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Putin speaks!

March 21st, 2014 - 2:31 pm

Not everyone has seen Valdimir’s Putin’s latest Op-Ed. It think it’s important, and wanted to share it with readers now.  Doubtless, Putin had a ghost writer, but I think this accurately captures his sentiments:

As you know, the last few weeks have been kind of crazy around here. Last month, protests in Ukraine ousted the country’s Kremlin-allied president and ignited a wave of Ukrainian nationalism that threatened to destabilize Russia’s economic and military interests in the region. Of course, I couldn’t simply stand by and let that happen, so I intervened and ordered a forceful takeover of the strategically important peninsula of Crimea—a territory with historical ties to Russia that our nation had long desired. It’s certainly no easy task to forcefully annex an entire province against another country’s will, so I just wanted to thank you—the government of the United States, the nations of western Europe, and really the entire world population as a whole—for being super cool about all of this.

Seriously, you guys have been amazing. All of you. I really appreciate it.

To be honest, I was really dreading a whole big fight over this thing. When you first condemned the seizure of Crimea as patently illegal and in breach of the Ukrainian constitution—which it absolutely was, by the way—I feared for the worst. But then everybody stopped short of doing anything to actually prevent what was essentially a state-sponsored landgrab, and I just thought, “Wow, these guys are a pretty laid-back and easygoing bunch!” It really was a huge load off when you let everything slide like that.

Frank isn’t it?

You can read the rest of the piece here.


Aristotle on Crimea

March 17th, 2014 - 7:43 am


In a melancholy passage of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observes  that we can follow certain courses of action which will put us in situations where there is no right response.  Whatever we do, it will be wrong, or at least unhappy.

Confronted with the West’s habitual acquiescence in the face of Russian (and not only Russian) swagger and belligerence, Aristotle would no doubt have said, “See what I mean,” or words to that effect.

Skillful diplomacy might have headed off the crisis in Crimea.  But we did not field skillful diplomats. We sent John Kerry, backed up by Barack Obama, Susan Rice, and Joe Biden. As in 1854, “someone had blundered.” Tennyson recorded the result.  Today, the “reset button” turns out to have been disconnected at the source. Obama really did push it. Comrade Putin paid it no heed. He had taken the measure of the man long ago.  And if there was any doubt, in 2012, in a candid-camera moment, Obama pleaded with Putin’s protege Dmitry Medvedev to give him more “space” about missile defense. “This is my last election,”  Obama confided quietly to Medvedev, “After my election, I have more flexibility.” Noted.

The microphones weren’t supposed to pick that up. In any normal world, the remark would have gone a long way towards sealing Obama’s defeat in 2012.  But this isn’t any normal world. It is the world according folks like Wolf Blitzer, who mocked Romney for describing Russia as, “without question, our number one geopolitical foe.”

Oh, how Obama jumped all over that during the debates.  Remember? The mockery was non-stop. “The 1980s Are Now Calling to Ask for Their Foreign Policy Back.” Harkh, harkh, harkh! Good line, Barack.  But it looks like Mitt was right, doesn’t it?  And having temporized, preened, tergiversated about American foreign policy for five years, what are you going to do now?

Exit polls show that yesterday’s vote in Crimea to be “annexed” by Russia won by 93 percent (UPDATE: later tallies put it as high as 97 perecent.).  That’s a showing that would have satisfied Stalin. The vote is “illegitimate,” you say. There will be “consequences,” you threaten. The West will enact “sanctions,” you thunder.

Meanwhile Putin is enacting what one commentator accurately described as his “slow-motion Anschluss” of Crimea, possibly with the rest of Ukraine, or at least a large part of it,  to follow.

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So, Obama once again “delays” the law of the land on Obamacare. Why?  Because there is an election coming up, silly, and he wants to do what he can to protect vulnerable Democrats.  I pick this bit from the Detroit News more or less at random: “In announcing the latest postponement this week . . .  the Obama administration carefully credited Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Udall of Colorado, Ron Barber of Arizona and 10 other vulnerable Democratic lawmakers.” What do you think about this?  I think the Detroit News is right: “While it may be politically expedient, rewriting a law passed by Congress simply to avoid ballot box consequences is an outrageous abuse of executive power.” Where, I wonder, is the tar? Where are the feathers? Where are the pitchforks and the pullulating multitudes marching and chanting in the streets over this contemptuous exhibition of lawlessness?

Where are you, Dear Reader?  Have you written to your duly elected members of Congress?  Have you raised this issue with your friends?  Why is it that the president of the United States blithely puts himself above the law? “Decency, security, and liberty,” Justice Brandeis once wrote, “alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen.”

In a government of laws [Brandeis continues], existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously.  Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.  For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it  invites man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy.

