Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Cruising the Web

Well, this is unfortunate for the Obama fairy tales about how ISIS has been contained.
America’s top-ranking military officer found himself at odds Tuesday with the nation’s commander-in-chief over his claim that the Islamic State was “contained” – an assertion President Obama had made before the Paris terror attacks.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a dim assessment when asked during a House Armed Services Committee hearing whether that's the case.

“We have not contained ISIL currently,” Dunford told Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va.

The answer runs counter to the claim made by Obama last month in an ABC News interview when asked about the status of the anti-ISIS campaign.
General Dunford has major responsibilities; he can't live in the fantasy world that Obama inhabits with regard to ISIS. And then there are the comments of the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency about how the White House disregarded warnings on the growth of ISIS.
President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official said Tuesday that the White House ignored reports prefacing the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit their re-election "narrative."

"I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed. And I'll be very candid with you, they just didn't," retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead."

Flynn, who has been critical of both Obama and former President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq War and involvement in the Middle East, said that Obama was served poorly by a small circle of advisers who were worried about his re-election prospects at the time.

The story they needed to tell, he said, was that pulling troops from Iraq would not leave the region vulnerable to rise of a radical Islamic group like ISIS.

"I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and (Osama) bin Laden was dead ... they're dead and these guys are, we've beaten them," Flynn said, but the problem was that despite how many terrorist leaders they killed they "continue to just multiply."

If this weren't so serious, it would be funny.
President Barack Obama wants Turkey to close its 60-mile-long border with Syria to end the influx of new Islamic State fighters pouring into Syria and Iraq.

If Turkey acquiesces to Obama’s demands, no entry points will remain between the two countries. The entire border is 550 miles long, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But a Turkish official quickly pointed out to The Wall Street Journal the irony in Washington’s call to close off the border, given the U.S. is completely unable to stop flows in and out of Mexico.
Remember when we were told that other countries would just go along with President Obama because, well, he was Barack Obama and that would be enough. How's that working out for the country?

Get ready for President Obama to try to ignore a law that he himself signed as he works to try to shut down Gitmo and bring some of the prisoners to the U.S. Of course, Obama issued a signing statement when he signed that law. You know, those evil signing statements that he excoriated Bush for issuing. Byron York writes,
Republicans and Democrats spoke in a strong and unified voice; 370 members of the House and 91 members of the Senate voted for the defense authorization bill that contained the Guantanamo provision. Other than a measure passed by unanimous consent, it's hard to find Congress more united.

Obama signed the bill into law, but at the same time released a signing statement making clear he might bring Guantanamo prisoners to the United States anyway — no matter what Congress says.

"The restrictions contained in this bill concerning the detention facility at Guantanamo are … unwarranted and counterproductive," Obama wrote. "As I have said repeatedly, the executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to the detainees who remain at Guantanamo, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy."
Obama still is trying to close down Gitmo and is clearly looking for a way to use his executive authority get around the law. If he goes forward with that, look for a real battle. A lot of Democrats voted for that bill. And Obama's position is not popular politically. What would happen in an election year if Obama tried to thwart the law, the will of Congress, and popular opinion.

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John Hinderaker notices an interesting email from the batch that was just released. It was from Sidney Blumenthal in 2010 and he was writing his thoughts about the upcoming elections. What is notable is the contempt and derision he demonstrates toward Obama and administration figures. That is one thing for conservatives to write as he did, but this is someone writing to a member of Obama's Cabinet. That Blumenthal had no qualms dissing Obama and people like Jim Messina and David Axelrod indicates that he knew Hillary wouldn't mind this sort of casual vituperation. Most people don't write like that unless they're certain that their insults wouldn't offend the recipient. Hinderaker takes this as an indication of the Obama-Clinton animosity. At least from Clinton's sign, it's clear that she is happy for her "old friend" to insult her boss. And should continue to correspond with him without any noticeable request to Blumenthal to dial his scorn back a few notches when talking to her.

Ted Cruz has been slow to criticize Donald Trump, but he's warming up in his attacks on Marco Rubio. That makes sense since they seem to be the two non-outsiders battling over the runner-up positions. Rubio started off by attacking Cruz for not voting for his votes on the USA Freedom Act to permit the bulk collection of phone records. Now Cruz is striking back to attack Rubio for backing the efforts to bring down Qaddafi. Allahpundit comments that Cruz is certainly correct that Rubio supported the ouster of Qaddafi. But it's not as clear what Cruz believes.
On the other hand, what is Cruz’s foreign policy? He told Bloomberg that it’s simple as can be: If doing something would keep America safe, we should do it, and if it makes America more vulnerable, we shouldn’t. That’s appealing as a bit of Trump-ian barstool common sense but it’s also a form of begging the question....

