Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cruising the Web

Stephen Hayes reminds us
how, without the actions of the Israelis, Syria could be witnessing an even use of weapons.
It's hard to imagine how things could be ghastlier. And yet, if not for a stealth nighttime attack a decade ago, the situation today would almost certainly have been worse. Syria might well have been a young nuclear power.

On Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli fighter jets screamed through the skies of western Syria to drop their payloads on the al-Kibar nuclear facility and end, at least temporarily, the secret nuclear program of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Hayes reports on the debates within the Bush White House on how much support to give Israel. There were those, like Secretary of State Bob Gates who urged Bush to condemn Israel if the strikes were carried out at al-Kibar. There were those like Condoleezza Rice who feared that such an attack would endanger talks with North Korea even though it was clear from intelligence that North Korea had helped Syria build its nuclear facilities. As if North Korea could be trusted in any deal to limit its nuclear program. Just imagine if Syria now had nuclear weapons. Bush ended up not condemning or praising Israel's attacks on Syria's nuclear facilities.

Then came Obama's presidency and his fixation on a deal with Iran. Obama decided not to act on Syria's gassing of its own citizens in order to pursue that deal. Thus, they agreed to the deal with Russia for Assad to supposedly get rid of his chemical weapons. We've seen how well that worked out. And we've also seen how Iran has violated the deal that it made. Hayes concludes,
I suspect in 20 years, we'll understand that the attack on al-Kibar did more to thwart the WMD efforts of a state than any of the Obama administration's diplomacy.

Now that we know that the Obama administration was misleading the public about the success of their chemical weapons deal with Syria, should we, as the NY Post writes, have any more confidence in their proclamations on the Iran deal? David French adds,
Vicious liars like the North Koreans, Syrians, and Iranians tend to be vicious liars no matter the documents they sign. That’s a truth worth remembering as another WMD deal collapses and further destabilizes and already-dangerous world.

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Bret Stephens speculates on why the Obama administration lied about the success of the Syria chemical weapons deal. As he points out, the evidence has been out there for years.
Why did Mr. Obama and his senior officials stick to a script that they knew was untethered from the facts? Let’s speculate. They thought the gap between Assad’s “declared” and actual stockpile was close enough for government work. They figured a credulous press wouldn’t work up a sweat pointing out the difference. They didn’t imagine Assad would use what was left of his chemical arsenal for fear of provoking the U.S.

And they didn’t want to disturb the public narrative that multilateral diplomacy was a surer way than military action to disarm rogue Middle Eastern regimes of their illicit weapons. Two months after Mr. Obama’s climb-down with Syria, he signed on to the interim nuclear deal with Iran. The remainder of his term was spent trying not to upset the fragile beauty of his nuclear diplomacy.

Now we’re coming to grips with the human and strategic price of the Obama administration’s mendacity. The sham agreement gave Assad confidence that he could continue to murder his opponents indefinitely without fear of Western reprisal. It fostered the view that his regime was preferable to its opponents. It showed Tehran that it could drive a hard diplomatic bargain over its nuclear file, given that the administration was so plainly desperate for face-saving excuses for inaction.

And it left Mr. Obama’s successor with a lousy set of options.
Given that they celebrated how they misled the public about the Iran deal, why shouldn't they have continued to lie? They knew the media wouldn't call them on it.
Mr. Obama and his advisers will never run out of self-justifications for their policy in Syria. They can’t outrun responsibility for the consequences of their lies.

Tom Daschle has some harsh words for his own party. John Fund reports on what Daschle said in a podcast with Carl Cannon.
Daschle blames the Democrats for the deterioration of Senate institutions.
Unfortunately, Democrats have far dirtier hands when it comes to the erosion of the institutional pillars of the Senate than Republicans going all the way back. . . . The whole budget process was a Democratic product, and that was in my view a procedural disaster. Then we lowered the threshold from 67 to 60. That was a Democratic effort. And then in 2013, we took it away completely for nominations, and that was Democratic. So, Democrats who may lament this institutional deterioration, I think there’s a lot of history here that can’t be explained away.
Fund adds,
When he mentions the deterioration of the budget process, he appears to be criticizing Harry Reid, who as Senate majority leader under President Obama declined to ever pass a real federal budget. Instead, Reid chose to run the government by “continuing resolutions.”

