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FIGHT OVER WAR AUTHORIZATION INTENSIFIES: The White House rips “idle chatter” from Congress on war powers.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest chastised lawmakers for failing to act on President Obama’s use of force request, even as ISIS militants make gains in Iraq and Syria.

“Their job requires basically only fulfilling the bare minimum,” Earnest told reporters. “When it comes to our national security, something they say is so important to our country, it’s time for them to not just pay lip service but to actually follow through with some action.”

Lip service on national security?  Pot, meet kettle.  I don’t recall any other situation in which Congress wanted the President to be more aggressive in his use of military force to protect American interests, except for the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction, who imposed, through the Reconstruction Acts, military control over former Confederate States, overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto.

DEMILITARIZATION OF POLICE: MAKE IT PERMANENT:  So argues this commentary in Roll Call:

It just got more difficult for police to arm themselves like soldiers. Recently, President Barack Obama announced a plan to de-militarize law enforcement with an executive order curtailing the federal programs that provide weapons of war to local police. This was a surprisingly bold announcement, given that national consensus post-Ferguson seems to be that the solution to an increasingly militarized police force is more training, or body-worn cameras. The Obama administration ignored that consensus by issuing this executive order. And it was exactly the right thing to do. . . .

To be clear, the administration’s bold action does not let Congress off the hook. To the contrary, it is now more important than ever that Congress pass legislation to codify these changes or even take them further. The next administration could just as easily reverse this policy as this one put it into place. That would be unacceptable, because we have learned far too much in the last year to move backward. Without real efforts to de-militarize police, there will almost certainly be more Fergusons.

The “more Fergusons” comment aside (the riots had no connection to the militarization of police), I agree with this, as I see no legitimate reason for police to have military weaponry, other than perhaps limited riot gear in larger cities. The section 1033 program should be scaled back by Congress. But the militarization of police and excessive use of miiltary-grade force has gone much farther than this, just ask Giggles the Deer, may she rest in peace, or more disturbingly, 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner of Stettin, Wisconsin, or the parents of toddler Bounkham Phonesavanh.

WEIRDLY, FEMINISTS ARE UNHAPPY: GOP senators call for over-the-counter birth control. “Groups like Planned Parenthood have opposed the idea, which they argue could drive up contraception prices. The group has pointed to ObamaCare’s contraception mandate — requiring insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control — and said that insurers may no longer cover the medication if it’s not prescribed by a doctor. Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a statement condemning Gardner’s bill shortly after he introduced it.”

Actually they’re unhappy because it threatens their gatekeeper status.

THE OBAMA BETRAYAL OF IRAQIS: Mario Loyola has a terrific oped in today’s WSJ explaining the human cost of Obama’s “hands off” policy toward Iraq:

In September 2007, I was in Ramadi for a gathering of Iraqi and American military commanders, politicians and local tribal leaders who had joined forces with the U.S. to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. Then-Sen. Joseph Biden was there. “These are difficult days,” he told our Iraqi allies. “But as you are proving, you can forge a future for Iraq that is much brighter than its past. If you continue, we will continue to send you our sons and our daughters, to shed their blood with you and for you.”

It was a noble promise, and Iraqis believed it. . . .

In Ramadi I met an Iraqi police lieutenant who was earnestly pro-American, and who kept talking about the need for “honest leadership” in the local police stations. The police lieutenant (I’ll call him Ismail, for his protection) was hopeful, if also wary. He mistrusted some of his fellow police and was afraid that al Qaeda might return if U.S. forces left too soon.. . .

Then came President Obama, and the end of the fragile reconciliation process in Iraq. At the end of 2011, he withdrew all U.S. forces, ignoring the advice of commanders on the ground and the private pleas of senior Iraqi leaders. . . .

President Obama’s 2011 abandonment of Iraq was a betrayal of America’s promises to millions of Iraqi men, women and children. The ISIS victories, and the horrors that follow them, are a direct result of that betrayal. As Ismail said to me: “They shouldn’t leave us like that.” 

Obama’s abrupt abandonment has just bred resentment among Iraqis who were pro-American. We’ve turned our few friends in the region into enemies, and left them to the brutality of ISIS.

QUID PRO NOTHING:  The Obama Administration today officially removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

State Department officials said they conducted a thorough review to back their recommendation to remove Cuba from the list and received assurances from the Cuban government they wouldn’t support terrorist activity in the future. Officials cited Cuban President Raúl Castro’s condemnation of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year as an example of the government’s stance against terror operations.

Cuba also harbors fugitives wanted in the U.S., including Joanne Chesimard, who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. Cuba granted her asylum after she escaped from prison in 1979. State Department officials said last month that Cuba had agreed to talk about fugitives as part of a broader dialogue on law enforcement issues.

So Castro condemns the Charlie Hebdo attacks and that’s evidence they aren’t sponsors of terrorism anymore? But of course, Cuba has promised the Obama Administration it won’t support terrorism.  I feel better now.  House Speaker John Boehner was right when he said today, ”The Obama administration has handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing,” 

#AGEISM BY CNBC AGAINST RUBIO: The CNBC Squawk Box crew enjoyed a round of “he’s too young” criticism of GOP contender Marco Rubio today, with one reporter, John Harwood, saying Rubio “looked like a schoolboy.”  Another panelist, co-host Joe Kernen, sarcastically suggested that “Hillary needs to sue…Rubio for age discrimination” since “[h]e keeps bringing up this 23-year difference in age.”  Rubio is 44 years old; Hillary Clinton is 67.

Yeah, well, the “youthfulness” of Obama–inaugurated at age 47–never seemed to be a problem for CNBC or anyone else in the liberal/progressive mainstream media. And the mainstream media had fun suggesting that Mitt Romney (in his mid-60s) was “too old” to be President.  But of course one shouldn’t expect any principled consistency from the likes of CNBC or the mainstream media.

BRIBERY EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON HILLARY & CLINTON FOUNDATION:  Two legal experts have told Breitbart that they believe the activities of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, undertaken while Clinton was Secretary of State, violate the federal statute prohibiting bribery of public officials, 18 USC 201.

When asked if the donations to the Clinton Foundation by defense contractors including Boeing (which subsequently received State Department approval of sales of their products to foreign governments) constituted a violation of domestic bribery statues, Law School Professor and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) expert Michael Koehler tells Breitbart News, “I’ll answer that question by quoting a former law professor who was fond of saying ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are it is a duck’”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy thinks there’s enough evidence for the FBI and DOJ to launch an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton broke federal statutes that prohibit the bribery of public officials.

“There is certainly a reasonable basis for federal agents and prosecutors to investigate whether there was an understanding that Secretary Clinton would be influenced in the performance of her official duties by lavish donations to her family foundation, and, indeed, that the Clinton Foundation was operated as a racketeering enterprise,” McCarthy tells Breitbart News.

“This is the theory on which the Justice Department has proceeded in the prosecution of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — in fact, the main difference between the two cases may be that the staggering sums of money that were poured into the Clinton Foundation by supplicants who benefited from Hillary Clinton’s stewardship of the State Department dwarf the amounts involved in the Menendez indictment,” McCarthy continues.

The statute is broad and, like all criminal statutes, requires proof of a quid pro quo, but this could be (and indeed, generally must be, absent direct video or audio evidence from the horse’s mouth, so to speak) proven by circumstantial evidence. The U.S. Attorney in either D.C. or New York (where the Clinton Foundation is located) would need to initiate an investigation. But I won’t hold my breath that these Obama nominees will do so.

EHRs: ANOTHER OBAMACARE FAILURE: Another provision of Obamacare is proving to be utter nonsense, beyond the Democrat’s lies about keeping your doctor and your health plan if you like them.  This shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that the entire 1,200+ page law was rushed into law without any serious thought as to its consequences. Charles Krauthammer on “Why Doctors Quit“:

I hear this everywhere. Virtually every doctor and doctors’ group I speak to cites the same litany, with particular bitterness about the EHR mandate. As another classmate wrote, “The introduction of the electronic medical record into our office has created so much more need for documentation that I can only see about three-quarters of the patients I could before, and has prompted me to seriously consider leaving for the first time.”

You may have zero sympathy for doctors, but think about the extraordinary loss to society — and maybe to you, one day — of driving away 40 years of irreplaceable clinical experience.

And for what? The newly elected Barack Obama told the nation in 2009 that “it just won’t save billions of dollars” — $77 billion a year, promised the administration — “and thousands of jobs, it will save lives.” He then threw a cool $27 billion at going paperless by 2015.

It’s 2015 and what have we achieved? The $27 billion is gone, of course. The $77 billion in savings became a joke. Indeed, reported the Health and Human Services inspector general in 2014, “EHR technology can make it easier to commit fraud,” as in Medicare fraud, the copy-and-paste function allowing the instant filling of vast data fields, facilitating billing inflation.

That’s just the beginning of the losses. Consider the myriad small practices that, facing ruinous transition costs in equipment, software, training and time, have closed shop, gone bankrupt or been swallowed by some larger entity.

This hardly stays the long arm of the health-care police, however. As of Jan. 1, 2015, if you haven’t gone electronic, your Medicare payments will be cut, by 1 percent this year, rising to 3 percent (potentially 5 percent) in subsequent years.

Sounds good: Let’s force doctors to spend a lot of money to become technology dependent and adopt electronic health records when the old way of doing things was working just fine.  And hey–as a bonus, our health information is now more vulnerable to hacking and we can lose some privacy along the way! Electronic health records haven’t saved a single life or a single dollar, but they have created a lot of expense, confusion, and tremendous demoralization for our health care providers.  It wasn’t broken, and it shouldn’t have been “fixed.”  If the Republican Congress was smart, it would repeal this onerous, useless provision of Obamacare.

HEY, HE BRIBED ‘EM FAIR AND SQUARE: Putin Fumes over FIFA Arrests.

Vladimir Putin is loudly railing against the dramatic U.S. arrest of FIFA’s top officials in Zurich for massive corruption, using his favorite rhetorical tricks of reversing the narrative and demonizing America. . . .

One of the reasons Putin may be so exercised is that the whole affair could call the location of the 2018 tournament into question. Putin is a man who loves sports, and and it was a huge point of pride for him when he secured the rights to host last year’s Winter Olympics in, of all places, Sochi, the seaside southern resort town where he likes to summer. The games cost a record-smashing $51 billion dollars (with some critics estimating that embezzlement accounts for more than half of that figure). That victory was multiplied when Russia’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 13 cities, including Sochi, won out. The Russian Sports Minister told state media that Russia’s right to host the Cup was not in danger, but given the investigation into how the decisions to award the tournament to South Africa, Russia, and Qatar were made, there are good reasons to doubt that. . . .

