Wednesday evening round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThis has been a crazily chaotic day.  I got thrown off my stride by my morning swim (phase 2 in physical therapy for my knee, now that I’m off the perpetual motion machine), and just couldn’t catch up anymore.  Throw in a few unexpected demands on my time and — voila! — I’m doing my round-up early in the evening instead of first thing in the morning.  Still, proving that there’s always room for a cliched phrase, better late than never.  So, here goes:

A friend sent me the following link in the mail and it was so eerily close to the way real events are playing out, that it took me a second to realize that it’s satire (and pretty damn funny satire at that): On Defense Cuts, Obama Just Comes Right Out And Says He Wants The Terrorists To Win

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Perhaps we’ve reached a stage where the best we can hope for is that Israel will have our back, rather than vice versa.  At least today, Israel had its own back (can I say that and still make sense?), capturing a massive arms haul — Syrian missiles, shipped out from Iran, and headed to Gaza. Thank God the Israelis still have the sechel to watch out for their own interests.

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And speaking of Israel’s interests, if the last twenty-two years have shown us anything, it’s that participating in peace talks isn’t working. The reason, of course, is that the peace talks are all directed at a “two-state solution,” but the Palestinians, as well as the surrounding Arab and Muslim states, have no interest in a two-state solution. Yoav Sorek says that it’s time to stop chasing this chimera and create a new paradigm: a one-state solution — Israel — that the Palestinians have to learn to live with.

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If you’re girding your loins against the possibility of a Hillary victory in 2016, maybe it’s time to stop girding and start working incredibly hard for a good conservative candidate, instead of the usual lousy conservative candidates. I say this because Hillary is also a lousy candidate and the only way in which Republicans can lose if she’s the Democrat candidate is if they put up another McCain.  (What do you bet that the Republicans put up another John McCain?)

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Here’s a scary thought: I already suggested that Obama has gone round the bend. What if Putin has done the same? The world is scary enough with one madman in power. What’s it going to be like with the last two great powers of the 20th century both headed by malignant narcissists whose already tenuous grip on reality has been destroyed by the bubbles in which they surrounded themselves?

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Maybe none of it matters anyway, at least when it comes to Russia. I’ve noted before that Russia is in serious decline and this article provides the facts behind my conclusions. Whether Putin’s move on the Crimea is crazed or calculated, it can only buy a small amount of time for a country that will be eaten by China in the next few decades. (And considering its population, China will have a credible “lebensraum” argument, won’t it?) Ultimately, Putin will have gained nothing for his own country, although he will have succeeded in providing more evidence that Obama is feckless and unreliable, and may have caused several thousand, or even several hundred thousand, deaths along the way. Given the two delusional men at the helm of two declining nations, the last thing we want is a fast-walk to military confrontation.

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If Snowden had merely shown how the U.S. government routinely collects very scrap of data it can about American citizens, he would have deserved the “hero” title that the far Left and far Right placed on him. But considering that he mostly stole 1.7 million sensitive files touching upon national security, and then headed for the Chinese and, after that, the Russians, it’s clear that he’s the biggest traitor in American history. I’m putting more and more credence in the theory that he was a massive traitor all along, and that he stole the “spying on American” stuff only to provide himself with cover.

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Walt Disney Co. is free to demand that everyone and everything with which it deals support gay marriage. And people who disagree with that position are free to stop dealing with the Walt Disney Co. I really like Disneyland and Disney World, but it won’t be the end of the world for me if I never go to either place again. I bet the same is true for a lot of Americans. I’m not suggesting a formal boycott. I am pointing out, however, that in this information-rich world, we no longer have to deal with companies that spend our money in ways we dislike.

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Jonah Goldberg supports Obama’s initiative to help black youth, even if it’s manifestly discriminatory for the federal government to extend aid to one racial group while ignoring others (not that this has ever stopped the feds before). Jonah is right that America’s black youth are in desperate straits and need all the help they can get. My only concern is that it was the federal government that got America’s black youth in this situation in the first place, thanks to Leftists’ belief that blacks cannot manage without government support. It seems to me that the federal government is the last entity that should be trusted to get blacks out of this miserable cycle of violence, drugs, and poverty. Remember Frederick Douglass’s words (emphasis mine):

In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … Your interference is doing him positive injury.

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Not only did I enjoy Ace’s take on Obama’s manifestly unconstitutional decision to amend Obamacare again, but I loved the Photoshop you’ll find at that link. (BTW, Obama’s action is unconstitutional because only Congress can amend a law. This is banana republic stuff.)

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Did I say “banana republic stuff”? I did, and I meant it. Michael Ramirez has his own comment on what Barack Obama has managed to do in five short (although they seemed very long) years.