Of course, Daschle doesn’t have completely clean hands in all this. In 2003, when Daschle was the minority leader, Democrats mounted filibusters of several George W. Bush judicial nominations. Before then, no purely partisan filibusters of a potential judge had ever been mounted (the filibuster against LBJ appointee Abe Fortas in 1968 was bipartisan). Chief among the 2003 filibusters was the one against GOP lawyer Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Estrada, a Honduran immigrant, was opposed by Democrats, who admitted in a leaked memo that they feared Estrada would become the court’s first Hispanic judge appointed by Bush.

After two years of delays, Estrada finally withdrew his nomination in disgust with the process. He remains a little bitter, telling the National Law Journal in March, “I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation or, for that matter, willingly place myself in any situation (e.g., a hearing room) in which convention requires that I be civil to Chuck Schumer.”
Of course, would Tom Daschle, if he'd still been in majority leader in 2013, have acted any differently than Harry Reid? He certainly didn't balk in 2003 from instituting a new precedent in obstructionism simply because they didn't want Bush to be able to nominate a Hispanic.

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Hillary Clinton has a very long list of whom and what she blames for her loss in November.
Clinton blamed FBI director James B. Comey, who re-opened the investigation of her private emails in the final days of the campaign. She also blamed Russia for allegedly meddling in the election by reportedly hacking the personal email accounts of Democratic National Committee staffers and her campaign chairman, John Podesta.

She blamed the hacking group WikiLeaks for publishing the stolen emails during the election.

Clinton blamed the "weaponization of information."

She also jokingly blamed her chief Democratic primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and media for her general election loss.

"To what extent do you assign blame to Bernie Sanders, to media for focusing on emails – " Kristoff started to ask.

"How much time do we have?" Clinton laughed after checking her watch.

She also blamed misogyny.
Notice who is missing from that list?
Notably absent, however, from Clinton's hall of blame were mentions of the many things her campaign got wrong.

She didn't mention, for example, the fact that she didn't set foot in Wisconsin once during the entire general election. She didn't mention her team's initial decision to frame the campaign in terms of how voters could help her ("I'm with her!") and not vice versa. She didn't mention her team's mind-boggling decision to outsource part of its millennial outreach efforts to Al Gore, 69, and Dave Matthews, 50. She didn't mention the campaign's bizarre decision to send Lena Dunham to North Carolina. She didn't mention the moment she claimed at a fundraiser in New York City that "half" of Trump's supporters were "irredeemable" bigots.

Clinton also ignored all mentions of the fact her team actively ignored and took for granted disaffected white and working class voters whom Obama had won, even after Bill Clinton, who won the rust belt twice, implored them to reconsider their strategy.
Besides those tactical errors, how about her decision to house a server in her house and then mislead the American people about it? How about all the sleazy deals to leverage her position at the Department of State to funnel money to her family and their foundation? She lost to Obama when she came in as the clear frontrunner. She struggled against a septuagenarian socialist. And she finally lost to a candidate who was caught on film bragging about how he liked to grab women by their private parts. Only a truly awful candidate could accomplish all that. I realize that it's difficult to acknowledge her own faults as a candidate, but honesty, or even modesty, might suggest to her to recognize her own faults.

Is United Airlines taking lessons in how to give their airline bad publicity? If so, they've passed with flying colors as they dragged a doctor out of the plane feet first so that they could take his seat and give it to their own employees. Don't they realize that everyone has a phone that can film such an atrocious episode?
The Chicago Department of Aviation said it 'obviously' did not condone the behavior of the security officer who was filmed slamming the man into an arm rest, knocking him unconscious and dragging him away by his arms as he bled from the mouth at O'Hare.
United is facing growing anger after they selected the 69-year-old man - who claimed to be a doctor - to be bumped from the overbooked flight to Louisville to make room for its staff on Sunday night.
The airline's CEO apologized today even as new video emerged of the man, who had refused to leave the flight, bleeding heavily from the mouth and mumbling about suicide in the aftermath of his brutal treatment.
In the clip, the dazed man chants 'just kill me, just kill me' as blood pours from his mouth.
It seems to have been filmed after another clip that shows the victim somehow broke free from the airport cops and ran back onto the plane chanting 'I need to go home, I need to go home.'
Just issuing an apology and claiming that the incident "was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure" is not sufficient to overcome this major failure of public relations. They abused a paying customer so that they could get four of their employees to Louisville for a flight the following day. United had overbooked the flight and couldn't seem to offer enough money to get four people to volunteer to leave. This is not the sort of discussion you want trending on Twitter about your company.

