Obama pins Iran hopes on hoax

September 30, 2013

Fox News reports:

President Obama could be hanging his hopes for productive nuclear negotiations with Iran on a hoax, according to one Middle East-focused think tank.

On Friday, Obama cited a “fatwa,” or religious edict, from Iran’s all-powerful Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution [because] Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” Obama told reporters.

But although talk of such a fatwa has been around for at least eight years, there’s no evidence it was ever issued, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, which flatly called the fatwa a hoax. MEMRI claims the phony fatwa is promoted by Iranian diplomats and Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan.

The supposed fatwa does not appear on a website of Khamenei’s fatwas maintained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and Khamenei didn’t mention it when asked a direct question.

Did Obama even bother to check before spouting this? (And would it be better if he did, or if he didn’t?) Too bad he’s not so feckless in his dealing with his domestic adversaries; he has identified his real enemy, and it’s not Iran.

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Obamacare exempts illegal immigrants

September 30, 2013

The most popular question on the Obamacare web page is how to receive an exemption. Right there in black and white, one way to qualify for an exemption is to be in America illegally:

Under certain circumstances, you won’t have to make the individual responsibility payment [i.e., the individual mandate’s penalty]. This is called an “exemption.”

You may qualify for an exemption if: . . .

  • You’re not lawfully present in the U.S.

Hysteria

September 28, 2013

Yet another case of hysterical anti-gun schools punishing kids for non-guns vaguely reminiscent of guns: this time a two-inch keychain shaped like a gun.

(Via Instapundit.)


I guess that’s all he’s got

September 28, 2013

When asked about the House’s continuing resolution which would repeal the highly unpopular tax on medical devices, White House spokesman Jay Carney compared the effort to birtherism.


Beyond the pale

September 27, 2013

It’s one thing for Democrats to obstruct Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) efforts to get to the bottom of the administration’s myriad scandals. It’s quite another for them to try to get him killed:

CBS News has learned that a “general threat” was made against a member of Congress who made a fact-finding trip to Libya this week. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., traveled to Tripoli as part of the Republican’s ongoing investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on Americans in Benghazi. . .

Issa planned the trip to Libya in secret, but Democrats on the Oversight Committee revealed the plans in a press release last Friday when they obtained a copy of his itinerary.

(Emphasis mine.)

The Democrats’ purported complaint was that Issa didn’t invite anyone else along with him, but that’s a complaint they easily could have made after he was safely home. I suppose their defense will be that they were too stupid to consider the security implications.

POSTSCRIPT: As to the substance of the Democrats’ complaint, it should be self-evident that a secret fact-finding trip with one Congressman is much more likely to learn something of use than a big “fact-finding” circus. (Of course, they don’t want him to learn anything.) Moreover, they would hardly have gone if they had been invited; they won’t even stay for testimony offered in Congressional chambers.

(Via the Daily Caller.)


So what, exactly, is the NYT good for?

September 25, 2013

If you want to understand the maneuvering going on in the Senate over the budget and Obamacare — that is, if you want informed reporting on breaking national newsyou won’t get it from the New York Times.

Evidently, the NYT is no longer in the business of reporting news; it is only in the business of reporting Democratic spin to the credulous. I can sort of see why liberal ideologues might want to be in that business, but why does anyone pay for it?

UPDATE: Just to be clear, this isn’t a case of the NYT distorting the facts in favor of its side; heck, most of the NYT’s readers probably want that. This is the NYT straight-up failing to deliver its promised product: Something important is going on in the Senate, and the New York Times doesn’t understand what’s going on.


Canadian censorship

September 25, 2013

The Canadian government has given itself the power to deny entrance into the country for the reason that a person might give a speech that the government doesn’t like:

“Several factors are used in determining admissibility into Canada, including: involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations, in organized crime, security, health or financial reasons,” spokeswoman Vanessa Barrasa said in an email.

But recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also allow the immigration minister to deny entry over “public policy considerations,” a standard some experts say has been ill-defined.

Under the previous rules, “it was very clear that the offence in question had to be equivalent to a criminal offence in Canada,” said Sharryn Aiken, a law professor at Queen’s University in Kingston.

