March 28th, 2015

Hillary must have figured…

…it worked so well for Lois Lerner, it will work for me.

And perhaps it will. Seems to me, though that it’s a potential felony:

While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.

Clinton was under a subpoena order from the panel for all documents related to the 2012 attacks on the American compound there. But David Kendall, an attorney for Clinton, said the 900 pages of emails previously provided to the panel cover its request.

Does the accused get to decide what is evidence and what is not, and can he/she destroy what hasn’t been turned over? Sounds a bit—let’s just say, irregular—to me.

As for getting hold of the server:

In a letter provided to the committee, Kendall said Clinton would not be turning over the server to a third-party for review and that the emails no longer exist on the private server located in her New York home.

“There is no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server that hosted the hdr22@clintonemail.com account,” Kendall wrote. “To avoid prolonging a discussion that would be academic, I have confirmed with the secretary’s IT support that no emails…..for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 reside on the server or on any back-up systems associated with the server.”

So of course, we need to take their word for it that there’s no possible way to recover them, and so there’s nothing there to see, move along. The funny thing (and I don’t mean “funny ha-ha”) is that most of the liberals/left will probably support this idea.

Take a look, for example, at the comments to the HuffPo article on the subject. Variations on the theme that I noted on a very quick perusal of the ones towards the top of the list: mockery of the GOP for caring, mockery of Trey Gowdy as a liar, saying Rice and Powell did it, too (used only a private server, and destroyed all emails after a subpoena??), saying the GOP is afraid of Hillary because she’ll win in 2016, and that they’re being especially hard on her because she’s a woman.

I think the saddest and most telling exchange is when one more reasonable commenter tentatively writes, “I agree Benghazi is a sham. But it’s hard to ignore the questions around this, if what he [Gowdy] says is even true.”

The response from the next commenter is, “it is NOT hard to ignore! You simply, well, ignore it.”

O’Brien explained how to do it to Winston Smith. It’s wasn’t easy at first, but Winston learned; he learned.

March 28th, 2015

About that Saudi Arabian operation in Yemen

Obama read about it in the newspapers, same as you and me.

The Saudis are not stupid, and they know better than to trust him.

March 27th, 2015

Spambot of the day

Nothing is a bit more frustrating than interrupting foreplay all night. to walk along the room to dig out your toy coming from a secret hidden spot.

Thanks for sharing.

March 27th, 2015

European hawks

Well, not really hawks. But this is interesting, and I hope true:

In the Iran negotiations, however, it is France, implicitly supported by the UK and Germany, that is taking a tougher stance, advocating a longer timeline for the proposed agreement as well as stricter terms, while the Obama administration appears willing to settle for more generous terms in order to close the deal before the clock runs out. Suddenly it is the US that is from Venus and the Europeans are from Mars, to use the imagery of earlier debates…

First: Geography is a non-negotiable difference between Washington and the Western European capitals. Iranian nuclear capability combined with its growing ballistic missile arsenal is a threat more immediate to Europe than to the US…

Second: The pending deal with Iran, which ultimately will pave the way to an Iranian nuclear capacity, contributes to the on-going erosion of the non-proliferation agenda. This process has to be viewed in the context of the fate of Ukraine…

Third: At stake is not only a strategic competition between nation-states but also the threat posed by Islamist terrorism. England and France have both been victims of significant domestic terrorism, and both face the potential of ongoing radicalization and violence from fighters returning from the Middle East…

Fourth: The threat of a nuclear Iran emerging as the hegemonic power in the region has generated profound concern in the Arab world, which rebounds back to Europe, particularly with regard to the long-standing French ambition to maintain and expand Arab partnerships…

Fifth: European self-interest—both in the sense of the needs of the European Union as a whole and the national interests of the major European nation-states—emerges as a significant factor in international affairs, the more Washington pursues policies designed to reduce American leadership around the world…

Sixth: Domestic politics are pushing in different directions on both sides of the Atlantic…any appearance of knuckling under to demands from Washington would only prove to be a liability for European politicians.

