February 9th, 2016

Fool or knave: on the interview in which Obama called ISIS the “jayvee”

[NOTE: Even though this is somewhat of an old topic, I’m taking it up because of the revival of the “Obama, fool or knave?” argument the other day.]

We all know that Obama called ISIS the “jayvee” back when it had already taken over quite a bit of territory and was slaughtering great numbers of innocent people. It was so transparent an error even back then that it’s become nearly legendary in its ignorant, arrogant, wrongheaded condescension.

The time was January, 2014. The interviewer was a friendly admirer, David Remnick of The New Yorker. The article describes Obama as doing a number of things that—had they been, for example, done by President George W. Bush—would have been spun and criticized for weeks. For example, Obama says he never watches any Sunday news shows, although on the day of the interview those shows were showing reactions to Iran’s agreement to freeze its nuclear program for six months. Instead, Obama played basketball. After that, he embarked on a three-day fundraising trip to hobnob with rich donors. The Remnick interview is a long one, and it took place on Air Force One at the outset of that trip.

When Remnick goes to the front of the plane to talk to Obama, the president is watching a football game on TV, and Remnick adds, without any emphasis:

As we talked, mainly about the Middle East, his eyes wandered to the game.

I repeat: imagine if George W. Bush has done all of this. Imagine.

The Remnick interview started with some small talk about the game, while Obama chewed some Nicorette. At this point in the article, Remnick digresses to mention the following:

When Obama leaves the White House, on January 20, 2017, he will write a memoir. “Now, that’s a slam dunk,” the former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. Andrew Wylie, a leading literary agent, said he thought that publishers would pay between seventeen and twenty million dollars for the book—the most ever for a work of nonfiction—and around twelve million for Michelle Obama’s memoirs. (The First Lady has already started work on hers.) Obama’s best friend, Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman, told me that, important as the memoir might be to Obama’s legacy and to his finances, “I don’t see him locked up in a room writing all the time. His capacity to crank stuff out is amazing. When he was writing his second book, he would say, ‘I’m gonna get up at seven and write this chapter—and at nine we’ll play golf.’ I would think no, it’s going to be a lot later, but he would knock on my door at nine and say, ‘Let’s go.’

“The most money ever for a work of nonfiction”—no wonder Obama thinks he’s the most amazing, competent, and smartest guy on the planet. And whether he writes his own books or not (and think how Marty Nesbitt’s story might reflect on that question), I have to say that the excerpts I’ve read from The Audacity of Hope certainly read as though someone (perhaps Obama himself) wrote the chapters in less than 2 hours.

Note again the emphasis on quick work and then off to play golf. And that was when Obama was a senator.

As I said, the Remnick article is long. Along the way there are a lot of the obligatory digs at Republicans and respect for Obama, but one passage that struck me as ironic (and which I doubt that subsequent events have ever caused Remnick to revisit) is this one:

Toward the end of Obama’s speech, Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate, broke in, demanding that the President use his executive powers to stop deportations.

Obama wheeled around. “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so, but we’re also a nation of laws,” he said, making his case to a wash of applause.

Later Obama is about to address another crowd, and this exchange occurs:

Obama turned to his aides and said, “How many we got out there?”

“Five hundred. Five-fifty.”

“Five-fifty?” Obama said, walking toward the wings of the stage. “What are we talking about? Politics? Can’t we talk about something else? Sports?”

Is it a joke? Hard to say; Remnick doesn’t indicate, but I’ll assume so, because Obama goes on to make an impromptu speech of some length that once again defends the rule of law and separation of powers, with passages like this:

A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, “Executive order!,” demanding that the President bypass Congress with more unilateral actions. Obama listened with odd indulgence. Finally, he said, “I’m going to actually pause on this issue, because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.’ ”

Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it! Although Obama has infuriated the right with relatively modest executive orders on gun control and some stronger ones on climate change, he has issued the fewest of any modern President, except George H. W. Bush.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no shortcut to politics, and there’s no shortcut to democracy.” The applause was hardly ecstatic. Everyone knew what he meant. The promises in the second inaugural could be a long time coming.

That’s a fascinating passage to me for two reasons. The first is that Remnick chooses to pretend (and a pretense it is) that the number of executive orders has some meaning, when of course it’s their content and seriousness that matters. The second is that Obama uses the rhetorical device of whipping the crowd up to demand he abuse his powers and then saying he can’t (at least, not yet, because we all know he later did, and I have little doubt it was already something he planned to do when the “politics” allowed it).

