"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, August 18, 2014

78 Days

By the way, Election Day 2014 is 11 weeks from tomorrow.   I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the economy, Obamacare, Iraq, Ferguson, Benghazi, the VA scandal, the NSA scandal, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, the border crisis, "lost" emails, Executive Order power grabs, almost 200 rounds of golf, Martha's Vineyard vacations, the Ukraine, Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc., aren't going to miraculously get solved by then.   The overwhelming evidence of gross incompetence on the part of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party as a whole (I'm 55 and St. Louis hasn't been run by Republicans in my lifetime) is in.   November is going to be a wipeout.   Then watch the media, Hollywood and the usual liberal suspects howl at the moon.   It's hard to stay rational when your entire worldview comes crashing down.

Girl of the Day - Chrissie Hynde

We happened to listen to The Pretenders on the radio recently, and I had forgotten how great Chrissie Hynde was.   So... enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kevin Williamson on Ferguson et al.

Kevin Ferguson at NRO sums up what the libs like to call the "root causes" of urban unrest such as the rioting we've seen over the past week in Ferguson, MO:

The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black. The most pronounced economic inequality in the United States is not in some Republican redoubt in Texas but in San Francisco, an extraordinarily expensive city in which half of all black households make do with less than $25,000 a year. Blacks in San Francisco are arrested on drug felonies at ten times their share of the general population. At 6 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of those arrested for homicides. Whether you believe that that is the result of a racially biased criminal-justice system or the result of higher crime incidence related to socioeconomic conditions within black communities (or some combination of those factors) what is undeniable is that results for black Americans are far worse in our most progressive, Democrat-dominated cities than they are elsewhere. The progressives have had the run of things for a generation in these cities, and the results are precisely what you see.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who Lost Iraq?

I'll give you a hint:

The naivete of Obama was on full display this morning again when he gave a CYA statement from the White House on Iraq. Essentially, in response to critics who say (correctly) that the turmoil over there would never have happened if he had successfully negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement and kept a small but useful deterrent of United States Armed Forces personnel in that country, Obama offered a platitude that (I'm paraphrasing) "if the different tribes and ethnicities and religions can't accommodate each other, then no amount of U.S. force can do any good."

Well. Let's boil that down... what Obama is saying is that, until history stops and utopia commences, prudential use of force to maintain order is useless. Using that same logic, why should we have a military at all? Why should we have police officers? Or borders? Or laws? Since human nature is what it is, and no amount of force can change it, why not just relax and watch Sports Center and make a tee time for later this afternoon?

Oh... yeah.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hillary Clinton's University Speeches and Money Laundering to Avoid Campaign Finance Laws

Regarding the exorbitant fees Hillary Clinton has received for speaking engagements on college campuses, I had this same thought, but John Hinderaker beat me to it:

What does Hillary do? No sane person would pay to sit through one of her speeches. The universities that pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars are always quick to say that it wasn’t their money–it doesn’t account for their spiraling tuition!–but rather, it was contributed by donors. This is called money laundering. No one could contribute $250,000 to Hillary’s campaign–legally–but anyone can give the money to a university to underwrite her fee for a forgettable speech.

Why doesn't some enterprising reporter at the Washington Post or New York Times ask Hillary and these universities to disclose who exactly the donors were who contributed the funds necessary to pay Hillary Clinton $250k for an hour of droning?   Consider if the Koch brothers had donated, say, $250k to each of 20-30 universities for the express purpose of paying for a Ted Cruz speech, then Ted Cruz used the resuting $5-7.5 million in "personal" wealth to fund the early stages of his Presidential campaign.   Would they be interested in the topic then? 

