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Ed Driscoll

The Memory Hole

Whatever Gets You Through the News Cycle

July 31st, 2014 - 12:43 pm


“When CIA Director John Brennan — then the White House counterterrorism adviser — laid out the Obama administration’s new approach to fighting Islamist terrorism on June 29, 2011, he mocked conservatives who suggested that Islamist extremists were plotting to re-establish a caliphate across the Middle East,” the Washington Examiner reminded its readers last month. Back then, Brennan was saying:

Our strategy is also shaped by a deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals, strategy, and tactics. I’m not talking about al Qaeda’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate. That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counterterrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen.

So how are things working out in the Middle East these days? As the Washington Examiner noted last month in its headline, “Lack of intelligence: What CIA chief said is ‘never going to happen’ is happening in Iraq and Syria.” And that was before Hamas launched its latest attacks on Israel. Between ISIS in Iraq, and Hamas’s attacks on Israel, as Jeff Dunetz, the self-described “Yid with Lid” notes today, “The Only Difference Between Hamas and ISIS Violent Goals Are Their Names.”

This Hamas goal was outlined by Fathi Hammad Minister of Interior and National Security for  the Hamas government in Gaza who said in November 2013:

 We look forward to future victories, in which, Allah willing, we will liberate our land, our Jerusalem, our Al-Aqsa [Mosque], our cities and our villages, Allah willing, all this in preparation for establishing the next Islamic Caliphate. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are at the brink of a period of global Islamic culture, whose fuel is Gaza, whose spearhead is Gaza, its Jihad fighters (Mujahideen) and commanders are Gaza, Allah willing…

And as the leftwing UK Guardian reported last month, “Isis announces Islamic caliphate in area straddling Iraq and Syria.”

To be fair to Brennan, no doubt, his words sounded good at the time, and it got the administration through another news cycle, which is ultimately all it cares about anyhow. But to paraphrase Bill Clinton, he might want to put a little ISIS on his ego, as his reputation — and that of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as a whole — are badly in tatters.

Oh and speaking of foreign policy reputations in tatters, as John Podhoretz writes in the New York Post, John Kerry and his staffers “have taken to whining — not sure there’s a nicer word — over how unfairly he’s being written and talked about in Israel:”

John Kerry fought in Vietnam, threw his medals away, served decades in the Senate, ran for president, did some windsurfing and then became secretary of state of the most powerful country on Earth.

He’s a big boy. But there are those who seem to feel otherwise, that Kerry is a fragile and tender reed in need of delicate care — people who work for and with him. Not to mention Kerry himself.

Over the course of the past year, on several occasions, Kerry and other staffers have taken to whining — not sure there’s a nicer word — over how unfairly he’s being written and talked about in Israel.

In January, after Israel’s defense minister was twice quoted speaking disparagingly about Kerry’s peace-process efforts and his nuclear diplomacy with Iran, Kerry actually called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to complain.

This was an odd thing, given the relative power of Kerry and the relatively minor position of Moshe Ya’alon. Kerry could have brushed Yaalon’s words off as a giant brushes off a fly.

But it was so hurtful to Kerry that he made sure the world knew about it. His spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said at a public briefing that Ya’alon’s “comments were not constructive.

Perhaps Iowahawk has the best explanation for Kerry & Co’s kvetch fest:

 

Say there (former) Madam IRS Commissioner, do you let your ideology influence your job and whom you choose as your next victims? And as Glenn Reynolds wrote yesterday, “As bad as the emails that have been released are, the ones they’re hiding must be just dreadful.” But how bad is the above sample? So bad, Noah Rothman notes at Hot Air today, that even Democrat operatives with bylines and microphones are grudgingly forced to admit Lerner’s insanely obvious bias:

While most of the major news networks have not yet made note of the latest emails, CBS This Morning did bring its audience up to speed on the latest controversy. After asking if the latest emails represent a “smoking gun,” CBS quoted Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) who told reporters that the Lerner had evidenced “a political bias against conservatives.”

MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts made a startling admission when tackling the issue of the latest emails. While the panel’s Republicans were animated about these newest developments, the majority of the program’s liberals were silent. Only NBC News personality Willie Geist offered his thoughts on the newest revelations.

“If the question is, ‘was there political, ideological bias inside the IRS?’ Geist asked, “It’s hard to argue ‘no.’”

CNN’s New Day politics panel offered a similar take on the latest emails. Asked if the latest correspondences could create a critical mass which might force the administration to surrender control of the IRS investigation to an independent investigator, Associated Press White House reporter Julie Pace said she did not think so. She did, however, concede that it appears the former IRS official accused of discriminating against conservatives “had a real axe to grind” with conservatives.

National Journal Editorial Director Ron Fournier was more succinct. “To borrow the president’s phrase, there’s at least a smidgen of bias in the IRS,” he said.

And while the IRS is busy being weaponized against its citizens, the CIA confesses, “Yeah, we hacked the Senate’s computers,” as also spotted by Rothman today:

The outrage over the CIA’s claimed abuse of authority was bipartisan. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the allegations against the spy agency “dangerous to a democracy.”

“Heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” Graham said at the time. “I’m going to get briefed on it. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA, if it’s true.”

War, it would seem, is imminent.

On Thursday, the CIA admitted to secretly and improperly hacking Senate staffers’ computers linked to the internal review of the agency’s tactics under George W. Bush.

“CIA Director John Brennan has determined that employees ‘acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding’ brokered between the CIA and its Senate overseers, according to agency spokesman Dean Boyd,” National Journal reported. In the statement, Boyd apologized to the committee chair and vice chair who were misled by Brennan.

