It almost as though we live in some topsy-turvy world where the law means what it says. Crazy, right?
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) July 22, 2014
His charm offensive, that is, reported by National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher:
Rand Paul, who has said he knew only a single Jewish family growing up in small-town Texas, has even found his own rabbi (one he shares with Rush Limbaugh) to help him navigate the cultural divide.
“Clearly, he is making a concerted effort and a sincere effort to really build relationships,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the influential Republican Jewish Coalition, a political group that aims to represent Jewish interests within the GOP.
The charm offensive has two goals at its core. The first is to try to establish Paul in the foreign policy mainstream of Republicanism, particularly on the signal issue of Israel, which is of key importance to both Jewish voters and evangelical Christians. The second is to win over, or at the least neutralize, the moneyed class of hawkish Israel defenders—free-spending billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer chief among them—who Paul’s advisers know represent among the most significant impediments to his becoming the party’s next standard-bearer.
Paul has two handicaps going into the GOP nomination process. The first is his dad. If, as I’ve written before, Ron Paul isn’t actually a Jew-hater and a racist, he certainly doesn’t make it easy to defend him against those charges. The second is Rand’s libertarian tendency to want to talk shop (political philosophy) with anybody willing to engage in an intellectual discussion. That’s great fun for college students of all ages, but makes for easily-manipulated sound bytes when taken out of context. Paul the Younger had an early stumble doing just that when he first ran for Senate.
Since then, however, Paul has taken seriously the very serious business of running for President. He’s kept the shop talk private, and is now putting some comfortable distance between himself and his father on foreign policy generally, and with this Jewish outreach specifically.
He still looks like a longshot candidate to me, but he’s showing enough political savvy to shorten those odds.
David Harsanyi thinks Elizabeth Warren is overrated:
Still, it seems to me that a lot of people are overestimating the appeal, uniqueness and popularity of Warren. Those who believe she has crossover appeal are fooling themselves. What’s most enticing about Warren right now is the perception of her, not the reality.
Once you get past the impassioned sermons, and they can be quite entertaining, the most striking aspect of Warren’s big-message progressivism — the driving principles are laid out in the much-discussed “11 commandments” speech — is how small and ordinary it all is. For starter, while Warren’s critique of capitalism might resonate, most of her agenda items look like everyone else’s agenda items. She might offer Americans more “commandments” than God, but many of her directives can found on the “issues” page of any middling Democratic candidate’s website.
I’m going to disagree a bit with Harsanyi on Warren. Yes, Warren is overrated — and you should read his whole column to learn just why. But the fact that most-if-not-all of her positions are identical to “any middling Democratic candidate” isn’t one of those reasons. I’d argue instead that it’s an indication of just how far to the left the Democrats have moved. A Jack Kennedy, a Lloyd Bentsen, probably even Al Gore v1.0, has little place in today’s party.
The fact the a mediocrity like Warren is the progressive Left’s rising “young” star just proves that the movement has grown just as stale as it has grown powerful.
The headline isn’t quite accurate because Colorado was never really red. Our politics have always tended towards hardcore conservative Republicans and deeply weird (Richard Lamm, Gary Hart) Democrats. And the occasional outlier, too — Colorado voters went for Ross Perot by a bigger margin than any other state. Twice. But the GOP has been in Circular Firing Squad Mode for nearly a decade, and our state Democrats have undergone a major shift to the left. So with all that in mind, read this RCP report on our off-year election:
The election will also be a test of lessons learned by the party, locally and nationally. The GOP was dealt a blow in Colorado four years ago by Ken Buck, whose series of incendiary gaffes cost the party a Senate seat in one of the most favorable climates for a pickup. Republicans believe they have avoided that risk this year with Cory Gardner, a young and charismatic congressman from the conservative 4th Congressional District whose entrance into the race cleared the GOP field.
There’s a lot riding on him. While Republicans don’t necessarily have to win Colorado to take control of the U.S. Senate, a victory there is viewed as integral to the party’s hopes in 2016.
Wadhams said that if Republicans don’t win the Senate seat, or at least the gubernatorial race, “in a year like this, with a tired, beleaguered incumbent, when the issues are with us … my question is — and I’ve lived in Colorado all my life — when are we going to be able to win again?”