Remnick then goes off on a long riff in which he criticizes people who say Obama is cool and removed and then Remnick goes on to describe Obama in such a way that the reader can only conclude that he is very cool and very removed.

Later in the piece when the discussion of the situation in Syria begins, Obama sets up one of his favorite defenses, which is that any alternatives to what he did that were proposed by his critics were “magical thinking.” In other words, his way was the best possible way, even though it didn’t turn out quite as planned or desired. And then he adds this:

…[O]ur best chance of seeing a decent outcome at this point is to work [in Syria] the state actors who have invested so much in keeping Assad in power—mainly the Iranians and the Russians—as well as working with those who have been financing the opposition to make sure that they’re not creating the kind of extremist force that we saw emerge out of Afghanistan when we were financing the mujahideen.”

Well, he’s right; in Syria we didn’t create “the kind of extremist force that we saw emerge out of Afghanistan when we were financing the mujahideen.” We created one that’s far worse.

At this point in the interview, even the admiring Remnick challenges Obama with the obvious:

I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

And here it comes. You’ll notice in the following that the “jayvee” part alone is nothing compared to the profound misjudgment of the whole [emphasis mine]:

The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

You have a schism between Sunni and Shia throughout the region that is profound. Some of it is directed or abetted by states who are in contests for power there. You have failed states that are just dysfunctional, and various warlords and thugs and criminals are trying to gain leverage or a foothold so that they can control resources, populations, territory. . . . And failed states, conflict, refugees, displacement—all that stuff has an impact on our long-term security. But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center.”

Obama’s analysis of and predictions about the entire situation are about as wrong as they can be. He misreads not just the size and the strength of ISIS (which would be a bad enough error on his part) but he misreads ISIS’ intent towards the west, which is the more fatal error.

So, what did we actually know about ISIS at the time Obama made these remarks? The interview seems to have occurred in late November of 2013; here’s a paper written the September before that, and these are some excerpts of what we already knew:

…[On]ne can see a number of images from Syria circulated among pro-ISIS circles that openly affirm the goal of establishing a Caliphate, which should eventually encompass the entire world.

The paper shows an image from ISIS propaganda that shows a map of the entire world under the ISIS flag. On page 6, the article features a video it says was an official ISIS video series entitled “Those who believe, emigrate and wage jihad.” In it, the desire to take over the world is explicitly stated, and waging jihad in order to do that is that goal. This is noted to have been virtually identical with the message of al Qaeda before it.

The article differentiates between the behavior of ISIS in Syria, where it already had a great deal of power, and in Iraq, where it was still consolidating its power. In the former it was secure enough to be open about its worldwide ambitions; in the latter it was keeping them hidden and concentrating on a more local message for now.

Here’s an article written a few weeks before the Remnick interview. It makes it clear that ISIS is composed mainly of al Qaeda members and, far from being a jayvee, it has established its power in record time.

THis article written a few weeks before the interview, describes the route jihadis take to enter Syria for what they belive will be an end-of-the-world battle. One of them makes clear that:

Our fight is with the West now too, as their silence means they are complicit,” he says, listing the “international community” alongside Iran, Russia and the Assad regime as an enemy…ISIS is linked to al Qaeda; it seeks an Islamic caliphate, it blames the West for what is happening, and it is sitting on NATO’s border.

Shouldn’t have been hard to connect those dots. And it wasn’t; many, many people did. Here’s an article from October 2013, about a month before the interview:

A U.S. counterterrorism official said Syria poses a “two-pronged terrorist threat” to Western nations.

“There is continuing concern that some of the foreigners fighting in Syria with the Nusra Front and other extremist factions could leave the battlefield and mount attacks in their home countries,” the official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss security issues. “At the same time, we are watching for signs that the al Qaeda-affiliated groups present in Syria could shift some of their focus from toppling [President Bashar Assad] to launching external operations against the West.”

Significant parts of the country are controlled by jihadi groups, and the U.S. doesn’t have any strategy,” said Barak Mendelsohn, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “It’s weird to me that the U.S. went to take out the safe haven in Afghanistan, went to Iraq for the fear of a safe haven, and now you have a safe haven in Syria.”