There’s a second reason Putin might care about the FIFA arrests. His claim that the U.S. doesn’t have rightful jurisdiction because none of the alleged criminal activity is related to America is complete bunk and almost certainly an intentional misreading of how international criminal jurisdiction works (and that’s not to mention that the Russian president hasn’t exactly been leading by example on the issue of maintaining great respect for other countries’ inviolable territorial sovereignty). Recently, he trotted out the same invalid objection about the U.S. securing an extradition order for a Russian citizen accused of industrial espionage in Sweden. A world with more prosecution of corruption is a world that’s harder for Putin to operate in.

Yeah, you’d think he and Obama — and Hillary — would be on the same page there.

TOM MAGUIRE: So What Did Hastert Do? “So, my current guess – Hastert is guilty of trying to do the right thing by supporting an illicit child and then was a damn idiot who lied to the FBI about it. The rest is politicized, Chicagoland, Obamaland BS.” Well, stay tuned.

Plus, from the comments: “Hastert should have started a charity and hired this person on at a Blumenthalian pay level.”

DOJ OFFICIAL LINKS BAD POLICING TO JIM CROW LAWS:  The Washington Times reports that Ronald Davis, the Community Oriented Policing Services director at DOJ, asserts that Jim Crow laws are at least partially to blame for excessive policing and force:

“We’re still operating on some system that was used to enforce Jim Crow laws, that were used to oppress people,” Ronald Davis, Community Oriented Policing Services director for the Department of Justice, said at an event at the Center for American Progress. “These are operational systems and policies and practices that exist today.”

. . .

Mr. Davis told The Washington Times that he is concerned that the tensions tied to the Jim Crow era still have an impact on “anything from how we incarcerate to how we sentence to why we police and how we police.”

As a result, good officers are sometimes put in positions where they produce bad outcomes simply because the system ” is disparate to incarceration of young men of color,” Mr. Davis said. Mass incarceration and statistical drops in crime “cannot be the priority of public safety or law enforcement,” he said.

There are definitely over-criminalization issues, and yes, the criminal justice system does prosecute a large number of minorities arrested for crimes. But the inflammatory “Jim Crow” label is just a dog-whistle for the same old tired racism charge that permeates everything DOJ does under the Obama Administration. Can we please just address the real issues without resorting to the overplayed racism accusation? Liberals/progressives hurl “racism” so often now, it just sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and I tune it out.

HOUSE WAYS & MEANS ASKS DOJ TO INVESTIGATE IRS TARGETING:  All Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan, sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to answer the committee’s 2014 request for criminal prosecution of IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups.  Writes Kimberley Strassel:

It’s now been two full years since a little-known IRS bureaucrat named Lois Lerner admitted that her agency systematically collected the names of conservative groups, harassed them, and denied their right to participate in elections. It’s been two full years since the Justice Department opened an investigation. And it’s been two full years of crickets. . . .

Specifically, the committee provided documents that show three acts by Ms. Lerner that may have violated criminal statutes. One, she helped to target only conservative organizations, thereby robbing them of equal protection and due process. Two, she may have impeded the Treasury inspector general’s investigation of the matter by giving misleading statements. Three, she risked exposing (and may have exposed) confidential taxpayer information by using her personal email address to conduct official business.

And that’s only what we know so far. Congress’s problem is that the IRS has stonewalled it at every turn. The Treasury inspector general, J. Russell George, has become tentative after all the Democratic criticism of his probe. It seems the Justice Department is the only body with the powers to shake loose some answers about what happened.

The Ryan letter asks Ms. Lynch to tell him the status of that referral, and Speaker Boehner chimed in with a statement calling for the new attorney general to prove to Americans that “justice will be served.”

I won’t hold my breath for “justice” coming out of Obama’s DOJ, even now that Eric Holder has departed.  But at least the Republicans in the House are following up.

HOUSE LAWSUIT VS. OBAMA GETS HEARING:  Federal district judge Rosemary Collyer appeared skeptical about the Obama Administration’s arguments urging dismissal of the House lawsuit against the executive branch, challenging its rewriting of Obamacare’s employer mandate and its spending of funds not appropriated by Congress.

Despite initial liberal/progressive dismissal of the lawsuit as “frivolous,” attorney David Rivkin and I have long argued that legal precedent suggests otherwise, and the serious separation of powers arguments deserve consideration on the merits.  Judge Collyer appears to understand this. Stay tuned.

I HOPE THEY READ, AND LISTEN:  Michael Doran: “A Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends.”

On Friday, May 22, President Obama, calling himself “an honorary member of the tribe,” addressed you not just as the president of the United States but also as an explicit adherent of the “tikkun olam” tradition: a Jewish viewpoint for “repairing the world” that, in his reading, promotes universal progressive ideals like fighting bigotry and working for social justice everywhere. Thus, for him, the same “shared values” that underlay the civil-rights movement in the United States were what led him to identify himself with the cause of Israel—and also with the cause of Palestinian nationalism. . . .

Here’s my question. As Obama donned his yarmulke and embraced your community, did you also catch the hint of a warning? If you did, it was because the president was raising, very subtly, the specter of dual loyalty: the hoary allegation that Jews pursue their tribal interests to the detriment of the wider community or nation. . . .  And so the warning was faint, but unmistakable: if Jews wish to avoid being branded as bigots, then they—you—must line up with him against Netanyahu. . . .

On June 30, Obama will likely conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. This will spark a faceoff with Congress, which has already declared its opposition to the deal. Congress will inevitably pass a vote of disapproval, which Obama will inevitably veto. In order to defend that veto from a congressional override, however, he must line up 34 Senators—all Democrats. This calls in turn for a preemptive ideological campaign to foster liberal solidarity—for which your support is key. If the president can convince the liberal Jewish community, on the basis of “shared values,” to shun any suspicion of alignment with congressional Republicans or Benjamin Netanyahu, he will have an easier time batting down Congress’s opposition to the deal with Iran.

Progressive values have nothing to do with what is truly at stake in this moment of decision. Only one final question really matters: in your considered view, should the Islamic Republic of Iran be the dominant power in the Middle East, and should we be helping it to become that power? If your answer is yes, then, by all means, continue to applaud the president—loudly and enthusiastically—as he purports to repair the world.

Obama’s a master at making liberals feel guilty with insinuations of bigotry. The American Jewish community is being played.

ANOTHER BREATHTAKING EPA POWER GRAB:  First, it was the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the Clean Air Act.  Now, it’s rewriting the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act limits the federal government to regulating the “navigable waters of the United States” like the Colorado River or Lake Michigan. In 1986 the EPA expanded that definition to seize jurisdiction over tributaries and adjacent wetlands. Now it is extending federal control over just about any creek, pond, prairie pothole or muddy farm field that EPA says has a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway.

The agency defines waters as “significant” if they are “located in whole or in part within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark,” or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark of waters already under the government’s jurisdiction. That’s already a lot of water, but there’s more.

The EPA acknowledges that the “science available today does not establish that waters beyond those defined as ‘adjacent’” to these “significant” waters should be regulated. But forget science. The agency says its “experience and expertise” show there are “many” other waters that could have a significant downstream effect. Thus the EPA establishes an additional standard for significance that covers just about anything that’s wet.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

SORRY, RAND, BUT YOU CROSSED THE LINE ON THIS ONE: Rand Paul says GOP hawks “created” ISIS.

The freshman senator from Kentucky said Wednesday that the GOP’s foreign policy hawks “created these people.” . . .  “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He continued: “They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved – they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”

This has triggered understandable backlash, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board today:

Citing Iraq, Syria and Libya, Mr. Paul added that “everything that they’ve talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for 20 years, and yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.”

Speaking of gall, and a word of political advice, an aide might want to remind Senator Paul which party’s nomination he is seeking. Republicans who begin their campaigns assailing other Republicans rarely succeed—especially when the accusation is culpability for a would-be caliphate that uses executions, slavery, extortion, rape and general terror to enforce oppression in the Middle East and North Africa, and whose ideology inspires jihadists world-wide.

More to the point, even President Obama now largely refrains from blaming George W. Bush for all the world’s ills, albeit with an exception here and there for old time’s sake. Maybe even he recognizes that the statute of limitations has expired for Republicans who haven’t run the executive branch for seven years and have had no perceptible influence on Administration policy. . . .

Mr. Paul seems to think he can win the GOP nomination on an anti-interventionist platform, though we think he’d be better off focusing on his domestic agenda. But if he wants to run as an Obama Republican on foreign policy, he shouldn’t also adopt the Obama trick of rewriting history. It reflects poorly on his judgment as a potential Commander in Chief.

It’s a critical error for Paul, who has exhibited a vulnerability to foot-in-mouth disease.

INSERT GOLF COURSE WATER HAZARD JOKE HERE: President Obama asserts power over small waterways.

IT’S CALLED JOURNALISM:  Politico’s Bill Scher seems truly baffled by Fox News’ hosts/reporters who ask tough questions of GOP presidential candidates: “Fox News Eats Its Own.’  Yes, that’s what actual journalists do: They ask tough questions, and they don’t “play favorites.”  Shocking, I know, to a liberal/progressive mainstream media that hires hacks parading as hosts, such as George Stephanopoulos, Dan Rather, Candy Crowley and Keith Olbermann.

WELL, OBAMA IS IN THE PROCESS OF FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMING AMERICA INTO THE KIND OF COUNTRY PEOPLE EMIGRATE FROM, INSTEAD OF IMMIGRATE TO: Fewer immigrants are entering the U.S. illegally.

NONSENSE. PRESIDENT OBAMA APPROVED IT, AND HE’S THE ENVIRONMENTAL PRESIDENT: Oil Drilling In Alaska Is A Disaster.

But if you really believe that, then you support fracking as an alternative, right?

GOOD FOR HIM-CONGRESS NEEDS TO ASSERT ITS MUSCLE MORE:  Ted Cruz, chair of the Senate Judiciary Oversight subcommittee, is threatening to subpoena Treasury officials to testify about their rulemaking process for Obamacare subsidies. Obama Administration officials have balked at testifying, citing the ongoing Supreme Court litigation in King v. Burwell, but Cruz (aptly) is having none of it.

Congress needs to issue more subpoenas to perform its oversight function appropriately.  And equally important, Congress needs to be prepared to enforce such subpoenas, including civil enforcement, criminal contempt, or even arrest and detention by the Sergeant-at-Arms (which hasn’t been used in years, but is still possible).

