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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cruising the Web

David French has some thoughts about President Obama's declaration that his worst mistake in his presidency was not to play for a post-Qaddaffi Libya. I'd pick his nuclear deal with Iran or his decision to abandon Iraq. But it's interesting that his mistake is just what Democrats excoriated George W. Bush for.
or years after the Iraq invasion, Democrats mocked George Bush’s failure to adequately plan for a post-invasion future (there was a plan, but it didn’t work), taunting him with Colin Powell’s now-famous saying — “You broke it. You own it.” Bush should have seen that his invasion would create chaos. He should have seen that Islamist militias would thrive amidst the violence.

So what does Obama do with his first war? He helps create chaos on the ground while leaving America with virtually no ability to influence the ultimate outcome. He broke it and didn’t even try to own it. Incredibly, he still seems somewhat surprised things didn’t turn out well....

n spite of multiple mistakes, at least by 2009 Iraq was reasonably stable, al-Qaeda was on the run, and the nation had a chance for a decent future. Obama by contrast left Libya a deadly shambles, and now ISIS and other jihadists control entire cities and regions in a country right on Europe’s doorstep. Come to think of it, that’s how he’s leaving Iraq — with Afghanistan headed in the same direction. When America creates power vacuums, jihadists fill the void.

Here is a list of the five times that President Obama lied about Hillary's email scandal in his interview on Fox News. That's a lot of lies in a short interchange. It is not true that Hillary didn't endanger our national security with his scandal. That's just false. He lied when he implied that there was some different sort of "classified" document that applies to what Hillary had on her server. What was on her server was important and not what Obama implied was basically available already to the public. Obama also said that what Hillary did wasn't that important because she was an outstanding Secretary of State. Too bad that that selective standard didn't apply to General Petraeus. And then, after all that defending her, he admitted that he hasn't talked to the Attorney General or FBI director about the case. So he actually has no idea the extent to which Clinton endangered national security or what laws she might have broken.
So, Mr. President, if the investigation is ongoing and you claim not to have spoken with the FBI Director or Attorney General, then how can you claim to know that Mrs. Clinton did not break the law and endanger our nation’s security? The short answer is that he can't and therefore his statement was purely political and designed to influence the Democrat party base and donors during a tight primary race.

It also sent a clear and very inappropriate message to the Justice Department, which reports to him, that he didn’t think she did anything wrong – even before the investigation is complete. That is tantamount to interfering and attempting to influence an ongoing criminal investigation, and it was done by the nation’s chief law enforcement officer – the president himself.

I just watched a constitutional lawyer resort to five-year-old logic to defend his choice for a successor in the face of damning evidence. How sad that is for our country.

Matthew Continetti discusses how Bernie Sanders has revealed his ignorance and disdain for Israel.
He not only smeared the Jewish state, he betrayed an ignorance of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that would, if he were president, lead to the loss of Jewish and Arab lives. Naïveté is fine for But it is absolutely unacceptable for the Oval Office.

The subject was Israel’s 2014 war with Gaza. Sanders said Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’s shelling of civilian population centers was disproportionate. “Anybody help me out here,” he said, “because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”

No Bernie, it doesn’t. A civilian death toll of more than 10,000 sounds the very opposite of right — it sounds like a gross exaggeration, a calumny, like disinformation coming from Marx knows where. Certainly not from the speech on the Middle East that Sanders delivered last month, where he criticized “Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more.”
Of course, he totally ignores how Hamas situates their headquarters and weapons in civilian sites like hospitals and schools. He ignores the terrorism from Gaza aimed at Israelis.
So Sanders’s policy is clueless. But it is also a security risk. Why? Not only because he plainly hasn’t thought enough about these issues to be seriously prepared for making the judgments necessary as commander-in-chief. But also because his view of the conflict is so fanciful, so heavily weighted toward the Palestinian narrative of grievance and victimization, that a Sanders presidency would repeat all of the deadly mistakes of the last six years.

We’ve tried calling for settlement freezes, for direct negotiations, for proportionality, and for evenhandedness while ignoring Palestinian incitement, Palestinian terror, Palestinian corruption, Palestinian incompetence in the provision of even the most basic public services. What has that gotten us? Hamas remains in Gaza as knife-wielding terrorists murder wantonly in Jerusalem. Some legacy.

