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Unexamined Premises

Can Israel Finish the Job Now?

July 23rd, 2014 - 11:52 am

In “Why Israel Needs to Finish the Job Now,” my colleague David Goldman writes:

[Israel] cannot afford a repeat of 2012, after which Hamas rebuilt its weapons capability. Where Hezbollah is concerned, the Chinese proverb applies: Kill the chicken while the monkey watches. The reduction of Hamas has to serve as a deterrent for Hezbollah and Syria, not to mention Iran.

Israel’s leaders know this well, and outsiders should be cautious about offering tactical advice. But Israel’s friends must be clear that a “pinpoint operation,” as Secretary of State Kerry demanded inadvertently before an open microphone last weekend, does not serve Israel’s urgent interests. Hamas must be rooted out in depth.

Col. Kurtz provides a strategic assessment:

This is what the Jews are up against: an enemy that willingly sacrifices its own children, so great is its animus against its eternal foe.  To paraphrase Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables – what are the Israelis prepared to do? 

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crybabies

Me scared

Bar none. Go ahead, I dare you to read it and not thump your head against the nearest wall. It starts badly enough:

Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal. Due to a combination of availability, portability and criminal usage the following five types of guns are the country’s most dangerous.

And then gets worse.  The link takes you to the instantly infamous piece in Rolling Stone by some poor lassie named Kristen Gwynne entitled, “The Five Most Dangerous Guns in America.” Now, most normal people reading that might think what follows is a list of suggestions for your next firearms purchase — you know, something that packs major firepower into an attractive, well-priced package that will instantly deter or atomize a bad guy should the need arise. But no. It’s an anti-gun piece. And by “anti-gun,” I don’t mean anti specific makes and models. Oh no…

Using firearm trace data from the ATF, as well as FBI homicide records, we determined the types of guns most often recovered from crime scenes and/or used in murders. The numbers are stark: According to the FBI’s 2012 Crime in the US data, nearly 70 percent of homicides for which the FBI received weapons data involved the use of a firearm and handguns alone accounted for about 72 percent of firearms used in murders and non-negligent manslaughter. While the FBI does not elaborate on the type of handguns used in these incidents, the ATF’s analysis of weapons confiscated from crime scenes provides a more specific look at the weapons criminals prefer, which we’ve shared with you here.

Holy cow, what could they be? The Glock G42? The Smith and Wesson 500? Gatling guns? Derringers?

Ready?  Aim… and fire after the jump.

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Barry, Harry, Barry and Harry

June 17th, 2014 - 10:12 am
Barack Hussein Obama, in unfamiliar surroundings

Barack Hussein Obama, in camouflage

With the backsliding economy, the collapse of Iraq, the record rise in disability, the slow-motion invasion along our southern borders — actively assisted by the current administration — and the fixation on imaginary threats over real-world problems, we have now arrived at a an inflection point in the development of the American political system. For if war is too important to be left to the generals, can we not now also say, definitively, that politics is too important to be left to the politicians?

Consider the increasingly strange case of Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Soetero, a man apparently born and bred for a single purpose: to run for office and yet somehow singularly unsuited to the task. Bereft of any discernible skills, intellectually mediocre, a flat and uninspiring speaker away from his omnipresent teleprompter, incapable of extemporaneous thought, indifferent to the actual discharge of his constitutional duties and possessed of low cunning attached to an overweening sense of self-importance, Obama is the first president in our history for whom the White House was the only logical career path. Neither a public intellectual like Wilson, a war hero like Teddy Roosevelt or Ike, or a self-made man like Reagan, Obama in many ways resembles JFK, who had been spawned along with his brothers explicitly for public office by an Irish parvenu with visions of grandeur and a chip on his shoulder.