According to some estimates, more than 1,000 opposition groups such as the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are fighting alongside — and sometimes with — Syrian rebels in a conflict in which more than 100,000 have been killed since March 2011. Groups affiliated with al Qaeda have provided the most effective fighters because of their superior organization, equipment and funding.

Mr. Rogers said more than 10,000 “committed” al Qaeda members are operating along Syria’s eastern border with Iraq — more than the number of jihadists in Iraq during the U.S.-led occupation or in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. Jihadists in Syria are “talking about conducting external operations, which is exactly what happened in Afghanistan, which led to 9/11,” Mr. Rogers said.

Oh, what’s the use? Even if Obama never read or heard a word of this, common sense should have suggested that it was the case. Since when are extremist Middle Eastern jihadi groups composed of al Qaeda members going to limit their ambitions to the locals?

By the way, this post does not answer the question of whether Obama is fool or knave, because for many years I have thought it to be a false choice in Obama’s case. He sometimes sounds like a fool (although never to his many supporters) or acts foolishly. But there is way too much pattern to his seeming foolishness, which is not the least bit random. So my verdict is: knave sometimes dressing in fool’s clothing.

46 Responses to “Fool or knave: on the interview in which Obama called ISIS the “jayvee””

  1. Sam L. Says:

    Fool Or Knave? EMBRACE the POWER of AND.

  2. K-E Says:

    Could HE be the fool and his advisors, like Valerie Jarrett, be the knave? He reads everything off a tele-prompter. Those aren’t his words. Everything is scripted. We know now that his ‘associate professor’ title was a joke back in Chicago and his co-workers thought he was a lightweight. We all suspect he got to law school not through merit but to fill some hole the school wanted to fill (I still believe he applied as a ‘foreign’ student). He did not accomplish anything on his own smarts. Therefore, fool, fool, fool.

    But he knows that he can turn to his handlers to prop him up whenever he needs them. He might have socialist ideals, but doesn’t know how to implement them. For a man who supposedly was a Constitutional scholar, he seems to understand very little of how the Constitution works.

  3. Cornhead Says:

    I don’t think the phrase “fool or knave” fully describes the depth of Obama’s mission. Treason isn’t right either. Neither is destroyer. “Knock down a peg or two” doesn’t fit. Struggling. I guess knave will do.

    Arrogant and foolish knave who is lazy and gets a pass from the cool kids. A prick.

  4. Cornhead Says:

    And the fact that Jeb doesn’t call out Obama as the knave of knaves completely disqualifies him for me.

    We need to destroy the Dems and all their policies. No compromises. Do what they do to us all the time.

  5. Ann Says:

    Has anyone in the MSM asked Hillary lately what she thinks of that jayvee comment? When she was asked at the Council of Foreign Relations a few months ago about it, her response was classic Hillary: that she didn’t “think it’s useful to go back and replow old ground.”

    Imagine a Republican president’s secretary of state getting away with that.

  6. PatD Says:

    Since the US has begun to lead from behind in the Middle-East, other powers have sought to fill the vacuum. One we haven’t heard much about is Saudi Arabia. It seems that they are putting a lot of pressure on Iran, enough perhaps, to make Obama’s deal look good. This Jerusalem Post article by an Jordanian-Palestinian politician is worth the read.

  7. OlderandWheezier Says:

    …her response was classic Hillary: that she didn’t “think it’s useful to go back and replow old ground.”

    Apparently her husband feels the same way, given his admission yesterday that sometimes he wishes he wasn’t married to her.

  8. PatD Says:

    Fool or knave? I’d go with knave, and specifically a knave in service of the Muslim brotherhood.

    Some links:

    http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/breaking-four-star-admiral-makes-huge-announcement-obama-muslim-brotherhood-video/

    http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/12/15/white-house-opens-door-to-cair-rep-ignores-muslim-reformers/

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/3/inside-the-ring-muslim-brotherhood-has-obamas-secr/?page=all

    http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/02/18/egypt-saudi-arabia-outraged-by-state-dept-reception-of-muslim-brotherhood-delegation/

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/06/gertz_expose_pentagon_docs_show_obama_supports_muslim_brotherhood.html

    http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/obama-blasts-egypt-jailing-muslim-brotherhoods-morsi

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381947/how-obama-sided-muslim-brotherhood-spencer-case

    Once you realize that Obama supports the Muslim brotherhood and its fronts, such as CAIR, his actions and strategy make sense.

