So, Steve Martin mourns the passing of Carrie Fisher in his own way. Okay. His problem? He put his thoughts up on Twitter. What he said was the following: “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.”
Not the most articulate tribute, but it certainly was heartfelt and moving. A tribute to someone who had become a friend. And someone to whom he was attracted at a younger age because he saw her as unsurpassingly beautiful.
Apparently that’s just a horrid way to feel and certainly verboten when it comes to expressing those feelings. The feminist thought-police were up in arms over this harmless good-bye and fond memory. The castigated Martin. Excoriated him. He deleted the tweet. You can’t even express your mourning now except in a politically approved method.
I’ve been an Anthony Bourdain fan since I read his book “Kitchen Confidential.” And I’ll tell you something, he’ll eat anything. I’ve watched him eat some stuff that, yeah, not going near my stomach. Anyway, I was reading a short bit of an interview he did with Reason and found him sounding quite a bit like Camille Paglia discussing today’s left (Bourdain is a self-identified liberal):
I hate the term political correctness, the way in which speech that is found to be unpleasant or offensive is often banned from universities. Which is exactly where speech that is potentially hurtful and offensive should be heard.
The way we demonize comedians for use of language or terminology is unspeakable. Because that’s exactly what comedians should be doing, offending and upsetting people, and being offensive. Comedy is there, like art, to make people uncomfortable, and challenge their views, and hopefully have a spirited yet civil argument. If you’re a comedian whose bread and butter seems to be language, situations, and jokes that I find racist and offensive, I won’t buy tickets to your show or watch you on TV. I will not support you. If people ask me what I think, I will say you suck, and that I think you are racist and offensive. But I’m not going to try to put you out of work. I’m not going to start a boycott, or a hashtag, looking to get you driven out of the business.
The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.
I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds. It doesn’t change anyone’s opinions. It only solidifies them, and makes things worse for all of us. We should be breaking bread with each other, and finding common ground whenever possible. I fear that is not at all what we’ve done.
Indeed. He gets it. He also is the type of liberal that is interested in the debate. The conversation. Finding out about the other half.
You’ll likely find this amusing as well. He nails what sunk the left in this last election as well as perfectly characterizing Bill Maher:
Bisley: A few years back you were on Real Time with Bill Maher and part of the discussion was about people living inside their own bubbles. What do you think of Bill Maher?
Bourdain: Insufferably smug. Really the worst of the smug, self-congratulatory left. I have a low opinion of him. I did not have an enjoyable experience on his show. Not a show I plan to do again. He’s a classic example of the smirking, contemptuous, privileged guy who lives in a bubble. And he is in no way looking to reach outside, or even look outside, of that bubble, in an empathetic way.
Precisely. That’s one of the major reasons they lost and it is also why they were absolutely shocked when they did. The hope, of course, is that they’ll continue as they have been. I’ve seen, by their actions and words, no indication that they’ve figured this out yet.
The idiot-in-chief has decided he’ll make the world situation even worse in his last few days in office by screwing over a ally and rekindling the Cold War. Completely out played on the world stage, this is all he has left:
President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
The measures, taken during the last days of Obama’s presidency, mark a new post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties which have deteriorated over Ukraine and Syria.
Allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed efforts to intervene in the U.S. election process by hacking mostly Democrats have made relations even worse.
So this is the response to “alleged” hacking? Talk about reacting to fake news, this takes the cake. I wonder how many diplos will be returning to the states in the next few days.
And then what? Yeah, trust me, he hasn’t thought that far ahead. But that’s nothing new, and besides, he can go on permanent vacation in a few weeks and leave this foreign policy wreck to Trump. Nothing but useless provocation. But hey, don’t think that’s the last you’ll hear of him. You can count on the “expert” in foreign affairs weighing in quite often from the golf course over the next 4 years. Another negative is the man has no class. Well done, Mr. Obama!
By the way, did you know Central and South America is a hotbed of activity for Muslim extremists? Yeah, you wouldn’t because, if you were a thinking person you might put two and two together and see border security as a priority. That would go against the leftist agenda and narrative. Judicial Watch, however, is on the job:
Latin America is a hotbed of Islamic terrorism where groups like ISIS and Hezbollah operate freely and raise large sums of money to finance terrorist activities in other countries, mainly the United States, according to a new report released by Spain’s Defense Ministry. “Latin America represents an important region for Islamic radicalism because conditions enable the free, almost undetectable, movement of their members throughout the region,” the defense document states.