Cruz’s foreign policy vision has always seemed to me less like a vision than a political compromise. Since the beginning of his Senate career, knowing that he’d run for president eventually, he’s tended to describe his approach in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is. In 2013 he framed his view as “somewhere in the middle” between John McCain and Rand Paul (as was Reagan’s, Cruz was eager to claim). There’s … a lot of room between McCain and Paul on most FP issues, but then Cruz has always preferred strategic ambiguity in right-wing intramural battles. The point of the McCain/Paul (or Rubio/Paul) contrast is to signal to hawks and doves that they can each trust him not to go too far in the wrong direction towards nation-building or isolationism. Post-Iraq, it’s risky to bet too heavily on either extreme in a Republican primary. It’s a play for votes, in other words, more so than a specific philosophy designed to help voters predict how he’d respond as president to a particular foreign policy challenge....

But I don’t know. If it bothers you to nominate someone whose foreign policy approach is largely ad hoc beyond “do what Reagan would do, whatever that might be,” maybe you’re uncomfortable with Cruz.
Critics think that Rubio is too obviously ambitious and willing to adjust his political beliefs in order to gain political support. Well, the same is true of Ted Cruz. In fact, he has been in Washington two fewer years than Rubio and clearly started planning for 2016 as soon as he arrived, just like Rubio. And like Rubio, his position on immigration is a bit...fluid. Allahpundit examines the possible positions that a politician could have on what "amnesty" is with Talmudic intensity. Yet, it is still difficult to figure out what Cruz's position is as he evaded a reporter's question on how he defined amnesty.
Cruz’s game is to convince conservatives and/or Trump fans that he’s taken position 4, the most hardline in principle, when in reality he’s never moved off of position 3. Republicans want the toughest possible response on illegals so Cruz spends 99 percent of his time on the subject talking up better enforcement and slamming Rubio for having once pushed position 1. When you ask him the key question of whether legalization constitutes amnesty, though, he averts his eyes because he knows border hawks want to hear “yes” and he can’t give that answer. The real fun’s going to start when the Trump/Cruz war begins in earnest and Trump accuses Cruz of being a RINO who won’t send the illegals home and Cruz accuses Trump of having a stupid “touchback” deportation that won’t actually achieve anything except to make border hawks feel good.

Daniel Allott wonders if Ted Cruz who is so disliked by so many of his colleagues can get elected.
Yet Cruz is not a broadly popular man. The first-term Texas senator is not only disliked but loathed by Democrats, the media and the establishment of his own party.

A potentially bigger problem for Cruz is that he is eyed warily by some conservatives and GOP-leaning independents. Recent polling shows that even Cruz's recent rise in the polls is a product of his solidifying support among "very conservative" voters rather than his ability to attract support among other constituencies.

The degree to which Cruz is disliked by so many begs the question: Can a man so adept at making enemies be elected president of the United States?
I acknowledge that this is a problem for Cruz. A lot of Republicans might like the idea of Cruz being an iconoclast who was willing to battle his own party for what he believed. He is winning support among Evangelical Republican voters as he is picking up some of Carson's former supporters. Yet, there does seem to be a hesitancy about Cruz's electability. But if the question is whether someone who is so disliked can get elected, let's remember that this nation elected Richard Nixon. Twice.

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Victor Davis Hanson calls out the hypocrisy of the left for its selective outrage over the great people of the past. Some leaders such as Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson are no longer in favor and we're urged to end any modern honors for them. Other leaders...not so much.
Their current effort to rewrite the past is doomed to failure for a variety of reasons.

First, this damnation of memory is not a balanced enterprise, but predicated on today’s notions of politics, race, and gender. No one is insisting that the great work of Martin Luther King Jr. be dismissed from the pantheon of American heroism because he was a known plagiarist and often a callous womanizer who did not live up to our current notions of gender equality. The racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger is still a saint.

No one is claiming that Franklin Roosevelt was a third-rate president because his State Department was full of racists and anti-Semites, who were not too bothered by reports reaching the United States about the Final Solution, and who green-lighted the illegal internment of Japanese-Americans....

To be fair, shouldn’t liberals demand that the memory of César Chávez be airbrushed? In 1969 Chavez sent his union thugs to the border to help turn away illegal immigrants, and he called for closing the border to prevent future illegal immigration. The finances of his United Farm Workers were conducted like a tribally run mafia enterprise. By present standards, Chávez’s behavior might be called xenophobic, vigilante-like, and nativist.

Why ban the name of the Washington Redskins, but not the San Diego State Aztecs? The Aztecs refined human sacrifice to a Satanic art. They predicated their entire notion of war and conquest on taking captives from surrounding indigenous peoples to feed tens of thousands of innocents per year to their cannibalistic gods. Why honor that? Is their exemption granted because, even though they were mass murderers, they were at least non-white mass murderers?

