Saturday, February 28, 2015

So BuzzFeed Got 41 Million Pageviews on 'What Colors Are This Dress?'

See, "What It’s Like to Work on BuzzFeed’s Tech Team During Record Traffic."

And from Ben Smith, "The Dress: I sent this email to the BuzzFeed editorial staff this afternoon."

More, at USA Today, "What colors are this dress?"

Strange, I must say. But that's the nature of things these days, with our cyber-culture of superficiality.

After Boris Nemtsov's Assassination, 'There Are No Longer Any Limits'

From Julia Ioffe, at the New York Times Magazine:

On Friday evening, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, went on a prominent Moscow radio station to exhort his fellow citizens to come out to protest President Vladimir Putin’s policies. There would be a rally on Sunday, a spring march, to demonstrate against the deepening economic crisis and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. The most prominent Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, had been put in jail for 15 days, which just happened to be long enough to keep him from attending the rally. Nemtsov, who was older and, by now, less influential, had handed out leaflets in the metro and encouraged people to come anyway.

After the radio show, on which Nemtsov warned that too much power in the hands of one man would “end in catastrophe,” he met Anna Duritskaya, his girlfriend of three years — and, as the police would later pointedly note, a citizen of Ukraine. They had dinner and then headed home, strolling across Red Square and past the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, adjacent to the Kremlin. Just before midnight, as they crossed the bridge toward the historic Moscow neighborhood where Nemtsov lived, a white car pulled up, and, according to investigators, someone inside fired seven or eight shots. Four of them hit Nemtsov in the head, heart, liver and stomach, killing him on the spot.

Duritskaya was unharmed and immediately taken in for questioning. Nemtsov, a big, broad man, was left on the pavement in the rain, his shirt yanked up to his chin.

On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.

How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”

Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere. At most, some sad sap, the supposed trigger-puller, will be hauled in front of a judge, the scapegoat for someone far more powerful. More likely, the case will founder for years amid promises that everyone is working hard, and no one will be brought to justice at all. This has been the pattern for other high-profile killings, like those of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky.

Already, the Kremlin is muddying the waters...
Keep reading.

Uncovered Erin Heatherton

Via Theo Spark.

The Death of Boris Nemtsov

From Miriam Elder, at BuzzFeed.

Karen Alloy

She's so beautiful.

On Instagram.

The Return of the German Question

From Giovanna Maria Dora Dore, at the American Interest (via Instapundit):
The geopolitical dilemmas that Europe struggled with for centuries have returned in geo-economic form, centered on the conflict between creditor and debtor countries locked in a single currency.


The euro crisis has undermined the “Europe of Maastricht status quo” that was shaped to a significant extent by Germany, including the concept of the ECB, the culture of fiscal stability, and the politics of EU enlargement. Germany now faces the challenges of overcoming the status quo to which it adjusted more successfully than any other country in the EU (thanks to the economic power it gained over the past half a century), and the growing political and economic weakness of its EU partners. The UK’s obsession about sovereignty and its ambivalent attitude about the EU has made Britain irrelevant to Germany. The Franco-German axis at the heart of European integration has become lopsided, with power shifting sharply towards Berlin. This has paved the way for Chancellor Merkel to set in place intergovernmental mechanisms for crisis management, and thus move executive decision-making from the 27 countries of the EU and the European Commission to the 18 countries of the Eurozone. These new cooperation mechanisms outside EU treaties demonstrate the failure of the “Europe of Maastricht”, and especially the impossibility of a European Germany.

The institutions and policies that previously almost perfectly matched Germany’s expectations for the EU now need to be redesigned. Germany is being forced to take on a leading role in shaping a new system and new policies, while at the same time trying to convince the rest of the Eurozone that its insistence on a more competitive EU is neither an expression of economic dogma nor a quest for political dominance, but rather the result of a sober analysis of the challenges of globalization to the EU. With 7 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of global economic output, and 50 percent of the world’s social expenditure, the EU needs to strengthen competitiveness if it is to ensure prosperity, address inequality, and maintain social cohesion.

