(Video) What makes America different?

June 30, 2015

For Prager University, Australian columnist Nick Adams offers an outsider’s view of what makes the United States special. Hint: it’s the right to fail.

There’s a lot of truth to that observation, if you think of the people who’ve tried, failed, then tried again and succeeded, in the process making our lives better.

Sometimes an outsider’s view is just what’s needed.


Assad to use (Saddam’s?) chemical weapons in desperation?

June 29, 2015
x

Yet another Baathist murderer

But… But… But wait! Obama said Syria didn’t have any chemical munitions anymore!

Well… About that.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas. U.S. officials also suspect the regime may have squirreled away at least a small reserve of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX. Use of those chemicals would raise greater international concerns because they are more deadly than chlorine and were supposed to have been eliminated.

As a reminder, this is what the president said:

Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

I guess no one told our fourth-greatest president ever “not quite.”

Regardless, the WSJ article mentioned Syria “developed” new weapons in the time since the inspections and removal. And  perhaps they did; with Iranian money and logistical help it wouldn’t be at all surprising. But, later in the article, there is this interesting snippet:

More worrying, U.S. officials said, would be the possibility that Mr. Assad could tap into a secret supply of sarin and VX. He might also be trying to reconstitute elements of his chemical-weapons program.

Hmmm… Where could this secret supply have come from? Sure, Assad could have squirreled it away to hide it from the original inspectors, but there’s another possibility: it’s stock that Saddam shipped to Syria before we took him out in 2003:

“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” [former Iraq General George] Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”

(…)

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

“I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots,” Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including “yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel.” The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights – 56 in total, Mr. Sada said – attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

“Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Mr. Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”

There were rumors of this at the time of the invasion and for years afterward, never substantiated, but never wholly dismissed, either. One speculation had it that the WMDs were secreted in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, an area control by Iran and Syria’s client, Hizbullah. Could Iran have authorized Hizbullah to give some of the old Iraqi stock to Assad? Strategically, they need to gain/keep control of Syria to funnel aid to Hizbullah, so that the latter can keep threatening Israel. So, if such weapons exist, and if Assad’s situation is as desperate as the Journal article makes it out to be, then it’s not beyond the pale to imagine.

Saddam’s great legacy is murder, after all.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter


Obamacare and the Odious Anti-Constitutionalism of Chief Justice John Roberts

June 28, 2015

I was going to write a long post about the three rotten Supreme Court decisions in two days at the end of this last week –Obamacare, “Disparate impact,” and gay marriage (I support SSM, but Kennedy’s opinion is a judicial farrago.), but Dan sums it all up quite nicely for me, even though he’s only talking about Obamacare.

International Liberty

I feel compelled to comment on the Supreme Court’s latest Obamacare decision, though I could sum up my reaction with one word: disgust.

  • I’m disgusted that we had politicians who decided in 2009 and 2010 to further screw up the healthcare system with Obamacare.
  • I’m disgusted the IRS then decided to arbitrarily change the law in order to provide subsidies to people getting insurance through the federal exchange, even though the law explicitly says those handouts were only supposed to go to those getting policies through state exchanges (as the oily Jonathan Gruber openly admitted).
  • I’m disgusted that the lawyers at the Justice Department and the Office of White House Counsel didn’t have the integrity to say that handouts could only be given to people using state exchanges.
  • But most of all, I’m disgusted that the Supreme Court once again has decided to put politics above the Constitution.

In…

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#Obamacare: the only candidate to answer my question

June 26, 2015

ted_cruz

Yesterday, in the wake of the Court’s abominable decision in King v. Burwell, I posted a question to some of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination:

I then pointed out that I would be interested to see not which candidate (1), if any, answered me, but which would give me the most direct, unequivocal answer. Nearly 24 hours later, only one has replied:

Senator Cruz wins for not only being the first and only candidate to answer me, but for giving me the direct, no-bull answer I was seeking. The senator isn’t my first choice for the nomination, but he’s gained quite a few points for quickly answering a stranger’s question.

2016 will turn on three key issues: national security, the economy, and Obamacare. The candidate who has the best positions for all three will get my vote.

