You know, anymore you have to wait a couple of days for the hysteria to settle before you can figure out what may or may not have happened. And unfortunately, our “National Enquirer” media is usually the leaders of the hysteria.
This supposed “treasonous” letter, for instance. Finally, Jennifer Rubin lends a little sanity to what have been the equivalent of click bait headlines these past few days.
[T]he letter was “open” — that is, akin to an op-ed, not dropped in the mail with a Tehran address. This is not a private negotiation or even a message primarily to the Iranians; it was a statement concerning the president’s powers, in contravention of prior promises, to make an critically important deal without Congress. It was unfortunate that it was not instead a letter to the editor or the president; the content would have been the same and Democrats would have been deprived of a silly but unifying talking point. But let’s get to the reason it had to be sent in the first place. As Jeb Bush noted in a statement, “The Senators are reacting to reports of a bad deal that will likely enable Iran to become a nuclear state over time. They would not have been put in this position had the Administration consulted regularly with them rather than ignoring their input.”
Can’t begin to see how that measures up to “treason”. I can see how the subversion of the Constitution could lead in that direction though.
Second it is a warning to Iran to deal straight with the President:
Republicans are saying to the mullahs they’d better not sucker the president into a sweetheart deal because ultimately that deal will have to pass muster with Congress. Any savvy negotiator would use that to say to the mullahs they need to deliver more, not less, because of the ornery lawmakers. But Obama is so determined to give the mullahs whatever they demand he cannot recognize bargaining leverage when it is staring him in the face. It is only when you are trying to give away the store that you consider a letter warning the mullahs the bar will be high for a deal to be “sabotage.”
So instead, it’s backing this
idiot’s sucker’s President’s play. They’ve actually managed to give Obama some leverage and Obama is rejecting it for heaven sake.
The letter was meant to highlight a point about which critics have not quarreled: The president can have a binding treaty with Senate approval, or he can have an executive agreement that may be null and void when he leaves office. (If he has told the Iranians otherwise, either he is confused or he is selling snake oil.)
Got that? Deal straight and make the sort of deal we will approve in the Senate.
But, as Rubin points out, there’s a bigger question:
What does the president think he is negotiating if he intends to keep Congress in the dark and present a fait accompli?
Does he understand that if he thinks its a “treaty” and it doesn’t go before (and get passed by) the Senate, it isn’t worth a war bucket of spit? I mean, he may have a pen and a phone, but he can’t agree to a treaty without Congress’s okay no matter how hard he tries to pretend he can.
Which may necessitate some more “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” reasoning from Democrats.
There’s the story.
So, in terms of the letter, another partisan tempest in a teapot.
Meanwhile, the big Constitutional question mostly gets ignored.
More subjects than one can conveniently throw a stick at … so we’ll throw several sticks.
Have you seen the latest Brookings Institute poll on Obama’s “greatness” as a President? It is interesting. They decided to poll the American Political Science Association. Their “consensus”?
First, President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.
Well there you go. Even a liberal leaning think tank polling liberal leaning academics can’t manage to put lipstick on a pig. 18th overall? Hilarious.
Remember we were told that Iraq was “poorly thought out” and that “armed intervention” was a mistake?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone applied the same standard to Libya? Yesterday we got to see what some of the result of that awful decision when 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS. And the White House reaction?
The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.
Can’t even get up the gumption to identify who the “Egyptians citizens” were. They weren’t beheaded for being Egyptians, folks.
We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat. We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.
Because, you know, Obama and the boys kind of broke the last government.
Meanwhile in Oregon, the Democratic governor resigns in disgrace, a victim of corruption in the “green energy” field.
It is a safe bet that Kitzhaber’s implosion has sent the rest of the nation’s Democratic governors, and even a few officeholders in Washington, scrambling to review their affairs. It is the very nature of green energy that its unprofitability ensures that it is only viable in the marketplace if it is subsidized at taxpayer expense. The political class’ favorability toward clean energy and the media’s deference to the project of green technology have created the perfect conditions where corruption can thrive.
Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer is deeply implicated in all of this. I wonder if he’ll get the “Koch brothers” treatment by the media.
You can read on when you stop laughing hysterically.
Oh, and here’s another in a long line of damning reports about ObamaCare.
On another subject, I’m old enough to remember friends crippled by polio and the “iron lung”:
“We are at a stage where people have no memory of just how dangerous pathogens used to be. There is no visceral fear of viruses and bacteria. Children in wheelchairs as a result of polio are a thing of the past because the United States has been polio free since 1979 as a result of vaccines. The only people I’ve ever met who were hobbled by damage from polio were older than me. . . . I do not expect an innumerate and unscientific public to become more trusting of medical organizations that support vaccination. In some communities herd immunity has already been lost and it will be lost in more other communities. This trend will continue until an old disease comes sweeping thru and racks up lots of damage and fatalities.”
On the other hand, the government has reported for 40 years that cholesterol was going to kill us and then, recently said, “never mind”. But they still want us to believe their science about “global warming”. That said, one small pox plague and I’d bet everything would change. Its hard to be fearful when you’ve never had to live with the results of awful afflictions like polio. I remember that being the greatest fear of many parents. Now, well, now they don’t even give it a second thought. That’s because of a vaccination, for heaven sake. Same with small pox. But then anti-vaxxers are using the same sort of science that warming alarmists do, so you shouldn’t be particularly surprised.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin (not surprisingly, Madison, WI) 30 homes were spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti. My guess is the White House would characterize the act as “a random act by some juvenile delinquents”. I’m still in awe of the spineless characterization of the victims in the Kosher Deli in Paris as some “folks” in a random incident. But then, this is the same administration that for years characterized the Ft. Hood shootings as “workplace violence”, so it really isn’t a big surprise. Back in Madison, don’t even begin to believe that the vandalism will ever be classified as a hate crime. That is reserved for favored minorities only.
Graeme Wood (read the whole thing) lays the wood to the cowardly among us who can’t find it in themselves to identify the enemy and the enemy’s foundation:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Meanwhile, at the State Department and White House …
The world today sometimes amazes even me. Politics today, however, doesn’t at all. Pretty much everything that happens is a variation on a theme – and that theme is we’re served by the worst political class in our history (I’m talking generationally here, not just the last election). And there seems to be no relief in sight. We have a scam-artist in the White House now who has, in reality, never done anything of significance in his life up till now. And now he’s significantly ruining this country.
And in the wings? Hillary Clinton? Good lord. Or Jeb Bush? Lord save me. Or this – the darling of the Left, Elizabeth Warren:
Then there is the scandal-in-waiting concerning her sleazy scholarship while a law professor. She co-authored a highly-publicized study in 2005 that claimed that 54.5 percent of all bankruptcies have “a medical cause” and that 46.2 percent have a “major medical cause,” telling interviewers that those findings demonstrated the need for national health care. In fact, the proportion of bankruptcies caused by catastrophic medical losses is more like 2 percent. Her numbers were inflated by including “uncontrolled gambling,” “alcohol or drug addiction,” “death in family,” and “birth/addition of new family member” as “a medical cause.” In addition, spending as little as $1,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses over the course of two years — hardly unusual for a family — was enough to get a bankruptcy classified as “a major medical cause” even when the debtor himself or herself did not list illness or injury as a cause of the bankruptcy. A number of scholars have criticized the study as intentionally misleading.
Just what we need … another politician who uses corrupt studies to bolster her agenda driven objective. They don’t call her Fauxahauntus only because she faked indian heritage to snag a gig at Harvard. Another “professor”/Senator who has never done anything or run anything being seriously touted for the top job? [Is any journalist out there looking deeply into this? No. Oh, sorry, they’re all worried about Scott Walker not having a degree.]