“The whole problem with the public policy grounds is it vests an enormous amount of discretion in the minister to define what are these exceptional circumstances that warrant the exercise of this power,” she said.

A government backgrounder issued earlier this year said the minister could use his authority to bar anyone “who has a history of promoting violence against a particular religious group.”

The National Counsel of Canadian Muslims (that’s Canada’s CAIR) wants the government to deny Pamela Gellar a visa in order to stop her from giving a scheduled speech on the danger of militant Islam.

I guess it’s really true that free speech is an “American concept”, without value in Canada.


An open letter to everyone

September 25, 2013

Dear Everyone,

Please be aware that principal and principle are two different words:

prin·ci·pal adjective : most important, consequential, or influential

prin·ci·ple noun : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption

That is all.


Insanity

September 25, 2013

Two seventh-grade boys in Virginia have been suspended from school for a year, for playing with an airsoft gun at home, outside of school hours. It is very important that the families sue the school district — anti-gun educrats can’t be allowed to think they can get away with this crap.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: There is an important detail that was not initially reported. The kids were not just shooting targets in their own yard with the airsoft gun; they were also shooting bystanders. That obviously changes the entire matter. It’s not a harmless behavior on private property; it’s simple assault.

I suppose the case could be made that school should not have taken action because the incident didn’t involve the school, but I don’t think I agree. In any case, the kids are much better off with it with it being a school matter than a criminal justice matter, which is the other alternative.


As predicted

September 23, 2013

To the extent to which Obamacare is cutting health insurance premiums (mostly premiums are going up), it’s cutting them by cutting back providers:

Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices

WASHINGTON — Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans. . .

Some consumer advocates and health care providers are increasingly concerned. Decades of experience with Medicaid, the program for low-income people, show that having an insurance card does not guarantee access to specialists or other providers.

Indeed, studies have shown that Medicaid is so bad, patients are often better off with no insurance at all. And that’s the kind of health care that, in many states, will be offered on the Obamacare exchanges.


How Obamacare came to be

September 23, 2013

As Dan McLaughlin puts it, this is the most Obama thing ever. Barack Obama decided to support health care nationalization just so he could have something to say in a speech:

The most important red line of Barack Obama’s presidency was scrawled hastily in January 2007, a few weeks before he even announced he was running for president.

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA, when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?

Thus was born Obamacare, a check-the-box, news-cycle expedient that would ultimately define a president.

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.” . . .

He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?

(Emphasis mine.)

He didn’t develop anything in support of that pledge until months later when he was savaged in a debate with Hillary Clinton:

Even after his pledge, though, it took months for Obama to buy in. In March 2007, he found himself on the same stage with a highly confident Clinton at another health care forum, this one sponsored by the Service Employees International Union in Las Vegas.

Obama staggered through a discussion that left policy wonks convinced that he was out of his league, particularly when compared to Clinton, arguably the nation’s premier expert on health care after her unsuccessful attempt to enact reform in the 1990s.

While she dominated, he was confronted by an audience member who asked why he didn’t have a health care plan yet. He responded that his campaign was only eight weeks old and promised to come up with one soon.


MOOCs don’t work

September 20, 2013

Politico has a story on how MOOCs (massive open online courses) don’t work. This is not surprising in the least.

The idea was that you could educate massive numbers of people at minimal cost simply by putting course materials on-line. Sure, you can put the one-way material — textbooks, lectures, handouts, homework assignments — on-line for the masses, but there’s much more to education than that. Indeed, if one-way material were all that were needed for education, then textbooks (some of which are excellent) would have replaced education years ago. (This was the premise of the movie Good Will Hunting, where a janitor with a library card taught himself more than MIT taught its students.)

But a lot of learning comes from a two-way process: dialogue in class, office hours, and the grading of instructive (which is to say, not multiple-choice) homeworks and exams. None of that stuff scales to massive participants, and that’s why MOOCs generally don’t work. (And that’s before you even consider the problem of cheating, which is huge if you want to offer some kind of certification.)

Perhaps there’s a way to scale up the two-way learning process so that MOOCs can work, but if there is, no one has figured it out yet.


Benghazi update

September 20, 2013

A House hearing has exposed how shallow the State Department’s “investigation” of the Benghazi debacle truly was:

*Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handpicked the two leaders of the ARB who were given the job of investigating her department.

*Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff and senior counselor to Secretary Clinton, was intimately involved with the ARB [accountability review board] panel from the beginning. She called the leaders at Clinton’s behest to ask them to serve, she was briefed regularly on the investigation as it unfolded and she received a draft copy of the report before it was finalized. . .

*The chairman of the panel acknowledged at least one instance in which language in the report was softened after an early draft was sent to Clinton and her top aides. . .

*The ARB did not speak with nine key military officials on the ground in Libya or Germany who were deeply involved in the US response to the attacks. Among those who was never interviewed: Lt. Colonel Steven Gibson, who was on the ground in Tripoli and whom State Department official Greg Hicks has testified was on the receiving end of the “stand-down” order that Obama officials have repeatedly disclaimed. . .

*None of the interviews the ARB conducted were recorded in any fashion. . . The only record of those sessions is in notes taken by a staff member. . . (Those summaries and the notes that produced them have not been provided to Congress).

*The ARB did not investigate the Obama administration’s public response to the attack or the role that senior State Department officials played in shaping that narrative. That response included the highly misleading claim that the attacks had come as a reaction to an anti-Islam video and many other claims that were later shown to be false.

The purpose of the probe was not to investigate anything, but to protect Hillary Clinton from damage. Their choice not to investigate the stand-down order is particularly appalling.

UPDATE: The ARB never even interviewed the four employees that it decided to blame.


IRS surveilled Tea Party

September 20, 2013

A new facet of the IRS scandal comes to light:

In May, the IRS acknowledged subjecting conservative groups to intrusive scrutiny and delaying applications for far too long before approving them. Some applications are still awaiting approval after three years.

The newly revealed surveillance, however, applied to applications that had been approved, but where the IRS apparently wanted to determine whether the groups strayed too far into political activity to keep their tax-exempt status.

Mr. Werfel quibbled with calling the continued “surveillance” and said he didn’t see any evidence that groups on the list for scrutiny was improperly influenced by any IRS employees.

But he said the program was troubling enough that he shut it down two weeks ago.

This was going on two weeks ago!

(Previous post.)


Your lips are moving again

September 19, 2013

Barack Obama, yesterday:

You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.

As is nearly always the case when the Democrats claim that Republican tactics are unprecedented (such as this), not only is that claim false, but the tactic was actually pioneered by Democrats:

In 1973, when Richard Nixon was president, Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Walter Mondale (D-Minn.), sought to attach a campaign finance reform bill to the debt ceiling after the Watergate-era revelations about Nixon’s fundraising during the 1972 election. . .

Indeed, Linda K. Kowalcky and Lance T. LeLoup wrote in a comprehensive study of the politics of the debt limit, for Public Administration Review, that “during this period, the genesis of a pattern developed that would eventually become full blown in the mid-1970s and 1980s: the use of the debt ceiling vote as a vehicle for other legislative matters.”

Previously, they noted, the debt limit bill had been linked to the mechanics of debt management, but now anything was fair game. Major changes in Social Security were attached to the debt bill; another controversial amendment sought to end the bombing in Cambodia. Kowalcky and LeLoup list 25 nongermane amendments that were attached to debt-limit bills between 1978 and 1987, including allowing voluntary school prayer, banning busing to achieve integration and proposing a nuclear freeze.

In 1982, Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker unleashed a free-for-all by allowing 1,400 nongermane amendments to the debt ceiling legislation, which resulted in five weeks of raucous debate that mostly focused on limiting federal court jurisdiction over school payer and busing.

Yes, lies and hypocrisy, but there’s also Barone’s first rule: all process arguments are insincere.


Obamacare looms

September 19, 2013

Barack Obama, June 2009:

If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.

As we know well by now, that was a lie. Yesterday, Walgreens dumped 160,000 employees from its health care plan. Today, Home Depot dumped 20,000 employees from its health care plan.

Obama also promised that his plan would cut your health insurance premium by $2,500 per year. Think about that when you see your premium soar.


Phony scandal indeed

September 18, 2013

If there’s nothing to the Benghazi scandal, why is the CIA disciplining employees who won’t sign an agreement not to talk to Congress, and conducting polygraphs to make sure that no one is talking to Congress?

