Well, maybe. We’ll see.
Having gone to the trouble to debunk Snopes on the DNC flags controversy, I wanted to put it in a more persistent location than Facebook.
Well, maybe. We’ll see.
Having gone to the trouble to debunk Snopes on the DNC flags controversy, I wanted to put it in a more persistent location than Facebook.
If there is one strategy the left has used to move our country in their direction it’s this: They find institutions that have built up public trust, often over generations, and they take those institutions over, corrupt them, and put them to work on the leftist agenda. It’s happened most notably with academia and the media, but they’ve done it everywhere.
Snopes, the urban legend debunking site, has not been building up credibility for generations, but since 1994 Snopes has been the go-to site for debunking misinformation travelling the internet. Now they seem to be carrying water for the Democratic party. Case in point: the Snopes article on American flags at the Democratic National Convention.
First let it be said, this is a somewhat silly controversy. But never mind that. It’s a question of fact that Snopes weighed in on; let’s see how they handled it. The allegation is that there were no American flags on display at the DNC, and Snopes rated it False. Not “mostly false”, not “mixed”.
You can read the Snopes article here. The thrust of their debunking is two-fold:
Let’s start with #1. Yes, it appears to be true that Trump’s flags were virtual, not physical. So what? Virtual flags are fine. Moreover, it has no bearing on whether there were flags at the DNC. I guess we’re supposed to think that the DNC had virtual flags too? If so, that would be a strong debunking. But they didn’t. Here is Michelle Obama, the final speaker on the convention’s first night:
All you see is a mottled gray and turquoise background. No flags.
On to #2. The Snopes article has eight photos of the DNC with flag-ish imagery in them. The first two are from a color guard ceremony:
That image is from day two, but there was a color guard ceremony on day one as well. So there’s that.
The third image is a guy setting up some flags, and the fourth shows the podium with some flags on the far right:
That’s conclusive, right? No. Those images are from the second day, after the Democrats faced criticism for not having flags. Go back and look at first image in the Michelle Obama video. It briefly shows the entire stage and the flags aren’t there. You can skim the entire first day on video; no flags on stage. The flags appear on day two.
Next they have four crowd images:
Three of those are not actual flags. (In fact, the two on the left are improper uses of the flag on apparel, but never mind that. I seem to be the last person in America to care about that sort of thing.) But the upper-right is an actual flag. And, if you skim the full-day video, you can occasionally see other flags among the crowd.
Finally, they have a video of Fox News conceding that there are flags on stage. But, again, that’s from day two. (You can tell from the chryon, “roll call vote underway.”)
ASIDE: Bonus points for Snopes taking their Fox News clip from the far-left Media Matters.
Let’s take stock: There were no flags on stage on day one, except during the opening ceremony. On the floor there were a few small flags. (If there was a big one, I haven’t seen it.) On day two the flags appeared, but still pretty subdued.
The controversy seems to have started with a story in the Daily Caller. (ASIDE: Snopes calls them a “right-wing web [site] known as purveyors of misinformation.” Nice.) They mention a few other sources, including a Facebook page, but all of those came after the Daily Caller story.
The Daily Caller story is dated the evening of day one. On day one, the story was true, except for a color guard ceremony and a smattering of flags in the audience. There’s no way you can honestly call that story anything but mostly true.
POSTSCRIPT: When you google “dnc flags”, the first hit is the Snopes page. The second is the Daily Caller story. The third is on a blog called Occupy Democrats. It says largely the same thing as the Snopes page. In fact, almost the whole post is ripped off from the Snopes page. At the end, they conclude:
Flags are so ubiquitous at the DNC that it is not possible that conservative websites made a ‘mistake.’ They created a lie using a minority of DNC images, and they deserve to be held accountable.
“Ubiquitous”? Not remotely. Yes, even on day one you could find a few flags if you looked, but as we’ve seen, they were certainly not ubiquitous.
UPDATE: Snopes is doubling down on this. They’ve posted another article attacking the Daily Caller for claiming there were no flags at the DNC. As we’ve seen, the Daily Caller was largely correct. But that doesn’t stop Snopes from writing this:
The first thing you have to wonder is, was this Daily Caller “reporter” actually “at the Democratic National Convention,” as he implied? Because his entire article was based on two Getty Image news service photographs, one of which wasn’t even taken at the Democratic National Convention. Did this “reporter” not know how to operate a camera (i.e., a cell phone) to snap a few shots of what he supposedly witnessed? Did he have a really crummy seat at the DNC that didn’t afford him a view of the proceedings (in which case he shouldn’t have been writing about the subject at all)? Or is he just incredibly inept at his job?
The tone is surprisingly strident, very unlike the Snopes of old. They also include a picture of a crying baby.
When they get down to business, they make a claim explicitly that they merely insinuated in their first article:
Of course, the Daily Callerdeceptively didn’t mention that their RNC shot captured a digital backdrop displaying images of flags, and not actual physical flags — the very same form of display used at the DNC.
This is absolutely untrue. No, the DNC did not display virtual flags on a digital backdrop. Once again, you can scan the entire first day here. They simply did not use the digital backdrop that way. To be totally clear, when introducing a new session, they did use some bunting (flag-esque imagery) on the digital backdrop, like the image below, but did not use actual flags.
After stridently attacking the Daily Caller so stridently for its poor reporting, it is ironic that Snopes did not actually go to the video themselves to check this claim.
The rest of the attack piece was similar to the original article, but they did add one element, a tweet purporting to show a flag on day one:
But, again, this is from the color guard ceremony. You can see the color guard if you zoom in (which you have to do to see the flags anyway). The “call to order” on the backdrop is also a clue.
If Snopes’s point is that the DNC had flags on their digital backdrop, they are dead wrong. You can see that by looking at the video. If Snopes’s point is that the flags at color guard ceremony are enough to refute a report of no flags, that would seem very weak for an unqualified “false” rating, but if they want to go with that, they need at least to mention the color guard. To leave it out entirely is simply dishonest.
In all, a very bad performance by Snopes. Getting the facts wrong is pretty bad, since that is Snopes’s entire trade, but it’s the overt malice with which they do so that shows clearly that Snopes has changed.
POSTSCRIPT: The second Snopes article is titled “Daily Caller Throws Another Temper Tantrum After Being Debunked by snopes.com”, but they don’t actually say anything about the supposed temper tantrum. The article is here. It sound indignant, to be sure, and rightfully so, but it’s nowhere near as strident as the article that Snopes published in response. In substance it says pretty much what I wrote above, but I had it a day earlier.
UPDATE: They’ve added this paragraph to the original story:
In fact, U.S. flags were present on the stage during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and photographs captured U.S. flags being set up prior to the start of the convention. Flags at stage left were apparently moved or removed at some point (for reasons unknown), but one or more flags were visible at stage right on Day 1:
There’s good and bad here. Good: they’ve admitted that the flags were on stage for the pledge and the national anthem (i.e., while the color guard was out). Bad: everything else. Photographs capture flags being set up prior to the start of the convention? Show us those photographs. All we see is an undated photo of a man setting up flags exactly where they were placed on day two. Flags were removed for reasons unknown? No, we know the reason: those flags were being carried by the color guard and the color guard left. One or more flags were visible at stage right? Exactly one, and only while the color guard exited to the right.
Look, none of this is hard. Just watch the video.
UPDATE: Snopes also wrote this in their second post:
The flag rumor, as is typical, went through multiple mutations as those who spread it repeatedly shifted the goalposts to try to keep up with the debunkings, moving it from “there are no flags (of any kind) at the DNC” to “there were no flags at the DNC on Day 1” to “there were no actual flags at the DNC on Day 1,” to “there were no actual flags on stage at the DNC on Day 1” to “there were no actual flags on stage at the DNC for the entirety of Day 1” — and, as is also typical, we’ve continually modified our article to keep up with the shifting rumors.
The second post, recall, was the one specifically about the Daily Caller. Did the Daily Caller change its article? I don’t think so. I didn’t keep a copy of the original, but there wasn’t much to change, it was only three sentences. (In fact, Snopes specifically insulted them for how short the report was.) No, here they switch to talking about “the flag rumor” in general. Doubtless that changed, as they tend to do, when people repeat things without reading carefully. But by including a paragraph about the rumor at large, and then going back to the Daily Caller as if nothing had happened, they give the false impression that the Daily Caller shifted its goalposts.
Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.
But so what if it’s illegal? Does that still matter any more?
Carly Fiorina likes to talk about she rose from secretary to CEO. For example:
I started as a secretary, typing and filing for a nine-person real estate firm. It’s only in this country that you can go from being a secretary to the chief executive of the largest tech company in the world, and run for president of the United States. It’s only possible here.
This is, in fact, true. She did start as a secretary. She did become a CEO. Full story here (sorry, video only).
But somehow, the Washington Post gives Fiorina “three pinnochios” for the claim. How does a completely factual statement become a big lie?
You’d have to read their article to get the full tortured reasoning. But the gist of it is that the secretary-to-CEO story is part of a “Horatio Alger-like” rags-to-riches narrative that they judge to not be a good description of her career. She left her secretary job to go back to school, earn advanced degrees, and work other jobs, before eventually returning as CEO of HP, and that — says the Washington Post fact-checker — isn’t a rags-to-riches story.
You can make that case, I suppose, but it isn’t fact-checking. The facts she stated were true and not even misleading.
The most memorable scene in The Empire Strikes Back, I’m sure everyone would agree, is when Darth Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father:
No, Luke, I am your father!
As a kid in a movie theater, seeing Empire for the first time, this blew my mind. I remember it so vividly.
Alas, that movie doesn’t exist.
What, you ask? The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t exist? What are you talking about?!
It’s true. No such movie exists with that scene.
As you can see, the line is slightly different than the one that is burned into my memory:
No. I am your father.
When I remember the line, I am off by one word. He never says “Luke”. The movie I remember doesn’t exist.
In a hyper-technical sense, what I just wrote is true. But if you were explaining the error, would you say (1) the movie doesn’t exist, or would you say (2) I made an insignificant error in remembering a key scene? Of course you would say (2). To say (1) is stupid, unhelpful, and misleading.
Unless, for some reason, I wanted to convince people that The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t exist at all. (Actually, for the Star Wars prequels, I do, but that’s another story.)
This is the bizarre place we find ourselves in the attack on Carly Fiorina, who said in the Republican debate:
Anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
First, let it be conceded that Fiorina made an insignificant error in remembering the scene. The sentence “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain” is not word-for-word, it’s a paraphrase; and the paraphrase obscures the fact that the fully formed fetus to which the interviewee referred is not the same one that appears on screen. As it turns out, the fully formed fetus on screen — its heart beating and its legs kicking — is B-roll footage, used to illustrate the interview. The whistleblower didn’t have a hidden camera to capture the scene she described.
So we don’t know what happened to the fetus on screen. Well, we do know that it was left to die, cold and alone, in a stainless steel specimen vessel. But we don’t know whether someone cut into his skull to harvest his brain.
Nevertheless, the video certainly exists. (Warning: horrifying footage.)