Conclusion – it’s the electorate that needs a serious overhaul. Same song, different verse – you’d think the last 6 years would have cured anyone from looking at a no-name junior senator who has never done anything of significance in her life, but not the Left. Or the yellow dogs or the low information, government dependent voters that actually think government services are “free” and it’s the “greedy rich” who are the problem.
We’ve got a mess, the tipping point seems to have been reached and the only thing that might save us is if a statesmen or woman with leadership credentials steps forward.
Meh – we’re screwed.
The idiocy continues on all sorts of fronts. A few things that caught my eye. David Axlerod’s autobiography and his expectations:
“More than anything, this is what’s terrible about modern media and how these books roll out,” Axelrod says. “I was determined to write a book that wasn’t going to be characterized by some titillating nugget that had about a three-day half-life, but rather an entire story of my life and the conclusions that life has led me to. I wanted to write a book that people might want to read years from now and not just today’s publication because they wanted to find out who had been knifing who.”
A lovely sentiment. But Axelrod, who likes to think of himself as a real-world idealist, surely knew not to get his hopes up.
Oh balderdash. Axelrod is about as calculating a political hack as one can find. To assume he was so naive or stupid to believe his book would be treated any other way is irony on steroids. The only thing interesting about the man at all are the political secrets he may reveal. I got a good laugh out of his disappointment.
Under the sarcastic title of “wow, I’d have never guessed this … ” we find:
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Look, those guys learned how to successfully co-opt liberal left anti-war groups ages ago. This is just the updated effort. Why this would surprise anyone is a mystery to me. And, of course, it’s the big names of the movement – Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress. Bought and paid for … by evil oil.
Irony … it’s just lost on the left.
Under the title of “when bureaucrats get huffy”, things got a little testy in a Congressional hearing yesterday with the newest VA Secretary. Apparently he’s not used to having his competence questioned:
The fracas started when Coffman criticized the VA for citing its effort to defend cost and time overruns at a Denver hospital projects as a major accomplishment.
“How is that a success?”
[Rep. Mike] Coffman [(R-Colo.)] asked. “You lost that case on every single point for the hospital in my district that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”
“I think that that’s just characteristic of your glossing over the extraordinary problems confronted by your department,” Coffman added. “This is a department mired in bureaucratic incompetence and corruption. And I gotta tell you, I think the public relations is great today, but there’s no substance.”
McDonald said he was offended by those remarks, and then dodged the question and tried to shift the blame to Coffman and others in Congress.
“Actually, I’ve been here six months,” McDonald said to Coffman. “You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.”
Really … because Coffman has what to do with running the VA project in question? After all the failure of the past 6 years, that’s just what you need, an egoistic, thin-skinned nincompoop at the head of the VA. McDonald followed that little jewel up by showing he knew nothing about the person he was insulting:
… McDonald ended by barking at Coffman, “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”
Well, as it happens, Mike Coffman is a combat veteran who started his own company, and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq wars. And as it happens, Secretary McDonald is an ass, just like the head of the IRS, just like our Attorney General, just like … yes, it’s the culture and climate that has evolved within this administration and it all goes directly to the head of it all … our snarky, sarcastic and disrespectful president.
Btw, in my estimation, McDonald ended up looking like a fool, something he richly deserved.
Instead of hurling insults, McDonald should be interested in actually doing something useful. Like his job:
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast health network — beset by a scandal last year over delayed care — has been listed as a high-risk federal program by congressional auditors for the first time.
The report by the watchdog Government Accountability Office, which is issued every two years, includes a broad indictment of the $55.5 billion VA program, one of the nation’s largest health care systems. USA TODAY obtained the VA section of the report, scheduled for release Wednesday.
And this goob, like most of the administration, is trying to lay off any blame. It’s a perfect example of an ossified bureaucracy that is more than incompetent, it’s lethal.
Finally, for those of you who like strolling down the memory lane of climate alarmist predictions, there’s a website up dedicated to reminding us again how wrong they’ve all been:
A senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.
San Jose Mercury News 30 Jun 1989
Ah, yes, the good old days.