Thackeray wrote about just such a family is his early novel, Barry LyndonIn that work, made into a memorable film by Stanley Kubrick, the wheedling, smooth-talking Barry (egged on by his implacable mother) woos and wins the lovely Lady Lyndon, only to beggar her with his profligate spending and undisciplined personal behavior. If you picture Marisa Berenson as Lady Liberty, this scene takes on added resonance:

Still, one can easily imagine John F. Kennedy doing something productive with his life had his quest for the White House, taken in place of his fallen older brother, not been successful. The president’s untimely death ensured that his younger brothers Bobby and Teddy would spend the rest of their lives seeking the family restoration. Not so Obama, unless you count an academic sinecure “productive.”

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Aqaba!

‘Aqaba!’

The coming fall of the artificial nation-state called “Iraq” should come as a surprise to exactly nobody. There never was such a place, other than in the minds of the British Foreign Office, which carved it and other equally imaginary countries out of the rump of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. Now, an “insurgent” group nobody had even heard of two weeks ago, known by the pretty Egyptian-flavored acronym of ISIS,  has gone and done the West a favor, if only we are smart enough to understand it, accept it and deal with it.

The Iraq wars, begun and not concluded by President George H.W. Bush, continued half-heartedly by Bill Clinton, disastrously expanded by George W. Bush and cravenly abandoned by Barack Hussein Obama, are coming to a close. The real war, against a unified and motivated “caliphate” of vengeful anti-Western Islamist Muslims, is about to begin. If anything argues more forcefully against a continuation of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton cycle of elections, this alone ought to do it. No Jeb, no Hillary, nohow, never. Mene, mene tekel upharsin.

Meanwhile, back in the real world beyond the Beltway, ”Iraq’s borders are disappearing,” writes Tom Rogan in the Telegraph. Britain’s Tory newspaper; “this is a disaster.” But is it, really?

The Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) is shredding Iraq. After seizing the northern city of Mosul on Monday, on Tuesday ISIS stormed down Iraq’s route 1 highway to take Tikrit. This victory has left them emboldened and only 110 miles from Baghdad. The Iraqi military seemingly overrun, Nouri al-Maliki’s government is greatly concerned.

Unfortunately, the disaster isn’t confined to Iraq. After all, ISIS isn’t interested in Iraq per se. Instead, it seeks a caliphate that stretches from western Syria to Iraq’s eastern border with Iran. A dominion preserved under an iron fist of brutality (think Fallujah 2004) and a base from which to export global terrorism.

What’s happening in Iraq and Syria today is the nightmare that drove George W Bush to gamble everything on his January 2007 surge. He knew that Iraq’s collapse might enable Al-Qaeda in Iraq to rip the Middle East apart. And today Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s successor – ISIS – have never been closer to their dream.

The crack “Iraqi security forces,” trained at so dear a cost by the American military and then abandoned to their fate by the Obama administration when it failed to negotiate a status of forces agreement with the Maliki government, apparently are fleeing the battlefields. As the Independent reports. “Sunni insurgents advancing on Baghdad after taking Mosul have captured the city of Tikrit, the home town of Saddam Hussein, as government forces disintegrate and fail to offer resistance. Iraqi soldiers and police are reported to have discarded their uniforms, changed into civilian clothes and fled after firing only a few shots.” Brave Sir Robin, indeed, but about what we’ve come to expect from Arab armies whose hearts are clearly not in the fight.

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Icarus Descending, Dishonorably

June 5th, 2014 - 3:15 pm
And away we go

And away we go

That the feathers have melted off the formerly high-flying Obama administration is now beyond dispute. First time tragedy (Benghazi), second time tragic-comedy (Bergdahl). And now, with the leak of the famous Obama “workout” video,  farce and ridicule. Ladies and gents, I give you the effective end of the Obama presidency. And off into the brave unknown we fly.

Has there ever been a presidency like this one? Jimmy Carter, whose administration I’m old enough to remember vividly, began with a similar euphoria of “hope,” coming as he did in the wake of Nixon’s resignation and Ford’s pardon.  The unknown governor from the South began his presidency on a wave of good will from all Americans, who were exhausted by Watergate and its aftermath. But it didn’t take Carter long to transmogrify from the “I’ll never lie to you” good guy into the national scold of the so-called “malaise” speech, which is better characterized as the “crisis of confidence” speech. (Watch the speech at the link and then try to convince yourself we’re not all trapped in the political equivalent of Groundhog Day: with Democrats, nothing ever changes).