When discussing this, you can say (1) Fiorina’s video doesn’t exist, or you can say (2) the video is slightly different that Fiorina’s off-the-cuff description.
Why would you say (1), which is stupid, unhelpful, and misleading?
There’s only one reason. You want to insinuate that the video doesn’t exist at all (even though you know it does). You want the people who read your column to think that video appeared out of Carly Fiorina’s fevered imagination.
For their target audience at least, it seems to be working. Other leftists echoing the attacks — people who haven’t seen the videos, and therefore don’t know how narrow and hyper-technical the attacks are — misunderstand them, and thus say things that are simply false. They say that the videos are “imaginary”, which they certainly or not. Or, this outright falsehood (from Amanda Marcotte):
There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating.
(ASIDE: I’m assuming that Marcotte is a dupe here, but perhaps she is simply lying.)
So that is the plan: Announce that the video does not exist [whispering] precisely as described [/whispering]. Let everyone draw the wrong conclusion and repeat that the video doesn’t exist at all.
In support of this, they also Dowdify Fiorina’s defenders. For example, Jonah Goldberg wrote:
The exact scene, exactly as Fiorina describes it, is not on the videos. But anybody who has watched the videos would find Fiorina’s off-the-cuff account pretty accurate.
(Emphasis mine.) But when Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick quoted Goldberg, she deleted the part in bold. (ASIDE: She also added many outright falsehoods, such as describing live babies as stillborn, but that’s not my point here.)
I’ll be interested to see if the new standard for off-the-cuff descriptions is consistently adhered to. (Just kidding! We know it won’t be.) Misremember a detail from Uncle Tom’s Cabin? That means the book doesn’t exist, and no one needs to grapple with its content.
It’s just too bad about Casablanca, Dirty Harry, Silence of the Lambs, Field of Dreams, The Graduate, The Wizard of Oz, All About Eve, and Snow White and Seven Dwarves. I guess I imagined some really good movies.
Barack Obama clearly has no idea what motivates Iran’s rulers:
Chanting death to America does not create jobs.
Judging not only by this clip, but from the entire speech, it seems never to have occurred to Obama that economic prosperity might not be their aim.
This always seems to be our problem with this bunch: We assume that they think like we do. This was the central folly of the Oslo agreement. It seemed to us like a really fair and reasonable agreement. I confess that I too was taken in. But it assumed that the Palestinians wanted peace. In the years since 1993, we’ve learned that they (and all the Islamist fundamentalists) want peace only after the complete annihilation and/or subjugation of their enemies.
What was an excusable error in 1993 is sheer idiocy now.
Is anyone surprised that Hillary Clinton, despite all her claims to the contrary, still has not handed over all her work-related emails?
The Obama administration has discovered a chain of emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to turn over when she provided what she said was the full record of work-related correspondence as secretary of state, officials said Friday, adding to the growing questions related to the Democratic presidential front-runner’s unusual usage of a private email account and server while in government.
The messages were exchanged with retired Gen. David Petraeus when he headed the military’s U.S. Central Command, responsible for running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began before Clinton entered office and continued into her first days at the State Department.
Believe literally nothing this woman ever says:
Documents released by a conservative watchdog group Thursday show Hillary Clinton personally signed official forms in 2012 that allowed her top aide [Huma Abedin] to attain status as a special government employee (SGE), despite the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s denial of any involvement in the situation during a recent interview. . .
The document, obtained by Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that Clinton signed off on a title change for Abedin on March 23, 2012. . .
In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that aired Sept. 4, Clinton was asked about the propriety of Abedin collecting a salary from the State Department and Teneo, which was founded by a longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton.
“Well, you know, I was not directly involved in that,” Clinton answered.
If the idea of the federal government ranking colleges and universities made you a little queasy, you were right:
The new “College Scorecard” released by the Department of Education and the White House that ranks universities excluded several institutions widely considered among the best conservative colleges in the nation: Hillsdale and Grove City colleges.
Of course progressive politics plays a role in their rankings. Could you imagine anything else?
It seems that the Russians offered to dump Bashar Assad in 2012. The Obama administration refused the offer because they were sure the Assad would fall soon without Russian assistance.
I’ve heard people describe Donald Trump as a self-made man. He is, in fact, the opposite of a self-made man. He inherited a huge real-estate fortune. If he had sold all his real-estate holdings and invested the proceeds in an S&P 500 index fund, he would be much richer today than he is, according to the Washington Post.
All that Trump’s ballyhooed deal-making has accomplished is to lose himself $3 billion, relative to what a passive investor could have obtained. (That’s according to Forbes’s numbers. According to Trump’s own numbers, he’s only lost $2 billion.)
And in order to get himself that terrific -$3 billion return, he has had to employ strategic bankruptcies, abuse eminent domain, and exploit taxpayer funds. If business acumen is an important quality for President of the United States, Donald Trump is disqualified.
In the most recent GOP debate, Carly Fiorina had strong words for abortion-supporting Democrats in light of the Center for Medical Progress’s expose on Planned Parenthood’s horrifying practices:
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
The left went ballistic, claiming that no such video exists. Uber-feminist Amanda Marcotte, for example:
There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating. . .
Many people have [watched the videos] and continue to be pro-choice anyway—and not just because they missed the part with the legs kicking (which doesn’t exist!).
(Emphasis mine.) Clearly Amanda Marcotte is not one of those people, since the leg-kicking part does indeed exist. It is horrifying.
Glenn Kessler, who writes a fact-checking column for the Washington Post, and who usually seems to be trying to be somewhat fair, is more connected with reality, but nevertheless starts with the snark:
Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility.
What he’s getting at here is not that the video doesn’t exist (it does, of course), but he is nit-picking Fiorina’s description. The fetus pictured with legs kicking is not actually the same one from which the former procurement technician being interviewed in the video was ordered to harvest the brain. It’s an illustration using stock footage (properly noted as such on screen), which of course is standard practice for any news organization unable to obtain pictures or video of an actual event.
So yes, CMP was not able to obtain footage of the vivisection. (Or, if they did, they haven’t released it yet.), However, they did get people to admit to extracting brains from live fetuses exactly like that one.
Others have claimed that the fetus wasn’t from an abortion, that it was stillborn. This is stupid, since the fetus was moving and thus obviously not stillborn. More plausibly, they claim that the fetus might be from a miscarriage. Not so, says the organization that obtained the footage:
The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage. Mothers don’t go to abortion clinics to miscarry. Had this case been a miscarriage, the mother would have presented at a hospital and her baby would have been rushed to an Isolette for appropriate neonatal care — not abandoned to writhe and eventually expire in a cold, stainless steel specimen vessel. As regards the organizational affiliation of the abortion facility in which this termination was performed, our access agreements forbid the disclosure of any information which might tend to identify the relevant clinics or personnel with whom we work. Preserving confidentiality is vital to future clinic access. I can, however, assure you that the footage in question is not anomalous. It is representative of the frequent outcomes of many late term intact delivery terminations performed at clinics of all organizational affiliations.
In short, Planned Parenthood extracts brains from live babies, and sells them. There is a video about it. That video is very disturbing. Carly Fiorina challenges abortion-supporting Democrats to watch it. However, it does not contain video of any actual vivisection; it merely contains people talking about performing vivisections — some cheerfully, and others in horror.
Also, it’s not a “tape”. No one uses video tape any more. Gotcha, Carly!
There was a time, not that long ago, when the New York Times was a good newspaper. It’s not good any more. It’s not just the relentless bias, but how their relentless bias prevents them from employing good writing and reporting. Kevin Williamson edits an egregious example from two days ago.
Okay, first let’s be clear (again) that Obergefell is the law of the land. (Okay, literally it’s controlling Supreme Court precedent, but let’s not split hairs.) Government officials have no right to deny citizens any service (including marriage licenses) to which the law entitles them. Kim Davis, the (Democratic) clerk jailed by a (Republican) judge for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is in the wrong.
Now, let’s marvel at the astonishing hypocrisy shamelessly exhibited by our Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton:
I guess she was out of characters, and simply didn’t have room to add the important conclusion:
But just this one time only.
I mean, where could Kim Davis have possibly gotten the idea that Democratic elected officials can ignore the law?
Could it be from Democratic officials in DC and Chicago who — in a very parallel situation — refuse to issue firearms permits despite a Supreme Court decision ordering them to do so? Could it be from Democratic officials in California who violated California law to issue marriage licenses before the court cleared them to do so? Could is be from a Democratic president who decided simply to ignore immigration law, or who many times has ignored the text of his own health “reform” law, or who decided that the Constitutional requirement to obtain Senate approval for treaties is obsolete? Could it be from a Democratic administration that ignored a court injunction against its immigration policy? Could it be from a Democrat-run IRS that illegally targeted conservatives for negative treatment, and illegally shared confidential filings with progressive activists, and which destroyed the relevant records once their misconduct came to light? Could it be from a Democrat-run ATF that shipped weapons to Mexican drug cartels, and never gave a plausible explanation why? Could it be from a Democratic Secretary of State who, in violation of public records laws, maintained a private email server, and then, in violation of classified information laws, used it for classified information, and then in further violation of those laws, turned all that classified information over to a private law firm? Could it be from a Democrat-run Justice Department that filed false affidavits in order to obtain illegal wiretaps on journalists? Could it be from a Democratic president who ignored the War Powers Act and launched a war against Libya without any notice to or consultation with the Congress? Could it be from Democratic officials in Seattle who imposed punitive taxes on guns and ammunition in clear violation of state law? Could it be from a Democrat-run EPA that imposed limits on carbon dioxide that were plainly outside the parameters of the law, and justified it by making up entirely different parameters? Could it be from a Democratic mayor of Baltimore who “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that”? Could it be from a Democratic prosecutor in Austin, Texas who indicted the governor for using his constitutional veto prerogative? Could it be from Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin who raided homes with no cause other than their support for Republican candidates, and then barred them from discussing the raids, even with their own lawyers? Could it be from Democratic strategiests who urged the president to ignore the Supreme Court if they lost the King v. Burwell case? Could it be from a Democratic White House that set new records for denying Freedom of Information Act requests, and did so in violation of the law one-third of the time?
And could it be from a Democratic Party that watched all above the above happen, and never gave the slightest hint of any discomfort with any of it? From a party that scoffs at the rule of law in any circumstances where it might stand in the way of their goals?
Gee, where could Kim Davis have possibly gotten the idea that Democratic officials can get away with anything at all?
So yes, officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law. Let’s start doing that now please. Any time you’re ready would be fine.
POSTSCRIPT: This was all just off the top of my head. If I went through my notes, I could find plenty more.
UPDATE: Wow, the White House spokesman said this:
I will just say on principle that the success of the democracy depends on the rule of law, and there is no public official that is above the rule of law. Certainly not the president of the United States, but neither is the Rowan County clerk.
He really did say that. Unbelievable.
In keeping with its mission to ruin absolutely everything, the Obama administration is trying to put an end to vagrancy laws.
