April 22nd, 2015

The definitive and never-to-be surpassed last word on conservative infighting

Even though it’s not about conservatives, it fits:

April 22nd, 2015

The Clinton Foundation and the voter

It seems that, at the moment, somewhat of a big deal is being raised about the Clinton Foundation.

Why that particular topic, and why now? After all, to me (and probably to a lot of other people) it’s no worse than many other things Hillary Clinton has done.

This particular offense, however, is more likely to rile the leftist-populist strain in the Democratic Party, the Occupiers who regard Elizabeth Warren as their heroine rather than Hillary. I think that if the current flap manages to gain any traction at all (which is still a question mark) it will be for that reason. And I submit that the issue will only matter before the nomination, not after it. The goal is to get someone else nominated who is more to the left than Hillary, and if that fails, pretty much the entire left will rally round her despite her shortcomings.

By the way, although Elizabeth Warren has declined to run, I think she would respond to a draft.

Still another potential candidate is—get ready for it—Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, who seems intent on becoming the even-more-leftist alternative to the leftist alternative of Warren:

De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a “Draft de Blasio’’ movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.

At first I thought this a preposterous idea. But then I decided that stranger things have happened. Who would have thought de Blasio could pull off election to the mayorship of New York City? So although he may not be a women “whose time has come” like Hillary, and he might not be a black “whose time had come” like Obama, he might be regarded as the next best thing to being a woman and/or being black: a leftist man with a black wife who used to be a lesbian. That should go a way towards protecting him from any charges of insufferably privileged passé white maleness.

As for Hillary and the foundation, my guess is that to turn off the rank and file Democratic voter she would have to do a lot worse than that; I really can’t even imagine what it would take at this point. And it would take even more egregiously offensive acts on her part to get the rank and file to vote for one of those evil Republicans instead.

April 22nd, 2015

Scott Walker…

…touches the third rail of reform of legal immigration:

“In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying we will make adjustments,” Walker said. “The next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages…

“It defies reason to argue that the record admission of new foreign workers has no negative effect on the wages of American workers, including the wages of past immigrants hoping to climb into the middle class.”

In his Beck interview, Walker also repeated his recent comments that people in the country illegally should return to their countries of origin first, which has drawn criticism over comparisons to former 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney saying he supported “self-deportation.”

“No amnesty, if someone wants to be a citizen, they have to go back to their country of origin and get in line behind everybody else who’s been waiting,” Walker said.

You may recall that many on the right have criticized Walker for previously being an amnesty advocate. He explains that he’s changed his mind, and why:

Walker repeated his recent comments that he used to support “amnesty,” or a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States illegally, but does not anymore, saying he’s since learned more about the issue.

How you feel about all of this depends on whether you believe him. Some people can’t stand any candidate who’s ever changed his/her mind on an important issue because they believe the new position isn’t sincerely held, almost by definition. But I’ve never understood that, and that was true even before my own change experience. Some changes are insincere political tactics, but some are sincere and represent exactly what Walker says—a switch based on new information that’s more complete.

A change of position is a lot more suspect when it’s at odds with the politician’s general point of view, and when the person keeps switching over and over and over on a large variety of subjects. But Walker has basically demonstrated his conservative bona fides by his actions, and he’s been pretty consistent in general. So I have no trouble believing that his change of position on amnesty—which is a shift to the more conservative point of view, and in line with his other opinions—is a sincere one.

Politicians don’t always lie, do they?

April 22nd, 2015

What was that Obama said about flexibility?

The following came up recently, and I thought it important enough to merit its very own post.

Remember this moment back in March of 2012?:

Mr Medvedev, who steps down in May, said he would pass on Mr Obama’s message to his successor Vladimir Putin, according to an audio recording of comments the two leaders made during a meeting in Seoul, South Korea.

Mr Obama says: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defence, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

Mr Medvedev replies: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you …”

Mr Obama retorts: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Americans knew about this statement of Obama’s prior to the 2012 election. Why didn’t it seem important? It probably did to most of the people who read this blog, because it fit into their already-existent framework of knowledge and opinion about Obama’s philosophy, plans, and activities. As for me, I had already predicted back in
November of 2010 that if Obama were to be elected to a second term in 2012, it would be a no-holds-barred radical one, exactly for the reason he mentioned to Medvedev, which is that he no longer would have to stand for re-election.

The Obama statement to Medvedev tells you something important, which is that Obama knew that the things he was planning to do in a second term would be very unpopular with the American people. Therefore he was planning to keep the voters in the dark about some of his intentions until after his re-election. His election and re-election were founded on a conscious and deliberate deception (or series of deceptions) perpetrated upon the American people.