CIA director John Brennan denies all of it, but he’s learned from Eric Holder and James Clapper that there are no consequences for lying to Congress.


Which side is NPR on?

September 18, 2013

Brandon Darby turned in his left-wing terrorist friends who were planning to attack the 2008 Republican convention. For that, NPR calls him an “FBI rat”.

As they say, there’s no enemy to the left.

UPDATE: I got the names of the documentarian and his subject backwards. Fixed now.


Obamacare privacy

September 18, 2013

Don’t worry about the government getting possession of all your medical records; they’ll be sure to keep them secure. Oh:

Obamacare Employee Accidentally Sends Out 2,400 Social Security Numbers


World-class spin

September 18, 2013

Think Progress says that employers cutting off health care proves that Obamacare is working exactly as it’s supposed to:

Trader Joe’s Is Dropping Coverage For Some Part Time Workers — And That Means Obamacare Is Working

Awesome. I can’t decide which of these clips is a better analogy:

POSTSCRIPT: Of course, in a sense they’re right. Notwithstanding what the public was told, the purpose of Obamacare is to destroy the current system and put the government in charge of health care. When we see people moving from private coverage to the government “exchanges”, the system is indeed working as intended.


It’s getting hard to distinguish between criminals and law enforcement

September 18, 2013

The FBI admits that it distributed malware in order to break the anonymity of the Tor network. For a private citizen this would be a crime, but the government can do whatever it feels like.


On the Navy Yard shootings

September 18, 2013

So there was an awful shooting rampage Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. And, as always happens after a gun-related incident in the United States, the anti-gun crowd says we need a “national dialogue” on gun control, by which they really mean that gun-rights supporters should shut up and do what they say. But yes, let’s have a dialogue. Three main points:

First, the anti-gun movement is a bunch of liars. A number of legacy media outlets, including the New York Times and the AP, reported that the Aaron Alexis, the murderer, used an AR-15. This is false, he did not. Sure, it’s easy to report erroneous facts in a developing story (particularly when you’re not too concerned to get the story right), so it may be little harsh to call them liars on that basis.

But when you’re still getting the story wrong after the facts are known, then you’re lying. The NYT has finally corrected its story some time yesterday afternoon or evening, but does not have a correction noted. The AP still has the story wrong. The NYT is now reporting (still, at this hour) that Alexis tried to buy an AR-15 but was prohibited from buying one by state law, which is also false.

The New York Daily News made the involvement of an AR-15’s its cover story yesterday, including a photograph of an unrelated medical emergency and a stock photo of an AR-15. Not having a photograph of Alexis brandishing an AR-15 (since no such photo exists), MSNBC just mocked up a graphic, which they were using long after the facts were known.

ASIDE: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow aimed higher (perhaps we should say, leaned further forward) than a particular weapon. Mass shootings, she claimed, were on the rise. Her claim is narrowly true, based on a definition of mass shootings as one with 12 or more deaths. But the number 12 was carefully selected to exploit a statistical blip. If you choose a higher or a lower number the pattern goes away, and mass shooting are down dramatically. (And, by the way, why the focus on mass shootings rather than mass killings? Is murder only bad when it’s committed with a gun?)

But the grand prize for misinformation has to go to CNN. Unable to let go of the AR-15 meme, even when it was known that Alexis used a shotgun, CNN reported that Alexis had used an “AR-15 shotgun”. That makes about as much sense as an “iPod piano”. (But these are the same people who invented the “white hispanic” category to make George Zimmerman white.)

Second, the whole premise of the argument is stupid. Suppose he had used an AR-15; so what? The AR-15 is a good weapon. That’s why it is the most popular rifle in America today. The same features that make it attractive to law-abiding citizens can also make it attractive to criminals.

Third, and more importantly, it’s high time we stopped focusing on stopping gun control and took the rhetorical offensive. (You say you want a dialog, let’s have one!) Banning guns isn’t going keep them out of the hands of criminals, who are criminals anyway after all. If you want to stop mass shootings, we should let law-abiding citizens go armed.

Nearly all mass shootings take place in gun-free zones; there is only one exception since 1950. Research shows that active killers seek out gun-free zones. Gun-free zones kill; it’s time to get rid of them.