OF COURSE THEY ARE:  The Taliban 5– released from Gitmo in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl–will be free to travel as soon as Monday. The US agreement with host country Qatar restricting their movement expires June 1.  Great move, Sparky Obama!

MICHELLE OBAMA TO GRADUATES:  At Oberlin College’s commencement, she advises graduates to “shape the revolutions of your times.” She also told them:

Here at Oberlin, most of the time you’re probably surrounded by folks who share your beliefs. But out in the real world, there are plenty of people who think very differently than you do, and they hold their opinions just as passionately. So if you want to change their minds, if you want to work with them to move this country forward, you can’t just shut them out. You have to persuade them, and you have to compromise with them.

Mrs. Obama’s disconcerting reference to “revolutions” aside, the sentiment she articulates of surrounding oneself with those who think differently is laudable, as is “compromis[ing] with them.”  But notice that her focus is on “chang[ing] their minds” and “persuad[ing] them” so that you can “work with them to move this country forward.”  The problem she and her husband have had over the last 6+ years is that they don’t seem to grasp the value of actual compromise– as in, you win some, you lose some.  Their idea of “compromise” is persuading, cajoling or pressuring others to change their minds.  Newsflash: that isn’t compromise.

I THINK IT’S A SMART GOP MOVE:  A half-dozen GOP Senators have signed onto a bill sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that would require drug companies that sell contraceptives to file an OTC (over-the-counter) request with the FDA.  It’s a smart move to battle the inane #waronwomen accusation incessantly hurled at the GOP.  But guess who opposes this move?

The Colorado Republican’s push to make birth control available over-the-counter is not winning him more allies among women’s reproductive health groups, however.

Groups like Planned Parenthood have opposed the idea, which they argue could drive up contraception prices.

The group has pointed to ObamaCare’s contraception mandate — requiring insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control — and said that insurers may no longer cover the medication if it’s not prescribed by a doctor.

So let me get this straight: A coalition of GOP Senators is trying to make contraceptives more readily available to women by making them OTC, but liberal/progressive groups like Planned Parenthood oppose the idea, simply because women might actually have to pay for their contraceptives rather than get them free?  Besides, I’m not convinced that merely making contraceptives OTC would alter Obamacare’s mandate that they be provided for free.  Seems to me Planned Parenthood’s opposition is purely ideological: They can’t stand the idea that their #waronwomen narrative against Republicans could be proven patently false. Plus, far fewer women (especially young women) will need to go to Planned Parenthood if they can just go to the local drugstore and obtain contraceptives.  That would leave Planned Parenthood mostly in the business of STD testing, pregnancy testing and abortions.

HOPE AND CHANGE: Roll Call on Obama’s Desperation To Save The Patriot Act. “President Barack Obama reupped his push Tuesday for the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act by 12 a.m. Monday to avoid the Patriot Act’s surveillance authorities from going dark. There’s just one problem with that. Doing so will almost certainly require the unanimous consent of all 100 senators.”

Huh. I’m old enough to remember when the Patriot Act was a nefarious scheme foisted on the nation by Evil Republicans, that we needed a Democratic President to overturn.

THE HILL: Washington is ready to spend.

Washington wants to spend more.

Just four years ago, the nation’s rapidly expanding debt was seen as Washington’s No. 1 crisis.

When House Republicans took the majority in 2011, they made it their overarching mission to rein in spending. Together with the White House, they agreed to limit spending for the next decade by the use of budget caps.

Now those spending ceilings are unpopular with members of both parties.

Pressure to break them is coming from all sides, and building.

“We’re living with just really low numbers without any wiggle room, any flexibility,” Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), one appropriations subcommittee chairwoman, told The Hill.

You know, I’m unpersuaded.

THE LAW PROFESSSOR HAS BEEN SCHOOLED:  WSJ’s editorial about the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to reverse the preliminary injunction halting the President’s unilateral immigration legislation executive action:

America’s most powerful former law professor is getting a re-education in the Constitution, and on present course President Obama might flunk out. Witness Tuesday’s federal appeals-court rebuke of his 2014 immigration order, including language that suggests the Administration will also lose on the legal and policy merits. . . .

The Administration claims it is merely allowing immigration officers to apply routine “prosecutorial discretion” on a case by case basis not to deport illegals. But the court noted that if this were true “we would expect to find an explicit delegation of authority” to implement the Obama rule—“a program that makes 4.3 million otherwise removable aliens eligible for lawful presence, work authorization, and associated benefits—but no such provision exists.” (Our emphasis.)

In summary, said the court, “the United States has not made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits.” . . .

Mr. Obama could have avoided this mess if he had recalled his law classes on the separation of powers. That’s where he should have learned that the federal government can’t run roughshod over states and that the courts are an independent branch of government that can call out a President for breaking the law.

Yep–he would have failed my constitutional law class if he had tried to justify such sweeping authority to categorically rewrite existing law and confer benefits Congress never provided as “prosecutorial discretion.”  It’s almost as though the Fifth Circuit has been reading my House Judiciary testimony on the topic.

JAMES BOVARD: How Baltimore Became Pottersville. “President Obama has said that the Baltimore riots showed the need for new ‘massive investments in urban communities.’ But HUD’s record proves that the best-intentioned federal intervention is far more likely to sow chaos than to spur the stable neighborhoods that are perhaps the best insurance policy against violence. Trusting federal housing subsidies to create domestic tranquility is the ultimate triumph of hope over experience.”

PATRIOT ACT “METADATA” PHONE COLLECTION EXPIRES JUNE 1:  The collection of cell phone “metadata”–the time/duration of calls, plus the numbers dialed (but not the content of the conversations) has been justified under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which automatically expires June 1, Unless and until Congress can agree on some legislative alterations.  President Obama is urging the Senate to reconvene from its Memorial Day recess to take up the issue again.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) staged at 10-hour filibuster over section 215 and on Saturday the Senate refused to approve a temporary extension of the program.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will reconvene the Senate on Sunday, May 31, for a last ditch effort at reauthorization.

IMMIGRATION INJUNCTION ALLOWED TO STAND:  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has refused (by a 2-1 vote) to stay a preliminary injunction granted by a federal trial judge that halted the Obama Administration’s implementation of its unilateral legislation executive order granting deportation amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.  In declining to remove the injunction, the Fifth Circuit said:

Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay.

Translated from legalese: The Obama Administration’s unilateral legislation executive action is probably illegal, so the trial judge was correct in stopping it from going into effect.  This is very good news for the rule of law.

COURTS DON’T FIX “MISTAKES,” LEGISLATURES DO:  A New York Times piece designed to influence the Supreme Court in the Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell, “Four Words That Imperil Health Care Law Were All a Mistake, Writers Now Say.”  How convenient–a self-serving, ex post confession by some Democrats that they didn’t read the bill, and now really, really, really hope the Supreme Court will “fix” their mistake.

A VELVET FIST DICTATORSHIP:  Do they not see the irony? The New York Times published an oped over the weekend titled, “The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist,” penned by a couple of professors.  Their thesis:

[A] new brand of authoritarian government has evolved that is better adapted to an era of global media, economic interdependence and information technology. The “soft” dictators concentrate power, stifling opposition and eliminating checks and balances, while using hardly any violence.

Um, yeah.  Sound familiar?  Eliminating checks and balances? Anyone?  To make matters worse, the authors further elaborate on the characteristics of such “soft” dictatorships:

The new autocrats often get to power through reasonably fair elections. Mr. Chávez, for instance, won in 1998 in what international observers called one of the most transparent votes in Venezuela’s history.

Soaring approval ratings are a more cost-effective path to dominance than terror. Mr. Erdogan exploited his popularity to amend the Constitution by referendum and to pack Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

The new autocrats use propaganda, censorship and other information-based tricks to inflate their ratings and to convince citizens of their superiority over available alternatives. . . .

When their economies do well, such leaders co-opt potential critics with material rewards. In harder times, they use censorship. The new autocrats bribe media owners with advertising contracts, threaten libel suits, and encourage pro-regime investors to purchase critical publications.

They dominate the Internet by blocking access to independent websites, hiring “trolls” to flood comments pages with pro-regime spam, and paying hackers to vandalize opposition online media sites.

I could hardy contain my laughter whilst reading this.  Hmmmm… let’s see:  propaganda? Check. Censorship? Check. Co-opting potential critics with material rewards? Check. Control over media through various civil or criminal means?  Check.  As for hiring trolls to flood comments and vandalizing opposition media sites, that can all be accomplished through private groups, without the need for government fingerprints.

But hey, I’m sure that could never happen here.

#GREENFAIL: Electric Cars Running on Empty.

There were supposed to be one million electric vehicles (EVs) cruising America’s roads this year, but we’ve fallen well short of that 2009 goal. Today there are just 300,000 EVs in the U.S., and in March the government quietly revised downwards its EV goals for government fleets.

That nice, round target was set in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse. The newly inaugurated President Obama was full of hope and still promising change, and desperate auto company CEOs had been forced to beg Washington to save the auto industry with massive bailouts. Those circumstances allowed the President and his allies to set what, if we’re being kind, might be called a “stretch goal”: one million EVs by 2015. But here we are, and less than one third of the President’s 2009 target have been purchased in the past six years. By contrast, it takes Ford fewer than six months to sell as many F-150s, a single truck in its entire fleet of autos.

Consumers aren’t buying EVs, despite the generous heaping of government support such eco-friendly purchases might net them (each electric vehicle buyer gets a federal tax credit of $7,500 plus state incentives, all of which can add up to several thousand more depending on the circumstances). For its part the federal government has bought more than its fair share of electric vehicles.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down. And, by the way, if you like electric cars for environmental reasons, you really need to support the construction of new nuclear power plants. Otherwise they’re really just fossil fuel powered cars at one remove.

DAMN THE TORPEDOES?:  An oped in the WSJ today by former Navy Secretary John Lehman excoriates President Obama’s decision to nominate Admiral John Richardson to the post of chief of naval operations, thus moving him out of his current position as director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (NNPP):

Working with the bipartisan leadership of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and the secretary of energy, we constructed  . . . a position having executive power to prevent meddling from the layers of bureaucracy that were creating chaos in most defense programs. Importantly, we gave the new incumbent [director of NNPP] complete control of the selection and training of personnel. To ensure that such a powerful executive stayed long enough to execute programs and ensure accountability, a nonrenewable term of eight years was established.