The tone of the article is hushed and highly respectful of Obama, as though the policies he’s pursuing reflect some decision by the US rather than some decision by Obama and his handmaiden Kerry. But I’m quoting it because it offers at least a smidgeon of hope that Europe may hold Obama back from implementing his plans, a possibility I find intensely ironic.

March 27th, 2015

What would a traitor president look like?

What would he be doing, and what would he be refraining from? In what ways might it differ from what Obama has been doing regarding Iran, our enemy since 1979?

We are now overtly supporting our enemy, conceding to our enemy, abandoning a country that is that enemy’s enemy and has been our ally for over sixty years (Israel). We are doing this not because our hand is being forced by a military or economic defeat—au contraire—but because our president wants to do it. And although Obama has always said during campaigns that he favors talks with Iran, he has always said that he will not concede the very things he is getting ready to concede, and always pledged his support for Israel.

But now it is as though the two countries have traded places.

Those who have been paying attention are not surprised, because reading between the lines and looking at Obama’s pre-presidential history made it clear he was anti-Israeli (except when campaigns demanded otherwise). But who saw it and when is not really the issue now because now everyone ought to be able to see it, and practically everyone in the US ought to be highly alarmed.

That they are not speaks volumes.

But there do seem to be quite a few Democrats who are becoming alarmed. However, in order to stop Obama, 2/3 of Congress would have to be on board, either for some sort of legislative veto override, or for conviction in the Senate (2/3) after an impeachment in the House (majority). That 2/3 figure can only be reached by having a significant number of Democrats turn on Obama.

So if this deal goes through, we may have a moment of truth for the Democratic senators. I am pessimistic about the results, even though what Obama is doing is what monarchs do, or dictators. They say “L’état, c’est moi” (the state, it is I).

“Unprecedented” is the right word for Obama’s actions re Iran, but it’s not an intense enough word. The best precedent I can think of is the Hitler-Stalin pact, although it’s not really a good analogy—and even that was only a temporary strategic alliance on Stalin’s part. And both parties got quite a bit out of the deal:

For Hitler, the pact provided a guarantee that he could invade first Poland, then France and most of the rest of western Europe, without having to worry about any threat from the east. For Stalin, it allowed a breathing space in which to build up armed forces that had been severely damaged by the purges of the previous years, as his botched invasion of Finland showed. It also gave him the chance to expand the Soviet Union to include parts of the old Russian empire of pre-revolutionary times…The pact eventually extended to the economic sphere, with Germany providing military equipment in exchange for raw materials such as oil, grain, iron and phosphates… Stalin also handed back a substantial number of German communists who had taken refuge in the Soviet Union after the Nazi seizure of power; some of them, arrested during the purges, were taken directly from the Soviet Gulag to a German concentration camp.

That was Hitler and Stalin, two brutal dictators who could basically decide whatever they wanted by that time without any meaningful advise and consent from their governments or their people. Offhand I can’t think of any comparison in the realm of supposed non-dictatorships, where countries that have been enemies for forty-five years, in which the enemy (in this case Iran) has changed neither its rhetoric nor its behavior, and yet the other country (in this case the US) is reaching out the hand of alliance and friendship [I already dealt with the topic of Nixon in China already, here] and abandoning its ally (in this case Israel) in the process, in order to gain nothing whatsoever for itself. It seems that this would require a head of state who’s a mole or an agent. And for that head of state to remain in power and not be deposed afterward, it would require subjects or citizens who are anesthetized and/or unaware and/or overpowered, and a party or police forces or military afraid to challenge the monarch/tyrant.

I get frustrated when I read articles that indicate that Obama’s treatment of Netanyahu is just from personal enmity, or of some supposed change about the 2-nation goal. It’s none of the above, although Obama does hate Netanyahu and is angry. But that’s also a smokescreen, a way for Obama to justify to the public and to his party what he has long wanted to do anyway: sell Israel and the US out (as well as quite a few of our traditional Sunni Arab allies), to Iran.