  9. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    May’nt knave occasionally (or more than occasionally) be a fool? Our first Affirmative Action President is definitely a knave, but the word itself (with its whiff of antique charm) is not strong enough to carry the malicious, amoral and evil qualities of the man. And, even at his most ultra-knavish, our president has many intellectual blind spots and a dim-witted grasp of life as it really is. But, as I have said before, he has been sucking up to himself for so long that he has a pronounced intellectual curvature of the spine. He really believes his own stuff! But at the core, his instincts are the product of all the Politics of Resentment Kool-aid he has been lapping up all his life. These instincts are inherently evil and destructive to the nation.

  10. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    President Selfie has been an expert at finding the slots that make him look coolest. His special skill is that he can do this with multiple groups without putting the others off. His own comment that he is a blank screen onto which others project the image they want to see is the best description. Half-black, half-white; socialist with Wall Street cred; American and International; Ivy League and victim; Muslim and Christian; academic, jock, and street-level organiser. Now you see him, now you don’t. It is the essence of the con man, the empty suit, the narcissist who wants only his own aggrandizement.

    He likely isn’t 100% con man, 100% narcissist. Few are. He does seem to believe more in socialism, and eventually chose to identify as black rather than Indonesian. He doesn’t seem to have many friends, but I don’t doubt he genuinely loves his family and perhaps a few others. A small man, ultimately, who we made large for our own reasons.

    I am reminded suddenly of the Tragedian in CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce.

  11. CV Says:

    Regarding Obama and his so-called modest number of executive actions compared to Reagan and Bush (a leftist meme) Bookworm Room pointed out recently that Obama has also issued hundreds of presidential memoranda, which are virtually identical to executive orders but fly under the radar. When you count those, Obama is actually the king of executive orders. But typical Obama to downplay his own actions, lecture people on the rule of law, and then do the exact opposite. Classic.

    http://www.bookwormroom.com/2016/01/07/dont-believe-leftists-who-claim-obama-hasnt-governed-by-executive-fiat/

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Whatever combination of knave and fool Obama may be, it is the fools and knaves that offer their support to him that are the real threat.

    Neither knave nor fool can lead where few follow.

    In a society where governance is predicated upon “the consent of the governed”, it is inescapably critical that the majority possess a mature perspective, insist upon moral uprightness and honor intellectual humility. Whereas immaturity, moral dissolution and intellectual arrogance spell the ‘death knell’ for such a society.

  13. Eric Says:

    This is part and parcel with the necessity to set the record straight on the Iraq intervention in order to re-lay the foundation of the issue in the zeitgeist. It highlights that the Obama administration came into power with the reliance on the successful assertion of demonstrably false premises about the Iraq intervention, and its position in the War on Terror, that they then fashioned into the cornerstone of American foreign policy with the effect of cascading harms.

    In the Washington Post in September last year, Fred Hiatt described President Obama’s deceptive approach to applying weak-horse American “inaction”:

    On those rare occasions when political pressure or the horrors of Syrian suffering threatened to overwhelm any excuse for inaction, he promised action, in statements or White House leaks: training for the opposition, a safe zone on the Turkish border. Once public attention moved on, the plans were abandoned or scaled back to meaningless proportions (training 50 soldiers per year, no action on the Turkish border).

    Perversely, the worse Syria became, the more justified the president seemed for staying aloof; steps that might have helped in 2012 seemed ineffectual by 2013, and actions that could have saved lives in 2013 would not have been up to the challenge presented by 2014.

    By the same token, Iraqis don’t believe the US wants to defeat ISIS because their point of reference is the strong-horse American leader’s victory over AQI in recent memory with the COIN “Surge”.

    The “magical thinking” is that war is like sports where contests are self-contained and delineated. War and peace (post-war) are a continuum. A war is not won until the lasting peace is secured on our terms.

    Afghanistan is an example. In the 1980s, the proximate objective of defeating the Soviets was achieved, but the long-term peace was not secured.