Barack Obama promised fundamental transformation; a grimly amusing cartoon at Small Dead Animals sums up how the “Progressive” alphabet soup created by successive prior Democrat administrations has been corrupted and weaponized during BHO’s administration.

And as Charles Murray notes on Twitter, there’s bipartisan room for change:

But don’t worry — the left and the RNC will cheerfully go back to sleep and resume the status quo until the taxpayer money runs out.

Obama: Promises Made, Promises Kept

July 31st, 2014 - 10:48 am

Shot:

chris_hayes_forgets_obamas_war_on_coal_7-31-14

Chaser:

Or as Jon Gabriel of Ricochet tweets in reply to Hayes, “Your #WarOnCoal is working. Glad you looked in the eyes of your victims.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time that an MSNBC newsreader forgot about the ramifications of the anti-energy policies they’re forced to defend.

Breaking News From 2006

July 30th, 2014 - 3:51 pm

“The authenticity problem: It’s becoming harder for red-state Dems to say what they really believe,” Josh Kraushaar writes at the National Journal. (Link safe; goes to Hot Air): 

But the details in it illustrate the dilemma for Democrats running in conservative states, whose true beliefs probably run counter to a majority of their constituents. That’s been a running theme this election with first-time Senate candidates, such as Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, who have assiduously avoided offering policy specifics in favor of bland generalities. Staying on message is akin to lacking any type of message.

When Grimes struggles repeatedly to articulate her views on border security, it’s clear she’s caught between exciting the Democratic base, the source for her impressive fundraising, and winning over moderate voters in Kentucky. When Nunn says she would have voted against Obama’s health care law but avoids talking about any changes she’d make to it, it’s easy to assume she’s trying to do everything she can to have it both ways. Unless Democrats have a clear record otherwise (see: Manchin, Joe), it’s going to be hard for voters to find them believable.

Yes, having lied through their teeth to pose and “conservative” “Blue Dog” Democrats in order to win back the Senate and House in 2006 only to become — as Kevin McCullough of Townhall accurately predicted at the time — “Nancy Pelosi’s crash test dummies,” why would any voter trust a Democrat who says he or she is against the policies of Obama, Pelosi and Reid?

For example, Natalie Tennant, running in West Virginia for Jay Rockefeller’s soon-to-be-former seat, pretends to “stand up for coal jobs,” but why should anyone trust when it’s far more likely that if elected to office, she’ll cheerfully vote for the anti-energy policies of fellow Democrats Pelosi, Reid, Obama, or if she’s elected in 2016, Hillary?

Oh, and regarding the Joe Manchin reference above…

Tweet of the Day

July 28th, 2014 - 7:57 pm

eliana_johnson_tweet_of_the_day_7-28-14

Boom.

In Johnson’s piece on “Michelle Nunn’s Campaign Plan,” she wrote:

Her strategists are optimistic that the media won’t prove much of an obstacle. They write that at some point her opponent, who at the time the document was written had yet to be determined, will be “shoveling research” against her. But they say they anticipate they will often have “fair warning” about negative news stories and can work to “kill or muddy” them.

That dovetails remarkably well with an observation Bill Clinton told the Washington Post in 2006:

There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies — and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.

“We’re all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the ’60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate,” Clinton said. “Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations.”

And Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution seems determined to prove both Bill and Michelle Nunn correct:


Indeed.

Happy 14th Blog-versary to Kaithy Shaidle!

July 24th, 2014 - 2:05 pm

Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit began in August of 2001. Pushback against the MSM’s formula coverage of 9/11 resulted in the first wave of new blogs arriving shortly thereafter. But a year prior, Kathy Shaidle began her first blog, and has been going strong p***ing off all the right left people strong ever since:

After writing about crazy evil Muslims 24/7 since 9/11, I decided to (mostly) leave that topic to my husband.

Life is too long to read and write about their bullshit anymore unless I feel so inclined.

It’s like how I (mostly) gave up blogging about religion, and turned the original site, RelapsedCatholic, into FiveFeetOfFury.

I can’t foresee what I’ll be blogging about 14 days or weeks or years from now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll still be here (despite the “Death of the Blog” that I’ve been hearing about since, well, about three years after I started…)

Thanks again for sticking around, for reading my stuff at other sites, like Taki’s and PJMedia, and for reading my books (and saying nice things about them.)

Your support amazes me.

It’s always fascinating to go back to what was being written in the late 1990s, 2000, and pre-9/11 2001 to remember how simpler and much more optimistic things seemed back then. (James Lileks’ first Bleats should be placed in a time capsule for what day-to-day life in the late 1990s was like.) Of course, it helped that there was still optimism over how the then-still nascent World Wide Web would transform, well, if not the world, at least how we got our news and pop culture.

Of course, what we didn’t know is that the nightmares that would haunt us in the coming decade were even then being crafted, both internationally:

And domestically:

Not to mention another topic that would dominate the news cycle of the past decade:

Because pop culture had started to fracture thanks to the initial breakup of mass media in the 1990s, that decade never had the feeling of a unified overculture that the 1980s had, and while we were living it, the nineties seemed remarkably chaotic. But today, it’s obvious that 1990s-era nostalgia is rapidly growing. It will be fascinating to watch Hillary Clinton attempt to profit from it, even as she denounces all of the ways her husband’s policies — either on his own, or attempting to steal the GOP’s lunch — made it happen.

“Let me save you a bunch of time: All the news overseas is bad this morning. Bad, bad, bad,” Jim Geraghty writes:

Breaking news out of Algeria:

An Air Algeria-operated MD83 carrying 116 passengers and crew disappeared en route from Burkina Faso in Africa to Algiers, the aircraft’s owner said.

The plane, which took off in the west African country shortly after midnight, was supposed to land at 05:10 a.m. local time, Swiftair, a charter company based in Spain said in a statement today. The plane carried 110 passengers and six crew.