See, if it were Republicans, someone in the Justice Department might notice that university administrations, wealthy donors, and the Hillary Clinton permanent campaign, are engaged in something called a CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT CAMPAIGN FINANCE FRAUD, which I strongly suspect is a federal crime punishable by prison terms.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wisdom from Victor Davis Hanson

VDH this morning:  "Modern liberalism has descended into the art of rich people blaming the lower middle class for not being generous enough with money they don’t have."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nicholas Brothers

Ace of Spades had this last night, but I thought I'd share.   This is literally the most wonderful thing I've ever seen:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pranking the Religious

Ann Althouse today notes that liberal pranksters have recently been doing things like this at Hobby Lobby stores:

hobby lobby pro-choice prank

Althouse makes this essential point:

The pranksters are taunting those who have taken a strong stand based on religion. Are we really going to taunt people about religion? If you're inclined to say yes, do you really mean it, across the board for all religions, or is this a special willingness to taunt Christians? If it's special for Christians, why is that? Is it because you think it's okay to taunt what you think is the dominant group? If Christians like the ones your protesting against really were dominant, we shouldn't, in a democracy, end up with laws forcing them to do things against their conscience, so I'd say, the existence of the birth control mandate is evidence that they are not the dominant group, in which case, you're harassing a minority. Why would you do that? Is it that you feel safe picking on Christians?

As becomes more and more clear, American liberalism, which used to be about combatting prejudice, now increasingly is a form of prejudice -- against white Americans, men, Christians, etc.   


On, and by the way, this behavior breaks the first rule of the Regular Guy, which as my children will tell you is:


Here's a self-identifying hip liberal who thinks it's OK to create a mess in a business and force one of its employees to take time to clean it up.   Just look at the self-congratulatory smugness on her face!   Hey, look at me, look how much smarter I am than these little people!   Won't I have a good laugh watching them straighten up after my vandalism!

If I were Hobby Lobby, I'd figure out a way to find out who this person is who is so blithely self-advertising her disorderly conduct, and call the local gendarmes.   Wonder if she'd be laughing then?

Obama Fiddling While Jerusalem Burns

Here's a story from Powerline that, fair to say, most Americans won't know, because most Americans are too busy thinking about where LeBron James will end up:

Writing from The Israel Project this morning, Omri Ceren draws our attention to a notable development (reported here) in Hamas’s war against Israel: “Yesterday Hamas launched – and then bragged about launching – three long-range M75 rockets targeting Israel’s nuclear reactor in the city Dimona. Iron Dome had to knock one of the rockets out of the sky; the other two landed in open areas.”
Omri comments: “A terrorist attack against a nuclear reactor is straightforwardly defined as nuclear terrorism by the UN’s 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. This isn’t a close, debatable interpretation. It’s part of the black-letter definition at the very top of the convention[.]”
Hamas is likely to try again; if they succeed, writes Omri, they will have pulled off against an Israeli city what the UN considers to be an act of nuclear terrorism: “The Israeli reaction to an unconventional terror attack is impossible to completely foresee, but it’s safe to say that Israel’s missile defense system prevented a catastrophe yesterday.”

If Hamas were to succeed in hitting one of Israel's nuclear reactors the resulting fallout could cause a Chernobyl-like disaster.   Is it any wonder that Israel is acting aggressively against Hamas?   They were literally moments away from a potentially country-destroying catastrophe.    (Chernobyl, lest we forget, resulted in the creation of a 30 km radius "exclusion zone" in the Ukraine.   That's slightly more than 1,000 sq. miles.   The entire nation of Israel is only 8,000 sq. miles.   Is the Dimona reactor larger or smaller than Chernobyl?   Would its destruction by missile cause a larger or smaller release than Chernobyl?   Do you know?   Does anyone?)

Oh, by the way, could all of the liberal Democrats who ridiculed Ronald Reagan for his proposal in the 1980s to build an anti-missile shield please forward their apologies to the Reagan family?   They called it "Star Wars" and called Reagan a dunce for fantasizing about it.   The Israels call it the "Iron Dome" and it may have just saved their country.

Meanwhile, here's what our current President is spending his time doing:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Peggy Noonan had a great piece last weekend about how Obama has basically decided that he no longer needs to do his job.   Here's the gist:

I'm not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: "So sue me." "They don't do anything except block me. And call me names. It can't be that much fun."
In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him—well, changed. He is "taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting "star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.  
On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with "interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes" interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' '' 
Minuscule? Politics is his job.

Now there's this:

If you've lost a Hispanic Democratic Congressman, you've probably reached the bottom.

