to endure protracted engagements without sleep, while clinicians say ordinary Syrians are increasingly experimenting with the pills, which sell for between $5 and $20," Reuters reported....

One secular ex-Syrian fighter who spoke to the BBC said the drug is tailor-made for the battlefield because of its ability to give soldiers superhuman energy and courage:
"So the brigade leader came and told us, 'this pill gives you energy, try it,' " he said. "So we took it the first time. We felt physically fit. And if there were 10 people in front of you, you could catch them and kill them. You're awake all the time. You don't have any problems, you don't even think about sleeping, you don't think to leave the checkpoint. It gives you great courage and power. If the leader told you to go break into a military barracks, I will break in with a brave heart and without any feeling of fear at all — you're not even tired."
They get scarier and scarier.

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David Harsanyi explains why Woodrow Wilson was indeed one of our worst presidents.
Wilson made the world a worse place in every way imaginable. Not one element of genuine liberalism was safe under his watch.

Like most progressives of his era, Wilson wasn’t merely a common racist, he embraced the pseudo-scientific eugenics that would haunt millions. After his election, he didn’t only say terrible things—”There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field”—he institutionalized racism in the federal government, segregating the civil service in 1913. He personally fired 15 out of 17 black supervisors appointed to federal jobs, while his postmaster general and Treasury secretary segregated their departments. He’s the only president that I know of who’s ever celebrated the Ku Klux Klan in the White House.

While governor of New Jersey, Wilson signed a bill making sterilization of criminals and the mentally ill compulsory. Is that the legacy Princeton was talking?
So perhaps the Princeton students calling for Wilson's name to be removed from the various institutions on campus there have inadvertently lurched into a worthwhile idea.

Yesterday was the anniversary of President Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address. In honor of that anniversary, the folks at Funny or Die imagine how a President Trump might have delivered an address after the Battle of Gettysburg.
....And by the way the slaves love me. Love me. The food portions. The amount of sleep. They’re nuts about me. If they end up freed when this is all over I will win the slave vote.

Anyway our politicians are the worst, they’re total failures and they didn’t let the South go bye bye and so I pick up the paper today and I read Salmon Chase may run against me in ’64! This idiot is in my own cabinet. And I like my cabinet, most of them have terrible beards but they’re OK. They follow orders. First of all what kind of name is Salmon? Should be a harpooneer on a whaling ship with a name like that. So I thought to myself, Salmon Chase, isn’t he the guy who night and day pleaded for a job with me after I kicked his ass at the convention in 1860? It was. I even found his telegraph number, give it a try see if it works. Dot dot dash dash dash dot dash dot dot dot dash.

And I can just hear the papers: “Abraham’s attacking again. He’s saying terrible things.” No. I say what I say because I’m honest. And I’m actually doing my job. Not like those nitwits in Washington. I mean I’m out here opening a cemetery for Christ sake! And as I look at this place I’m thinking, “How could there have been so many casualties?” There’s rocks and orchards all around, if I had the time I’d develop the property, but you can’t tell me that if you call yourself a soldier and you hear a shell or something coming you couldn’t have found a place to hide. And incidentally, so what, now Meade is some kind of a great general because he defeated Pickett’s charge? You’re up on a ridge with all your cannons and everything and the other army is walking right toward you. I mean they’re literally walking. Who couldn’t win that!

The point is I’m up all hours saving the Union and then here we are in this cemetery and I’m supposed to do what? Honor the dead? They’re dead. They’re losers. How are we in debt to them? I hate to tell you, but I like the guys who didn’t die. I’ll honor some of them.

And speaking of honoring, they want me to wrap up so they can honor me at a dinner. I’m so in demand it’s insanity half the time. All I’m telling you is if you’re living everything is for you.
Read the entire thing. It's hilarious.