“There has been no contact with the plane until now,” Swiftair said. “Emergency teams and the company’s personnel are working to figure out what happened and will notify people as further information is available.”

Ukraine: “While Kiev made significant advances against rebels in the country’s east in recent days, Ukrainian and U.S. officials say Russian weapons are continuing to pour over the border. The escalation in fighting suggests Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of dialing back his support for the separatists, denting Western hopes that international attention from the airliner crash would force him to change course.”

In contrast, a “tiny bit of good news” spotted by Jim out of Israel…

“Under pressure from Israeli and American officials, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted a temporary ban on flights by American carriers to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport late on Wednesday night.” The European airlines are reinstating flights.

…Followed by more grim news from Europe, which reads like the continent is reverting back to 1930s-era antisemitism.

Meanwhile, Time magazine, as Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, is running the following cover:

time-putin_7-24-14

Naturally, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO has a serious case of amnesia as to how we got here. To refresh their memory, here’s the man they propped up in 2008 holding a copy of Time columnist and CNN droning head Fareed Zakaria’s then new book, which portrayed the brave new “Post-American World” as if it were a good thing. Here’s CNN clearing a path for Barack Obama in mid-2008 via “The Wright-Free Zone”:

In November of 2008, even before he took office, Time magazine declared Barack Obama the next FDR. Apparently, now Time-Warner-CNN-HBO is surprised to see a similar amount of moral relativity from this president in regards to Russia and Putin as FDR displayed towards Stalin and the Soviet Union.

No one perhaps more so than Candy Crowley of CNN, who asked Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) if she “believes that U.S Russian relations are now at cold war levels.”

Feinstein responded yes.

Gee, who knew?

And who did everything she could to derail Romney’s chances in 2012? But of course:

I’m not sure which is worse — Time-Warner-CNN-HBO feigning surprise that the world has ended up as ugly as it has during the administrations that they greased the skids for twice, or their amnesia regarding their complicity. But in any case, today’s news of fresh disaster was sadly all too predictable — and avoidable.

Update: “How Our World Fell Apart,” from Ed Klein at Townhall. For my interview earlier this week with Ed, click here.

‘All The News Hamas Sees Fit to Print’

July 21st, 2014 - 12:02 pm

“Something important is missing from the New York Times‘s coverage of the war in Gaza,” Noah Pollak writes at the Weekly Standard:

It appears the Times is silently but happily complying with a Hamas demand that the only pictures from Gaza are of civilians and never of fighters. The most influential news organization in the world is thus manufacturing an utterly false portrait of the battle—precisely the portrait that Hamas finds most helpful: embattled, victimized Gaza civilians under attack by a cruel Israeli military.

A review of the Times‘s photography in Gaza reveals a stark contrast in how the two sides are portrayed. Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers, or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza depicts either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals, or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine.

The concept of Pallywood doesn’t just refer to the Palestinians faking the news, but influencing willing dupes in the MSM to slant their coverage to make it as favorable to their side as possible:

Oh and speaking of Pallywood, like the fortunately late Yasser Arafat, a Washington Post “reporter” has developed the same ability say one thing to one audience, and a deliver a very different message to another, as spotted by Tim Graham of NewsBusters:

The lead reporter on Monday’s Washington Post story on Palestinian protests is Britain Eakin, whose Twitter bio reads “Graduate Student Extraordinaire in Journalism and Middle East Studies at UA, Tucson.”

Eakin is in no way a neutral observer of the Israel-Palestine conflict. As she’s reporting “objectively” for the Post, she’s tweeting out an editorial she’d written defending the Palestians against “Israel’s disproportionate war on Gaza”  for al-Jazeera America[.]

As Moe Lane commented last week when the Post ran an ugly cartoon showing Benjamin Netanyahu punching a Palestinian infant(!), “I was unaware that @amazon’s Jeff Bezos hates Jews.” Like GE funding first MSNBC and now Ezra Klein’s equally far left JuiceVox Mafia, Bezos will have to ponder how much he wants to let his news and opinion organization spiral out of control, lest it harm the reputation the cash cow that allowed him to purchase it.

Related: Of course, the crony socialism has paid off bigtime for GE: “Governor Andrew Cuomo just bet $135 million of New York taxpayer dollars on backing GE’s silicon carbide manufacturing efforts and IBM’s gallium nitride efforts:”

Which raises the question: if this technology is so terrific, why can’t the private sector do the research and development on it without extra funding from taxpayers? Part of the answer may be that the productivity gains from the technology are incremental rather than exponential. A GE report on silicon carbide touts that the material “could” improve the efficiency of wind and solar farms “by more than one percent.”

The other part of the answer is that the companies are able to find politicians, like President Obama and Governor Cuomo, who are willing to put public funds on the line. For the politicians, the danger is that the investment will result in a well-publicized failure, like the Obama administration’s investment in Solyndra, the solar energy company that went bankrupt. But in a lot of cases, the politicians will be out of office and on to other things before success or failure becomes obvious.

I await Vox’s explanation of why using tax payer funds to enrich behemoth corporations is an unalloyed public good.

When America Fell Apart

July 17th, 2014 - 12:28 pm

“The summer of 2014 will go down in history as the season when America fell apart. Let’s take a tour of the disasters,” Victor Davis Hanson writes. After going through Obama’s alienation of Germany, Japan, terrorists running rampant over the Middle East, looming war between the Palestinians and Israel, Putin’s efforts to swallow up Crimea and Ukraine, Snowden’s leaks, the shrinking American economy, the stillborn “Stimulus” program, the disaster at the American border, the IRS scandal, Obama, Susan Rice and Hillary lying about a video causing Benghazi, and the Bowe Berghdal debacle, VDH writes, “The scandals now come so fast and furiously that we no sooner hear of one than yet another new mess makes us forget it:”

What keeps the country afloat this terrible summer?