Media Ignorance

A terrific article by Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist blog highlights the growing problem of media ignorance... how the liberal punditocracy which claims to know best about how to run the world actually knows very little about the world they want to run.   Here's a minor taste, but read it all:

During my time at GetReligion, a site that daily analyzes how well the mainstream media handles religion news, we never lacked for content. There was the time a New York Times‘ reporter referred to the crozier, the ornate silver shepherd’s crook, carried by Pope John Paul II as a “crow’s ear.” Which of course brings to mind First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus’ stories of being interviewed:
An eager young thing with a national paper was interviewing me about yet another instance of political corruption.   
"Is this something new?" she asked.  
"No," I said, "it's been around ever since that unfortunate afternoon in the garden."  
There was a long pause and then she asked, "What garden was that?" It was touching.

What prompts me to mention this today is that I'm just off the phone with a reporter from the same national paper.  
He's doing a story on Pope Benedict's new encyclical. In the course of discussing the pontificate,  
I referred to the pope as the bishop of Rome. 
 "That raises an interesting point," he said. "Is it unusual that this pope is also the bishop of Rome?"  
He obviously thought he was on to a new angle.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Difference

When extremist Islamists flew planes into our buildings on 9/11, Palestinians in the streets of East Jerusalem cheered.   But when extremist Israelis murdered a Palestinian teenager in revenge for earlier murders (by Palestinians) of three Israeli teenagers, here is how Israel reacted:

Israel reckoned with rising homegrown extremism Sunday as it arrested six Jewish suspects who are believed to have burned to death an Arab teenager in revenge for the killing of three Israeli teens.
The arrests shocked those on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide — Palestinians because many had assumed Israel would never act against its own, and Israelis because there had been widespread doubt that Jews could have carried out such a heinous crime. 
Sunday’s action could help defuse what has been seen as a dangerous swelling of Palestinian anger, with violent protests in East Jerusalem and Arab towns in northern Israel feeding fears of a budding intifada.

That's the difference between the two cultures.   And that's why the culture of Israel -- the culture of the West -- must prevail.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Girl of the Day - Elisabeth Moss and Hobby Lobby

I'm pretty sure this woman could figure out a way to get her own contraception without her employer's help or subsidy:

So, since when did it become the Left's position that women are infants who can't possibly take care of their own "health care needs" without either Big Daddy Government or  Big Daddy Corporation providing for them?

I'm just askin'.

Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator and Full-Time Moron, on the Hobby Lobby Decision

Here is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's astonishingly obtuse and offensive Twitter response to yesterday's Hobby Lobby decision:

At a glance, there are at least three glaring factual errors in this:

1. Hobby Lobby, while employing some 17,000 Americans in 600 or so stores, is not really a "big corporation."   It is not publicly-traded, and is owned by a single family, the Greens, of Oklahoma City.

2. Hobby Lobby is not denying women "access to basic care."   The company is giving its employees health insurance; is willing to provide 16 of 20 birth control options under its plan; and only objects to the four "birth control" options that, in their view, constitute abortifacients that end what their religion tells them are human lives.   Women employees remain free to go purchase those abortifacients at the local pharmacy using their own money.   Is the English language really so degraded in our current political culture that the sentence "X refuses to pay for Y to get Z where Y can easily pay for Z herself" now means "X denies Y access to Z"?    (All of this begging the question... why is birth control considered part of "basic care" to begin with?   Sex and pregnancy are not diseases.)

3. "Vague moral objections"?   Is Warren unaware that the largest Christian denominations in the world (and Islam for that matter) believe that conscious action to abort a human child is a grave sin?   Calling a fundamental tenet of both Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity a "vague moral objection" strikes me as walking right up to the edge of religious bigotry.  

I don't know what's sadder:  that this person is a U.S. Senator; that this person may be a candidate for the 2016 Democratic nomination for President; or that this supposed "intellectual" was once a full professor at Harvard Law School.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Global Warming Scam

Don't see enough global warming to justify massive government intervention by Leftists?   Just fiddle with the data.   That's what NASA and NOAA did!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Told You So

Via Instapundit, a look back at an extraordinarily prescient October 25, 2008 analysis by the great Mark Levin:

I’ve been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we’d see such a thing in our country – not yet anyway – but I sense what’s occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can’t help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can’t explain themselves in an intelligent way.
There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama’s name on it, which adorns everything from Obama’s plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama’s name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.
Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I’ve never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama’s past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media’s role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It’s as if the media use the Obama campaign’s talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn’t hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we’ve read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin’s qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama’s qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.
But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama’s entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The “change” he peddles is not new. We’ve seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama’s appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the “the proletariat,” as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it’s $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he’s now officially “rich.” The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The “hope” Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.
Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He’s not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks “fundamental change,” i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.
The question is whether enough Americans understand what’s at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency?