Footnote:
(1) Or their staff, let’s be realistic, though I’ve read that Cruz and Rubio handle their own Twitter accounts. Regardless, Cruz’s was the only campaign to give an answer.


King v Burwell: The SCOTUS saves #Obamacare, again.

June 25, 2015
x

These guys would probably do a better job.

Sigh.

The Supreme Court decision most everyone was waiting for, a ruling in King v. Burwell about the legality of Obamacare subsidies for insurance purchasers on federal exchanges, has just come out (PDF).

Spoiler: the administration won. The anti-constitutional monstrosity lives on.

I haven’t much to add to a legal analysis of this decision. For that, I recommend you read William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, whose post on the decision will be updated as the day goes by.

I will say, however, that this is the second time a majority lead by Chief Justice Roberts has twisted and tortured the plain meaning of words and the processes of reason in order to achieve a desired result –preserving the Affordable Care Act. In the first,  he beat the square peg of the Obamacare penalties for not having insurance into the round hole of constitutional logic by declaring them simultaneously a tax and a fine. The goddess Reason wept.

Now, however, he and his colleagues on the majority have magically decided that the obvious meaning of the plain language of the law, that subsidies are only available through an exchange established by a state, is somehow ambiguous. To top it off, they ignored the unambiguous evidence offered by Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of the ACA, that the intent was to use the lack of federal subsidies to coerce states into establishing exchanges. Law and legal reasoning be damned, the Court’s role was to save Obamacare:

Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the Act to determine the meaning of Section 36B. “A provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme . . . because only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law.” United Sav. Assn. of Tex. v. Timbers
of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd., 484 U. S. 365, 371 (1988). Here, the statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very “death spirals” that Congress designed the Act to avoid. [at 15]

In fact, we know this is not true. The text is not ambiguous, and the Democrats knew the “death spiral” was in there. Reasoning from Gruber’s own words, they designed things so it would be a Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of opponents of the ACA. “Nice insurance industry you have there. Be a shame if you didn’t agree to set up an exchange and the whole thing crashed for a lack of subsidies.” Trouble is, more states than expected refused to set up an exchange, so it was the Fed that had to illegally provide subsidies to prevent a death spiral. As Professor Jacobson said on Twitter:

This is disgusting and disheartening, but not wholly unexpected. After the last Obamacare decision, it wasn’t likely a Court majority would cut the legs out from under the ACA, no matter what. That is left for us to do in 2017, when a Republican Congress has a Republican president — and us ready to hold their feet to the fire to repeal this damned thing.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Justice Scalia’s flaming dissent, per Legal Insurrection:

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”

Indeed.


Obama to Islamic terrorists: hostage-taking season is now open!

June 24, 2015
x

Not to put it *too* strongly…

One of the worst things one can do with people engaged in bad behavior is to give in to it in the hope that a concession will satisfy them. Instead, concessions just tell them that bad behavior works and gets rewards, encouraging them to do it again.

This is exactly what our president has done, putting in danger every American traveling overseas:

The White House is set to release the results of its hostage policy review, which will make clear the U.S. will not stop American families who are willing to negotiate with or pay ransoms to terror groups holding their loved ones hostage.

The administration will create a new office that will work with the American families of hostage victims, but will not change the law regarding the U.S. ransom policies, administration officials said today. A senior official said the hostage interagency fusion cell will be physically housed at FBI headquarters and initially will be run by a senior FBI official. Officials from other agencies and departments may rotate in to run the program in the future.

President Obama is set to meet on Wednesday with the families of hostages held overseas and make a statement on the review.

Though the excerpt doesn’t say so, the “terror groups” alluded to are ISIS and other Islamic jihadist organizations.

Look, I understand and sympathize with the families’ position here: having loved ones held hostage by maniacal, murderous terrorists must be a living Hell. If I were in that boat, I’d want the law to get out of my way, too, as I try to arrange their release.

I even get Obama’s position: he’s had a hostage rescue go bad in the past, resulting in the deaths of the hostages. The victims’ families are terribly sympathetic, and it’s a natural human urge to want to do something to help. So, if action on our part does no good –or even harm– then why not clear the way (1) by not enforcing the law against negotiating with terrorists?