There’s little doubt that the future of the EU hinges on Germany’s decision about its direction. Yet, it is not clear what Germany wants to do with Europe, and how other member states can use Germany’s economic and political weight to develop a global strategy for the EU. Germany remains reluctant to discard the Maastricht order completely, because it does not want to take on further responsibility for Europe. Nevertheless Germany faces a choice: it can either recommit to partnership with the rest of the EU and exercise benign economic hegemony within the Eurozone as the price for this commitment, or it can be a more normal EU member state that pursues its national interests in a narrower way, which will increasingly bring it into conflict with the EU’s other member states.

Germany has signaled that it will do whatever it takes to save the euro. Yet observers fear that Germany’s determination to save the euro could lead to a two-speed Europe. On the one hand, deepening the integration of economic policy among the 17 Eurozone countries could result in a split between them and the other ten member states, who could find access to the single currency much more difficult or even find themselves permanently excluded. On the other, German leadership could deepen the schism between the debtors and creditor countries, with a growing competitiveness gap between these two groups as a result of the “bail-in” and the continuing debt burden on the indebted countries.

Germany is too big to fail and the biggest country in Europe, but still not big enough to be the EU’s hegemon. At a time when Germans have lost their romantic attachment to the EU, the other 26 member states need to go through the same process of re-invention that Germany has embarked upon and design a new approach to Europe that can secure their national interests. Success in this task might give the EU the Germany it needs—and it might just give Germany the Europe it wants.
An interesting piece. RTWT.

Plus, on the original German question, see the outstanding William Keylor, The Twentieth-Century World and Beyond: An International History since 1900.

In Defense of the Notoriously Arrogant French Waiter

This will be a nice piece to enjoy with a cup of coffee, imagining you're in Paris.

At WSJ, "French Waiters: They’re infamous for being rude and condescending, but the garçon de café can be endlessly entertaining—and a great resource—if you know how to use them."

The Internet? Bah!


Get a kick out of this.

Flashback, from Clifford Stoll, at Newsweek, February 1995, "Why the Web Won't Be Nirvana":

After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Consider today's online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is tht the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later."

Won't the Internet be useful in governing? Internet addicts clamor for government reports. But when Andy Spano ran for county executive in Westchester County, N.Y., he put every press release and position paper onto a bulletin board. In that affluent county, with plenty of computer companies, how many voters logged in? Fewer than 30. Not a good omen.

Point and click:

Then there are those pushing computers into schools...
Keep reading.

Brooklyn Terror Suspect Left Trail of Online Rants at Websites 'Sympathetic' to Islamic State

This story's actually kind of bizarre.

I mean, seriously, these guys are idiots and nutjobs. Just freakin' nutjobs.

At NYT, "In Brooklyn, Eager to Join ISIS, if Only His Mother Would Return His Passport."

Speculation Grows About Speaker John Boehner's Future



At Politico, "Congress passes one-week DHS fix: The last-minute move comes after House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to John Boehner":
The House voted late Friday to stave off a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for another week, narrowly averting a funding lapse for the agency that has become the battleground over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by President Barack Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.

The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.

Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.

“There is a lot of speculation about this,” said a GOP lawmaker who is close with Boehner. “People are watching for this very, very closely.”

Twenty-five Republicans voted against Boehner for speaker on the floor in early January, signaling his continued problems with his conservative hardliners. And Boehner’s allies believe that the earlier DHS debacle on Friday, when 52 Republicans voted against the three-week plan, was in part aimed at toppling the speaker.

One issue for Boehner’s GOP opponents — beyond his continued popularity with the vast majority of House Republicans — is who would succeed him. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would seem like a natural choice, but he is close to Boehner and would never seek to replace him. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has strong ties to many members, yet that may not necessarily translate for support for speaker.

After those two men, there’s a large drop-off to the next tier of potential choices. That helps Boehner’s cause.

The drama over Boehner’s future came after a day of unexpected twists in the homeland security saga...

And lots more at Memeorandum.

Emily Miller Gets Her Concealed Carry Permit

She's a good lady.

At My FoxDC, "FOX 5's Emily Miller gets DC gun carry permit approved."

And buy Emily's book, Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boris Nemtsov Murdered in Moscow

At the Los Angeles Times, "Boris Nemtsov, leading Russian opposition leader, gunned down in Moscow":

Leading Russian opposition politician Boris Y. Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, was shot dead on a Moscow street near the Kremlin early Saturday, Russian officials and news agencies reported.

A fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Nemtsov had been preparing to join an opposition rally Sunday against the Kremlin leader’s backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has brought international sanctions against Russia and sent its economy into a tailspin.

"An unknown person shot and killed Boris Nemtsov on St. Basil’s slope by four shots from a handgun," the Tass news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying. "A team of operatives and investigators is working at spot of the crime."

The Russian Interior Ministry, which oversees police and security operations, later confirmed that Nemtsov had been gunned down in the shadow of St. Basil’s Cathedral on a sidewalk across the street from Red Square.

Television and YouTube video from the scene showed the lifeless body of the 55-year-old politician -- once considered a future Kremlin leader -- sprawled on a sidewalk along the busy thoroughfare in the heart of the Russian capital.

Putin expressed condolences to the family of the slain politician, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Putin noted that this was a cruel murder and bears all the signs of a contract killing which appears exclusively provocative,” Peskov told ITAR-TASS.

Nemtsov's close associate and opposition leader Ilya Yashin called the attack on his friend “a political murder.”

“Boris was the most outspoken critic of Putin and the most charismatic leader of the opposition, and his dead body found 100 yards from the Kremlin is a clear message to all the opposition activists and all people who do not support the Kremlin,” Yashin said in an interview with The Times. “This act of political terror is clearly aimed to stun and horrify the opposition to the Putin regime on the eve of the march we will now hold as a mourning march as originally planned on Sunday.”

President Obama condemned the slaying and offered condolences to Nemtsov’s family.

“Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled,” Obama said in a statement. “I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009.”

Nemtsov ran afoul of Putin's Kremlin administration years ago and had been active with the opposition coalition PARNAS.

A companion who witnessed Nemtsov’s killing was being questioned by police, the official Sputnik news agency reported.

Russia Today television, a pro-Kremlin mouthpiece, said on Twitter that the slaying “could be a provocation,” suggesting that the opposition was responsible for the killing to tarnish the Putin administration.

Pro-democracy allies and world leaders who knew the gregarious and energetic politician expressed horror over the killing that many were inclined to see as an assassination.

“Shock. Boris has been killed. It’s impossible to believe,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said via Twitter. “I’m certain the killers will be punished. Sooner or later.”

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and another outspoken opponent of Putin, linked Nemtsov’s killing with other violence attributed to the Kremlin and its enforcers.

“[Journalist Anya] Politkovskaya was gunned down. MH17 was shot out of the sky. Now Boris is dead. As always, Kremlin will blame opposition, or CIA, whatever,” Kasparov said via Twitter.

And at BuzzFeed, "Killing Hope In Putin’s Russia." And Memeorandum.

Rick Perry

He's at CPAC.

His speech isn't posted to the ACU YouTube page yet, so I'll update.

Hey Leftists, Stop Lying About Everything!

From Kurt Schlichter, at Town Hall, "Liberals, Stop Lying About Everything":
The last few weeks have raised a critical question for all Americans: Is the liberal elite unbelievably dumb or unbelievably cynical? Do our over-credentialed, under-educated, would-be betters actually believe the bullstuff they are shoveling, or do they really think that we normal Americans are so stupid that they can lie to our faces and we will just take it?

I’m guessing Door Number Two. Liberals know they are full of it; they just think the rest of us are as foolish as the welfare-guzzling mouth-breathers who vote for them.

It’s time for the lies to stop.

Liberals, stop lying about the weather. There is no climate change crisis. Whatever changes our climate is undergoing are part and parcel of the natural processes that have been going on since the Earth was formed. All the massaged, manhandled, and manufactured data in the world won’t change the simple fact that this is a naked grab for money and power by a liberal elite so concerned about carbon they choose to dump gazillions of pounds of it into the air jetting off to party with their denier denying pals.

Forty years ago we were going into an ice age, and the solution was to give more power and money to liberal elites. Ten years ago, we were a decade away from the Arctic ice cap melting and the polar bears being parboiled, and the solution was to give more power and money to liberal elites. I don’t even want to guess what the next lie is going to be about the perpetual crisis around the corner, but I know to an absolute certainty that the solution is going to be giving more power and money to liberal elites.