    Not all anti-Soviet mujahedeen were Taliban. The anti-Taliban factions we allied with in 2001 to depose the Taliban regime were anti-Soviet mujahedeen, too. However, once we ended our involvement with the Afghanistan conflict upon the Soviet defeat, the Taliban’s supporters – including foreign Arab radicals such as bin Laden – continued to support their preferred faction until they took over Afghanistan against their rivals among the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in order to establish the peace on their terms.

    On its face, Obama’s “jayvee” analogy already placed ISIS firmly on the other side of the line for action. In sports, the reason for a JV team is to develop players for the varsity team. In fact, a main reason that al Qaeda became so dangerous in Afghanistan was their Taliban host (with contribution from the Saddam regime) allowed AQ to establish the organized infrastructure for “jayvee” development.

    That Obama cited a main reason why AQ became dangerous to wave away the danger of AQ-derived ISIS is incredible.

    Terrorism, like any progressive human endeavor, is iterative, which is what the JV analogy is about. JV and varsity talents, method, means, and intent are the same. The difference is just the relative degree of progression on the developmental curve. Over time, the JV purposefully becomes the varsity.

    Moreover, competition is relative.

    A “jayvee” team may be hard pressed on its own to compete against a varsity team – eg, the US military in the COIN “Surge” or perhaps the Soviets in Afghanistan – but a “jayvee” team certainly can compete effectively against other JV teams and dominate lesser competition – eg, the otherwise weakened Assad regime, other Syrian rebels, and Obama’s weak-horse neutering of American leadership.

    As a boy, I liked to play playground basketball. I often played against another boy who beat me soundly (with one memorable exception when he was hobbled by a bum ankle). I had fun, but there was no doubt who was the superior baller. He was bigger, more athletic, and more skilled than me. Guess what: he only made his school’s “jayvee” team.

    ISIS may well be (or may have been) a “jayvee” team, but that doesn’t limit the real harm that ISIS can do if their competition is relatively weaker, including against competitors – such as America – that deliberately choose to be weaker than “jayvee”.

  14. Mark Says:

    Excellent analysis of the Remnick piece and your last sentence perfectly encapsulates my view of Obama.

  15. Donkatsu Says:

    Generally overlooked in the reporting on executive orders, which are based on a specific clause in a named statute, are 0’s “executive actions.” Unlike EOs these have no specific basis in law and are administrative in nature – e.g., “let’s make sure the border patrol is not acting overly aggressively toward those poor people”, “are you sure these Tea Party morons are eligible for 501-C.3 status?” The EAs have no real legal standing and 0 gets away with this because he has a complaisant federal bureaucracy – see Lois Lerner, et al – and a lazy, cowardly oppo party.

    Even Saddam Hussein understood the distinction; when asked about the law in Iraq, he replied that “the law in Iraq is the paragraph above my signature.” We don’t even rate rule by decree, but rather rule by a wink and nod to the bureaucracy. Of these there are hundreds, vastly outnumbering the formal EOs.

  16. PatD Says:

    David Brooks doesn’t seem to agree with the fool or knave assessment.

    Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

  17. Eric Says:

    Donkatsu:
    “The EAs have no real legal standing”

    Legal and Constitutional standing are not the same thing.

  18. Eric Says:

    PatD:
    “David Brooks doesn’t seem to agree with the fool or knave assessment.”

    Yet in line with Neo’s post, Brooks also laments the rollback of the world order that relies on strong-horse American leadership. Does he not make the connection between cause and effect?

  19. parker Says:

    bho has made several sports related analogies over the years. If you have seen him shoot hoops, throw a baseball, and those weird contortions on the golf course, he comes across as not making the cut for the jayvee team. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating chaos and destruction he is a pro with an excellent coach in VJ, our 21st century Rasputin

  20. DNW Says:

    ” Geoffrey Britain Says:
    February 9th, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Whatever combination of knave and fool Obama may be, it is the fools and knaves that offer their support to him that are the real threat.

    Neither knave nor fool can lead where few follow.

    In a society where governance is predicated upon “the consent of the governed”, it is inescapably critical that the majority possess a mature perspective, insist upon moral uprightness and honor intellectual humility. Whereas immaturity, moral dissolution and intellectual arrogance spell the ‘death knell’ for such a society.”

    Was that you who was quoting from the last paragraphs of Alasdair MacIntyre’s, “After Virtue”?