Because the president, any president, has much more to worry about than the peril of one or a few individuals. His responsibility is to the nation as a whole, including the safety of Americans not yet taken hostage. By telling these families it’s okay to pay ransom, he has also told the jihad organizations that hostage-taking works. Kidnap an American, get some money, US won’t interfere… rinse and repeat. Robert Spencer explains why this will only encourage jihadists:

I would be very happy if this were true [that hostage-taking is against Islamic law. –PF], but I have to ask: if it is only an “extreme radical fundamentalist element” that believes this, why does it show up in Islamic legal manuals? Why does Al-Azhar University, the most respected institution in Sunni Islam, endorse ‘Umdat al-Salik, a manual of Islamic law that says this: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled” (o9.13)? If the capture of non-combatants is forbidden by Islam, are we to believe that these captured women and children were acting as soldiers? If the vast majority of Muslims reject this sort of thing, why does Al-Azhar say that ‘Umdat al-Salik “conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community (ahl al-Sunna wa al-Juma’a)”?

If the killing of these hostages is likewise forbidden, why does the same manual stipulate that prisoners can be killed, exchanged for ransom (why exchanged for ransom, if they are not hostages?), enslaved, or released, depending on what is best for the Muslim community (o9.14)?

I have the Umdat al-Salik on my bookshelf and can attest the above quotes are accurate. Jihad-terror groups know this, too. It can reasonably be argued that their religion endorses hostage-taking.

It’s said the road to Hell is paved with good intentions; this is an on-ramp. By making this decision, I fear Obama has declared it open season on Americans all through the Middle East and across the globe.

And yes, I know Reagan negotiated for the release of hostages in Lebanon back in the 80s. We’ve done it since, too. It was a mistake then and a mistake ever after. Harsh as it may be to say “no ransom” knowing full well the possible consequences, it is still a decision that has to be made for the safety of others.

The proper course is to let hostage takers know two things: first, that they will never be paid ransom. Second, that if they harm our people, we will hunt them down and kill them, no matter how long it takes. Let them know there is no reward, but instead a terrible price to pay for kidnapping Americans.

They’ll learn.

via Biased Girl

Footnote:
(1) By unilaterally deciding to not enforce a law passed by the legislature, in defiance of his constitutional duties. Again.


Lacking enough ships of our own, US Marines will serve aboard foreign ships

June 23, 2015
"You're not welcome."

“Good thing we could catch a ride here!”

This is embarrassing:

Faced with a shortage of U.S. Navy ships, the Marine Corps is exploring a plan to deploy its forces aboard foreign vessels to ensure they can respond quickly to global crises around Europe and western Africa.

The initiative is a stopgap way to deploy Marines aboard ships overseas until more American vessels are available, said Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.

The Marines will be able to respond quickly to evacuate embassies or protect U.S. property and citizens, a need highlighted by the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

“There’s no substitute for U.S. amphibious” vessels, Cooling said. “We’re looking at other options” in the meantime, he added.

The Marines have been working with Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and other close allies to determine the suitability of the foreign ships for U.S. personnel and aircraft.

Hey, at least these are allies. What’s left of our space program has to hitch a ride with the Russians.

I can just see it now: an emergency somewhere in the Middle East, and US Marines have to run onto some boat in Sicily asking “Hey, buddy! Can you give us a lift?”

This is what happens when you have a Socialist (1) president and his party is dominated by progressives: through budget cuts and initiated by the White House and a budget process in Congress so screwed up by the then-majority Democrats under Harry Reid that the sequestration meat-ax was inevitable, our military has been starved of funds to the point that it’s having an effect on operational capabilities. And that, in turn, will further affect stability around the globe, which has relied since 1945 on US power.

None of this has to be, of course, but it’s the tragic consequence of electing a government more interested in fundamentally transforming America at home than in protecting her interests abroad. A government that, in fact, views American interests and American power as a problem and views our decline as a positive choice for the world.

I hope they’ve at least budgeted for cab fare for our Marines.

via Tammy Bruce

Footnote:
(1) This is beyond doubt. The only question is what kind and to what degree.


(Video) Should government bail out the big banks?