Liberals, stop lying about our war with radical Muslims. This bloodshed isn’t “random.” This isn’t about “violent extremism.” Mass enslavement, mutilation and murder isn’t “workplace violence,” and these semi-human freaks aren’t going to stop if someone hands them a mop, bucket and paycheck.

We are at war – war – with radical Islam, and we need to end the lies, the equivocation and dissembling and speak the truth. Our enemies think they are Muslims, and they think the Koran commands their actions. This isn’t about theology – whether their version of Islam is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation is utterly irrelevant. They think they’re pious Muslims even if we, as well as most of the world’s Muslims, disagree...

Senior Pentagon Official Warns that Washington Can't Take Technological Dominance for Granted

At Foreign Policy, "Top Intel Official: U.S. Facing ‘Unprecedented’ Array of Threats":
ST. PETE BEACH, Florida — U.S. special operations forces now face a widening array of “non-geopolitical threats” that challenge them in realms in which the United States once held undisputed sway, a senior Pentagon intelligence official said Wednesday.

As an example, Garry Reid, a top deputy to Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, cited the widespread availability of commercial satellite imagery. “Where once you could assume that only you had the bird’s-eye view of the target area, now just about anybody can have [it],” he said during an address to a gathering of current and former special operations personnel here.

Reid said the proliferation of “quite challenging” commercial encryption capabilities also threatens U.S. dominance in signals intelligence, the difficult act of cracking into phone, Internet, and other forms of telecommunications networks around the world. “It’s not as easy as it once was to exploit adversary communications,” he said.

And without saying so in as many words, Reid suggested that technological advances are making it increasingly difficult for the United States to place intelligence operatives undercover. “Global biometrics, identity management, and the ability to track people [using] your electronic signature around the world becomes a challenge for us,” he said.

In his remarks, Reid led the audience on a global tour of what he described as an “unprecedented” plethora of challenges facing the United States, from the rise of the Islamic State and other violent Islamist extremist groups to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and Russian aggression against Ukraine. The confluence of so many asymmetrical challenges will continue to place a high demand on U.S. intelligence and special operations forces well into the future, he said.The confluence of so many asymmetrical challenges will continue to place a high demand on U.S. intelligence and special operations forces well into the future, he said.

“We’re sitting on top of the most powerful military arsenal … ever assembled,” he said, but added that most “conventional forces and strategic forces are barely applicable to any of these problems. That is quite a vexing scenario.”

And this is interesting. I've been wondering about the current status of U.S. dominance of some of these areas, especially in light of Barry Posens' 2002 piece, "Command of the Commons."

Quinnipiac University Poll: Scott Walker Holds Early Lead in Iowa Republican Caucuses

This is great.

Indeed, the race is wide open, Jeb Bush.

At Quinnipiac, "Walker Has Strong Early Lead In Iowa GOP Caucus, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Conservative Base With Large Dose of Tea Party."

More from Ed Morrissey, at Hot Air, "Video: Is Jeb Bush inevitable?"

ADDED: From Ronald Brownstein, at National Journal, "In Early Polling, Walker Stands Apart" (via Memeorandum).

Sorry, Jeb, the Race Is Wide Open

From Peggy Noonan, at WSJ, "Democrats may be ready for Hillary, but nothing is inevitable for the GOP":
Thoughts on the 2016 presidential primaries:

No one expects anything from the Democrats. They will back, accept or acquiesce in a coronation. This will not be called passive but disciplined. But when you think about it—one of our two major parties, in a time of considerable national peril, will settle its presidential nomination without vigorous debate—it is weird and disturbing.

Republicans are the action, and will draw all the lightning. A read on where the base—huge, broad and varied, including but not limited to attendees of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference—is:

Republicans this year are not looking for Reagan. They’re looking for Churchill. They’re looking for the guy who knows the war is already here, not the guy who knows the war can be averted if we defeat the guys who would wage it. What is “the war”? Everything from scarily sluggish economic growth to long-term liabilities and deficits; from the melting away of the post-World-War-II order to the Mideast to domestic terrorism. Every four years there is frustration and argument; this year there is urgency.