Good question. I might have an answer for you in November.
In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped nearly 5 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.
A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.
The decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.
I bet Nancy is wishing she’d read it first.
More seriously, the Supremes are likely to uphold the lower court’s decision, and probably by a better than 5-4 margin.
There’s an app for various Russian surface-to-air missile launchers:
After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the Hungarian amateur surface-to-air missile community—yes, there is a community for this—got access to detailed documentation on how to operate the country’s various, decommissioned Soviet-made SAMs. The sleuths also got into contact with some of the out-of-work operators and came close enough to photograph the instrument panels.
Put it all together, the result is a free simulator—known as SAM Simulator—that is a close approximation of the real thing. There’s no Buk missile launcher. But the 2K11 Krug is available. Both the Buk and the Krug use semi-active radar homing missiles.
These things were designed to be used by young conscripts, straight off the collective farm.
I’d have gone with something like “Despite Losses, Hamas Still Supports Launching Rockets at Cities,” but that’s just me.
It’s easy for someone in your home to interrupt your Chromecast stream and play something of their own, but you can always retake control… right? Well, don’t count on it. Analyst Dan Petro has built the Rickmote Controller, a proof-of-concept device that hijacks Google’s media stick to play everyone’s favorite Rick Astley video (and theoretically, any media) on loop. The Raspberry Pi-based box simply floods the Chromecast with WiFi disconnection requests, kicking the adapter into its setup mode; after that, it’s easy for the Rickmote to make its own connection and deliver non-stop ’80s pop.
If elected, I will ask Congress to institute the death penalty for this offense against good taste.
That’s reportedly a Russian BM-21 Grad mobile rocket launcher firing at Ukraine. Do we have any Russian or Ukrainian speakers to translate?
So is JJ throwing us off the scent by showing us an outdated fighter which won’t actually appear in the new movie? Or is the situation so dire for our old friends the New Republic that they’re forced to rely on antiquated starfighters?
I really hope it’s the latter.
ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) is attracting a specific type or recruit (Islamic fanatics, especially the young, especially teenagers, who are not good for much beyond being suicide bombers) and that is becoming a problem. Many of these recruits are foreigners and foreigners are particularly unpopular in Iraq, especially if they are armed and looking to kill Iraqis. This has contributed to the growth in local resistance to ISIL. In Iraq and Syria the Sunni tribes and secular Sunni groups (like the Baath party in Iraq and secular political groups in Syria) are now openly opposing ISIL. These anti-ISIL Sunni groups kept quiet as ISIL strove to take control of western Iraq earlier this year, and especially after ISIL grabbed Mosul and most of northwestern Iraq in June. But as ISIL began imposing their lifestyle rules the resistance began to become tangible. What was really annoying was ISIL sending out groups of religious zealots (some of them armed women) to attack women for not wearing a covering up properly or being out without a male relative as an escort. ISIL also punishes anyone caught drinking alcohol or smoking in public. Watching videos or popular TV shows (like the World Cup) is forbidden as is the use of drugs or playing musical instruments or most sports. In other words, most forms of “fun” are forbidden. ISIL members are expected to rely on sex with their wives (up to four), eating and listening to live or recorded sermons by acceptable Islamic preachers for entertainment. Tormenting and killing infidels (anyone not Moslem) and heretics (especially Shia) is also encouraged.
These extremist policies always backfire.
For all Iraq’s problems, its people have enjoyed the taste of liberty on and off these last 11 years — and experienced the death and violence of the Islamists, too. It shouldn’t come as a surprise which they prefer.
But that’s not to say there’s going to be a happy ending, even if “these extremist policies always backfire.”
The first is that IS/Caliphate might have dealt Iraq the Humpty Dumpty blow — an artificial state, kept together first by brutality and then out of habit, which may never be put back together again. The second is the nature of the self-proclaimed Caliph himself. Anybody with ego enough to proclaim himself the first Caliph in nearly a century, and bloody-minded enough to hire teenage suicide bombers by the busload, isn’t going to go away quietly. It’s great that the people of Iraq are turning on him, but he has the means to make them pay for their defiance.