But even with 20 percent inflation, international humiliation, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and gas lines, in retrospect Jimmy Carter seems like Pericles of Athens compared with Barack Hussein Obama, the least-qualified man ever to actively seek and win the presidency. When the full extent of the harm the Obama administration has inflicted on the United States is finally realized, not only will Obama come in for blame, but so also will the forces that put him in office, especially the Democrat-Media Complex, led by David Axelrod (a former Chicago Tribune reporter turned campaign consultant and presidential guru). My former Time magazine colleague, Evan Thomas, who went on to edit Newsweek, famously said during the election of 2004 that the media’s support for the Kerry-Edwards (oops) ticket was worth 15 points to the Democrats, and while even that wasn’t enough to put them over the top, it was the deciding factor four years later.

There’s one other base here: the media. Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards — I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but — they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there’s going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that’s going to be worth maybe 15 points.

Carter’s damage was limited to the four years he spent in the White House; the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the American hostages in Tehran were released, the sun came out and it really was, however briefly, morning in America. Obama’s reign still has just under three years to go, a prospect that, in light of recent events, ought to appall all right-thinking people. As I wrote over at the Corner on NRO:

Unfettered by having to face the electorate again, a second Obama term would be a nightmare for the country — four years of unencumbered mischief in the Oval Office while the criminal organization masquerading as a political party gets on with the serious business of picking its next candidate to ensure that eight years of “fundamental change” are irreversible…

Most every president hopes for a second term, but this bunch understood from the jump that the second term is everything. Harry Reid sounds and acts like a man who never expects the Democrats to lose another election. And what are the Washington Generals up to now? Hey, look over there! It’s Chris Christie on top of the George Washington Bridge! Alert the media!

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At first glance, this is not only risible but actively ridiculous: a bunch of metrosexual beta males apologizing for their very existence. And, in fact, it does seem to be a parody — if Stephen Parkhurst’s previous work is any guide — although many conservative sites have fallen for it, owing to its extreme plausibility. But behind every parody is more than a grain of truth so, just for fun, let’s follow the granular subtext of this exercise in cultural-Marxist nastiness.

It begins with Saul Alinsky’s famous Rule No. 4: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” Leaving aside the fact that there is no single “Christian Church” (a mistake common to non-Christians), and that Christianity comprises the Catholic Church, the Greek/Russian Orthodox Church and various declining sects of Protestanism, among others, the central issue here is to make “the enemy” (Alinsky’s words) face the consequences of his own imperfectibility. That any contradictions and consequences are entirely in the head of the Alinsky side matters not; after all, in psywar, it’s not what’s true that counts, it’s what you can get the enemy to believe:

Right now, the Leftist meme being pushed is “inequality.” We see it everywhere, starting at the top, with President Obama carping about it in speeches, in the sudden prominence of a book nobody will ever read, in Eric Holder’s Justice Department using the cudgel of “disparate impact” as its weapon of choice against the nation as founded. Because, the thinking goes, if all men really are created “equal,” how can you possibly object to any action government takes to rectify a perceived “inequality”? Well, you can’t — unless, of course, you can reason past the formulation “if A then B.” But the modern Left understands that few can or will — and even if they could, the sound-bite hegemony of the media will rule out any substantive discussion of C, D, or E. As the AlinskyDefeater notes:

This tactic is genius in its simplicity. The idea is to keep the attention on your opponent by simply peppering them with the ways in which they fail to be perfect. No one is perfect and so the rule is powerful. In fact, it is one of the most powerful tactics in the Alinsky arsenal.

It’s simple and effective because it’s false, taking no account of the actual crooked timber of humanity (in Sir Isaiah Berlin’s famous phrase), nor of the fundamental “unfairness” of Nature herself. It’s false because it assumes facts not in evidence (white male “privilege”) and purposely targets a single group, without remarking upon the fairness, or lack of it, of other societies (female, non-white, whatever). In other words, it assumes a conspiracy — the Big Meeting Theory of History — in which European men got together in the Caves of Lascaux or somewhere similar, and made a binding pact for all eternity. Never mind that they could have no knowledge about the existence of other human societies; they were Oppressors, and that would be that.

