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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cruising the Web

Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn have written a comprehensive examination of how Barack Obama has conducted the war on terror. It is a depressing list of optimistic assumptions and prevarications and outright lies to the American people to cover up the faulty assumptions that Obama made about Iraq, Iran, ISIS, and Afghanistan. Obama's self-confident self deception started even before Obama was elected.
Four months before he was elected president, Obama traveled to Iraq for briefings on the war he had long opposed. He met with General David Petraeus, who was then seeking to consolidate U.S. and coalition gains resulting from the surge in American forces and the Anbar Awakening. When Petraeus insisted that Iraq, not Afghanistan, was the central front in the war against al Qaeda, Obama challenged him, arguing that Al Qaeda in Iraq—the organization that would grow to become ISIS—had little ambition or reach beyond Iraq.

According to an account of the meeting in The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, by New York Times correspondent Michael Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor, Obama questioned “whether al Qaeda in Iraq presented a threat to the United States.” He said: “If AQI has morphed into a kind of mafia then they are not going to be blowing up buildings.” Petraeus pointed to an attempted attack in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2007, as an example of AQI’s reach and expressed concern about “the potential of AQI to expand its influence to Syria and Lebanon.” Obama was unmoved. “The al Qaeda leadership is not here in Iraq. They are there,” Obama said, pointing to Pakistan on a map.

It was an instructive exchange. Obama, a first-term senator with no experience in military or intelligence matters, challenged the general who had beaten back a jihadist insurgency in Iraq, led a remarkable turnaround in the country, and was a leading figure in America’s broader war on terror. The assessments Petraeus offered were based on years of personal experience guiding U.S. troops against jihadist armies generally, and Al Qaeda in Iraq specifically, and they were bolstered by mountains of intelligence reporting on the enemy, its objectives, and its practices.
So Obama thought he knew right from the get-go more than those who had spent years dealing with such jihadis. So that explains the continual downplaying of the threat from ISIS and optimism about winding up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that attitude explains the inexplicable trust in Iran. Obama has decided in his own mind that that is the way it is and he doesn't waver from those judgments. Read the rest of the article for example after example of how Obama's assumptions were proven wrong and how the administration denied such connections after events demonstrated how they had underestimated the threat. The result is that the threat has metastasized while Obama has been telling us that such threats were nothing to be concerned about.
All the while, Obama and his advisers dismissed the group as “a kind of mafia,” “jayvee team,” and “local”—while belittling its ambitions as “absurd” and a “feckless delusion.” It was members of this jayvee team who conducted the Paris attacks.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former DIA director, described the evolution of the jihadist threat over the course of the Obama presidency. When Obama was elected, the threat of the global jihadist movement had been “stabilized.” By 2012, as Obama campaigned for reelection, “they were back on the march in the Middle East and in Europe.” By the time Flynn left the DIA in August 2014, after two years of challenging the administration’s willful blindness on terrorism, “they were winning.”

And now?

“They have more than doubled. They are stronger. They are more ‘modernized’ via the world of the Internet. They have far better leaders, [they’re] more organized. They’ve clearly demonstrated a high planning ability, and their operational security is exceptional.”

Al Qaeda is not decimated. ISIS is not jayvee. Iran is not our friend. Terrorists sent by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are not isolated extremists. Attempted bombings by operatives dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban are not one-off attacks. Planned assaults on American facilities overseas are not protests. Groups blowing up airliners are not contained. September 11 was not an episode. Mass casualty attacks are not setbacks.

The long war is not over.
The deceptions continue as Obama is lying to us about those whom he has released from Gitmo. Hayes and Joscelyn expose those lies.
President Barack Obama says his administration will continue releasing terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so long as those released are less dangerous than the jihadists currently fighting against the U.S. and its interests.

