Get PJ Media on your Apple

Belmont Club

The Night Before

August 29th, 2014 - 3:00 pm

2014 will be a year when the populations of the world began to wake up and smell the smoke. “Began” because sleep has habits all its own. It would be unnatural if Mr and Mrs Joe Average didn’t hit the alarm snooze button because the ringing they hear doesn’t correspond with the familiar. It isn’t time for office yet; the Home Depot’s still closed and Jimmy’s soccer practice is still at 10 am.  ”Honey will you get up and answer the door. There are some bearded men outside the window and I think they want something.”

But it may be no dream. David Cameron just warned Britain to brace for a possible ISIS attack on its shores. The jayvee ISIS team Obama scoffed at sure gets around. Cameron says ISIS ‘is more dangerous than al-Qaeda’. The doorman the president contemptuously glowered over at the summits is acting uppity too. That doorman, Vladimir Putin, has just used the “N” word in Ukraine. The “N” word being “Nuclear”.

Russia’s president, speaking at a pro-Kremlin youth camp at a lake near Moscow, said “it’s best not to mess with us,” adding “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers”

And maybe nuclear ain’t enough neither. Foreign Policy writes that “buried in a Dell computer captured in Syria are lessons for making bubonic plague bombs and missives on using weapons of mass destruction.”  If they can get it, they’ll use it. So far the enemy’s — can we use that word yet? — wrath has been limited only by capability and not by intent. That capability has just increased exponentially. The Long War Journal says radical Islam is seizing territory. Territory gives them a secure base, legitimacy and the resources of a country.

ISIS has just handed Assad one of his biggest defeats ever achieving the equivalent of seizing Hawaii and capturing Pearl Harbor. The Business Insider reports:

Over the past two months, jihadist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have waged an increasingly successful campaign against Assad regime forces in Syria’s northern Raqqa province, culminating in the capture of al-Tabqa Airfield earlier this week.

The defeat in Raqqa has major military implications — it represents a loss at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war, raising questions about whether the regime or Syrian rebels can defend other, more important areas of the country against further ISIS offensives.

(more…)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

August 28th, 2014 - 7:25 pm

The president has just held a press conference announcing he will do nothing much to counter the crises unfolding in the Ukraine and Syria. The New York Times reports:  ’Obama Urges Calm in Face of Two Crises’.

WASHINGTON — President Obama confronted a pair of volatile international crises with restraint on Thursday as he said he was not close to authorizing airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria and played down the latest escalation of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

With tensions rising in Europe and the Middle East, Mr. Obama emphasized that a military response would not resolve either situation and pledged to build international coalitions to grapple with them. Despite pressure from within his own government for more assertive action, he tried to avoid inflaming passions as he sought new approaches.

The president’s right: it’s not time to panic. The time to panic was about six months ago. It’s essentially too late to halt the dynamic of events now. Timing matters. Once the batter misses the ball it doesn’t matter how hard he subsequently swings. Someone should tell the president the time to bat is over and the janitor can’t keep the stadium lights on much longer. Shakespeare once wrote:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted…

No, no, no. Shakespeare’s too fancy for this. How about: maybe you’ve had the experience of some tough guy coming up and asking for something just to see if he can get away with it. You know if you give the thug what he wants, he’ll be back in about an hour for more. So you politely but firmly refuse because a little grief in the beginning is better than a lot of grief at the end. Because human predators like their animal counterparts never take on something that might injure them, because any ding, matter how small, reduces their ability to hunt.  Predators have always gone for the weak and defenseless prey from the beginning of time.

Perhaps president Obama didn’t know that. But he’ll find out all about it now.

(more…)

Rotherham, England

August 27th, 2014 - 4:42 pm

My mother remembers how in late 1944 grandpa heard a knock on the door in their apartment in Japanese occupied Manila.  Since he was active in the underground, gramps cautiously peered out and was relieved to see that it was only his compadre.  He hastened to open the door only to see in the shadows beyond his gibbering compadre the dread figures of the Japanese kempeitai. By then it was too late to run and for the next three days, mom and the rest of the family waited at home in despair, knowing he almost certainly never return. But on the fourth day, to their surprise and delight, gramps (then aged 52) staggered back home battered but whole with an extraordinary story.

He had been brought to Fort Santiago and once the preliminaries were over, taken to a chamber where he was hung upside down and beaten with oar handles and burned with cigarette butts.  There is a Japanese phrase for “we have ways of making you talk”.  From that upside down view of the world he glimpsed other prisoners like Hans Menzi, later to be owner of the Manila Bulletin, scuttling past the corridor outside carrying buckets of ordure under the direction of the Japanese jailers.