What the Republican Party needs in a presidential candidate is not a centrist who can make the sale to conservatives in the primaries; it is a conservative who can win over centrists in the general election. That means the Republican nominee should be a man or woman who can redefine conservative thinking for current circumstances and produce policies that centrists and independents will find worthy of consideration.

Jeb Bush is said by some and treated by many as the front-runner, the one to beat. I don’t see it. In fact I think he’s making a poor impression.

It’s a commonplace to say nobody’s watching this early. But some people are, especially activists in the base and the mainstream media, which is picking up impressions that will harden into widespread clichés. What are they seeing?

Mr. Bush is spending much of his time in The Rooms—offices and conference rooms—with millionaires and billionaires. Money in politics is very important, and Mr. Bush makes a great impression on the denizens of The Rooms. He speaks their language. They like his experience, the fluency with which he speaks of domestic policy. Here his family name helps him; they know he is politically vetted, a successful former governor, is respectful of the imperatives of business, and is bottom-line sane.

It is going so well that Patrick O’Connor of the Journal reported this week the Bush team is asking fundraisers who want to join the campaign’s top tier to collect $500,000 by the end of March. But veteran bundlers expect it will cost more “to reach the inner circle . . . because deep-pocketed donors have been so eager to write big checks.”

All this reflects a deliberate allocating of the candidate’s time. The Bush campaign will vacuum up money now and be interesting and compelling later. They’re trying to force rivals out of the race by picking up their potential donors and leaving nothing but crumbs.

Mr. Bush’s operation is also, according to the New York Times, muscling party strategists and policy specialists to advise only him and no one else. Again a message is sent: Be with us now or we’ll remember later. It sounds tough and Clintonian. Actually it looks less like a sales pitch than a hostile takeover.

There’s something tentative and joyless in Mr. Bush’s public presentations. He isn’t mixing it up with voters or wading into the crowd. So far he is not good at the podium. His recent foreign-policy speech was both bland and jangly, and its one memorable statement—“I am my own man”—was the kind of thing a candidate shouldn’t have to say.

What is most missing so far is a fierce sense of engagement, a passionate desire to lead America out of the morass, a fiery—or Churchillian—certainty that he is the man for the moment. In its place we see a softer, wanner I’m smart, accomplished, know policy, and it’s my turn.

I am not sure Mr. Bush likes the base. If he doesn’t, it would explain some of his discomfort. I am wondering if he sees the base as a challenge, not a home, something he has to manage, not something he is of. He was perhaps referring to this in December when he said you have “to lose the primary to win the general.” Actually you have to win it, but to really succeed you have to show you share the base’s heart, that you understand its beginning points and align with it on essentials. When you disagree with it you address those issues among friends, and with confidence. You can’t cover up differences in a passive-aggressive way—at their feet when you really want to be at their throat.

A certain resistance to the idea of Mr. Bush is bubbling up among some journalists and intellectuals. In an arresting piece in the Atlantic, David Frum asked if he is the Republican Obama —essentially bicultural, interested in transforming a nation he finds lacking. “Both Jeb Bush and Barack Obama are men who have openly and publicly struggled with their ambivalence about their family inheritance. Both responded by leaving the place of their youth to create new identities for themselves: Barack Obama, as an organizer in the poor African-American neighborhoods of Chicago; Jeb Bush in Mexico, Venezuela, and at last in Cuban-influenced Miami. Both are men who have talked a great deal about the feeling of being ‘between two worlds,’ ” Mr. Obama in his books and Mr. Bush in his speeches. “Both chose wives who would more deeply connect them to their new chosen identity. Both derived from their new identity a sharp critique of their nation as it is. Both have built their campaign for president upon a deep commitment to fundamental transformation of their nation into what they believe it should be.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review writes of “considerable evidence that there’s a lot of Jeb-skepticism out there among conservatives.” Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard says Mr. Bush may be “cornering the market” on professional Republicans but asks: “What is the case for a Bush restoration, beyond the fact that it would make the professional GOP comfortable once again? Why should average Republican primary voters—the insurance salesmen and truck drivers, not pollsters and policy advisors—choose Jeb over Scott Walker, Chris Christie , Ted Cruz, or the dozen other potential nominees?”