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Why Benghazi Matters

May 5th, 2014 - 11:06 am

One year ago today, I wrote the following here at PJ Media:

No matter what happens with Darrell Issa’s congressional committee meetings this week, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Obama administration, and the cause is Benghazi. It’s impossible to overestimate the blowback that has been gathering steam for the past seven months, now about to erupt with full force. Few reputations will emerge unscathed, Obama’s presidency will be crippled, Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 candidacy will be destroyed — and perhaps some new heroes will be born…

That’s because, right from the jump, the administration has been lying through its teeth about what happened on the night of Sept. 11, 2012 — the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, as it happens. It transparently lied about the Mohammad video, threw the scapegoated filmmaker in jail (where, last time I looked, he still is), and convened a bogus “accountability” board to whitewash the whole damn thing so as not to disrupt the precious Narrative that Osama was dead and al-Qaeda was on the run.

It was all a lie, of course, and some of us knew it at the time. I wrote about it repeatedly on the Post’s Op-Ed page: you can find examples here, here and here. In this case, however, what happened in Benghazi, Foggy Bottom, the White House, and the Obama re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago was (as the saying goes) worse than a crime: it was a blunder. And that blunder may now bring down the man who never should have been president in the first place, for grotesque dereliction of his duty as commander-in-chief….

In the year since, we’ve learned a lot about Benghazi, including the extreme heroism of the brave men who put up the fight of their lives against hordes of savages armed with modern weapons. We’ve learned as well that the subject makes the Left profoundly uncomfortable, and that requests for more information by folks we used to quaintly call “decent Americans” have been met with the usual leftist mockery, eye-rolling, sarcasm, sneering and dismissal. We’ve even learned a little more about where the president might have been that night, before grabbing some winks and jetting off to Las Vegas the next day for the only part of the job he takes seriously, a campaign fund-raiser.

You can read further thoughts on Benghazi and the latest developments by people I admire, including my friend and PJ colleague Andy McCarthy –

Benghazi is not an ordinary scandal — it involves an act of war in which our ambassador, the representative of the United States in Libya, was murdered (along with three other Americans) under circumstances where security was appallingly inadequate for political reasons, and where the administration did not just lie about what happened but actually trumped up a prosecution that violated the First Amendment in order to bolster the lie. Only in the Manhattan-Beltway corridor do people think Benghazi is a GOP concern driven by 2016 political considerations.

– and the editors of National Review, who write: “The White House misled the American public about a critical matter of national interest, and it continues to practice deceit as the facts of the case are sorted out. That, to answer Hillary Clinton’s callous question, is what difference it makes.”

But, before we get further bogged in lawyerly detail about who said what to whom about what when during the upcoming congressional investigation, let me cut to the chase:

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No job too tough

No job too tough

From Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal today:

But he seems increasingly passive. He is not passive when it comes to his political fortunes—he goes out and speaks and tries to rally the base—but even there, and certainly when it comes to governing, he seems bored, as if operating at a remove. Valerie Jarrett was once quoted saying he’s so exceptionally gifted that he’s been bored most of his life. It seems to me more likely an exceptionally gifted person would be exceptionally interested in and alive to the wonder and drama of things. I think her meaning was that only the most demanding and important of jobs would consistently arouse his engagement and focus. But he seems pretty bored as president…

The aspect of the presidency he seems to enjoy most is the perks—the splashy vacations, the planes, the hoops, the golf. When his presidency is over there will be the perks of the post-presidency—foundations, libraries, million-dollar speeches, staff, protection. A literary agent estimated he’ll get up to $20 million for his memoirs, Michelle Obama perhaps $12 million. So no, you don’t get the impression he’ll have to suffer for where he stands, or who he is.