When the University of Texas sniper struck in 1966, it wasn’t the police who stopped him. It was ordinary armed citizens who pinned him down with rifle fire until the police (with help from other ordinary citizens) could take him down. BuzzFeed has an article about nine potential mass shootings averted by armed citizens. The sailors and Marines at the Navy Yard could have dealt with Alexis quickly, but they were disarmed.

It is absolutely astonishing that members of our armed services are kept utterly defenseless at home. In the wake of the Fort Hood terror attack, it’s not just astonishing but inexcusable. People have a right to keep guns off their private property (although it’s not as though we respect any other private property rights any more), but on public property gun-free zones should go away today. They serve no purpose but to get people killed.

POSTSCRIPT: One more thing: f*** you, Alexey Pushkov.


Putin is just trolling us now

September 13, 2013

Fresh off his triumph over Barack Obama and John Kerry heading off even a token strike against Syria, Vladimir Putin has an op-ed in the New York Times rubbing it in. (Yes, the NYT is offering itself as a soapbox for hostile dictators.)

The Washington Post has a detailed fisking, but here’s all you really need to know: He actually has the chutzpah (is there a word for chutzpah in Russian?) to say that military action without UN approval is illegitimate. This coming from the man who invaded Georgia (and still has troops occupying parts of Georgia) and who made his career waging a scorched earth campaign in Chechnya.

For good measure, here’s Vladimir Putin’s NYT op-ed from 1999 (via Business Insider), explaining why he needed to attack Chechnya. It does not mention the United Nations.


Government is just what we call the things we decide to do together

September 13, 2013

. . . like ticketing Pittsburghers for parking in their own driveways. As much as $2400. For parking in your own driveway. Tar and feathers are too good for these people.

Pittsburgh isn’t the first to try to squeeze a little extra revenue from its beleaguered residents, either; Washington, DC tried it a few years ago. DC wanted to sell parking permits for driveways, but Pittsburgh appears to be more interested in the fines, since they are keeping quiet the option to buy a permit.


Journalists get honest

September 13, 2013

Top journalists are giving up the pretense and going to work for the Obama administration:

Whether the number is 15 or 19, the fact that this many so-called journalists from outlets as influential as CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times want to work at the very same administration they are supposed to hold accountable, is not only troubling, it also explains a lot.

Why would anyone enamored enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS?

The media is left-wing and crusading enough without the potential of a cushy government job being held out as a carrot.

And don’t think the Obama administration isn’t doling out these jobs for a reason. What a wonderful message to send to the world of media: Don’t go too far, don’t burn a bridge, don’t upset us too much and there just might be a lifeline off the sinking MSM ship.

But the problem isn’t those guys; the problem is the ones who stay.

(Via Instapundit.)


The problem with showing weakness

September 13, 2013

Gosh, it’s not as though anyone could have seen this coming:

Seeming to no longer fear a U.S. attack, an emboldened Bashar Assad is adding to his list of demands in exchange for handing over Syria’s chemical weapons, fueling concerns in Washington that — with Russia’s backing — he’s succeeding in turning the tables on Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating effort in Geneva.

“They’re just kind of playing with us,” Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told Fox News on Friday.

Obama is running a clinic on how to make yourself a laughingstock on the world stage.


Criminal incompetence

September 11, 2013

Fox News reports:

Highly sensitive U.S. military equipment stored in Libya was stolen over the summer by groups likely aligned and working with terrorist organizations, State Department sources told Fox News — in raids that contributed to the decision to pull Special Forces personnel from the country.

The stolen equipment had been used by U.S. Special Forces stationed in the country. Lost in the raids in late July and early August were dozens of M4 rifles, night-vision technology and lasers used as aiming devices that are mounted on guns and can only be seen with night-vision equipment.

This happened on two separate occasions:

Located just outside of Tripoli, the camp was supposed to be secured each night by Libyan forces. But on two occasions, the camp was attacked and raided by either militia members or groups affiliated with terrorist organizations.

It’s astonishing that, after the Benghazi debacle, we would trust Libyan forces to secure anything at all. That we would continue to trust them after they were already penetrated once is inexcusable.