Then an unexpected figure looked through the gap.  It was his pre-war Japanese mining engineer friend wearing the uniform of a full colonel in Japanese intelligence.  ”Ramon, the colonel said, ‘what are you doing here?’”  Since the Kempeitai had nothing definite yet, the colonel could pull strings and sprang him from the darkest dungeon in wartime Manila. Gramps went on to fight Japanese stragglers in the battle of Manila. The compadre survived, though gramps never spoke to him again. That unnamed Japanese colonel almost certainly died in the inferno which engulfed Luzon. Grandpa died many years later, one day short of 99, with my mother and I at his side.

The old family story came to mind reading the New York Times account of a modern betrayal: ‘Betrayal of Yazidis Stokes Iraqi Fears of Return to 2006 Sectarian Horrors’. The core of the article is a story of how one Yazidi family was betrayed by their closest family friend, an Arab, Mr. Mare.

The men had helped one another over the years: Mr. Mare brought supplies to Mr. Habash’s community in the years after the American invasion, when travel outside their northern enclave was too dangerous for Yazidis. Mr. Mare bought tomatoes and watermelon from Mr. Habash’s farm and sometimes borrowed money.

But his friend’s assurances did not sit right with Mr. Habash. That night, he gathered his family and fled. Soon afterward, he said, he found out that Mr. Mare had joined the militants and was helping them hunt down Yazidi families.

There’s a moral here, but the most appropriate is probably that the more things change, they more they remain the same, allowing for differences in costume between the Kempeitai and ISIS. It has ever been thus. It’s the guys you trust who can betray you. The enemy will fight you, but you know that already.

Betrayal was in the news again today, when Britain was rocked by allegations that the entire English town of Rotherham had for years been in the grip of an “Asian” gang which raped or kidnapped or abused some 1,400 mostly white underaged girls. The town authorities apparently knew as did the police, but they suppressed the facts out of the fear of being called ‘racist’ and more probably, the physical menaces of these ‘Asians’.

(more…)

Small Apples

August 25th, 2014 - 8:33 pm

Perhaps it is only syntactic sugar, but this statement advocating eventual co-existence with Israel from the Saudi Foreign Minister is worth noting.

Speaking on the sidelines of the world assembly of Islamic scholars in Jeddh, Saud bin Faisal Al Saud said that the Middle-East needs peace and co-existence more than ever and Saudi Arabia as a leading Islamic country is ready to make sacrifices in peace negations and encourages President Abbas to follow the same policy.

Referring to the ongoing war in Gaza strip, the Saudi foreign Minster stressed that Hamas authority is the sole responsible for Palestinian calamity and they must brought before the law.

The Saudi official further added that Arab World Increasingly Frustrated With Hamas which is seeking more wars.

Perhaps Israel has won, or is starting to win, though that would be to put it too dramatically. But there is something in this.

The Muslim world has for decades tried to destroy the Jews and in its desperation raised up one tyrant or mad fanatical movement after the other to carry out the program. And now these monsters are starting to turn on them. Syria is ruined; the ‘Arab Spring’ has burned out much of the region. Generations of young men have been brought up with no marketable skills; only a desire for suicide, an aptitude for destruction and an unquenchable hate. Perhaps the Saudis and the Gulf States are wondering if their creations will gobble them up.

There are priorities in life, even when it comes to enemies. The New York Times provides the first concrete evidence that Arab regimes now recognize a danger greater than Israel. The mysterious “air forces” bombing Islamist rebels in Libya turn out to be — Egypt and the UAE.  If the sudden Saudi openness to Israel seemed at first perplexing, the identity of the secret air force makes it a little less mysterious now.

(more…)

Try Harder

August 25th, 2014 - 1:32 pm
European Unemployment

European Unemployment

The big news in Europe is the dissolution of the French government as various left-wing government factions try to blame each other for the abysmal condition of their economy. ‘French economy going nowhere: now on track for nine straight months of zero growth’, writes the Telegraph.  The problem, says Hollande’s critics, is that he isn’t socialist enough. “Two senior left-wing French cabinet ministers have broken ranks with the President, François Hollande, and demanded that Paris abandon the ‘forced march’ of public-spending cuts in Europe.” They warned that unless France did something drastic, like spend more government money, things would fall apart. “The French government recognised on Thursday that its economy had ‘broken down’ after new data showed there had been zero growth so far this year. In more bad news for the eurozone new figures also revealed the German economy has contracted.” And it wasn’t just France. EU Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi said that compared to America, Europe was a disaster zone.