    I finally bought it during the holidays. Found I had spent years, (once again as with “The Closing of the American Mind”) thinking about issues that had already been covered well and better by others decades before.

  21. DNW Says:

    parker Says:
    February 9th, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    bho has made several sports related analogies over the years. If you have seen him shoot hoops, throw a baseball, and those weird contortions on the golf course, he comes across as not making the cut for the jayvee team. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating chaos and destruction he is a pro with an excellent coach in VJ, our 21st century Rasputin”

    George Bush, post 9-11, on the mound pitching a strike before a stadium filled with onlookers and the eyes of the rest of the world on him as well.

    And Obama on his bicycle, wearing his streamlined nerd helmet.

  22. physicsguy Says:

    Most of us here have firmly come down on the side of “knave”. I knew exactly what Rubio was trying to say in the debate, and I thought it was important..he was declaring Obama to be the KNAVE. I also understand why he tried to repeat it. His mistake was not trying to say it in a different manner and more forcefully. It’s too bad Cristie used that particular moment for his attack.

  23. artfldgr Says:

    That’s ok Cruz and his friend will convert and save us

    A controversial Christian evangelical leader whose endorsement is being proudly trumpeted by Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz works energetically to convert Jews to Christianity and has predicted that there will be a new period of concentration camps for Jews before the return of Jesus. Mike Bickle is also notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah. Bickle, the founder and director of the International House of Prayer, a Kansas City-based Pentecostal Christian missions organization, runs the Israel Mandate project

  24. DaveindeSwamp Says:

    I wonder if Remnick swallows?

  25. Donkatsu Says:

    Eric,
    An EA, an executive memorandum, or a nod and a wink generally violate one or more of the equal protection clause (14th Amendment), the “Take Care” clause (Art II, Section 3), and various parts of Art I, Sections 8 and 9 (Congress). Otherwise, there would be an EO, citing legislative power.

    These elements of the Constitution all have been elucidated and implemented through legislation; hence my assessment of neither legal nor constitutional. Obviously, YMMV.

  26. artfldgr Says:

    That was to be sarcastic….
    Every communist socialist is a knave
    they all betray and game people and lie for power
    its never different…
    so all if this is moot

  27. DNW Says:

    artfldgr Says:
    February 9th, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    That’s ok Cruz and his friend will convert and save us

    A controversial Christian evangelical leader whose endorsement is being proudly trumpeted by Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz works energetically to convert Jews to Christianity and has predicted that there will be a new period of concentration camps for Jews before the return of Jesus. Mike Bickle is also notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah. Bickle, the founder and director of the International House of Prayer, a Kansas City-based Pentecostal Christian missions organization, runs the Israel Mandate project”

    Wouldn’t quotation marks, and/or some kind of acknowledgement of The Times of Israel, or Mother Jones, or wherever you got this, and of the original author, be in order?

    It doesn’t seem to me that it ought to be that troublesome.

  28. Lizzy Says:

    Oh, I am so tired of Obama — that was painful to read.

    I’ll go with lazy, narcissistic knave. He doesn’t bother doing the work, such as attending the daily national security briefings (which would have ensured him knowing ISIS was not JV) because his mind and his agenda is already set. Who cares what ISIS is up to when you have no intention of stopping them, and may even assist them from time to time?

    It’s ironic that so many of the terms the Left used to describe W fit Obama so well — in this case, “incurious” comes to mind. So much of Obama’s behavior could have been predicted based on his time as State Senator and US Senator – the inordinate number of times he voted “present” (avoiding taking action), getting his name/credit for legislation that others had authored, and then spending more time traveling (campaigning for president) than ever working as a US Senator. He’s not really the president, he just plays one on TV.

  29. Lizzy Says:

    I know it’s a throwaway, background part of Remnick’s piece, but Obama’s claim to work on his 2nd book from 7:00 – 9:00am is utter tripe. Any casual observer of Obama’s (published) daily schedule knows he typically does not start the day until ~ 10:00am (and that’s assuming he makes his first appt. of the day, the much-skipped daily security briefing). Pair that with Obama saying he spends his mornings watching ESPN —- yeah, not buying that he has a the kind of work ethic Obama’s golf pal wants us to believe.

  30. Steve57 Says:

    Howzabout he’s just an @$$hole?

  31. Steve57 Says:

    Sorry. I can’t be anymore sophisticated.