Why is Obama’s lawlessness not the subject of front-page stories in the New York Times?  Why is the electorate not enraged by this extraordinary spectacle of lawlessness?  Is it because they feel that, despite everything, Obama is in some obscure way “on the right right side”?  That opponents of the unaffordable “affordable” health care legislation are beastly meanies? That Obama means well, and meaning well is all that  matters?  That, being a half-black lifelong beneficiary of affirmative action, he is untouchable?

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More Drudge juxtaposition genius

March 9th, 2014 - 11:58 am

Russia reinforces military presence in Crimea…


Putin mocks the West and threatens to turn off European gas supplies…

Got it.

Obama Continues ‘Telephone Outreach’ From Florida…

How’s that working out for ‘ya?

Hits links with celebs… 

The leader of the free=world, eh?

I am holed up in in beautiful Antigua (Lat. 17.07 Long. -61.81) for a few days with a small cadre of serious thinkers helping to sort out the world’s problems. In this super-connected, technological age, no place, not even this tropical paradise, can be out of contact with the long-running circus of fatuous incompetence being run from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.  The latest reminder of the clownish antics which our masters in Washington give us in lieu of leadership comes from the great Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.  In a few short paragraphs, tells us everything we need to know about “Obama’s Fantasy-Based Foreign Policy.” 

The latest exhibition of stunning incompetence, of course, is the little dance Obama, Susan Rice, and John “reporting for duty” Kerry are performing while Vladimir Putin conducts the invasion by, er, the  “uncontested arrival” of Russian troops in the (formerly) “Autonomous Republic” of Crimea. In a way, the Obama administration’s routine is funny, in a Keystone Cops sort of way.  The comedy palls however when you realize that the Obama-Rice-Kerry vaudeville act is being performed as an excuse for foreign policy.  As Hayes reminds us, team Obama just doesn’t understand the way the world works. They are completely out of touch with the unpleasant realities of power politics.  They believe evil is confined to their domestic rivals, whom they propose to regulate and police into conformity, employing where necessary the suited, bureaucratic Gauleiters from the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service to establish what an earlier age called Gleichschaltung, that “coordination,” that “bringing into line” that made Deutschland and its satellites such a place of fun and frolic from 1934 until 1945.

The spectacle of bumbling incompetence on view in the Obama administration’s response to the unfolding drama in and around Sevastopol is hardly an isolated occurrence. On the contrary, from almost the moment he assumed office in January 2009, Obama has assiduously avoided promoting U.S. interests.  A full litany might begin with his notorious speech in Cairo early on in his first term. He looked forward to a “new beginning” with the Muslim world, but, as Andy McCarthy and others warned “Obama, Obama, There Are Still a Billion Osamas!” “For five years,” Hayes points out, “the Obama administration has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is.” It is a depressing narrative.

In this fantasy world, the attack in Fort Hood is “workplace violence.” The Christmas Day bomber is an “isolated extremist.” The attempted bombing in Times Square is a “one-off” attack. The attacks in Benghazi are a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video. Al Qaeda is on the run. Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer.” The Iranian regime can be sweet-talked out of its nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.

In the real world, it was a pen pal of the late jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki who opened fire on soldiers at Fort Hood. The Christmas bomber was dispatched from Yemen, where he was instructed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Times Square bomber was trained and financed by the Pakistani Taliban. Benghazi was a deliberate attack launched by well-known terrorist groups. Al Qaeda is amassing territory and increasing its profile. Assad is a brutal dictator, responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Syrians. The Iranian regime is firmly entrenched as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror and remains determined to lead a nuclear state. And in Russia we face a Cold War throwback willing to use force to expand Russian influence.

And here’s the kicker.  It’s a double whammy: “And Vladimir Putin, it turns out, is who we thought he was. Unfortunately, so is Barack Obama.”

It is sometimes said that a people gets the leaders it deserves.  What did we do to deserve this?

Also read: 

White House Releases New Obama Phone Photo in Ukraine Crisis

What Game of Chess?

March 6th, 2014 - 8:42 am

Last week, as the Obama administration scurried to remove the large quantities of egg that Vladimir Putin had deposited on its collective countenance, Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers commented that Putin was playing chess while Obama was “playing marbles.”

I think that was unfair. Marbles are inherently attractive, and their deployment is an innocent pastime that has beguiled the innocent hours of many a boyhood. What’s more, playing marbles takes skill.  What is happening in Ukraine is anything but innocent, and the astonishing incompetence on display in Barack Obama’s hesitant but sullen maunderings has been the opposite of skillful.

Vladimir Putin is playing a dangerous game of chess, all right, but the only thing Obama can be said to be playing is the fool.

This morning, it was revealed that Crimea has just voted to “join” Russia. “Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia,” Reuters reported, “and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the the decision.” What do you suppose that means?