That successful effort was put into an executive order by President Reagan that has worked effectively for 34 years. . . . [The NNPP has] been protected from the 970,000 Pentagon bureaucrats whose paralyzing bloat has made a hash of most Army, Navy and Air Force weapon programs. The reason for Navy nuclear success is because there has always been one strong experienced person in charge and accountable, standing like a stone wall against the bureaucratic onslaught.

But by far the most important benefit from this unique arrangement is the fact that there hasn’t been a single nuclear accident in the seven decades that the U.S. Navy has operated hundreds of nuclear submarines, carriers and surface combatants.

President Obama’s nomination of a current director of the Navy’s nuclear program to be the next chief of Naval Operations puts this unique record at risk. If Adm. Richardson leaves the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, which he has headed for less than two years, all that was accomplished by the executive order will be swept aside. The job will become one more rung up the career ladder, a perch for ambitious admirals to use to interact with and please the politicians who have the power to elevate them to more glamorous positions.

Worst of all, if the job is seen as a steppingstone, a fraying of the zero-defects culture may begin and the possibility of a nuclear accident within the U.S. Navy may increase.

Yikes.

UNEXPECTEDLY! Sticker Shock for Some Obamacare Customers. “So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they’re finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected.”

Gee, that’s bad luck.

BOB WOODWARD: Bush Didn’t Lie About WMD, And Obama Sure Screwed Up Iraq In 2011.

[Y]ou certainly can make a persuasive argument it was a mistake. But there is a time that line going along that Bush and the other people lied about this. I spent 18 months looking at how Bush decided to invade Iraq. And lots of mistakes, but it was Bush telling George Tenet, the CIA director, don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD. And he was the one who was skeptical. And if you try to summarize why we went into Iraq, it was momentum. The war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end, people were saying, hey, look, it will only take a week or two. And early on it looked like it was going to take a year or 18 months. And so Bush pulled the trigger. A mistake certainly can be argued, and there is an abundance of evidence. But there was no lying in this that I could find.

Plus:

Woodward was also asked if it was a mistake to withdraw in 2011. Wallace points out that Obama has said that he tried to negotiate a status of forces agreement but did not succeed, but “A lot of people think he really didn’t want to keep any troops there.” Woodward agrees that Obama didn’t want to keep troops there and elaborates:

Look, Obama does not like war. But as you look back on this, the argument from the military was, let’s keep 10,000, 15,000 troops there as an insurance policy. And we all know insurance policies make sense. We have 30,000 troops or more in South Korea still 65 years or so after the war. When you are a superpower, you have to buy these insurance policies. And he didn’t in this case. I don’t think you can say everything is because of that decision, but clearly a factor.

We had some woeful laughs about the insurance policies metaphor. Everyone knows they make sense, but it’s still hard to get people to buy them. They want to think things might just work out, so why pay for the insurance? It’s the old “young invincibles” problem that underlies Obamcare.

Obama blew it in Iraq, which is in chaos, and in Syria, which is in chaos, and in Libya, which is in chaos. A little history:


As late as 2010, things were going so well in Iraq that Obama and Biden were bragging. Now, after Obama’s politically-motivated pullout and disengagement, the whole thing’s fallen apart. This is near-criminal neglect and incompetence, and an awful lot of people will pay a steep price for the Obama Administration’s fecklessness.

Related: National Journal: The World Will Blame Obama If Iraq Falls.

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

Plus, I’m just going to keep running this video of what the Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, were saying on Iraq before the invasion:

Because I expect a lot of revisionist history over the next few months.

Plus: 2008 Flashback: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not A Reason To Stay In Iraq. He was warned. He didn’t care.

And who can forget this?

Yes, I keep repeating this stuff. Because it bears repeating. In Iraq, Obama took a war that we had won at a considerable expense in lives and treasure, and threw it away for the callowest of political reasons. In Syria and Libya, he involved us in wars of choice without Congressional authorization, and proceeded to hand victories to the Islamists. Obama’s policy here has been a debacle of the first order, and the press wants to talk about Bush as a way of protecting him. Whenever you see anyone in the media bringing up 2003, you will know that they are serving as palace guard, not as press.

THIS SEEMS LIKE POOR STRATEGY: GOP turns to Tea Party to win trade powers for Obama.

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders have turned to some unlikely allies to rally support for a key trade bill: Tea-Party conservatives, including some prominent names from the raucous House Freedom Caucus.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently tapped Rep. Tom McClintock to give the weekly GOP address, in which the conservative Californian declared: “Trade means prosperity.”

At the monthly “Conversations with Conservatives” event, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) informed his colleagues he’s an unequivocal “yes” on granting President Obama so-called “fast-track” trade powers.

And both McClintock and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) huddled with reporters in a leadership office last week to talk up the virtues of legislation to help pass Obama’s trade agenda.

Salmon, typically a source of heartburn for leadership, denounced some of the conservative “Pat Buchananites” he runs with as “protectionists.” Those who warn Obama can’t be trusted on trade are making a weak argument, he said, because Congress has given Republican presidents the same authority.

Finally, Salmon pointedly challenged critics who’ve complained about the secrecy of the process to head down to a classified briefing room in the Capitol’s basement to read details of a major 12-nation trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Lots of Tea Party types are free-trade in general. Almost none of them trust Obama or the GOP leadership. Getting Tea Party senators to back the deal will just weaken those senators with their Tea Party supporters.

Related: President Obama’s toughest fight on trade still lies ahead.

The White House and Republican leaders have a lot of work to do to push fast-track trade authority through the House.

The Senate approved a fast-track bill just before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, with supporters beating back Democratic efforts to delay the bill or undercut it through amendments.

But while the Senate managed to work out its procedural knots, the House outcome remains in doubt with proponents and opponents each claiming they can win the toughest legislative battle of the year.

The issue has made surprising allies of the president and GOP leaders, who back trade promotion authority (TPA) against progressives who worry about the effect on jobs and conservatives opposed to ceding more power to Obama.

So far, the best outcome is that it made a mockery of Doonesbury’s Republicans-Block-Everything-Obama-Tries cartoon this weekend. But, given that nobody reads Doonesbury anymore, that’s not much.

And I’ll repeate: The reason why Obama and the GOP leadership are having problems is that nobody trusts them. Perhaps if they tried being more trustworthy. . . .

VIDEO: Bob Woodward: Bush Didn’t Lie About Iraq & Obama Blew It.

MICHELLE MALKIN: Entrepreneurs Are Not “Lottery Winners.”

For radical progressives, life is a Powerball drawing. Success is random. Economic achievement is something to be rectified and redistributed to assuage guilt. Only those who take money, not those who make it by offering goods and services people want and need, act in the public interest. Those who seek financial enrichment for the fruits of their labor are cast as rapacious hoarders in Obama World — and so are the private investors who support them.

Wealth-shaming is a recurrent leitmotif in the Obama administration’s gospel of government dependency.

In 2010, the president proclaimed, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

Maybe he was thinking of Hillary. Plus:

The progressives’ government-built-that ethos is anathema to our Founding Fathers’ first principles. They understood that the ability of brilliant, ambitious individuals to reap private rewards for inventions and improvements benefited the public good. This revolutionary idea is a hallmark of American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the doctrine of enlightened “self-interest rightly understood” was a part of America’s DNA from its founding. “You may trace it at the bottom of all their actions, you will remark it in all they say. It is as often asserted by the poor man as by the rich,” de Tocqueville wrote.

Francis Grund, a contemporary of de Tocqueville’s, also noted firsthand America’s insatiable willingness to work. “Active occupation is not only the principal source of their happiness, and the foundation of their natural greatness, but they are absolutely wretched without it. …Business is the very soul of an American,” he wrote.

Here is the marvel Obama and his command-and-control cronies fail to comprehend: From the Industrial Age to the Internet Age, the concentric circles of American innovation in the free marketplace are infinite. This miracle repeats itself millions of times a day through the voluntary interactions, exchanges and business partnerships of creative Americans and their clients, consumers and investors. No federal Department of Innovation or Ten-Point White House Action Plan for Progress can lay claim to the boundless synergies of these profit-earning capitalists.

No, but those government programs produce superior opportunities for graft.

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: ISIS rises, the economy falters, and Obama’s legacy falls apart.

Perhaps things haven’t come all that far from the early days of hope and change, when this iconic photo captured the national mood.

BECAUSE MARXISM HAS GLOBAL SUPPORT: This is the answer to the question Steven Hayward over at Power Line asks: “How is Liberation Theology Still a Thing?”  Liberation theology is a Marxist version of Catholic teaching, which views poverty through the lens of capitalist oppression, much like Black Liberation theology–of which President Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is an adherent–views black poverty as a consequence of white, wealthy capitalist oppression of blacks.  As Hayward observes, yesterday’s front page New York Times story about Pope Francis’s actions to bring liberation theology out of the shadows, a subject I’ve I’ve written about before.  But in typical NYT fashion, the reporter fails to even seriously consider the deep Marxist undertones of liberation theology, much less what the Pope’s embrace of it might portend. The only mention of Marxism comes in this brief passage:

“With the end of the Cold War, he [Francis] began to see that liberation theology was not synonymous with Marxism, as many conservatives had claimed,” said Paul Vallely, author of “Pope Francis: Untying the Knots.” Argentina’s financial crisis in the early years of the 21st century also shaped his views, as he “began to see that economic systems, not just individuals, could be sinful,” Mr. Vallely added.

Since becoming pope, Francis has expressed strong criticism of capitalism, acknowledging that globalization has lifted many people from poverty but saying it has also created great disparities and “condemned many others to hunger.” He has warned, “Without a solution to the problems of the poor, we cannot resolve the problems of the world.”

Notice that liberation theology’s linkage to Marxism is dismissed offhand as a “conservative[] . . . claim.”  Yet in the next breath, the NYT reporter concedes that Pope Francis “has expressed strong criticism of capitalism.”  Hayward is right to ask why liberation theology is “still a thing,” but the answer is that it never stopped being a thing, because the Marxist ideology is alive and well, with powerful apologists or allies (even if not full-fledged adherents) in the Vatican, White House and beyond.

SO IF THIS REPORT IS TRUE, ISIS IS “BLOWBACK” FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT FOR ANTI-ASSAD REBELS: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset. Well, you know, when the Germans put Lenin on that train to Moscow, they saw him as a strategic asset, too.

So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.

Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria. . . . The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies. . . . The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.

That would make Obama’s Iraq failure even bigger than previously assumed, on a par with his (and Hillary’s) Libya failure.

UPDATE: From the comments: “His Egypt failure is more epic than anything in Libya.” You can’t tell all the failures without a scorecard.