Obama is not just angry at Netanyahu—he’s strategically angry at him. Obama’s anger serves a purpose, which is to break the bonds between the United States and Israel, and tie new bonds between the United States and Iran. It serves another purpose as well: to serve notice to the world that America’s alliances, previously extremely stable, are actually mutable. They are as insubstantial as air, and cannot be relied on, even after Obama is out of office. That will be one of Obama’s most enduring legacies, and it’s a beaut.

March 27th, 2015

The new pariahs

Another undercover conservative tells her story.

[Hat tip: commenter "CV."]

March 26th, 2015

Obama’s…

revenge against Israel.

My guess is there’s more to come.

Here’s a question: which is Obama’s more primary motivation in the whole sorry mess of the recent Iran negotiations, harming Israel or helping Iran?

[ADDENDUM: See this. It will make your hair stand on end.]

March 26th, 2015

Things fall apart

THE SECOND COMING

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

That brilliant poem written by Yeats in 1939* [see note] came to mind after 9/11, expressing the sense of chaos and foreboding we all felt. It’s easy to forget how it appeared obvious that many attacks of similar magnitude would be forthcoming, particularly since 9/11 was followed quickly by the mysterious anthrax letters.

George W. Bush was president, and at the time—I was a Democrat, had not voted for him, and had been upset when he won in 2000—I was apprehensive about that, although I remember thinking that Al Gore as president would certainly not have been the man for the hour and that Bush was probably better suited to the situation. As the years went on, despite the setbacks in Iraq and elsewhere, things seemed to be going better than I would have expected on 9/12/2001.

Since the inauguration of Barack Obama as president they have been going steadily downhill, with an especially steep decline since November of 2014. Obama is not responsible for all of it, but I lay a great deal of it at his feet. Almost on a daily basis, I’ve been writing about the ways in which his actions have worsened things around the world. Although I’m not going to go into it in detail right now about all those ways, I think they are pretty obvious by this point to most readers here.

I will take just one example, though, and a relatively simple one compared with some of the others such as Iran: the Bo Bergdahl desertion charges. I wrote “relatively” simple, but that doesn’t mean the incident is simple at all.

The Bergdahl story actually has several layers of horribleness. The first was the prisoner exchange, which would have seemed a bad deal even if Bergdahl had been innocent of any wrongdoing—bad because it involved negotiating with terrorists, releasing captives of extreme dangerousness (five of them!), and also bad because Obama had omitted giving Congress notice although he was bound by law to do so. Then there was White House intransigence and denials in the face of mounting—and extremely compelling—evidence that Bergdahl was a deserter, which had become clear quite early on. Then there was the delay in charging Bergdahl, which was rumored to be the result of White House pressure on the military not to charge him. And maybe there will be further travesties, such as an exoneration despite convincing evidence of guilt.

But worst of all, really, was how the story dropped off the radar screen relatively quickly. That was understandable, though, because so many other terrible things were happening. That’s part of the plan, of course; to get us to play an ever-escalating game of whack-a-mole.

I realized back in 2010 (see the last paragraph of this post) that a second Obama term was to be dreaded because he would then be released from the need to answer to the electorate at all. But the electorate bears some responsibility too, as does the press and Congress. Why oh why are not more people screaming out that the emperor has been completely naked for quite some time now? And that really wouldn’t be strong enough, either, because a naked emperor may just be a fool (with foolish subjects willing to play along). This naked emperor is also malevolent.

The “why oh why” is rhetorical on my part; I suppose I know the answer. It’s certainly a question we’ve discussed before on this blog. But in a more basic way it still puzzles me, because as things become worse and worse, and Obama’s actions more extreme and more revelatory, I keep thinking there must be a tipping point, both for the press and the public as well as Congress.

But even that is probably an illusory hope. Events make me more cynical, but I don’t seem to be able to ratchet my cynicism up quickly enough to meet them.