Earlier this year Judicial Watch uncovered State Department records confirming that “Arab extremists” are entering the U.S. through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells.” Among them is a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI. The government documents also reveal that some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States.
But, you know, nothing to see here. It is just “children” who want to enter the US and are looking for a chance to better themselves.
So I’m back from a long needed … break. No really … needed.
That and being thoroughly swamped with work and depressed about the politics we suffer today.
Screw it … I’ll just do random commentary then.
I found this to be absolutely hilarious and something I’ve suspected for years. To the “publish or die” folks in academia it seems like publishing is the same thing as dying:
Professors usually spend about 3-6 months (sometimes longer) researching and writing a 25-page article to submit an article to an academic journal. And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will therefore be read by … an average of ten people. Yes, you read that correctly. The numbers reported by recent studies are pretty bleak: – 82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once. Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read. Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors. All of this is very unfortunate. Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading. What a waste.
What a waste? What a laugh! The problem, however, is those who end up being published also end up believing their research and theory, etc. has been validated. And that sense of validation leads them to push their pet theory even further and to introduce it, at least on a limited basis (like their humanities department) to receptive ears – after all, it’s been peer reviewed (given the lack of intellectual diversity among “peers” in academia, you can imagine the bias involved). In the humanities we’ve seen the result in some of the looniest ideas concerning gender and sex and race bobbing to the surface in universities and influencing/encouraging SJWs to adopt and act on them. Thus the circus we now observe within the universities in this country.
I’m certainly not attempting to blame all of that on the fact that no one but “peers” read these articles, but it certainly has to have had some influence. When you’re pitching to an echo chamber, you hear what you hope to hear and are encouraged to put it action somewhere (like, uh, academia).
I heard that Steven DenBeste passed away recently. If you’re not familiar with the name, Steven was one of the original (if not “the” original) bloggers with his blog the USS Clueless. And he helped influence and launch a thousand other blogs and establish the form as something to be taken seriously. If you’ve never heard of him or read him, do yourself a favor and google his blog and enjoy. He passed on way to early and will be missed by all of us old time bloggers and blog readers.
I think it is clear to everyone who can candidly assess Obama’s foreign policy that it is a huge (and dangerous) failure. Take the “Pacific Pivot” as an example. The latest defection? Malaysia, who just gave China an order for patrol boats.
Najib’s overture to China is spurred in part by anger over U.S. Department of Justice investigations into the country’s scandalous sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB. That controversy has damaged Najib’s international reputation and sent him straight into Beijing’s arms, as China has helpfully agreed to buy the fund’s power assets. Now, that gesture is starting to pay off. China and Malaysia started joint military exercises last year, and reports suggest that Najib will sign agreements on high-speed rail and port projects during his trip to Beijing.
The Malaysian pivot to China is especially embarrassing given President Obama’s clear efforts to court Najib. In 2014, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years; later that year, Najib was the president’s golf buddy during his vacation in Hawaii. Yet that personal outreach cannot disguise the fact that the promises of the Obama administration’s pivot, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), have failed to come through. Like Duterte, Najib has apparently made the calculation that Beijing has more to offer than Washington—and unlike Duterte, this decision cannot be dismissed as the impulses of an anti-American demagogue.
DOJ will go hammer and tongs after a foreign entity but when confronted with a highly placed politician who has (per the FBI) clearly broken the law? Yeah, not so much.
That said, the Pacific looks more dangerous than ever since Obama took office. And Europe. And the Middle-east. And …
Earlier today, the D.C. City Council voted to allow physician-assisted suicide. But the debate isn’t over. The Washington Post reports that “the council must still hold a final vote on the bill, possibly as early as Nov. 15,” and that the mayor, Muriel Bowser, must decide if she’ll sign or veto the bill.
I get that people want to end their lives because of pain, etc. But physicians? Whatever happened to “first, do no harm?” Make it legal if you must, not that anyone bent on suicide cares much for laws, but why involve physicians?
In case you missed it, that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday is at it again. Check out this news:
The sun has been completely spotless on 21 days in 2016 and it is currently featuring just one lonely sunspot region. In fact, on June 4th of this year, the sun went completely spotless for the first time since 2011 and that quiet spell lasted for about four days. Sunspot regions then reappeared for the next few weeks on a sporadic basis, but that was followed by several more completely spotless days on the surface of the sun. The increasingly frequent blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an even greater number of spotless days over the next few years. At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir. The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020. The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755 when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began and is the weakest in more than a century with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906. One other note, the weak solar cycle and the expectation for continued low solar activity this upcoming winter is an important factor in this year’s colder-than-normal Winter Outlook for the Mid-Atlantic region.