Ditto the Zulus. They currently enjoy iconic status as proud warriors and indigenous African nationalists. But Shaka Zulu, the unhinged 19th-century Zulu lord, killed tens of thousands of his own people in Stalinist-like mass executions and forced famines.

Puerto Rico continues on its way to becoming Greece.
Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, told the US Senate on Tuesday that the troubled Caribbean island has “no cash left” and can no longer repay its $72bn debts.

The territory announced it would honor a $354m debt payment due on 1 December as Padilla was testifying, but Padilla said austerity measures had not only eaten into essential services but caused tax revenues to crater. With more than $900m due in January, the governor said his options were restructuring or disaster.

Che Guevara’s picture is omnipresent in college dorm rooms. But why so, given that his rantings and scribblings were replete with anti-Semitism, anti-black racism, homophobia, and sexism?

In other words, the current damnation of the past is highly selective — not even strictly honoring the Left’s own present ideas of race, gender, and sexuality.
He then goes on to point out that our modern leaders are no moral giants. Read his entire essay. It is excellent. He concludes,
On campus, violations of the Bill of Rights, obsessions with race rather than character, inflated and puerile self-regard, adolescent self-indulgence and materialism, along with epidemic factual ignorance, inability to speak and write coherently, and the loss of inductive reasoning may ensure that the early 21st century will be judged as an era of anti-Enlightenment ignorance — with the twist that never have such pampered people so little deserved all that they inherited.

David Drucker has a detailed analysis of Donald Trump's poll numbers as he puts forth the theory that, while he's still in the lead, his lead isn't as strong as it seems once Drucker filters out online polling, Interacting Voice Response, and automated telephone polls.
The New York real estate mogul and reality television star paces the field of Republican presidential candidates nationally, garnering an average of 35.1 in the Huffington Post polling tracker. Rounding out the top four candidates are retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, with 13.9 percent and Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, with 12.6 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively.

But use the site's custom filter to remove surveys conducted via the Internet, Interactive Voice Response, a combination of IVR and online and through automated telephone interviews, and the data looks significantly different. Using only polls conducted via interviews with live telephone operators, Trump's still commanding position in the national GOP average drops to 27.2 percent; Carson's number rises to 20.2 percent.
Perhaps, this means something. While online polls that involve an opt-in choice for participants seem quite a bit iffier than phone polls, those polls also have their problems with enormous refusal rates. Who knows today which type of polls are more accurate? Drucker's thesis also has a weakness since the overall tracker goes up to November 25, which marked a climb for Trump's numbers and a corresponding drop for Carson's, but the filtered numbers only go up to November 19 and so miss some of that climb in Trump's numbers. The margin between Carson and Trump was still closer on November 19, but we don't know yet where it is today since polling over the holiday would be meaningless.

While I'm happy to believe that Trump's numbers are being inflated by poorly done polls, I am not at all convinced that we can decide which, if any of these polls, is being done right.

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The WSJ explains how little this Paris confab really means. The politicians are compensating for the lack of substance that the meeting will produce with grandiose rhetoric.
The last climate talks collapsed in 2009 amid differences between rich and developing nations. The International Energy Agency estimates developing countries will emit 70% of world CO2 by 2030 and contribute 170% of emissions increases between now and then. Without their participation in a deal, atmospheric CO2 will continue to accumulate whatever the U.S. does.

The problem is that countries like China (the No. 1 emitter) and India (No. 3) won’t undermine their economic growth or stop eradicating desperate poverty to assuage Western neuralgia. World-wide, some 1.3 billion people still live without electricity. So the negotiators simply gave up the pretense of trying to agree to a legally binding agreement.

Instead, countries will volunteer their own random carbon emissions-reduction targets and the actions they may or may not take to meet them, with no global goals. There are no consequences for failing to comply or even common standards for measuring improvement. In echt-United Nations idiom, these pledges are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs.

The Chinese INDC says carbon emissions will peak sometime before 2030, maybe, unless they don’t. And even this vague aspiration was determined before the Communist Party revealed that China burned 17% more coal per year than it formerly disclosed.

But no INDC exposes the Paris farce better than America’s. Mr. Obama promises that the U.S. will reduce CO2 emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas inventory, that would be some 1.8 billion fewer tons of CO2-equivalent in a decade. Yet the U.S. INDC outlines only about a billion tons, 45% short of the goal.
What is really at stake in the talks is all the environmental reparations that Western nations are committing to give poorer nations.
Mr. Obama isn’t negotiating a treaty, because that would require two-thirds Senate ratification that he will never obtain. Thus he can make any “political agreement” finance promise he likes. But no one outside the West Wing believes Congress will earmark a dollar for windmills in Guangzhou and dikes in the Maldives.

Which is just as well based on what we know about climate change. The world has warmed modestly in the last 35 years, nearly all of that before the last 15. It may or may not warm more in the future, and the effects could be helpful in some places, harmful in others.