This may seem obvious. It was even obvious then. But I think it needs to be made absolutely explicit. And it’s in light of that knowledge that no one should be surprised that Obama lied strategically about Iran’s breakthrough time.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how the same people so incensed about their notion that Bush lied about the presence of WMDs in Iraq (although he did not lie; to lie about something you have to know the truth and misrepresent it) are just fine with Obama’s actual lies.

April 22nd, 2015

Obama is Christian-victim-blind

Referring to the horrific act of “15 Muslim asylum-seekers [who] reportedly threw 12 Christian asylum-seekers overboard as they made their way from Libya to Sicily this week,” Kirsten Powers writes:

As [Italian PM] Renzi was questioned about the incident, Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith. If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested? When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can’t seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.

We’ve seen this sequence before. A Muslim or several Muslim murder members of a different religion—sometimes Christians, sometimes Jews—in an act that is explicitly and unequivocally motivated by religious intolerance, and Obama is silent on the matter of the motivation as well as the religion of the targets. And yet if he feels a crime motivated by hatred against a Muslim or black person has occurred, he does not hesitate to describe it as such.

April 21st, 2015

If you’ve got attitude…

…you better be able to back it up.

This guy had the real thing:

April 21st, 2015

Knock on the door: the John Doe investigations

This is a very important article in National Review about the Wisconsin “John Doe” investigations.

If you’re familiar with history, you’ll recognize what’s going on here, and it’s bad. Very bad.

If you’ve read William Sheridan Allen’s The Nazi Seizure of Power, you’ll recognize the resemblance—or at least to something somewhat similar. For example, in a chapter from the book titled “The Terror System,” you’ll find this description of what happened in a small German town shortly after the Nazis had gained control of the government:

On March 30, 1933, it was reported that children playing near a beer garden had found sixty rounds of Army-issue rifle ammunition. The speculation was the Communists had buried them there after the police raids began…

With the propaganda justification for police action firmly established, the Nazis in Thalburg made use of the familiar tactics of repression and terrorism. The homes of potential or actual opponents were repeatedly ransacked and various people arrested…

Not all arrests and house searching were reported in the press, but enough were made known so that the public received a good general impression of what was going on. Furthermore, the way in which police actions were reported was enough to give Thalburgers an idea of the generally arbitrary nature of such actions…

Thus it seems clear that the public in Thalburg had a good idea, by mid-summer 1933, that even to express oneself against the new system was to invite persecution. In fact, now only were Thalburgers aware of this situation, but by their very awareness they reinforced the actual terror apparatus. Each time someone in Thalburg cautioned his neighbor or friend, he was strengthening the general atmosphere of fear.

Later it got even worse (and word also got around of imprisonments and interment in concentration camps such as Dachau):

Under these circumstances the Nazis had very little to do to avoid resistance. They created examples on the left and right and let natural social forces do the rest.Conditions reached the point where those who failed to give the Nazi salute, who left a meeting early, or who ventured a cold look at [one of the local Nazi leaders] was thought to be displaying almost foolhardy recklessness.

Will the MSM cover the Wisconsin John Doe investigations and the newest revelations about them? USA Today has a column by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds. As for the WaPo, I could find nothing about the John Doe raids, but plenty about their supposed findings in an article from about a month ago that tries to paint Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth as guilty of campaign finance irregularities.

Any bets on whether the investigations and secret raids will ever be covered properly? We’ll see:

If Republican officials treated political opponents this way it would be national news. But when Wisconsin’s Democratic apparat behaved like Putin’s thugs, it got little attention from the “mainstream” media. One of the good things about Scott Walker’s presidential run is that it will bring these abuses national attention. They deserve it, and the perpetrators deserve punishment.

Patterico writes:

In a country that actually valued freedom, this story would spark front-page headlines all over the country. It would be all anyone would be talking about for weeks, and nobody would rest until we knew it could never, ever happen again.

We are no longer such a country.

And now for some music:

[NOTE: Here’s a previous post of mine about Walker and the investigations.]

[NOTE II: At the HuffPo, the news is all about the so-called “dark money” campaign financing these investigations are supposed to get at; the raids don’t seem to be an issue. But as Ed Morrissey writes:

The basis for this was the campaign-finance reform movement, which sees money in politics as a greater evil than a government empowered to shut down political speech. The John Doe law in Wisconsin shows exactly why government intervention in political speech is worse than any corruption it attempts to prevent. The use of force in Wisconsin got applied to one side exclusively, and intended to shut down conservatives before they could exercise their legitimate political power. It’s even more egregious than the IRS targeting of conservatives between 2009-2013, but it’s the same kind of abuse of power, and it leverages the same kind of campaign-finance reform statutes that give government at state and federal levels entrée to control political speech.