In other words, we told you so.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Obama's IRS Scandal - It's Rosemary Woods on Steroids!

Kim Strassel is doing actual journalism at the Wall Street Journal, unlike nearly everyone else in the mainstream media, looking into the IRS' targeting of conservative non-profit advocacy organizations.   Her article this week on Lois Lerner's suspiciously missing emails is priceless; here are the money paragraphs:

As to Ms. Lerner's behavior, consider that House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp first sent a letter asking if the IRS was engaged in targeting in June, 2011. Ms. Lerner denied it. She engineered a plant in an audience at a tax conference in May 2013 to drop the bombshell news about targeting (maybe hoping nobody would notice?). She has subsequently asserted a Fifth Amendment right to silence in front of the only people actually investigating the affair, Congress. Now we learn that her hard drive supposedly defied modernity and suffered total annihilation about 10 days after the Camp letter arrived. 
Is there something in those lost emails? The fact that they are "lost" at all probably answers that question.

Hmmm... using the IRS to intimidate political opponents was one of the articles of impeachment against Nixon in Watergate.   Consider then the following Machiavellian scenario:

1. The Obama Administration knew that using the IRS to silence political speech by conservative groups in the course of an election campaign was illegal and almost the definition of a "high crime and misdemeanor" because it attacks and betrays the heart of the system of democracy -- the right of individual citizens to organize for the purpose of advocating political positions.  

2. But the Obama Administration had learned the lesson of Watergate.

3. Nixon wasn't impeached because Rosemary Woods erased 18 1/2 minutes of a particular Oval Office tape.

4. Nixon was largely impeached because Woods didn't erase all of them!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Girl of the Day - Elizabeth Moss

We started watching AMC's new show Halt and Catch Fire, watched two episodes, and decided that it wasn't worth watching.   So last night I finally got the Regular Wife to sit down and start Top of the Lake, the murder mystery show starring Elizabeth Moss of Mad Men.   The show is set in New Zealand, and it is very very very well written, well-acted, and beautifully shot in very haunting landscape.    A big thumbs up so far. 

When They Blame Bush for Iraq...

... and they will, remember to show them this video about what Democrats thought of going to war in Iraq back before it became fashionable and politically expedient to oppose the war.

Via Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The IRS Emails and the "Old News" Strategy

There is a very old strategy for White Houses in trouble.   Obfuscate, delay, withhold evidence, kick as many cans as you can down as many roads, and then, when months or years have passed, declare that it's "old news" and anyone bringing it up is not focused on the real issues concerning average Americans.   The Clinton White House did this repeatedly on Whitewater, Travelgate, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, etc.   They count on two things:  (1) a complicit mainstream media that will trumpet the "old news" meme; and (2) the stupidity of the American public, or at least the stupidity of the portions of the electorate that Democrats need... the low-information voters.

That's clearly what's going on in the IRS scandal, and in its latest episode, where Lois Lerner (shown above) and six other IRS senior officials have conveniently "lost" two years of emails related to their targeting of conservative 501c-4 groups.   Look, I litigate cases every day that require my clients to produce emails going back many years.   And, yes, emails get lost or misfiled or deleted.   But, but, but... there is A WHOLE FREAKIN' INDUSTRY of forensic data retrievers who can take literally any system and, given enough time and money, resurrect supposedly "lost" electronic information.   I know this, so certainly the sophisticated lawyers in the White House know this.  

They know the "dog ate my homework" excuse is risible... but they are counting on the media to let them get away with it, and they are counting on their low-information constituencies to believe the whole "my computer crashed" fable, because they don't understand that emails aren't stored on your hard drive, but in servers, and that large organizations like the federal government have backups and backups to backups to backups for their electronic information.

The question is... will it work this time?   I think it probably will, because there are precious few corporate incentives for reporters in the MSM to go after a liberal (and iconic) "first black President"... no promotions, no Pulitizer Prizes, no attaboys from the elites, no gigs on the Sunday shows.   There won't be any Woodward and Bernsteins this time around, and Lois Lerner won't become this era's Rosemary Woods, because there's no Nixon to hate.  

