Are you anti-social? Uninterested in justice? Hardly a warrior? #SJW could use your talents!
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) November 22, 2014
Peter Murphy’s heroin-infused “Cabaret Mix” of Iggy Pop’s 1977 punk hit “Fun Time” came on this morning, so I was going to play that track for you tonight. But while I was going through my memories and AllMusic.com, I came across an even better story of rock’n'roll incest.
When Bauhaus formed in the late ’70s around Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, they borrowed heavily from David Bowie’s theatricality, and from raw proto-punk sounds like Iggy and The Stooges. Murphy & Co. wrapped that up in Nosferatu’s cloak worn in recording sessions which sounded like they were held in one of pre-Thatcher Britain’s abandoned, antiquated factories — and thus was Goth born.
But before all that happened, or maybe before it even could happen, The Stooges broke up, and Iggy checked himself into a mental institution for a bit. He came out ready for something new, and teamed up with friend David Bowie to pursue just that. Pop & Bowie cowrote songs for two albums Pop released in ’77, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Bowie did some of the arrangements and played on many of the tracks, too. This was all going on in Berlin at about the same time Bowie was working with Roxy Music’s Brain Eno on Bowie’s famous “Berlin Trilogy” albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger.
It goes without saying that before Bowie and Eno teamed up in Berlin, Roxy Music had been part of the Glam movement Bowie had started in the late ’60s/early ’70s. And if you want to hear an excellent cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” my favorite was recorded in ’82 by — you guessed it — Bauhaus.
The frontiers of rock have always been highly inbred, which brings us to tonight’s song. In 1983, Bowie had a Number Two hit with “China Girl,” along with a steamy video and, if memory serves, a few charges of racism — even though the song was an explicitly anti-racist statement. The Left never changes, it seems. What you might not remember is that “China Girl” had been co-written six years earlier by Bowie and Pop, and it was Pop who recorded it first, as the starter track on Side B of The Idiot.
There are some fine concert versions of this song all over YouTube, but I figured since we went off on the whole Berlin thing, I’d play the original studio version, as originally recorded during what was probably the creative height of each man’s career.
You might want to turn this one up loud as thunder.
The numbers, they are awful:
I’ve complained at great length about the Barack Obama administration’s lack of transparency surrounding the Affordable Care Act. But I don’t even know what to say about this latest revelation, courtesy of Bloomberg News’s own Alex Wayne: The administration counted stand-alone dental plans in order to claim that 7.3 million people had signed up during the first open enrollment period. Without the addition of the dental plans, enrollment would have very slightly missed its target of 7 million enrollees. Moreover, simple arithmetic indicates that it is still counting them in its current claims about enrollment.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell seems to be saying that this was some sort of mistake. And it’s possible that this is all it is. But I would be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt if the administration hadn’t otherwise been managing enrollment data so aggressively, releasing good figures as soon as it had them but sitting on bad data as long as possible, and ceasing to issue regular reports as soon as open enrollment stopped and the numbers began to decline rather than rise.
You wonder what other goodies might be propping up the imaginary numbers?
Since the headline is unlikely to come to pass, Drew M at AoSHQ offers up the next best thing:
Yesterday we saw a number of ideas floated about how to respond….rescission, lawsuits, de-funding and withholding votes on nominees to name a few on the table. There’s one idea I’d like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.
The Constitution simply requires that “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Nothing requires that he do so in person. The modern in person State of The Union dates back to Woodrow Wilson but Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon all gave written reports as was the custom from Thomas Jefferson to Wilson.
And Presidents don’t simply show up whenever they please to address the Congress, they must be formally invited. That’s where Boehner and McConnell can strike a blow for the legislature…simply don’t invite him.
Washington and the MSM would be abuzz for weeks, and in a good way. I’d add that the congressional leadership should keep the messaging simple, with constant reminders that they’d be happy to extend an invitation and listen to the President’s speech, just as soon as the President remembers to listen to Congress, and go back to enforcing its laws.
Lovely photo of American armor from StrategyPage, and the caption reads in part:
Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fire ceremonial rounds from their M1A2 Abrams Tanks at the Adazi Training Area, Latvia, Nov. 6, 2014. The Soldiers, who are here to assist in training the Latvian Land Forces as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, were part of an exhibit to dignitaries and local media. These rounds mark the first firing of tank rounds in Latvia since 1994.
