Thursday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. I had a standard-issue medical test done on me this morning and, while I passed with flying colors (I’m such an overachiever), the procedure knocked me off my pins and I’m only now getting back to something akin to normal.

I haven’t yet had the chance to read today’s news (which I think looks sort of like yesterday’s news, right down to yet another air tragedy), but I have a ginormous backlog of links I gathered yesterday that I’d still like to share. So, fasten your seat belts and . . . we’re off!

** 1 **

Just an observation about Israel’s efforts to rout Hamas in Gaza: Many, myself included, think that this is Israel’s moment in Gaza. The ones who are openly supporting her incursion are all Israelis (as opposed to merely some Israelis), most Americans, European heads of state, the EU (!), and citizens of good will the world over. Heck, even the notorious anti-Israel Washington Post has another editorial denouncing Hamas and insisting that it must be disarmed before Israel gives up the fight.

The ones who are tacitly supporting her incursion are heads of state all over the Arab world who, scared by both Iran and ISIS and, as in Egypt’s case, deeply hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, are keeping silent or even castigating Hamas. The only ones who are opposed to Israel having the chance, once and for all, to destroy one of the world’s most malignant terrorist organizations, are Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the hate-ridden Muslim and hard-Left rioters in European and American citizens.

** 2 **

At the end of my conversation with Sol Giggleweed, I added that, in a comparison between Hamas the Nazis, the Nazis are actually better than Hamas insofar as they revered their own women. My sister added another Nazi virtue that Hamas lacked: the Nazis did not use their own women and children as living, breathing defense systems.

Apropros this reverence for life, check out this Facebook post.

Indeed, even canine life comes in for care (in stark contrast to the Muslim world, which hates dogs and, at least in Pakistan, tortures them for fun):

Israelis care for dogs


** 3 **

Arabs, Muslims, and Leftists keep agitating for a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Rhymes with Right agrees in principle, but differs somewhat as to precisely which pre-1967 borders Israel should be returned.

** 4 **

I don’t understand why America’s multiculturalists aren’t more up in arms about ISIS’s blatant disrespect for Christian culture in Iraq. (And yes, I’m being very, very, very sarcastic there.)

** 5 **

Yet another article about the U.S. State Department’s absolutely disgraceful failure to bring over to the U.S. the Afghani interpreters who now sit in the Taliban’s cross hairs.

** 6 **

Yes, it’s true. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is planning to move to race-based grading: Teachers are required to add a separate (and impliedly lower) bell curve for grading for non-whites. You’d think things such as this would bring non-whites to the realization that the Left thinks they’re really stupid.

** 7 **

HBO no longer makes any pretense of hiding its hardcore DemProg credentials. Even its obscene, sex-obsessed vampires are DemProgs so, when they get the opportunity, they apparently used an imaginary Ted Cruz fundraising as the opportunity to engage in some foul-mouthed Republican and women bashing. Ted Cruz and his aide Amanda Carpenter, however, elegantly and easily show why mental midgets shouldn’t tangle with people infinitely smarter than they are.

** 8 **

You know what happens to a socialized manufacturing sector? Nothing. It doesn’t innovate, grow, or create wealth. Instead, as Venezuela has demonstrated for the umpteenth time, socialized manufacturing sectors collapse very badly. (Article is behind a Wall Street Journal pay wall.)

** 9 **

Should you be able to get behind that Wall Street Journal pay wall, you should also read Daniel Henninger’s scathing denunciation of a president who is just too bored, busy, and important to deal with the crises popping up all over the place. He’s not even trying to play crisis whack-a-mole. He’s just walking away and looking for the next fundraising party.

If you can’t get behind that pay wall, you can still read Mark Steyn on Obama’s vanishing act, played across the backdrop of the endless rewind and replay in the Middle East.

** 10 **

Britain is mad at Russia because of the fact that pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine, armed with cutting edge Russian weapons, shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Of the almost 300 people who died, many were British subjects. Britain is so mad, in fact, that it’s reviving the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Putin critic who died very painfully in England from polonium poisoning.

** 11 **

One of my tawdry media indulgences is the Daily Mail, which is a combination of sleaze, trash, eccentric wonders, and actual cutting-edge news from all over the world. One of the things I’ve noticed lately in the Daily Mail is the number of young to middle-aged bankers who have been killing themselves or dying of mysterious circumstances. Zero Hedge has noticed too and obviously wondered whether it’s just a coincidence that we’re aware of because of world wide reporting or if something really weird is going on.

