December 05, 2014

America's Suicide -- A Misdiagnosis

America's Suicide
By Michael H. Davison
246 pages. Dapa Publishing, LLC

In his introduction to America's Suicide, Michael H. Davison discloses that the title for his original manuscript was The American Neurosis. He explains:

“One of the more salient features of neurosis is a wholesale flight from responsibility. The neurotic faults inner compulsions, spouse, government, society or whatever for his unhappiness.”

He goes on to explain that he was told by a respected clinical psychologist that the word “neurosis” is “fading from professional use,” so he changed his title “to the more attention grabbing,” America's Suicide. In any case, it is the flight from responsibility that has America on what Michael H. Davison believes is an inescapable path to suicide.

“The overarching theme of this book suggests that we do not know ourselves very well. Most political, social and personal conflicts to a major degree arise from this single fact and are not resolvable with methods that we commonly rely on to resolve them.

We must for the first time in history find ourselves before we permanently lose ourselves. We do not know who or what we are or what motivates us to dream, create, build, destroy or kill.”

In the end he offers a prescription of sorts. To America's citizens he says, grow up!  Sound advice to be sure, and if more Americans would take it to heart the country will be the richer for it. But Mr. Davison is quite pessimistic about that actually ever happening.

“Americans are losing their freedom in part for failing to identify their enemy. When the United States finally reaches the dictatorship toward which we plunge, a great part of that tragedy will be the public's denial that they brought that catastrophe upon themselves.”

Mr. Davison concedes that setting more people onto the path of individual responsibility is not something that will happen automatically, yet he offers no concrete steps to encourage it.

He argues that the central conflict on the American political landscape is the tension between the collectivists and the individualists. Or to put it another way, it is the tension between those who favor more government and those who favor less. While the divide generally puts Democrats on the collectivist side and Republicans on the individualist side, Mr. Davison notes that Republicans can be collectivists, too.

Mr. Davison pronounces America's problem as psychological in nature, but the side one takes, collectivist vs. individualist, is ultimately decided based on what one thinks is in one's best interest.  It is not neurosis for leftist politicians in the Democratic party, who also happen to be proponents of big government, to find that their interests are served by encouraging dependence upon government. And when, as a result, Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder are faced with the decision to accept government assistance and the dependency that goes with it, or to endure added hardship for the sake of their pride in independence, the choice is a rationale decision, not neurotic behavior. It is one in which differences are weighed and a choice is made that reflects what one believes is in his or her best interest insofar as he or she is able to tell.

We have now come to the point where many of today's “entrepreneurs” see big government as the vehicle for making their fortunes. Recently Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare's key architects, made his own small fortune in this way. First, he helped to fashion a deliberately misleading and complex piece of federal legislation that depended upon, in his words, the “stupidity of the American voter” for passage. Then he raked in the consulting fees from several blue states as they implemented their state run health care exchanges. All to the tune of about $4 million.

So while self interest seems to be part of our problem, it is also the solution. Our American system of government was designed around the central fact that people do what they believe is in their best interest. Ours is a system of Checks and Balances in which the pursuit of self interest in one branch of government acts as a deterrent to it in the other branches. In that way government power is intended to be limited.  What I would hope for in a book about America's dire circumstances, are some ideas about how we can re-stack the incentives in such a way that it is not in anybody's best interest to claim the mantle of public service while in reality soaking the taxpayer for millions. 

While America's Suicide offers countless valid examples of where America is going off track, it never touches on the heart of it: how it works out that a select group of governing and connected elites can profit at the expense of America.  It offers no specifics for averting the inevitable disaster that is predicted in its title, perhaps because Mr. Davison has thrown up his hands in despair. The best he offers are what I consider some rather dubious principles of a Rational and Responsible American Party. For example, Mr. Davison believes that Supreme Court decisions on the constitutionality of legislation should be subject to override by two thirds vote of both houses of congress.  Third parties are rarely successful and one that offers that as a principle is unlikely to gain much support in my view.

I do not share Mr. Davison's pessimism, and I find America's Suicide something of a misdiagnosis.

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November 06, 2014

An Agile Legislative Process?

Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah, has a plan for the Republican Congress that convenes in January. 