Think about that. Latvia is a member of a defensive military alliance, and yet this is the first time any kind of tank round has been fired there in 20 years.
I’ve said it before and I’m afraid I’ll have to say it again, but NATO is no longer a serious military alliance.
Obama did not mention it, but his plan will also allow millions of eligible illegal immigrants to receive work permits and compete for jobs alongside American citizens. Obama effectively codified the principle that bringing a child in the United States is a ticket to legal status, which will inevitably result in new waves of immigrants from South and Latin America sweeping across the border. The president declared millions of illegal immigrants, without much specificity, ineligible for deportation which expands the powers of prosecutorial discretion to a ludicrous degree. The executive has the power to accelerate or decelerate enforcement priorities, not to abjure the enforcement of the law entirely.
“Not really changing immigration law as much as erasing it,” The Washington Examiner’s Byron York observed, and he is right. But average Americans did not hear that. They heard the president wax poetic about the plight of the working illegal immigrant, an individual who is not theoretical construct but a person of flesh and blood to millions of good-hearted Americans. They heard him weave flowery prose into a compelling narrative, around which he proposed circumspect action to make an unfair system fairer. Looming, the president warned, is the threat posed by overzealous Republicans who will seek to challenge his self-evidently sensible measure in the courts, or even shut down the government in a fit of irrational pique.
Some men just want to watch the Republic burn.
Dear Mr. President,
I find it curious that immigration was an issue of such pressing importance that it required immediate (and dare I say unprecedented?) action on your part, and yet so trivial that you couldn’t be bothered to address the nation. “Bad optics,” as they say in your biz. Still, I hope you enjoy your stay in Las Vegas this weekend — it’s lovely there this time of year.
One of those British newspapers I read online, you know the one with all the stories about busty celebrities barely wearing fancy clothes? Anyway, they were nice enough to publish a lot of what you said last night, and there was some good stuff in there. I really like that part where you told illegal… excuse me, undocumented migrants that “if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.” That sounds to me like smart policy, the kind of thing we could probably all agree on. Maybe it would have been smarter if you had saved it for your State of the Union address a few weeks from now, when you would have had the new Congress to work with, and everybody would have had the holiday vacation to settle down and cool off and stuff?
Anyway, when you get back to DC to work more on rewriting our immigration laws, which sounds like lonely work by the way, maybe you could answer a couple of questions I have about the Constitution. I understand that you were once almost nearly a constitutional law professor, so I think you can help me.
You keep using this phrase “if Congress refuses to act,” and I keep wondering,”If Congress refuses whom?” I’m not one of those Tea Party racists who carries a tiny version of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or whatever in his pants pocket all the time, but I did pull up a copy of it online, and I don’t see anything in there about you being able to demand anything of Congress. It doesn’t even say here that you’re allowed to introduce your own bills. And then you said that thing that the House refuses to vote on a Senate bill, but I also don’t see anything in here that says the Senate can demand anything from the House or vice versa. They both have to agree on the same stuff without any demands at all, and then you have to sign it and then it’s a new law. Or did I miss something? Anyway, I read somewhere last week that the Senate has refused to vote on over 300 bills the House sent over, lots with bipartisan support, so it sounds like that Harry Reid is really going to have his hands full when he comes back to run the Senate in January! So if you could clear that up for me, that would be great.
And for now, that’s all I’m allowed to say about that.
That’s from the man himself, Astro Teller, head of the company’s Google X lab:
Wearables, from Glass to smartwatches, also need to be cheaper — a lot cheaper — before they go mainstream.
“Every time you drop the price by a factor of 2, you roughly get a 10 times pick up of the number of people who will seriously consider buying it,” Teller said in an interview at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. That means “two more rounds of halving in price” for most wearables before they’re an attractive buy.
For certain products, like $30 or $40 pedometers, a big price cut probably won’t make much of a difference, he said. “But for a $200 watch, or Glass, or anything in between, I think it’s sort of fair.”