The bizarre argument comes in a new interview with Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News and is one of several comments in their discussion that reinforces the president's stubborn nonchalance on issues related to jihad. Obama also shrugs off concerns about recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees, suggesting that only a "handful" of former detainees have returned to the fight and claiming that only "low-level" terrorists have been released from the detention facility. Both claims are demonstrably false.
Obama's claims about who has been released are provably false. Obama keeps claiming that Guantanamo is being used as a recruitment tool for jihadists. That is a dated premise. As Hayes and Joscelyn have demonstrated, they're no longer using Guantanamo in their recruitment propaganda and they haven't used it in years. Obama claims that few of those who have been released have been recidivists.
A handful? Obama is woefully ill-informed or he's being dishonest. According to the most recent report on Guantanamo recidivism, prepared in September 2015 by James Clapper's office, Obama's own Director of National Intelligence, 196 former detainees are either confirmed (117) or suspected (79) of returning to the fight. That's a recidivism rate of more than 30 percent. Intelligence officials tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that those numbers are almost certainly low, as they do not include jihadists the United States and its allies are no longer tracking.
The President declared that those who have been released don't present much of a threat to us.
Again, Obama's claim is false. Many of the 653 detainees transferred or released from Guantanamo as of September 2015 were much more significant than "low-level individuals." It's a group that includes al Qaeda operatives who worked directly for Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban, and veteran jihadists with decades of experience fighting.

According to assessments provided by Joint Task Force Guantanamo, the original population of Guantanamo was 43 percent "high risk," and 36 percent "medium risk." Only 20 percent of those ever detained at Guantanamo were deemed "low risk." The Bush administration transferred many of the detainees found to present minimal risks to the U.S. and by the time Obama took office, 98.7 percent of those remaining were considered medium risk (23.8 percent) or high risk (74.9 percent)....

And what about Ibrahim al Qosi? He's the Guantanamo recidivist that triggered Knox's question to the president. Was he a "low-level" fighter, as Obama suggested?

He is not. Qosi is now a senior leader in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the group's public spokesman. AQAP has repeatedly attempted to attack the U.S., while taking over large parts of Yemen. The dossier compiled by U.S. officials for Qosi demonstrates that he served bin Laden in multiple roles because he was so trusted.

Story continues below
A threat assessment of al Qosi prepared by the intelligence officials on the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) reported that he would present a "high risk" of taking up arms against the United States or its allies if he were freed from the detention facility. "Detainee is an admitted veteran jihadist with combat experience beginning in 1990 and it is assessed he would engage in hostilities against US forces, if released."

Virtually everything Obama said in his Yahoo interview about Guantanamo is false. Guantanamo is not a leading recruitment tool for jihadists. From the earliest days of the facility, many of those detained there were deemed more than the "low-level" fighters the president would have us believe. And far more than a "handful" of released detainees – nearly 200 suspected or confirmed – have returned to the fight.

We are left with this uncomfortable but incontrovertible fact: Barack Obama is releasing jihadists known to present a serious threat to the United States and he's misleading the country about it.
We need a new president who recognizes this threat and is willing to take the tough actions to combat it. Hillary Clinton, a member of that administration which deceived itself and then deceived the American people is not that person. We'll have to see which GOP candidate has the strength to tackle that responsibility. That's what I'm listening for in the debate tonight.

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So Rush Limbaugh finally decided that something Donald Trump has said "raised a red flag" for him about how conservative Trump is. He didn't like that Trump criticized Ted Cruz from the left. Rush has admired Donald Trump mostly for the way that he has been driving the media and GOP establishment crazy. But he really likes Ted Cruz who is doing what Rush has always thought Republicans should do - campaign as Republicans. So when Trump called Cruz a maniac who insulted people, Rush finally noted that that is what Trump does with people who disagree with him. Well, duh. And then he notes that Trump criticized Cruz exactly as the GOP establishment would - for not being able to work well with others. But the real burr under the saddle for Rush was that Trump then criticized Cruz for being opposed to ethanol. And then Trump jumped in with the liberal media to criticize Scalia's perfectly reasonable observations about how an academic mismatch created by affirmative action has harmed minority students. All this leads Rush to say that Trump is not a genuine conservative.
A genuine conservative, even in the Republican field, would not go after Cruz this way. So that just raised a red flag for me, made me somewhat curious.
Really? Really? He's just now worrying that Trump isn't a genuine conservative. He hasn't noticed that Trump loves eminent domain and single-payer health care. He praised Canada's and Scotland's single-payer plans in the first debate. Just back in 2012 Trump was criticizing Romney for his insensitivity to Hispanics. Trump wants to appoint pro-choice judges. He supports race-based affirmative action. He attacked Scott Walker from the left. He doesn't support free-market principles. He believes in government subsidies for alternative energy and wants high tariffs to limit trade from China and Mexico. He has praised the bailouts instituted after the 2008 recession. And just now Rush Limbaugh is starting to see a red flag about Trump not being a genuine conservative. Who knew that a bit of bluster, some tough words about immigration and Muslims would be enough for Rush to abandon all his principles for an occasional golf partner?