“Now is the time for Rusisa and Putin to pivot away from the strategy he been taking and get serious” about resolving the conflict in Ukraine, Obama said in a statement Monday morning in the White House Rose Garden.
He also issued a vaguely worded threat.
“My preference has and continues to be finding a diplomatic solution with regard to Ukraine,” he said. “If Russia continues to back these separatists … then Russia will only further isolate itself with the international community” and increase its costs within the international community.
Obama’s statement came after a weekend in which his administration grappled with the fallout over the downed Malaysian jetliner with reports that Russian-backed separatists were tampering with evidence and removing bodies along the 10-mile crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Obama said such tampering has “no place in the community of nations” and said given Russia’s direct influence over the separatists, Putin has the “responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.”
I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, but couldn’t the President have announced a concrete step or two, rather than yet another lecture about international norms and community and other stuff Putin clearly doesn’t care about?
Obama could have announced something that hurts Moscow — rapid deployment of scrapped anti-missile systems to Poland and the Czech Republic, a broad expansion of drilling and exporting of American oil, or the exclusion of Russia from further talks with Iran and fully imposing sanctions on Tehran.
If our relations really have dropped to Cold War levels, then it’s time to get serious about treating Moscow as a real adversary.
♡bamaCare!!! is the settled law of the land.*
Last week’s burst of world disorder was ideal for a news dump, and the White House didn’t disappoint: On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from ♡bamaCare!!!.
As recently as last year, HHS instructed the territories that they “have enjoyed the benefits of the applicable consumer protections” and HHS “has no legal authority to exclude the territories” from ObamaCare. HHS said the law adopted an explicit definition of “state” that includes the territories for the purpose of the mandates and the public-health programs, and another explicit definition that excludes the territories for the purpose of the subsidies. Thus there is “no statutory authority . . . to selectively exempt the territories from certain provisions, unless specified by law.”
Laws are made by Congress, but all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after “a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language.” For simplicity’s sake, the territories will now be governed by the “state” definition that excludes the territories for both the subsidies and now the mandates too. But the old definition will still apply for the public-health spending, so the territories will get their selective exemption after all.
*Void where prohibited.
I wouldn’t use the term “Holocaust” for what is really a regional ethnic cleansing, but the fate of Middle East Christians has been sealed:
In a region where Christians predate Muslims by centuries, over one million Christians have been killed or have had to flee because of jihadi persecution, while America is basically standing by and watching. This is the sad news that Breitbart’s National Security Editor and one of the world’s leading experts on asymmetric warfare, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, brought to Breitbart News Saturday, hosted by Editor in Chief Alex Marlow on Sirius XM Patriot Radio.
Dr. Gorka explained that “in the last 48 hours, ISIS, which is now called the Islamic State in Mosul, has painted the letter “N” for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city. ISIS has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”
Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”
Marlow observed that the blatant religious cleansing is horrifying and asked Gorka: “Why is it that the mainstream press is not interested in the story?”
Now that part I can answer.
If there’s one thing our Mainstream Media suffers from even more than simple bias, it’s white guilt. For just one recent example, here’s the NYT’s Carl Zimmer yesterday on Twitter.
Funny how the people yelling about disease-carrying immigrants never mention the Europeans who brought epidemics to the New World…
— carlzimmer (@carlzimmer) July 20, 2014
Four hours later he walked back that tweet with a column-length “Twit Longer” post, with the excuse that “Twitter is an ambiguous medium.” But what I saw was an unambiguous insult on Twitter, followed by 600 words or so of self-evident pablum meant to explain away the insult. I could be wrong, of course, but it isn’t like we don’t see those kinds of mean-spirited bromides, these thinly-veiled accusations of racism from the Left all the damn time.
I swear sometimes the modern American Left is made up of almost nothing but bromide savants.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) July 20, 2014
So how does this relate to the underreported religious cleansing of Christians from the Middle East?