According to this article at the Telegraph, your favorite terrorist-supporting, woman-oppressing monopolists are screwed:
Saudi Arabia may go broke before the US oil industry buckles
It is too late for OPEC to stop the shale revolution. The cartel faces the prospect of surging US output whenever oil prices rise
I sure hope this is true. But if economic means have failed, it just means that the Saudis and their gang will redouble their efforts to stop fracking by political means. Matt Damon, call your office.
POSTSCRIPT: This chart is really interesting:
Wow, how badly is Venezuela run?
Sixteen days later, the New York Times post a major correction of its reporting on the Planned Parenthood body-parts-for-sale scandal:
An article on July 21 about a video made by abortion opponents, which they said proved that Planned Parenthood sells tissue from aborted fetuses for profit, referred incorrectly to the timing of the release of what was described as the full-length, unedited version of the video showing a Planned Parenthood employee talking about how much clinics charge for specimens. The full video was posted at the same time as the edited version. It is not the case that the full video was not released until “after Planned Parenthood complained of selective, misleading editing.”
Sixteen days seems a bit long for an error that is easily checked in under a minute, if they had ever bothered to look. One might hope that the NYT would now be more hesitant to accept Planned Parenthood’s claims as fact, but that would assume that the NYT is more interested in accurate reporting than in protecting progressive institutions.
I don’t think Planned Parenthood can be at all dissatisfied in the service the NYT did them. Their misreporting aided Planned Parenthood in their claim that there was something dishonest or misleading in the videos. Planned Parenthood could never cite anything that was actually misleading, so they relied on a vague accusation that the video was edited. (As if a nine-minute video drawn from a lengthy conversation might somehow not have been edited.) The untrue notion that the Center for Medical Progress might have been hiding the full context certainly assisted that spin.
POSTSCRIPT: This is actually the second (at least) version of the correction. The August 5 version included this gem:
While the full-length video of more than two hours took longer to download than the nearly nine-minute edited footage, the full video was in fact posted at the same time as the edited version.
162 > 9. A New York Times exclusive!
With everything going on in the Middle East right now, the Navy is pulling out of the Persian Gulf:
The U.S. Navy will not have an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf this fall for the first time in years, President Obama’s nominee to be the Navy’s top officer told Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday.
The gap in the Gulf — expected to last two months — would come at a time when the U.S. is not only launching sustained airstrikes against nearby Islamic State targets but trying to keep a check on Iranian aggression in the region.
But don’t you worry, the French are on the case:
Fox News is told that when she departs the area sometime this fall, the U.S. military may rely on a French aircraft carrier until they can deploy another carrier.
Well, France has always been a stalwart ally, particularly in the war on terror. I’m sure this will work out fine.
Despite reports to the contrary, Hillary Clinton is adamant that she never sent classified information over her illegal private server:
“I am confident I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” Clinton said. “What I think you’re seeing is a very typical kind of discussion to some extent, disagreement among various parts of the government over what should or what should not be publicly released.”
This story directly contradicts the Inspector General, who said the emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now.
But now it gets worse:
Classified emails stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server contained information from multiple intelligence agencies in addition to data connected to the 2012 Benghazi attack, a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News.
The information came from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National-Geospatial Agency, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, the source said.
It got so bad the intelligence community started cutting the State Department out of the loop:
The official responsible for overseeing the government’s security classification system, John Fitzpatrick, told McClatchy Newspapers that while reviewing four years of Clinton’s emails, intelligence agencies grew concerned that State Department officials were not guarding classified information in screening documents for public release.
The State Department actually posted one classified email in its entirety on a public website.
Fox News has the heartbreaking story of an incident in which an Albuquerque emergency dispatcher hung up on a caller when the panicked caller swore at him. The caller was trying to summon help for a 17-year-old boy who had been shot in a drive-by shooting. The victim later died.
Aside from the tragedy of the story itself, this illustrates the folly of relying of the government to protect you. (This was the fire department, not the police, but the same principle applies.) Under Supreme Court precedent, the government is under no obligation to assist you, and sometimes it simply chooses not to, either through malice or (as in this case), through callous indifference.
Fox News reports:
A reported two-month gap in emails from Hillary Clinton’s private account during 2012 coincides with a period of escalating violence in Libya and the obtaining of a special exemption by her top aide, Huma Abedin, to work for both the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
The Daily Beast reported late Tuesday that no emails between Clinton and her State Department staff for the months of May and June 2012 are among the estimated 2,000 messages that have been released from the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s account.
A State Department spokesman told The Daily Beast that only emails related to the security of U.S. diplomats in Libya or the consulate in Benghazi were turned over to the House select committee investigating the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack. If true, that means neither Clinton nor her staff communicated via e-mail during a period that saw three attacks on international outposts in Benghazi, including one on the consulate itself.
I love the journalistic “if true” here. It’s so much more even-handed than “she is obviously lying, because.” I wonder if one of the missing emails would have shed some light on how the Benghazi consulate got an exemption from the usual security requirements.
The lawyers for a class-action suit against Warner/Chappell Music claiming that the famous song “Happy Birthday” is actually in the public domain appear to have found the proverbial smoking gun. The newly discovered documents seem to show not only that the song entered the public domain no later than 1922, but also that Warner/Chappell knew it, and deliberately covered up the fact.
If Warner/Chappell really covered up the fact that the song was in the public domain, it seems to me that they committed fraud, and should be liable for damages at least to everyone who paid to license the song.
Literally nothing Hillary Clinton has said about her use of an external email account has turned out to be true: She said that she just wanted to have everything on one device. (As if you can’t have multiple email accounts on a single device, but never mind that.) False. She said the account was used for private correspondence with her husband. False. She said she turned over everything work-related. Not even close to true. She said she was never subpoenaed over it. False. Some of the emails she actually did turn over, she edited before doing so!
In the latest development, Clinton says that no classified material was ever sent using the external account. (This claim was made in the wake of the disclosure that two different Inspectors General are trying to open a criminal inquiry into her actions.) Their story was that any classified information was only classified after the fact:
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign released a statement on Twitter on Friday morning. “Any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted,” it read.
As Ed Morrissey points out, this would mean that she exercised very bad judgement — transmitting sensitive material on an unsecured system — even if technically no law had been broken.
But never mind, because this story too was a lie:
An internal government review found that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent at least four emails from her personal account containing classified information during her time heading the State Department.
In a letter to members of Congress on Thursday, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community concluded that Mrs. Clinton’s email contains material from the intelligence community that should have been considered “secret” at the time it was sent, the second-highest level of classification. A copy of the letter to Congress was provided to The Wall Street Journal by a spokeswoman for the Inspector General.
The four emails in question “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. The inspector general reviewed just a small sample totaling about 40 emails in Mrs. Clinton’s inbox—meaning that many more in the trove of more than 30,000 may contain potentially secret or top-secret information.
(Emphasis mine.) Also note the numbers. Out of 40 emails, four of them (that is, 10%) contained classified information. It’s reasonable to extrapolate that there could be thousands of such.
When a politician complains about the New York Times’s coverage, the NYT’s practice is to find some story attacking him and put it on the front page the next day. They admit this.
Obviously, though, that practice applies only to Republicans.
When Hillary Clinton complains about the New York Times’s coverage, they fix it overnight:
The Times also changed the headline of the story, from “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” to “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton’s possible role. The article’s URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.
As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.
One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.
“It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,” Schmidt said.
(Via Hot Air.)
One of the serious concerns about the Iran nuclear deal — other than the fact that now Iran will have nuclear weapons soon — is the possibility (nay, inevitability) Iran will take the money it’s getting and use it to fund terrorism. And we’re not talking chump change; it’s over a quarter of Iran’s GDP. That kind of money can murder a lot of people.
When Judy Woodruff asked John Kerry about this, he stammered a bit and then said:
They’re not allowed to do that. They’re not allowed to do that.
Kerry then went on to explain that there are already UN resolutions that prohibit Iran from funding terrorism, apparently without realizing that that admission completely vitiates his point. (Dear John Kerry: If the UN resolutions already aren’t stopping Iran, why would they stop Iran now?)
This fool is our Secretary of State. Can you imagine if he had been president?
UPDATE: National Security Adviser Susan Rice contradicts Kerry:
We should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.
So now we’re told that meaningful inspections weren’t ever on the table in the first place:
On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “under this deal, you will have anywhere, any time 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.”
Now, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This is a term that, honestly, I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table. There’s no such thing in arms control as any time, anywhere.”
Did they lie then, or are they lying today?
Five years ago, Turkish anti-Israel militants on a flotilla purporting to carry humanitarian supplies to Gaza ambushed Israeli soldiers who boarded their ship. A battle ensued in which a few of the thugs were killed, and a predictable international outrage followed.
The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court looked into it and found no grounds to bring charges. (ASIDE: Astonishingly, given its history of hostility to Israel, the UN issued a report that fully exonerated Israel.) In a sane world, the matter would be over, but we do not live in a sane world.
The ICC itself has now ordered the prosecutor to reopen the investigation, and refers to crimes having been committed. Gee, I wonder what the outcome of the case will be when the judges themselves are directing the prosecution?
Under the circumstances, there could be no real doubt about whether the proceedings will be fair, but nevertheless the order makes it even more clear. It explicitly orders the prosecutor to take public outrage (i.e., politics) into consideration in his investigation.
Fox News reports:
International negotiators have extended their deadline once again as they struggle to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
Negotiators had been running up against a Tuesday deadline, after initially extending a June 30 deadline amid lingering differences. On Tuesday morning, the State Department said the new deadline is now Friday, as talks continue.
Amazingly, they still haven’t figured out what’s going on here. They have left mere stupidity behind, and are in willful-blindness territory now.
Onion or no, this is utterly believable:
Study: U.S. Wastes 2 Million Hours Annually Figuring Out Where Tape Roll Starts
The Washington Free Beacon reports:
Officials with the Department of State threatened to call security Monday on a Washington Free Beacon reporter who was attempting to report on a briefing held by senior Obama administration figures in Vienna on the eve of an expected nuclear agreement with Iran.
Two State Department officials booted the Free Beacon from a room where Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was talking to reporters, despite the Free Beacon’s being credentialed by the Austrian government for the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks.
Western observers present in Vienna for the talks linked the State Department’s behavior to jitters over media coverage revealing a still growing list of concessions being made to Iran by the Obama administration. . .
“You have a press pass from the [European Union], not from me,” Turley said, after being informed that the Free Beacon was officially credentialed to cover the event.
Turley and her colleagues then threatened the reporter, instructing him to leave the room or be dealt with by “security.”
Taking such an extreme step to exclude a reporter from a press briefing does not indicate confidence. It also speaks poorly of the rest of the press that they accepted this.
While America focuses its attention on domestic concerns, the rest of the world keeps getting more dangerous:
U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.
That’s strange, because Syria doesn’t have any chemical weapons any more. Barack Obama told me so:
The reason we did not [take military action] was because Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.
How is there a strong possibility Assad will use chemical weapons — on a large scale, no less — when he gave them all up? It almost sounds like our president wasn’t telling the truth.
(Via Morning Jolt.)
