Friday, October 07, 2016

Cruising the Web

It's seven years since Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for...well, for what the Nobel committee hoped he would mean. This was the nadir of the Nobel Peace Prize - giving it out for aspirations rather than for actual accomplishments. And now, basically everyone is acknowledging that the committee made a mistake. Obama's acceptance speech talked about when it is necessary to make war. He had to overcome the irony that just a few days after he accepted the prize, he would be ordering a surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan.
"More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region," Obama said, years before war broke out in Syria. "Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace."

Critics do not see Obama heeding his own call to responsible nations. Obama's refusal to use force to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad, cripple his air force or more aggressively engage in diplomatic efforts to end the fighting have been a steady source of criticism. Many view it as an unfortunate overcorrection from the George W. Bush-era Iraq war.

"The president correctly wanted to move away from the maximalist approach of the previous administration, but in doing so he went to a minimalist, gradualist and proxy approach that is prolonging the war. Where is the justice in that?" said Ret. Lt. Gen. Jim Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War and the author of the book, "Just War Reconsider." Obama should have worked harder to rally a coalition around a shared vision of a stable Middle East:, he believes. "Part of the requirement of leadership," Dubik said, "is to operate in that space between where the world is and where the world ought to go."
Jim Geraghty adds,
Yeah, it’s not often you see a Nobel Peace Prize winner with a secret “kill list,” commanding automated killing machines that strike without warning from the sky.

I’ll let Jay Nordlinger, the real expert on the Nobel Peace Prize around here, offer a fuller assessment, but this seems to me to be one of the more thorough beclownings of the committee in recent memory. Obama had been president for a whole two weeks when the nominations were closed for that year. It was a rare Peace Prize given for “potential,” instead of an actual accomplishment in attempting to secure peace.

You don’t give the Most Valuable Player award to a rookie before the season starts.
Sohrab Ahmari comments,
With his endless patience for rogues, in other words, Mr. Obama has tied the hands of his successor. Set aside the human misery in Syria. Set aside, too, the destabilizing effects of millions of refugees on Syria’s neighboring states and Europe. The expansion of Russian and Iranian influence in the Middle East represents a long-term strategic setback for the West.

Mr. Putin’s pilots are also increasingly menacing European homelands, with the French Defense Ministry revealing Wednesday that Russian military aircraft last month skirted the airspaces of France, Norway, Spain and the U.K., forcing all four countries to scramble jets. This, too, is the fruit of the humbler Washington the Europeans wished for in 2009.

One question that lingers seven years later: What did the Nobel Committee imagine would follow when America assumed an unexceptional role on the world stage? In the U.S., some thought American retrenchment might spur Europeans to finally take responsibility for securing the Continent’s peripheries. This wasn’t an unreasonable assumption, but it proved wrong. Europeans remain as parochial as ever.

The Nobel Committee, and the intellectual class whose preferences it reflected, had loftier ideas. In 2009 they thought that, without U.S. “unilateralism,” the world could settle enmity and evil the same way the EU resolves disputes over agricultural subsidies. This was when EU boosters like the historian Tony Judt still wrote of the 21st century as a European century—when the rest of the world would embrace the European way of dialogue.

Seven years later the Europeans can barely solve their subsidy disputes, and the Continent has had quite enough of the philosopher-president.
I suspect that this sad reality has not changed the minds of any on the Nobel Committee. For them, a world with a weaker, quieter United States is still a good thing.

Meanwhile, John Kerry is throwing in the towel on his hopes to get Russia to stop bombing Aleppo. In a leaked conversation with Syrians working in humanitarian efforts to help the civilians being massacred.
Mr. Kerry complained that “the Russians don’t care about international law, and we do.” He noted that “a lot of Americans don’t believe that we should be fighting and sending young Americans over to die in another country.”

Above all, he lamented that his diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s war were never backed by a credible threat of American military strikes. “I think you’re looking at three people, four people in the Administration who have all argued for use of force, and I lost the argument,” Mr. Kerry said.

The Secretary is right that President Obama doomed whatever chances the U.S. had of shaping a better outcome in Syria when Mr. Obama made clear that nothing, including chemical attacks against civilians, could induce him to deploy even modest force to ground Bashar Assad’s air force or establish no-fly/no-drive zones.

Then again, it’s hard to credit Mr. Kerry as the scorned voice of reason within the Administration when, until last week, he was the most vocal advocate of making common cause with Moscow in Syria.

In May 2015 Mr. Kerry first broke the informal diplomatic quarantine the U.S. had imposed on Russia after it granted Edward Snowden asylum in 2013 and invaded Ukraine the following year. Last month Mr. Kerry was pushing the Pentagon, over the objections of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, to share targeting intelligence with Russia to grease a new cease-fire deal. As with a similar cease-fire Mr. Kerry negotiated earlier this year, Russia violated it within days.