Jarrett’s observation about the man who is, at least nominally, her boss has received a lot of attention since its appearance in David Remnick’s biography of Obama, The Bridge. And it certainly fits right in with the media-fueled notion that the Pride of Punahou is intellectually brilliant — a judgment not shared, by the way, by Obama’s fellow students at Harvard Law, who created the “Obamamometer” to measure his epic-scale apple-polishing. As some idiot wrote over at National Review Online a few years back:

So the other day, I was having lunch on the patio at Orso’s with a fellow screenwriter, and as we watched all the suits making deals that didn’t include us, all the actresses who aren’t going to be in our movies, and all the agents who won’t return our phone calls, this writer leaned over to me and whispered, “Have you heard about the Obamamometer?”

I won’t keep you in suspense. Turns out that this writer knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who went to Harvard Law with B. Hussein Obama Jr., and, the story goes, such was Barry’s monumental capacity for sucking up to his professors that the “Obamamometer” was established to calibrate and quantify the most egregious, shameless brown-nosing, and it quickly became the gold standard of Uriah Heep-dom in Cambridge, Mass. “That was a 10 on the Obamamometer,” the Harvard men and women would whisper when someone rose to the unctuous level of Barry at his best. Who knows, maybe they still do.

Still,  in the words of historian Michael Beschloss, Obama’s the “smartest guy ever to become president” — words that, no doubt, Beschloss would like to eat right about now:

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Chicago, the Shame of a Nation

April 28th, 2014 - 7:47 am

It should come as a surprise to just about nobody that Chicago is the most corrupt big city in America, and long has been. The setting for the godfather of all gangster movies – Scarface, the Shame of a Nation, starring Paul Muni as a thinly disguised Al Capone, directed by Howard Hawks — Chicago has flaunted its outlaw status in the country’s face for nearly a century. And continues to do so, now that one of its own occupies the White House.

Consider this news item, which got no play in the national media beyond the Windy City, whose newspapers have long understood the criminal nature of their municipal government — even if, in the grand tradition of Jake Lingle, they occasionally act as incubators for members of the party. It seems that the former city comptroller, Amer Ahmad — a convicted criminal nonetheless hired by mayor Rahm Emanuel to oversee the city’s finances– is now on the lam; hardly a surprise coming from adherents of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party.

Facing up to 15 years in prison and stripped of his U.S. passport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former city comptroller ordered his wife this week “to get him a fake birth certificate from Pakistan for a passport,” according to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, Amer Ahmad is on the lam, and a judge issued a warrant Friday for his arrest…

Ahmad — who has continued to live in Chicago since resigning from his $165,000-a-year City Hall post last summer — pleaded guilty in December to being part of a large kickback and money-laundering scheme when he was Ohio’s deputy state treasurer.

The crimes occurred before Ahmad joined Emanuel’s administration in April 2011. An outside investigation that City Hall commissioned to review Ahmad’s conduct revealed no criminal wrongdoing by Ahmad or his staff. That investigation cost Chicago taxpayers $825,000.

Left unanswered is why Ahmad was hired in the first place to mind the city’s money. But don’t worry — he didn’t cost Chicagoans one red cent!

Chicago taxpayers spent $825,000 to find out that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s now-convicted former City Comptroller Amer Ahmad did not cost them a penny beyond his $165,000-a-year salary. The $825,000 was paid to the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the accounting firm of Grant Thornton for a 47-page report that concluded that Ahmad did not defraud cash-strapped Chicago as he did in Ohio…

An embarrassed Emanuel flatly denied that he should have known about Ahmad’s alleged wrongdoing in Ohio and promised an exhaustive investigation — with Inspector General Joe Ferguson and Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton overseeing the forensic audit.

Ahmad’s arrest warrant is here. [UPDATE: He's been apprehended in Pakistan, after sneaking across the U.S.-Mexican border on foot.]