The weakest cycle in a century promising a “colder-than-normal” winter for the world (China’s forecasting the same). Science. However, you can bet that somehow this unseasonably cold winter will be charged off to the ravages of man-made “climate change”, unless it is a warm winter which, of course, will be charged off to man-made “climate change” as well. Ideological religion.
Meanwhile in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela, government has a solution to the food shortage. Urban farming! No, really. And you know it’s going to work because they’ve even established a ministry to ensure it does. No fooling – the Ministry of Urban Agriculture. And the ministry has announced that there’s plenty of land for all city dwellers:
When the project was presented in February, the newly created Ministry of Urban Agriculture announced that 12,000 square kilometers — about 4,600 square miles — would be planted in the first 100 days. The government promised to invest $300,000 in seeds, equipment and educational projects, and to help with logistics.
Eight months later?
Eight months into the project, only 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) of land have been cultivated, according to the ministry.
On target with the Great Stumble Backwards! Seems the Socialist big government blue model has to be reestablished every generation or so to prove it isn’t the people in charge that are the problem (although they are a problem) but the flawed model that defies human nature instead. Bernie doesn’t approve this message.
And some things never change.
Hat tip to Q and O reader Eric who sends along the link (in a comment) to the piece I’m referencing today. It is an extremely well written dissection of Barack Obamas dismal foreign policy record – a record that can only be described in one word – failure.
If I wanted to add an adjective to the description, I might choose “hideous”, since it is the worst foreign policy we’ve suffered under since King George. Kevin Ortin writes the piece and he uses an interview Obama did with Jeffrey Goldberg as the basis of his article.
Ortin points this out as the key graf in that interview:
[Obama] went on to say that the Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their Iranian foes. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he said. “An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
Some of us have long argued that, despite what the President says in public, his actual policy as executed is the pursuit of détente with the Islamic Republic of Iran, usingthe nuclear agreement as a facilitator. The President came in with one overwhelming goal: to draw down U.S. resources in the region. By deputizing Iran to protect core U.S. interests, such as this malign fantasy that the U.S. and Tehran share an interest in defeating the Islamic State (IS), while creating an “equilibrium” that protects Iranian “equities,” it would allow an order to take shape that did not require the U.S. to police it. By definition this meant empowering Iran against its neighbours, notably the Gulf States, since Iran had heretofore been contained. Here Obama confirms virtually every point of that argument.
One could hardly imagine a more naive and absurd policy if they tried. But Ortin is correct, that’s precisely what Obama imagined and tried to implement – mostly by himself. Empowering Iran with the belief that they would then be the “equalizer” and stabilize the Middle East is to ignore all of Iran’s actions and rhetoric to date. Iran has no interest whatsoever in stabilizing anything and has, for years, using the unrest in the region to further the theocracy’s goals.
That’s simply indisputable.
The vision fails because any notion of “balance” between the Iranian revolution and its neighbours is a mirage. The clerical regime does not intend to take the U.S. offer to “share” in bringing order to the region; Tehran intends to upend the entire U.S.-underwritten structure and replace it with Iranian hegemony—a project in which it is now receiving Russian help. Thus, “balance” is ceding the region to Iran under another name. On paper the Gulf States have military prowess that dwarfs Iran’s. In reality, Iran has asymmetric structures like the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps led by Qassem Suleimani, which the Gulf States do not, capable of terrorism and subversion in a way the Gulf States cannot match. Indeed both Obama and John Kerry have lamented that the Arabs do not have a Quds Force or a Suleimani, something and someone who can get things done.
This is perhaps the largest problem of all for Obama’s vision: Iran simply cannot do what he wants it to—namely bring order to the region. Iran does not want order, of course: the IS threat is very helpful in keeping Iran’s client governments in Baghdad and Damascus pliable and in inducing concessions from the Americans, plus IS’s caliphate covers areas in western Iraq and eastern Syria dominated by Sunni tribes that Iran knows it could not rule even if it wanted to. And if Iran tried to move into the Sunni Arab zones, as it has done in parts of Iraq, through its rabidly sectarian Shi’i jihadist militias, the result is terrible destruction, demographic engineering, and the setting of the stage for long-term instability.
Read the whole thing. As I mentioned, it is very well done and it is about as damning as anything I can imagine. There was an article somewhere this week in which the author claimed that Barack Obama was just too smart for us and we had no way to really appreciate what he’s done.