The Supreme Court ruled against the EPA today, finding that the EPA must take cost into account when deciding whether to regulate power plants. But don’t be too excited. (Or, if you favor regulating coal-fired power plants out of existence, don’t be too disappointed.) The Court leaves up to the EPA how to account for cost, so the EPA will simply come up with an accounting scheme that will justify doing the exact same thing.
The main benefit of this is to delay the regulations, perhaps long enough to elect a new president. But I wouldn’t even count on that. Rather than restarting the process from scratch, I expect that the EPA will try to rush through a new “appropriate and necessary” finding, and then use the same regulations it already devised.
When gun control advocates, such as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), cannot make their case without lies, it gives one the strong impression that they do not have a real case at all:
Since Sandy Hook there has been a school shooting, on average, every week. How on earth can we live with ourselves if we do nothing?
One per week? We certainly haven’t seen anywhere close to that number on the news. Is it possible that so many could go unreported?
Obviously not. Nevertheless, the Washington Post Fact Checker column takes a look at the numbers. (SPOILER: They give it four pinnocchios.) The number is based on a report from a gun control organization called Everytown for Gun Safety. (ASIDE: It offends me that the gun prohibitionists are now trying to relabel gun bans as “guns safety.” Gun safety is important and we mustn’t lose the term.)
Everytown for Gun Safety claims there have been 126 school shootings since Sandy Hook, as of earlier this month. Almost none of those bear any resemblance to Sandy Hook, even including unsuccessful attempts. The Post came up with 10 such. In order to get their number an order of magnitude higher, they included suicides and gang-related violence. That’s a standard tactic for the prohibitionists to inflate their numbers, but even that didn’t get them there.
To get to 126, they also had to include virtually any discharge of a firearm on any premises connected with any kind of school. For example, they included the case in which a man accidentally shot himself while unloading his gun in the parking lot of Beaver County Community College.
(Via Hot Air.)
Our treaty with the Marshall Islands (formerly part of the US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and independent since 1986) provides that the United States takes full responsibility for their defense. In the words of the State Department:
The United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands, and the Government of the Marshall Islands is obligated to refrain from taking actions that would be incompatible with these security and defense responsibilities.
But when a Marshall Islands ship was seized by Iran, the Pentagon announced:
You thought that treaty meant something to the Obama administration? Think again.
UPDATE: David Kopel gives the Pentagon’s position more thorough consideration than it deserves, and finds it wanting.
(Via Hot Air.)
So, I saw this cross my Twitter feed:
This gives the impression that Texas is preparing to ignore the Supreme Court ruling. That would be surprising, and in fact, the actual facts are a bit different:
He said his office believed state religious freedom laws would allow clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they have sincerely held beliefs that prohibit them from doing so, and if there was someone else present – like a deputy – who would be willing to service the couple.
So, it’s not that Texas is going to deny same-sex couples a marriage license. Rather, some government agents empowered to issue licenses might decline to do so, leaving it to others to do so. Paxton went on to say that anyone who tried it should expect to get sued. (That’s for sure!)
This may or may not be legally defensible (I am not a lawyer), but I think it’s wrong. If it’s part of your job to issue marriage licenses, it’s part of your job. If government provides a service, its agents should provide that service to everyone entitled to receive it, without adding additional inconvenience for applicants you’d rather not serve. (ASIDE: This principle is routinely flouted in applications for firearms permits, and that too is an outrage.)
But let’s suppose that Texas really were going whole hog, and simply ignoring the Supreme Court ruling. That would certainly be wrong. It’s also exactly what the Democrats were talking about doing if they lost in King v. Burwell (the Obamacare subsidy case). From the pages of the New York Times:
Luckily the Constitution supplies a contingency plan, even if the administration doesn’t know it yet: If the administration loses in King, it can announce that it is complying with the Supreme Court’s judgment — but only with respect to the four plaintiffs who brought the suit.
This announcement would not defy a Supreme Court order, since the court has the formal power to order a remedy only for the four people actually before it. The administration would simply be refusing to extend the Supreme Court’s reasoning to the millions of people who, like the plaintiffs, may be eligible for tax credits but, unlike the plaintiffs, did not sue.
The whole matter became moot when they won the case, but back when they looked likely to lose, this scheme was the talk of the town. We certainly never saw anyone from the White House rule it out.
The analogous scheme regarding Obergefell would have been to issue marriage licenses to the 14 plaintiffs, but otherwise ignore it. I trust that progressives have no trouble seeing that such a response would be lawless and wrong. But that’s exactly what they wanted to do prop up Obamacare.
For some time, the ACLU has been lukewarm at best toward religious freedom, but now they have officially come out against it:
The ACLU supported the RFRA’s passage at the time because it didn’t believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people such as Iknoor Singh, whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form. For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others.
It’s useful to start by looking at what the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act actually says. The key provision says:
(a) In general
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
This means that “strict scrutiny” (the standard used for freedom of speech) applies in all religious freedom cases. This was the precedent until 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled the government could burden religious freedom pretty much as much as it wanted, provided that the law applied to everyone equally. Thus, for example, the government could ban circumcision — a key ritual for Jews for thousands of years — provided the ban applied to everyone equally. (Alas, this example is not entirely hypothetical.) The RFRA sought to restore the old standard; it passed almost unanimously and was signed by President Clinton. (The Supreme Court later narrowed it to federal cases only, which is what occasioned many states to pass their own RFRAs.)
So if you say you are against the RFRA, you need to say what you think should change. You have three possibilities: (1) the government should be able to burden religion without a compelling government interest, (2) the government should be able to burden religion more than necessary, or (3) both. So which is it, ACLU?
Okay, but what about discrimination? The ACLU opines:
In the states, legislators, governors and businesses are citing state religious freedom restoration acts to justify all manner of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, including at commercial establishments.
Okay, perhaps they have been citing it, but how many of them have been successful? I believe the answer is zero. (Indeed, hardly any have even gone to court.) The reason is that ending discrimination has been found to be a compelling government interest, and prohibiting it is arguably the least restrictive way of ensuring it doesn’t happen. (ASIDE: As a libertarian, I think that all virtually exchanges should be voluntary. But we’re talking here about what the law is.)
Is the ACLU conceding that ending discrimination is not a compelling government interest? That would be a surprise. And if not, what are they saying? They don’t say; in fact, they say nothing about the actual content of the law at all.
I think the whole discrimination thing is a smokescreen. This is what it’s all really about:
In the Hobby Lobby case last year, a Supreme Court majority blessed the use of the RFRA by businesses to deny employees insurance coverage for contraception, a benefit guaranteed by law, if those businesses object on religious grounds and there is some other means of furthering the government’s interests.
Yes, it did. The Obama administration (not the Congress, mind you, just the HHS department) sought to force Christian employers to violate their beliefs by paying for abortion drugs. This plainly violates strict scrutiny, since the government could easily arrange for employees to have such drugs without requiring the employer to pay for them — for example by the government paying for them itself.
This would be just like the government mandating that all restaurants serve bacon (yum!) — including kosher and halal restaurants.
Except that it’s not Jews or Muslims. It’s not native Americans. It’s not Sikhs. It’s Christians, and I think that’s the point.
The ACLU suddenly realized that it was against religious freedom as soon as it was used by Christians, instead of various religious minorities.
Remember the IRS scandal? It faded from the headlines, but it never ended, as the IRS never actually changed its behavior.
One of the organizations that the IRS has been discriminating against is Z Street, a pro-Israel group. Z Street sued the IRS, demanding that its tax exempt application be considered in a fair process. The IRS argued in court that Z Street had no right to a fair process.
No kidding, that’s exactly what they argued. The IRS argued that, since Z Street could appeal the rejection of its application after nine months, they had no need for legal action:
The agency argued that Z Street was seeking non-profit status, and that this could be remedied outside of court if the group waited for the government-prescribed 270-day period process where it was not subject to discriminatory delays because of its positions on Israel.and then petitioned the for an IRS ruling.
However, Z Street argued that it was not seeking non-profit status, but rather a fair application process where it was not subject to discriminatory delays because of its positions on Israel.
During the hearing, Chief Judge Merrick Garland was highly critical of the IRS’s defense.
“You don’t really mean that, right?” said Judge Garland to the IRS attorney. “Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” . . .
While the panel of judges was more subdued in the Friday ruling, it still dismissed the government’s argument against Z Street.
What possible reason is there to suppose that that isn’t exactly what the IRS thinks? We’ll have the opportunity to find out now, as Z Street finally has the right of discovery.
Dylan Byers writes:
No matter their perceived editorial biases, it would be difficult to imagine legacy news brands like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NPR or Time magazine taking sides in a political debate that they were expected to cover. The Times, Post or Journal editorial boards would surely be expected to take a stand, but not so the news divisions.
You might have thought so, but:
As a libertarian, I’ve long felt that people should be able to form whatever partnerships they want to form, without interference from the government. However, as a constitutionalist, I’ve long felt that that change should be made by the legislative process, not by judicial fiat. In any case, this outcome was so obviously going to happen, I cannot muster much satisfaction or much outrage. I pretty much priced it in long ago.
Ideally, the government should now get out of the marriage business entirely. Let any two (or more) people form whatever relationship they choose, and then let society decide which ones they wish to respect. If not all parts of society make the same decision, that’s fine.
But the progressives are clearly against that outcome. They want everyone to be coerced into respecting same-sex marriages, and indeed into participating in the ceremonies. We’ve already seen bakers threatened with ruinous fines, and we’ve even seen ministers threatened with arrest, for refusing to participate. As the Chief Justice’s dissent observed (p. 28), Obama’s Solicitor General has basically promised to try to revoke the tax exemption of churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
So if there used to be some tension between libertarianism and constitutionalism, there won’t be any going forward.
What happens next? When it comes to social issues, most American opinion always sides against the side they see as the aggressor. Much of America has already decided who they see as the aggressor, but media is key for swinging the middle. Ordinarily, they paint the conservative side as the aggressor, and the progressive side as the victim. They were able to do that for same-sex marriage (“why not let these loving couples get married?”), but it will be much harder when it comes to punishing churches.
POSTSCRIPT: For a particularly bizarre instance of coercion, consider this: A same-sex couple asked a jeweler to make their custom-made wedding rings. The jeweler, who was personally opposed to same-sex marriage, nevertheless made them the rings. The couple were happy with the outcome. However, when they subsequently discovered that the jeweler opposed same-sex marriage, they demanded a refund! The jeweler, having done exactly the work requested of him, naturally refused to refund the money, but he eventually agreed after heavy pressure on online media was brought to bear. So what exactly is a jeweler supposed to do?
I guess it’s time to abandon the old-fashioned notion that the meaning of a law has anything much to do with the words that make up the law:
You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. . . Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges.
From now on, the way our system works is: (1) Congress passes a law; it doesn’t much matter what it says because, (2) the President then does whatever he feels like to achieve what he deems to be the aims of the law.
If, to make the law work, someone who the law plainly says does not have to pay a penalty, must nevertheless be ordered to pay a penalty, he has to pay. That’s how our system works now. (Uh, I mean tax, not penalty. Sorry.)