  32. Stan on the Brazos Says:

    So, our president “leads from behind”- is it not true that if you are behind you are a follower rather than a leader.

  33. Eric Says:

    Neo:
    “I’m taking it up because of the revival of the “Obama, fool or knave?” argument”

    artfldgr:
    “Every communist socialist is a knave
    they all betray and game people and lie for power
    its never different…
    so all if this is moot

    It’s not moot at all.

    You’ve pointed out the heart of the issue in Neo’s post that goes to Senator Rubio’s ‘knave’ characterization of President Obama and Obama’s strategy for working the transformation of America’s place in the world.

    Namely, the mainstream-conservative Right and GOP’s grasp of the critical Narrative contest for the zeitgeist that lays the foundation that sets the frame of the cultural/political discourse that shapes American affairs at home and abroad.

    “Even though this is somewhat of an old topic”, Neo is compelled to cite to Iraq as an active topic at the forefront of current events. Our Iraq intervention in its various forms since 1990-1991, let alone 2002-2003 or since 2011, has fundamentally defined the current epoch of American leadership of the free world – today more than ever.

    Understanding the importance of Iraq to the course of American leadership, Left activists – following the precedent of American change wrought from their successful Vietnam-War stigmatization – have updated the same strategy to stigmatize the Iraq intervention in order to lay the foundation to effect this next stage of American history.

    In other words, as you said, “its never different”.

    You’re correct that Obama’s knavery about Iraq that Neo highlights is essentially the knavery carried forward from the Left’s impactful stigmatization of the Vietnam War.

    The challenge for Rubio, Neo, the Right, and Republicans is to be better at highlighting and countering the Left’s knavery in the Narrative contest for the zeitgeist in a more effective way than Rubio’s mocked repeated generalized talking point.

    As Neo’s post highlights, presenting a substantial case to the American people about Obama’s knavery foremost relies on raising Obama’s record with Iraq in the context of American leadership of the free world.

    Building an effective Iraq-based case against Obama first requires re-litigating the decision for OIF in the political discourse to set the record straight on the grounds for the Iraq intervention.

    In other words, it’s incumbent on mainstream conservatives in general and the Republican candidates in particular to backtrack to the Megyn Kelly “knowing what we know now” hypothetical and this time, instead, explain to the American people with conviction that on the law and the facts, the President’s decision for OIF was correct.

    In the critical Narrative contest for the zeitgeist, re-laying the foundation on the Iraq intervention to re-set the frame for the cultural/political discourse would substantively position Rubio, Neo, the Right, and Republicans to highlight that President Bush and America the leader of the free world were right on Iraq, and establish the context needed to highlight and criticize Obama and the Democrats’ knavery that has resulted in so much harm.

    But, if they fail to re-relay the foundation on the Iraq intervention to re-set the frame for the cultural/political discourse, then they’re left with Rubio’s mocked repeated generalized talking point. In that condition, even Neo’s meticulous criticism in this post will fall short due to insufficient premise to activate the contextual frame that’s needed to generate a game-changing impact.

    Setting the record straight on the Iraq intervention really amounts to basic training for the Right. If mainstream conservatives can’t even muster to counter the Left’s demonstrably false narrative on OIF with an easily accessed, straightforward set of law, policy, and facts, then there is little hope they can muster to compete against the Left in the only social cultural/political game there is.

    So, all of this is not moot. It’s essential.

  34. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    David Brooks is, as clear an example of a “useful idiot” as one is likely to find. One of those “who will not see” of whom Leonardo da Vinci spoke.

    DNW @ 5:18,

    It was not I, would that I had such command.

  35. Eric Says:

    Oops. Fix: But, if they fail to re-relay re-lay the foundation on the Iraq intervention to re-set the frame for the cultural/political discourse, then they’re left with Rubio’s mocked repeated generalized talking point.

  36. Frog Says:

    Apparently there are a goodly # of people who think Barack Hussein works for Valerie Jarrett.

  37. expat Says:

    There is another aspect to the knavery. In lieu of commercials, CNN International runs regular promos of its people who describe their work in glowing terms, The Amanpour clip shows a Obama saying that after his term in office, race relations would be permanently changed for the better. He is not a one-trick pony.
    Only great self restraint has kept me from throwing something at the TV.
    Eric, I agree that the record on Iraq is important. Just think what things will be like if the Russian-favored Bulgarian commie who happens to be a friend of Chelsea’s MIL becomes the next Secretary General of the UN. We have to stand up for ourselves now.