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The NAACP says “stand your ground” laws are part of “institutional racism.” Think about that for a moment. The laws simply say that, if your choices when faced by an assailant are to cut and run or to stand and fight, you can stand and fight (especially when cutting and running carries risks). They are facially neutral laws that apply to anyone facing a threat, black or white. What the NAACP is implicitly conceding is that the only/primary threatening parties in America — the ones who will be on the wrong side of “stand your ground” — are black. Wow! Is that racist or what? It seems to me that the NAACP is guilty of a bit of institutional racism itself.

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There are two writers out there who make just about everything interesting . . . and when the subject matter is inherently interesting, they’re off into the stratospheres of wonder for their readers. Enjoy the Diplomad’s Cage Fighter vs. Pajama Boy; Putin Confronts the West and Sultan Knish’s A Maddow in MSNBCland.

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Boehner’s bad: He freely concedes that all he cares about is opening up America’s borders. Who cares that the voters don’t want that? Remember, our elected officials are no longer our servants; they are our masters.

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Muslims bomb the Boston Marathon and Boston, home to the American Revolution, does what the Left does best: it backs down. That’s the word from Runner’s world:

A decade long tradition will be missing from this year’s Boston Marathon. Due to the new, stricter security guidelines released by the Boston Athletic Association last Wednesday, ruck marchers will not be allowed to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boylston because they are considered “unauthorized participants.”

Active members of the military have participated in ruck marches at the Boston Marathon for years. Donning full fatigues and carrying 40-pound rucksacks on their backs, ruckers march the length of the course in support of families of fallen soldiers.

Muslims don’t have to defeat America on the battlefield. If they scare us enough, we’ll unilaterally declare defeat and turn ourselves over to the enemy.

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And finally, Danny Lemieux posted the following quotation on his real-me Facebook:

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

– Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
(publ. 1776-1789)

It’s funny how we spend our adolescent years desperately trying to shake off our parents’ care, which we feel comes with too many strings attached, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to get someone to care for us, strings or not.

It takes one to know one: Obama versus Snowden

Obama at the mirrorCitizen Obama used to oppose government spying.  President Obama, of course, has enlarged the NSA’s scope dramatically on his watch. President Obama was therefore very upset when Citizen Edward Snowden decided to reveal just how much our cool, hip president is spying on his own people.  (Incidentally, I’m of two minds about Snowden.  It was definitely treason to reveal America’s spying information as to foreign governments.  It was useful, though, and possibly a 4th Amendment service, to reveal to Americans that they too are the subjects of constant surveillance.  But back to Obama….)

In a New York Times article about Obama’s reaction to Snowden comes this priceless line:

Mr. Obama was angry at the revelations, privately excoriating Mr. Snowden as a self-important narcissist who had not thought through the consequences of his actions.

If you didn’t find that statement as priceless as I did, it’s because you haven’t been operating for years on the same assumption that I have; namely, that Obama is a malignant, self-important narcissist, whose guiding principle is his own ego.

Friday this and that, with a little what-not thrown in

I could have done this as myriad small posts, but I was in the mood for something big.  I’ll separate the different ideas and issues with asterisks (after all, Obama’s promise with his unspoken asterisk has made asterisks the hot new thing in writing).

My friend (I like say that — my friend) Sally Zelikovsky has written rules for Republicans who want to win elections.  They are very pragmatic rules which state that the time for internecine cherry-picking, purging, and warfare should wait until after the Democrats no longer control Washington.  I’m just giving the rules.  Please go to her post to see her intelligent support for many of the less obvious or more challenging rules:

(1) Duke it out in the primaries and whole-heartedly support your candidate of choice.

(2) Do not support your preferred candidate by stooping to Democrat levels.

[snip]

(3) Never forfeit a “sure thing” candidate for a high risk one.

[snip]

(4) Unless an incontrovertible liability, never abandon a viable candidate especially in an important race.

[snip]

(5) In extreme cases, when a candidate is hurting other races, it’s okay to withdraw support.

[snip]

(6) Do not use outliers to formulate strategies for the entire country.

[snip]

(7) Make protest votes a thing of the past [snip]

(8) Think of the end game.

[snip]

(9) Social conservatives and tea partiers should hold any elected Republican’s feet to the fire.

(10) Moderates should expect social conservatives and tea partiers to hold their feet to the fire.

(11) Do not air our collective dirty laundry.

[snip]

(12) Always anticipate the leftwing response, think through your story, then stick to it.

[snip]

(13) In politics, as in life, there are people in any group or organization who have varying degrees of commitment. [snip]

(14) Use the media to communicate with the PEOPLE. This is your chance to be a PR person for conservatism, even though the press is never on your side.