Nearly a thousand years ago, some cruel-hearted white European Christians decided to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims who had previously conquered it from Christian Byzantium. Despite their cruelties, the Europeans ultimately failed, and were forced back out of the Middle East by equally-cruel Muslims. That the Holy Land had previously been Jewish or Christian, that the bloody cruelties extended to both sides, and that the Muslims eventually triumphed, have never kept Muslims from decrying the Crusades as the worst injustice in history, and claiming themselves as the sole victims. And that’s pretty much how it’s taught in our universities and high school, too.
Now, nearly a thousand years later, the remaining Christians are being forced to flee, or convert, or die. This isn’t news because it is justice — legitimate payback for the Crusades. Just like, I suppose, illegal immigrants carrying infectious diseases is payback for racist Southern teabaggers whose forefathers brought smallpox to North America. The sins of the white racist fathers are the sins of the white racist sons — which is newsworthy, unlike the religious cleansing of “virtual whites” from Iraq.
The Muslim or the illegal can almost never be the victim, and the Christian (or Israeli Jew) or the American is almost always the devil. That’s the narrative, and the facts on the ground may be altered or ignored to fit it.
Hillary Clinton isn’t likely ever to become president of the United States. In fact, there is a greater possibility than is generally recognized by the Washington cognoscenti that she won’t even run. If she does, though, the barriers she faces will prove overwhelming. Her 2008 campaign was her last good shot for the office, and she failed. Since then, numerous developments have conspired steadily to diminish her prospects. Those prospects are now near zero.
This analytical framework holds absolutely no credulity in Washington.
That last line might be the most convincing reason Merry has.
Speaking of the Russian bear, here’s Matthew Continetti:
“The bear is loose!” President Obama has been saying, whenever he leaves the White House to visit Starbucks, or sandwich shops, or burger joints, or BBQ shacks, or neighborhood diners, in his increasingly rote and pathetic attempts to “connect” with “real people.” Obama, we have been told, is frustrated, “restless,” bored with the responsibilities and chores of office. He thinks of himself as the bear—intimidating, wild, untamed, roving—escaping his den. But he is flattering himself. Obama is not the bear. He is the cub: aimless, naïve, self-interested, self-indulgent, irresponsible, irresolute. The bear is in Moscow.
That might be the single most devastatingly accurate paragraph I’ve ever read about Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom, but you’ll want to read the whole thing.
Has Senator Diane Feinstein suffered a mental break from reality? I think that’s a fair question to ask after the Senate Intelligence Chairwoman said the following to CNN’s Candy Crowley:
“The issue is, where is Putin? I would say, Putin, you have to man up,” Feinstein said. “You should say if this was a mistake, which I hope it was, say it. Even if it was a mistake, it was a horrendous mistake to make. And I think it points out the futility of what’s happening in the Ukraine.”
Man up? That man, Putin, already seized Crimea, and his strategy is making eastern Ukraine ungovernable is working so well that an airliner with nearly 300 aboard was shot down over the skies there late last week. Putin has shown that he can, in what is basically a local dispute, crank up the violence to a degree intolerable not only to Kyiv, but to the entire world.
And what will the world do? There are only two parts of the world that really matter here, outside of Russia. One part, Europe, will wring its hands and then go right back to buying Russian energy. The other part, the United States, will probably slap some more sanctions on Moscow — yet another an act of “petulant impotence.” on our part.
Put Putin next to Feinstein. One of them is using a new form of warfare to get exactly what he wants; the other goes on national TV to make outrageously and demonstrably false claims. One is so unserious it beggars belief; the other is deadly serious about taking what he wants.
Feinstein is correct however when she says our relations have reached “Cold War levels.” What she failed to mention is that is in large part because we have a Jimmy Carter II enjoying the fruits of his second term “flexibility.”
Man, but do I love it when somebody other than Bob Dylan sings a Bob Dylan song — so here’s the terminally smooth Robert Palmer performing “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” along with an otherwise-useless cover band, UB40.
I was happily surprised to find that there was a video made of this record, since I don’t recall it ever being released as a single. It came off his 1990 album, Don’t Explain, which featured the mega-selling medley of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me” and “I Want You.” It was a big album of 18 tracks, and a nice return to Palmer’s Pop/Bahamian roots after his wildly successful foray into more guitar-driven material with 1985′s Riptide and 1988′s Heavy Nova.