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to give the history-marinated peninsula (Sevastopol, Yalta) its formal name, has been in but only partly of the Ukraine since the charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. Nearly 60% of the population of the peninsula are ethnic Russians; less than 25% are ethnic Ukrainians.













All those Russian troops and tanks we’ve been seeing on the nightly news were not imported into  Crimea: they were already there in major military installations that Russia has maintained there before, during, and after the Soviet Union.

Everyone who sees the hand of Comrade Putin behind this prelude to the Russian Anschluss of Crimea is correct.  But here’s a question: what do you propose to do about it? Putin is in Moscow, arranging for his next bare-chested photo op. The Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea votes to “join” Russia, with a referendum scheduled March 16. Arseny Yatseniuk, the Ukrainian prime minister, says any such decree to make Crimea part of Russia would be “illegitimate.”  “Crimea is, was, and will be an integral part of Ukraine,” he declared. But what if the vote goes the other way? What then?

Nxf6+ i.e., say goodbye to that Knight, and, by the way, Check.

Not all things are possible at all times.  There was a long moment when nimble U.S. diplomacy, combined with the aura of U.S. power and prestige, might have significantly influenced what happened in Ukraine. What Glenn Reynolds has aptly dubbed Obama’s “Smart Diplomacy™” has broken the kneecaps of American diplomatic prowess.  If you doubt that, consider the current of comedy contained in this headline: “Secretary Kerry to meet with Russian counterpart to discuss Ukraine crisis.” Admit it: you tittered slightly. After all, what would a “Russian counterpart” of John Kerry look like? Something like Boris Badenov from the Rocky and His Friends. I doubt that Vladimir Putin maintains a court jester, so it is extremely unlikely that there is a “Russian counterpart” of John “reporting for duty” Kerry.

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A symposium on Ted Cruz

February 27th, 2014 - 4:28 am

I and some PJM friends off thoughts on Ted Cruz: is he likely to help or hurt Republicans in the 2014 mid-term elections? The more interesting question, I suggest, is whether he will help or hurt conservatives.  Read my thoughts and the thoughts of my PJM colleagues here.

The Human Face of Obamacare

February 24th, 2014 - 6:25 am

If you like your president, you can keep him. Period. But what if you don’t? Stephen Blackwood, the president of the fledging Ralston College in Savannah, Georgia, has a sad, infuriating piece about his mother’s experience with Obamacare this morning in the Wall Street Journal. We’ve all heard stories — but not as frequently as we ought to hear them from sources like the New York Times and other Obama enablers – about people whose insurance was was suddenly cancelled because it was deemed to be “illegal” or otherwise inadequate according to our masters in Washington (who by the way do not have to worry about the same thing happening to them, since Obamacare doesn’t apply to the political elite, only to us peasants).

In some ways Stephen Blackwood’s case is typical. His mother, who had been diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer in 2005 when she was only 49, had been receiving treatment through her insurer. She had had the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years.  It was expensive, but so was her treatment. “It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.” Then came November. She, like millions of other Americans, woke up one day and found out that her plan was cancelled.  So when Obama  said (as he said over and over and over again when selling Obamacare) “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period,” he really meant: “Ha, ha, you just put the federal government in charge of your health care and now we can do whatever we want whenever we want. Period.”

The story Stephen Blackwood tells is like something out of Kafka—or, perhaps a closer analogy, like something out a totalitarian satrap, for there is nothing fictional about this nightmare. The mind-numbing bureaucracy. The stunning incompetence. The casual, unthinking brutality. It’s all there, coming to a shattered life near you. One day Mrs. Blackwood had the health insurance plan she had paid for for two decades. Then, “because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing.” Nothing. Nada. Nichts. Rien.

What happened next? First, “Because the exchange website in her state (Virginia) was not working, she went directly to insurers’ websites and telephoned them, one by one, over dozens of hours.”  Mrs. Blackwood was no naif. “As a medical-office manager, she had decades of experience navigating the enormous problems of even our pre-ObamaCare system.” She knew her way around the medical paperchase. But “nothing could have prepared her for the bureaucratic morass she now had to traverse.”

As many people warned before the hilariously named “Affordable Care Act” came on line, its implementation, from an administrative point of view, would be like putting the DMV in charge of your health care. “The repeated and prolonged phone waits were Sisyphean,” Mr. Blackwood reports, “the competence and customer service abysmal.” Was there light at the end of the tunnel? “When finally she found a plan that looked like it would cover her Sandostatin and other cancer treatments, she called the insurer,  Humana, to confirm that it would do so.” How dark is your sense of humor? It looked good—at first.

The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications—including those for her cancer—would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not—unbelievable though this may seem—have access to the “coverage formularies” for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan. (Does that remind you of anyone?)