IF ISIS IS JV, THEN OUR ADMINISTRATION IS PEEWEE LEAGUE: Walter Russell Mead: A Tactical Success, A Strategic Failure.

This weekend saw U.S. Special Forces pull off a stunning raid, flying deep into Syrian territory in an attempt to capture a senior Islamic State leader called Abu Sayyaf. Sayyaf, a Tunisian citizen, was killed in the raid, but his wife was caught and the raid produced “a significant intelligence gain” according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Around the same time, however, the Islamic State made huge strides in Iraq by taking over the city of Ramadi, the largest city in Sunni al-Anbar province, only 68 miles west of Baghdad. ISIS boasted of seizing tanks and executing dozens of Iraqi soldiers and militants. The United States increased its bombing campaign around Ramadi as Shi’a militia began massing for an assault to retake the city.

The success of the Syria raid and the collapse in Ramadi paradoxically point to the same grim fact: America’s chosen policies in the Middle East are failing—and the Obama administration faces uglier and uglier alternatives as it looks ahead.

The raid in Syria was a tactical triumph and points to the enduring strengths of America’s elite fighting units. But it also underscores a failure of administration policy: staying out of Syria is getting harder, the costs of inaction in Syria are growing, and the options for getting into Syria keep getting uglier.

When your preferred strategy is to put problems off until after the next election, problems that could have been easily addressed when small become problems that require major efforts, and risks, to address. Pretty sure Obama’s plan is to continue to put that off until . . . after the next election, when it’s somebody eles’s problem. In essence, that’s what Clinton did with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

SO NOW IT’S A CLIMATE “WAR”:  The rhetoric on global warming climate change is heating up  (pun intended).  In addition to President Obama’s recent remarks to the Coast Guard Academy–when he said “the science is indisputable” and “[b]y the middle of this century, Arctic summers could be essentially ice free”–the liberal/progressive forces are gearing up to scare LIVs into believing global warming climate change is a national security risk.  An oped by CNN’s homeland security analyst Juliette Kayyem is now trying to co-opt the overused “war on” shibboleth:

We have a tendency to view certain public policy issues as wars. As in “the war on … ” fill in the blank: drugs, cancer, poverty.

It is often a misleading analogy, but it is meant to get the public to respond to a dire need, just as they would in wartime. The terminology, however, is entirely accurate — and literal — when it comes to our need to address the changing environment as “the war on climate change.”

. . .

Skeptics of these global seismic shifts are not simply denying science, they are denying safety and security. Until we recognize — with the immediacy we would if a nation launched missiles against our cities — that climate change isn’t something that can be debated, but must be mitigated or, failing that, adapted to, we will not expend the effort or resources to prepare ourselves to the one phenomenon that we know is coming: simply, the waters are rising and this is a war.

So now, if one rejects massive economic reorganization based upon ever-changing evidence of cyclical, fluctuating global temperatures, one is not merely a “science denier,” but also putting U.S. national security at risk.  Ironic, given that this accusation is coming from the same people who are so intimidated by ISIS that they dare not insult Mohammed, and think that talking about “radical Islam” is discriminatory because hey, as President Obama said, “Islam is a religion of peace.”  But global warming climate change!– now that’s a real security risk!

These radical climatists don’t want to hear about contrary evidence, of which there is plenty.  And indeed, if someone dares to publicly disagree with the progressive orthodoxy on global warming climate change, he is likely to be branded a heretic.

I hope the Republican candidates for President are readying themselves to punch back twice as hard when the mainstream media and Queen Hillary hit them with this “national security” accusation.

STRAIGHT TALK: Ashe Schow: 2015 commencement speakers step away from preferred narratives.

Actor Matthew McConaughey (“alright, alright, alright”) had probably the best line of the season. He may not have intentionally decided to take on “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” — code words invented to explain why college students can’t handle reading or hearing things that challenge their worldviews — but he did.

“Life’s not fair,” McConaughey told University of Houston graduates last Friday. “It never was, isn’t now and won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitled trap of feeling like you’re a victim. You are not.”

Although some students were unhappy that McConaughey was paid $135,000 for his speech, his message was probably worth the price. He offered a corrective for the seemingly endless stream of stories about the fragility of college students. (The latest example comes from a Columbia University student who thinks Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is offensive.)

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stepped away from the Obama administration’s preferred narrative that all is well in the world, that violent extremism is “on the run” and that only tepid responses to terror are necessary.

“The world’s a mess,” Albright told students at Tufts University. Before that she spoke of “rising sectarianism and extremism in the Middle East,” income inequality and how “technology has given new destructive tools to groups who use religion as a license to murder, as if God’s commandment were ‘thou shalt kill.’”

Some of what she said — income inequality, climate change and the “assumptions” of past generations — are among President Obama’s favorite talking points. But her central message – that the “world’s a mess” – is not so much. Obama seems to prefer making Americans think the true mess is at home. Albright cheered the U.S. as the “brightest beacon of human liberty,” and she managed to do it without the “but” that so often follows when Obama says such things.

Then there was English novelist Ian McEwan, who admonished Dickinson College students to defend free speech. He specifically mentioned Charlie Hebdo and the boycott from PEN America.

“There’s a phenomenon in intellectual life that I call bipolar thinking,” he said. “Let’s not side with Charlie Hebdo because it might seem as if we’re endorsing George Bush’s ‘war on terror’. This is a suffocating form of intellectual tribalism and a poor way of thinking for yourself. As a German novelist friend wrote to me in anguish about the PEN affair — ‘It’s the Seventies again: Let’s not support the Russian dissidents, because it would get applause from the wrong side.’ That terrible phrase.”

McEwan went on to defend Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim who now speaks out about what she sees as the dangers inherent in that religion. Last year, Brandeis University withdrew an invitation to Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree after complaints by her opponents.

“Campus intolerance of inconvenient speakers is hardly new,” McEwan said.

No, but it seems to be getting worse.

Related: Robert De Niro to NYU Grads: ‘You’re F*cked.’

IN THE OBAMA ERA, RACISM IS EVERYWHERE: Obama is nostalgic for “white” Israel.

“AFTER MY ELECTION I’LL HAVE MORE FLEXIBILITY”: These were President Obama’s infamous words to Dmitry Medvedev back in spring 2012.  David Adesnik at NRO now asks, “Is the Obama Administration Readying More Concessions to Russia?”

THE “GOTCHA!” IRAQ HINDSIGHT HYPOTHETICAL: Charles Krauthammer: You want hypotheticals? Here’s one.

The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake? . . .

And the damage was self-inflicted. The current situation in Iraq, says David Petraeus, “is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years.”

Do the math. That’s 2009 through 2011, the first three Obama years. And then came the unraveling. When? The last U.S. troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011.

Want to do retrospective hypotheticals? Start there.

All of these retrospective, if-you-were-omniscient hypotheticals are a waste of breath.  But at least this one focuses on the role that the current Administration has played in the disintegration of the region, rather than continuing their silly “It was Bush’s fault!” distraction game.  What I want to know is:  What, Mr. President, do you plan to do now to stop the region from becoming even more dangerous to U.S. interests?

JOSH KRAUSHAAR: “One of the most underappreciated stories in recent years is the deterioration of the Democratic bench under President Obama’s tenure in office. The party has become much more ideologically homogenous, losing most of its moderate wing as a result of the last two disastrous midterm elections. By one new catch-all measure, a party-strength index introduced by RealClearPolitics analysts Sean Trende and David Byler, Democrats are in their worst position since 1928. That dynamic has manifested itself in the Democratic presidential contest, where the bench is so barren that a flawed Hillary Clinton is barreling to an uncontested nomination.”

ROLL CALL: Obama to Havana? Would ‘Relish’ Cuba Trip.

President Barack Obama’s bucket list for his remaining time in office has at least one sunny destination on it: Havana, Cuba.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a reporter in town from Cuba that the president “would relish the opportunity” to visit Havana in 2016.

Earlier, Earnest welcomed the reporter to the United States and the White House. In response to other questions, he said one area of discussion regarding the president’s plans to reopen diplomatic ties with Cuba involves ensuring access by American diplomats to the Cuban people.

Obama has lifted some travel restrictions. And the president, a former smoker, has also loosened rules on bringing Cuban cigars back from the island.

Well, he’s taking the whole country to Cuba, in a manner of speaking.

BECAUSE #WHITEPRIVILEGE!:  Charles Blow at the New York Times continues his bloviating about the racial injustice of media coverage of the Waco biker gang violence versus that of the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson.

In Waco, the words used to describe the participants in a shootout so violent that a local police spokesman called the crime scene the bloodiest he had ever seen included “biker clubs,” “gangs” and “outlaw motorcycle gangs.” . . .President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were quick to use the loaded label “thugs” for the violent rioters there. That the authorities have not used that word to describe the far worse violence in Waco makes the contrast all the more glaring.

The words “outlaw” and “biker” while pejorative to some, still evoke a certain romanticism in the American ethos. They conjure an image of individualism, adventure and virility. There’s an endless list of motorcycle gang movies. A search for “motorcycle romance” on Amazon yields thousands of options. Viagra, the erectile dysfunction drug, even has a motorcycle commercial.

While “thug life” has also been glamorized in movies, music and books, its scope is limited and racialized. It is applied to — and even adopted by — black men. And the evocation is more “Menace II Society” than “Easy Rider.” The pejorative is unambiguous. . . .

Blow’s conclusion? It’s all just more evidence of pervasive racial hatred (as if he needs more evidence, as he sees it everywhere, all the time):

And while we can’t demand that the world love our flesh as we do, we can — and must! — demand that it stop pretending that its hatred of it is some cultural chimera concocted by a racial grievance industry. We can demand that the data around racial bias, which stretches across society, be accepted as fact rather than opinion.

We can demand the right to call hatred by its name and to its face. We can demand the right to exist, fully and freely, in the wholeness and beauty of our own humanity.

We must see the brilliant light in our beautiful darkness and love the brown bodies that the world would just as well mark and discard — even the “thugs.”

Or maybe, Charles, you could just stop assuming that every single thing in the world is racially motivated, and start acknowledging the “beauty” and “humanity” of whites and “love the [white] bodies,” even the bikers and rednecks and (gasp!) conservatives.  We can demand the right to call your hatred by its name and to its face.

RELATED:  C.W. Cooke disembowels this #whiteprivilege narrative:  

All in all, there is a pretty simple answer to the question, “Why didn’t Americans rack their brains upon hearing the news that a motorcycle gang had shot up another motorcycle gang?” That answer: Because that’s what motorcycle gangs do.