These are respected voices read by many conservatives...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shop Amazon - St. Patrick's Day

For my Irish readers --- and those who love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Shop Amazon - St. Patrick's Day - Books, Party Supplies, Costumes & More.

'You know who you are'


I love this, at the Hill, "Boehner reminds members of dress code: 'You know who you are'":
Boehner said that adhering to the House chamber rules dignifies the environment.

"Following the basic standards of practice will foster an atmosphere of mutual and institutional respect and will ensure against personal confrontation amongst individual members, between members, and the presiding officer," Boehner said.

"It will enable accurate transcriptions of the proceedings and, in sum, will ensure the comity that elevates the spirited deliberations above mere arguments," Boehner concluded.

The Future of Charlie Hebdo in Doubt

I suppose this dénouement was inevitable.

At WSJ, "Rift Among Charlie Hebdo Staff on Future of Newspaper Enriched by Tragedy":
PARIS—Less than two weeks after the terror attack that devastated their newsroom, Charlie Hebdo’s surviving staff members gathered in a borrowed conference room to discuss an unexpected dilemma.

The satirical newspaper, once on the edge of bankruptcy, was selling millions of copies, and many on its staff were suddenly demanding that it become a cooperative to give everyone a say in how to use the resulting windfall.

“It’s completely out of the question,” responded Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, one of only two surviving shareholders in Charlie Hebdo and its new top editor. Moments later, according to people present, he stormed out of the meeting.

A rift has emerged inside Charlie Hebdo over how the leftist newspaper should handle its transformation from a financially troubled niche journal to a global brand enriched by tragedy.

After burying their colleagues and getting back to work, many on staff are pressing the publication’s owners to give up their shares and place the newspaper in the hands of all its employees. But those atop the newsroom—including Mr. Sourisseau, who received his 40% stake as a symbolic gesture when the shares were essentially worthless—have resisted, saying it is too early to make any changes.

“I don’t think a cooperative is the best way to run a newspaper,” said Gérard Biard, the No. 2 editor under Mr. Sourisseau, in an interview. “Money can make people crazy.”

A spokeswoman declined to make Mr. Sourisseau available, and he didn’t respond to requests for comment.

On Wednesday, after a pause to regroup, Charlie Hebdo will publish its second issue since brothers Chérif and Said Kouachi assaulted its offices on Jan. 7, killing eight staff members and four others in what the terrorists said was retaliation for the newspaper’s caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The attack turned Charlie Hebdo into one of the world’s best-known symbols of free expression, with the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan resonating globally. But it also brought to light long-simmering tensions inside and outside the weekly, where the biggest commercial successes have often come when it has been at its most controversial, particularly in its treatment of Muslims and Islam.

In the weeks since the attacks and Charlie Hebdo’s decision to print another caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, the newspaper has sold nearly eight million copies, more than 200 times the normal level, which will generate about €12 million ($13.6 million) after printing and distribution expenses, the distributor said. It has also attracted 250,000 new subscribers who each spent roughly €100 for a year, and it received around €4 million in donations, a lawyer for the newspaper said.

At the same time, Charlie Hebdo has faced sometimes violent protests across the Muslim world. Online, a counter movement dubbed “Je ne suis pas Charlie” (I am not Charlie) has also gained momentum. A former Charlie Hebdo staffer, Delfeil de Ton, blamed murdered editor Stéphane Charbonnier for provoking the assault, asking in an article published last month in French magazine l’Obs: “Why did you drag the whole team along in your escalation?”

Inside the newspaper, there is debate over how—or whether—Charlie Hebdo should assume the mantle that has been thrust upon it. It has already, with the help of the French newspaper Le Monde, released a smartphone app, and it will continue to offer a digital version with English translations. A complete redesign is planned for the fall.

Some inside the newsroom say Charlie Hebdo must reject its new symbolic role. Others say they must embrace it. “We must become a global newspaper of freedom,” said Patrick Pelloux, a veteran Charlie Hebdo columnist. “It’s an enormous responsibility.”

Amid the debates, there appears to be broad internal agreement that Charlie Hebdo must not let its newfound wealth and readers change its editorial tone...