It’s also worth remembering that, until the Syrian revolt began in 2011, Assad had no better friend in Washington than then-Senator Kerry, who praised the dictator as a man of his word who had been “very generous with me.”

....Mr. Kerry claims to regret not having the option of military force, not that he would ever use it against the very people who are now besieging Aleppo. Meanwhile, he rues that Russia and its friends in Syria are indifferent to international law, but he’s prepared to believe they’ll abide by the results of an election they’ll also help oversee.

Following the discussion, a Syrian who had sat in on the conversation summed up the Secretary’s position to the New York Times: “You have to fight for us, but we will not fight for you. How can this be accepted by anyone? It’s unbelievable.” Dishonorable, too.

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Charles Krauthammer argues that we are seeing the collapse of two of the main goals of the Obama presidency: Obamacare and the "radical reorientation of American foreign policy — disengagement marked by diplomacy and multilateralism." When even Bill Clinton is calling Obamacare "the craziest thing in the world," it's clear that the program is a bust. Now we have the nonprofit "co-ops" going belly up as insurers are withdrawing from the exchanges. People are learning how their premiums and deductibles are going way up so it's no surprise that healthy, young people are declining to buy insurance which is slowly destroying the solvency of insurance companies trying to pay for a older, less healthy base.
As the risk pool becomes increasingly unbalanced, the death spiral accelerates. And the only way to save the system is with massive infusions of tax money.

What to do? The Democrats will eventually push to junk Obamacare for a full-fledged, government-run, single-payer system. Republicans will seek to junk it for a more market-based pre-Obamacare-like alternative. Either way, the singular domestic achievement of this presidency dies.
And his foreign policy is collapsing around the world. He came in with such dreams of transforming our role in the world. Those dreams were enough to score him a Nobel Peace Prize just for enunciating them. But the reality is quite different.
Obama’s radically reoriented foreign policy is in ruins. His vision was to move away from a world where stability and “the success of liberty” (JFK, inaugural address) were anchored by American power and move toward a world ruled by universal norms, mutual obligation, international law and multilateral institutions. No more cowboy adventures, no more unilateralism, no more Guantanamo. We would ascend to the higher moral plane of diplomacy. Clean hands, clear conscience, “smart power.”

This blessed vision has just died a terrible death in Aleppo. Its unraveling was predicted and predictable, though it took fully two terms to unfold. This policy of pristine — and preening — disengagement from the grubby imperatives of realpolitik yielded Crimea, the South China Sea, the rise of the Islamic State, the return of Iran. And now the horror and the shame of Aleppo.

After endless concessions to Russian demands meant to protect and preserve the genocidal regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, last month we finally capitulated to a deal in which we essentially joined Russia in that objective. But such is Vladimir Putin’s contempt for our president that he wouldn’t stop there.

He blatantly violated his own cease-fire with an air campaign of such spectacular savagery — targeting hospitals, water-pumping stations and a humanitarian aid convoy — that even Barack Obama and John Kerry could no longer deny that Putin is seeking not compromise but conquest. And is prepared to kill everyone in rebel-held Aleppo to achieve it. Obama, left with no options — and astonishingly, having prepared none — looks on.

At the outset of the war, we could have bombed Assad’s airfields and destroyed his aircraft, eliminating the regime’s major strategic advantage — control of the air.

Five years later, we can’t. Russia is there. Putin has just installed S-300 antiaircraft missiles near Tartus. Yet, none of the rebels have any air assets. This is a warning and deterrent to the only power that could do something — the United States.

Obama did nothing before. He will surely do nothing now. For Americans, the shame is palpable. Russia’s annexation of Crimea may be an abstraction, but that stunned, injured little boy in Aleppo is not.

“What is Aleppo?” famously asked Gary Johnson. Answer: the burial ground of the Obama fantasy of benign disengagement.

What’s left of the Obama legacy? Even Democrats are running away from Obamacare. And who will defend his foreign policy of lofty speech and cynical abdication?

In 2014, Obama said, “Make no mistake: [My] policies are on the ballot.” Democrats were crushed in that midterm election.

This time around, Obama says, “My legacy’s on the ballot.” If the 2016 campaign hadn’t turned into a referendum on character — a battle fully personalized and ad hominem — the collapse of the Obama legacy would indeed be right now on the ballot. And his party would be 20 points behind.

No wonder Obama so messed up his actions in Syria. He seems to have no understanding of what was happening there and now blames the problems there on global warming.
At a White House climate-change event with actor Leo DiCaprio, Obama cited “powerful” studies that suggest “droughts that happened in Syria contributed to the unrest and the Syrian civil war.”

