Robert Kennedy Jr.: imprison my opponents

September 23, 2014

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.

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Fisking the president

September 22, 2014

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.

We do know that the coalition won’t have Germany, and Britain (who always supported us before we discarded the special relationship) is vacillating.

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.


You keep using that word

September 17, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Gawker: the world will be a better place if you let criminals do their thing

September 15, 2014

With no apparent irony:

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.)


How we got here

September 12, 2014

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:

  1. Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq” details how the United States acquiesced to Nouri al-Maliki’s coup (supported by Iran) in 2010.
  2. Obama’s Disastrous Iraq Policy: An Autopsy” gives the sequel, how Iraq disintegrated under Maliki’s increasingly tyrannical rule, while US policy was “Let Maliki do whatever he wants so long as he keeps Iraq off the front page.”
  3. Finally, when the New York Times’s Baghdad bureau chief was asked to evaluate the Obama administration’s Iraq policy:

    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.


Rationing kills

September 11, 2014

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.


$#*! my president says

September 11, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Never forget

September 11, 2014

9/11


Funny but sad

September 10, 2014

Jim Treacher:

“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“ISIL.”
“ISIL who?”
“ISIL have no idea what to do about this $#!+.”
— @BarackObama to WH Press Corps, 9/10/14

(Via Instapundit.)


IRS bombshell

September 10, 2014

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Oh good lord

September 9, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


The “free speech movement” never was

September 8, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Religious intolerance at Cal State

September 7, 2014

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.


Venezuela circles the bowl

September 7, 2014

How badly have the Chavistas ruined Venezuela’s oil industry? Venezuela is in talks to begin importing oil.

(Via Instapundit.)


Never mind

September 6, 2014

Just a few weeks ago, President Obama was proclaiming his success in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons:

Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile. The most lethal declared chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime were destroyed by dedicated U.S. civilian and military professionals using a unique American capability aboard the M/V Cape Ray – and they did so aboard that U.S. vessel several weeks ahead of schedule.

Or not:

The United States expressed concern on Thursday that Syria’s government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the internationally led operation to purge them over the past year, and that Islamist militant extremists now ensconced in that country could possibly seize control of them.

(Via Instapundit.)


OMG

September 6, 2014

AP reports:

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status. . . The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

What we’re seeing here is confidence on the part of the IRS. They believe that they can do anything, and there will never be any consequences. Sadly, they’re probably right.

(Previous post.)


Obama missing at NATO summit

September 4, 2014

The prominent Democrat who said that President Obama can’t “even fake an interest in foreign policy” sure wasn’t joking. The NATO summit — at which western powers were supposed to reaffirm their commitment to collective security in the face of Russian agression — opened today. Obama didn’t even show up:

President Obama was nowhere to be found during the beginning of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission in Wales on Thursday. Obama was “noticeably absent” from the start of the meeting, according to a White House pool report, although U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute was in attendance.

Oh yeah, just send the ambassador. That’ll show Putin how serious you are.

If half of life is just showing up, Barack Obama isn’t even half a president.

(Via Instapundit.)


The horror of government-run medicine

September 2, 2014

The horrifying story of two parents fighting against the United Kingdom to obtain treatment for their cancer-striken child:

  1. Doctors successfully remove the boy’s tumor.
  2. To prevent cancer returning, the parents seek proton-beam treatment in place of ordinary radiation treatments.
  3. Doctors refuse.
  4. The parents suggest that they could pay for the treatment themselves.
  5. Doctors say no: you have to accept our recommendation, or else.
  6. Or else what? The doctors threaten that if the parents keep demanding treatment, they will impose a restraining order that will bar the parents from seeing their son.
  7. The parents check the child out of the hospital and leave the country.
  8. Story over? Oh no. The NHS contacts Interpol and issues an international missing person notice to find the boy.
  9. Staff at a Spanish hotel (where the parents are staying while they raise money for treatment) report them to the police.
  10. Spanish police arrest the parents, and extradite them back to the UK.
  11. After a flurry of bad press, the Prime Minister intervenes. The parents will not be prosecuted.
  12. The boy doesn’t get the treatment, but the parents aren’t barred from seeing the boy.

This is what passes for a happy ending when dealing with the NHS: Your boy doesn’t get treatment, but at least you don’t get punished for trying.

For its part, the police “make no apology” for their actions. And why would they? They’re the government.

This is why government-run health care is so much worse even than a cheap, badly-run HMO. With an HMO, you can fight for treatment. You might fail, but at least you can’t be punished for trying. With the NHS, the people who pass judgement on your care are the same ones who, if you annoy them, can take your children away.