June 22, 2015

"It's on"

Remember the financial panic of 2008? That was the time when, with the big investment banks teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and a worldwide credit crisis underway, the federal government stepped in to bail out the banks and restore stability to the system.

But was it the right thing to do? For Prager University, economist Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute argue the case for “no.” In her view, the practice of saving banks “too big to fail,” something begun under the Reagan administration, buys short term peace at the cost of creating a long-term monster: banks that engage in riskier and riskier practices leading to greater instability, secure in the knowledge that Uncle Sam (read: the taxpayer) will bail them out. Like giving an alcoholic a drink to steady his nerves, bailouts only enable bad behavior, they don’t cure it.

Here’s the video. See what you think:

The right thing to do, in my opinion, is to let wayward banks go bankrupt, but handle as the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s was handled: federal regulators take over, shareholders and bondholders are wiped out, management is fired, the bank’s assets are redistributed through the normal bankruptcy process, but individual depositor’s funds are protected. This would provide a brake against ever-riskier behavior, instead of shielding bankers from the consequences of their actions.

Of course, this wasn’t the whole cause of the financial crisis: government intervention in the housing market, in the form of encouraging bad lending practices and selling risky mortgages as government-backed securities played a huge role, too.

Hmmm…. Government intervention causes a problem. I’m detecting a pattern here. smiley idea

PS: A good book on the crisis is “Reckless Endangerment,” by Morgenson and Rosner.


Medieval Warm Period confirmed via cave study of 3000 years of climatic variations

June 21, 2015

Here’s one to upset the climate alarmists: the theory behind the fraudulent “hockey stick” was that the Earth’s climate was relatively stable until recently, when man began pouring CO2 into the atmosphere. That required the denial (Oh, irony!) of cyclic warm and cool periods in the past, since such cycles challenge the theory of runaway warming. This study provides more strong evidence of one of these warm phases, the Medieval Warm Period. Perhaps the Pope should read this, too.

Watts Up With That?

Remote cave study reveals 3000 years of European climate variation

Roaring Cave in Scotland. A study of its limestone has produced a unique 3000-year-long record of climatic variations that may have influenced historical events including the fall of the Roman Empire and the Viking Age of expansion. Credit: Courtesy of UNSW Roaring Cave in Scotland. A study of its limestone has produced a unique 3000-year-long record of climatic variations that may have influenced historical events including the fall of the Roman Empire and the Viking Age of expansion. Credit: Courtesy of UNSW

From the University of New South Wales:

SYDNEY — University of New South Wales Australia-led research on limestone formations in a remote Scottish cave has produced a unique 3000-year-long record of climatic variations that may have influenced historical events including the fall of the Roman Empire and the Viking Age of expansion.

The study of five stalagmites in Roaring Cave north of Ullapool in north-west Scotland is the first to use a compilation of cave measurements to track changes in a climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation.

‘Our results also provide the longest annual record of this important…

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#ChinaHack: That does it. I want executions.

June 17, 2015
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OPM network security specialist

This Ars Technica article about today’s House hearing on the Chinese hacking of almost the entire US government personnel database opens with a recounting of the deserved reaming the head of OPM and its CIO received from Chairman Chaffetz (R) and his committee. But, that was not the nut of the article. Oh, no. The crucial piece of information was buried in the next to last paragraph. See if you can spot it.

Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'”

Repeat after me: the Chinese (1) had frakking root access (2) to those databases!! That made them top-level administrators with access to everything. All the supposedly secure, classified data on every background check of every US employee investigated by OPM. And who knows what else they could do while they had access?

I’m almost speechless. To Hell with firing people: this is so weapons-grade stupid that only a firing squad will do.

Pour encourager les autres.

via CinnaminM and John Schindler

Footnotes:
(1) Please. Don’t even try to tell me a root-level administrator working in China was not -at the least- turned by Chinese intelligence, if not an active agent.
(2) See.


I was wrong: the #ChinaHack is indeed an espionage “Pearl Harbor”

June 17, 2015

Blown covers?