  38. blert Says:

    Stan on the Brazos Says:
    February 9th, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    So, our president “leads from behind”- is it not true that if you are behind you are a follower rather than a leader.

    &&&&&&&

    “Leading from behind” is a GAY – – or queer expression.

    The dominant male during anal sex leads the procession from behind.

    Yes, it’s had that ‘connection’ going back forever.

    Barry is WIDELY reputed — in the gay community — as being of the ‘brotherhood.’

    Hence, this particular expression is — an in-your-face gay calling-out.

    Barry Soetoro LOVES such antics.

    ( The double entendre in the public eye — that is. )

    Like giving the public the finger — by laying it across his cheek — during a photo-op.

  39. Barry Meislin Says:

    Absolutely Knave.

    Masquerading as Absolute Genius grappling with extremely difficult circumstances, so those who don’t continue to adulate him (e.g., this astounding piece: http://tinyurl.com/j2mm2ku) will either consider him an Unfortunate Victim of Events Beyond His Control (Inc.) or merely an Absolute Fool—both of which conclusions (excuses) are precisely the illusions that he wishes to encourage in order to mask his malevolent agenda.

    And constantly blaming the opposition, while calling for “non-partisanship”.

    And constantly lying while calling for “transparency”.

    (In fact, lying is for all intents and purposes “The Obama Doctrine”; and he has successfully saturated the body politic with so many lies that all trust has broken down.)

    And tossing the “victim”—and race—card around whenever it comes in handy.

    (Which is always.)

    Yes, an Absolute Knave.

    And he’s just getting warmed up….. He’ll be hitting his stride in the months to come.

    So watch your back and be prepared….

    File under: Pray for America (and for the world, if you have anything left over).

  40. carl in atlanta Says:

    How about just good ol’ fashioned evil ?

  41. Will Says:

    Knave, of course. That’s too mild a term for what’s being done, though. I think it will be years before a true accounting of the damage that’s being inflicted is tallied. If ever. I still fantasize that there is an Ellsburg, a Snowden, for us out there somewhere, someone who has been waiting, watching.

  42. Harold Says:

    It is delusional for conservatives to think that our enemies don’t really believe in what they are willing to die for. This applies domestically and internationally.

    Obama and the Democrat party have been fighting for a century to implement socialist/marxism in America. With the election of Obama they have come very far.

    Everything Obama does is deliberate, carefully thought through to advance the marxist agenda.

    To right the ship of state will require a long time. It is doubtful that the public will vote for Republicans/conservatives often enough to get this done.

    But as Churchill said, never give up.

  43. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    DNW Says: shouldnt be much trouble

    except that i was pasting from my old phone, and couldnt get back to the page and past and all that.

    my apologies…
    dont worry, i never get it right…

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/cruz-touts-endorsement-from-evangelist-who-said-god-sent-hitler/

  44. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    So, all of this is not moot. It’s essential.

    its moot because there is nothing to do about it…
    you cant stop (communist) feminism
    you cant get back control of schools and that nationalization
    you cant even reverse the health care eugenics stuff

    we are missing about 70 million people who were exterminated by pre birth methods

    in less than 4 years they gonna vote away everything from the hated white males who are a minority while the new majority minorities will do what? be reasoned with?
    [edited for length by n-n]

  45. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    ‘White guilt’ video shown to high school students irks community…

    http://www.nbc12.com/story/31172753/controversial-film-shown-at-glen-allen-hs-slammed-as-white-guilt-video

  46. ArtfldgrsGhost Says:

    Millennials have a higher opinion of socialism than of capitalism

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/02/05/millennials-have-a-higher-opinion-of-socialism-than-of-capitalism/

    In my column today, I mentioned that one reason millennials prefer Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton is that they’re not just willing to look past Sanders’s socialism — they actually like his socialism. It’s a feature, not a bug.

    Here are some of the data I was referring to.

    In a recent YouGov survey, respondents were asked whether they had a “favorable or unfavorable opinion” of socialism and of capitalism. Below are the results of their answers, broken down by various demographic groups.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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