Some American companies produce more gas and oil than ever despite, not because of, the Obama administration. Most Americans still get up every day, work hard, and pay more taxes than they receive in subsidies. American soldiers remain the most formidable in the world despite the confusion of their superiors. The law, regardless of the administration, is still followed by most. And most do not duck out on their daily responsibilities to golf, play pool, or go on junkets.

It is still a hard thing to derail America in a summer — but then again, we have a long way to go until fall.

Yes, Obama’s “dense-pack” assault of endless recurring scandals and disasters actually works in his favor by numbing voters — and the media, both of whom are overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the debacle. Just imagine how the MSM would be reporting the endlessly horrible news if there was a Republican in the White House, or in the case of LBJ in 1968, a fellow Democrat they actually loathed:

William A. Jacobson, writing in the Washington Examiner notes that “For years, critics of President Obama and his administration have complained about a rising disregard for the rule of law,” an a “unexpected” development for an administration led by a man who boasted repeatedly on the campaign circuit in 2007 and 2008 of being such an astute Constitutional scholar:

Overall, the Obama administration is having a miserable term at the Supreme Court, even aside from these unanimous rejections of its positions.

While the government typically wins 70 percent of the cases at the Supreme Court, this term its win percentage is only 39 percent of the cases in which it was a party.

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, finding that the Obamacare contraception mandate was invalid in some circumstances, was a fitting end to a term in which the high court handed the administration one high profile loss after another.

There always is an uneasy balance between the executive branch and the Congress. That balance is upset when the executive branch treats legislation as a mere enabler and not as binding law, and when the executive branch engages in power grabs at the expense of the Congress and citizens.

It is that disregard for the rule of law that has become the central narrative of the Obama administration.

Which is taking “phoning it in” to new heights. As Patrick Howley notes at the Daily Caller today, “Former Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis illegally solicited funds for Obama’s re-election campaign:”

Solis pressured a Labor Department employee who worked under her to contribute to an Obama campaign fundraiser that she was headlining at the La Fonda Supper Club in Los Angeles, according to bombshell new audio released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday. Solis was prohibited from fundraising by the federal Hatch Act, which pertains to all Cabinet members.

“Hi—this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here—Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 p.m.,” Solis said in a voicemail recording.

Howley adds that “Solis was on official duty in her capacity as Labor Secretary when she traveled to Los Angeles to headline the fundraiser in March 2012.”

But as with Fast & Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, Obamacare, and all of the other Cook County-style scandalsm which overwhelm the Obama administration’s critics in “dense pack” style, will there be any repercussions for Solis?

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

What explains Obama’s robust showing with white liberals?

Some elements of the answer are obvious: his high-toned oratory, his promises of reconciliation in a divisive time, a background in community organizing that suggests both idealism and a talent for problem-solving. But another clue may lie in the presidential bid of a figure Obama’s devotees love to invoke: John F. Kennedy.

When answering the charge that the Illinois senator lacks the record of achievement befitting a White House aspirant, Obama’s backers often stack him next to JFK. Obama is 44, they note, older than JFK was when he ran. Skeptics derided JFK, as they now do Obama, as callow and ill-versed in substantive issues. And yet Obama, similar to JFK, manages to inspire people with sex appeal, cerebral cool, and a message of generational change.

—”Playing the Tolerance Card: How Obama is like JFK,” Slate, then owned by the Washington Post, April 20, 2007.

Six months after becoming president, JFK had his calamitous meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna — a meeting The New York Times described as “one of the more self-destructive American actions of the Cold War, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.” (The Times admitted that a half-century later. At the time, the Newspaper of Record lied about the meeting.)

For two days, Khrushchev batted Kennedy around, leaving the president’s own advisers white-faced and shaken. Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze called the meeting “just a disaster.”

Khrushchev was delighted to discover that the U.S. president was so “weak.” A Russian aide said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.”

Seeing he was dealing with a naif, Khrushchev promptly sent missiles to Cuba. The Kennedy Myth Machine has somehow turned JFK’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis into a brilliant foreign policy coup. The truth is: (1) Russia would never have dared move missiles to Cuba had Khrushchev not realized that JFK was a nincompoop; and (2) it wasn’t a victory.

In exchange for Russia’s laughably empty threats about Cuba, JFK removed our missiles from Turkey — a major retreat. As Khrushchev put it in his memoirs: “It would have been ridiculous for us to go to war over Cuba — for a country 12,000 miles away. For us, war was unthinkable. We ended up getting exactly what we’d wanted all along, security for Fidel Castro’s regime and American missiles removed from Turkey.”

* * * * * * * * * *

So now, another Russian leader is playing cat-and-mouse with an American president — and guess who’s the mouse? Putin has taunted Obama in Iran, in Syria and with Edward Snowden. By now, Obama has become such an object for Putin’s amusement that the fastest way to get the Russians out of Crimea would be for Obama to call on Putin to invade Ukraine.

—”Column: From JFK to Obama, Democratic Presidents Have Shown Weakness in Face of Aggression,” Ann Coulter, NewsBusters, March 5th, 2014.

Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis to spy on the United States.

Just 155 miles from the U.S. coast, it was the Soviet Union’s largest covert military outpost abroad with up to 3,000 staff.

It was used to listen in to radio signals including those from submarines and ships and satellite communications.

‘All I can say is – finally!’ one Russian source told Kommersant of the reported reopening.

—”Russia ‘to reopen Cold War Cuban listening post used to spy on America,’” the London Daily Mail, today.