Over at Ace of Spaces, Ace writes:
I have long argued against a third-party split and the Nightmare Option of simply conceding the country to the liberals for 20 disastrous years.
Lots of us passed that point years or even decades ago. We’ve been called all sorts of names. We’re told we’re immature and unreasonable because we don’t support people who are much closer allies to their Democratic colleagues than they will ever be to those of us who believe in limited government.
Every election cycle we get inundated with all the tactical reasons that we simply have to support whatever stuffed-shirt, big-government-friendly, Democrat-lite candidate who made it through a nomination process mostly controlled by moneyed corporate interests, using their campaign contributions and media influence.
The battle cry of the GOP loyalists is “But the Democrats are Worse (TM)”. I’ve been through this before, so no need to rehash why I think that battle cry is worse than useless.
The main thing I would ask the GOP loyalists at this point is this: exactly what would cause you to give up on the GOP?
Suppose the GOP does win the White House and keeps Congress in 2016. What do you expect from them? Write it down. Decide on the minimum you’re willing to accept to continue supporting this party that has screwed you nine ways from Sunday for two decades at least.
Ace has reached his breaking point. He’s tired of the “Small government on the campaign trail, big government as soon as they get off the plane in DC” shell game.
For those GOP loyalists still left: If you have not reached that breaking point yet, what will cause you to? And could you at least admit that those of us who gave up on the GOP have a point?
What else is new, right? In the last presidential election, it was the “War on Women”, with George Snuffleupagus firing the first volley with an oddball question about contraception. This time around, it’s a report from Chis Christie’s tour of the UK:
As he toured the United Kingdom on Monday, Chris Christie seemed to leave his tough guy persona back in the United States. The potential Republican 2016 presidential contender punted on questions about whether Americans should vaccinate their kids amid a 14-state outbreak of a disease which is staging a comeback after being largely eradicated by science.
“All I can say is we vaccinated ours,” Christie said, while touring a biomedical research facility in Cambridge, England, which makes vaccines.
The New Jersey governor added that “parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”
Not exactly controversial unless you spin it the right way (which CNN does in the above article by accusing the New Jersey Governor of being uncharacteristically mealy-mouthed). And it would really help if you could get another potential candidate on the record saying something similar. Enter Rand Paul:
In a contentious interview today, Sen. Rand Paul said he’s heard of cases where vaccines lead to “mental disorders” and argued that parents should be the ones to choose whether they vaccinate their children, not the government. Paul is a former ophthalmologist.
“I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul, R-Ky., said in an interview with CNBC anchor Kelly Evans.
“I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing, but I think the parents should have some input,” he added. “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.”
Again, not terribly controversial except for the “mental disorders” part. Which is what the media are now running with to paint all conservatives as “anti-vaxxers”:
NBC News – “Rand Paul: Vaccines Can Lead to ‘Mental Disorders'”
CNN – “Paul: Vaccines can cause ‘profound mental disorders'”
ABC News – “Rand Paul Says Vaccines Can Lead to ‘Mental Disorders'”
HuffPo – “Rand Paul: Children Got ‘Profound Mental Disorders’ After Receiving Vaccines”
Vox – “Rand Paul says he’s heard of vaccines leading to ‘profound mental disorders’ in children”
FactCheck.org – “Paul Repeats Baseless Vaccine Claims”
So on, and so on. The New York Times tackles it this way:
The politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters.
The vaccination controversy is a twist on an old problem for the Republican Party: how to approach matters that have largely been settled among scientists but are not widely accepted by conservatives.
Suddenly, we’re all talking about vaccines and how those nasty, anti-science Republican weirdos are dangerous to society. Funny how that works. And of course, never let facts get in the way, such as Paul being correct about the mental disorders thing. Here’s his statement again:
I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.
Guess what? The CDC agrees with him (my emphasis):
MMR vaccine side-effects
(Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)
What are the risks from MMR vaccine?