[snip]

(15) Always promote the improved quality of life in Republican-run states andcontrast this with the diminished quality of life in true blue states.

(16) Speak with one voice on the issues where there is consensus.

(17) Where there is no consensus, speak to the fact that we are a diverse party that welcomes debate but, in the end, we are all guided by time-tested conservative principles that promote freedom.

Some of the suggestions are hard to swallow, because they continue to provide political cover for checkbook Republicans, meaning those who support a Democrat agenda, but who make loud noises about “we have to be able to pay for it.”  Read Sally’s whole article and, if you feel like it, please get back to me.

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Lee Smith has a brilliant analysis of what John Kerry and Barack Obama are doing in the Middle East:

So how did we reach a point where the United States is working with the Islamic Republic of Iran, while longtime U.S. allies are not only outside the circle but trying to block an American-Iranian condominium over the Middle East? A pretty good idea can be gleaned by taking the advice given by Politico in an article detailing Obama’s habit of meeting with prestigious reporters and columnists to test-drive his ideas: “If you want to know where the president stands on a foreign policy issue .  .  . read the latest column by David Ignatius” or Thomas Friedman, another frequent sounding-board for the president.

Read the whole thing and weep.  What they’re doing is every bit as bad as it sounds, and there will be terrible repercussions.

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Fouad Ajami says that Obama’s magic is gone.  I like his article but I have to disagree with the core premise.  Obama never had magic.  What he had was a complicit media.  It’s easy to win the game when the referees have determined in advance that you’ll win.  At a certain point, though, the spectators begin to think that the fix is in.

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Up until this past Wednesday, I tended to side slightly with the government regarding Edward Snowden — namely, that he was a traitor who stole America’s secrets.  And indeed, he seems to have stolen lots and lots of secrets.  What I learned on Wednesday, though, when I heard Mary Theroux, of the Independent Institute, speak, is that the government’s spying on American citizens is so enormous we literally cannot comprehend its scope.  The data collection (which is in the multiple zetabytes) grossly violates our inherent Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  NSA employees before Snowden tried to blow the whistle on this beginning around the year 2000, and got ferociously persecuted by the government because of their efforts.  Snowden’s spectacular leak broke that log jam.

But here’s the really important thing that Theroux said:  The government gets so much data, it’s useless for the stated purpose of crime and terrorism prevention.  As it comes in, it’s simply so much white noise.  It certainly didn’t stop 9/11 or the Boston bombing.  In this regard, think of England, which has more CCTVs per capita than any other country in the 1st world, and maybe in any world.  Nevertheless, these cameras do nothing to prevent crime.  As the number of cameras has increased, so has the crime rate.  The data is useful only after the fact, to help (sometimes) apprehend the criminal.

Well, one can argue that ex post facto apprehension is a good thing — but it’s a good thing only if there’s been a clear violation of a pretty well known law (e.g., don’t beat people to death or don’t rob a jewelry store).  We’re looking at something much more sinister here.  Think of the volume of law in America and, worse, think of the staggering volumes of rules interpreting those laws.

As Theroux noted, Stalin’s chief of police famously said (and I’m paraphrasing) give me the man and I can find the crime.  We Americans have a government that’s sitting on data that can be used to criminalize us after the fact the current government (Republican or Democrat or Third Party) doesn’t like us.  It’s like a landmine under every American.

Since Obama is quite possibly the most inept national security president in the world, it’s arguable that Snowden’s revealing secrets along those lines (e.g., that we’ve been eavesdropping on allies) leaves us in no worse shape than we were before.  After all, as Lee Smith notes above, Obama has already turned our allies into enemies.  What Snowden did do with his escapade was to remind us that, when government begins collecting every bit of information simply because it can, every citizen becomes a potential criminal.  We’re not at the Stasi stage yet, but our government is laying the groundwork for a Stasi society.  That’s an utterly terrifying thought.  We still can stop it now.  Once it’s in play, stopping it gets much, much harder to stop that fascist juggernaut.

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Given the debacle that Obamacare is proving to be for Obama, the Democrats, and Progressivism generally, a reader sent me an email saying that we should be grateful for Chief Justice Roberts for allowing this disaster to unfold.  That email reminded me that, back in June 2012, when Chief Justice Roberts managed to salvage Obamacare, I wrote a post looking for lemonade in Roberts’ opinion and, once again, I was a bit prescient.  (And yes, I am mining many of my old posts as real-time events are showing that I predicted with a fair degree of accuracy everything from Obamacare, to the shifting alliances in the Middle East, to Obama’s meltdown when the real world intruded on his little narcissistic dream.)  It’s a long, wandering (and, of course, fascinating and insightful) post, but here’s the Chief Justice nub of it:

Roberts wrote the decision at the end of a 90 year continuum holding that Government fixes problems and the Supreme Court fixes Government.  This approach makes “We, the people” unnecessary.  Rather than elections being the corrective, the Court is the corrective — except that the Court’s make-up is controlled by the Government.  (Remember the Bork debacle?)