POSTSCRIPT: Ann Althouse says that Republicans should be glad, because this is politically better for them. That’s only true if we value the GOP’s political fortunes over the rule of law.
In light of recent events, I think that it is indeed time to ban that old symbol of slavery, racism, and division. It should have no place in today’s society. So, once and for all, let’s get rid of this:
The legacy of the Democratic Party is thoroughly entwined with the Confederacy, and every bit as appalling. For decades, the Democrats were the political vehicle for the perpetuation of slavery. Slavery’s abolition only became possible when internal struggles among the Democrats allowed Abraham Lincoln (our first Republican president) to be elected. A Democratic president (James Buchanan) shipped weapons to the south in advance of the Civil War. Even once war was underway, the Democratic platform called for allowing the south to secede.
And, of course, the Democratic party continued its legacy of racism long after it failed to preserve slavery. All of the implementers and defenders of the Jim Crow south were Democrats, and of course it was a Democratic president (Woodrow Wilson) who resegregated the military and federal government.
UPDATE: Randy Barnett has more on the astonishing racism of Democratic hero Woodrow Wilson. (Although one of the pieces he quotes whitewashes Wilson’s non-racist evils. I wouldn’t say that the only US President to hold political prisoners was particularly interested in the “extension of democratic liberties.”)
Another troubling aspect of the Obama administration is its politicization of the government’s statistical agencies, which are supposed to be free of politics. In the latest instance, the FBI commissioned a bogus report on mass shootings, which it has now been forced to retract:
Last September the Obama administration produced an FBI report that said mass shooting attacks and deaths were up sharply—by an average annual rate of about 16% between 2000 and 2013. Moreover, the problem was worsening. “The findings establish an increasing frequency of incidents,” said the authors. “During the first 7 years included in the study, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually. In the last 7 years of the study, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually.” . . .
But late last week, J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale, two academics at Texas State University who co-authored the FBI report, acknowledged that “our data is imperfect.” They said that the news media “got it wrong” last year when they “mistakenly reported mass shootings were on the rise.”
Alas, but surprisingly, the retraction was issued with much, much less fanfare than the original bogus report.
It’s worth noting that criminologist John Lott debunked the study almost immediately, while the report’s authors dithered for the better part of a year before admitting he was right.
First, Obama decided to ignore the law and admit illegal immigrants by executive order. Second, when a federal judge was examining the order, the Obama administration lied to the judge:
At issue is whether the DOJ misled the judge into believing that a plank of the Obama program — giving deportation reprieves to thousands of young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — would not go forward before he made a ruling on a request to halt it. In fact, federal officials had given more than 108,000 people three-year reprieves before that date and granted them work permits under the program.
So I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised that, third, the Obama administration kept doing their thing even once the (angry) judge ordered them to stop:
The government “erroneously” doled out about 2,000 expanded immigrant work permit authorizations under President Obama’s controversial executive actions, even after a federal judge blocked the move, the Justice Department says.
“The Government sincerely regrets these circumstances and is taking immediate steps to remedy these erroneous three-year terms,” the Department of Justice wrote in a court advisory filed late Thursday in the Southern District of Texas.
The advisory comes after District Court Judge Andrew Hanen halted the implementation of the executive actions, which defer deportations for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and provide them with expanded access to work permits, until the courts could decide whether the policies are constitutional.
The Obama administration has nothing but contempt, not only for Congress, but also for the courts. That is, he has nothing but contempt for any branch of the US government other than his own. The Constitution envisions our government as a three-legged stool, but Barack Obama sees it as a pogo stick.
The NYT reports:
The United States recovered thousands of old chemical weapons in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and destroyed almost all of them in secret and via open-air detonation, according to a written summary of its activities prepared by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that monitors implementation of the global chemical weapons treaty. . .
It included a table disclosing limited details on 95 separate recoveries and destructions of chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, for a total of 4,530 munitions from May 2004 through February 2009 — a period of often intense fighting in Iraq.
The United States later recovered more Iraqi chemical weapons, pushing its tally to 4,996 by early 2011, according to redacted intelligence documents obtained by The Times via the Freedom of Information Act.
The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.
The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Most people believe that Bush was wrong (or even lied) about Iraqi WMDs. As this illustrates, he was not. Nevertheless, the Bush administration has no one to blame but themselves. They knew this stuff back when they were being accused of lying about WMDs, but they never bothered to put it out there. Now the truth is out, but no one is paying attention.
It’s very helpful for the University of California to put out a list of ideas you’re not allowed to hold. Thanks guys!
For example, one of those banned ideas is “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That, like the other 50-odd prohibited sentiments, are “microaggressions,” a new term that is taking the politically correct world by storm. It provides a invaluable tool for proclaiming any sentiment a progressive disagrees with to be racist, even though it isn’t. (If it were actually racist, you wouldn’t be bothering to call it a microaggression.)
It is a sign of the times that the University of California, having been exposed for this, doesn’t even have the decency to backpedal in shame:
The university stood by the use of the guides.
“Given the diverse backgrounds of our students, faculty and staff, UC offered these seminars to make people aware of how their words or actions may be interpreted when used in certain contexts. Deans and department heads were invited, but not required, to attend the seminars,” University of California Office of the President spokeswoman Shelly Meron told FoxNews.com.
She added that the university had not banned the words when it labeled them as examples of micro-aggressions and insisted that the university system is “committed to upholding, encouraging and preserving academic freedom and the free flow of ideas.”
Meron said that they have one more seminar scheduled that makes use of the training guides.
Terrific! We are committed to the free flow of ideas; we just want you to know that expressing certain ideas (like merit-based hiring) will brand you a racist. I’m sure that untenured faculty will take great comfort from that reassurance and will feel perfectly free to speak their minds.
Ironically, the University of California was the birthplace of the so-called “free-speech movement“, but it’s quite clear now that the movement was never about free-speech per se, but their speech. They were all for free-speech when they were in the minority, but now that they control the campus, everyone must toe the line.
POSTSCRIPT: Eugene Volokh takes a look at the University of California’s unconvincing explanation.
The UK, having largely banned guns, is shocked to learn that non-firearms can also be used to commit crimes. Hence this: “British Police Call On Nation To ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ As ‘Knife Violence’ Continues.” No word on whether the next step is sticks or chains. Rocks may take a few years.
The director of the OPM says no one is responsible for the catastrophic OPM hack:
“Fox News has learned that the number of victims of a pair of massive cyberattacks on U.S. government personnel files has soared to at least 18 million — but the head of the hacked Office of Personnel Management refuses to blame anyone in her agency.
“I don’t believe anyone is personally responsible,” OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said Tuesday. . .
Grilled on whether anyone takes responsibility, Archuleta said only the perpetrators should be blamed. . .
Only the perpetrators should be blamed; the government has no responsibility to secure its data!
One good person to blame would be whoever thought it would be a good idea to give root access to the Chinese, but Archuleta’s remarks prove that the idiocy started at the top. Take a look at the White House announcement of her appointment. It contains not one word on any actual qualification that Archuleta had for the job. Let’s go through each paragraph:
It’s clear what happened here: It’s only the Office of Personnel Management; what difference does it make who the director is? It’s the perfect place to appoint a minority with political connections.
Except that it did matter. Oops.
UPDATE: It occurs to me that the title isn’t really fair to bureaucrats. A typical bureaucrat at least has experience with bureaucracy, but there’s no evidence Archuleta even had that. A little slavish devotion to procedure might actually have helped here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Charlie Martin writes about how this kind of disaster goes about happening.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Archuleta’s complete lack of any qualifications for the job.
In a softening of longstanding policy, the Obama administration will tell families of Americans held by terror groups that they can communicate with captors and even pay ransom without fear of prosecution — part of a broad review of U.S. hostage guidelines that will be released Wednesday. . .
Two people familiar with the review said there will be no formal change to the law, which explicitly makes it a crime to provide money or other material support to terror organizations. However, the administration will make clear that the Justice Department has never prosecuted anyone for paying ransom and that that will continue to be the case.
POSTSCRIPT: And, of course, note how this was done; no change in the law, just an official announcement that the law will be ignored.
Anti-Israel agitators like to claim that they aren’t anti-Semitic: they have nothing against Jews; it’s just Israel they oppose. It’s just a coincidence that the one country they hold to a different standard than every other country in the world just happens to be the world’s only Jewish state.
That’s why incidents such as this are so instructive:
Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a City Council meeting Thursday to protest Council members’ planned trip to Israel next month.
Protesters in the balcony of the Council chamber unfurled a Palestinian flag and began yelling “Palestinian lives matter,” “Don’t support genocide,” and “Melissa, you’re a hypocrite,” a slam on Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will lead the Israel delegation.
Council members reacted furiously to the demonstration – especially because the disruption began as they were concluding a vote on a resolution commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
They disrupted a vote remembering the Holocaust. These people don’t draw any distinction between Jews and Israel. Don’t let them pretend otherwise.
(Via PJ Tatler.)
Time and time again, the Obama administration has promised that it would impose further sanctions on Iran if it violated agreements to end its nuclear weapons program. Power Line has a list of many such announcements, including this one from the president himself;
So I’ve heard arguments, well, but you know, this way we can assured and the Iranians will know that if negotiations fail even new and harsher sanctions will be put into place. Listen, I don’t think the Iranians have any doubt that Congress would be more than happy to pass more sanctions legislation. We can do that in a — in a day, on a dime.
“In a day, on a dime.” This is a clear statement.
Alas, it’s a clear statement from Barack Obama, who rarely means anything he promises. Consistently, he utters strong words that sound good to get himself past whatever controversy he faces, but those strong words are forgotten as soon as the matter fades from the front pages. No serious action is contemplated, much less undertaken.
And this is no exception. We have known for over a month that Iran is cheating on its latest agreement, more than enough time for sanctions that can be impose “in a day, on a dime.” But we have done nothing except complain in secret. In secret, so that the matter won’t hit the front pages and thereby require more strong words from Obama.
Washington has evidence that Tehran is trying to buy new equipment for a key nuclear facility. But the White House isn’t willing to say anything publicly about it.
The United States has privately accused Iran of going on an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy-water reactor that American officials have long feared could be used in the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium.
A U.S. delegation informed a U.N. Security Council panel of experts monitoring Iranian sanctions in recent months that Iranian procurement agents have been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.
The American allegations, which have never before been reported, come more than a year after the Iranian government pledged . . . to scale back Iran’s most controversial nuclear-related activities. . . They stand in stark contrast to recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has repeatedly credited Tehran with abiding by the terms of the November 2013 pact. . .
The U.S. allegations were detailed in a confidential Nov. 7 report by an eight-member panel of experts that advises a U.N. Security Council committee that oversees international compliance with U.N. sanctions on Iran. The report, which cites an unnamed state as the source of the allegation, doesn’t identify the United States by name. But diplomatic sources confirmed that the United States presented the briefing.
The allegations were formally made on November 7, so the facts have been known even longer. But the White House has hushed the whole matter up.