Which, he went on, makes man-caused global warming “a national-security issue” — one ignored by “members of Congress who scoff at climate change at the same time they are . . . extolling their patriotism.”

Look: Syria’s “unrest” started as peaceful protests — which dictator Bashar al-Assad answered with bullets and then barrel bombs, triggering a rebellion.

Obama insisted on staying out — refusing even low-risk steps like setting up no-fly zones to shield innocent civilians, or sending arms to pro-US rebels.

Instead, he mocked the rebels as “pharmacists and dentists” — and ISIS, when it came on the scene, as a “JV team.”

He loudly drew a “red line,” then blinked when the time came to enforce it — saving face only thanks to a lifeline from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who would later intervene decisively to save Assad.

And climate change had nothing to do with any of it — it’s simply the “threat” Obama wants to fight, rather than the ones he’s actually been faced with.

That he’s still claiming he was right all along isn’t just smug, it’s pathethic.

Kimberley Strassel laments that Donald Trump has been silent on the disaster that is Obamacare.
The law’s supporters are flailing, incapable of defending it during this public death spiral. Ezekiel Emanuel, the physician who was one of the architects of the law, was left stammering on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show this week. Dr. Emanuel said that these premium increases are a one-time “correction.” He hilariously blamed Republicans for refusing to bail out the system. Bill Clinton, who is becoming ever more honest in his dotage, went on an extended riff about how his party’s health-care system was the “craziest thing in the world.”

Hillary Clinton has no such out, having fiercely embraced ObamaCare. She owns it, every bit as much as the president, having pledged to “defend and expand” it. Only this week Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, reiterated that she views the law as a “success” and plans to “build on it.”

Were she required to explain how to fix it—an obvious question never asked of her—she would nonetheless be forced to propose: a) more bailouts and subsidies; b) more coercive ways of forcing people into the system; or c) a government-run public option. Or all of the above. All of these choices are implicit acknowledgments of the program’s failure, and dead losers with voters.
It should be a no-brainer for Trump to campaign on this. But he barely mentions it.
Mr. Trump’s quiet is so pronounced as to seem almost intentional. The Republican primaries showed that he is uncomfortable talking about health-care reform. ( Marco Rubio once accused him of having no plan other than to get rid of the insurance “lines around the states.”)

The Republican nominee might be wary of being drawn into a debate on a topic he seems to know little about. He also might be reluctant to field questions from the press about how he would handle the few popular aspects of the law—such as coverage for existing conditions. His website is relatively vague on what would replace ObamaCare, citing only broadly agreed-upon conservative ideas, such as creating more health savings accounts.

But Mr. Trump might consider that his silence is doing damage to more than simply himself. Across the country, Republican candidates are facing voters angry about health care. It would help immensely if they could argue that repealing ObamaCare would be the pressing priority of a Trump administration. After years of having President Obama halt every GOP attempt to patch the law’s holes, this is an extraordinary moment in which the party can tantalize voters with the hope that the nightmare might end.

But to do that, Mr. Trump has to capitalize on one of the greatest political gifts any presidential candidate has ever been given.
Of course, Trump is the guy who expressed admiration for the Canadian and British single-payer health systems. I lean to the explanation that he really has no understanding of the issue. Conservatives may wait in vain for Trump to lead the fight against Obamacare.

Ah, just more deception and corruption in the probe of Hillary's emails.
Buried in the 189 pages of heavily redacted FBI witness interviews from the Hillary Clinton email investigation are details of yet another mystery -- about two missing “bankers boxes” filled with the former secretary of state’s emails.

The interviews released earlier this month, known as 302s, also reveal the serious allegation that senior State Department official Patrick Kennedy applied pressure to subordinates to change the classified email codes so they would be shielded from Congress and the public.

The details about the boxes are contained in five pages of the FBI file – with a staggering 111 redactions – that summarize the statements of a State Department witness who worked in the “Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS)." The employee told the FBI that, “Initially, IPS officials were told there were 14 bankers boxes of former Secretary of State Hillary CLINTON’s emails at CLINTON’s Friendship Heights office.” Friendship Heights is a neighborhood that straddles the Northwest neighborhood of the District of Columbia and Maryland.

The State Department witness further explained to the FBI that “on or about December 5, 2014, IPS personnel picked up only 12 bankers boxes of CLINTON’s emails from Williams & Connolly.”