I’m sorry but a syphilitic idiot with no foreign policy experience could have done better than Mr. Obama. And that’s fairly evident to even the most uninformed among us. Obama has been a foreign policy disaster and that is taking understatement to its limit.
It seems that Obama has finally decided, with less than a year left in office left, to come clean and make the case for his legacy. The President has now laid out the parameters on which he wants to be judged; it would be churlish to refuse. The academic and media criticism might be the least of it, however. There are many predatory regimes watching and calibrating when to make their move.
His “legacy” is weakness, miscalculation, naiveté, indecision and blame shifting. Pretty much a description of all aspects of his presidency. But Ortin is right – the predators are licking their chops and only waiting to see which of the abysmal choices we have we’ll put in the Oval Office in January. Meanwhile, Obama’s Titanic of a foreign policy is actually aiming for the iceberg.
If Obama was where someone was pouring leadership into a glass for others to partake, he would have his glass turned over. He is the antithesis of a leader. He is, without a doubt, one of the worst leaders this country has ever suffered. And that’s not just my opinion.
James P. Cain, a former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. He lost his son-in-law in the recent Brussels bombing. In a eulogy for his son-in-law he makes it clear what he thinks of the current US “leadership” in the face of a deadly and intractable enemy that much of the West and specifically the US, refuses to either recognize or confront.
Let’s be clear. This fight is not only against America and Europe, and it is not against Christianity. It is a fight against individualism, reason and independence of thought that began during the Enlightenment over 350 years ago in France, and found its greatest expression in the grand experiment launched by our Founding Fathers in Philadelphia.
This freedom is now under attack by the henchmen of the Dark Ages wherever they detect it—from Paris to Pakistan, San Bernardino to Istanbul, Nairobi to Brussels. Those who embrace this freedom, in what was once permissible to call the civilized world, are awakening to the battle lines that are forming. And like the battles that liberated Europe 70 years ago, the civilized world now demands coordination, willpower and leadership.
More important, where is American leadership?
Even before the horrifying attacks in Brussels, I was hearing grave concern from many friends in Europe about America’s withdrawal from the global stage: Our leaving Iraq without putting adequate security measures in place; our rebuffing of traditional allies in the region; our passivity as hundreds of thousands of Syrians were slaughtered; our paralysis as Islamic State made a grotesque spectacle of beheading “infidels,” including Americans. Since the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the worried chorus from Europe has grown louder.
Of course the chorus has grown louder. Europe has invested little in its own defense. The US has always been there for them … until now.
It’s one thing to make the case that it is the job of Europe to begin to shoulder more of the burden of its own defense and then begin a well-thought out plan to which they’ve agreed to shift some of that burden. That’s leadership. Abandoning them is not leadership. And Obama has, essentially, abandoned them by not leading. He’s helped create the crisis, by lack of leadership, and he’s now exacerbating the problem by continuing his lack of leadership.
He simply isn’t nor has he ever been a leader.
And the world has suffered because of that.
While you may believe that the US needs to back down from the role of world policeman, that’s something a leader would do with a plan and gradually.
You don’t just quit doing it.
That is, unless you’re unqualified for the job you hold, have never held a leadership position previously and are not a particularly deep thinker when it comes to figuring out the consequences of your actions or lack thereof.
But then, I just described Barack Obama.
Useless you say? How is it “useless”?
Well there are a myriad of things one could point too, but perhaps the latest from the UN’s “elections”:
UN Watch instead is calling on Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, and the EU’s UN ambassadors to condemn the world body’s “absurd and morally obscene” election just of Syria and Venezuela to senior posts on a decolonization committee that is charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples — a propaganda victory that—like before—is already being trumpeted by the Assad regime.
Yet the UN wants to be taken seriously as some sort of world governing body that looks out for the interests of the oppressed and the subjugated by putting members of two of the most oppressive regimes on this committee.
By the way, the 17 territories still held as “colonies” are as follows:
The 17 territories still listed as colonies by the committee are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falklands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, St. Helena, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.
Most of those on the list want nothing to do with disassociation with their “colonist”. In reality, this is just another in a long line of committees the UN uses for lavish boondoggles:
The committee is notorious for its habit of holding regional seminars in tropical islands—”alternately in the Caribbean and the Pacific”—at considerable expense. Madeleine K. Albright, as U.S. representative at the United Nations in the late 1990s, called these expenditures ”frivolous and unneeded.”
At the time, activities of the committee were investigated by the United Nations inspector general, Karl T. Paschke, who concluded that money was being squandered.