The other day I mildly disputed Jim Geraghty’s description of the break-in by the Chinese of the OPM’s database as a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” After all, I offered, bad as the hack was (and it was bad), there was no destruction of an important national security asset, unlike the sinking of much of the Pacific Fleet by the Japanese back then. But I was wrong. I missed the smoking wreckage made of our espionage capabilities:

But there’s an even more serious aspect of this compromise: the threat it poses to American intelligence operations abroad, particularly to officers serving under various false identities, or “covers,” overseas. The Intelligence Community employs myriad cover mechanisms to protect the true identity of its spies posted outside the United States. Cover protects our officers and allows them to conduct their secret work without drawing as much attention to themselves. While many intelligence officers pose as diplomats, that is only one option, and some covers are deeper than others. Regardless, all espionage covers are based upon credible narratives that rely on plausible details. Through a process the Intelligence Community calls back-stopping, any officer’s cover needs to look real and check out if tested. Thus, an American spy who is posing as an oil executive, for instance, has to have a “legend” in that industry that bears that out. Think business cards, company websites, or a team of ersatz oil industry colleagues. Just as another intelligence officer who poses as a diplomat better have his or records in State Department systems, to look plausible.

And now the Chinese have their hands on a database (which may be for sale) that could allow them to sniff out whose bio is real and whose is a cover. To continue:

For American spies abroad, this can be a matter of life or death, and any personnel sent into countries where they could be targeted for kill or capture—which in the age of the Islamic State is a depressingly long list—need to be deeply concerned about how much the OPM breach has complicated, and perhaps threatened, their lives. How bad this is was explained by Joel Brenner, who from 2006 to 2009 served as the Intelligence Community’s top counterintelligence official. Describing the hack as “crown jewels material, a goldmine” for China, who Washington insiders believe is behind the theft, Brenner added: “This is not the end of American human intelligence, but it’s a significant blow.” The only good news in all this is that several of our big spy services like CIA and NSA don’t rely on outside agencies for security clearances. They do their own background investigations, while ninety percent of the Federal government relies on OPM. But that’s cold comfort since the CIA uses other federal agencies as cover so often. Besides, given the enormous extent of this compromise, which gets worse with each new revelation, many are wondering how much information the Chinese don’t have at this point.

Indeed. Remember all the security problems, potential and proven, pointed out regarding Obamacare? Anyone care to bet that those problems have been fixed and that someone hasn’t already riffled though the records of millions of applicants, or used Obamacare’s myriad connections network connections to other agencies to break in elsewhere? Add to that the Snowden operation, Bradley Manning’s data theft, the likely Russian hack of the White House (via the State Department), and you’re left wondering if anyone in the federal government has any real concern or even competence with data security.

More immediately, the Obama administration came into office proclaiming itself the most tech-savvy administration, ever. One would think they would be enraged, not just by these acts of war by China, but the gross, utter, bumbling incompetence displayed by their department heads. And yet, in spite of having been warned for years that the OPM servers were insecure, all they can do is offer free credit monitoring. No resignations. No firings. No consequences.

Except for our clandestine agents in the field.


(Video) Why do people become Islamic terrorists?

June 15, 2015

New from Prager University, in this video Dr. Haroon Ullah does a good job of debunking two of the myths about why Muslims become terrorists, poverty and a lack of education. He does so by showing that terrorists often come from well-off and well-educated middle class families. (Remember that the 9/11/01 jihadis almost all came from such backgrounds.)

He then gives what he sees as the real reasons young Muslims turn to jihad: a revulsion at their own societies’ failings and corruption, a need to blame others, and a resort to a belief system that offers simple, clear, and absolute rules for making things better. I think he mostly gets this right, but more on that after the video:

Like I said, I think Dr. Ullah mostly gets this right, and the comparison of Islamic extremism to the appeal of Nazism, Fascism, and Bolshevism is apt: all offer simple solutions to the challenges of a complex world; all offer conspiratorial enemies responsible for our woes (Jews, capitalists, or both); and all promise paradise at the end of the line.

But he only glances against the core problem with Islamic extremism: Islam itself.