Republican leaders should embrace a more open-source strategy development model that includes everyone on the front end to avoid confusion, suspicion, and division on the back end. The last four years have repeatedly shown the folly of excluding anti-establishment conservatives from strategy formation—bills pulled from the floor, intra-Conference chaos, and back-biting in the press.

...

Inclusive legislative and strategy processes will come with tradeoffs, of course. Leaders will have to surrender some of their institutional power. Conservatives will have to be prepared to accept defeat, fair and square, if our ideas cannot carry the day. Members will have to expose themselves to inconvenient amendment votes. The results of some votes and the fates of certain bills may prove unpredictable. But the costs of an open-source, transparent process are worth it for the benefits of greater inclusion of more diverse voices and views, and for the opportunity such a process would offer to rebuild the internal and external trust necessary to govern.

Senator Lee's approach has some elements of the Agile Development Process, also known as Scrum.  Agile is a software development process that relies on diverse, self-organizing teams.  Development occurs in sprints of two or three weeks in duration.  The team decides at the start of each sprint how many and which required features it can finish by the end of the sprint.  Finish means that feature is ready for production.  

If Republicans can find a way to apply Agile principles to the legislative process — a tall order — they can get some impressive and worthwhile results.  Read all of Senator Lee's column.  It's a good plan, and I think they can do it.  But like Agile, it will require discipline.  

Note:  The author is a certified Agile Scrum Master.

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November 03, 2014

Vote New Hampshire

Something to think about on your way to the polls:

Vote the Republican ticket!

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Despair at Duke

A sure sign that the Democrats are in for a really rough day tomorrow is when stalwart lefties say we ought to cancel the election.

There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.

The excerpt above comes from a New York Times column, Cancel the Midterms, penned by Duke Professor David Schanzer and Duke junior, Jay Sullivan — presumably one of the professor's students.  Curious combination, to say the least, a professor and a junior.  Maybe Jay Sullivan is really connected, politically speaking. 

But I digress.  Up to now our friends on the left have been harping non-stop about the importance of the vote.  Anything that might remotely be construed as an impediment to voting, such as having to show an ID to prove who you are when you vote, is a civil rights violation.  Everybody ought to vote.  On the left they even want people who are not U.S. citizens to vote.  Actually, I think they especially want non-citizens to be able vote, and the less they know about America, its freedoms, and its issues, the better.

When it comes to voting, more is better.  Except for now?  Here we are down to the wire, but the polls continue to show that Republicans are probably going to win control of the Senate from Obama's Democrats.  So, now lefties are saying never mind all that stuff about voting.  Why do we have to have all these elections anyway?  It's just way too much.

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Tomorrow

Peter Ingemi, a pro-life Massachusetts blogger, has sound advice for New Hampshire Republicans of all persuasions:  Get out and vote for Scott Brown.

So I urge you , if you are a New Hampshire Tea Party voter, a second amendment defender or even like me, a strong pro-life voter and considered staying home or even voting 3rd party reconsider, because choosing to elect Scott Brown may do more for your cause than you can possibly imagine.

Imagine the depressing effect a Brown victory will have as left wing voters consider heading out to the polls in western states.

This year I plan to vote the Republican ticket, top to bottom.  I urge all undecided voters to do the same. 

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October 24, 2014

The Florida Voucher Fight

Denisha Merriweather and the Florida Education Association have very different viewpoints on Florida's Tax Credit Scholarships Program.  On the one hand the program got a ringing endorsement from Ms. Merriweather recently in the Wall Street Journal.  She was one of Florida's low-income minority students who were able to take advantage of it.  To say that the FTC Scholarship Program made a difference in her life would be quite an understatement.  In her own words,

By the time I was in the fourth grade, I had been held back twice, disliked school, and honestly believed I’d end up a high-school dropout. Instead, three months ago, I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida in interdisciplinary social science with a minor in juvenile justice. I am the first member of my family to go to college, let alone graduate. But this didn’t happen by chance, or by hard work alone. It happened because I was given an opportunity.

The difference maker was a scholarship that allowed me to go to a secondary school that was the right fit for me. I was lucky to be raised in Florida, home to the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program, a “voucher” program that helps parents pay for private schools. Here’s the cool part: The scholarships are financed entirely by charitable contributions, which are offset by tax credits.

The Florida Department of Education concurs:  It's "Good news for choice!"  