And, as usual, you (among many others) pay for it.
In other UN news, much more serious than the above:
“A horrible thing,” says an elfin 14-year-old girl, who describes how a Burundian soldier dragged her into his barracks and raped her, leaving her pregnant with the baby boy she now cradles uncomfortably.
The allegations come amid one of the biggest scandals to plague the United Nations in years. Since the U.N. peacekeeping mission here began in 2014, its employees have been formally accused of sexually abusing or exploiting 42 local civilians, most of them underage girls.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called sexual abuse by peacekeepers “a cancer in our system.” In August, the top U.N. official here was fired for failing to take enough action on abuse cases. Nearly 1,000 troops whose units have been tied to abuses have been expelled, or will be soon. Among them is the entire contingent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Yes, it is a “cancer” in the UN’s “system, but the UN does nothing about it. It certainly isn’t a new problem:
In Bosnia in the 1990s, peacekeepers were accused of soliciting sex from women who had been trafficked and virtually enslaved in local brothels. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the early 2000s, more than 150 allegations of abuse and exploitation were registered against peacekeepers, and U.N. investigators found that many of the alleged victims were orphans. U.N. missions in Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia and other places also have been tarnished by such allegations.
The UN was supposedly a noble idea whose time had come when it was first begun. Now it has devolved into a third world debating and boondoggle club with a little rape on the side for “peacekeepers”.
If I was in one of the countries the UN has attempted to “help” and I saw a blue helmet, I’d get as far away from the person wearing it as I could.
They’re useless in a real sense, but certainly predatory if you have any females in the area … no matter how young.
Secretary of State Kerry worked for three months to get the warring parties to a negotiating table under the auspices of the United Nations — moderate rebels, representatives of the regime, Iranians, Saudi Arabians and Russians. But Moscow then turned around and launched its offensive right as the talks began. Within 48 hours, the Russian air force carried out 320 airstrikes in northern Syria alone. It was no coincidence that the storm on Aleppo began at that exact moment. The aim was that of destroying any possibility that the opposition would have a say in Syria’s future.
Yes, that’s right, the Russians had no intention of working within the process and were simply setting up an opportunity to embarrass the United States.
I know, you’re shocked, aren’t you?
Secretary of State John Kerry conceded that his much-touted ceasefire in Syria, set to take effect Saturday, “may be” little more than what a Democratic senator called a “rope-a-dope deal.”
With Washington as the dope.
“I’m not going to vouch for this,” said Kerry. With good reason: It doesn’t cover ISIS, the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other terrorist groups — nor anyone who cares to fire at them. For months, Russia’s been bombing anyone it wants to while claiming to be targeting ISIS.
In a move likely to further increase already volatile tensions in the region, China has deployed fighter jets to a contested island in the South China Sea, the same island where China deployed surface-to-air missiles last week, two U.S. officials tell Fox News.
The dramatic escalation came as Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at the State Department.
It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. The disrespect toward Kerry is much deserved, but it is primarily being shown to Obama. Kerry is just the proxy. These two states, among many others, simply have no respect or fear of Obama. None. And while they’ll play the diplomatic game, they’re two realpolitik states. When the former leader of the West shows weakness, they exploit it. Kerry just is the guy they choose to embarrass directly.
Oh, and speaking of ISIS, have you been monitoring its growth in Libya? You know Libya, the other foreign policy triumph of the Obama administration. Different Secretary of State, same disastrous result. And what is Obama doing? Well he’s considering a solution much like his Syrian solution. No boots on the ground and train some “good guys” to oppose ISIS.
So what does that tell adversaries? A) He hasn’t a clue. He’s in the middle of doubling down on failure. B) He will not commit to the effective use of American force. Yeah he may throw a few cruise missiles and air strikes at the place, but he really doesn’t plan to do much. And C) he’s the lamest of lame ducks and will likely do what he’s done for 7 years if either China or Russia act aggressively – talk big and carry no stick.
The Russians made clear that they were also coming in to help deal with the threat of the so-called Islamic State in Syria. It soon became apparent, however, that the Russian targeting strategy was less concerned with ISIS than tilting the balance of the civil war in favor of Assad and that Russian forces are now using tanks to target rebel strongholds in and around Aleppo.
Saudi Arabia has now moved fighter jets to Turkey with the aim of carrying out strikes inside Syria and has agreed to deploy special forces coming into Syria via Turkey.