It’s one thing for Sanders to call for “ending the economic blockade of Gaza.” It is another to recognize why, exactly, the blockade is in place. Does he think Bibi Netanyahu just dreamed it up one day on a lark? The blockade isn’t there to punish Palestinian children. It’s there to prevent Turkey and Iran from restocking the Hamas war machine. The blockade is but a symptom of the problem of Hamas’s revisionism, of its genocidal ambitions. Israel abandoned Gaza a decade ago, yet Hamas’s war continues. Would it overly bother Bernie Sanders to ask why?

What the Daily News interview revealed was that Sanders is nothing more than a politician who excels at the outside game of earned media, of purist stances boldly announced in the most moralistic terms, of professional indignation at whichever injustices most upset the subscribers to The Nation on a given week. He hasn’t considered matters of foreign and defense and diplomatic policy as deeply as he might because, up till now, he hasn’t needed to. His “political revolution” works the same magic as Donald Trump’s wall: It makes all the world’s problems disappear.

And, as with Trump, when someone has the gumption actually to ask Sanders about details, to point out the logical consequences of his ideas, he filibusters, gets angry, shifts direction. “You’re asking me now to make not only decisions for the Israeli government,” he told the editorial board at one point, “but for the Israeli military, and I don’t quite think I’m qualified to make decisions.”

Here, at last, Bernie Sanders got something right.

Kevin Williamson is his usual unbound eloquent self in explaining how unqualified both Hillary and Bernie are to be president. Hillary has ridden her husband's success to a phony record of accomplishment.
Mrs. Clinton is a lifelong political grifter who poses as a feminist champion while riding on the coattails of her husband, an old-fashioned intern-diddling patriarchal chauvinist who just happens to have been the most gifted politician of his generation before his decline to his current diminished state. Like that of Michelle Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s so-called career in the private sector and in activism rose in neatly incremental tandem with her husband’s elevation through the ranks of political office. If you believe Mrs. Obama was being paid three-hundred grand-plus for vaguely defined administrative work or that Mrs. Clinton’s legal and cattle-futures-trading careers thrived without their patrons taking notice of the vast political power accumulated by their husbands, you are a naïf.

Mrs. Clinton over the years did successfully exploit her marriage to a powerful and vile man into two notable positions of her own: senator from New York and secretary of state. As a senator, she was — at best — undistinguished, merely punching the clock as she prepared to run for the presidency. Unfortunately for her, an equally ambitious nobody senator from Illinois was following the same program, and he is a better politician than she is. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton was catastrophic: Our allies were alienated, our enemies emboldened, our diplomats abroad slaughtered like livestock. Our national reputation is in tatters and our international prestige greatly diminished, thanks in no small part to her incompetence and that of the president she served.
Yup, that about sums up her career. And Bernie Sanders' record is even more sparse.
He doesn’t seem to have done much of anything at all with his life until he entered politics full time in his forties. He is the author of a great deal of political commentary that might be charitably described — charitably! — as lighthearted meditations on the erotic potential of gang rape. He has forwarded daft theories that women suffer from cancers of the reproductive system because of orgasmic insufficiency. His pornographic imagination — Fifty Shades of Red — is some creepy stuff, indeed. He is in thrall to the usual lifestyle-leftist terrors about GMO foods and the like.

Senator Sanders presents himself as the great scourge of Wall Street and the financial sector. But examine his actual legislative record and you will find almost nothing of any substance proffered on the subject. Until the financial crisis of 2008–09, his big idea on banking reform was — sound the victorious trump! — putting caps on the fees banks charge for cash withdrawals at ATMs. Asked by the editorial board of the New York Daily News — not exactly a bunch of raving right-wingers — about his stated desire to break up American financial institutions, and specifically about what legal authority a president might have to do such a thing, Sanders was unable to name a single law, provision, or proposal empowering him to do what he proposes. He seemed to believe that the president could simply order the Federal Reserve — an independent institution — to do so, and, when challenged about whether a president has that legal authority, whimpered, “Well, I believe you do.” I’d bet a fair sum of money that the man who proposes to revamp the rules under which American finance is conducted could not explain what a derivative is or how a credit-default swap works.

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Salena Zito examines the Republican delegates from Pennsylvania. They are unbound and might play a crucial role in determining who will be the GOP nominee. Ted Cruz is working hard to win over those delegates because he understands the rules of the GOP convention.
Those are the rules. Those always have been the rules and likely always will be the rules.

This is no conspiracy by some mystical “establishment” to dash Donald Trump's hopes; had he done the very basic homework Cruz has done, he and his followers — who are promising protests in Cleveland unless they get their way — would understand that.