ED DRISCOLL: President Obama is ‘The Vehicle Through Which bin Laden Succeeded.’

THE CRUMBLING TEFLON PRESIDENCY?:  Jeffrey Toobin has a piece in The New Yorker today called “Obama’s Game of Chicken with the Supreme Court.”  His thesis is that if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama Administration in the Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell, the blame for the loss of subsidies of individuals living in States without State-operated health insurance exchanges will not fall on the Republicans’ shoulders, but the President’s:

If the Obama Administration loses in the Supreme Court, the political pain will fall almost exclusively on the President and his Party. To paraphrase Colin Powell and the Pottery Barn rule, President Obama will have broken health care, so he owns it. To the vast mass of Americans who follow politics casually or not at all, Obamacare and the American system of health care have become virtually synonymous. This may not be exactly right or fair, but it’s a reasonable perception on the part of most people. . . .If the Supreme Court rules against him, the President can blame the Justices or the Republicans or anyone he likes, and he may even be correct. But the buck will stop with him.

Toobin says this reluctantly, but at least he says it.

Toobin’s overall sentiment–that a ruling for the plaintiffs in King will be a political loss for President Obama (as it should be, since it was his decision to disregard the plain language of his own signature legislation)–is likely correct.  But what’s even more noteworthy is that it evinces that the Teflon President’s non-stick coating is finally wearing a little  thin with (at least some in) the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the criticism is mostly limited to foreign policy. Evidence of such Teflon thinning includes the Washington Post’s editorial board’s skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal (including his failure to respond to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arguments before Congress), longtime Democratic pollster Pat Caddell’s recent statement that the Obama Administration is more corrupt than Nixon’s, Chris Matthews’ thrill dissipating to the point where he has called Obama “intellectually lazy,” Kirsten Powers’ criticism of Obama on the ISIS persecution of Christians, and Jon Stewart’s “je suis to be kidding me” quip about Obama’s failure to attend the unity rally in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo terrorism–something veteran liberal foreign affairs expert Leslie Gelb labeled a “horrendous gaffe” that “demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years.”

Of course there are many, many other liberals/progressives in the mainstream media who continue to stick their heads in the sand and dare not criticize the Great Leader on anything.  But it is good to see that, for at least some of them, they are beginning to see that the Emperor has no clothes.

DON’T BELIEVE HIM:  Obama seeks to boost ties with Jewish Americans amid Iran nuclear talks.  Obama claims, “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.”  Yeah, kind of like Major Kong in Dr. Strangelove.

HENRY MILLER: When Bureaucrats Battle Science. “This approach, which has been condemned repeatedly by the scientific community over many years, has discouraged innovation and provided incentives for the developers of new plant varieties to use inferior but unregulated techniques. This situation is inimical to the kind of innovation Thiel postulates is essential to the United States’ continued economic growth. Let’s not neglect the FDA, which, abetted by senior officials in the Obama White House, has been among the worst obstructers of technological progress.”

HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS–”CHANGE” IS COMING:  The White House has released “The National Security Implications of a Changing Climate,” a PR/battle plan for President Obama’s fundamental transformation of America.  Obama will use this document as the basis for remarks he will give to the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement.  A summary:

With climate change, certain types of extreme weather events and their impacts, including extreme heat, heavy downpours, floods, and droughts, have become more frequent and/or intense. In addition, warming is causing sea level to rise and glaciers and Arctic sea ice to melt. These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging certain sectors of the economy. The national security implications of climate change impacts are far reaching, as they may exacerbate existing stressors, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and political instability, providing enabling environments for terrorist activity abroad.

Too bad the NOAA report, “Explaining Extremes of 2013 From a Climate Perspective,” debunked this whole climate-change-causes-extreme-weather claim. But again, global warming climate change isn’t really a battle about science; it’s a political wealth redistribution scheme disguised as science.

UPDATE:  House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) says “Incredibly, the President’s proposed budget allocates more money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to combat global warming than to counter violent extremism.”

SERIOUSLY, THIS GUY IS BRAIN DEAD:  William Saletan at Slate has perhaps the most idiotic piece on ISIS that I have ever read, the central thesis of which is that ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “sounds like a Republican candidate for president.” His argument:

Rhetorically, ISIS and the GOP are in perfect harmony.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On Thursday his media team released a speech in which the would-be caliph presents his views on Islam, tolerance, and sectarian violence. Baghdadi sounds like a Republican candidate for president. Here’s what he says:

1. This is a war between Muslims and non-Muslims. ISIS, like al-Qaida, can’t wage a global or even regional war with 30,000 fighters. To build popular support, it needs to frame the conflict in religious terms. That’s why Baghdadi agrees with American conservatives who say our enemy is Islam:

O Muslims! Do not think the war that we are waging is the Islamic State’s war alone. Rather, it is the Muslims’ war altogether. It is the war of every Muslim in every place. … O Muslims everywhere, has the time not come for you to realize the truth of the conflict and that it is between disbelief and faith? … This war is only against you and against your religion.

2. Coexistence is impossible. Is authentic Islam compatible with Western values? Many conservative activists and politicians say it isn’t. This belief suits Baghdadi. He tells Muslims that they must choose:

O Muslims! Whoever thinks that it is within his capacity to conciliate with the Jews, Christians, and other disbelievers, and for them to conciliate with him, such that he coexists with them and they coexist with him while he is upon his religion and upon tawhīd (monotheism), then he has belied the explicit statement of his Lord (the Mighty and Majestic), who says, “And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. … And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion.”

3. Islam is a religion of war. Santorum, Rudy Giuliani, and other Republicans say ISIS has a scriptural basis for its violence. Two weeks ago Jeb Bush said “part” of the Muslim world was “not a religion of peace.” Baghdadi, too, rejects the religion-of-peace narrative:

O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation. He was ordered with war until Allah is worshipped alone. He (peace be upon him) said to the polytheists of his people, “I came to you with slaughter.” … He never for a day grew tired of war.

The religion-of-war narrative, whatever its scholarly merits, serves political interests on both sides. It gives the Republicans red meat for the primaries, and it helps Baghdadi persuade Muslims that they’re commanded by God to support ISIS.  . . .

Republicans seem determined to prove Baghdadi right. . . .The convergence of Republican rhetoric with jihadist propaganda isn’t new. It’s been building ever since George W. Bush left the White House. Liberated from presidential responsibility, Republicans degenerated into a party that uses Islam for domestic politics instead of thinking about how their words resonate overseas. That’s how they became backup singers for Osama Bin Laden. Now they’re working for Baghdadi.

So given all these statements from al-Baghdadi, somehow this guy concludes that this is not a religious war being waged by ISIS and that we if we’ll all just chill, we can peacefully coexist with them?  And more specifically, if anyone tries to suggest–such as, say, a Republican–that ISIS is waging a religious war and isn’t interested in peace, they are somehow “determined to prove Baghdadi right” and “working for” the ISIS leader?

Oy veh– the stupidity, it burns.  This guy is a poster child for the lack of critical thinking skills that emerge from our educational system.

I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS MORE, HONESTLY: “A new paper, from Ann Harrison of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues finds that if there had been no imports, median real wages in America in 2008 would have been 3% higher than they actually were. For workers in menial tasks, they would have been 15% higher. Another paper found that a quarter of the employment decline in American manufacturing from 1990 to 2007 was caused by competition from Chinese imports.”

ANNALS OF SMART DIPLOMACY: The Ugly Dilemma in Ramadi.

Following the fall of Ramadi to ISIS this weekend, Iraq is launching a counterattack spearheaded by Shi’a militias that had previously been uninvolved in the fighting. . . .

By all accounts, the Iraqi Army, or ISF, collapsed in the defense of Ramadi, just as it has time and again against ISIS previously, abandoning arms and armor to the enemy as it fled. The Shi’a militias are a more feared fighting force, and they outnumber the ISF by a significant margin. They had been held back, however, because Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, lies in the heart of Sunni Iraq—and the Shi’a militias have been repeatedly, credibly accused of perpetrating sectarian massacres. And there is also the inconvenient fact that many if not most of them have strong links to Iran.
Now the Obama Administration, not to say the Iraqi government, is on the horns of an ugly dilemma. If Ramadi is not recaptured, Sunni Iraq will have slipped to ISIS, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men may never be able to put Iraq back together again. On the other hand, if the U.S. backs the militias’ advance, it may well be party to ethnic bloodshed that will put the killings after the fall of Tikrit to pale. Thus, even if the militas do retake Ramadi the methods they employ could so deeply antagonize the non-ISIS-supporting elements of the Sunni population as to have the same result: no more Iraq.

While publicly the Administration and the Pentagon have started to sound a bit like Baghdad Bob, Administration officials have anonymously begun voicing their unease with the situation, in one instance describing Ramadi as a “powder keg” noting that there is a potential for things to go “very, very badly.”

Well, we’ve had lousy leadership since 2009.

THE YOUTH RECESSION: The Economy Is Still Terrible for Young People. “The era of the overeducated barista is here to stay. College graduates are still spending more and more years (and money) to get worse and worse entry-level jobs.” Fundamentally transformed!

Meanwhile, of course, older people suffer from the Obama era’s Senior Squeeze.

HARVARD’S ASIAN PROBLEM:  Jason Riley has an oped in the Wall Street Journal titled “The New Jews of Harvard.”  Harvard is likely on the first of many elite, liberal/progressive universities (redundant, I know) to now find their affirmative action admissions policies biting them in the tuchus.

A coalition of more than 60 Chinese, Indian, Korean and Pakistani organizations is asking the U.S. departments of Justice and Education to investigate possible racial bias in undergraduate admissions at Harvard. The complaint announced on Friday, echoing a lawsuit filed by another group in November, accuses Harvard and other elite institutions of holding Asian-Americans to far higher standards than other applicants, a practice used to limit the number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools in the first half of the 20th century. . . .

A 2009 paper by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that “Asian-Americans have the lowest acceptance rate for each SAT test score bracket, having to score on average approximately 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student and 450 points higher than a black student on the SAT to be on equal footing.”

It’s too early to tell whether the Obama administration will take action or wait for the legal process to play out.

I’m pretty sure we know that the Obama Administration won’t be spending its resources to fight for equality for Asian Americans, as it has evinced a single-minded obsession in pursuing only racial matters that affect blacks.

The Asian-American coalition’s lawsuit could be the nail on the coffin for affirmative action, though the Supreme Court may nail it down sooner if it grants review in the new round of litigation in University of Texas v. Fisher.  As Chief Justice Roberts said in the Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

RAMADI: Obama Snatched Ramadi Defeat from Bush Victory.