Turkey is making it clearer by the day that it may feel it necessary to move from shelling mainly Kurdish positions inside Syria to moving troops and tanks into Syria. Meanwhile, concerns are being raised about Turkey invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, if Turkish forces were to be attacked by Russia or Syria.
NATO has every right to advise caution on Turkey, its fellow NATO member. But in these circumstances, following the Russian intervention — now that its full nature is revealed — it is very hard to argue that that it is not unreasonable for both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to contemplate such action.
NATO needs to establish two clear positions:
That it will not become embroiled as an alliance in fighting on the ground in Syria.
It will, however, respond to any attack that threatens the territorial integrity of Turkey.
Most people who know anything know that as the US goes, so goes NATO.
Anyone – do you really believe the so-called “commander-in-chief” would heed Turkey’s invocation of Article 5 and confront the Russians?
Two days before Christmas, as American policymakers were settling into the holidays, Russia quietly signed a sweeping air defense agreement with Armenia, accelerating a growing Russian military buildup that has unfolded largely under the radar. It was the most tangible sign yet that Putin is creating a new satellite state on NATO’s border and threatening an indispensable U.S. ally.
The buildup in Armenia has been glossed over in Washington, despite being a key piece of Vladimir Putin’s plan to dominate the region — along with its proxy Syria and growing military ties with Iran. Most importantly, Armenia shares an approximately 165 mile border with Turkey, a NATO member and the alliance’s southern flank.
And now Russia has 8,500 military personnel, 600 artillery pieces, 200 warplanes and 50 warships in the area.
Does that smell like “fear” to anyone?
If so, it’s probably emanating from DC.
The year 2015 was an annus horribilis in Venezuela with a 10 per cent decline in gross domestic product, following a 4 per cent fall in 2014. Inflation reached over 200 per cent. The fiscal deficit ballooned to 20 per cent of GDP, funded mainly by the printing press.
In the free market, the bolivar has lost 92 per cent of its value in the past 24 months, with the dollar costing 150 times the official rate: the largest exchange rate differential ever registered. Shortages and long queues in the shops have made daily life very difficult.
As bad as these numbers are, 2016 looks dramatically worse. Imports, which had already been compressed by 20 per cent in 2015 to $37bn, would have to fall by over 40 per cent, even if the country stopped servicing its debt.
Add to that the murder rate in Venezuela being the highest in the world (even with strict gun control) and you have a real “worker’s paradise” don’t you? I wonder if the Bernie bots are capable of learning anything from this? Yeah, no chance.
Speaking of Bernie and socialism, how about that red hot debate last night? Laughed my keister off with this Hillary quote:
Hillary Clinton compensated for her complete lack of likability by falling back on playing the victim. She accused Bernie Sanders of ignoring feminism, black people and gay rights. She sputtered that, “Senator Sanders is the only one who would describe me, a woman running to be president, as exemplifying the establishment.” Somehow a fabulously wealthy woman who is backed by the entire Democratic political establishment isn’t the “establishment” because of her gender.
She had a tough time explaining her ties to Wall Street too, which I found hilarious. If ever anyone defined “establishment” it would be Clinton. And the irony of this supposedly “tough woman” playing the victim card shouldn’t be lost on anyone either.
Loved David Corn’s tweet. He said his 14 year old daughter was watching the Democratic debate and remarked “it’s like watching my grandparents fight”.
Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.
It’s interesting because I think it identifies a trend and a level of dissatisfaction with the current occupant of the White House. And if true, I think it spells big trouble for the Democrats in a presidential election year. And if the unlikable Hillary Clinton gets the nod for the Dems (a woman who has never polled over 45%), unless Trump GOP pick, the GOP wins. If it ends up being Trump, then the GOP will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Speaking of polls, is this indicative of reality or an outlier?
The Democratic race has dramatically tightened, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll out Friday that shows Hillary Clinton with a razor-thin lead over Bernie Sanders.
Clinton leads Sanders 44 percent to 42 percent, well within the margin of error of the poll, which was conducted after the Iowa caucuses.
The picture of a neck-and-neck race is a huge change from Quinnipiac’s last national poll conducted Dec. 16-20 that showed Clinton with a massive lead over Sanders, 61 percent to 30 percent. It’s not clear yet whether other post-Iowa polls will also show Sanders surging ahead and catching up to Clinton.
Couple this with the fact that Bernie raised more campaign dough than Clinton in January and it should be setting off alarm bells in Clinton campaign headquarters. And, in fact, it may explain a more combative Clinton last night.