Good news for choice! To encourage private, voluntary contributions, to expand educational opportunities for children of families that have limited financial resources and to enable children in this state to achieve a greater level of excellence in their education, the 2001 Florida Legislature created s. 220.187, Florida Statutes, establishing the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In 2010, the FTC Scholarship Program was expanded and renumbered as Section 1002.395, Florida Statutes.

The law provides for state tax credits for contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations, called SFOs. The SFO's then award scholarships to eligible children of families that have limited financial resources.

As uplifting as Ms. Merriweather's story truly is, somehow the Florida Education Association wants to kill the program that made it possible.  The tax-credit scholarship program has been around since 2001, created under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, but recently the FEA has filed a lawsuit that seeks to end it altogether.  Says the FEA:

"Florida's voucher programs are a risky experiment that gambles taxpayers' money and children's lives," Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall said in a statement sent out in conjunction with a press conference in Tallahassee. "Florida's voucher schools are largely unregulated, don't have to follow the state's academic standards, don't have to hire qualified teachers and don't have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely."

You might think that ten-plus years of positive results would allay FEA fears of the risk to children.  In fact, Florida comes in first in the nation for developing reading proficiency among low-income fourth-graders.  Still, the teachers union wants it gone.  Sorry, but the pretended concern about some nebulous risk to Florida's children doesn't ring true.

As ususal, we can follow the money.  

Education and advocacy groups are targeting a Florida voucher program that this year will draw $357.8 million in taxpayer money to help send 69,000 low-income students to private schools. The groups filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, begun in 2001 under former Gov. Jeb Bush, violates the state constitution by diverting tax dollars from public schools. 

The tax credit cap, currently 357.8 million, will increase to $447.3 million for next year.  Education and advocacy groups (advocates for the Democratic party, no doubt) want that money in public schools where it can feed union dues which will ultimately find their way into Democratic campaign coffers.  For their part Democrats are great champions of public education rather than school choice.  They know where the money is.

There is another much more insidious aim.  Think about who Denisha Merriweather might have become without the FTC Scholarship that paved her way to a college degree.  Ms. Merriweather describes that Denisha as a child.

I grew up with my biological mother and we moved around constantly. This really took a toll on my grades—Ds and Fs were the norm. My poor grades and the fact that I was two years older than most of my classmates angered and embarrassed me. I was “disruptive” and fought with other students. Teachers tried to help, but nothing they did seemed to work. I felt no matter how hard I tried, the results would be the same. Learning became a nightmare—a punishment for being a child. 

That is the Denisha Merriweather that Democrats would prefer to have as a voting citizen.  Without a course correction Ms. Merriweather fully expected to be a high school dropout.  Angry, embarrassed, resentful.  Think how much more easily she could be persuaded by the Democratic message.  You know the one:  Her lot in life, low skill, low education, low income, all of that, is because she's caught in a racist trap.  A system rigged against her.  Yes, it's almost certain that she'd buy into that message.

The funny thing is, had she been stuck in that boat, she would have been right to believe that racism put her there.  It's a racist trap, alright, but it's not the doings of a Republican party that Democrats endlessly accuse of racism.  (If you disagree with Barack Obama what else could you be but racist?)  No, the racist trap is the doing of a Democratic party that takes deliberate, concrete actions to deny opportunity to disadvantaged school children.  That's the racist trap.  That's what the Democrats are doing in Florida.

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October 23, 2014

Obama Is Way Too Cool

With no letup in sight the Obama administration blunders through crisis after crisis.  The mid-term elections are just weeks away, so Joshua Green of Bloomberg tries his best to chalk up the blundering to public misunderstanding of Obama's crisis management "style."  Oh, and Republican obstuctionism, too.  On that count Exhibit A is this bit of red meat for the lefty partisans.  (All emphasis below is mine)

It’s true that Obama’s task is made considerably more difficult by the antipathy that has marked the Republicans’ response to Ebola. Most seem more intent on stopping Democrats than on stopping the contagion. Their ads politicizing the virus have only added to the climate of fear. And their filibuster of Obama’s surgeon general nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has also silenced an authoritative voice on public health, for reasons as small-minded as those dictating the party’s line on Ebola: They’re carrying water for the National Rifle Association, which objects to classifying gun violence as a public-health issue.