Islam’s belief system, like the ideologies of the “Isms” mentioned above, requires war against the outsider — “jihad fi sabil Allah,” or “War for Allah’s sake.” It declares an entire class of people, Jews, its eternal enemy, who at the end of days will side with the Devil. Its rules –Sharia law– are totalitarian, and its founder commanded death for any man who left the faith.

Dr. Ullah says that imams should preach that terrorist violence only causes misery in this world, that it does not make things better. He also asserts that Islamic preachers must preach that such acts will lead the terrorist to Hell, not Paradise.

He’s right, but imams who do that would be up against a big challenge: their own religion. From the Qur’an and the hadiths through over 1,400 years of learned commentary, Islam has provided theological justification for jihadist terror. Even Muhammad himself said he had been made “victorious with terror” (Sahih Bukhari 4.52.220) and his deeds, including the violent ones, are considered good examples for all time. If an imam were to say “violence is wrong,” the extremist could point to dozens of examples commanding violence or showing violence as a pious act, even at times against other Muslims. If he says those engaging in violence are condemned to Hell, the extremist believer could counter with Sura 9, verse 111 of the Qur’an:

GOD has bought from the believers their lives and their money in exchange for Paradise. Thus, they fight in the cause of GOD, willing to kill and get killed. Such is His truthful pledge in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran—and who fulfills His pledge better than GOD? You shall rejoice in making such an exchange. This is the greatest triumph.

Again, jihad fi sabil Allah. War for Allah’s sake. Tell him he’s going to Hell, and the jihad-terrorist can point to this and other places in the Qur’an, the hadiths, and scholarly commentaries ancient and modern that promise him instead unending pleasures in the afterlife.

I’m not saying Dr. Ullah and his hypothetical moderate imams are wrong or that it can’t be done, but Islam and its orthodox interpretation are working powerfully against them.


(Video) This anti-Hillary ad from the Rick Perry campaign is… “different.”

June 14, 2015

While Governor Perry’s 2012 campaign was a failure, his ad-shop was known for producing good, effective videos.

This ad, however, which shows a cackling cartoon Hillary stopping the “Scooby van” in order to watch a movie about her scandals, makes me wonder if they haven’t been into the “special” mushrooms:

It almost has me thinking they hired Fred Davis, the man behind the “Demon Sheep” ad of Carly Fiorina’s 2010 campaign for the US Senate.

Weird.

UPDATE: Commenter SteveInTN suggests this is based on the old Mystery Science Theater 3,000 show. I’d never watched that regularly, so it went right over my pointy head. Clever on the Perry team’s part, though. Good use of pop culture.

 


Snowden is a Fraud

June 12, 2015

Dear Snowden fans, “We told ya so!.” The guy is no hero: far from it.

The XX Committee

In the two years since the Edward Snowden saga went public, a handful of people who actually understand the Western signals intelligence system have tried to explain the many ways that the Snowden Operation has smeared NSA and its partners with salacious charges of criminality and abuse. I’ve been one of the public faces of what may be called the Snowden Truth movement, and finally there are signs that reality may be intruding on this debate.

No American ally was rocked harder by Snowden’s allegations than Germany, which has endured a bout of hysteria over charges that NSA was listening in on senior German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Although these stories included a good deal of bunkum from the start, they caused a firestorm in Germany, particularly the alleged spying on Merkel, which was termed Handygate by the media.

In response, Germany tasked Federal prosecutors with looking into the…

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The OPM Hacking Scandal Just Got Worse

June 12, 2015

Jim Geraghty described this news a a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” I’d quibble over the “Pearl Harbor” description, but that this is an almost-certain intelligence disaster (and I use that word deliberately) is doubtless. Think I’m wrong? Just read Mr. Schindler’s post analyzing the latest news.