For Google Glass, which costs $1,500 today, cutting the price in half twice would mean a drop to $375 — though the company said it couldn’t comment on a price target or timeline for any cut. But Google, which generated almost $60 billion in sales and $13 billion in profit last year, could absorb the cost cut — if it did want to make Glass a mainstream gadget rather than a novelty.
More than the price, Google needs to do something to reduce Glass’s Creep Factor,
British police harassed a grandmother for hanging in her window a hand-knit baby gorilla for the neighborhood kids to enjoy:
Feast said she explained to the officers that she loved to knit and loved even more to display the toys she had knitted in her window for the amusement of neighborhood children.
According to Feast, officers said that — gorilla or not! — she still had to take down the toy because it had offended someone. But she refused, and a police department spokesman later said that there had not actually been a complaint at all:
“The police did not receive any calls from members of the public about this,” a spokesman for Cambridge Police said.
“Instead, while out on patrol, two PCSOs saw an object hanging from a window which they thought might be seen as a potentially racially offensive object.”
I would make a joke about armed art critics, but I don’t want to give the White House any ideas.
Admittedly, the subject is a sensitive one, but still:
For at least the second time since 2012, the federal government has brought criminal charges, accusing someone of training people on how to beat a polygraph test.
On Friday, prosecutors announced an indictment against Douglas G. Williams, a 69-year-old man from Norman, Okla., who’s accused of coaching people “how to lie and conceal crimes” during federally administered lie-detector tests.
Mr. Williams, who operates a company called Polygraph.com, says the mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges leveled against him are an “attack on his First Amendment rights.” The indictment follows the federal prosecution of an Indiana man who received eight months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to similar charges.
“This indictment was brought to punish and silence me because I have the audacity to protest the use of the polygraph,” Mr. Williams said in a statement Monday.
There has got to be a First Amendment case to be made here, not just in defense of Williams but for throwing out ream after ream of so-called “criminal” offenses.
Roger Cohen and the “trauma” of ISIL and the chaos in the Middle East:
What is unbearable, in fact, is the feeling, 13 years after 9/11, that America has been chasing its tail; that, in some whack-a-mole horror show, the quashing of a jihadi enclave here only spurs the sprouting of another there; that the ideology of Al Qaeda is still reverberating through a blocked Arab world whose Sunni-Shia balance (insofar as that went) was upended by the American invasion of Iraq.
And more: that the loss of 4,500 American combat troops in Iraq and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives produced no victory or clarity, but only a broken society and country; that the Arab Spring, which promised a way out of the mutually reinforcing confrontation of quasi-military dictatorship and political Islam, ended (outside Tunisia) in frustration and a revenge of the extremists; that “Jihadi John,” for now, has the upper hand on “moderate Mohammed.”
The nightmare, in short, has less to do with the barbaric image itself than with the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness and déjà vu and exhaustion that it triggers.
President Obama has vowed to “destroy” Islamic State. But even if that were achieved, and for now the means deployed do not seem commensurate with the objective, in what metastasized configuration would Islamic State’s ideas resurface?
Read the whole thing.
The brutal truth is that we don’t need to destroy ISIL any more than we needed the Arab Spring to bring democratic republicanism and manicured lawns to the Nile Delta or to the suburbs of Damascus. What we tried and failed to do in Iraq was to create an island of stability, via a benign and overtly generous neo-neo-colonialism, to the very heart of the Middle East — in the one Arab country with a big and educated population, and something like a functional middle class. Having given up on that, our best hope is to keep the miserable place buzzing internally, in hopes that none of those bastards figures out a way to nuke or otherwise destroy an entire American city.
Because we all know 9/11 was just the warmup act. Pulling down some skyscrapers is one thing, but ripping the heart out of the Great Satan would be quite something else. But every one of these Islamists killing each other over there is one less to worry about planting a dirty bomb — or worse — in downtown Manhattan, on the Las Vegas strip, or at the Port of Los Angeles.
It doesn’t matter what name the group goes by, the goal of nihilistic mass destruction of the West is the goal. So perhaps Obama here can succeed by failing.