[* NOTE: Haste makes waste—I seem to have copied the date of Yeats’ death (1939) instead of the date he wrote the poem, which was 1919. That 1919 date is actually interesting in terms of the history of the Middle East, because the end of World War I triggered the division of that region (mostly during the 20s) into something more similar to its modern, post Ottoman Empire form. World War I was a cataclysmic event with enormous repercussions, and I submit that we have never recovered from it.]

March 26th, 2015

It was the co-pilot

The news is shocking and yet not shocking at the same time, because by now everyone had figured it out: the Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane and killed himself and 149 souls on board.

His motive? Unknown. Islamic terrorism committed by a known jihadi is logic itself compared to this mystery.

Perhaps the mystery will be solved. Perhaps authorities will find a diary or a note indicating that 28-year-old Andreas Lubitz experienced a conversion to Islamic terrorism and had kept mum about it till now. Perhaps he had a conversation with someone about it, or contacts with recruiters.

It’s possible. But so are other things, including the possibility that we will never know what dark impulse grabbed hold of this man and caused him to become a mass murderer. We do have this:

A mother of a schoolmate told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he had told her daughter he had taken a break from his pilot training because he was suffering from depression.

“Apparently he had a burnout, he was in depression,” the woman, whom the paper did not name.

She said her daughter had seen him again just before Christmas and that he had appeared normal. She added he was a “lovely boy”. “He had a good family background,” she told the paper.

Carsten Spohr, CEO of Germanwings parent company, said in a press conference today that Lubitz “took a break in his training six years ago. Then he did the tests (technical and psychological) again. And he was deemed 100 percent fit to fly.”

Six years ago is a long time. And if he had reacted to his earlier depression by taking a break, why would he not take a break again? Or even commit suicide without killing others as well? Was he angry at Lufthansa and wanted to hurt the company, or Germany, or airline travel in general? Because surely he would have known the flight recorder would give him away.

One thing of which I’m pretty sure: we will learn more about this man. I’m less sure that we’ll ever know why he chose, one clear day in March of 2015, to fly a plane loaded with 149 other human beings into a mountain.

[ADDENDUM: I don’t even want to imagine the plight of Lubitz’s parents, who “only discovered the truth of their son’s suicide mission moments before Fench prosecutors released the information to the world.” They “had travelled to France with the victims’ relatives, but were soon separated when their son’s involvement in the disaster had been uncovered.”

They are now being questioned, having entered into their own personal nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr is quoted as saying “not in our worst nightmare would we imagine this happening.” My answer is: if not, then you should have.

It’s not so far-fetched, given the way things are going in the world today. Even though this pilot was not an obvious candidate for jihadism, that doesn’t rule it out, nor does it rule out explanations such as suicide/murder for other reasons. The US has some sort of rule that two people must always be in the cockpit at once, because it would tend to discourage such acts, although it cannot completely prevent them. Lufthansa ought to have had a similar rule.]

[ADDENDUM II: Two more facts of interest: the co-pilot said not a word during the entire episode, and although screams could be heard from the passengers, that was not “until the very last moments,” according to the Marseilles prosecutor.

It also occurs to me that the audio tape must make Lubitz’s guilt crystal clear; otherwise authorities probably would not be saying all of this so relatively early in the investigation.]

March 26th, 2015

Report: voice recorder incidates pilot was locked out of cockpit

According to The New York Times, a “senior military official involved in the investigation” of the Germanwings air crash has described an extremely disturbing scenario during the last eight minutes of the flight:

…[O]ne of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

If this is correct, it indicates a situation that chills the blood to even imagine: the frantic pilot unable to get into the cockpit in order to avert the disaster-in-the-making. The question, of course, is whether it was deliberate on the part of the person in the cockpit, or accidental. The first would make that person a terrorist, the second would mean that some accident or sudden illness had rendered that person unconscious and unable to let the other pilot in.