And, because, frankly, there really are tens of millions of low-information (read: dumb) voters out there who respond to current events the way they respond to Hollywood action movies, by deciding beforehand who the good guys and bad guys are, and then passively enjoying the spectacle presented to them.  


Remember these people?

What happened?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Girl of the Day - Rose Leslie

Her Game of Thrones character, Ygritte, the wilding lover of Jon Snow,was killed in last night's episode, fittingly, by an arrow through the heart. She'll be missed.

Calvin Coolidge ca. 1914

I happen to be reading Amity Shlaes' biography of Calvin Coolidge, and happened upon this speech by Coolidge to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1914, a hundred years ago.   It's so good, with so many sound ideas and wisdom about politics and life that I thought I'd print the whole thing:

Honorable Senators:


I thank you, with gratitude for the high honor given, with appreciation for the solemn obligations assumed, I thank you.


The commonwealth is one. We are all members of one body. The welfare of the weakest and the welfare of the most powerful are inseparably bound together. Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. Transportation cannot prosper if manufactures decline. The general welfare cannot be provided for in any one act, but it is well to remember that the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all. The suspension of one man's dividends is the suspension of another man's pay envelope.


Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of laws. The latest, most modern, and nearest perfect system that statesmanship has devised is representative government. Its weakness is the weakness of us imperfect human beings who administer it. Its strength is that even such administration secures to the people more blessings than any other system ever produced.


No nation has discarded it and retained liberty. Representative government must be preserved. Courts are established, not to determine the popularity of a cause, but to adjudicate and enforce rights. No litigant should be required to submit his case to the hazard and expense of a political campaign. No judge should be required to seek or receive political rewards. The courts of Massachusetts are known and honored wherever men love justice. Let their glory suffer no diminution at our hands. The electorate and judiciary cannot combine. A hearing means a hearing. When the trial of causes goes outside the court room, Anglo Saxon constitutional government ends. The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or re solve.


Is Bowe Bergdahl Obama's Jump the Shark Moment?

That the United States would want to obtain the release of any of its soldiers held by enemies in wartime goes without saying.   There is thus nothing wrong with the desire of the Obama Administration to free Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban.  

Given the impending concession of defeat -- let's call a spade a spade -- when Obama pulls the last American troops out of Afghanistan, there is also an argument that exchanging five Taliban commanders for Bergdahl was a good deal, since we would likely release them anyway at the end of hostilities, and get nothing then.   (The exchange can be seen, and perhaps Obama himself as an ESPN-watcher saw it this way, as an NBA deal where a team gets what it can for a player who's going to be a free agent at the end of the season anyway.)

But Bergdahl's platoon uniformly say he was a deserter, and some even say that he was a traitor, giving information to the Taliban that improved their techniques for roadside bombings, etc.   And the evidence is strong that both Bergdahl and his parents were and are staunchly opposed, not just to American presence in Afghanistan, but to America itself.  

There is almost no chance, in other words, that Bergdahl won't eventually be tried for desertion at the very least.   Perhaps he won't be convicted, perhaps Obama would pardon him, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.   But at the very least he'll be tried.   Veterans, already scalded by the VA scandal, will demand no less.

So what on earth was Obama doing in the Rose Garden with this guy (Bergdahl's father) announcing the return of Bergdahl?   And who on the White House staff failed to vett Bergdahl's father's comments, in Arabic and Pashto, that praised Allah when we are still at war with radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world?   Bring him home, sure, but let's not act like he's some kind of hero.   That's an insult to troops who served honorably, and an even bigger insult to the families of the men who died trying to find Bergdahl after he skedaddled.

Sheesh, just the optics might have alerted them that this was a bad idea.   Does Obama think that average Americans look at the Arabic-speaking bearded loony he's standing with and see... what?

I would say this could be Obama's jump the shark moment, the time when everyone finally realizes that the Emperor Has No Clothes.   But then there have been so many of those.   And he still lingers at 40-45% approval.   Apparently there are 40-45% of Americans who would approve of destroying their own country.