Ahmad was raised in Ohio by Pakistani immigrant parents. After his guilty plea, Ahmad remained free on bail but surrendered his passport. Though his sentencing date hasn’t been set, he faces up to 15 years in prison and has agreed to pay $3.2 million in restitution. Ahmad had been a rising star in the Emanuel administration before abruptly resigning last summer, saying he wanted to seek a job in the private sector…

Ahmad pleaded guilty in December to federal conspiracy and bribery charges, admitting he used his Ohio government position to secure “lucrative state business” for Douglas Hampton — his high school classmate and financial adviser — “in exchange for payments” to himself and others.

In his plea agreement, Ahmad said Hampton made secret payments to him, and, as Ohio’s deputy treasurer, he steered state securities brokerage work to Hampton. Prosecutors said Ahmad and a business partner — Joseph M. Chiavaroli, also of Chicago — hid those payments by passing them through an Ohio landscaping company they owned.

Interestingly, there’s somebody named “Mohammed” involved in this story as well. And who is he? According to his indictment, he’s an immigration lawyer who last December pleaded guilty to federal charges of “aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud” as part of the general indictment of Ahmad et al. for bribery and money laundering.

Hampton also funneled cash to Mohammed Noure Alo, an attorney, lobbyist and close friend of Ahmad from Columbus. Altogether, Hampton got about $3.2 million in commissions for 360 trades on behalf of the Ohio state treasurer’s office. Ahmad and his co-conspirators — who have all pleaded guilty — got more than $500,000 from Hampton, according to prosecutors.

For more news on “the city that works,” please turn the page –

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Obama--Biden-selfie-jpg

BFFs for, like, ever

Referring to Barack Obama’s use of the word “stinkburger” at an appearance at the University of Michigan, George Will had a column the other day, “Barack Obama, the adolescent president,” in which he made this observation about the current commander-in-chief:

Try to imagine Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan talking like that. It is unimaginable that those grown-ups would resort to japes that fourth-graders would not consider sufficiently clever for use on a playground… Anyone who has tried to engage a member of that [adolescent] age cohort in an argument probably recognizes the four basic teenage tropes, which also are the only arrows in Obama’s overrated rhetorical quiver.

Will listed the cheap tricks in the president’s repertoire — straw men, the “you-have-no-argument” assertion, the “everything is just fine” non-argument, and “my opponents are poopy-pantses.”  Okay, he didn’t exactly say that, but Obama’s unshakable belief in his own moral and intellectual superiority “is an assertion that has always been an Obama specialty. It is that there cannot be honorable and intelligent disagreement with him.”

What Will left off his list — or perhaps it’s simply implicit in everything the campaigner-in-chief says these days — is mockery. A quick Google search turns up 129,000,000 reference to Obama mocking somebody or other — Mitt Romney, Republicans, his ideological foes, the Special Olympics, you name it. Lest we forget:

Elsewhere, I’ve characterized this tendency of Leftists to treat everyone who disagrees with them with contempt as the Lefty Sneer. It’s one of their unloveliest traits, and one that goes back as far as I remember, which is to the mid/late sixties. What can’t be defeated in honest debate can be dismissed with an insult, which is what passes for cleverness in certain quarters. Did Obama really think his “stinkburger” crack was even worthy of a dorm-room bull session, much less a presidential appearance? Regarding Joe Biden’s debate with Paul Ryan in 2012, I wrote at  NRO:

In perhaps the most personally disgraceful performance in the history of debates, Joe Biden smirked, mugged, snorted, and sneered his way through 90 minutes of heckling his opponent, Paul Ryan — often aided and abetted by the moderator, Martha Raddatz, who was every bit as bad as we all feared the ex-wife of president Obama’s Harvard Law School classmate, Julius Genachowski, would be.

And the Left loved it. Why? Because in their hearts, they think we deserve it, and have it coming to us for the crime of disagreeing with them. The depths of their animosity danced across Biden’s toothy visage all evening, Ryan’s reasonable arguments, delivered reasonably, being met with sneering condescension and a wonted air of smug moral superiority. For the libs, this was a dream performance, and all the Right could do, like Ryan himself, was grin and bear it.

But don’t think such debate tactics are the exclusive province of the Left. Oh, no.  Just check out the guy atop the next page.

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