A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.
The risk of MMR vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.
Most people who get MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it.
Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75)
If these problems occur, it is usually within 7-12 days after the shot. They occur less often after the second dose.
Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (about 1 out of 3,000 doses)
Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)
Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 out of 30,000 doses)
Severe Problems (Very Rare)
Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
Several other severe problems have been reported after a child gets MMR vaccine, including:
Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
Permanent brain damage
These are so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine.
While extremely rare, do long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, or permanent brain damage count as “profound mental disorders”? I guess you make an argument that not all such cases do, but I would think permanent brain damage fits the bill.
Ironically enough, the FactCheck.org article actually highlights that Paul and the CDC are on the same page:
There have been some reports of “lowered consciousness” or permanent brain damage after a vaccine is given for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) or measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), but the CDC says that these are so rare that a cause-and-effect relationship cannot be determined.
Note that the CDC does not posit a causal connection, but then again neither does Paul. Indeed, he further clarified:
“I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related — I did not allege causation. I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated,” Paul said in a statement. “In fact today, I received the booster shot for the vaccines I got when I went to Guatemala last year.”
Too late, since the media has its juicy soundbites already.
None of this is to say that GOP politicians don’t do this to themselves. Paul certainly didn’t have to even raise the specter of a potential causal link between vaccines and mental disorders. He should have known that, regardless of what the CDC and science says, most everyone was going to associate his comments with the debunked autism link. Even if there was a proven causal link, it’s so incredibly rare as to not be deserving of a mention. I get his thinking from a liberty perspective, but message delivery is vital and Paul failed at that.
The Chris Christie statements, on the other hand, don’t strike me as even slightly off, but clearly there was a theme building here amongst the media hivemind. The idea that the guy who insisted on quarantining the Ebola nurse is super interested in liberty does sound a sour note, and Christie probably should have led with the idea that routine vaccinations are safe and effective which is why everyone should get them. Seems like a rookie mistake for someone who’s been in the limelight for quite some time.
Not that it matters. The theme has been set, and the narrative will now run its course. Inconvenient facts such as who the anti-vaxxers really are, or what Democrats have had to say on the issue, will be glossed over or simply dismissed. And all vaccines will be treated the same so that if a GOP candidate balks at mandating, say, a flu vaccine, he or she will then be tarred as an anti-science, ant-vaxxer. Democrats and the Left will be fine with this since they have zero problems with government mandates. And thus the media has neatly cleaved the country it two wholly separate and unequal parts in order to drive the political wedge deeper.
Not sure how you stick with one topic a day when so much is going on, thus the appeal of commenting on lots of topics.
For instance, we find out that President Obama is the reason gas prices are down … if his SOTU is to be believed (yeah, it’s not). The fact that you happened to be hanging out in Washington DC and your title is “President of the United States” doesn’t mean you did anything to make that happen. As I pointed out earlier, his EPA will soon take care of that anyway.
There were a lot of other bits of fun and fantasy as well – free community college. Because, you know, its free. And not to worry, it’s those greedy rich folks that will pay for it. Mr. Obama wants $320 billion in new taxes. Capital gains tax – up. Death tax – up. Bank tax – up. And your 529 savings plan for your kids college? Yeah, no longer tax free.
That, dear friends, is how you get “free” college. Isn’t free stuff wonderful?
On to your retirement savings:
There would be a new cap in the amount one could accumulate in the aggregate in all IRA and 401(k) type accounts of $3.4 million. After that, you can’t save any more new dollars. The idea is that this is enough to secure a $210,000 annual distribution in retirement, which the government apparently deems “enough” for a retiree.
Because, of course, nanny knows best.
Finally, if you’re an employer:
In addition, all employers with more than 10 workers and who do not have a 401(k) type plan would be mandated to set up payroll deduction Traditional IRAs for their employees. Also, part-time workers would have to be covered under retirement plans if they have been working someplace long enough. These two things are a new kind of employer mandate from Obama.