It’s an affront to liberty, and an affront to the Constitution.

Want to know more about the John Doe law itself?:

…[It] is like a grand jury investigation, without a jury. A single judge is vested with extraordinary power to issue subpoenas and search warrants to compel witnesses to testify in order to determine if a crime may have been committed. And many of these investigations, like the John Doe probe into the Wisconsin conservative organizations and Walker’s campaign, are conducted in secret. Targets or witnesses who speak publicly about them can face jail time for doing so…

The prosecutors and the GAB operated the probe under an exotic theory involving the unconstitutional portions of the campaign finance law that the conservative groups may have illegally coordinated with the Walker campaign during Wisconsin’s partisan recall elections. The theory attempts to transform issue advocacy into express advocacy — political messages that endorse or oppose a candidate or tell a voter how to vote.

A federal judge in a related John Doe lawsuit called the prosecution’s theory “simply wrong.”

The investigation featured predawn, paramilitary-style raids on the homes of targets and seizure of their property, including banking records and donor lists, according to court documents.

SCOTUS might be taking up the question of the John Doe laws soon. And this seems to be the go-to place to find a great many articles on the entire subject.]

April 21st, 2015

Read…

…Richard Fernandez on the refugees from war-torn Syria and Libya.

It will make you despair of any solution to the situation. There appear to be only two choices. The first is to be overrun with a huge influx of people who present almost insurmountable problems, and at great cost and great risk, including that of admitting terrorists among them. The second choice is to let them die in droves.

In previous generations, people accepted that in dire times there were going to be millions and millions of deaths. We (or some segment of “we”) consider ourselves to be better than that and possessing of more compassion. But in the end, it just might happen, because we can’t even begin to solve all the problems of the world without creating more.

A statistic Fernandez offers that I hadn’t known before, although I’ve researched the subject of these refugees: “Over half the 22 million people of Syria have fled their homes since 2011.”

April 21st, 2015

Let’s talk…

about Hillary.

Oh, let’s not and say we did.

April 20th, 2015

Milk-alkali syndrome is making a comeback

Our drive to be healthy can backfire. Witness the return—after a lengthy period of absence—of milk-alkali syndrome, now also known as calcium-alkali syndrome. In the past the ingestion of too much milk was part of its etiology, whereas now it’s often caused by taking too many calcium carbonate pills to prevent osteoporosis, sometimes combined with antacids and vitamin D supplements which exacerbate the problem.

The modern version of milk-alkali syndrome is now known as calcium-alkali syndrome. This evolution in terminology reflects the current pathogenesis of the disorder, which is related to excess calcium supplementation or calcium containing antacids…

Many of the patients reported consuming less than 2 g of elemental calcium per day in the form of calcium carbonate. With the caveat that self-reported calcium ingestion may not be accurate, the amount described is much lower than the usual minimum 4 g of calcium intake that was previously associated with the milk-alkali syndrome. The lower threshold for calcium intake associated with calcium-alkali syndrome may be due to increased vitamin D intake resulting in enhanced intestinal calcium absorption…

Whereas the traditional milk-alkali syndrome affected younger male patients with peptic ulcer disease, the demographics have changed to post-menopausal women, solid organ transplant recipients, pregnant women, bulimic patients, and those on dialysis. Post-menopausal women and solid organ transplant recipients are encouraged to take calcium supplementation along with vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis…

The syndrome is not innocuous. It can cause permanent kidney damage and even death. It originally arose as a consequence of a certain type of ulcer treatment in the early days of the 20th century; now it has returned as overzealous patients medicate themselves with tons of supplements in an effort to keep their bones healthy.

It’s not just the calcium, either, that causes it. It’s calcium and an alkali. Calcium carbonate, the most comment and cheapest form or calcium supplementation, manages to supply both at once. Calcium carbonate is also what Tums are made of, and often quite a bit of it. For example, each of these extra-strength Tums contains 400 mg. calcium. You can see how easy it would be to exceed the limit (especially the way some people pop Tums, and especially if a person was also taking calcium supplements). Pregnant women exhibit symptoms at a lower threshold, too. Note the instructions not to exceed 7 tablets in 24 hours, or 6 tablets in 24 hours for pregnant women. I bet a lot of people have no idea that the consequences of violating that caveat can be so severe.

April 20th, 2015

Sharansky asks: when did America forget it was America?