There were warnings of Green Suicide by a few lonely voices. ”The U.S. shale-gas boom is placing 30 million jobs at risk in Europe as companies with greater reliance on energy contend with higher fuel prices than their American counterparts, the International Energy Agency said.” But the mainstream consensus was that Europe had done too little to stimulate demand. Paul Krugman wrote that Europe’s only hope was to print more money.  Draghi “is basically urging Germany to run bigger deficits, but the Germans aren’t interested. ”  Things are so bad, according to some pundits, that Europe ‘is where the US was 5 years ago’. Realizing this, President Obama is doing his best to catch up.  His basic idea was that America needed to become more like the Old Continent, with socialized everything, and to replace the curmudgeonly negative rights with the shining European positive ones.  Alas, not everyone likes that. Some are heading for the exits. (more…)

Pages: 1 2 | 88 Comments»

The Weekend Post

August 23rd, 2014 - 5:29 pm

This is an “extra Belmont Club post” for readers who are having a slow day. The video below takes some time to watch. But it is entertaining. It’s a presentation by a tester of Healthcare.gov, named Ben Simo, before it was rolled out.

Doubtless some of the problems he talks about have been fixed. But it does strongly suggest that when they rolled the Obamacare site out it wasn’t really ready for prime time.

One of the funniest moments comes when Simo tries to tell his employers about all the security problems he’s encountered and they advise him to call the Federal Trade Commission to report it. When Simo says that might not be appropriate they ask him to call the local police or the FBI. It’s funny until you realize the same mentality is protecting you from ISIS.

(more…)

Paradigms Lost

August 23rd, 2014 - 2:03 pm

The administration’s abrupt transition from complacency to near panic on the rise of ISIS recalls Donald Rumsfeld’s famous dictum. But before the dictum, first the panic. The New York Times captures the sudden shift in attitude in its opening paragraphs of an article by Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper:

Earlier this year, President Obama likened the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to a junior varsity basketball squad, a group that posed little of the threat once presented by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

But on Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called ISIS an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

Now there was no more talk of amateur opponents. Indeed the media outlets were playing up ISIS threats to the president’s hometown of Chicago.  The rest of the NYT Mazzetti-Cooper article examined the debate over the seriousness of the threat without reaching a conclusion.  Donald Rumsfeld warned there would be days like this: a man must always expect the unexpected.

Reports that say there’s — that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

There are things we do not know and NPR said the failed rescue of James Foley “reveals the challenges faced by US intelligence”. Yet at least it was, to the intelligence community at least, a known unknown.

The U.S. doesn’t really have much in the way of assets on the ground there. The U.S. is allied with the Free Syrian Army. That’s the group that’s fighting the Assad government. But they apparently provide very little in the way of really good intelligence. So instead, and the secretary of defense alluded to this, the intelligence community has to figure out what’s going on by cobbling together information from cell phone calls, Internet traffic and the surveillance from overhead drones.

President Obama’s earlier dismissal of ISIS in January falls into a  much more serious category. In an interview with David Remnick of the New Yorker, he boasted that there were now no significant threats worth considering. Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” When Remnick challenged that claim,  pointing  out that the Black Flag was flying over Fallujah, the president famously waved it off. He characterized ISIS as a “jayvee” or junior varsity team, not even to be taken seriously.

(more…)

Pages: 1 2 | 181 Comments»

It’s Alive

August 21st, 2014 - 3:03 pm

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters that ISIS “is beyond anything we have seen … They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded.”

Hagel’s realization that it’s beyond Obama’s ken is understandable. You really can’t see much from the 18th hole.

ISIS and the riots in Ferguson are examples of emergent events, which happens when big things suddenly constitute themselves out of a myriad of seemingly harmless little things and become something much larger than the original. It is the result of “a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties”.

President Obama’s whole approach to the world has been predicated on the idea that you can make deals with enemies of the United States in specific circumstances because each deal can be isolated from the others. Thus, he could engage in a ‘prisoner swap’ for Bowe Berghdahl or otherwise talk to the Taliban while still remaining in actual combat with them. Likewise it was possible to make a deal with Iran while remaining an ally of Israel.

It is well known for example that Qatar is a supporter of ISIS. “German Development Minister Gerd Mueller accused Qatar on Wednesday of financing Islamic State militants who have seized wide areas of northern Iraq and have posted a video of a captive American journalist being beheaded.”

“You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops. The keyword there is Qatar – and how do we deal with these people and states politically?” said Mueller, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the center-right Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

In Obama’s world the observation that Qatar was a source of support for ISIS would not be germane. The relationship with Qatar was separable from the problem of ISIS. The “axis of evil” stuff was for limited minds. The president prided himself on being able to straddle all sides of an issue at once as the “only adult in the room”. He could take the big view of things and therefore hated the idea of “war” because it was so limiting, implying that one had to take just one side in a quarrel.

Why, with his great mind, Obama figured he could take all sides. Early in his presidency, deputy press secretary Bill Burton boasted that “when you’re President of the United States you’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time”.