** 12 **

Planned Parenthood continues to teach Americans young women about sexual perversion. Says Ed Morrissey:

Planned Parenthood gets millions of dollars for sex education and other programs from the federal government, and the education they provide is exactly what those parents predicted. No 15-year-old needs instruction on how to let herself get handcuffed or tied to trees by her boyfriend as part of rational education about health and sex. If a 15-year-old even hinted that her boyfriend was pressing her to try these kinds of activities, that calls for an intervention, not a how-to for submission. The advice to watch pornos for further sex education threatens to distort the teen’s sexuality for a lifetime, from a healthy expression of love and pleasure in the context of marriage to decades of being someone else’s rag doll for exploitation.

This isn’t education. It’s indoctrination, and the cultivation of Planned Parenthood clients for the next 20 years. Planned Parenthood can continue to offer sex education, but it shouldn’t get tax dollars to do so.

** 13 **

Jonathan Turley, a Barack Obama voter and law professor, has made a name for himself of late by speaking out against the expanding administrative state. He sees the D.C. Circuit’s Halbig decision, which confines Obamacare subsidies to state-established exchanges per the laws explicit language, as a very important one and contrasts it favorably against the 4th Circuits King decision, which ignored the statute’s explicit, unambiguous language in favor of a “well, I think the legislature really wanted to do this” analysis:

At the heart of the conflict is a fundamentally different view of the role not just of federal courts but also of federal agencies. I have long been a critic of the rise of a type of fourth branch within our system. The Framers created a tripartite system based on three equal branches. The interrelation of the branches guarantees that no branch could govern alone and protects individual liberty by from the concentration of power in any one branch.

We now have a massive system of 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies with almost three million employees. Citizens today are ten times more likely to be the subject of an agency court ruling than a federal court ruling. The vast majority of “laws” in this country are actually regulations promulgated by agencies, which tend to be practically insulated and removed from most citizens.

** 14 **

The government is still doing a fancy dance around Obamacare. Separate from the fact that the administrative branch went all legislative and re-wrote the statute to suit the Democrats’ political purposes, the fact remains that the Exchange’s only measurable success is getting people onto the exchange. Everything else . . . well, not so good.

** 15 **

Hundreds of California taxpayers and professors are upset about the fact that San Francisco State University used taxpayer funds for terrorist outreach. I agree with their anger. I’m only sorry that we don’t live in a country that actually supports the rule of law. Since Hamas is a designated terrorist organization, in a law-abiding country, the federal government would have come down on SFSU and the errand faculty like a ton of federal bricks.

** 16 **

Back in the 1930s, the primary difference between Soviet Communism and German and Italian fascism was that the former nationalized businesses while the latter allowed them to exist (and profit), provided that they subordinated themselves to the government agenda. Jonah Goldberg, in talking about Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to subordinate American business to the federal government DemProg agenda, never mentions 1930s era fascism, but I couldn’t help noticing the structural similarities.

** 17 **

And while we’re speaking of that cozy relationship between business and DemProgs, here’s more on the federal government’s policy of privatizing corporate profits (if they make a profit overseas, they keep it) and socializing their losses (if they lose money, taxpayers suck up the loss).  You don’t need to look overseas, of course.  Obamacare is one big gift to the insurance industry.  That makes it something everyone can hate:  conservatives hate it because it brings health care under federal government control and socializes costs; Leftists hate it because these socialized costs are all funneled into the insurance company’s pockets.

** 18 **

There’s an old saying that, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. When it comes to the Obama White House and its efforts to hide all of its agents’ emails, mails, documents, texts, etc., there’s a new old saying:  Where there’s neither smoke nor fire, there’s a cover-up. The most recent one involves Shirley Sherrod.

** 19 **

Trey Gowdy continues to be IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s worst nightmare:

Gowdy must have been one hotshot trial lawyer.

** 20 **

Andrew Klavan takes a satirical look at one of the real security concerns flowing from the Obama-manufactured border (border? what border?) crisis:

** 21 **

Moral high ground

How Iron Dome works


Taking cover in a war zone

Carpenter Ants

Ask what you can do for your mother

Barack Obama : the president as spectator to the world’s democratic uprisings

Obama mouth taped shutFrom the time he hit the campaign trail in 2007, Barack Obama made it plain that he considered America to be too big for her britches when it comes to international matters.  Looking at imperfect nations, you could see him mentally scolding America — “Haven’t you done enough already?” — for bringing so much pain and suffering to the rest of the world.