This all makes sense, if you remember that Barack Obama can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy.” Nothing he says on foreign policy is in earnest; whatever he says is only an effort to make the subject go away. Any action — such as following through on threats — that might make a foreign policy matter gain attention is forbidden.
Last week, the IRS admitted that it shared taxpayers’ private information with the White House. The degree to which it did so isn’t known (by us), but it was to the tune of thousands of documents, so it must have been substantial.
But, if the Obama administration has its way, we never will know, because they have reversed themselves and announced they will not comply with the very FOIA request that forced them to admit the documents exist.
In an impressive feat of chutzpah, they say that releasing the documents would be a privacy violation! They were perfectly happy to violate privacy when they shared the documents, but know that their malfeasance might become known, privacy is suddenly sacrosanct.
If they actually cared about privacy — setting aside that they wouldn’t have violated taxpayers’ privacy in the first place — they would release the documents in redacted form. This is done all the time. But the administration instead is trying to withhold them in their entirety. The only reason to do that is to hide their misdeeds.
The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”
What? Hagel wasn’t up to the job? You could knock me over with a feather!
The fact that Hagel wasn’t up to the job was obvious, and was illustrated in full glory during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed for the sole reason that he was thought to carry some political benefit: a Republican to sell Obama’s weak defense policies.
All we’re seeing here is the White House determining that he carries no political advantage commensurate with his incompetence.
UPDATE: This is really telling:
While aides described the departure as a mutual decision based on shifting priorities at the Department of Defense, there are signs that tensions between Hagel and the White House contributed to the personnel change. . . Ultimately Hagel believed the pivot to combating ISIS represented a dramatic change from the types of reforms he had hoped to accomplish during his tenure at the Pentagon, aides said.
White House and Defense officials said Hagel was tapped to spearhead efforts like combating sexual assault in the ranks and trimming the Pentagon’s budget to deal with sequestration.
Obama was okay with Hagel when Hagel’s job was to impose the president’s agenda on the military. But when the military actually had to do some national defense, Hagel had to go.
The Constitution: He shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.
Barack Obama: Screw that!
The remarkable thing about Obama’s speech is the word that it did not contain: Constitution. Also: “separation of powers.”
POSTSCRIPT: He claims that he wants Congress to pass an immigration bill, but that’s a lie. Without this action, there was a chance for a bill. A lot of Republicans favored one. But no more. There will be no immigration bill. He has poisoned that well for the foreseeable future. On purpose. Obama doesn’t want an immigration bill, he wants a fight.
The Washington Post reports:
The news was as welcome to the group of Prince George’s County pastors as a plague of locusts: Maryland’s controversial “stormwater remediation fee” applied to all property owners, including houses of worship. Depending on the acreage, churches faced a tax of hundreds, even thousands of dollars. . .
After months of negotiation with county environmental director Adam Ortiz, the pastors emerged with a rebate deal that will significantly cut the fees if churches adopt programs and equipment that will curb runoff, lessen pollution and help bolster the environment.
So far, about 30 churches have applied. Forestville [New Redeemer Baptist Church] was the first. They are planning to install rain barrels, build rain gardens, plant trees and, perhaps, replace their blacktop with permeable pavement. The government will cover most of the cost.
Fine. Sounds like a waste of money to me, but that’s Maryland.
But then there’s this:
Thomas and other pastors also have agreed to start “green” ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.
What?! This is flagrantly unconstitutional. The state cannot impose a tax on churches, and then waive the tax if the church preaches sermons to the state’s liking.
But you expect the government, particularly in Maryland, to try get to gain control over churches. Governments have always done that. (That’s how America got founded, if you recall.) But I’m disgusted with the church for agreeing to go along.
What? Obama outright lied about Obamacare? Astonishing:
At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax.
White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.
Here’s Jake Tapper explaining the controversy, with lots of clips of Obama and his people denying what they expressly intended to do:
Tapper’s video embeds a lot of good quotes, but he misses a very important one. Here’s Gruber explaining how Obama was personally involved in designing the tax on health care benefits (the so-called Cadillac tax):
He said ‘it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”
Just to be clear, people think the “Cadillac tax” is on high value health care plans. It’s not. The law is designed, deliberately, as Gruber is good enough to explain, to tax all health care benefits eventually.
Gruber says this is good economic policy. I think he’s right, for the most part. Employer-provided health care shouldn’t have a special tax status. It encourages obtaining health insurance from the employer, which insulates people from their health care costs, which results in higher costs. We should tax health care plans, in combination with a tax cut or tax credit so that it’s not a net tax hike.
That, of course, is exactly John McCain’s health care proposal from 2008. The one that was savagely demagogued by Barack Obama. Obama said he opposed taxing health care plans, and McCain was terrible for suggesting such a thing. The man is a liar.
Ars Technica reports:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a remarkable letter (PDF) this morning in which the Department of Justice admits its lawyer misled a panel of judges during oral arguments last month over the legality of National Security Letters, or NSLs.
To the surprise of some observers, during his rebuttal, Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter told the three judges that recipients of NSLs could, in fact, speak about the letters in general terms. They could discuss the fact that they had received a letter and could engage in public debate about the “quality” of the NSLs they had received, he said.
But actually, they can’t. Letter’s statements contradicted longstanding policy, and EFF apparently asked the DOJ for clarification. The result is that DOJ has sent a note to the Clerk of Court for the 9th Circuit to correct the error, clearing up “an inadvertent misstatement by government counsel during the rebuttal portion of the argument.”
That’s how NYT op-ed writer Linda Greenhouse describes the outrage of the Supreme Court granting review of a lower court ruling:
This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect. When the court agreed to hear the first case, there actually was [post-hoc rationalization omitted] . . .
Not so this time. There is simply no way to describe what the court did last Friday as a neutral act. Now that the justices have blown their own cover. . .
I’m certain that Linda Greenhouse is aware that the Supreme Court can review any lower court ruling it chooses, and indeed it is its duty to do so. This idea that the Supreme Court can only review a ruling when there exists a circuit split is not only wrong, it’s just plain strange. In many of the left’s most celebrated cases (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education or Roe v. Wade.) there was no circuit split, nor even a ruling from the appeals court.
POSTSCRIPT: The main body of the piece is a plea to Chief Justice Roberts to rule for Obamacare again, which would be pathetic if it hadn’t already worked once. Having knuckled under once already, Roberts will face no end to pressure. We’ll see if he wilts again.
POST-POSTSCRIPT: By the way, a naked power grab is one party pushing through a far-sweeping bill they haven’t even read, with no votes from the opposition party, and making full use of every one of their tainted Senate seats (Franken (MN), Begich (AK), Kirk (MA), Specter (PA)), after the voters have already repudiated the bill.
The NYT reports:
In his first year as secretary of state, Mr. Kerry joined with the Russians to push Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, persuaded the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks, and played the closing role in the interim nuclear agreement with Iran. But while the public’s attention has been on his diplomacy in the Middle East, behind the scenes at the State Department Mr. Kerry has initiated a systematic, top-down push to create an agencywide focus on global warming.
An agency-wide focus on global warming. I guess all that other stuff must be finished. Glad to hear the world’s a safe enough place now that we can waste our time on such things.
Still, based on Clinton’s and Kerry’s records at State, maybe an agency-wide focus is the best possible way to prevent agreement on global warming.
The latest incident in the Obama administration’s war on due process:
In a federal probe of Princeton University, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights faulted the Ivy League university for violating the federally recommended standard of proof for cases of rape and sexual assault.
So the Obama administration is pretty much against any kind of due process for the accused. But, incredibly, that’s not even the worst part of the story:
OCR also faulted Princeton for not finding men guilty in three cases.
Forget the procedures entirely. Princeton was supposed to find them guilty.
Remember when people suggested that having a constitutional law professor as president would mean greater respect for civil liberties?
The IRS hasn’t even tried to recover Lois Lerner’s emails from backup:
Judicial Watch announced today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted to the court that it failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials. The admission appears in an IRS legal brief opposing the Judicial Watch request that a federal court judge allow discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” IRS records relating to the targeting of conservative groups may be retrieved. The IRS is fighting Judicial Watch’s efforts to force testimony and document production about the IRS’ loss of records in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation about the IRS targeting of Tea Party and other opponents of President Obama(Judicial Watch v. IRS (No. 1:13-cv-1559)). The lawsuit is before U.S. District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan.
It’s almost like the IRS doesn’t want to find those emails.
I still believe in what I said when I was first elected six years ago last night. All the maps plastered across our TV screens today and for all the cynics who say otherwise, I continue to believe we are simply more than just a collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.
Oh, good lord. You can’t seriously be going back to that now, after everything you’ve done for the last six years.
Conor Friedersdorf, a writer for the Atlantic and formerly a ghost-writer for Andrew Sullivan, tweets:
This is staggeringly naive. First of all, it’s untrue on the face of it. The Iraq War, by the most dramatic estimates, cost $2.2 trillion over 8.5 years. That’s $258 billion per year. In 2013, the federal government spent $851 billion on Medicare and Medicaid, $808 billion on Social Security, and $373 billion on “other mandatory spending”, which is mostly entitlements. Any one of those is larger than the Iraq War. Total them together and you’re spending the entire cost of the Iraq War every single year.
There’s nothing pricier than entitlements.
Moreover, that estimate doesn’t take into account opportunity cost. What does it cost not to go to war? England and France saved some money by not going to war in 1935, and 1936, and 1938, and 1939, but it cost them dearly from 1940 to 1945.
Naturally, anti-war people — including, presumably, Mr. Friedersdorf — think that there was no opportunity cost. They believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were unnecessary and no adverse effects could possibly have resulted from not fighting them. Fine, I know that’s an article of faith among that set, but we don’t agree. And, Mr. Friedersdorf, you’re the one addressing us.
I guess the public has no right to know:
The Associated Press and other press outlets have agreed not to report on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States until a positive viral RNA test is completed.
I would be very interested to know who it was that requested they adopt this policy. Usually the press rejects such requests, such as when national security is at stake. But I guess “avoiding a panic” has is important in a way that national security just isn’t.
Glad to see Republicans winning elections all across the country. Dismayed to see Pennsylvania bucking the trend.
Fox News reports:
As early as May, the Obama administration had strong and specific information about the location of American James Foley and other hostages held in Syria, a source close to the discussions told Fox News, but the rescue mission was not approved until early July.
The gap raises new and compelling questions about whether the operation to save the American and British hostages was unnecessarily delayed for at least five weeks because the administration wanted the intelligence to develop further. . .
Other sources backed up the account provided to Fox News. The timeline seems to conflict with administration claims that the White House signed off on the operation as soon as the intelligence allowed.
Anyone can make mistakes, but these guys never own up to anything.
The Blaze reports:
A Wisconsin mailman is under investigation for dumping hundreds of letters supporting Republican candidates in the trash, according to the Wisconsin Reporter. . .
Robert Rukes, a special agent with the U.S. Postal Service inspector general’s office in Chicago, told the Wisconsin Reporter the agency’s initial findings are that the mail carrier wasn’t trying to sabotage the GOP before Tuesday’s midterm elections, he was likely just “overwhelmed.”
