"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, 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."  

Why Golf is Boring

I'm sorry, but if these are your top 10 players, the PGA is going to wither and die as a major sport:

1. Bubba Watson
2. Jimmy Walker
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Matt Kuchar
5. Patrick Reed
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Harris English
8. Zach Johnson
9. Chris Kirk
10. Ryan Moore

Seriously, would you be able to identify any of these guys walking through an airport?

Golf, which before Tiger Woods was a boring white guys sport has now become, in Tiger's absence... a boring white guys sport.  

Mad Men - Why the New Stuff Isn't Working

The Regular Son had a smart observation a couple of weeks ago about the new season of Mad Men, which has been pretty flat so far.   He noted that the attraction of the early seasons had a lot to do with the look of the early 1960s, which was stylish in a Sinatraesque way.   But the later seasons, as they move into the late 1960s, are much uglier to look at, and thus less entertaining.   He's a painter, so his experience is more visual than mine, but I think he's right here.   The writing of the show hasn't gotten significantly worse... maybe it wasn't that great all along.   But the original look was fantastic, and the new look of the show is not.   Ask yourself the question:


Or this?

It's Not Personal, It's Strictly Business


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Political Incorrectness of the Day - How Arithmetic Makes Feminists in the Obama Administration Look Stupid

This is the sort of analysis (from NRO) that mainstream media outlets ought to engage in every time they are asked to print as "news" some press release from a liberal administration:

The Obama administration has released the names of 55 colleges and universities that it is investigating over their sexual-assault policies, part of an accelerating campaign against universities for allegedly turning a blind eye to the purported epidemic of campus rape. The list is top-heavy with the elite of the elite — Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Swarthmore, Amherst, and Dartmouth, among others. A more deserving group of victims would be hard to find. 
Parroting over 20 years worth of feminist propagandizing, the White House claims nearly 20 percent of female college undergraduates are sexually assaulted during their college years. To put that number in perspective: Detroit residents have been fleeing the city for years due to its infamous violent crime. And what constitutes an American urban crime wave? In 2012, Detroit’s combined rate for all four violent felonies that make up the FBI’s violent-crime index — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — was 2 percent. The rape rate was 0.05 percent. And yet, despite an alleged campus sexual-assault rate that is 400 times greater than Detroit’s, female applicants are beating down the doors of selective colleges in record numbers.

And then they ought to refuse to credit as newsworthy such patent nonsense.   If 20% of the daughters of the affluent upper middle class and upper class parents who send their kids to Ivy League type schools were being raped, there would be thousands of affluent young men in prison, and those parents would be fleeing those schools for safer environs.   None of that is happening.  


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs - Reagan v. Obama

I've said before here (and many others have said) that the job numbers reported every month are somewhat misleading.   Politicians will tout as a "good" job number when the economy creates 150,000 or 200,000 new jobs.   But those figures are gross numbers and are meaningless except in relation to the size of the country, which is always growing.   150,000 jobs in a country of 30 million is a significant boom; 150,000 jobs in a country of 300 million is barely keeping up with population growth.  

To get a real sense of how the economy is growing or not growing, you thus have to "net out" population growth.   Here's a neat graph that compares the Reagan recovery of the early 1980s to the Obama recovery in terms of job growth adjusted to net out population growth:  

Obama v Reagan Net Jobs

Seems pretty obvious whose recovery was robust and whose recovery was weak.   The fact that their policies were so different should suggest the failure of Obama's big government/Keynesian-socialist solutions to economics.   That is, if people can learn from history.   Which is not always the case, sadly.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Benghazi Timeline

Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt.   An extraordinarily useful and instructive timeline on the Benghazi scandal:

March 2011: U.S. secretly approves arms shipments from Qatar to Libyan rebels.
May 2011: Al-Qaeda flags raised over Benghazi.
November 2011: Rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admits a significant number of Libyan rebels were al-Qaeda fighters who fought American troops in Iraq.
April 19, 2012: State Department rejects ambassador to Libya’s request for more security personnel.
June 20, 2012: Assassination attempt on the British Ambassador to Libya.
July 9, 2012: Ambassador Stevens asks the State Department for more security personnel.
August 8, 2012: The number of security personnel at Benghazi reduced by State Department.
August 16, 2012: U.S. Site Security in Benghazi alerts the State Department that conditions are perilous.
September 4, 2012: Gallup presidential tracking poll: Obama 47 percent; Romney 46 percent.
September 4–6, 2012: Democratic National Convention (“al-Qaeda decimated; bin Laden is dead and GM is alive; al-Qaeda is on the run”).
September 11, 2012: Ambassador Stevens alerts the State Department that conditions in Benghazi are deteriorating.
3:40 p.m. (D.C. time): Stevens calls deputy chief of mission Greg Hicks in Tripoli and alerts him that the consulate in Benghazi is under attack.
4:00 p.m.: The White House is advised that the consulate is under attack. 10th Special Forces Group in Croatia is three hours away; Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Lovell, Deputy Director of Intelligence for AFRICOM, later testifies that intelligence knew immediately that it was not a protest but a terrorist attack; no request for aid comes from the State Department.
5:00 p.m.: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discusses attack with President Obama.
6:00 p.m.: U.S. Embassy in Tripoli advises the White House and the State Department that al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia has claimed responsibility for the attack. CIA deputy director Mike Morrell later testifies that “analysts knew from the get-go that al Qaeda was involved with this attack.”
8:00 p.m.: Greg Hicks calls Clinton and tells her that consulate is under terrorist attack.
10:00 p.m.: Clinton and Obama talk.
10:30 p.m.: Clinton issues a statement linking the attack to an inflammatory internet video.
11:00–11:30 p.m.: Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Ty Woods killed.
September 12, 2012: Redacted e-mail from a State Department official says the official advised the Libyan government that the attack was carried out by Ansar al-Sharia. No mention of video.
September 12–15, 2012: CIA drafts several iterations of talking points; contains no known references to video as cause of the attack.
September 13, 2012: State Department memo blames the attack on terrorists.
September 13, 2012: Defense Intelligence Agency assigns blame for the attack on Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. No mention of a video.
September 13, 2012: Clinton condemns violence against U.S. consulate in Libya due to a video.
September 13, 2012: Jay Carney condemns attack due to a video.
September 14, 2012: State Department says the attack was a spontaneous demonstration due to a video.
September 14, 2012: Obama and Clinton receive the families of the fallen as their caskets arrive at Andrews Air Force Base; blame the attack on a video. Clinton tells Ty Woods’s father, Charles, that they will “get” the producer of the video.
September 14, 2012: Jay Carney blames the video.
September 14, 2012, 8:00 p.m.: Deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes sends an e-mail regarding the preparation of Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows, advising Rice to underscore the video and that the attack is “not a broader failure of policy.”
September 15, 2012: Obama blames the video.
September 16, 2012: Susan Rice appears on five Sunday talk shows and characterizes the attacks as a spontaneous reaction due to a video.
September 16, 2012: Libyan president disputes Rice’s comments, asserting Benghazi was a planned attack.
September 18, 2012: Obama appears on the David Letterman show, blames the video.
September 19, 2012: The head of the National Counterterrorism Center testifies that the attack was not a protest but a terrorist attack.
September 20, 2012: Obama blames the video.
September 20, 2012: Obama and Clinton run an ad on Pakistani TV apologizing for the video.
September 21, 2012: Clinton says it was a terrorist attack.
September 24, 2012: Obama appears on The View, blames the video.
October 4, 2012: Clinton establishes the Accountability Review Board (“ARB”) to examine the circumstances surrounding the loss of personnel in Benghazi. Clinton not interviewed by ARB.
October 11, 2012: At the vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden claims the administration was not informed about requests for more security at the consulate in Benghazi.
October 16, 2012: Obama, in a response to a question from a reporter about whether he denied requests for aid to Benghazi on September 11 responds, “The minute I found out this was going on, I gave three directives. Number one, make sure we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we are going to investigate exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so that we can bring them to justice.”
October 18, 2012: Judicial Watch makes a Freedom of Information Act request to the administration for talking points and communications regarding the events in Benghazi. The administration ignores the request.
October 20, 2012: Obama claims that he was not aware of any requests for additional security in Benghazi.
January 23, 2013: Clinton asks, “What difference, at this point, does it make whether it was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous demonstration?”
June 21, 2013: Judicial Watch sues the administration for unlawfully withholding documents pertaining to Benghazi.
July 25, 2013: Obama slams the “endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals.”
August 2013: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requests Benghazi e-mails. The Ben Rhodes e-mail is not among those produced.
April 18, 2014: Federal court orders the administration to turn over documents to Judicial Watch. 41 documents are released, including the Ben Rhodes e-mail.
May 1, 2014: Tommy Vietor tells Fox News the president was not in the Situation Room on September 11, 2012.
May 2, 2014: Speaker John Boehner announces a vote to form a select committee on Benghazi.
May 4, 2014: Representative Adam Schiff (D.., Calif.), member of the House Intelligence Committee, suggests Democrats boycott the House select committee as a “colossal waste of time.”
May 5, 2014: Carney will not say whether White House will cooperate with the select committee.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Game On!

Issa subpoenas Kerry to testify before Congress about State Department's concealment of Benghazi emails.