Maybe not the whole publication, but it looks like Obama has lost Danny Vinik on immigration. Read:
Still, Democrats could also lose some of their ability to claim the moral high ground on such issues. And that could matter very soon, because some Republicans are so angry about a potential immigration order they are considering using a government funding bill to block it, possibly setting up another shutdown. The last time the GOP shut down the government in 2013, they were clearly the party in the wrong—they were the ones violating common understandings of acceptable practice in politics. This time, they’d claim Obama was the one overstepping traditional boundaries—and it’d be a lot harder to say they were wrong.
The policies that reportedly the president is planning to implement are those about which intelligent people of good will can agree or disagree. He’s going to shield from deportation millions of people who actually face no realistic prospect of deportation. He’s going to give work permits to millions of people who are already working, most of them. I’m not saying it’s trivial, but put this in context. And he’s going to direct in the enforcement discretion the agents to concentrate on (a) criminals and (b) people who arrived recently. Fine. The policies are defensible. The process is execrable. Beyond the legalities, beyond the precedents of executive discretion and beyond the constitutional questions, there’s a simple etiquette of democracy, particularly after we have had, as Tom Cotton said here, an election in which this issue featured in many states, and the results were clear. The country opposes what the president is doing.
The joke’s on you. The second quote was really from George Will on Fox News Sunday last weekend. But we’ve come to a place where you can’t tell Danny Vinik from George Will without a scorecard — what a country!
After seven years and $40 million of development, the US Navy has finally sent its prototype laser weapon, one capable of blowing holes clean through UAVs, on patrol throughout the disputed Persian Gulf.
The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) prototype has been affixed to the bow of the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport ship, since August. Its 30kW beam, generated by focusing the apertures of six solid-state commercial welding lasers onto a single point, is multi-functional—equally capable of dazzling approaching ships and burning UAVs clean out of the sky—and only costs about a dollar a shot, John Miller, the 5th Fleet commander, told Bloomberg News in an e-mail statement last Friday.
If you ask me, $40 million sounds cheap to develop a dollar-a-holler laser drone zapper.
That’s what Al From offers Politico readers:
After last week’s senatorial and gubernatorial elections, it’s time for the Democrats to think about retooling our message once again.
Today’s Democratic Party has not fallen to the depths of the 1980s. But we need to face up to the breadth of our losses. Not only did the Republicans win control of the Senate, they also elected more House members than any time since the 1940s and won key governorships in Democratic strongholds of Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. They now control 31 statehouses and more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country.
And there are warning signs that we cannot afford to ignore as we look ahead to 2016. On the two issues of most concern to the American people — the economy and their dissatisfaction with government — our message did not connect and voters overwhelmingly favored the Republicans.
Our principal strategy this year was a turnout strategy — to “fire up the base” and turn out groups of voters — young millennials, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and women — who tend to vote Democratic. That strategy worked spectacularly in 2008 and 2012 with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Much of our campaign message was part of that strategy, directed at those Democratic constituencies. But this year, with the president not on the ballot and his approval ratings down, turnout favored the Republicans.
From has made several fundamental errors here. The first is that while it’s true that the Democrats “fallen to the depths of the 1980s,” that’s not a good thing. In fact, from the statehouses on up, the Democrats have fallen to the depths of the 1920s. When somebody is off by 50-plus years and 25 or so election cycles, they may have a perception problem big enough to render their advice suspect. For example, if I told you to mix 1.5 quarts of vodka into a 5-ounce glass of Steve’s Bloody Holiday Mary Mix, you might not even bother reading down to the part where I tell you what kind of pickle to use for garnish. (Trü Kosher Dills, FWIW.)
Secondly, From insists that what the Democrats have is a messaging problem, when that’s simply not the case. Bill Clinton really and truly moved his party rightwards towards the center, and achieved some stunning political and practical success. Barack Obama moved the party further left than it has ever been since 1972, or maybe ever, and then enjoyed a two-year honeymoon in which his every leftwing dream was turned into real policy. It’s those policies, not the messaging, which the American people rejected two weeks ago.
Finally, From has yet to internalize what the White House admitted last week, that Obama’s voters are not necessarily Democrat voters. There’s a lot of overlap, but the Venn circles do not perfectly mesh. It’s more like a three-note chord, played by Obama, the Democrats, and the Mainstream Media — on a piano that can only be played in presidential election years. (Weird piano, eh?)