How Not to Promote Immigration Reform

July 15th, 2014 - 3:15 pm

“This CNN story makes it sound like Jose Antonio Vargas worked very hard to get arrested. Which I guess makes sense,” Mollie Hemingway tweeted earlier today. Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary adds that Vargas isn’t helping his cause:

Today, America’s most prominent illegal immigrant arrived at the border between Mexico and the United States to demonstrate his solidarity with the tens of thousands of people streaming into the country without permission. But the stunt by which former journalist Jose Antonio Vargas got himself arrested did more to undermine support for immigration reform than to foster sympathy for the illegals.

Vargas became a national figure three years ago when the former Washington Post reporter outed himself in the New York Times as an illegal immigrant. Vargas came to the United States at 12 from the Philippines to live with his grandparents who were naturalized citizens. But he was brought here by a “coyote” without a legal visa and spent the rest of his life lying about his status and using fake documents. After graduating college he consulted an immigration lawyer who told him his only path to citizenship was to return to his home country, wait ten years and then apply to come back with permission. On the cusp of a successful career he refused and continued lying even as he was part of a Post team that won a Pulitzer. Eventually, he tired of the deceit as he continued to rise in mainstream journalism and decided to put himself forward as a symbol of the plight of the so-called “dreamers”—people who were brought to the country illegally as kids and who went on to make a contribution to society.

“Spent the rest of his life lying about his status and using fake documents.” Vargas will never make it as a leftwing journalist with those sorts of tactics.

Oh wait — let me check with Dan Rather, Matt Yglesias, and Touré on that last supposition and get back to you.

And I better run it past the president, and academia, just to make certain.

I Question the Premise

July 14th, 2014 - 10:57 am

It’s rare that a journalist gets it so spectacularly wrong in the first 50 words of his article, but in the Financial Times yesterday titled “A farewell to trust: Obama’s Germany syndrome,” British journalist Henry Luce augers the plane deeply into the ground without even leaving the runway:

What did the president know, and when did he know it? Such was demanded of Richard Nixon, who resigned 40 years ago next month. In no sense can President Barack Obama be morally compared with the man who brought us Watergate. He is neither a crook nor a liar.

Well other than the greatest generational wealth theft in American history, the IRS and Fast & Furious scandals, and the greatest example of serial lying by a president ever. Even leftwing house organ, the Orwellian-named “Politifact” heaved a big Al Gore-level sigh and reluctantly awarded Mr. Obama The Lie of the Year at the end of 2013:

Which may explain the 180 that Luce does in his next paragraph:

But Mr Obama shares one problem that could cripple what remains of his presidency – most people no longer trust him. The sentiment spans foreign allies as well as domestic critics. When trust goes, respect is seldom far behind.

Unexpectedly, as the president’s defenders at Bloomberg.com would reflexively say. The same goes for journalism as well, particularly those who still write such naive material about a president who has spun so dramatically out of control.

But then, as Wikipedia notes in Luce’s biography:

His first job was as a correspondent for The Guardian in Geneva. He first joined the Financial Times in 1995 and reported for the FT from the Philippines, after which he took one year sabbatical working in Washington, DC as the speech writer to Lawrence Summers, then US treasury secretary (1999–2001) during the Clinton administration.

Unexpectedly.

Dear Monsieur Fantasy

July 13th, 2014 - 11:53 am

Fantasy:

We have been dismayed most of all by Mr. Kerry’s zigzags on Iraq, such as his swervings on whether Saddam Hussein presented a threat. As Mr. Bush charges, Mr. Kerry’s description of the war as a “diversion” does not inspire confidence in his determination to see it through. But Mr. Kerry has repeatedly pledged not to cut and run from Iraq, and we believe a Kerry administration would be better able to tackle the formidable nation-building tasks that remain there. Mr. Kerry echoes the Bush goals of an elected Iraqi government and a well-trained Iraqi force to defend it but argues that he could implement the strategy more effectively.

Mr. Kerry understands that the biggest threat to U.S. security comes from terrorists wielding nuclear or biological weapons. He pledges to add two divisions to the U.S. Army; try harder to secure nuclear weapons and materials around the world, and improve U.S. preparations for a bioterrorism attack. There is no way to know whether he would be more successful than Mr. Bush in slowing North Korea’s and Iran’s march toward becoming nuclear-armed states, but he attaches the right priority to both problems. He is correct that those challenges, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, call for the kind of sustained diplomacy that has been missing for four years. We hope he would be firmer than Mr. Bush in standing up to the genocide unfolding in Sudan.

We do not view a vote for Mr. Kerry as a vote without risks. But the risks on the other side are well known, and the strengths Mr. Kerry brings are considerable. He pledges both to fight in Iraq and to reach out to allies; to hunt down terrorists, and to engage without arrogance the Islamic world. These are the right goals, and we think Mr. Kerry is the better bet to achieve them.

“Kerry for President,” the reactionary knee-jerk pose of the Washington Post, October 24, 2004.

Reality, after five years of the Obama administration making a hash of the Middle East, particularly Iraq and Israel:

“Should John Kerry, given his commitment and the direness of the situation, pack his bags?” asked Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator, at an event this week at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“No,” said Shibley Telhami, an Arab-Israeli author, University of Maryland professor, and occasional advisor to the U.S. government. “We have to figure out a role to play, but the question is, where’s the influence going to come from? Who’s got the leverage with the two parties? … I don’t really see the U.S. as having a particularly strong hand in trying to stop the Israelis from doing anything they want to do in Gaza.”

Robert Danin, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that a Kerry visit would be a poor substitute for a more comprehensive effort by all of the other officials in the U.S. government to engage both sides at the working level. That could be much more effective than a high-profile, one-off high-level Kerry visit.

“Now is a time for active American diplomacy at the level below John Kerry,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten trapped into a mindset that either John Kerry does it or it doesn’t get done.”