The Boston Globe, not your everyday right-wing rag, reports a different take on the Murthy "filibuster."

Republicans, however, noted that Democrats who control the Senate could have confirmed Murthy without any help from Republicans under rule changes enacted last year that allow confirmation with a simple majority.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid has declined to put the nomination up for a vote, with a leadership aide telling the Globe in March that there was uncertainty over whether some Democrats would support it.

Turns out it was the all too typical Harry Reid filibuster.  Just never bring it up.

But anyway, on to the analysis of Obama's crisis management process.  It's cerebral.  Really.  It is.  At least according to Joshua Green, it is.  He seems to think "Obama’s crisis-management process as akin to a high-level graduate seminar."  Yeah.

Six years in, it’s clear that Obama’s presidency is largely about adhering to intellectual rigor—regardless of the public’s emotional needs. The virtues of this approach are often obscured in a crisis, because Obama disdains the performative aspects of his job.

Hmmm.  Maybe Green should have left off that last part.  Suppose we think of "the performative aspects" in the way you might think of your annual performative review.  You know, where your'e hoping you might be in for a pay raise?  So Obama, he "disdains" doing his job?  How's that supposed to work?   

Well that's not exactly news, and we've seen how it works, which is: not.  Obama can never bring himself to do anything except campaign and play gotcha games with Republicans.  And everybody else for that matter.  From blowing up budget negotiations with John Boehner to blowing up the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraqi President al Maliki, Obama is always into politial maneuvering so that the inevitable failure is somebody elses fault.  

And journalists like Joshua Green go along with that.  Consider the BS about the Republican filibuster.  But Green wants to have it both ways.  He wants to appear to be critical of President Obama to give the rest of his nonsense some weight.

Even so, the failure is mostly Obama’s. It didn’t require extraordinary foresight to anticipate the public freakout once the infection spread beyond Duncan. Obama, who’s better acquainted with Washington dysfunction than anybody, should have anticipated the partisan acrimony. 

Right.  Obama should have anticipated that Republicans would be partisan.  And of course, he should have realized that the public are just not as cool as he is.  Tripped up by his own glorious brilliance.  Tragic.

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October 22, 2014

Jeanne Shaheen Ducks The Question

In last night's debate between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Shaheen was confronted with this (apparently very difficult) question:  "Imagine you are at home wearing your New Hampshire citizen hat and you get a call from pollster asking the following question:  Do you approve of the job President Obama is doing?  Now there'll be a chance to follow up but this is a yes or no answer.  Do you approve, yes or no?"

What a great question, and it put Senator Shaheen in a tough spot. If she answered yes, it would be an admission that she hasn't really been at all in tune with her constituents. If she said no, she would have to explain why she voted with Obama 99% of the time.

The question we need to have answered is this. Does Senator Shaheen support the perpetuation of President Obama's policies?  By ducking the moderator's question the Senator let her voting record speak for itself, and the answer it gives is yes.  She supports continuing President Obama's policies.  And it will be impossible for New Hampshire citizens to escape the detrimental impact of those policies if Democrats hold the Senate.

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October 19, 2014

Vote No to Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen is one of seven Senate Democrats who signed a March 2012 letter requesting Douglas H. Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, "to immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations."

Shaheen's letter got results. A year later in May 10, 2013 a headline in the Washington Post read, "IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election." Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, blamed the Cincinnati Office saying, "They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title."

When asked about this at a congressional hearing Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, refused to testify invoking her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. What better indication of improper political activity by IRS than this? In effect the IRS suppressed the conservative message through tax policy in order to enhance Barack Obama's re-election chances.

Another four years of Barack Obama. Lucky us. But there is a point to this. If you don't believe the IRS should be working for the Democratic party, vote "No" to another six years of Jeanne Shaheen.

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October 18, 2014

Hope and Change!

ObamaBanner

This ought to be a bumper sticker!

A hat tip to Michael Walsh!

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October 01, 2014

You Are Not Mary's Cause

The charges leveled in this powerful campaign ad by Elbert Guillory against Louisiana encumbant Senator Mary Landrieu could also be said of any other Democrat running this year...  and those not running, as well.

Via Instapundit.

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September 23, 2014

A New Innovation of the Obama IRS

Perusing the IRS Inspector General's report, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, a Professor of Law at Georgetown, noticed a troubling finding.