Cruz's hard work on delegates might not mean that he wins. But, he insisted, it shows he understands that getting to 1,237 delegates before the convention won't happen for him, Trump or Kasich: “It is all about the relationship I have with the delegates going into the first or perhaps second ballot.”
Trumpkins may rage and promise retribution at Cleveland. They would have done better to have read the rules. But that is not the sort of organization and groundwork that Trump has brought to this campaign.

Perhaps this is why Rush Limbaugh is starting to come around to ridiculing Trump's whining.
So I don't see Ted Cruz lying and cheating his way to the convention. I see a lot of hard work. I see some people who know what they have to do, given where they are. They're in second place in both the vote count and the delegate count. They're serious about winning. The Cruz team is serious about winning. They have made themselves fully aware of how the process works, and they've been out working it for quite a while. They went into Louisiana where Trump scored a massive win but they've come out of there with many more delegates than, by appearances, they should have.

Ted Cruz had goals. He worked the problem 'til he got the result he wanted. What he's demonstrating, folks, he's demonstrating he knows how to work himself within this insider labyrinth. He knows how to navigate it. He knows how to work it. He knows how to turn it to his advantage. You have to look at this and say, "Okay, what does this tell us about Cruz, if he should become president?" No matter how enamored you are -- and a lot of people are -- no matter how enamored you are of the notion of a total outsider with no links to the establishment, no links to insider politics, nothing whatsoever, you're fascinated by that happening, somebody coming in and just totally wrecking the castle, finding out that you can't do that without getting inside the castle first. 'Cause people inside the castle are not gonna let you crumble the walls.

You know, being an outsider, it has benefits, but it has drawbacks, too, and knowing the rules inside out and outworking the competition is not cheating. If you happen to be more knowledgeable of how things work and are able to work it to your advantage, that's just hard work. That isn't cheating. I think the entire lesson, if look at the Obama campaign and the Cruz campaign, organization matters, from the grassroots on up.
Well, duh!

In fact, the rules of the Republican race actually have benefited Donald Trump. Because of the winner-take-all rules in many states, Trump has been able to accrue 46% of the delegates to this point even though he's received only 37% of the vote. That is due to rules that the "establishment" put in place before the race began, just as the rules governing the choosing of delegates were in place. And the rules have served to benefit Trump.
The Republican nominating contest, in fact, is geared towards helping the front runner. This is for a variety of factors meant to accelerate the coalescing around a nominee. Those factors include thresholds for delegate allocation, winner-take-all contests, and winner-take-most rules that give all delegates in a proportional primary to someone who earns over 50 percent of the vote.

The rules were changed in 2012 to benefit the front runner at the behest of Mitt Romney. That Trump has been unable to fully capitalize on these rules is nobody’s fault but his own. This is especially true, given that Donald Trump has benefitted from these rules that benefit the front runner at every turn. This was most notable when he won the Florida Primary, and 99 delegates in a fractured field, he now decries. He did so with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Here’s another way at looking how the rules have actually benefitted Trump. He has needed far fewer votes per delegate than any other candidate over this season. For instance, he’s needed about 1200 fewer votes per delegate than Cruz. Rubio and Kasich have needed almost double that.
Of course, these observations exist in the realm of reality, a realm that Trump and his supporters don't inhabit.

Trump likes to label his opponents as liars, but he is clearly the biggest liar in the GOP race. Almost every claim he's made in his unfortunate claim has been an outright lie. Hank Berrien at the Daily Wire documents 101 of those lies.
But there's only one truly massive liar in this race: Donald Trump. When Politico attempted to measure how many lies Trump told over the course of 4.6 hours of speeches, they found that he lied, on average, once every five minutes. When Huffington Post catalogued his lies over the course of just one town hall event, they came up with 71 lies.

Which made it relatively easy to come up with this not-even-close-to-complete list of 101 lies from Donald Trump.
It's a handy cheat-sheet of how mendacious the man is.

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The disgusting malfeasance and coverups at the VA continues.
A whistleblower at the Phoenix VA Health Care System who spoke out about the mishandling of veteran suicides last year said last week that little has changed since hospital staff made national headlines for keeping secret wait lists two years ago.

“They are still manipulating data, it is still happening, they are still being trained to do it at facilities just like the one behind us,” Brandon Coleman, the whistleblower, told Fox 10 News Phoenix....

Allegations of misconduct at the Phoenix VA have surfaced in the wake of the wait list scandal. Last month, reports indicated that staff at the hospital system had been cancelling pending appointments for dead veterans, which violates VA policy, in an apparent attempt to hide connections between pending appointments and veterans’ deaths.