Allahpundit links to this post by Guy Benson about how Trump's rise has been enabled by members of the conservative media to create a cult of personality.
Here's how the coy game has worked: When Trump is right, they praise him. Fine. When Trump is factually wrong, while making an argument that may contain a "larger truth," they justify his inaccuracies. When Trump lies, they deflect and excuse. And when Trump does something indefensible, they side-step the substance, resorting to marveling at how masterful he is at "driving a narrative," playing the media, and aggravating all the 'right' people. Sure, he may be a sloppy, impulsive, non-conservative ignoramus on actual policy, but at least "he fights" in a manner that gratifies our audience's political id; plus, "without him, we wouldn't even be talking about [fill in the blank]!" There's never an explicit endorsement, mind you, just loads of adulation. And airtime.
As Benson confesses, Rush Limbaugh's enabling of Donald Trump has been disappointing for him.
As a long-time listener who has been entertained and informed by Rush's prodigious "talent on loan from God" for years, this protracted game of footsie with Trump is deeply demoralizing. They're both hyper-successful Alpha Males and occasional golf partners, so perhaps there's some personal solidarity and friendship in the mix, but Rush's calling card has always been the fierce defense of conservative principles. He excoriates "establishment" politicians for ideological deviations and heresies, shreds liberal strawmen, and exposes posers. Trump is a self-serving, unprincipled, unreliable political shape-shifter. He's a walking, bloviating strawman, habitually arming the Left with ammunition to claim vindication for their cartoonish characterizations of conservatives. And he's the ultimate conservative poser. He may be pushing the right buttons to suit a segment of the populace's mood, but he evinces exceedingly tenuous knowledge of issues, and displays little in the way of loyalty to any core convictions beyond, "what benefits Donald J. Trump at this exact moment?" The above quote from Rush's Tuesday monologue attributes conservative criticisms of Trump to some deep-seated desire to earn "respect and admiration" from the biased mainstream media -- the "drive-bys" as Rush calls them, a moniker that is often infuriatingly apt.
Benson ends by recommending that we following William F. Buckley's advice in elections - select the most conservative candidate with the best chance of winning.
Who is the most conservative candidate with the best chance of winning? The answer to that question is necessarily subjective on both fronts, and opinions will inevitably vary. I'd submit that Donald Trump satisfies neither criterion; just the opposite, in fact. Despite his attention-grabbing bravado and unapologetic demeanor that appeals to many right-leaning voters at the moment, a robust empirical case can be made that he's both the least conservative and least electable figure in the GOP race. If you disagree, terrific. Feel free state your case and employ arguments to persuade Trump skeptics, preferably while eschewing his penchant for personal invective.
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The Washington Post reports on how the Ted Cruz campaign has been using microtargeting to figure out issues that are important to individual voters and then target messages for those specific issues. Cruz's campaign has been working hard developing this system which resembles what Obama used in the 2012 election and the Republicans finally figured out to use in the 2014 election. Perhaps other candidates are using such tactics, but the Post writes as if what Cruz is doing is unique. If so, that is very impressive. I want a candidate who knows how to run a good campaign. The recent reports that Marco Rubio is ignoring the ground game in the early states in favor of television and radio interviews is troubling or, as Vox writes, "baffling." Maybe Rubio doesn't have the money for an extensive ground game in Iowa and New Hampshire and they're trying to cover that up by pretending that they have some other brilliant strategy, but there isn't any indication of that. If Rubio's campaign collapses with losses in the early states, analysts will look back and determine that they ran a really terrible campaign that miscalculated how to win in the primaries from the very beginning.