According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

It wasn't just Tea Party groups who were subjected to heightened scrutiny by the IRS.

This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.

We have an important election coming up.  

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September 22, 2014

Climate Change - The Stakes

Climate Change, formerly known as Global Warming, is a high stakes game, and the hysteria on display yesterday afternoon in New York provides dramatic emphasis. 

Naomi Klein, author of a new book on the “crisis,” This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, said, “I have seen the future, and it looks like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” In her new book she demands that North America and Europe pay reparations to poorer countries to compensate for the climate change they cause. She calls her plan a “Marshall Plan for the Earth” and acknowledges that it would cost “hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.”

Can you guess where those "hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars" will come from?  Bingo, if you guessed the American tax payer.  Ms Klein has a different answer, though.  

“Need more money? Print some!”

Apparently, her understanding of monetary theory is on a par with her understanding of the climate.  News flash for Ms. Klein:  There is no free lunch.  Printing more money will only shift the cost climate boondoggles to poorest of us, the ones who can't protect what little they have by fleeing the sinking dollar for something else that might hold some value.  

No matter.  Climate hysteria works for Naomi Klein.  She's become a best selling author by grinding the anti-capitalist axe.  With her latest effort, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, she both promotes and cashes in on the anti-capitalist hysteria by predicting the end of civilization, an eventuality brought on by catastophic climate change, which of course is the bitter fruit of corporate profits. 

"Hundreds of billions if not trillions" buys a lot of hysteria, and said hysteria will undoubtedly bring in a load of cash for Ms. Klein.  Her book was scheduled to be released this month, so you might say the Climate Summit in New york is the culmination of her book tour.  What a brilliant marketing strategy!

The cllimate itself, however, is not at stake, no matter how hysterical they get down in the Big Apple.  Activist powers that be didn't change the name from "Global Warming" to "Global Climate Change" for nothing.

Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”

May I suggest, a new approach to Climate Science is needed.  Stop worrying about the CO2 and start paying attention to the USD.  In other words, follow the money.

Note:  This is not a review of Ms. Klein's new book.  In fact, I have no intention of ever paying money for a copy, so my chances of ever reading it are slim to none.

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September 17, 2014

The Allure of Secession

As described by Kevin Williamson:

And which of the last true-believing pilgrims in the Church of Hope and Change, his fraying Shepard Fairey T-shirt his only protection against the chill of the frozen-foods aisle at Trader Joe’s, does not dream of living in a nation with no SUV-driving Rick Perry voters who drink cheap beer un-ironically?

Scottish secession, an extraordinarily foolish hope?

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September 16, 2014

Scrubbed

A former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department has come forward with what some would consider a startling allegation.  Others, like myself, find nothing startling about it.  

According to Raymond Maxwell an after-hours session was conducted in the basement at State Department headquarters in DC, to prevent any damaging documents from being turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.

“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”

I'd be more startled if anybody could show that no such scrubbing took place.  The story has a familiar ring.

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September 15, 2014

Leadership, Obama Style

In his essay, Myron vs Atilla, Richard Fernandez observes that it is "the neglected, boring area of workaday life is the secret sword of the West."  The Cold War was won because Reagan outflanked the Soviets, says Mr. Fernandez.  America outproduced the Soviet Union, and Fernandez calls this America's "productive flank."

The productive flank solves scarcity problems by growing out of it, while Islamism and Socialism solve the same problem by plunder and rationing respectively.

So why, he asks, with threats looming throughout the world, why isn't America "rampaging down the productive flank?"

One possible explanation is that the president, Great Man that is, isn’t aware of the potential of plumbers or drilling or nuclear energy.  For him, the field is still dominated by titans such as himself who will solve everything from the socialist equivalent of a pulpit: the teleprompter. 

Yes, that would be one explanation.  But is ISIS a problem that Obama feels obligated to solve?  You wouldn't think so, if you were to judge by the number of conditions he puts on fighting it.  There has to be a coalition.  The U.S. will not be the leader.  American troops will not be deployed in combat roles. Iraq must have a more inclusive government  or America won't take part in the effort.   