YA THINK? Austin Bay: Media Gotcha Distorts National Security Challenges.

Determining actionable intelligence, assessing threats (current and emerging), implementing lines of operation to counter threats and forestalling damaging surprise (a process that includes accounting for enemy deception operations) are persistent national security challenges every presidential administration, from George Washington’s to Barack Obama’s, has confronted.

Some administrations have confronted them more effectively than others. Effectively addressing these challenges demands many things from a commander in chief, but steady leadership is foremost.

Steady leadership eludes checklist definition, but its key traits are sound judgment, morale-sustaining presence in crisis and the ability to focus on essential goals. Abraham Lincoln is a case study in steady.

You can bet your life the next president will confront these challenges, as well. In fact, you do bet your life. Sept. 11′s damaging surprise demonstrated America has violent enemies. Because intelligence gathering and analysis are imprecise arts, assessing a threat and organizing resources to counter it are imperfect endeavors.

Betting your life is a good reason to demand more from media than “knowing what we know now” gotcha questions regarding past national security decisions.

The worst gotchas are framed to elicit a simplistic answer that reinforces or advances a political narrative. To do this, the talking head must either drastically simplify the past (a relatively benign act) or erase the inconvenient past (a deceitful act).

The latter comes more naturally to some politicians than to others.

THE HILL: Feds charge six Chinese citizens with spying on Silicon Valley.

The Obama administration announced charges Tuesday against six Chinese citizens suspected in a long-running espionage plot aimed at stealing U.S. technology on behalf of their government.

The action, revealed in newly unsealed indictments, reflects an aggressive push to tamp down on the foreign theft of U.S. trade secrets and, in particular, sends a strong message to Beijing — a top competitor on technology.

Hao Zhang, 36; Wei Pang, 35; and four others were charged with a range of offenses, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.

According to federal prosecutors, Hao and Wei sit at the center of an industrial theft ring that spans years.

If this is a widespread problem, maybe we should be more careful about H1B visas?

REALITY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD: Top Democrat sounds ‘alarm bells’ over Obama rhetoric on Islamic State. “A senior House of Representatives Democrat said Tuesday that the White House’s description of supposed progress in the war against the Islamic State should ring ‘alarm bells,’ and called the fall of the city of Ramadi to the extremists ‘a very serious and significant setback.’”

GOVERNMENT DOESN’T “ASK” ANYTHING:  Thomas Sowell rips apart President Obama’s recent remark opining that the way to reduce poverty is to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

[T]he federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks. Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.”

As for referring to successful individuals as “society’s lottery winners,” Sowell observes:

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don’t want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want “the rich” to pay their undefined “fair share” of taxes. This “fair share” must remain undefined because all it really means is “more.”

, , , ,

Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. “You didn’t build that!” he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world’s wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.

And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

Yep, it’s the LIVs who fail to realize they are being brainwashed by mainstream media “journalists” and Marxist professors who keep this “us against them” tactic alive.  Conservatives need to increase their ranks in the media and the academy, or none of this can change.  If the Koch brothers or other wealthy libertarian/conservatives really wanted to help change things, they would start endowing some U.S. civic and history programs at the secondary school level, funding academic positions in universities for those who possess libertarian/conservative views, and buying major newspapers (and ensuring that its editorial board was not leftist).  These investments would buy more bang for the buck than all the white papers in the world.

THE ATLANTIC: The Painful Loss of Ramadi: Islamic State control over the capital of Iraq’s largest province is a symbolic and strategic blow to the United States. Well, yes. A little history:


As late as 2010, things were going so well in Iraq that Obama and Biden were bragging. Now, after Obama’s politically-motivated pullout and disengagement, the whole thing’s fallen apart. This is near-criminal neglect and incompetence, and an awful lot of people will pay a steep price for the Obama Administration’s fecklessness.

Related: National Journal: The World Will Blame Obama If Iraq Falls.

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

Plus, I’m just going to keep running this video of what the Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, were saying on Iraq before the invasion:

Because I expect a lot of revisionist history over the next few months.

Plus: 2008 Flashback: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not A Reason To Stay In Iraq. He was warned. He didn’t care.

And who can forget this?

FLASHBACK: Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal.

ROLL CALL: GOP Wants Review of Internet Governance Handover. “The Obama administration’s plan to relinquish U.S. control of the Internet’s architecture to a group of international stakeholders isn’t going over well on Capitol Hill.”

YA THINK? The Hill: Obama’s ISIS strategy takes hit.

Related: WH: Fall of Ramadi to ISIS a ‘setback.’

Plus, what could go wrong? Pentagon to accept help from Shia militias in Iraq. “We still believe the strategy is working.”

JOHN HINDERAKER: Obama’s Middle East Policy Is In a State of Collapse. “You know it’s bad when even the Associated Press notices. . . . The ‘sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq’ that Barack Obama and Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements” in 2014 has regressed into chaos as a result of Obama’s premature withdrawal of American troops. But it isn’t just Iraq. Syria is the closest thing to Hell on Earth. Iran is working away on nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Yemen has fallen to Iran’s proxies. Saudi Arabia is looking for nuclear weapons to counter Iran’s. ISIS occupies an area the size of Great Britain. Libya, its dictator having been gratuitously overthrown by feckless Western governments that had no plan for what would follow, is a failed state and terrorist playground.”

NOW THE NEW YORK TIMES IS IN ON THE CLINTON ACT: Clinton Friend’s Memos on Libya Draw Scrutiny to Politics and Business.

While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and the planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. During the same period, he also worked on and off as a paid consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge, organizations that helped lay the groundwork for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.

It’s corruption all the way down.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: As Ramadi Falls to ISIS, POTUS Goes Golfing, Gets New Twitter Account. “I’m not really interested in Obama’s answer because I already know that it will be about 5,000 words long, won’t answer the question, and would put me to sleep. I just want to hear someone from the MSM ask him the question.”

THEN SHE STOOD NEXT TO THE COFFINS OF THE DEAD AND LIED: Hillary Received Memo Describing Benghazi As Planned Terror Attack Within Hours. “New documents obtained by Judicial Watch and made public Monday show that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials under President Obama were given intelligence within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack describing how it had been planned at least 10 days in advance ‘to kill as many Americans as possible.’”

Also, they locked up a filmmaker for a year, just to support their cover story. Nice people.

IN 2010, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WAS TALKING ABOUT IRAQ AS A SUCCESS. THEN IN 2011, THEY SKEDADDLED. NOW, IN 2015, IT’S GONE TO HELL AND THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT 2003. Ramadi falls.

Let’s put it bluntly: There is little evidence the president’s minimalist approach to fight the Islamic State is working. (Boot says bluntly: “The fall of Ramadi is a sign of the abysmal failure of the misnamed Operation Inherent Resolve launched by President Obama in August 2014 to ‘degrade’ and ultimately to ‘destroy’ ISIS. Operation Uncertain Resolve is more like it.”) Rather than recognize realities on the ground, acknowledge the Islamic State is gaining in strength and recruits and then reassess our strategy, the White House poses another false choice — do what we are doing or reoccupy the country. The alternative of course is what the military has consistently recommended — a more substantial U.S. ground force to provide training, intelligence, forward spotting, etc. Instead, Iraqi militias are cementing their relationship with Iran, which is becoming dominant in Iraq.

Boot argues, ” The real debate we should be having is not what we should have done in 2003 but what we should do now, today, to defeat ISIS and Iran — the twin forces, mirror images of one another — that are ripping the Middle East asunder. All of the candidates, including the silent Hillary Clinton, need to tell us what they would do.” But it’s so much easier to second guess a decision made 12 years ago than to set forth a workable plan to defeat the Islamic State and to stem Iran’s aggressive moves throughout the region.

And, as a famous man says, let me be clear: The press is asking about 2003 to give Obama cover for his policy failures now. And not for any other reason.

SO OBAMA’S NATIONAL SECURITY/FOREIGN RELATIONS BIG-BRAIN doesn’t even know that the Columbia University mattress-girl rape story is a hoax. Or, worse, knows and doesn’t care. The replies are fun, though.

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MEGAN MCARDLE: The Wages of Crying Sexism:

People who carelessly toss around the “s” word are trying to have things both ways: They want sexism to be something very, very bad that forces the refs to stop the action and pull you out of the game, and they also want to be able to level this charge at every minor verbal tic that might be sexist. Even if it might just be, you know, politics. In this and other contexts, this is not a bargain that a modern society will strike. If you make the punishments draconian, people will hesitate to apply them widely. This is true in law enforcement, and it is true of social sins as well. To claim “sexism” too often just robs the word of its power.

So if we want to keep the norm that sexism is very bad, we need to think twice about when we pull out those accusations. Before you shoot, remember that you’re not a movie hero with an unlimited supply of ammunition. You’re the guy with a single six shooter crouching behind the bar. You have to make every shot count. Aim carefully. When in doubt, hold your fire.

That would require self-discipline, which is not our ruling class’s strong suit. Also, your cowboy-gunfight metaphor is a microaggression.

IT WASN’T US, IT WAS THE COMPUTER: That’s the excuse the Department of Homeland Security is offering to federal trial judge Andrew Hanen, who is overseeing the 26-state lawsuit challenging Obama’s unilateral executive amnesty.  Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times reports:

TheObama administrationblamed a technology glitch for why it continued to approve new amnesty applications in February, even after a federal judge issued an injunction, telling the court late Friday that they are now begging about 2,000 illegal immigrants to tear up their three-year work authorizations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency that approved the deportation amnesty applications for Dreamers despite the judge’s order, insisted it’s corrected the immigrants’ records at headquarters, but said it’s also asking the immigrants themselves to send back their three-year documents and accept two-year papers instead.

The agency also told JudgeAndrew S. Hanen that more botched cases could still be found as employees dig through tens of thousands of applications.

President Obama’s lawyers are desperately trying to head off punishment by Judge Hanen after several embarrassing missteps.

The Administration’s missteps in this case just keep getting more and more disturbing. It leaves one with the impression that either this Administration is the most incompetent or mendacious in history, or both.

And I’m sure those 2,000 illegal immigrants who “mistakenly” obtained an additional one-year work authorizations will throw them in the trash. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

HILLARY’S VIEW OF EXECUTIVE POWER:  William Jacobson has an oped in the Washington Examiner, asserting that an executive branch headed by Hillary Clinton would witness even more egregious, unconstitutional power grabs than the Obama Administration:

A President Clinton would almost certainly face a Republican House of Representatives in 2017, if not a Republican-controlled Congress.