No, I’m sure it wasn’t partisan. Just like it wasn’t partisan when CBS aired an attack story against President Bush based on fake documents, and coordinated the story it with John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Just like it wasn’t partisan when the IRS searched for “tea party” to find non-profit organizations to harass. Just like it wasn’t partisan when voting machines turned Republican votes to Democratic votes. Just like it wasn’t partisan when Obama’s justice department dismissed voter intimidation charges against the Black Panthers, after the case was already won.
Of course it wasn’t partisan; it never is.
President Obama finally came out against stay-at-home moms:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
It’s safe to assume they will be walking this one back, but what he says off-the-cuff is a better guide to his gut than what they’ll put out today.
Old and busted: “There were no WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!” New hotness: “There were lots of WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!”
Yes, in a story so bizarre I can scarcely believe I’m seeing it, the New York Times is attacking President Bush for covering up all the chemical weapons that have been found in Iraq:
From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
“What?!” you say, “Chemical weapons were found in Iraq? So Bush is vindicated!”
Not so fast, the New York Times spin-machine is on the case. You see, the weapons they found were — the NYT insists — the wrong ones:
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
To understand what they are talking about, we need to think back to 1998. In 1998, Saddam Hussein ejected weapons inspectors from Iraq after they discovered Saddam was hiding chemical weapons from inspectors. It defies logic that Saddam would destroy his chemical arsenal after ejecting weapons inspectors, but would do so in secret so sanctions could remain in place. In 2003, it seemed certain they were still there. But we didn’t find them.
So what became of them? One theory says that most of them were shipped to Syria. This theory is supported by reports from Iraqi defectors, second-hand accounts from Russians who reportedly assisted, satellite imagery, and witnesses on the ground. But none of it is conclusive. (ASIDE: A well-cited Wired article says categorically that it didn’t happen. It’s evidence is two-fold: (a) Saddam wouldn’t have done it, and (b) if he had, there would have been satellite evidence. But (a) is pure conjecture, and there was satellite evidence.)
But even if much or most of them were shipped to Syria, it seemed unlikely that all of them could have been, particularly in light of the Duelfer report’s conclusion that if weapons were shipped to Syria, it was done unofficially. So the question remained, what became of them?
Now we know. They were still in Iraq, scattered here and there. Thousands of them.
Why are we only hearing about this now? The Bush administration decided not to talk about the weapons after the war, preferring to move forward than re-argue the past. This was a terrible decision, as it allowed the left to build up a mythology of the Iraq war unchallenged. The left, of course, didn’t want to talk about it because it contracted that very mythology it was constructing.
So why are we hearing about it now? Because — good news! — those weapons are now in the hands of ISIS. When ISIS uses them, as surely they will, the news would come out, so they want to get their story straight now.
But how do they do that? After years of “Bush lied!” how do they admit the weapons were there all along? And more importantly, how do they admit that, and yet not see Bush vindicated? Well, the New York Times rose to the challenge.
The key is to make a distinction between old weapons and new ones:
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
and, just to be totally clear:
The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.
The new story goes like this: we were told there was an active weapons program, and they never said anything about old weapons, so Bush still lied!
In fact, the new story is a lie. Bush never drew such a distinction. The New York Times offers not a single line from any speech in support of it. Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades goes through all of Bush’s most famous speeches and finds not one in which he focused on new weapons to the exclusion of old ones.
In fact, the last quote above (“did not support . . . the rationale”) doesn’t even fit into the flow of the story. It looks like it was inserted by an editor who was concerned that the story was not sufficiently clear that the “Bush lied!” narrative is still in effect. The New York Times sets the agenda for leftist spin, so it’s important to make it clear.
But the story goes further. It not only charges Bush with lying about the new weapons, it actually alleges that the government covered up the old ones. That strikes me as trying too hard. Sure, Bush — unwisely — preferred not to talk about the WMD issue after the war, but is anyone going to believe that he would actually cover the evidence that would exonerate him? That doesn’t even make sense.
Our narrative makes more sense, and also has the benefit of being true: The United States and its allies invaded Iraq to build a stable democracy in the Middle East and to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. By early 2008, both aims seemed accomplished: Iraq was stable and had soldiers guarding Al Muthanna and other sites. Then Obama abandoned Iraq and both accomplishments collapsed.
This story, published a few weeks ago, seems to have settled into obscurity for now. But when ISIS uses these weapons, as seems woefully inevitable, it will be everywhere.
It seems that the left is puzzled by the fact that, although Republicans oppose President Obama, Republicans don’t seem to want Obama murdered. They are pretty sure than Republicans’ concern about Obama’s safety must be feigned. Together with their own years of fantasies about President Bush being assassinated, it tells us a lot about how they see the world.
The good news is the Washington Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence in rape cases. The bad news is it wasn’t unanimous. Three of nine justices were willing to increase the defendant’s burden from reasonable doubt to preponderance of the evidence.
For years liberals have proclaimed that the rights of the accused are sacrosanct. Better a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man convicted. Clearly, many of them didn’t mean it.
Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don’t return to the fight — and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria.
Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.
Rest assured, only about a quarter of those released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to terrorism. Awesome.
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a [expletive],” this official said. . .
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. . .
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)
The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
Which is to say that Netanyahu is unwilling to make any more pointless concessions to an enemy who has no interest in peace. Begin had a legitimate partner (Egypt). Rabin’s Oslo accord seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned out to be a historic blunder which, by allowing the PLO to take charge of Gaza and the West Bank, incalculably harmed Israeli security. Sharon unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and southern Lebanon. The jury is still out on whether that helped or hurt. If Netanyahu had “guts”, he’d be willing to damage Israeli interests.
For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.
There’s some projection going on here. Israeli settlements have fatally undermined Kerry’s peace process (note: if it were working, it would be Obama’s) because Obama unwisely and unnecessarily decided to link negotiations to his demand for a settlement freeze.
And finally this:
This official agreed that Netanyahu is a [expletive] on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
Way to bury the lede! The Obama administration pressured Israel not to act against Iran’s nuclear program? This isn’t surprising, but I don’t think it’s been confirmed before.
And Netanyahu is a “coward” for yielding to the administration’s pressure. Let this be noted by everyone who deals with this administration: If you do what Obama demands, you will only earn his contempt.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker makes an important observation that actually casts this in an even worse light:
But consider: the “senior Obama administration official” made the comment in a conversation with a reporter, Goldberg, who was working on a story about the strained relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu governments. He must have known that the “chickenshit” characterization would be quoted, albeit anonymously. He must have wanted it to be quoted. He must have known that it would garner a great deal of attention.
Stupid [expletive] indeed.
UPDATE: David Bernstein has an insightful post on how Obama severely misjudged Israeli politics:
The Obama Administration came in to office thinking it could either force Netanyahu to make concessions, or force his government to fall. Both the Shamir and the first Netanyahu governments made concessions and ultimately got tossed out by the voters after tensions rose with the U.S., so this was not a completely unreasonable assumption. . .
The very popular (in Israel) Bill Clinton confronting an only mildly popular Netanyahu in 1998 played very differently in Israel than a very unpopular Obama confronting a popular Netanyahu over the last several years. . .
Instead, Netanyahu has managed to stay his own course, and still is in no danger of losing his parliamentary majority. Hence administration frustration and “[expletive].”
Why is Obama so unpopular in Israel? Because Israelis have paid attention to a lot of things that Americans have not. Bernstein lists lots of examples. It’s not for no reason that Israeli opinion on whether Obama is friend of Israel is within the margin of error of zero.
The IRS is stealing people’s money with no justification:
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. . .
Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up. . .
On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”
Note particularly the part I’ve emphasized. They are going to focus on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally. Meaning they haven’t been thus far.
They’ve been taking people’s money when they don’t even believe (much less have any proof) that it was acquired illegally.
These people are thieves, plain and simple.
(Via Hot Air.)
The latest Palestinian terror attack:
A three-month old girl, identified by her grandfather as Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded Wednesday evening when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital. . .
The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.
The Associated Press ran this headline:
Israeli police shoot man in East Jerusalem
POSTSCRIPT: The first paragraph makes clear that, even at the time, they had enough information to know their headline to be totally inappropriate.
Robert Kennedy Jr. says, apparently in earnest, that people who doubt global warming should be put in prison:
Somehow liberals have a reputation for supporting free speech, but I note that they only favored free speech when they were in the minority.
Let me say first that I support military action against ISIS (or ISIL or the Islamic State, if you prefer). But I think that whatever we do ought to be serious and have a good chance of success. Otherwise, it looks like the president is just pretending to action because he’s suffering in the polls.
That exactly how President Obama’s ISIS speech looks. It’s so full of idiocy and mendacity, we have to go through it line-by-line:
My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
First line, first lie. He doesn’t want to do anything of the sort; he’s being forced to do it by the weight of public opinion.
As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Oh, that again. By now, boasting about Bin Laden, Obama sounds like a middle-aged man bragging about how he scored the touchdown that won the big game in high school.
We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. . .
Actually, the situation in Yemen looks very bad. But I guess it’s true that we’ve targeted them.
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents.
ISIL’s interpretation of Islam is incorrect, according to the President of the United States. A presidential fatwa, as it were.
President Bush started this line in 2001, when he tried to assure the Muslim world that the war on terror was not a war on Muslims. That was probably the right thing to do in 2001, and it worked to some extent. But 13 years later, opinions in the Muslim world are made up, and aren’t going to be changed by a line in a speech. And anyway, this speech is directed to the domestic audience, not to the Muslim world.
For years we’ve been told that Islam is peaceful, and the Islamic doctrine of jihad — “holy war” — doesn’t refer to war at all, but to a peaceful inner struggle. Mohammed certainly did not see it that way, but since I’m personally uninterested in fidelity to Mohammed, I would love it if Muslims everywhere adopted the peaceful interpretation. But as an outsider, the peacefulness of Islam is primarily an empirical question. I think Jonah Goldberg is right that it’s time they started convincing us, rather than the other way around.
No religion condones the killing of innocents.
Yes, I had to repeat this line, because it’s so breathtakingly stupid. Let’s agree, arguendo, that this is true in regard to Islam. No religion at all condones the killing of innocents? Various cultures have been practicing human sacrifice for millenia. The Aztecs were famous for it. Parts of India still practiced suttee in the 1980s. ISIS absolutely is religious, even if their religion is not true Islam.
And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. . .
This is true in exactly the same way as it is true that the vast majority of Stalin’s victims were Russian or Ukrainian. That’s who he was able to lay his hands on.
Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. . . These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. . .
Yeah, the Kurds are great. Our airstrikes might have helped them somewhat. You know what really helps them? Letting them buy weapons! I’m glad we finally seem to be doing that. We should have done it years ago.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. . .
Fair enough, but let’s remember it wasn’t so long ago that the official Democratic position was that we should never, ever outsource our security to the locals.
In June, I deployed several hundred American servicemembers to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work –- and Iraq has formed a government –- we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.