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias can't figure out why David Brock, sycophantic head of Media Matters and dedicated to electing Hillary Clinton, has announced that he isn't even doing opposition research on Marco Rubio. Yglesias puts forth several explanations. I vote for #4 - that Brock is using reverse psychology to make it seem that the Democrats worry about Ted Cruz, but really because they worry the most about Rubio but want to fool Republicans that Cruz is the one they fear.

Michael Barone lists questions
that "legitimate journalists should be asking Hillary Clinton." They should question her accusation that the family members of those killed at Benghazi misremembered what she told them in the days after the attack.

Is Trump getting ready to release the "birther" attack on Ted Cruz for having been born in Canada? No one knows what it means when the Constitution says that only a "natural-born citizen" can be president.

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The CBO has some good news for those who wantto repeal Obamacare.
little-noticed report released Friday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the Senate bill to repeal most of ObamaCare would cut the deficit by as much as $474 billion, while boosting GDP, investment and capital stock.

The findings stand in sharp contrast to promises by President Obama and other Democrats that ObamaCare would accelerate economic growth and lower federal deficits.

According to the CBO, repealing ObamaCare's subsidies and Medicaid expansion would cut federal spending by almost $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. And getting rid of its myriad tax hikes would reduce tax revenues by $1.1 trillion, resulting in $281 billion decrease in projected deficits over the next decade.

However, the report says that repealing ObamaCare would "boost the economy's output" by nearly 1% starting in 2021, because it would eliminate ObamaCare's negative effects on the labor market and on saving and investment.

When these positive economic effects of ObamaCare's repeal are included, the deficit reduction climbs to $474 billion, mainly because the faster economic growth would produce more revenues.

Rich Lowry exposes how Barack "Obama is only pretending to save the planet." The leaders who wrote the agreement, particularly Obama, and their supporters in the media are celebrating the agreement, but there is actually nothing in the agreement that is going to do anything.
The fact is that Paris is very meta. The agreement is about the agreement, never mind what’s in it or what its true legal force is: namely, nil. Paris is a legally binding agreement not to have legally binding limits on emissions. It might be the most worthless piece of paper since the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawed war — about a decade prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Politico reported that the talks were almost derailed at the last minute by the accidental insertion of the word “shall” deep in the text, which, by implying a legal obligation, was to be avoided at all costs (the US Senate would never give its assent to a legally binding treaty). The United States then scrambled to change the offending word to “should.”

The Paris summit operated on the principle of CBDRILONCWRC, or “Common But Differentiated Responsibility In Light Of National Circumstances With Respective Capability.” That means nothing was actually mandated on anyone because that proved — understandably enough, dealing with all the countries in the world — completely unworkable.

Instead, countries came up with so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. That’s climate bureaucratese for you make up your emissions target, whatever it is, and we will pretend to take it seriously. Thus, do the waters recede and the Earth is saved from looming climate catastrophe.
The agreement is a farce. All it does is provide its negotiators the opportunity to congratulate themselves on what they did even if they did nothing.
President Obama praised 180 countries for coming to Paris “with serious climate targets in hand.” This was ridiculous climate grade inflation. As Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute points out, Pakistan produced a one-page document promising to “reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible.” For this we needed a headline-grabbing global confab?

No one will mistake Pakistan for an industrial juggernaut. How about China, the world’s largest carbon-emitter? It promises to reach peak emissions around 2030, when one US government study estimates that it would hit peak emissions anyway, Cass notes. The more China promises to confront climate change, the more it stays the same.

India’s assurance that it will make a roughly 30 percent improvement in carbon intensity is, according to Cass, also about where it was projected to be headed anyway. India still wants to double its output of coal by 2020. As the Guardian put it, India “says coal provides the cheapest energy for rapid industrialization that would lift millions out of poverty.” That’s correct.
That's how they saved the planet. At least in their own minds.

1 comment:

Eric said...

For the record:
1. Explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2. Saddam: What We Now Know (link) by Jim Lacey* draws from the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism). * Dr. Lacey was a researcher and author for the Iraqi Perspectives Project (link).
3. UN Recognizes 'Major Changes' In Iraq (link) by VP Joe Biden on behalf of the UN Security Council.
4. Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit (link) by OIF senior advisor Rick Brennan.
5. How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq (link) by OIF official and senior advisor Emma Sky.