And just as Nancy’s Pelosi’s horrible Madame-Defarge-like rictus was the prelude to the disillusionment that is Obamacare in action, so it was here. Mrs. Blackwood, with no other options, bought the plan. Come January, it still wasn’t showing up online. She called, repeatedly, to confirm that it was active. The agent told her: “Don’t worry, it’s not my life.”  No, actually, he said, “Don’t worry, you’re definitely covered.”

Then on Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that, Oh, by the way, we are not going to cover that drug Sandostatin, or other your other cancer-related medications.  Since January 1, Mr.  Blackwood reports, the cost of the Sandostatin alone was $14,000.

Think about that.

Again, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama can afford to pass the bill, then find out what’s in it, because it does not apply to them. But, assuming you are not George Soros, how would you like to get a bill for $14,000 for a month and a half worth of medication? $14,000 (just for that one drug) and Humana (I include the link in case you wish to write to tell them what you think of them) was not going to pay.

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Al Gore vs. Wallace Stevens

February 5th, 2014 - 8:26 am

This morning, I walked out our front door and across the street to take a picture:


It reminded me of something Al Gore said a few years back: “the world is changing in such dramatic ways right in front of our eyes because of global warming.”

Then I thought of something Wallace Stevens said:

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

I think I’ll stick with Stevens.

Of Motes & Beams: Bridgegate Edition

February 2nd, 2014 - 7:22 am

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

–Matthew 7:3

Unlike many of my friends, I am not a particular fan of Chris Christie. Sure, I enjoyed watching him take apart that preposterous teacher who, with tremulous voice, complained that the state of New Jersey wasn’t paying enough of her bills. Delicious, I think, and sound policy to boot.

But notwithstanding his embarrassing protestations to the contrary, I think he is a bully. That’s not the reason I am not part of the Christie fan club, though. To my mind, Christie has about as much chance of being president as all those other establishment candidates who have been paraded before us as “mainstream,” “not divisive,” etc. Remember Bob Dole? Remember John McCain? Remember Mitt Romney?  We were supposed to rally round them and eschew other candidates because the other candidates were “extreme” or “unelectable.”

Let’s grant that the establishment candidates were not “unelectable.” But none was elected. Will we never learn?

I also think Chris Christie is very unsound on a lot of issues. He waffled, in a distinctly Islamophilic direction, over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. I’m told by my New Jersey friends that he has failed to rein in state taxes. The aroma of big-government, machine politics clings resolutely to Chris Christie.

That said, there is something surreal about the reaction to the revelations about the George Washington Bridge lane closures. Really, it is like something out of Jonathan Swift.

Aide the first: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Aide the second: “Got it.”

Yikes. And Friday’s allegation by the lawyer for aide number 2, former Port Authority official David Wildstein, that Christie knew about the lane closures when they were happening has the salivary glands of Christie’s enemies working overtime.

Christie denies the allegation. He’s a smart guy, and I suspect the record will bear him out. In the end, I’d wager, the most we’ll discover is that Christie had a Henry II “Will-no-one-rid-me-of -this-turbulent-priest” scene:

Gov (muttering to himself): “Thou lily-livered poltroon mayor of Fort Lee! Darest thou refuse to support my reelection? I will do such things — what they are, I know not yet. Mayhap you’ll find the traffic around your puny town of pell mell havoc and confusion.” 

Well, something like that. And Lady Bridget of Bridgegate, she of the ill-advised email, might have thought, “If it were done when tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.” Or words to that effect.

So what do we have here? There’s been lots of sanctimonious sniffing from the commentariat and (natch) Christie’s political rivals. “The worst example of a petty political vendetta,” quoth the New York Daily News.” Then there’s the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which has thundered that Christie ought to resign or be impeached if David Wildstein’s allegations turn out to be true.

Do you really think so? What is it, exactly, that Christie is accused of? Creating a traffic jam? No, not quite. Ordering a traffic jam? No, that’s not quite right either. Being irritated with the mayor of Fort Lee, who declined to endorse his reelection bid, and wishing to get back at him somehow and then not minding when he was embarrassed with some really bad traffic over the George Washington Bridge?

That last comes pretty close to what the governor of New Jersey is accused of.

Pretty heinous, eh? I mean, you never see bad traffic on the George Washington Bridge. And of course, no politicians ever indulge in political pay-back.

 Governor implicated in traffic jam. 

Political opponents demand impeachment.


How’s that for a headline?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the president of the United States publicly declares he is willing to contravene the Constitution in order to achieve his agenda. He’s been on that jog for quite a while now, and his State of the Union address last week reinforced his out-of-touch imperial ambitions. Some are joking — some joke! — that he appears to think of himself as a sort of secular Trinity, embodying in his own person the three branches of government.

So what do we have here?

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