Smart diplomacy

September 11, 2013

After the British House of Commons refused to support President Obama’s ill-considered action in Syria, the US military is shutting out the British from US military planning.

I guess these fools really don’t understand that this sort of pettiness can have long-term geopolitical consequences. I just hope that the British government is more grown-up than we are.


What a fool

September 11, 2013

John Kerry gets tangled in his own double-speak: “To my knowledge, I have no knowledge of . . .”

They say that A people hire A people, while B people hire C people. Yeah, and C people hire John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.


Benghazi, a year later

September 11, 2013

A year after the Benghazi debacle, the Guardian looks at how the official government story is a bunch of nonsense. But, this is nothing new; on September 13, 2012, it was already clear that the official government story was a bunch of nonsense.

This, sadly, will always be the three-fold legacy of Benghazi: An awful terrorist attack. In the heart of a presidential campaign, a desperate cover-up. And shameful water-carrying by the media, without which the cover-up never could have succeeded.


So much water to carry

September 11, 2013

The “fact-checkers” at the Washington Post and PolitiFact, commenting on President Obama’s absurd denial that he ever set a “red-line” in Syria, can’t bring themselves to call a lie a lie, but can’t produce a plausible argument to call it true either, so in the end they refrain from rating the comment.

That said, the Washington Post’s article is actually pretty good at laying out the facts; it’s too bad Glenn Kessler didn’t have the guts to draw the required conclusion. PolitiFact, on the other hand, is useless as always.


The unbelievably small president

September 11, 2013

For the record, I generally tend to support military action against our enemies abroad, provided that it is feasible and serves our interests to do so. But before we can say whether the action is feasible and serves our interests, we need to know the objective. What is the objective in military action against Syria? No one seems to know!

John McCain thinks that regime change should be the objective, and actually got that objective written into the resolution that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Strangely, the Democrats didn’t seem to care much what the resolution actually said.) But seeking regime change seems foolish now, since the only rebels still in action against Assad are Islamists who are more dangerous to us than Assad. Regime change would have been a good policy a year ago, when there were still elements in the Syrian civil war who were secular and friendly to the west. But thanks to President Obama’s inaction, those people are all dead or scattered now. Regime change now would serve only to replace an enemy with a worse enemy. (We could effect regime change by occupying the country and installing a new regime ourselves, but that’s obviously not in the cards.)

In any case, regime change is categorically not the aim of the Obama administration, who are pledging to wage an “unbelievably small” campaign. Yes, John Kerry, the Secretary of State (God help us), really did say that. Or, even more bizarrely:

A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.

I won’t pretend to understand the Cheerios-with-a-fork analogy, but one thing is certain, if they had an actual objective (e.g., reverse the communist coup in Grenada, destroy Al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan, end Saddam Hussein’s regime), they would express it, and wouldn’t need to resort to this drivel.

Even a very limited objective such as “punish Bashar Assad” might serve, if the attack were to be directed at him personally, but that too is clearly not what they are planning. And, moreover, now that Assad has had weeks of advance warning, it can’t be done anyway. (As Mitch McConnell put it, you don’t send out a “save the date” card to the enemy!)

The bottom line of all of this is that we should not launch an attack against Syria, unless and until we figure out what the purpose for such an attack would be.

However, what Congress should do in regard to authorization is a different question. President Obama did not need to seek and should not have sought Congressional authorization for the kind of action he is contemplating. A limited strike is well within the powers of the commander-in-chief, even under the War Powers Act, which is a dead letter anyway.

But we are where we are. Obama did seek authorization, and Congress ought to grant it. We have only one president at a time, and we need that president’s words to have credibility abroad. We can’t do anything about the problem of President Obama damaging his own credibility with ill-considered, off-the-cuff threats, but we can make sure that he is not further undermined by his own government. (Yes, it’s true, when Democrats controlled Congress they did everything they could to undermine President Bush abroad, but the fact that Democrats did it first would make it no less irresponsible.)

This is not to say that Congress should pass a resolution in favor of an attack against Syria. As above, an attack is a terrible idea at this juncture, and Congress should not pretend otherwise. Instead, Congress should pass a resolution affirming the commander-in-chief’s constitutional authority to take necessary steps to protect US interests in regard to Syria. Basically, Congress should say, “you’re the president, do what you need to do.”