It was the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki that may finally have backed Obama into the corner.  Al Maliki was the impediment to that inclusive Iraqi government, upon which military assistance depended.  With him gone Obama had little choice but to commit America to the war against ISIS.  So far, I'm aware of no deadlines that have been set for pulling America out of the impending fight, but Obama may set one later on to give himself an escape hatch.

In any case, the "secret sword" will remain in its sheath.  While we may ultimately prevail by productively outflanking ISIS, I doubt that it will be while Obama is still in office.  He'd really rather not unleash the productive might of America.  Otherwise, the Keystone Pipeline would have been approved long ago.  His promise to defeat ISIS is just so much talk, as transitory as any of his pronouncements, meant only to stave off a rout of the Democrats in the midterm elections.  Obama's real enemy is not ISIS.

The coalition Obama leads to crush his real enemies is the one comprised of the IRS, the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  It's the only place where Obama shows any real leadership. Isn't it funny that he can never let that show up on his resume.

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September 12, 2014

Quote of the Day

Howie Carr wonders what became of the anti-war crowd.

The anti-war movement is MIA as this war, er counter­terrorism operation, begins. Back when Bush was waging war, dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now it’s “racism.” If you speak truth to power in the Obama era, they call it hate speech. The IRS will audit you.

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June 17, 2014

Sharyl Attkisson on the Missing IRS Emails

Is there any possibility that the Obama administration and the IRS are not criminally obstructing the House Ways and Means Committee investigation into the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups?  On Friday the IRS announced that it had lost email communications between Lois Lerner and outside agencies for the period between January of 2009 and April of 2011.  A computer crash, the IRS said.  

It so happens that the emails requested by Ways and Means included Lerner's communications with the White House, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission and the offices of congressional Democrats.  Just those communications, for just that particular time period when the IRS was admittedly targeting Tea Party and conservative groups, are the ones that the IRS now claims were lost because of the crash.  How is that possible?

In light of this announcement Sharyl Attkisson has formulated some questions for the IRS.  

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

Is it still possible to believe that Obama himself had no hand in the targeting?  Hard to imagine.

Update: Mark Tapscott notes in a Washington Examiner column:

On the same day the new HOGR report was made public, Mitchell -- a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm -- reminded Justice Department attorneys that multiple federal laws require preservation of all emails concerning official government business.

The emails must also be preserved as evidence in litigation, including the civil suit Mitchell filed against the government and a dozen individual IRS employees on behalf of True the Vote, one of the Tea Party group's most egregiously harassed by the IRS.

In other words, besides destroying federal property, anybody who may have had a hand in making that computer crash could also face evidence-tampering charges. Serious jail time follows convictions.

This isn't going away soon.

 

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May 04, 2014

The Broader Policy Failure

Up until disclosure of the Ben Rhodes email outlining Benghazi talking points for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, the Obama administration has managed to keep the narrative away from the central issue that was the reason for a coverup in the first place.  According to the White House there wasn't a coverup, but the Ben Rhodes email and others that were procured by Judicial Watch all but confirm that there was and that the White House had a hand in it.

Let's step back for a moment.  In the months leading up to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens by Islamic terrorists, the State Department had denied several requests by the ambassador for additional security at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  Aside from testifying that she took responsibility for what happened, Hillary Clinton who was Secretary of State at the time, never satisfactorily addressed the issue of why those requests were denied.  Oh, a few State Department careerists were shuffled from one job to another in a show of accountability exacted, but that was pretty much the end of it.  

In Washington today, particularly the Obama administration, saying that you take responsibility does not mean you are responsible.  That sort of talk is just for show.  In another day you might expect a resignation to follow when someone takes responsibility for such a gross failure of security.  You would expect real men and real women to own up.  But not now, and certainly not Hillary Clinton, not ever.

No, Hillary blamed a film maker and promised a grieving father that the film maker would be brought to justice.  Susan Rice laid the groundwork for it when just days after the attack, she made the rounds of five Sunday morning talk shows, reciting the Ben Rhodes talking points at each one:  There was a spontaneous protest, not an attack.  And this was supported by the best intelligence available to the administration at the time.  Even after it became inescapably clear that there were no protests, the administration stuck with the "best available intelligence" story.  They still do.