But how do cockpit door locks work? Even without terrorism, why would door locks be designed so that if for some reason the pilot remaining in the cockpit is incapacitated, there is no way for the other pilot to enter in what would clearly be an emergency? No one seems to be all that clear on how it works, but here’s some information:

The cockpit door automatically locks, and in most situations, anyone outside the cockpit needs to have permission from the pilots inside to enter, the video explains. Pilots in the cockpit need to move a switch to the “unlock” position to open the door.

In the case of “crew incapacitation,” there is an emergency access procedure: someone outside the cockpit must punch an emergency code into the door access panel, then can enter 30 seconds later if there is “no action from the crew.” The video seems to imply that someone inside the cockpit could override that emergency action, but that is not entirely clear.

What I take from that is that in the case of involuntary incapacitation the system would work quite well and the outside pilot could enter after 30 seconds. But if the inside pilot didn’t want anyone to enter, he/she could block that entry. If this is correct, there are only two possibilities I can think of for the Germanwings crash: either the system malfunctioned, or it was terrorism on the part of the pilot who remained in the cockpit.

March 25th, 2015

Iran is calling the shots

On reading this, I marveled anew at the fairly obvious fact that Iran considers itself to be in the driver’s seat on these negotiations. Its leaders know that the US is groveling and desperate for a deal, any deal, no matter how lousy.

There’s no reason for this, either, except that Obama considers a deal to be the crown jewel of his glittering foreign policy. And in John Kerry he has finally found the perfect partner for the endeavor.

Kerry is one of the few people in American public life I detest as much as I do Obama, and my feeling for Kerry is of much longer duration, predating even my political change and going back to the days of his Vietnam testimony before Congress. That feeling has only grown more intense over time. Actually, although many of you may think this odd, the two men remind me of each other—in their opportunism, narcissism, pomposity, belief in their own brilliance, duplicity, and willingness to betray their country. Obama has had much more political success than Kerry because of the “likeability” factor as well as his cachet as the first black president, and Obama is much more bold. But Kerry is the perfect lackey for him.

The Iranians know with whom they’re dealing. They obviously have no respect for either of them, nor for the UN. And why on earth should they?:

An Iranian official on Tuesday rebuked the chief of the U.N. atomic agency for demanding snap inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, saying the request hindered efforts to reach an agreement with world powers, state TV reported.

The United States and five other world powers face an end-of-the-month deadline to reach a framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Western nations suspect Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside the civilian program. Iran denies such allegations, insisting its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

Earlier this month Yukiya Amano, the head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran should agree to snap inspections to reassure the international community.

Iran’s nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Amano’s comments harm the delicate negotiations. “It would be much better if Amano only talked about the IAEA’s seasonal and monthly reports,” he said, according to state TV.

One of the main motivations for the Iraq War was that Saddam Hussein had refused to cooperate with inspections of WMD programs. That’s been de-emphasized by those who were against the war, and has been almost forgotten. All of this—as well as the fact that under Obama we pulled completely out of Iraq and signaled our inability to follow through—has indicated to countries such as Iran how fundamentally unserious the West is right now about either enforcing such inspections or stopping enemies who wish to get such weapons. Leaders like those of Iran have no trouble perceiving such weakness, which smells to them as the scent of blood to sharks.

March 25th, 2015

Bergdahl charged with desertion

It’s about time:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, told The Washington Post that his client was handed a charge sheet on Tuesday. Army officials announced they will provide an update in his case at 3:30 p.m. at Fort Bragg, N.C., but declined to discuss new developments ahead of the news conference…

The charges come after a lengthy investigation launched last June after his recovery and a review by Gen. Mark A. Milley, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg. Bergdahl has faced a slew of accusations from his fellow soldiers that he abandoned them on the battlefield and caused a manhunt that diverted resources from the war effort and put lives in danger.

Bergdahl will faces charges under articles 85 and 99 of the military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice, Fidell said.

I imagine there’s an interesting tale of the fight by the Obama administration to keep this day from ever happening. This could get very, very interesting.

About Me

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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