Such a resolution would maintain the president’s credibility abroad (so far as that’s possible) and also side-step the trap that Obama is trying to lay to Republicans. He knows that his policy is desperately unpopular, and he is trying to pass the buck. (Or, as NBC puts it, he is trying to “unilaterally widen the circle of responsibility.”) By affirming the president’s authority without approving of his policy, Congress passes the buck back to the president, where it belongs.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that that’s not going to happen. Feckless in all aspects of this crisis, Obama has done nothing to rally Congress to support him. The word from Capitol Hill is that he doesn’t have the votes either in the House, or even in the Democrat-controlled Senate. That, and not the ridiculous Russian peace proposal, is the reason Obama asked Congress to postpone voting on authorization.


Boom!

September 11, 2013

Voters tossed out both of the anti-gun Colorado state senators up for recall last night, including the senate president. This, despite a massive spending advantage in favor of the anti-gun/anti-recall side.

UPDATE: More:

It’s one thing for a deliberately polarizing legislator like Morse to lose a close race in a swing district. It’s quite another for Giron to lose by 12 points in a district that is 47% Democratic and 23% Republican. One reason is that in blue collar districts like Pueblo, there are plenty of Democrats who cling to their Second Amendment rights. As the Denver Post noted, 20% of the voters who signed the Giron recall petitions were Democrats.


I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you

September 11, 2013

The municipal government of Williston, North Dakota has determined that homeless people are better off sleeping on the street (in North Dakota, mind you!), than inside a church without an automatic sprinkler system.

As Democrats like to say, government is just what we call the things we choose to do together, like throwing homeless out on the streets of North Dakota.


Never forget

September 11, 2013

9/11


I never said half the things I said

September 4, 2013

Obama says never set a “red line” in regard to Syrian chemical weapons. Is he trying to look like a fool?!


A draconian 0.06% cut

September 3, 2013

Remember the sequester’s horrible budget cuts? Turns out, those draconian cuts amount to just $2 billion, out of a $3.457 trillion federal budget.


Private messages aren’t

September 3, 2013

A new study shows that several major internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are compromising the privacy of their users’ emails:

Cyber-security company High-Tech Bridge set out to test the confidentiality of 50 of the biggest internet companies by using their systems to send a unique web address in private messages. Experts at its Geneva HQ then waited to see which companies clicked on the website. During the ten-day operation, six of the 50 companies tested were found to have opened the link.

The companies’ defenses:

Facebook declined to comment on the latest research but said it had complex automated systems in place to combat phishing (internet identity fraud) and reduce malicious material. Twitter also declined to comment directly but said it used robotic systems to bar spam messages from customer accounts. A source at Google said: ‘There is nothing new here. It simply isn’t an issue.’


Agency that doesn’t understand 4th amendment doesn’t understand 1st amendment either

September 3, 2013

The NSA tried (and temporarily succeeded) in having this t-shirt banned:

nsatshirt

Not only is the design clearly protected speech under the First Amendment, the law that the NSA was trying to use doesn’t even apply.


Hysteria

September 3, 2013

This is funny:

Inspired by the “Toy Gun” buyback program recently initiated by Hayward California’s Strobridge Elementary School principal Charles Hill, Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to announce today White House backing of a new “Imaginary Gun” buyback program.

“We have been plagued by a recent rash of imaginary gun incidents in our nation’s schools,” said Biden spokesman Aldous Orwell. “Children live in terror because of rampant imagination.”

Step One of the program would entail registration of imaginary weapons in a National Imaginary Terror Weapon Information Tracking System (NITWITS). Educators will help students fill out a form from NITWITS to see if their imaginations are producing unacceptable thoughts involving a weapon of any kind. . .

Step Two will involve conditioning the “At Risk” students to “trade-in” their unacceptable actions, like pointing their fingers and saying “bang,” or pretending to hold a sword while making “schwing” or “ting! tang!” sounds, for more correct thoughts – like rejecting gender stereotypes, or performing community service activities.

Read the whole thing. What’s so brilliant about this is that it is so very nearly true. When schools are disciplining children for imaginary guns or symbolic representations of guns, it’s not about keeping children safe, it’s about thought police.