On the special snowflake/SJW front, you know, those who unilaterally believe they get to decide what is or isn’t okay in today’s culture, it is now racist to wear a toe ring or bangle bracelet:
According to a piece in the totally logical social-justice blog “Everyday Feminism”, it is racist and offensive to wear toe rings or bangle bracelets in almost any situation.
Yep. According to the article’s author, Aarti Olivia, wearing these kinds of jewelry amounts to an appropriation of South Asian culture. Olivia explains that in her culture, “it has been traditionally expected that married women wear bangles,” and that although that tradition is no longer “imposed upon women,” they do “wear them for religious or festive occasions.”
“In pop culture, you have probably seen the likes of Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez wear them for music videos and performances,” Olivia writes. And that, she continues, is not okay.
I wonder if she knows that today’s music is mostly played on instruments invented by dead white guys from Western Europe. So, using her logic, if she plays an instrument (violin, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, piano, etc.) is it “cultural appropriation”? And if so, shouldn’t she stop right now and apologize?
Or does this nonsense only cut one way?
“If NASCAR embraced electric cars it could change the world…We could convert all of our racecars to electricity — right now — and show the public exactly what electrons can do,”
Yup, and the NASCAR track would be … a strangely quiet place during a race. Kind of like Bill Nye’s brain.
Have a great weekend.
Another SOTU, another trip to Fantasy Land. I saw it all summed up in one wag’s sentence: “Obama has put Joe Biden in charge of finding a cure for cancer.”
There were some blatant lies and some pure nonsense in the mix last night. One that stood out to me was this:
I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world.
No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us.
Surveys? Really? That’s his “source” of information.
I wonder if the surveys answered this question posed by David French.
Yet if America is the world’s most powerful nation, why are so many of our worst enemies far stronger and more dangerous than when Obama took office?
Probably not. In fact, much like Hitler’s “paper divisions” weren’t worth the paper they appeared on, I’d guess these surveys are about as worthless.
Claudia Rosett does a yoeman’s job of setting the record straight:
Here’s the real State of the Union, which is inextricably linked to the increasingly alarming state of the world: It is open season on America.
Not that America is by any stretch a lone target. Terrorist slaughter has become a staple of the world news. On the same Tuesday that just saw American sailors seized by Iran, the news was filled earlier in the day with accounts of a terrorist bombing in the historic center of Istanbul (which the State Department at least labeled “terrorist,” as opposed to “workplace violence”). ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and a host of their kindred organizations are bedeviling the civilized world.
And then there are the sovereign-state behemoths: an expansionist China and an aggressive Russia, pushing the boundaries and arming for war — as the U.S. guts its military and turns over its resources to a domestic bureaucracy that is busy regulating America’s old free markets and resulting economic muscle into fading memory.
Obama’s presidency began in 2009 with apologies for America, a “reset” with Russia, a bow in Cairo and an outstretched hand to Iran — promising that this would boost America’s standing and security, and pave the way to more peaceful world. After seven years of American retreat, appeasement, vanishing red lines, diplomatic farce and an implausible nuclear deal with Iran, the clear message to every opportunist on the planet is: grab what you can.
But, as this graphic illustrates, Mr. Obama resides down another road the rest of us can’t afford to live on.
It is, as usual, all about the narrative and before he ever stepped to the podium, we knew that. We knew we’d hear the narrative even when it is so obviously fantasy. Reality is and has been banished from this administration as being unfriendly if not down right hostile to the narrative.
Are we the most powerful nation on earth? Yes, I think so … but that was so before Mr. Obama. I see it as much less of a fact now. The most powerful military in the world? Yes, but again, in decline. And I’m sorry, but there is no nation that I know of that is calling the US for help and certainly not to “lead”. Not with this yahoo in the Oval Office. In fact, as Rosett points out, two very powerful nations are pushing the envelope even as we speak and our answer, thus far has been the chirping of crickets. China has decided to take over the South China sea and has established its first military base in Africa. What have we done or said about that? Nothing.
It’s nice to be considered the most powerful nation on earth with the most powerful military. But it means nothing if that power isn’t used to advance the interests of your nation and its citizens or those of your allies. That doesn’t mean war, it usually means deterrence – maintaining the peace or the status quo in some instances. And it requires leadership, something we’ve been without for the last 7 plus years. Its about drawing limits and enforcing them. We have refused to do either these past 7 years.
The world knows that. That’s why little pop-gun states like Iran feel they can pretty much do what they want without fear of all that power we have. And that means we really don’t have any power at all. That’s been proven any number of times over the years with red lines crossed and the obvious refusal to recognize or meaningfully engage ISIS. At home the refusal to even say “radical Islam” has diminished the stature of this administration domestically as well.