From begins his political recommendations saying that “The cornerstones of our retooled message must be economic growth and government reform.”
The question is whether voters will be willing to trust the party which choked off the recovery and weaponized the IRS, with future growth and meaningful reform.
♡bamaCare!!! deeper underwater than ever according to the latest from Gallup:
Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.
The current 37% reading comes on the heels of last week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.
For those keeping score at home, ♡bamaCare!!! is now 19 points underwater, a new low.
Keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the new open enrollment period, and people are just starting to learn of cancellations and premium hikes.
But War on Women, yo.
Looks like NBC, to quote Rick Grimes, is screwing with the wrong people:
Well, this is becoming a bit of a weekly tradition now, isn’t it? For a third consecutive week and the fourth time this season, The Walking Dead has solidly beat Sunday Night Football among adults 18-49. In the sixth episode of its fifth season, the blockbuster AMC series drew a 7.3 rating among the key demo while the New England Patriots’ 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts got a 6.2. That’s a 15% spread.
Two things. The first is that 8-2 Pats vs 6-4 Colts was kind of a big deal. The second is that NBC is seen virtually everywhere, but AMC requires basic cable. Oh, and the ratings blowout doesn’t include viewers like me who bought Sunday night’s show on the iTunes Store.
They ought to rebrand the network EndBC.
Jonathan Clements sums up what’s wrong with Wall Street in the Era of Cheap Money:
The long rally has done wonders for my portfolio’s value. But it also means stocks are now more richly valued—and expected returns are lower. Unless you never again plan to add to your stock portfolio, you should have mixed feelings about the market’s heady gains.
Think about all the money you’ll invest in stocks in the years ahead, whether it’s with new savings, reinvested dividends or by shifting money from elsewhere in your portfolio. Wouldn’t you rather buy at 2009 prices than at today’s nosebleed valuations?
Indeed, I find it hard to get enthused about the prospects for U.S. stocks over the next 10 years.
Two things, one more serious and the other less so.
The first is that we’re caught in the tangled web of the New Trickledown. In the old trickledown economics, regulations were eased, top marginal tax rates were cut, and inflation was curbed in order to get business expanding (or entrepreneurs to entrepreneur-ate) and hiring workers. Accelerated depreciation was another part of the deal, so that many of those new jobs would be in high-paying technical and manufacturing fields. The “trickledown” was the wealthy creating new wealth to benefit those who had been jobless, and the entrepreneurs making themselves and their partners rich, too. It wasn’t a 100% success, but the Reagan years sure beat the crap out of the Nixon-Carter mess.
The New Trickledown works like this: Big fat government sits its big fat bottom on the economy’s face, smothering it with scads of new regulations, insurance schemes, taxes, fees, and all the rest. However, the Fed keeps the printing presses going to inflate the equities markets so that the rich can keep on spending, thus generating jobs in the low-paying retail and food service industries. For the unlucky millions who can’t find even crappy jobs, Congress keeps the welfare teats fully plumped. The middle class has had the door shut on them by the New Rich, and is having the floor cut out from under them by the Permanent Poor.
Everything the Left unjustly accused Reaganomics of being, is exactly what they’ve foisted on us in the last six years.
My second point is even wearier. Clements details only some of the pains we’re going to have to suffer to get out from under Big Fat Government while at the same time weaning ourselves off our addiction to cheap money. So whether the next President is a Democrat or a Republican, I pity the fool who gets sworn in on January 20, 2017.
So what’s it take to be a legal gun carrier in the District of Columbia? Nothing much, just the willingness to be treated like a criminal. Stephen Gutowski explains:
DC Police fingerprinted me yesterday. But I’m not a criminal—I paid them to do it.
That’s because I’m applying for one of the city’s new concealed carry permits.
I live in Virginia and have been licensed to carry there for more than a year. I even carried into the city legally during the brief period after DC’s gun carry ban was declared unconstitutional. In response to that ruling, DC recently implemented a heavily restrictive concealed carry law.