We’ll see about that. Indeed, by ruling out the possibility of that we might go in there and crush them, we may well embolden them, making a full ground war all the more necessary. These people have never learned the virtue of being coy about how far you might go.
But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. . .
Two words here, “Kurdish” and “equipment”, are far more important than everything else in this speech. At least he mentioned them.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. . .
Years ago, this likely would have made a difference. Today, all of Assad’s enemies who were friendly to us are dead. In the unlikely event that the Syrian opposition manages to overthrow Assad, we’re just going to see a replay of the Libya debacle. (Interesting tidbit: the word “Libya” appears nowhere in this speech.)
Who’s left fighting Assad? People like this: “Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time. . .”
Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. . . And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.
I’m sure ISIS is shaking in fear of UN action.
Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.
What? Humanitarian assistance is well and good, but it won’t get those refugees back in their homes.
So this is our strategy.
Here’s the tl;dr version: (1) airstrikes, (2) ground forces who will absolutely not have a combat mission, (3) counterterrorism, (4) humanitarian aid.
And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners.
I can’t let this go. Who, exactly, is part of the “broad coalition”? Forty nations deployed troops to Iraq, and that coalition was proclaimed a sham because it didn’t include France and Germany. We don’t know who will be in this coalition, because it doesn’t exist yet. The Obama administration is working frantically to assemble it.
My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home.
Indeed he has. And Obama is unfortunate that he is a Democrat. Were he a Republican, not only would his bipartisan support evaporate at the first sign of difficulty, they would actually pretend that they never supported it in the first place.
I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL . . .
Wow. Exactly where that authority derives from is left unsaid, and for good reason. The 2001 AUMF directed at Al Qaeda doesn’t seem to apply, since ISIS did not collaborate in 9/11 and is not affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The 2002 Iraq War Resolution may provide authority. It gives the president the power to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq”, which won’t do, even if you set aside “continuing”, since ISIS is not Iraq. But it also authorizes the president to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq”. There are so many UN resolutions concerning Iraq that some of them arguably apply. Of course, this slender reed relies on ignoring the fact that the Iraq War was over. (The White House said in June that the Iraq War resolution “is no longer used for any U.S. government activities.”)
But at the time at which he said this, the White House had not yet figured out where that authority would come from. The New York Times reports “public and background briefings for reporters this week mentioned only the 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or A.U.M.F., and not the Iraq authorization, as did a statement the White House released after Mr. Obama’s speech,” but within days they were citing the Iraq War resolution as well.
Ironically, the White House called for the repeal of both resolutions just a few months ago. In May, the president announced “So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the [9/11] AUMF’s mandate.” And in July, the National Security Adviser wrote the House Speaker “we believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. . . With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities [Scofflaw: there’s that phrase again] and the Administration fully supports its repeal. Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”
Now, the president certainly has the innate Constitutional power to deal with ISIS. That power is statutorily limited by the War Powers Act, but after Obama ran his Libya campaign in flagrant violation of the War Powers Act, it has to be considered a dead letter. But it’s awfully hard for them to make that case after all the Democratic caterwauling over the unitary executive theory, and Joe Biden’s threats to impeach President Bush if he dealt with Iran without Congressional authorization.
but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger. . .
That’s a reversal of his pledge in May, “I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate [the AUMF] further.” Obviously, positions must change when situations change. But ISIS was certainly already active in May; they captured Fallujah in January. (Days before Obama derided ISIS as a “JV squad.”) The only change is public opinion forced Obama to start paying attention.
It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. . .
Yeah, we get it. We’re ruling out any possibility that we just might launch an effective campaign.
Next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. . .
This again. He always goes back there whenever he’s in trouble.
Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. . .
Thanks to fracking. And it could be even closer if Obama doesn’t succeed in forcing Canada to send their oil overseas.
It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. . .
What?! We did nothing of the sort! I wish we had.
It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again.
This is a great lawyerly statement. Yes, we helped destroy the weapons that Syria declared. Of course, the ones that Syria didn’t declare, those they still have.
And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future. . .
How exactly? I saw America stand back and watch the Arab Spring turn sour. A once-in-history opportunity, and we blew it.
When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said: “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”
Good for us. But how did those civilians get trapped on the distant mountain in the first place? We did nothing as, month after month, ISIS steadily gained territory. We did nothing as ISIS drove those civilians from their homes. We did nothing as those civilians fled to that mountain. Then, when those people faced massacre, the public finally noticed, which forced Obama to take notice. Even now, have those people been able to return home? The media has moved on, but I doubt it.
School bans Chick-fil-A, because it represents an improper political stance. And that’s at odds with “inclusivity and diversity”:
With their political stance on gay rights and because the students of Ventura High School and their parents would be at the event, I didn’t want them on campus,” [Principal] Wyatt told the newspaper. . .
“We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” Ventura Unified School District Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga said.
If they were to look those words up in a dictionary (schools still have those, right?), they’d be surprised by what they found.
On Friday, a white lady named Clara Vondrich had her iPhone stolen out of her hand in Williamsburg but was able to catch one of the thieves, a 13-year-old boy. This story . . . taught us all important lessons about what not to do when you’re able to capture your own child mugger. . .
The boy will now enter New York’s vaunted juvenile justice system, which will likely [expletive] his life even further, simply because he snatched a white lady’s iPhone in Williamsburg.
If you are nonviolently mugged by a child, continue to let him run along with his friends. The world will be a better place.
Let the criminals steal; the world will be a better place. Amazing. And bonus leftism points for irrelevantly bringing up the victim’s race four times (twice in the excerpt).
Gawker speaks for no one, of course, but it’s illustrative of the sickness of today’s left.
(Via Vox Popoli.)
The following are required reading to understand how Iraq, quiescent in 2009 (so much so that the Obama administration was actually taking credit in February 2010), got into the terrible state it’s in today:
Q. How do you rate the Obama administration’s actions in Iraq? What did they do right? What did they get wrong?
A. It’s not my job to rate the Obama administrations actions in Iraq. But I will tell you that after 2011 the administration basically ignored the country. And when officials spoke about what was happening there they were often ignorant of the reality. They did not want to see what was really happening because it conflicted with their narrative that they left Iraq in reasonably good shape. In 2012 as violence was escalating I wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising. Tony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national security guy and a top Iraq official, pushed back, even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near historic lows. That was not true. Even after Falluja fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about Maliki’s sectarian tendencies, saying they didn’t see it that way. So there was a concerted effort by the administration to not acknowledge the obvious until it became so apparent — with the fall of Mosul — that Iraq was collapsing.
(Capital letters added, and emphasis mine.) (Via Hot Air.)
If we are going to re-engage with Iraq now; well, it’s necessary. But we need to do it on the basis of reality, not Obama administration fantasy, and I have little confidence that we will.
Yes, Virginia, health care rationing does kill people:
A Herceptin-style drug that can offer some women with advanced breast cancer nearly six months of extra life has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost.
In draft guidance now open to consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) blames the manufacturers, Roche, who are asking for more than £90,000 per patient, which is far more than any comparable treatment.
In a free country, you would decide for yourself whether 6 months of life would be worth the cost. Or at least you would decide whether health insurance that covers 6 extra months of life would be worth the cost. Not in the UK. In the UK they tax away nearly half your income, promising to provide you health care, and then they don’t do it.
Sure, you can still pay for it yourself (in the UK — this is actually illegal in Canada), but they’ve already taken half your money, and you still need food, shelter, etc.
Even the New York Times is noticing that Barack Obama is out of touch with reality:
When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”
Nor does he seem likely to describe Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” with a “representative government.” And presumably he will not assert after more than a decade of conflict that “the tide of war is receding.”
As he seeks to rally Americans behind a new military campaign in the Middle East, Mr. Obama finds his own past statements coming back to haunt him. Time and again, he has expressed assessments of the world that in the harsh glare of hindsight look out of kilter with the changed reality he now confronts. . .
“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.”
Asked for comment, the White House fell back on their old, tired, “what about the WMDs?!” They’ve got nothing else.
I actually think it’s worse than Wehner suggests. I don’t think Obama’s statement reveal his deep beliefs; on the contrary, I think they confirm that he can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy” (as a prominent Democrat put it). Obama is a purely political animal; everything he says in regard to foreign policy is an effort to dispense with it, so he can return to what really drives him, which is advancing his domestic agenda.
If you had any doubt that the Justice Department’s “investigation” of the IRS scandal was being run politically, doubt no longer. The Justice Department is coordinating its actions with the Democrats:
Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Brian Fallon called the House Oversight Committee Friday evening and mistakenly spoke to Republican staff thinking he was speaking to Democrats, according to a spokesman for Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
In that call, Fallon said his agency was about to turn over some IRS documents. He stated that he was not being allowed to release the material directly to the media, but that he wanted to get it into the hands of certain reporters “before the [Republican] Majority” had the chance to share it. That’s according to a letter Issa sent yesterday to Attorney General Eric Holder. . .
As the telephone conversation continued, Issa’s staff says Fallon realized he was speaking to committee Republicans instead of Democrats and “walked back” the conversation.
This is plainly improper. Elijah Cummings (the lead IRS-defender among House Democrats) dismissed the incident, of course.
Harry Reid decides to waste the Senate’s time debating a constitutional amendment to repeal the Freedom of Speech, and somehow it’s the Republicans’ fault:
After all his complaints about Republican obstruction this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed frustration last night after Republicans helped guarantee a floor vote on a measure he supports.
The Nevada Democrat has accused Senate Republicans of chicanery for voting to advance to the Senate floor a Democratic constitutional amendment allowing Congress to regulate all campaign speech and spending.
After Monday’s bipartisan 79-18 vote, Reid vented to reporters that Republicans were trying to “stall” the Senate, indicating that he never intended for the campaign finance amendment by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to go to a real floor debate.
What an ass.
Ken White notes that Berkeley’s chancellor is giving lip service to the “free speech movement” it spawned, while simultaneously neutering it by drawing a distinction between free speech and “political advocacy”. Of course, anyone with any knowledge of the Constitution knows that political speech (“advocacy”) was the entire point of the Freedom of Speech.
As White put it:
Political advocacy is not distinct from free speech. Political advocacy is the apotheosis of free speech.
Berkeley’s chancellor is hardly alone. The very same people who used to celebrate free speech on campus hate it now. It’s not hard to see why.
The “free speech movement” arose when leftist ideology was a minority opinion. Free speech was important to leftists so they could be heard. Today, leftist ideology is a majority opinion, at least on college campuses, if not yet nationally. What use is free speech to them now? Free speech now means their opponents can be heard.
I wasn’t there at the time, but the left’s behavior today proves that (broadly speaking) they didn’t care about free speech per se, they cared about leftism.
The California State University is following Vanderbilt and Michigan, banning Christian groups from campus. As in previous cases, the pretext is that they do not admit “all comers” if they require leaders to be Christian.
Of course, all campus groups choose leaders who ascribe to the group’s beliefs. (Just try to get elected president of the College Republicans/Democrats if you’re a Democrat/Republican.) Christian groups are being penalized for being forthright about it.