Nice plan, no? No. As usual, that means precisely what the cartoon shows. Someone has to pay for all of this and it isn’t just going to be the employer.
Of course the concept that someone must actually “pay” for these things is always left out of the discussion. It’s “free” after all.
For a completely different subject, and in case you were wondering, yes, liberals in Hollywood (almost redundant, isn’t it) are still wringing their hands about the all white Oscars. Or at least doing a good imitation of it. My favorite theory? “Racial fatigue”.
The unknowable question is whether the same voters who supported “12 Years a Slave” had racial fatigue after supporting a black film last year.
Because, you know, there’s only so much support those white Hollywood liberals can dole out a year, or something. They gave their all last year. And you black folks just need to understand that! By the way, I believe “racial fatigue” does indeed play a part. People are tired of everything being made to be about race.
Speaking of culture, I found article to be very entertaining. Is there a civil war brewing on the “progressive” left (one dearly hopes so)? Why the question? Dilemmas such as this:
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens were once known as the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism. For a long while, there was nothing more amusing to a young liberal than watching one of them debate against a creationist, or someone who objected to abortion or gay marriage on religious grounds. Dawkins, for a while, was the darling of the British media.
Then things started to sour. Christopher Hitchens, in his full-throated defences of the second Iraq war, was the first to lose left-wing support. Notoriously, Feminist Frequency producer Jonathan McIntosh celebrated Hitchens’ death, saying he was a “despicable, warmongering, hateful human being. Good riddance.” (To put that in perspective, McIntosh had just a few months earlier refused to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.)
Dawkins, who recently discovered the joys of deliberately offending people on Twitter, has become an even greater figure of hate for progressives. This is probably due to his indiscriminate rationalism: he is just as willing to poke holes in theories of post-modern feminism as he is to attack religion. And when he does attack religion, he insists that Islam is probably the worst one out there. He has become persona non grata in progressive circles as a result.
2014 saw atheists and progressives embroiled in what looked like an all-out war. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a female genital mutilation survivor and one of the fiercest critics of Islam in the atheist movement, was disinvited from a planned speaking engagement at Brandeis University for her criticism of Islam, and was stripped of her honorary degree. Salon.com immediately applauded the decision.
Students at UC Berkeley attempted to do the same to Bill Maher over his alleged islamophobia, but were stopped by the college administration. Sam Harris, another of the “four horsemen”, felt compelled to engage in a three-hour debate with progressive commentator Cenk Uygur after enduring a wave of hatchet-jobs from media progressives for his own comments on Islam.
Progressives may be overwhelmingly atheist, but there is only so much heresy they can stand. One of their core beliefs is that you do not “punch down”–that is, attack vulnerable or marginalised communities. Islam, despite being the dominant religion of dozens of nation-states, is said by progressives to fall into this category.
We’ve watched this sort of cognitive dissonance have its way with the left before. That’s because they aren’t really about principles as much as they are about biases. Oh, and limiting your freedom:
A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.
Somehow I’m not at all surprised, given the examples above … are you?
The “this”? Keystone XL pipeline. Why is the president at all involved in this decision? Why is he threatening a veto if the Republican Congress passes a bill authorizing it?
The nation’s pipelines are a transportation system. Pipelines enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life. The arteries of the Nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products, our oil and gas pipelines provide the resources needed for national defense, heat and cool our homes, generate power for business and fuel an unparalleled transportation system.
The nation’s more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year. They are essential: the volumes of energy products they move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 75 2,000-barrel tank rail cars everyday.
Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products.
The source? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. Yes, that’s right, the US government. Executive branch.
Note the facts – 2.6 million miles of pipeline safely moving petroleum products 24/7. Look at would be required without them.
Oh, wait, look what’s required without Keystone – trucking and railcars, of course. And who has a major stake in those operations continuing? You know how this works … follow the money.
Can you say “cronyism”?
Sure you can.
The most “transparent administration”, ever!