I’m not sure whether the question is rhetorical or not:

The Obama administration apparently believes that only after a nuclear agreement is signed can the free world expect Iran to stop its attempts at regional domination, improve its human rights record and, in general, behave like the civilized state it hopes the world will recognize it to be.

As a former Soviet dissident, I cannot help but compare this approach to that of the United States during its decades-long negotiations with the Soviet Union, which at the time was a global superpower and a existential threat to the free world. The differences are striking and revealing…

Imagine what would have happened if instead, after completing a round of negotiations over disarmament, the Soviet Union had declared that its right to expand communism across the continent was not up for discussion. This would have spelled the end of the talks. Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map.

Sharansky seems to know the what, but not the when or the how or the deeper why:

I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides’ respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.

But in today’s postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.

For those unaware of who Sharansky is, see this for his history as a noted Soviet dissident and current Israeli. He’s someone who knows a great deal about the value of Western democracy and culture. It must be very puzzling to him how the West managed to stand up to the Soviets and yet a mere quarter-century after the USSR’s fall cannot even stand up to a nation like Iran, and is capitulating voluntarily rather than being forced.

Or maybe he’s not puzzled. Maybe he has noticed the slow but steady (and steadily accelerating) Gramscian march through all the institutions that used to be the bedrock of Western civilization both here and in Western Europe: the schools, the church, the press. Maybe he recognizes the hand of the left, but can’t bear to acknowledge it. After all these years and all these fights—and all these victories—to surrender? His entire being must cry out: why?

It’s not an accident. And its crowning achievement was the election of Barack Obama, and particularly his re-election in 2012—which freed him up (as he told Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev in March of 2012) to have more flexibility. Obama is showing that “flexibility” now.

American voters showed their own lack of discernment and judgment when they supported Obama’s abandonment of traditional attitudes about our place in the world and how to negotiate with sworn enemies, as well as the use of force if necessary. But the vote was very very close (even closer if you think there was substantial cheating).

Did America vote for the Obama it sees now? I contend that most voters did not. I think most people feel shocked and powerless to stop Obama, however, and that’s part of the problem. To rely on Congress for that purpose is not exactly a winning proposition, but for the moment it’s the best we’ve got.

April 20th, 2015

A look ahead to our withdrawal from Iraq

[NOTE: I happened across this post from 2006 when I was looking for something today. It struck me so forcibly—and sadly—that I thought it would be a good idea to publish it again. Note especially the prescient quotes from the David Warren article. I’ve also added some new observations of mine in brackets.]

Here’s another demonstration of the Law of Thirds (via Pajamas Media)

It’s a post by Bill Roggio that analyzes what the midterm election might mean in terms of future policy on the Iraq War. He cites STRATFOR analyst Fred Burton, who mentions polls suggesting that, whereas two-thirds of US citizens “disapprove” of the war in Iraq, only one-third seems to favor a full withdrawal of troops.

Polls are polls, of course, and subject to all sorts of criticism. In my training and experience as a social science researcher, I learned just how easy it is to find flaws in all such studies. However, I’ve also noticed–over and over–the Law of Thirds operating. And here it is again; only a third seem to advocate the most radical solution, while two-thirds are more moderate. Which group will be heeded by our new Congress? [NOTE 4/20/15: It turned out that Congress was not the branch of government making the pullout decision; it was Obama, against the advice of all his military advisors. But of course, he knew better than they.]

For myself, I can’t quite imagine answering “approve” to a question about the war. One can agree with the decision to go to war given the facts we had at our disposal and the alternatives. One can think things are going better there than the MSM regularly reports. I fall into both these categories, and yet even I would not have answered “approve” if polled–war is too terrible, and there are too many ways in which the war could have been executed better (or at least we think so, with the benefits of 50/50 hindsight and the knowledge that, since we have no authority to implement our suggestions, our thoughts on the matter will never be subjected to the harsh light of reality. )

Like most of the two-thirds who answered “disapprove” to that poll, I’ve had quarrels with the conduct of the aftermath. It started with a terrible disquiet I felt at the outset, when widespread looting occurred and was allowed to continue. It set a tone of anarchy and lawlessness when a crackdown would have sent a different message. Yes, I understand the troops were busy fighting a war and wanted to ingratiate themselves with a population that they thought was only giving vent to anger at Saddam. Yes, they wanted to avoid the appearance of an occupation. But it seemed to give the wrong message, which was that anything goes.