If you can’t find some joy in a Bob Dylan lyric set to a Caribbean sound with a Palmer delivery, then you might be listening wrong.
So here’s a picture of a cat riding a burrito in outer space.
“Moral Clarity in Gaza” is the headline to this week’s Krauthammer:
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
Those niceties are of no interest to the Hamas death cult.
I’ve always been a “rip the Bandaid off all at once” kind of guy, so the latest from Redmond strikes me as a bad move:
Microsoft yesterday said it could take as long as a year to lay off the 18,000 workers who will be eventually shown the door, a long, drawn-out morale-busting process that was criticized by both labor experts and industry analysts.
“I’m definitely not a fan,” Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, and like many at the Kirkland, Wash. research firm a former Microsoft employee, said of the lengthy process. “You owe it to your long-term Nokia and Microsoft employees to do it as quickly as possible. You also owe it to yourself to do it as cleanly and quickly as possible. The longer it drones on, the more randomized people get.”
There are some simple rules for keeping a happy ship. One is to praise your people in public, and to scold them in private. Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer were both pretty bad at this, if by “pretty bad” you mean “terrible.” Another is that when you have to let people go, let them go ASAP so that the survivors can stop worrying and get back to work.
What the hell is Satya Nadella thinking? It’s clear he has a major restructuring in mind, but stretching out the layoffs like this indicates that it isn’t ready for implementation yet. It makes no sense to me to make this a drawn-out two-step. Cuts, but over the next six-to-twelve months. Restructuring, but not yet.
Or as a better writer once wrote, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.”
This must be the weekend to spend some time scanning the various pollsters and reports and put together the next Wargaming column, but in the meantime here’s Tom Dougherty:
We recently made two rating changes; Iowa is now a Toss-Up (previously Leans D), and Virginia moved to Leans Democrat (previously Likely D).
Several particular factors have influenced the latest ratings on an overall basis, and there is much new information in most of the individual races.
While often considered more of a house race metric; the Generic Congressional Vote continues to hover near even, down from a Democratic advantage late last year of 5% to 7%, demonstrative of the general attitude of voters toward each party.
President Obama’s approval rating is trending downward again, and approaching his worst numbers (minus 16%) in the last year. Real Clear Politics reports his current average rating at minus 12.7%, but that includes an apparent outlier from Rasmussen Reports. Most distressing for Democrats, outliers or not, is that the trendlines are negative and at the least opportune time.
The middle of the summer is when the incumbent party needs those polls to start showing an upswing, and recent headlines from Ukraine, Gaza, and our own southern border aren’t going to be of any help to the White House or to Harry Reid.
Microsoft announced its biggest layoffs ever, and the underlying message is that buying Nokia was a mistake. Workers at the formerly-independent phonemaker will take the brunt of the cuts.
Google tried to buy its way into relevance as a smartphone maker by buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. They sold it off barely more than two years later for less than $3 billion. Late last year Microsoft bought Nokia’s handset division for $7.2 billion, and that has already turned out not to be worth much more than the prices of several thousand pink slips and severance packages.
These troubles are nothing unique to Google or to Microsoft — mergers & acquisitions are hard, and rarely work out as planned. And that’s if they work out at all. Ford and GM went on a buying spree of foreign automakers (SAAB, Jaguar, Aston-Martin, etc) and proceeded very quickly to drive them all into the dirt. It’s very difficult for a company to buy its way into relevancy in new markets. Ford had about as much business building Jaguars as Google did building its own smartphones.
When buyouts do work, it tends to be when a much bigger company is the buyer of a much smaller company, to gain needed technology or desired expertise, and then impose its own corporate culture on the buy-ee. Marriages usually work best as a partnership of equals; buyouts usually work best when one company completely loses its identity.
It’s an expensive lesson, but business leaders never seem to tire of learning it.
All I have to add to this story is, prepare for more just like it in the years ahead. Global lawlessness is increasing as the cost of obtaining offensive weaponry decreases. Not only is that a dangerous combination, but the two trends, absent strong global leadership, are mutually reinforcing.