The XX Committee

The other day I explained in detail how the mega-hack of the Office of Personnel Management’s internal servers looks like a genuine disaster for the U.S. Government, a setback that will have long-lasting and painful counterintelligence consequences. In particular I explained what the four million Americans whose records have been purloined may be in for:

Whoever now holds OPM’s records possesses something like the Holy Grail from a CI perspective.  They can target Americans in their database for recruitment or influence. After all, they know their vices, every last one — the gambling habit, the inability to pay bills on time, the spats with former spouses, the taste for something sexual on the side (perhaps with someone of a different gender than your normal partner) — since all that is recorded in security clearance paperwork (to get an idea of how detailed this gets, you can see the form, called…

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Say it after me: “Guns save lives”

June 11, 2015

Gun Control Stupid

Via Hot Air, this woman is certainly lucky to be alive, but that’s largely because she was also wise enough to have a firearm handy to even the odds:

A Detroit woman was able to fight off five home invaders in a shootout early Tuesday morning. The woman, who has a concealed carry permit, took the robbers by surprise after they burst in her bedroom window, WDIV reports.

“I was able to get to my gun. They didn’t know I had it. By that time, it was just gunfire,” Ms. Dee said.

Free Beacon has video, and Allahpundit can give you the lowdown on how crime has declined in Detroit since the police chief there began encouraging private gun ownership. (I can imagine Mike Bloomberg clutching his pearls even now.)

The gun control crowd keeps claiming that allowing widespread ownership of firearms will lead to a bloodbath, but the opposite seems empirically true: in jurisdictions where the 2nd Amendment is respected, violent crime rates have gone down. (Let’s face it, someone is less likely to rob or assault someone if he can’t be sure his target isn’t packing.)

But, in “progressive” jurisdictions with strict gun regulations, the violent crime rates are much, much higherHello, Chicago! — probably because the potential targets can’t defend themselves, so the criminals feel they’re in their own “safe zone.”

Someday it’s going to get through to the “Moms Demand” crowd that denying a person’s natural right to self-defense is not the way to prevent gun violence. Until then, we can be grateful for those jurisdictions that do, so the “Ms. Dees” of the world can legally protect themselves.

PS: I’m not saying that correlation is causation, of course, but the correlation is strong.


ISIS: Is Barack Obama merely “incompetent,” or malevolently so?

June 10, 2015
Leadership

Leadership

I was wondering what that sound was I heard the other day. Turns out it was jaws dropping at the Pentagon when they heard their commander in chief say this:

The US does not yet have a “complete strategy” for helping Iraq regain territory from Islamic State (IS), President Barack Obama has said.

He said the Pentagon was reviewing ways to help Iraq train and equip its forces.

But Mr Obama said a full commitment to the process was needed by the Iraqis themselves.

How long has ISIS/Daesh/The Islamic State been in the news as they rampage across what used to be Syria and Iraq butchering thousands? Over a year? And yet the president says his military still hasn’t presented him with a “complete strategy?” (Which begs the question of why he wasn’t pounding his desk demanding one, being the commander in chief, after all.)

Reacting to the news that they’ve just been thrown under a bus, a Pentagon official had this to say:

One military official reacted angrily to Obama’s blamesmanship:

“What the f— was that,” the official told Fox News. “We have given him lots of options, he just hasn’t acted on them.”

I guess this is how community organizers smooth over civil-military relations: take no responsibility for what’s in your job description and then find a scapegoat to take the fall for you, hoping enough of your toadies in the press will run with that to at least confuse the issue of your own failings. Deflect and distract, it’s the Obama way.

Of course, we’ve known for years that he just isn’t really that interested in his job, especially foreign affairs, which is one of his three major constitutional responsibilities. Hence his failure to really act on the options the military chiefs have given him and his need to blame someone else for his own failings.

As the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, sometimes says, if Obama really were trying to destroy America’s foreign relations, what, exactly, would he do differently?


Syria: You know it’s bad when your allies have to execute your own officers

June 9, 2015
x

Soon to be an ex-dictator

Via Anne Bayefsky:

Iranian commanders overseeing the Assad regime’s fighting efforts on the frontlines south of Idlib have reportedly executed three Syrian army officers.

London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi said that the three officers were Sunnis who were among the regime troops that withdrew from the Mahmbel and Bsanqoul checkpoints following rebel advances in the southern Idlib province area on Saturday.

The three officers, who were also accompanied by several soldiers, were accused deserting their duty and “betraying the homeland,” the daily reported Sunday.

According to the report, none of the other Syrian officers or soldiers present at the time were able to prevent the execution as “officers responsible for military operations in the Jourin area are under the command of Iranian officers.”