The best insurance is not to force-feed windmills on India, or hand more power to government mandarins who will parcel out how much carbon each country can emit. The remedy is faster economic growth so richer societies are better able to adapt to whatever happens.

Here are the top eight idiotic things that Obama said while in Paris. I don't know that anyone pays much attention to what he says, but he really can sound stupid sometimes. How he can be in Paris just weeks after a terrorist attack that killed over a hundred people just out to have a fun evening and say things like “In Some Ways, [Climate Change] Is Akin To The Problem of Terrorism and ISIL.” or that mass shootings "just [don't] happen in other countries"? Did he check the map to see where he was speaking?

And he's totally lost Richard Cohen.
To a large degree, Obama became president on the strength of his eloquence. To a large degree, that is what has deserted him. He is out of words because he is out of ideas. Consequently, he ought to listen to others. They’re not the ones who are popping off. He is.

Steven Hayward has a "modest proposal" for those Princetonians who are upset with the School for Public Affairs being named for the bigoted Woodrow Wilson - rename it for Warren Harding.
Harding was the anti-Wilson in all of the ways the campus protesters could want. He pardoned most of the political dissenters Woodrow Wilson had jailed during World War I, especially the socialist firebrand Eugene Debs, whom Harding then invited to the White House, saying afterward that he rather liked Debs. He also proposed civil rights protection for blacks, in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, that drew boos and jeers from the mostly Democratic audience. “I want to see the time come when black men will regard themselves as full participants in the benefits and duties of American citizens,” Harding said in the speech; “We cannot go on, as we have gone on for more than half a century, with one great section of our population . . . set off from real contribution to solving national issues, because of a division on race lines.” Harding also urged Congress “to wipe out the stain of barbaric lynching from the banners of a free and orderly, representative democracy,” but southern Democrats made sure this suggestion died swiftly in Congress.

His support for advancing the interests of black Americans went beyond mere words. He appointed blacks to senior positions in the Departments of Labor and Interior, lobbied his entire cabinet to more blacks, and over 100 blacks to lower ranked administration posts—a high number for the time, especially after Wilson had purged blacks from government jobs and bestowing permanent civil service status of their white replacements a few years before.
What a contrast for all those who celebrated Wilson's intellectual achievements and position as the only president with a PhD, while deriding the idiocy of Warren Harding.

That's a relief. Fears of the "bee-pocalypse" were way overblown and the crisis is over.

Hillary's campaign has come out with a new logo to commemorate Rosa Parks. The only problem is that their logo has her sitting at the back of the bus.

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Jonah Goldberg notes the tendency now for those same people who lecture us that there is no connection between Islam and terrorism are now looking to blame Christians for shootings done by Christians.
In a famous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this year, President Obama lectured Christian clergy not to get on their “high horse” about the atrocities committed by ISIL, given that Christians committed (allegedly) similar atrocities during the Crusades.

It’s difficult to catalog all the flaws with this comparison, but one problem stands above all of the rest. By laying the Crusades at the feet of Christianity, Obama was unwittingly laying ISIL's atrocities at Islam’s feet, at least rhetorically.

Consider that modern-day Council of Nicea, ABC’s The View. Joy Behar recently insisted concern over Muslim refugees was overblown. After all, Oklahoma City bomber "Timothy McVeigh was a Christian,” Behar said. “Just sayin’.”

Whoopi Goldberg (no relation) concurred. “There have been a lot of monster Christians,” she said. “Hitler was a Christian.”

Just for the record, Hitler detested Christianity, and McVeigh was an avowed agnostic who never cited Jesus as the inspiration for his crimes.

Personally, I’m opposed to all such forms of guilt by association, but it seems obvious to me that contemporary Christianity is not struggling with a Crusades problem, while Islam is certainly struggling with a jihad problem.
We hear a lot, as we should, about how the terrorists are twisting the teachings of Islam for their own perverted purposes. Unfortunately, some progressives don't show the same tenderness in looking at motivations when discussing other crimes.
You will be hard-pressed to find any such rush to understanding — never mind the White House — when it comes to the so-called Christian terrorism in Colorado. And that’s because progressives, from the president down, are much more comfortable talking about the threat posed by the white Christian Americans who happen to vote Republican and oppose Planned Parenthood than they are discussing the threat from people determined to kill all Americans.

I guess Paul Ryan really is turning the Speakership around. Everything will now be different now that he has decided to grow a beard. One of the fun aspects of teaching the 19th century for both my U.S. and European history classes is showing the kids the funky facial hair that men sported back then. My personal favorite is French Prime Minister Jules Ferry. My students often wish that today's politicians would have similar fancy moustaches, sideburns, and beards today. Good luck for Paul Ryan and his new hirsute look.