We’re leaderless in a perilous world. Yes, we’re powerful – potentially. But without resolution and the threat of meaningful action that potential means absolutely nothing … except in the narrative.
Another thing I decided during my holiday hiatus was to make “Stray Voltage” a regular Friday feature. Why? Well, it covers a number of subjects/issues and gives everybody a lot to talk about over the weekend.
Question: Why is it the SJWs insist there is a “rape culture” on campus, but are mostly silent about the real rape culture that is rearing its ugly head in Europe among Muslim “refugees”?
Mr. Obama at his recent townhall meeting:
Obama didn’t hold back when asked by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about the notion that the federal government — and Obama in particular — wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law. He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns.”
I have only one thing to say to that Mr. Obama: “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.”
Well here’s a surprise. Another late night release, and more evidence that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted:
The latest batch of emails released from Hillary Clinton’s personal account from her tenure as secretary of state includes 66 messages deemed classified at some level, the State Department said early Friday.
In one email, Clinton even seemed to coach a top adviser on how to send secure information outside secure channels.
All but one of the 66 messages have been labeled “confidential”, the lowest level of classification. The remaining email has been labeled as “secret.” The total number of classified emails found on Clinton’s personal server has risen to 1,340 with the latest release. Seven of those emails have been labeled “secret.”
Does the name Petraeus mean anything to you? And in comparison his security breaches were minor. Which makes you wonder what it is going to take to finally see Clinton prosecuted. I also wonder if the Obama administration may be interested in keeping his executive actions in place after he leaves … enough so they’re willing to make a deal with the Democratic front runner? I’m sure everyone would be shocked, shocked I tell you, if that was the case.
And while the president is crying and wailing about you folks owning too many guns, the beat goes on:
Two Palestinian men who were born in Iraq and came to the United States as refugees have been arrested in connection with terrorism investigations, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Imagine that. Both men of fighting age, both refugees, both engaged in terroristic activities, but I’m the xenophobe (or racist or, well, pick your favorite pejorative) if I say don’t import trouble in the form of refugee men from Islamic countries that support and foment terrorism?
Finally, Mr. Obama seems to think that if he repeats the same nonsense over and over again, it somehow becomes true. To wit:
“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.” –President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016
This claim is simply not true.
This claim is simply not true. Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, and 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.
But hey, this is for the low information citizen who only reads headlines and listens to sound bites (read the whole thing). What’s that old saying? A lie can travel around the world before the truth gets its shoes on? Something like that. That is why propaganda is so powerful. And this, my friends, is nothing but propaganda … dutifully retransmitted by an willfully incurious media.
Have a great weekend.
In another “foreign policy triumph” for the US, Afghanistan, a client nation of the US for over a decade, is apparently turning to an old patron:
Afghanistan, battered by worsening security, is reaching out to an old ally and patron—Russia—just as the Kremlin is seeking to reassert its position as a heavyweight on the world stage.
President Ashraf Ghani has asked Moscow for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 helicopter gunships for his country’s struggling military, Afghan and Russian officials say, after the U.S. and its allies pulled most of their troops from Afghanistan and reduced financial aid.
“Russia is seizing the opportunity,” a U.S. official said.
Certainly, there are plenty who are aware of the old saw, “the graveyard of empires” and will shrug this off as good riddance. Let Russia deal with it.
Of course the point is that Afghanistan is turning to Russia mainly because it doesn’t have any confidence in the US anymore. We all understand that Afghanistan is both tribal and corrupt. But that goes with the territory, literally and figuratively. Russia is unlikely to worry to much about that.
It also demonstrates on a micro level what we are seeing on a more macro level. With the decline of US influence in the area, Russia is taking the opportunity to assert its own. Whether you care one whit about Afghanistan, this is a disturbing trend. And, just as obvious, our “leaders” haven’t a clue on how to stop the trend. Obviously Afghanistan feels that their worsening security is inextricably linked to US decisions. The country appears to have no confidence in the US.
Unfortunately, that ‘no confidence’ vote didn’t originate in Afghanistan. It has been echoed by other countries in the region as well … to include Israel.
The foreign policy of this administration, that of Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kerry, have seen the withdrawal of the US in the area and a diminution its prestige and power.
Some may cheer this, but the bottom line is that such actions (or lack thereof) have made the region and the world a much more dangerous place than it was in 2008.