If I want to bring my friends Smith and Wesson along when I travel into the city to file pieces for the world’s greatest fish-wrapped anti-Clinton website (and I do, since I both love working here and not being killed) I need to get a permit. Or, more accurately, try to get a permit.
I took a visit to the Firearms Registration Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department Thursday afternoon and I handed over my application, driver’s license, Virginia concealed carry license, and $110. Now I’m well on my way to wasting $110.
The D.C. concealed carry law is what’s referred to as “May Issue.” That means a bureaucrat has final say over who gets to bear arms and who doesn’t.
Pucker up, pilgrim.
That’s right — with the open enrollment season upon us, it’s time to bring back your Daily Duel ♡bamaCare!!! Fails. This afternoon’s story is from here in Colorado:
The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.
Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct—enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.
Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning op-ed pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.
Gruber got his — what are you proles going to do about it?
This one would make for an excellent game of Name That Pundit, but go ahead and brace yourself for WaPo’s own Fred Hiatt takedown of the White House’s Russia non-policy:
Each successive Putin outrage takes Western leaders aback: the seizure of Crimea, the brazen insouciance when a jetliner is shot down, the breaking of his word not to recognize the separatists’ “election,” now the soldiers and weaponry pouring across the border in defiance of his promised cease-fire. These actions are not rational, from a Western point of view; they isolate Russia further; they will hurt the Russian economy.
But Putin does not share America’s view of what is rational. Breedlove believes the Russian leader is sending forces into Ukraine to mold his enclave into “a more contiguous, more whole and capable pocket of land in order to then hold on to it long-term.”
Read the whole thing, because Hiatt’s summation of Obama’s delusions, his lack of resolve, and his excuse-mongering is practically Krauthammerian.
From the XX Committee:
Then there is the far from trivial matter of confusion in Washington, DC, about what exactly Operation INHERENT RESOLVE is supposed to achieve. Reports this week reveal that the Pentagon cannot decide internally just what its new Iraq war is trying to do, while coordination with the White House, and particularly Obama’s deeply troubled National Security Council, falls short of the abysmal standards of civil-military relations set by the Johnson Administration during their failed war in Vietnam. Also as in the late 1960s, Pentagon displeasure at NSC micromanagement of the air war, particularly by the unpleasant and unqualified National Security Adviser Susan Rice, has leaked into the media in impressive, and depressing, detail.
To make matters worse, the current American strategy to defeat Da’ish, inasmuch as it exists at all, is based on the assumption that the United States and its allies will bring airpower to act as the hammer to crush Da’ish on the anvil of the Iraqi military. That force, created at enormous expense in American time, talent and treasure over the past decade, is frankly a joke. Yesterday, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey explained the requirement concisely: “We’re going to need about 80,000 competent Iraqi security forces to recapture territory lost, and eventually the city of Mosul, to restore the border.” Regrettably, Baghdad has nowhere near that many “competent” troops, despite the expenditure of billions of U.S. dollars to that end. In reality, the Iraqi military has roughly nine serviceable brigades, a bit more than 20,000 battle-ready troops who can be relied upon to confront Da’ish with any hope of success — and even that may be an optimistic estimate.
We can complain about the Iraqi military, our own optempo, intelligence failures, or strategic listlessness all we like, but everything that’s going wrong in Iraq finally comes down to just one very basic thing.
ISIL has the audacity and ruthlessness to win a war, and we do not.
That’s not to say they will win — groups this murderous tend to drown themselves in the blood of their victims. Eventually. But win or lose, it will take years of concerted effort at home and abroad for the United States to prove that it has become something other than a paper tiger.
Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter. We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time.
Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity. Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents. While ISIL revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict. While ISIL exploits the tragedy in Syria to advance their own selfish aims, Abdul-Rahman was so moved by the anguish and suffering of Syrian civilians that he traveled to Lebanon to work in a hospital treating refugees. Later, he established an aid group, SERA, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Syria. These were the selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people.
ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own. Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL. [Emphasis added]
What a curious thing to say.
I can’t think of any religion with beheading as a fundamental tenet. Beheading has been used as a form of execution in various places with various religions at various times. France’s last execution was about 30 years ago, using the guillotine. In Saudi Arabia, swordsmen still perform the ultimate punishment, and all too often.