“Everyone Says John Kerry Should Stay Out of the Middle East,” Josh Rogin, in the Daily Beast, the publication that the WaPo foisted Newsweek on for a dollar.

Phony Statistics Saved or Created

July 11th, 2014 - 2:07 pm

1984-not-a-users-guide

“President Obama likes to claim that he’s deported a lot of people. But he hasn’t,” Jonah Goldberg writes in his latest column:

President Obama has gotten a lot of grief from his base for being the “deporter-in-chief.” But the basis for this charge is rooted in some statistical sleight of hand that he uses on the stump to show that he’s tough on illegal immigration. President Obama likes to claim that he’s deported a lot of people. But he hasn’t. What he’s done is count people caught and turned around at the border as “deportations.” If previous administrations had counted thwarted illegal immigrants that way, Obama’s number of “deportations” from the border would likely still be much lower than that of other recent presidents. Meanwhile, as the Los Angeles Times reported in April, “expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40 percent since 2009.”

“If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero — it’s just highly unlikely to happen,” John Sandweg, the former acting head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told the Times.

Obama has been even more generous to the kids of illegal immigrants, sometimes called “dreamers.” He unilaterally — and some would say illegally — granted permanent resident status to any kids who’ve been living here a while and who came here under the age of 16. The same president who denounces his opponents for “playing politics” made that decision during an election year.

Oh and speaking of playing politics, this is far from the first time that the Obama administration has used a statistical sleight of hand to bolster their position, or at least get them through that week’s news cycle. As former Bush #43 speechwriter Bill McGurn noted in the Wall Street Journal back in June of 2009 at the apex of Hopenchange, “‘Saved or created’ has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs:”

“Saved or created” has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs — and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could “save or create” an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will “save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years.”

[Bush #43 Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto] sees a double standard at play. “We would never have used a formula like ‘save or create,’” he tells me. “To begin with, the number is pure fiction — the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being ‘saved.’ And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it.”

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama’s jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one — not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics — actually measures “jobs saved.” As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama’s jobs claims are “based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs.” Nice work if you can get away with it.

And get away with it he has. However dubious it may be as an economic measure, as a political formula “save or create” allows the president to invoke numbers that convey an illusion of precision. Harvard economist and former Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw calls it a “non-measurable metric.” And on his blog, he acknowledges the political attraction.

“The expression ‘create or save,’ which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius,” writes Mr. Mankiw. “You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus.”

Remember when Obama’s campaign tried to paint Hillary as Big Brother (or Big Sister in her case) from Orwell’s 1984 to launch Obama’s presidential bid? And yet no other administration in American history has governed more using the Big Lie propaganda tactics of 1984′s Ministry of Truth, in the style of its ever-rising chocolate rations and other economic happy talk, to Oceania being at war with Eurasia one day and East Asia the next.

QED:

But then, as Jonah notes in his latest emailed G-File (which should be online at NRO tomorrow), “I think I’ve stumbled onto a handy heuristic…for listening to Obama. Whenever he talks about himself, immediately flip it around so he’s saying the opposite:”

It’s not so much that he’s lying. Though if he were a Game of Thrones character, “Obama the Deceiver, First of His Name” would be a pretty apt formal title. No, he’s projecting. It’s an ego thing. I am fond of pointing out Obama’s insufficiently famous confession, “I actually believe my own bullsh*t.” What I like about it is that’s it’s like a verbal Escher drawing. He believes his own b.s. but by calling it b.s. he acknowledges it’s not believable. It’s like sarcastically insisting that you’re being serious. It’s earnest irony or ironic earnestness. If you take the statement too seriously, you could end up like android #1 in “I, Mudd.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Anyway, I don’t take psychoanalysis, too seriously (“If you did, what would happen to me?” — The Couch). But I think Obama’s penchant for deriding his opponents as cynics and opportunists stems from the fact that he sees the world through precisely those sorts of prisms. But he tells himself he’s different because he does it for good purposes and besides, he’s so awesome his b.s. is true. No one knows if God can make a rock so heavy He can’t lift it, but Obama can sling such exquisite b.s. even he can believe. And because he believes it, he can’t tolerate the idea that others don’t.

Oh and speaking of 1984, that Time piece we quoted earlier today, titled, “Bloggers, Surveillance and Obama’s Orwellian State,” contains this quote:

“Increasingly, the Obama White House has become so brittle, and so controlling of the message, that people are afraid to respond to me,” said Kimberly Dozier, a former Associated Press reporter. She was one of the journalists whose phone records were obtained by the Department of Justice last spring during its investigation into a leak of classified information about a failed Al-Qaeda plot. The scope of that investigation, some critics said, was unprecedented overreach.

Brittle is an adjective that sums up this administration rather nicely — and even more so the condition of its figureheads, Jarrett, Biden, Kerry, and in particular Obama himself, as pesky reality can’t help but interfere with their socialist worldviews and entirely undeserved hauteur.

Two Time Magazines In One!

July 11th, 2014 - 10:34 am

Advancements in technology have fueled this White House’s obsession with controlling the message.

Jay Carney is free. But not loose – at least so far. After resigning as the press secretary for President Obama on June 20, Carney gave insight into the Obama administration’s handling of classified documents, and responded to criticism that this administration has been the most Orwellian in recent history.

“Bloggers, Surveillance and Obama’s Orwellian State,” Time magazine, today.