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander told the paper that “the regime has handed over the operations room to Iranian officers and leadership.”

“The recent execution has caused a state of fear and terror among remaining regime troops,” the FSA commander added, saying he expected “more defections and more field executions.”

“There are still Sunni soldiers and officers bearing arms in the ranks of the regime’s army who will receive humiliating treatment during the coming period.”

Activists in the Latakia region also spoke to the paper about the impact the Iranian takeover of the operations room has had on morale among regime troops.

“Morale is very low among regime soldiers; in fact, it has become non-existent since the Iranian officers took over the operations room,” according to an activist identifying himself as Abu Said.

“Syrian officers, among them Alawites, have become secondary members, whose tasks can sometimes be reduced to handing out tea and coffee.”

Assad’s position is crumbling, and the only thing keeping him afloat is Iranian aid. And that means the Iranians are the senior partners and call the shots. And shoot people, even their “allies.”  One reason Iran is taking this hard line, aside from being refugees from a medieval lunatic asylum, is that they cannot afford to lose Syria, which gives them a strategic foothold in the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean, and also serves as a conduit through which to send money and supplies to their Hizbullah cats-paws in Lebanon. Wouldn’t want to lose that opportunity to strike at the Zionist Entity (1), would we?

Meanwhile, Assad can surely escape; dictators like him usually have a few million dollars stashed in Europe and a jet on standby somewhere close. But, for his minions left behind? They’d better hope the Iranians like the tea and coffee they serve.

Footnote:
(1) That’s Israel, for those lacking an Islamic-Fascist to English dictionary.


(Video) Do Big Unions Buy Politicians?

June 8, 2015

We’ve all heard of corporate lobbyists and the influence they can buy for their clients in D.C., but what about the influence of big unions over government, specifically government employee unions? When looking at all levels of government –local, state, and federal– unions like SEIU and AFSCME may be the real masters. In this Prager University video, Professor Daniel DiSalvo explains why:

Though DiSalvo doesn’t use the word, the relationship between unions and pols, particularly Democrats, is a “kickback scheme.” For more on that, click.


Did Hillary Clinton buy the New York Times endorsement in 2008 for $100,000?

June 7, 2015
Above the rules.

Above the rules.

That’s the implication in this Washington Free Beacon article. As Alana Goodman portrays it, the Clintons not only dish out favors in return for money, but they know how to play the game the other way, too:

A little-known private foundation controlled by Bill and Hillary Clinton donated $100,000 to the New York Times’ charitable fund in 2008, the same year the newspaper’s editorial page endorsed Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, according to tax documents reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Clinton Family Foundation, a separate entity from the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, has been the family’s vehicle for personal charitable giving since 2001.

It is funded directly by the Clintons and distributes more than $1 million a year to civic and educational causes.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is a charity affiliated with the newspaper that assists underprivileged New Yorkers. It is run by members of the New York Times Company’s board of directors and senior executives.

The Times’ editorial board endorsed Clinton against Democratic challengers John Edwards and Barack Obama on January 25, 2008, writing that she was “more qualified, right now, to be president.”

At the time, there were reports that the Times board had leaned toward endorsing Obama, but was overruled by then-chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., whose family controlled the paper. Sulzberger’s cousins and Times Company directors, Lynn Dolnick and Michael Golden, chaired the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund in 2008.

The Clinton Family Foundation did not list the specific date the donation was made in its public tax disclosure forms. Neither the Times nor a representative of the Clintons responded by press time to a request for comment. Clinton ended her presidential campaign on June 7, 2008.

The CFF’s $100,000 contribution to the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is larger than its typical donations.

Of the 47 organizations the CFF donated to in 2008, only six groups received more than $50,000. Most received between $2,000 and $25,000. The CFF has not donated to the Neediest Cases Fund since 2008.

The Times endorsement was controversial at the time because there was speculation about whether it was swayed by pressure from the Clintons.

Just like all the favorable State Department decisions that came after foreign governments and business interests made big donations to the Clinton Foundation (or paid Bill for speeches), I’m sure this is all one big coincidence.

Now pull my finger.

(Psst! Read the rest!)