Roberts refused to play this game.  He slapped back the Democrats’ hands when it came to the Commerce Clause, telling them that the federal government cannot legislate inactivity.  And he held — quite correctly — that if there’s any possible way for the Court to salvage a law, it must do so.  His salvaging was to say that, this particular law, written in this particular way, with these particular controls over the people, can be salvaged by calling it a tax.  It’s an ugly decision, but probably a correct one.  And then he tossed the whole thing back to the American people.

I can just see Roberts’ thought-process (although he might have thought in more polite terms):  You idiots elected a Congress and president that used every kind of political chicanery known to man in order to pass the biggest tax in American history and one that, moreover, completely corrupts the free market system.  It’s not the Supreme Court’s responsibility to correct that kind of thing, provided that the judges can, as I did, find a smidgen of constitutionality in it.  There’s an election coming up in November.  Let’s hope you’ve wised up enough to figure out that my Supreme Court is returning power to “We, the people.”  We will not pull your chestnuts out of the fire.  We will not legislate from the bench.  We will construe things as narrowly as possible.  If you, the people, don’t like it, you, the people, elect different representatives.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, Ace wonders if Obama just gave the Supreme Court another bite at this rotten apple.

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Power Line brought this AP headline to my attention:  “In Reversal, Obama to Allow Canceled Health Plans.” Who knew that a constitutionally appointed executive had the power to “allow” canceled health plans?

It was an especially interesting headline to read because, last night, I attended a panel discussion with AP reporters, photographers, and the editor in chief of the AP photograph department.  The purpose was to promote a new book of photographs that AP employees and stringers took during the Vietnam War:  Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press.  It was an interesting event, although I’m sorry to say that they were boring speakers.  (It seems like an oxymoron, but they were boring speakers who offered some interesting content.)

One of the things the panelists kept saying is that they have so much integrity and are devoted to even-handedness in their subject matter and presentation.  We know that’s a joke when it comes to written coverage about domestic politics.  AP has been a Democrat shill since at least George W.’s administration.  But it’s also been a shill when it comes to photographs. Given their record, I have to admit that it was a bit difficult to listen to the panelists’ smug satisfaction about their higher calling, integrity, and even-handedness.

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I like Deroy Murdock’s writing, so I liked his analysis of the Obamacare debacle.  It’s fun to read.  It doesn’t have the soaring schadenfreude of Jonah Goldberg’s instant classic, but it’s still darn good.

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Speaking of good writing, Megan McArdle is at it again, this time pointing out in very polite, analytical language that Obama has taken on the behavior of a tyrant (not a word she uses, but it’s the gist):  The law is what Obama says the law is.  It’s probably worth thinking about the Snowden revelations as you read McArdle describe the way in which Obama usurps power.  The media is clucking, but not with any force; the Democrats are running or enabling; and the Republicans are in-fighting.  We’re seeing a weird, passive (even Weimar-ian) anarchy that creates room for a tyrant to breathe and grow.

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I’m pleased to say that I never liked Oprah, so I’m not surprised to learn that she’s a race-baiting phony. Incidentally, to those who have mentioned in the comments that liberals are like beaten wives who keep coming back for more, Oprah is Exhibit A.  She destroyed her TV show by endorsing Obama, and he rewarded her by freezing her out of the White House.  So what does Oprah do?  She keeps crawling back, defending the man who used her and abused her.  I’m not sorry for her though.  Her racist venom makes pity impossible.

In which I pretend to be Thomas Sowell and offer short takes on today’s headlines

I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects.  So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.

As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman.  More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything.  In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone.  It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans.  Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.

Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport:  “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.

I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks.  All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans.  I have only two hopes now.  I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare).  I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics.  Raaacists!!

We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California.  Oh. My. G*d!  It must be global warming.  We’re all going to die!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Never mind.  I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.

There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right.  But he never does.  Think about his instincts:  With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent.  During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent.  He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.

Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure.  Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy.  In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won.  He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.

Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi.  Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.

Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship.  Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.

My conclusion:  It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time.  This isn’t stupidity.  It is malice.

Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts:  Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi.  That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good.  This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America.  He’s not a hero.  He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.

Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic?  If so, please chime in.