As McClatchy reports, not only was this a PR disaster, but it didn't even make economic sense.
Was it even necessary to kick passengers off the flight to accommodate four airline employees who needed transportation?

The answer is no, passenger advocates say.

The airlines have agreements with one another to give discounts to employees of other carriers based on the distance flown. It’s a huge discount from usual fares.

For example, United could have sent its employees by taxi about an hour across Chicago from O’Hare airport to Midway airport and put them on a Southwest flight to Louisville, Kentucky, where they were needed Monday.

The top fare for the Southwest flight between Chicago and Louisville is $243, so under the airlines’ agreement, four United employees could have flown for slightly more than $100 combined with the discount. Southwest offers three nonstop flights from Midway to Louisville on Sundays. The trip takes about an hour.

Or the United employees could have taken one of four Sunday nonstop flights on American Airlines from O’Hare to Louisville. Undiscounted fares on the route are $221 in the main cabin and $321 in first class.

By contrast, United was offering each of the four passengers as much as $800 in compensation and a hotel room to give up their seats for the employees.
So who made the decision that it was better to throw paying customers off the plane rather than take any of those options?

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Martin Daubney writes about how Pepsi's Kendall Jenner ad that was stupid on so many levels is just another example of corporations seeking outrage in order to gain publicity.
But I don’t believe the ad was an accident. Pepsi’s troll was clumsy, but deliberate. Because these days, nothing sells like deliberately whipped-up outrage.

This deliberately trolly state, where rage is used to generate engagement has already been dubbed “engragement”.

It’s everywhere. This week alone in the UK, there has been a brand-related outrage every single day.

On Monday, chocolatiers Cadbury were accused of “airbrushing faith” when they removed the word Easter from some of their National Trust Egg Hunt literature.

Even the Prime Minister got involved, calling it “frankly ridiculous” – which it was, as the PM didn’t realise this too was an overblown storm in a teacup.

But people didn’t want the truth: they wanted to be outraged. They wanted to shriek about boycotts, “political correctness gone mad” or, preposterously, “creeping Sharia law”. Over chocolate!

On Tuesday, Topshop was accused of – yawn – “cultural appropriation” when Tweeters pointed out a “festival-ready scarf playsuit” looked like a Palestinian keffiyeh, a symbol of “hardship and bloodshed”.

One bleated “not cool Top Shop” – but it promptly sold out online. Like Pepsi, was Top Shop’s flirt with protest chic deliberate?

Yesterday, the Co-Op supermarket was under the cosh for a “misogynistic” Easter Egg advert that read “treat your daughter for doing the washing up”.

The brand hastily changed the ad, but was allowed to extol its “proud tradition of equality” on the BBC website, a PR win overall.

Of course, some of these are accidents.

But there are too many of them to be pure coincidence. Some brands are masters of trollenomics – this trolling-for-profit – with the Daily Mail being undisputed heavyweight champions.

Last week, its front page #Legsit article – comparing the assets of Prime Minister Teresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – dominated British media for 48 hours.

Elena Kagan will be glad to give up the duties belonging to the most junior justice.
The junior justice has three unique responsibilities, she said. But in recounting them, she always starts with the fact that the newest justice is assigned to cafeteria duty and keeps it until the next justice is confirmed.

“I think this is a way to kind of humble people,” she said during the “fireside chat” at the elegant Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. “You think you’re kind of hot stuff. You’re an important person. You’ve just been confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.

“And now you are going to monthly cafeteria committee meetings where literally the agenda is what happened to the good recipe for the chocolate chip cookies.”

The justices eat lunch together on the days when they hear oral arguments, Kagan explained.

“Somebody will say, ‘Who’s our representative to the cafeteria committee again?’ Like they don’t know, right? And then they’ll say, ‘This soup is very salty.’ And I’m like supposed to go fix it myself?”

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The legend of Kyle Schwarber - I can't wait to see what he will do this year if he can stay healthy.

With certain records falling every year in every sports, here are seven sports records that are unlikely to ever be broken.