But the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-owned publication promised its readers that Mr. Obama be the most socialist president in history — the second coming of FDR — before he even took office. As in the 1930s, the implication was that the American public’s freedoms were about to be trampled; why did the MSM think they would be immune?

time_obama_fdr_12-24-2008-3

As Glenn Reynolds Insta-quips, “Dana Milbank helpfully Voxplains that if Obama loses the Senate next year, it will actually be a good thing.” In a piece titled “For Obama, loss of the Senate could be freeing,” the leftwing Washington Post journalist writes:

As President Obama fails to get any credit for the millions who have found jobs or gained health-care coverage on his watch, a nonpartisan Quinnipiac poll this week found that 33 percent of Americans consider him to be the worst president since World War II, besting (or worsting, as it were) George W. Bush and leaving Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon in the dust.

No wonder this bear wants to break loose. And maybe he will — if Republicans take control of the Senate.

Crazy talk, you say? Maybe so. The prevailing view is that a Republican Senate would only compound Obama’s woes by bottling up confirmations, doubling the number of investigations and chipping away at Obamacare and other legislative achievements.

Yet there’s a chance that having an all-Republican Congress would help Obama — and even some White House officials have wondered privately whether a unified Republican Congress would be better than the current environment. Republicans, without Harry Reid to blame, would own Congress — a body that inspires a high level of confidence in just 7 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup survey last month finding Congress at a new low and at the bottom of all institutions tested.

I’ve this movie before. Back in February of 2011, Noemie Emery of the right-leaning crosstown rival Washington Examiner ominously forecasted that, “For 2012, GOP’s best hope may be losing:”

People like Obama more than his ideas, and his chances will only get better as people realize he will never be able to pass his agenda. If re-elected, he may pass six of eight years politically neutered. An Obama safely under House (and probably Senate) arrest might be just what the public would want.

Then, after two terms of a left-wing but neutered Obama, the voters might want the next big Republican president. And here we confront the real crux of the problem: A so-so Republican who knocks off a weakened Obama may also weaken the next great conservative star.

If a Republican wins, no one from the class of 2009-2010 can run until 2020, and if a Republican wins in 2016, it gives him an almost insurmountable burden: only three times in the 20th century has a party extended its run for three terms.

A President Pawlenty or Daniels may come at the cost of a President Rubio, who might have united the party, excited the young and vastly expanded the reach of the party. Would it be worth it? Your call.

Strategic thinking too far in the future can often be folly, the victim of many unknowns. Hillary Clinton schemed for eight years, and prepared for everything except for Obama; many Democrats passed on 1992, as there would be plenty of time to run later; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., edged ahead of Obama and was preparing his victory lap on the surge when the fiscal implosion put paid to all that.

That said, Republicans facing 2012 may have two choices: Hang Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., by his feet out the window until he comes to terms with his destiny; or pick a common-sense nominee who can give Obama a run for his money — and quietly hope he will lose.

Since we’re not exploring how well the first two years of President Romney and his administration are doing, arguably, Republicans took the last option that Emery suggested — certainly enough conservatives slept through 2012 to make her prediction a fait accompli.

In October of 2010, facing the strongest GOP headwind in ages, Benjamin Sarlin of the Daily Beast looked at the folly of political “addition through subtraction” from the same side of the aisle as Milbank this past week, at the conclusion of his article titled, “Five Signs the Dems are Doomed:”

5. We Totally Wanted to Lose Anyway

The final phase of the party meltdown after denial, anger, and depression: acceptance. Once it becomes clear that a major loss is inevitable, expect a spate of op-eds making the case that it’s actually in the party’s best interest to give up its majorities. They may even have a good argument, but their very existence is about as ill an omen as it gets. One typical silver lining cited by pundits is that a midterm loss will boost the party’s chances in the next presidential election. Salon’s Mark Greenbaum runs with this idea, for example, arguing that the minority party’s new governing responsibilities will expose them to tougher criticism and give Obama a handy foil to rally his troops against.

“Sure, a GOP House could mean endless investigations and subpoenas, but it would also give the president a better chance at winning a second term in 2012,” Greenbaum writes.

As Republicans faced their own wipeout in 2006, conservative commentators penned plenty of pieces along the same lines. Ramesh Ponnuru took to The New York Times in September to explain that “if Republicans play their cards right, and the Democrats prove unequal to the task of running the House, the voters could put the Republicans back in power on Capitol Hill in 2008.”

Could 2014 equal a Senatorial version of the Republican Congressional landslide of 2010? Well, Milbank is certainly acting that way — but it’s up to voters angry over Obamacare and the president’s myriad other disasters to send his administration — and the craven Democrats who allowed it to happen — a well-needed lesson.

And thus one of the rare moments where one of Milbank’s political desires coming true would a good thing. C’mon voters, make it happen!

“I wish people in my profession would examine how their educational status blinds them to things outside their class bubble,” Rod Dreher writes at the American Conservative:

You can look across most newsrooms and see a rainbow assortment of people by color — but everybody went to college, an experience that determines what they see and don’t see about the world they cover. This is how you end up with Vox reporter Sarah Kliff providing analysis of single-payer health coverage, and ending up writing a brief for liberal policy choices instead of what she was supposed to do, which is explain what’s at issue. PEG comments:

The point is not whether or not single payer is wrong, or that the cancer survival rate point is decisive. The point is that a prominent, talented liberal writer on health policy, asked to make an objective list of arguments against single payer, cannot do justice to the job.

Did she even notice what she was doing? Did anybody who employs or supervises her ask her to list objections to single player? Or did it simply never occur to them, because “everybody knows” that single-payer is the way to go.

Which brings us back to Reader Bobby’s comment about elites only rubbing shoulders with other elites, a social habit that misleads them into thinking that everybody sees the world as they do. We are all guilty of this, more or less. But we ought to work harder at trying to imagine the world as it might look to people very different from ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we are wrong in the conclusions we’ve arrived at, or in the convictions that we hold. It does mean, however, that we should be more humble about what we know, and more understanding of others when confronted by the true difficulties of knowing anything for certain.