The officials were not sure if the boxes “were consolidated or what could have happened to the two other boxes. “

Clinton’s chief lawyer at Williams & Connolly, who leads all Clinton-related legal matters, is David Kendall. He has successfully represented Bill and Hillary Clinton together and separately throughout decades of their legal entanglements since the 1980’s, ranging from the former president’s sex scandals to missing billing records for Hillary Clinton’s work as a partner in The Rose Law Firm on behalf of the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan and Capital Management Services.

In the documents provided by Kendall’s law firm, the witness told the FBI they were “unable to locate any of her emails from January-April 2009.” This timeframe is crucial as it covers the start of Clinton’s term as secretary of state and when she set up a private server for all government business, in turn skirting public records laws.

In the same Aug. 18, 2015, interview, on page 42, the State Department witness also told the FBI there was a deliberate effort to change sensitive Clinton emails bearing the “B(1)” code -- used in the Freedom of Information Act review process to identify classified information -- to the category of “B-5.” That category covers Executive Branch deliberations, “interagency or intra-agency communications including attorney client privileges,” and makes material exempt from public release.

Over five pages of the single-spaced summary notes, the witness, whose name is redacted, alleges Clinton’s team which included Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy played classification games to confuse and obfuscate the formal FOIA review process.
Was there anything the State Department and FBI wouldn't do to help obfuscate what had really gone on with her emails?

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Kevin Williamson speaks out on the shameful fact that the newest Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture doesn't have anything on Clarence Thomas, but has an exhibit on Anita Hill.
If you were looking for a figure who personified the humiliations and triumphs of black Americans, you could hardly do better than Clarence Thomas, the son of a poor, Gullah-speaking family on the Georgia coast, a man who was not quite fluent in anything that would pass muster as English until his adulthood — who, nonetheless, found his way into college, into the Yale law school, and the Reagan administration, whose shortcomings and errors he admonished fearlessly. When he was elevated to the Supreme Court, the Democrats — who hate a black conservative more than they hate anything on this good green Earth — concocted every manner of dishonest attack to try to do to him what they had successfully done to Robert Bork not long before. But Clarence Thomas prevailed over what is by now a familiar attempt by the Democrats, the party of Bull Connor, to keep a black man in what they imagine to be his place.

His place is in the Supreme Court. In a sane world, it is also in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
It will be interesting to see if the Smithsonian moves to correct this oversight.

Jamie Foxx should be ashamed of himself. He's traveled to Venezuela to show his support for Nicolas Maduro. THis is the dictator who has jailed opponents and is responsible for policies that have what used to be a wealthy country now a hell hole. The people are starving and it's gotten so bad that he's outlawed waiting in line and mandated that people have to go work in the fields as if they were serfs. How ignorant is Foxx?

CNN seems to be deliberately editing videos to make two recent shootings of black men seem worse.
The network has now twice edited videos to create alternate narratives in regards to the recent shootings of two different black men by cops.

Just this week, the pro-police group Blue Lives Matter charged that the network deceptively edited video of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. The full video, taken by his wife Rakeyia, featured officers repeatedly telling Scott to "drop the gun." In the video aired on CNN, no such demands were shown.

"The editing was clearly intended to give viewers the impression that Scott wasn't armed. By intentionally excluding information to promote the false narrative that the officer-involved shooting of Keith Scott was unjustified, CNN directly contributed towards inciting violence and destruction in the Charlotte riots," the group said in a statement.

"Innocent citizens were hurt during the Charlotte riots, but editing like this also incites violence against police officers long after the riots are over."....

In August, CNN also deceptively edited footage of a shooting victim's sister. Sherelle Smith's brother, Sylville Smith, was shot by a police officer (who is also black). Sylville was armed when he was shot. Sherelle told reporters shortly after the shooting that rioters should be "burnin' down" wealthier neighborhoods instead of their own.

"Burnin' down s—t ain't going to help nothin'! Y'all burnin' down s—t we need in our community," Sherelle said. "Take that s—t to the suburbs. Burn that s—t down! We need our s—t! We need our weaves. I don't wear it. But we need it."

CNN ended the clip after Sherelle told her neighbors to stop burning down their own neighborhoods, and added a chyron that claimed she was "calling for peace" when she was in fact encouraging them to take the violence elsewhere. CNN eventually apologized for the error and corrected their report.

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Campus leftists celebrate diversity unless it's one of the disfavored groups that are viewed as oppressors. So it's perfectly fine for such groups to be hateful about men in a way that would never be accepted for one of the favored groups.
A group of Claremont College students hosted an event where they discussed why masculinity is triggering and “toxic.”

The event, “Masculinity + Mental Health,” was organized by a group of women called “Thrive,” who aim to provide a “safe space” for students to discuss mental health, Steven Glick of The Claremont Independent wrote.

“Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it,” the Facebook event page reads.
Just imagine these same words used for any other group. It would inconceivable.