Btw, GOP … make his veto it or forever be held as the cowards most think you are (after all, you didn’t even have the courage to dump Boehner).
As you’ve probably surmised, I’m taking a bit of a break the last two weeks of the year. Decompress, catch up on other things and generally relax. That said, I was happy to see that Erb and the anti-Erb have managed to provide the best in entertainment for the QandO faithful.
Looks like the anti-police riots and ambushes are reaching their natural end. That’s what happens when you overreach. I’m not at all implying that some protest isn’t necessary or warranted. But when it goes beyond that to murder, well, then you’re likely to lose any sympathetic audience you might of had prior to that. And that’s pretty much what has happened.
I’m also finding if pretty interesting to watch de Blassio sink in his own man-made rhetorical swamp. Great choice, NYC. Now live with it.
Of course we’re having to live with the choice of enough of America’s voters that we’re into year 6 of the 8 year nightmare presidency. And what do we have on the horizon? More of the same. A Bush/Clinton run? If so, we’re worse off than I think. No more of either family … please!
As for Elizabeth Warren? Yeah, let’s again go for a junior Senator who has never run anything or done anything except claim minority status to get a good paying gig in academia that certainly didn’t tax her “work ethic”. Let’s again let some smooth talking “populist” promise us the moon and deliver Ecuador. And, yes, I’m talking to the press.
The GOP? Name someone with a chance for a nomination and you’ll likely name someone I wouldn’t want anywhere near the Oval Office.
Then there is the GOP Congress. It appears Obama is saying he will have a new use for his pen these last two year – the veto pen. I say that’s good news. Here’s a chance for the GOP and Congress to use an opportunity to drop the onus for being obstructionist on the President. If they have the plums to do that. By the way the “obstructionists” in the past wasn’t the GOP but Harry Reid who wouldn’t bring passed House legislation to a vote in the Senate (not that the press ever caught on) – that problem, theoretically, no longer exists). Do I have any faith the Congressional GOP will inundate the President with legislation he will have to sign or veto? No. None. Recent history gives me no warm and fuzzy about that – especially while McCain and Graham are still in the Senate. Look for McCain and his lapdog Graham to again resurrect the “Maverick” brand and spend as much time as Reid screwing up any plans the Senatorial GOP might have to push legislation to Obama’s desk.
Oh …. guess what the NY Times has discovered? There may not be enough doctors to cover any expanded insurance rolls … especially Medicaid. Why? Well for one thing, there are a finite number of doctors that can see a finite number of patients and having insurance hasn’t changed that fact one bit. But, what is a determiner in who may or may not get to see a doctor is how much that doctor gets reimbursed for his/her work. And Medicaid is cutting that amount by about 43%. That means doctors will likely opt out of seeing Medicaid patients (or at least new ones). In essence then, not much changes in the real world despite the utopian plans of our betters. While more may have insurance, emergency rooms will be the “primary care” unit for most and “preventive care”, a supposed goal of this abomination we call ObamaCare, is still a fantasy without realization. Funny how ignoring immutable facts (number of doctors and how humans respond to incentive or lack thereof) always ends up with predictable results.
Bah … enough. I’m supposed to be taking a break.
See you next year. In the meantime, happy New Year!
First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about. It’s about intent and timing. The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.
Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news. This has been investigated. It’s been commented upon and debated. It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.
So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now. What is the utility of this report? What is the intent of releasing it now? What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?
Biased, you say? How do you know that? Well here’s a clue:
The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.
Not one? So what sort of “report” was it then? What sort of “investigation” took place? Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics. And bad politics at that. It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.
Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.
Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.
When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative. It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va. As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything. It was all about supporting a narrative.
Rape is bad. Yes, it is. We all accept and understand that. But false and embellished accusations are bad too. That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house. Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides. If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.
Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.
What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.
It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now. Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US. Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it). And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.
How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess. It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago. The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”. And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated. What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?
Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.
UPDATE: Well, of course. Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:
A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law “to bring those responsible to justice.”
He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”
Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.