But the damaging issue is why the ambassador's requests for more security were denied.  The administration began by maintaining a Sergeant Schultz style of innocence:  "I know nothing! I see nothing! NOTHING!"  A CNN article purporting to "fact check" statements by Joe Biden and Paul Ryan during their Vice Presidential Debate in October, 2012 quoted the Vice President saying just that:

Statements:

Biden: "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security."

Ryan: "There were requests for extra security. Those requests were not honored."

The facts:

On Wednesday, the State Department's former point man on security in Libya told the House Oversight Committeethat he asked for additional security help for the Benghazi facility months before the attack, but was denied.

Various communications dating back a year asked for three to five diplomatic security agents, according to testimony at Wednesday's hearing. But Eric Nordstrom, the one-time regional security officer, said he verbally asked for 12 agents.

The request for 12 agents was rebuffed by the regional director of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Nordstrom testified.

Biden went on to say that Republicans were to blame for the lapse in security, anyway.  He argued that the ambassador others who were killed were actually victims of Republican budget cuts.  The Obama administration couldn't afford to beef up security in Benghazi.  

A scramble was on to evade blame.  Hillary Clinton testified, "specific security requests they didn't come to me. I had no knowledge of them."  Is it possible that those two, Joe and Hillary, really didn't know about the dangers that Ambassador Stevens faced in Benghazi?  Let's just say we're willing to concede the point:  They didn't know.  

The fact is, they should have known.  And the email from Ben Rhodes makes clear that they knew that they should have known.  

The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line:  “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”  The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.

The document lists as a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

As the attack was being carried out, all of them knew.  Security at consulate in Benghazi was insufficient and somebody should have done something about it.  The Ben Rhodes email portrays a quick thinking politically minded administration settling on a political strategy to address a domestic political crisis.

Out came Susan Rice with their story:  There was no attack by armed terrorists.  There was no connection to Al Qaeda.  A mob of otherwise peaceful civilians, our Libyan friends, became justifiably incensed by an insulting video.  Out of the blue.  Completely without warning.  Who could have predicted a protest would get so badly out of control?  Send in the troops against civilians?  Enlightened administrations don't do that sort of thing.    

It implied that leaving the Benghazi consulate unprotected was what anybody in the same circumstances would have done.  With a little stretching it might even explain why there was no military response, no attempt to save the ambassador, when the attack on the consulate was under way — when everybody, Obama and Hillary included, knew it.  That was what the internet video was intended to explain away.

In actuality the Obama administation had implemented a policy to normalize operations in Libya.  Several weeks after the embassy was attacked, a Washington Times report described what that policy meant.

The shift in narrative from the State Department comes amid revelations the Obama administration told U.S. diplomats during the months leading up to the attack to draw down security in Libya in an effort to show that life was returning to normal after the revolution that shook the North African nation last year.

That policy, formulated by Barack Obama and carried out by Hillary Clinton, was behind the denial of those requests.  The bitter fruit of those denials is why there was this nonsensical story about an internet video.  It's why Ben Rhodes outlined a strategy to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy."  

The broader failure was in imposing a policy that dictated a denial of each and every request by Ambassador Stevens for the security forces that might have prevented his death.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both knew it.  The Ben Rhodes email was the administration plan for shielding themselves from blame for their own policies.  That's the normal operation in the Obama administration.  It was like that in the Clinton administration.  (Who can forget Bill, wagging his finger?)  It will be like that in the next Clinton administration.  If there is one.

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April 30, 2014

Politics Before Transparency?

Under the headline "National Journal Writer: Obama W.H. Put Politics Before Transparency on Benghazi" the Washington Free Beacon reports: 

National Journal’s Ron Fournier on Wednesday argued the Obama Administration always “put politics first” rather than disclosing the truth when dealing with their latest scandals.

I would go much further than that.  I suspect that Obama administration had put politics even ahead of security at the Benghazi consulate, refusing Ambassador Christopher Stevens' many request for additional forces because administration political goals were to promote Barack Obama as having decimated al Qaeda.  Beefing up security would have been an uncomfortable contradiction to that narrative.  

The more important questions arose months earlier.  Those questions centered around apparent refusals to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi, even in the face of repeated requests for more of it.

Eric Nordstrom earlier told congressional investigators that he had requested more security but that request was blocked by a department policy to "normalize operations and reduce security resources."

Too bad four Americans died so that Barack Obama could hold that pose as conquering hero.

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