This is how to ring a motel front desk bell the Barack Obama way.

Pages: 1 2 | 166 Comments»

Game Over. Play Again?

August 20th, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Liz Peek at the Fiscal Times explains why the Republicans might fail to get voters interested in repealing Obamacare, despite its unpopularity. “What ever happened to Obamacare — the unpopular healthcare bill that was to be the Republicans big weapon as they battled for control of the Senate this fall? For sure, the Affordable Care Act has been pushed to the sidelines by the chaos in Iraq, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the surge in Central American minors across our border, the Veterans Administration scandal, the pestilential virus rampaging across the computers of the federal government, and so much more…”

What happened to it was it got buried by Snowden, ISIS, the IRS, Benghazi, Ebola, Syria, Libya, Ferguson, Bergdahl, etc … who can spare a thought for Obamacare? The Obama administration is living proof that the Dense Pack strategy works.  If your problems come fast enough, you start living hour to hour and the newest crisis drives out all thoughts of the last.

According to the Dense Pack strategy, a series of ten to twelve hardened silos would be grouped closely together in a line. This line of silos would generally run north-to-south, as the primary flight path for Soviet inbound nuclear missiles would be expected to come from the north over the North Pole. The rationale for this thinking went like this: As the first inbound warhead detonates over its target silo, it would throw a large cloud of debris over the entire missile field. Every other warhead targeted on that missile field would have to travel through that debris cloud to reach its target, and it was theorized that the act of traveling through that debris cloud would “trash” the warhead before it could detonate. Every successful explosion over the missile field would throw more debris up into the air, increasing the chances that each successive warhead would be destroyed before it could trigger.

A suit shows up raindrops only when some of it is dry. But a soaking wet suit is uniformly changed in color.

The price for Dense Pack is letting it happen. The problems are coming too quickly for Obama to even perfunctorily address them. You may recall the Space Invaders video game. Once the bad guys get the jump on you, there’s no catching up. Like Space Invaders, the problems are now all over Barack Obama. He’s been criticized for hunkering down in Martha’s Vineyard but consider:  what difference does it make if he stays in Martha’s Vineyard to play golf or attempts to engage the crisis du jour.  There’ll be another along tomorrow of equal or worse importance.

Should Obama go to Ferguson? What good would that do?  The decapitation of American journalist Jim Foley by ISIS is a case in point.  Obama “called and spoke with the parents on Wednesday, the same day he held a news conference in which he vowed a ‘relentless’ effort to stop ISIS.”

You mean like the way he vowed to bring justice to the perpetrators of Benghazi or the wrath that would descend on Assad? Or maybe he meant his efforts to #bringbackourgirls — the hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram?  He means his vow as much as he meant the others. They got dense packed too.

(more…)

The Upper and Nether Millstones

August 19th, 2014 - 2:22 pm

Yesterday’s post about the inexorable expansion of government can be read in conjunction with Roger Simon’s current piece about how the Great Society laid the foundations for the riots in Ferguson.

Ironically, Michael Brown and the paramilitarized Ferguson Police Department are two sides of the same coin. They are the joint product of the politics of grievance and the growing expansion of government. The taxes that made the mobs dependent also armed the paramilitary police that contain them.   You have one government department handing out Obamaphones and another handing out MRAPs to the cops. HHS gives out Obamacare and the IRS enforces it.

A giant bureaucracy tasked with providing all “positive rights” rumbles on, even as progressive politics unleashes more “community organizers” while erecting a giant political machine to meet those same growing expectations.  It calls to and answers itself. The result on a community scale is Ferguson. The result on a national scale is Barack Obama.

Dependence is met with welfare; crime countered by replacing the family — after destroying it first — with state adoption and child protection agencies.  Two monstrous excrescences grow from the soil to dizzying heights. It was supposed to be a win-win: the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth (represented by the youths) would be governed and fed by the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto. In charge of it all would be our very own Dr. Barack Strange Obama, who would preside over both the youths and their keepers.

And it continues apace. Soon Eric Holder will tell us whom to blame. And as Foxtrot Alpha explains, maybe systems like the “Wide Area Aerial Surveillance, the all-seeing eye in the sky that will change our lives forever” will tell us whom to find. Yet both, as Roger Simon notes, will utterly fail to spot the real culprit: the system that created this dynamic in the first place.

The only people who don’t belong in this tableau are people who work for a living. In Ferguson, schools have been closed, stores shuttered and businesses shut. Does anybody remember — or care — about the convenience store owner whose robbery was the proximate cause of this dust-up? No, because he was only the victim of a “prank” who has no spoken lines in this grand production.  He is no more than a bit player, a prop even,  in the inexorable drama of progressive history.

(more…)