In the years since his election, Obama has reacted strongly to only three international issues:  climate change, gay rights, and Libya.  The first two are pet issues of the Left.  As for Obama’s enthusiasm about invading Libya . . . well, that continues to mystify me.  Obama’s silence has been most pointed and damaging when it comes to naturally occurring democratic movements within a despotic state.

It’s one thing (usually a stupid thing) for America to waltz in and take out a tyrant; it’s another thing entirely when the nation’s own citizens are yearning to be free, and are willing to face their own government’s guns to gain that freedom.  Under those circumstances, every person who believes in individual liberty should speak up — especially the president of the nation that has long represented itself as the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Obama, however, will not speak.

When brave Iranians challenged the mullahs, Obama was silent.  The mullahs tightened their hold.

When the Muslim Brotherhood filled the power vacuum in Egypt, Obama was silent.  A year of repression ensued.

When brave Egyptians challenged the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama was silent.  The country is now once again under a military dictatorship.

When brave Syrians challenged the tyrannical Assad regime, Obama was silent.  Had he spoken up sooner, a violent, bloody civil war — violent and bloody even by civil war standards — might have been avoided.  When the civil war took a chemical turn, Obama spoke up, only to retreat quickly when called to make good on his words.

When brave Turks challenged Erdogan’s increasingly totalitarian, Islamist rule, Obama was silent.

Today, Obama continues this familiar pattern.  Ukrainian citizens, horrified at the realization that their government is trying once against to drag them back into the Soviet orbit (we know how well that went for them in the 1930s and beyond) are battling in the streets.  Obama is silent.

And in Venezuela, citizens worn down by the repression and poverty of Chavez’s and Maduro’s hard-core socialism are rising up in the streets.  Obama is silent.

Since WWII, people around the world knew that if they sought freedom and called upon America for help, America would help.  Sometimes the help was military, sometimes financial, and sometimes it was moral.

This aid wasn’t for America’s benefit — at least it wasn’t directly for America’s benefit.  To the extent that democracies tend to be the most peaceful form of governments, it was always to America’s benefit to encourage democratic governments around the world.  Nevertheless, America’s first motive was often altruistic.  Because we were the world’s most powerful free nation, we believed that we had a moral obligation to wield that power beneficently.  Sometimes America’s road to Hell has been paved with those good intentions, but our craven retreats from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all revealed that the post-American vacuum is often infinitely worse than the American occupation.

We’ve learned from our experiments in Iraq and, especially, in Afghanistan, that countries that have always had dictatorships, especially tribal and/or theocratic dictatorships, do not benefit from removing the existing dictator, because another one will always come along.  I therefore wouldn’t recommend interceding directly in a Muslim country ever again. Instead, we should be doing what Saudi Arabia did for Wahhabism:  establishing and funding institutions throughout the Muslim world that are dedicated to teaching the principles of freedom.  This generation may be lost, but perhaps we can save the next one and, along the way, save ourselves too.

Things are different, though, when the cry for freedom (or at least for less tyranny) originates within a country.  Had Obama immediately given moral support to internally grown democratic movements in Iran, Egypt, and Syria, he might have been able to turn the tide.  American moral support in Venezuela and Turkey would have fallen on especially fertile soil, because both are countries that have known some form of democracy.

Obama, however, considers that there is no such thing as beneficent American power.  To him, America’s strength is, by definition, malignant and destructive.  He truly believes that the Iranians are better off under the mullahs, the Egyptians under the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrians under Assad, the Turks under Erdogan, the Ukrainians under Putin, and the Venezuelans under Maduro.  Judging by his complicit silence, there is no tyranny worse than that of being behold to the United States.


A slight biased obituary for Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez, the former tank commander who turned the Venezuelan presidency into a lifetime post from which he could spew his anti-American, antisemitic venom, all the while sending Venezuelan’s oil supply to the world’s bad actors, died today after a long battle with cancer. It remains to be seen whether the Venezuelan people will end up saddled with someone even worse or whether his death will end the country’s unpleasant socialist interlude.

Chavez was born in 1954 in Sabaneta, Venezuela, the second of six sons. His father was a schoolteacher who was closely involved with Copei, the conservative Christian Democratic Party. Chavez’s mother was the more powerful figure in this poverty-stricken family, and she had a very fraught, unhappy relationship with her son. Eventually, Chavez and his older brother ended up living with their grandmother, who filled his head with stories about a distant ancestor who was the Robin Hood of the poor Barinas region in which Chavez grew up.