Rather than trying to work with such a Congress, Hillary has made it clear she would be even more aggressive than Obama in expanding presidential power at the expense of Congress and the Constitution.

He’s right, of course. This is the problem with unconstitutional executive power grabs: Unless the courts or Congress can stop them, future presidents (of any political persuasion) can be expected to continue them, and consider them a baseline upon which they can “work around” Congress.

HILLARY’S #PRIVILEGE:  Noemie Emery has a terrific piece in the Weekly Standard, documenting the genesis of the “stacked deck of cards” that have been held by the Clintons:

The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Hillary Clinton has warned us, and she ought to know. Having been “at the top,” or close enough to it, since 1976, when her husband was elected attorney general of Arkansas at age 30—not the biggest job ever, but one with a whole lot of power to play with—she has leveraged every ounce that it held to bring to them ever and ever more money and power, until at this moment, 14 years after leaving the White House, she and Bill sit on a mile-high mountain of both. Their wealth is immense and their power unlimited, at least in their party. The very few viable national candidates left after the two midterm wipeouts that decimated Democratic ranks in the reign of Obama are so afraid to risk the Clintons’ wrath that she is cruising unopposed to the nomination for the first time since no one knows when. How did two penniless kids living in roughly 1,000 square feet in Fayetteville, Arkansas, reach such heights? Let us look back and see.

Read the whole thing.

THAT ASSUMES SHE HAD A SOUL TO BEGIN WITH:  Politico article: ”Hillary Clinton Sold Her Soul When They Accepted that Money.”

It’s certainly true that the Clintons have had a long—and lucrative—relationship with Morocco. Moroccan King Mohammed VI, who was traveling abroad during last week’s CGI meeting in Marrakech, nonetheless loaned one of his palaces to Bill and Chelsea Clinton to stay in during the meeting, according to attendees. The king was listed on a donor roll as having pledged as much as $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation to help build Bill Clinton’s presidential library (though the foundation says the donation never came through), while the state firm OCP has donated as much as $6 million over the years to the Clinton Foundation’s efforts. Both Clintons have publicly embraced the king in recent years as an example of an Arab moderate ruler with whom the U.S. should partner, and leaked Moroccan diplomatic cables show that Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state was seen by Rabat as among its most ardent supporters in the Obama administration.

There is no evidence that she tailored her official positions to suit Morocco’s preferences because of personal or financial relationships. But the overlap between her diplomatic portfolio and the funding for her family’s philanthropy illustrates the way nearly any foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation can be viewed through the prism of U.S. policy. And it highlights why countries, companies and individuals that could benefit from her past and possibly future public service might be inclined to support the foundation.

There’s “no evidence” of Secretary of State Clinton’s tailoring of her official positions because no one in the Obama Administration (or Congress, thus far) has investigated whether such linkage exists.

STAY QUIET AND WIN:  This seems to be Hillary Clinton’s electoral strategy for controversial issues upon which the polls don’t provide a clear consensus for the progressive/liberal base. Her latest non-position is on President Obama’s controversial trade deal.

If Clinton doesn’t answer questions from the press and doesn’t take a position on issues beyond those clearly embraced by the progressive/liberal base, the low information voter can be won, as research indicates LIVs are much more likely to vote for well known politicians accused of corruption.

HMM. Man Arrested For Flying A Drone At The White House. Hey, Obama has drones.

THIS ISN’T HAPPENING BY ACCIDENT: We’re asking presidential candidates all the wrong questions.

Asking presidential candidates whether they support or would change past foreign policy decisions is the most common line of questioning among members of the media. It’s also the most pointless.

Should President Clinton have killed Osama bin Laden when he had the opportunity in 1990s? Should President Bush have sent the U.S. military into Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein in 2003? Should President Obama have withdrawn all troops from Iraq in 2011?

Such questions provide no real insight into future considerations. Whether or not they would have done anything differently no longer matters. Besides, since when is hindsight not 20/20?

Here is today’s reality: Iraq is aflame, Afghanistan rests on perilous ground, Yemen has descended into chaos, Libya has devolved into a failed state and the Islamic State not only threatens many parts of Africa but also inspires pledges of solidarity from around the world, including in the United States.

Earlier this month, jihadists from Arizona drove to a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, to massacre hundreds of people. They might have succeeded if not for an off-duty traffic officer who skillfully killed them before they could harm anybody.

Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated — if not outright angry — as they read daily headlines such as “Enemy Inside: ISIS the ‘Greatest Threat since 9/11,’” “DHS Secretary: ‘New phase’ in the global terrorist threat” and “Former CIA official cites agency’s failure to see al-Qaeda’s rebound.”

The U.S. is losing the war against radical Islamists, and Americans want to know if there is anybody capable of doing anything about it. They are pleading for a commander in chief who can shine in the following three areas.

Yeah, but since we’re stuck with Obama, and the press wants Hillary, we get questions about 2003.

FIGHT THE POWER: House defies Obama veto threat, approves $612B defense bill.

Related: 41 Dems buck Pelosi in defense vote.

HEALTHCARE.GOV CONTRACTOR QUITS:  QSSI, the politically connected IT firm that runs the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov, announced Thursday it is calling it quits.  QSSI is the third IT firm to run the problem-plagued exchange in two years.

PROGRESSIVE POLITICS OF GLOBAL WARMING CLIMATE CHANGE:  NASA scientists are now warning that the Antarctic Larsen B ice shelf is going to detach and disappear:

[R]esearchers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California at Irvine say that this remnant now faces its “approaching demise.” In a news release, NASA adds that “it is likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.” If these two research teams are right, then the coming years could see major ice calving events off of the Antarctic peninsula. “What might happen is that for a few years, we will have the detachment of big icebergs from this remaining ice shelf, and then at one point, one very very warm summer, when you have lots of melting of the surface, the whole thing will just give way, and will shatter into thousands of smaller icebergs,” says the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ala Khazendar, lead author of the new study.

Of course, as I recently posted, scientists have also observed that the Antarctic ice has thickened so much recently that they cannot even reach their destinations.  And NASA itself has become highly politicized, with high-ranking leaders toeing the Obama Administration’s line on global warming climate change, but many rank and file scientists publicly disagreeing. And with a little research, NASA’s Ala Khazendar, who is quoted in the Washington Post excerpt above, has several letters to the editor newspapers that evince strong political inclinations–most notably, an anti-Israel philosophy.  In a May 2002 letter to the editors of The Telegraph, for example, Dr. Khazendar condemns “the hateful racism that emanates from the other side [Israeli] of the Middle East conflict.”  In a October 2003 letter to the editors of The Guardian, Khazendar understandably criticizes Palestinian suicide bombings but simultaneously observes that “Zionism [has] dehumanised the Palestinians as a prelude to expelling them, or to justify placing them under a ruthless military occupation”.  In September 2009, he wrote to the Los Angeles Times, Khazendar criticizes a prior oped penned by an Israeli academic, saying,

Of which Zionist ideology exactly is Carmi proud? The one that demanded a homeland for the Jewish people in response to the persecution and genocide they suffered in Europe before and during World War II, or the Zionism that created Israel by expelling most of Palestine’s native inhabitants on the orders of the same man after whom Carmi’s university is named?

In June 2002, he wrote a short letter to the British Medical Journal in which he said, “Israel is indeed open and democratic, as long as one is not a Palestinian who has the misfortune of being a native of the land that it so much covets” In May 2006, Dr. Khazendar was even more bold, writing to The Guardian, criticizing the BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict and concluding, “if the BBC is really plucky, perhaps it will start describing those Palestinian acts of terrorism as retaliations to Israeli persecution.”

But hey, I’m sure Dr. Khazendar is politically neutral when it comes to matters like global warming climate change.

UPDATE:  Oh, and let’s not forget that President Obama has turned NASA into a Muslim outreach organization.

ISIS SEIZES RAMADI:  ISIS fighters have now captured key sites in Ramadi, the capital city of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar. It is only about 70 miles west of Baghdad.  Great.  But hey, no worries– our President assures us that ISIS is just the JV.  God forfend if we ever have to deal with the varsity.

EPA’S BACK DOOR:  Only the green movement has the key.  Kimberley Strassel’s latest column documents the uber-cozy relationship between Obama’s EPA and environmentalists in the case over Pebble Mine in Alaska:

As Pebble summed it up in a letter to the agency’s inspector general this week: “EPA gave anti-mine activists an opportunity to review, comment, and shape the strategy EPA would pursue to block development of the mine. Then, having decided that it would proceed to block the mine using a [pre-emptive veto], EPA sought to cloak its actions by recruiting the very same anti mine activists to ‘petition’ EPA to initiate those [veto] proceedings. . . .

Pebble was bulldozed in a secret, ideologically driven collusion between greens and government. That is a scandal worthy of resignations.

Tar. Feathers. Sicilian Bull.   

HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP GALLEGO LANGUAGE FROM NDAA REAUTHORIZATION:   In a 221-202 vote Thursday night, the House passed Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-AL) amendment to strip the Gallego language. As you may recall from previous posts, the Gallego amendment (named for its sponsor, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)) would have encouraged the Secretary of Defense to hire illegal aliens who’ve been granted amnesty by President Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration.

The bad news is that 20 Republicans voted with the Democrats to oppose Brooks’ amendment.  A list of the 20 can be found here.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predictably called the Brooks’ amendment “xenophobic” and “un-American.”

RELATED:  Los Angeles Times reports on the House vote with the following headline: “Republicans Block Young Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ from Military.”  Not once does the Times acknowledge that these “immigrants” are in this country illegally.  

WAR? WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? In the long run, wars make us safer and richer.

Related: Why Guns Are Better Than Butter.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S THIRD CLASS TEMPERAMENT: “Like cult members awaking to find their leader swigging gin and squirreling money into a Swiss bank account, liberals are rubbing their eyes in disbelief at President Obama’s behavior. . . . So welcome to our world, liberals. Now that your eyes are opened, take a look at the completely unjust, snide, and dishonest way Obama talked about Republicans at the Georgetown University panel on poverty a few days ago. . . . During the discussion, Mr. Obama disparaged John Boehner’s and Mitch McConnell’s interest in helping the poor. So it’s worth recalling that one of Obama’s first acts as president was to seek to defund the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship fund. When the Democrats controlled Congress, he succeeded. But someone who cared waited for a chance, and when Republicans gained control of the House and the Congress was in a tense budget showdown with the White House, John Boehner personally saw to it that the program was revived. So who is judging whom when it comes to the poor?”