Guy Benson surveys the latest rotten news from Obamacare. The co-ops are failing and the number of uninsured are going up. And here is a list of the eight Obamacare co-ops set to fail this year.

Why is it okay for Mayor de Blasio to make a joke about "Colored Time" and for Hillary to laugh at it? And why would de Blasio and Hillary even sign up to read such lines? Can you imagine if a Republican had done that?

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My daughter, who lives in Washington D.C., assures me that the most important story there is the arrival of Herbie Hoover as part of the Racing Presidents at Nationals Park this weekend. Apparently, the consensus is that he has "demon" eyes.

This is how despicable the University of Kentucky basketball program is. (As Duke fans, in my household we hate Kentucky with almost the same passion that we reserve for the cheating university down the road and revel with each replay of Christian Laettner's "shot" during March Madness.) The university has trademarked the word "Kentucky" for clothes. And now they're trying to block an entrepreneurial Kentucky distiller and descendant of bootlegers from marketing his new brew as "Kentucky Mist Moonshine." And the university is trying to block him, claiming that they own the rights to the name of the state even though they aren't going after KFC.
But Mr. Fultz also tried to trademark his business name: Kentucky Mist Moonshine. And that, sports lovers, is how a moonshine maker wound up suing the University of Kentucky — the basketball behemoth exalted by its “Big Blue Nation” of fans — in federal court over a fundamental question: Who owns the rights to the name of the state?

The university says it does; it wants to block Mr. Fultz from trademarking “Kentucky Mist Moonshine” for T-shirts, hats and other apparel (though not his moonshine) sold in his distillery gift shop. It registered the word “Kentucky” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for clothing in 1997, 19 years ago.

“‘Kentucky’ is our issue — not the mist or the moonshine,” said Jason Schlafer, the university’s executive associate athletic director, who oversees marketing and licensing for the Wildcats, Kentucky’s sports teams.

But here in Whitesburg — a city of about 2,100 people on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, where an annual fall festival showcases mountain heritage, music and crafts — the university’s stance has gone down about as smoothly as a shot of bathtub gin, even with die-hard Wildcats fans.

Continue reading the main story
“U.K. basketball is our cultural icon, it’s what brings Kentuckians together,” said Dee Davis, president and founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit that seeks to improve social and economic conditions in the region. “So it’s absolutely silly that the university would waste its time trying to go after some poor mountain entrepreneur.”
Apparently, other public universities like Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio also own the rights to their state names. Good luck to Mr. Fulk. I hope they go down in flames just as they did in 1992.


Suvy Boyina said...

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with the idea that Iraq had a chance of a decent future in 2009. Nation-building does not work and never has. It's not like you can just go into an area without any sort of a plan or objective, just place troops there, and expect a democracy to take hold. This is utterly ridiculous.

The idea that 130,000 troops are gonna occupy a country of 25 million over such vast distances alongside such terrain is nonsense. It's not gonna work. There's a higher ratio of cops to citizens in New York City where the terrain isn't a desert and the spaces aren't massive (note that the population of the NYC metro-area is larger than the population of Iraq).

The reason you have guys like Saddam is because the alternative (fragmentation) in those cases is almost always worse. What we did merely accelerated what would've happened naturally anyways. Highly autocratic regimes aren't sustainable over extended periods of time and eventually face tipping points once some arbitrary threshold for repression in the existing regime is crossed, like it always does.

Gahrie said...

Nation-building does not work and never has.

Tell that to Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Suvy Boyina said...

"Tell that to Germany, Japan and South Korea."

Yea, let's take a look at Germany and Japan shall we? They were both developed countries by the turn of the 19th century under IMPERIAL SYSTEMS. Before the Weimar Republic, Germany was imperial. Japan was imperial until we took over in World War II.

After war, countries always return to their previous level of development very quickly. Also note that Japan, Germany, and South Korea are all homogenized. Iraq is not. /Thread

Anyone making these kinds of comments seriously needs to pick up a financial history book and look at historical development patterns. Here's a hint: geography matters. If you're ignoring geographical contexts in all of these patterns or refuse to look at financial systems, you're gonna blow up.

Suvy Boyina said...

^That should be ethnically homogenized.

Here's an ethnicity distribution of Iraq. If you can tell me how you can build a nation-state out of 3 ethnicities fighting for power for 100 years, I'd love to hear it.