Another childhood inspiration for Chavez was Simon Bolivar, the 19th century patriot who helped liberate six Latin America countries, including Venezuela, from Spain. Indeed, when Chavez first became president, he changed Venezuela’s official name to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

As a child, Chavez was a gifted baseball player, and his youthful dream to play in America. In fact, he joined the Venezuelan military because an army recruiter told him it was a good pathway to Major League Baseball.

The military suited Chavez. In 1975, he graduated near the top of his class, entering a tank division. It was while he was in the army that the oil boom that had brought so much money to Venezuela went bust. Seizing upon the resulting civilian discontent, would-be revolutionaries infiltrated the Venezuelan military in the hopes of fomenting a Leftist military coup.

Chavez, despite his father’s conservative politics, had swung to the Left. By 1983, he was forming secret cell’s with like-minded military officers. These officers were dismayed when, in 1989, then-president Carlos Andres Perez enacted pro-market reforms. These reforms, however, were followed by a fuel price increase that caused wide-spread looting in Caracas. Within the army, many, including Chavez, believed that Venezuela could be saved only with strong, preferably military, leadership.

In 1989, Chavez exploded onto the national stage when he led army units in an attack on the Presidential palace. The attack failed, leading to Mr. Chavez’s first television appearance. He went on the air to persuade fellow rebels to surrender. His was a “no apologies” approach, as he confidently assured the viewing public that his coup had failed “for now.”

In the wake of the coup attempt, Chavez was sent to prison, but his sentence was commuted in 1994. Upon his release, Venezuelans craving a strong alternative to Venezuela’s famously corrupt government, flocked to him. Chavez, meanwhile, looked to Castro for guidance, while Castro looked to Chavez as a useful puppet to have on mainland Latin America.

When Chavez ran for president in 1998, he won by a landslide. One of his first acts was to call for a constitutional election so that he could run for a second term — and run he did, with a second election win.

Once in power, Chavez doubled down on class warfare and on efforts to expand government into every region of life in Venezuela. Middle-class Venezuelans were sufficiently worried that, by April 2002, they staged a massive demonstration against him. The army refused to shoot the rioters, forcing Chavez to resign. His resignation lasted a mere 48 hours before his supporters from the barrios staged a counter-demonstration that swept him right back into office.

Having resumed power, Chavez purged military ranks and went about breaking the back of his country’s other power center — oil. He succeeded in doing so, but at terrible cost. After he fired 19,000 oil company employees, Venezuela was never again able to return to its former peak oil production. Rising oil prices over the last few years, however, helped offset the decrease in production and kept money flowing into Chavez’s pockets. With this cash flow, Chavez was able to get returned to office two more times. He died during his fourth term in office.

On the national stage, Chavez became a thorn in the flesh of freedom-loving people at home and abroad. At home, he achieved a half-socialist, half-fascist rule, insofar as he nationalized some businesses, while leaving others in private hands but under government control. His policies resulted in devastating inflation and huge foreign debt. Eventually, the only profit center in the country was oil (and, as noted above, Chavez’s policies meant less production of this vital asset).

Chavez’s greatest achievement, and the one that saw him become so popular despite the damage he caused to the economy and civil liberties, was to enfranchise thousands of Venezuela’s poorest, while at the same providing them socialized education, health care, and welfare programs. Typically for such programs, while they looked good, and enticed voters, the net effect was negligible. Crime rose and individual wealth fell. The poor had slightly more education and health care, but much less money and more crime-ridden communities.

Chavez’s (not Venezuela’s, but Chavez’s) two greatest enemies were America and the Jews. He enjoyed hobnobbing on the world stage with some of the world’s worst actors (Libya’s Gadhafi, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Cuba’s Castro, and Syria’s Assad) in significant part because he felt it gave him a power base from which to challenge the United States’ influence over Latin America. He also tried to create a strong Leftist coalition within Latin America itself, by strengthening ties with Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. One U.S. diplomat called this Chavez’s “Axis of Annoyance.”

Venezuela’s Jews did not fare well during Chavez’s rule. His populist Leftism included fomenting tried-and-true class- and economic-based attacks against Jews.

Once Chavez realized that there was no medicine in Cuba or Brazil that would cure, or even slow, his cancer, he made it clear that he intended Nicolas Maduro to become his political heir. In the upcoming election, Maduro will almost certainly face off against opposition governor Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in last October’s president’s election, but did manage to hold on to his governor’s seat. It remains to be seen whether Chavez’s popularity will rub off on Madura, or if Capriles will be able to break this regime’s hold on the office.

(This post was first published at Mr. Conservative.)