The Scandal of Higher Education Costs

With three teenagers and three college educations to pay for in the next decade, the scandal of higher education cost inflation is hitting me right where I live.   In the news over the weekend was this story:

The cost of obtaining a university education in the U.S. has soared 12 fold over the past three decades, a sign the educational system is in need of reform, according to lawmakers in both parties.  
The CHART OF THE DAY shows college tuition and fees have surged 1,120 percent since records began in 1978, four times faster than the increase in the consumer price index. Medical expenses have climbed 601 percent, while the price of food has increased 244 percent over the same period.
Here's the chart:
And here's an attempt at an explanation of why this divergence is happening that seems persuasive to my admittedly right-wing sensibility:
I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, but I'll share them in a separate post.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Girl of the Day - Elizabeth Moss

Mad Men is both very good television and the most frustrating show on the air, probably for the same reason.... it never gives you what you expect.   After last week's jump-the-shark Ginzberg's nipple moment, and after a season where the character who witnesses the horror, Peggy Olson, has been mostly angry and whiny, last night brought her back to her better self, working alongside Don Draper on an ad campaign and enjoying the hell out of it.

Peggy is, of course, played by the great Elizabeth Moss, who also moonlights in a very good detective show set in New Zealand called Top of the Lake.


The Napier Solution

In the category of Stories-That-We-Are-Hearing-Too-Much, a few days ago I saw this story on Glenn Beck's The Blaze:

On Thursday, May 15, Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging for the crime of apostasy. Ibrahim, a physician who graduated from the University of Khartoum Medical School, refused to renounce her Christian faith. The Islamist Khartoum regime claims that Ibrahim is a Muslim because her father, who abandoned the family when she was six years old, was a Muslim. Ibrahim, however, embraced for herself the faith of her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother. 
Independent Online noted that Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told Ibrahim, addressing her by ​her father's ​Muslim name Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah:
We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.
The judge reportedly instructed that her execution be carried out ​once the child has been weened but that she receive the 100 lashes for adultery soon after she gives birth. Morning Star News also reported ​that attorneys will file an appeal of the sentence on Sunday, May 18. This will put off execution of the sentence, including the flogging, until there is a ruling.
Ibrahim is married to Daniel Wani, an American citizen from South Sudan who came to the United States in 1998. She is in her ninth month of pregnancy with the couple’s second child. Their firstborn, Martin, 20 months, is ​imprisoned​ with his mother -- Sudanese authorities prohibit the Christian man from caring for his son. Wani has been prevented from seeing his wife and child since ​she was arrested along with her toddler son​​, but reports that she has not received proper medical care for complications f​rom​ her pregnancy.

The correct solution is the one offered by Sir Charles James Napier, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in India in the mid-19th Century.   When confronted with the issue of Hindus burning widows alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, he replied:  "Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."

The United States should not countenance the flogging or hanging of Christian women (and particularly Christian women married to U.S. citizens) for the crime of being Christian.   Period.   President Obama should announce that, if Mrs. Wani is not released within 24 hours, it will declare the Sudanese government an Islamist terrorist organization, and will immediately issue Presidential Directives ordering drones strikes on the presiding judge and prosecutor in her case.  

They have a custom.   We have ours.   And our customs have high technology behind them. 

Be it so.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pelosi, Kangaroo Courts and the Future of Democracy

Nancy Pelosi is a former Speaker of the House.   So when she leads other Democrats in calling the Select Committee named by John Boehner to investigate the Benghazi scandal a "kangaroo court" she is doing something that is extraordinarily dangerous to the future of democracy.   What she is essentially saying is that the Constitution, which created a House of Representatives and gave it an oversight function within our system of checks and balances, doesn't matter; that the people, who voted in each and every one of the Republican majority, don't matter; and, ultimately, that the rule of law doesn't matter.  

Webster's defines a "kangaroo court" as one "in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted"; or one "characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures."   Does she really believe that the House Select Committee, chaired by Trey Gowdy, a former federal and state prosecutor, will "disregard" or "pervert" principles of law or justice?   Does she really believe that the Committee will be characterized by "irresponsible, unauthorized or irregular" procedures?   If so, what procedures is she talking about?    Identify them, and perhaps they can be remedied.  
Here's the nut of the matter:  does she really believe that it is somehow illegal for the House to investigate the Benghazi scandal?   If not, she should shut up about "kangaroo courts."