As I’ve said many times before, I never expected this war to be easy or short. Actually, I fully expected it to be much worse than it has been; both in terms of initial casualties, and the subsequent battle. Whether you want to call that subsequent battle an insurgency, guerilla war, civil war, or terrorist war, I expected it to go on for a long time and to cause a great deal of suffering, as all such conflicts do.

As for mistakes in planning, failure to anticipate future events, and whether the administration expected the war and its aftermath to be easy or difficult, I’ve written at some length, here and here, about these questions, including the “cakewalk” issue. Please read both pieces; I have no wish to reiterate what I said then. Suffice to say that it’s impossible to anticipate these things fully, and of course the administration did not.

What I never expected, however (and should have expected) was the way the media—and some Democrats and Republicans, just to be bipartisan—demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the nature of war and wars. We’ve been spoiled, both by our ideals (who doesn’t want a cleaner war, one in which hardly anyone gets hurt? Count me in on that one) and our recent history (the Gulf War as the template, rather than World War II).

There is no question that if we expect perfection and give up if the going gets hard, we will become unable to fight any war. Some would say that’s wonderful. If we give up on war, all will be peace and light. I say: tell it to the jihadis.

In a piece found at The Corner, a reader sounds a warning:

It seems to me that Americans believe wars end when we say they end. Whether we win (WWII), lose (Vietnam), or draw (Korea), our wars have ended when we said they ended. The defeated Germans, victorious North Vietnamese, or stalemated North Koreans never came after America when hostilities ended. But the jihadists are coming, no matter what happens in Iraq. Make no mistake..

Have we lost the will for any fight that’s difficult or at all uncertain, that takes longer than a few weeks, that involves ambiguities and unknowns? I think we have. I hope we have not.

I hope the words of David Warren aren’t true:

…in trying to build a secular democracy over the ruin of Saddam’s regime, the Americans tried something they had not the stomach for. From the outset, they imposed upon themselves restrictions that would make that fight unwinnable. As in Vietnam, they adopted a purely defensive posture.

So far as President Bush can be blamed, it should be for showing insufficient ruthlessness in a task that could not be accomplished by half-measures. Alternatively, for failing to grasp that America was psychologically unprepared for real war, not only by the memory of Vietnam, but by the grim advance of “liberal” decadence in domestic life over the generation since.

Read the whole thing. Read the whole thing. And then read it again. And then hope and pray that Warren is a lousy prognosticator:

If Iraq is abandoned, the credibility of America and the West is lost. Iran’s hopes of regional hegemony are assured. The Americans will have cut and run after enduring less than one-twentieth of the casualties they suffered in Vietnam; and from a battle more consequential, for it is against an Islamist enemy that is rising, instead of a Communist enemy in decline…

…the consequences of abandoning Iraq will come home to the United States and the West, in a way Vietnam never touched us.

[ADDENDUM: I don’t mean to imply that decisions in war ought to be made by reading polls. However, since the majority of Americans don’t appear to want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, if the Democratic leadership thinks they do and acts on that supposition, they may find themselves out of office next time round.

Many people (even among those who don’t want an immediate pullout) seem to have lost touch with the difficulties and uncertainties, as well as the inevitable mistakes, that are part and parcel of any war, and demand that wars be easier and faster than they ever are. This means that many wars–and the Iraq war is among them–are fought with half measures, and with the knowledge that public opinion is fickle and that people don’t have the stamina for the long haul. This can lead to decisions that are not strategically sound, because of knowledge of the impatience of the public. And our enemies know that, and count on it, and act accordingly.]

[4/20/2015 new ADDENDUM added: Looking back at that David Warren article just now, I decided to add an excerpt from its conclusion:

It was a Democrat-controlled Congress that decided to sink free South Vietnam, by cutting off its supplies even of rifle ammunition after the peace treaty signed by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1973. It was Congress that ordered all U.S. bombing halted — air strikes that could have made mincemeat of the regular North Vietnamese army, marching openly along the South’s main highways in 1974. The U.S. never lost the war militarily, and could easily have won it without self-imposed restraints. But the enemy was more ruthless, and the allied will to fight evaporated…

My 21st birthday happened to coincide with the final evacuation of Saigon. From my modest experience on the ground in that country, I knew what was coming next. The boat people were no surprise to me. I think that was the day I fully realized, in adult terms, that evil often prevails in this world. So this is nothing new.

The fate that will befall all those millions of courageous Iraqis, showing the dye on their fingers after they had voted — in defiance of all the terror threats — will not come as a surprise to me, either. They are being sold out, as the Vietnamese were before them. But the consequences of abandoning Iraq will come home to the United States and the West, in a way Vietnam never touched us.]

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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