Much has been made over the past few years about how folks getting to know gay people personally has converted them to the gay-rights cause. There’s a lot to that. It’s harder to hold stereotypical views of someone in a particular class if you know them personally. Yet I wonder: does it ever occur to liberals that they ought to try to get to know, say, a conservative Evangelical? If not, why not?

Because then they wouldn’t be the alien Others in their midst; they’d be people with a diverse set of interests who seek to protect and express them. Last night, I watched Don Lemon of CNN and his panel get their panties in a bunch over young hunter Kendall Jones and the photos of her hunts she publicly posted. I wonder if any of them know what the founder of the network broadcasting them offers customers on his ranch:

ted_turner_hunting_7-2-14-1

Note the photo at the top right. I look forward to Don Lemon and his panel condemning the hunting opportunities proffered by the founder of his network and his publicly posted photos of the results of such activities.

Related: “An unintentionally hilarious inside look at NPR’s neurotic bean counting, replete with grotesque race charts.”

The Left’s Hobby Lobby Doublethink

July 2nd, 2014 - 1:05 pm

There are actually a few examples of double-track thinking going on regarding the left’s freakout over the Hobby Lobby decision; Jonah Goldberg charts several of them in his latest column:

Hobby Lobby never objected to covering birth control per se. It already covers 16 kinds of birth control for its employees. But it objected to paying for what it considers to be abortifacients, which don’t prevent a pregnancy but terminate one. The pro-abortion-rights lobby can argue that “abortion” and “birth control” are synonymous terms, but that doesn’t make it true. One lesson here is that overreaching can have unintended consequences. We saw that last week when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the White House had overplayed its hand when it comes to the president’s ability to make recess appointments. By abusing a presidential prerogative, Obama invited the court to address the issue. As a result, presidential power — at least in this regard — is now more curtailed.

Similarly, the Hobby Lobby decision opens the door for closely held companies to deny coverage of all forms of birth control if they can plausibly argue that doing so would violate their conscience. The decision doesn’t apply to large, publicly held corporations, but even if it did, it is unlikely that many companies would go down that path. And even if they did, birth control would not be “banned” – employees simply would have to pay for it themselves. The notion that denying a subsidy for a product is equivalent to banning that product is one of the odder tenets of contemporary liberalism.

Yes, as Stacy McCain recently explored in his Existential Theory of Liberalism, “To a liberal, nothing exists unless it is mandated, subsidized and/or regulated by the federal government.”

This massively retweeted quote from Sean Davis of the Federalist sums up the paradoxical worldview of America’s far left today:

Heh.™

Have You Seen This Man?

July 2nd, 2014 - 11:52 am


Curiously, searching on “Bruce Springsteen Iraq” in Google and setting the time parameter for the past month doesn’t bring up anything remotely relevant. But then, as Moe Lane writes, “I guess the Left is comfortable with our quiet troop buildup in Iraq:”

Refreshing: despite my earlier sardonic commentary about Democrats rolling over on this, I still wondered whether we’d have more progressives protesting over this. Or rioting.  Guess even the most hardcore Lefty can detect a brick wall after he’s run into it six or seven times.

The United States has sent Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of the buildup in U.S. military personnel, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Officials would not say how many of the armed helicopters have been sent to the country, stating only that they will be based in Baghdad and could assist with evacuations of American personnel.

…Yes, I suppose that they could. Or they could be there for airstrikes against the terrorist army that Barack Obama unaccountably just let set up shop again in Iraq.

Of course, as long as Obama calls the troops “advisors,” perhaps anti-war celebrities think of them as managers and agents — they’ll get their 12 percent of the royalties from al-Maliki’s production company, but hopefully they want the points on the net, rather than the gross.

But in 1985, Springsteen was telling his listeners, “Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed,” before grunting his remake of Edwin Starr’s hoary-old 1969 Motown song “War, What Is it Good For.”* Last September though, Springsteen was cheerfully fundraising for Obama, even as Obama was saber-rattling in Syria. It got to the point where even left-leaning Buzzfeed created one of their patented listicles on “14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped.” As I wrote back then, BuzzFeed, astonishingly enough, put out an All-Points Bulletin, along with some exceedingly precious quotes as part of each celebrity’s “Last-Known Pre-2009 Communication” before these otherwise perilously outspoken far left celebrities voluntarily started BenSmithing themselves into oblivion:

“I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”
— Sheryl Crow

“I think we’re past that point in human evolution where there’s such a thing as winning wars.”
— Sean Penn

“It is very inspiring and amusing how many people have come out in this genuine and spontaneous way to embrace peace and reject war. It reminds us there is a human and gentle spirit out there in this world.”
— Tim Robbins

“American people always have to be tricked into going to war, they always have to be cajoled. I mean, there’s a long history of being lied to, of having things described in a particular way, in order to get them out of their sort of isolationist… prosperity mode and go to war.”
— Jackson Brown

“War is failure! When you are at war, you have failed!”
— Janeane Garofalo

And Janeane and failure are on exceedingly good terms. But she may have had the best explanation in 2003 as to why her fellow leftists gave Bill Clinton a pass during his myriad foreign adventures in the 1990s, and brought forward a decade to explain why Obama gets as a pass as well: “it wasn’t very hip.”

Last September, I did a few milk carton Photoshops of missing anti-war celebrities. Perhaps it’s time to crank out a few more. But then, as one of Moe’s commenters writes, “Don’t worry, antiwar protestors will become fashionable again as soon as the GOP wins the [White House].”

Hipness and ideological consistency are quite cyclical things for celebrity anti-war leftists, apparently.

* Apparently borrowed from the first draft title of Tolstoy’s War and Peace