Chicago Mayoral Runoff


At the Chicago Sun-Times, "Analysis: Runoff election is 'still Rahm's to lose' — and still a huge embarrassment."

Ontario Sex Ed Curriculum

Video hat tip: The Other McCain, "You Had Me at ‘Pansexual’."

Plus, at the National Post, "Ontario’s new sex ed covers homosexuality, masturbation — and consent. Not everyone’s saying ‘yes’," and "Read Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum for yourself."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature'

Here's Robert Stacy McCain's new book:
Radical feminism has declared war on human nature. Feminists assert that everything most people think of as normal and natural about sex -- including basic ideas about what it means to be male and female -- is oppressive to women. Award-winning journalist Robert Stacy McCain examines these theories and warns that feminism's radical ideas about "equality" could destroy our civilization.
This is cool. Buy the book.

3 Jihad Wannabes Arrested in Plot to Join Islamic State, Kill Obama

The FBI can't stop every one of these homegrown terror plots. One of these days the jihad wannabes are going to get lucky and pull off a major attack.

At iOTW Report, "3 NYC men arrested after plotting to join ISIS, kill Obama."

And at Blazing Cat Fur, "Two Uzbeks and a Kazakhistani walk into a bar."

More at the Los Angeles Times, "3 planned to kill in U.S. if unable to join Islamic State, FBI says."

And at CNN, "FBI: Three men attempted to join ISIS."

ADDED: From the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Three Brooklyn Residents Charged with Attempt and Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL." (Via Memeorandum.)

The Science Is Settled: Yes, Leftists Are Less Patriotic


From Rich Lowry, at National Review (with the headline above snagged from Instapundit), "Yes, Liberals Are Less Patriotic."

Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, Suspect in Oxnard Metrolink Crash, Previously Convicted of DUI

At LAT, "Pickup driver in Metrolink crash was previously convicted of DUI, traffic violations."

Plus, "Story So Far: Metrolink derailment."

Bwahaha! Lunatic Left-Wing Attacks Boost Bill O'Reilly's Ratings on Fox

OMG this is hilarious!

The idiotic attacks from far-LWNJ David Corn are backfiring, big time. The O'Reilly Factor's not only getting a healthy ratings boost off the attacks, but turns out the loons at Mother Jones are getting played like a bunch of losers.

Don't stop, leftists! Don't stop lol!

At WaPo, "Crisis management, Fox News style: Bill O’Reilly goes for the jugular":
Bill O’Reilly and Fox News seem to have decided that the best defense is a good offense. A lot of offense.

Faced with accusations that he exaggerated some of his reporting exploits over the years, the combative cable news star has gone into full battle mode, employing the public relations equivalent of the nuclear option.

Since Mother Jones magazine published its story about O’Reilly’s claims last Thursday, O’Reilly has done far more than deny the allegations. He has called the story “slander” and labeled its principal author, David Corn, “a liar” and “a guttersnipe.” In one of the numerous interviews he has done with reporters, O’Reilly suggested that Corn should be put in “the kill zone” for his story.

He’s also been pushing around the reporters reporting the fallout. O’Reilly began an interview with this newspaper last week by saying, “I’m recording this, so you’d better report this accurately.” On Monday, he made his intent explicit, warning a New York Times reporter that if the coverage was inaccurate or inappropriate, “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”

This may not be the best way to make a crisis go away. And indeed, O’Reilly may not want it to.

O’Reilly’s aggressive statements have kept the Mother Jones story in the news for several days, which may have fueled a mini-bump in his ratings. The O’Reilly-hosted “O’Reilly Factor” attracted 3.33 million viewers on Monday night after several days of headlines, a 10 percent increase over his average for the month...

Plus, at the New York Times, "Why O’Reilly Isn’t Going the Way of Williams."

President Franklin Delano Obama Addresses the Threat of 1930s Violent Extremism

From VDH, at Pajamas:
Imagine Obama as an American president in 1939.

“The United States has made significant gains in our struggle against violent extremism in Europe. We are watching carefully aggressions in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and in Eastern Europe. My diplomatic team has made it very clear that aggression against neighbors is inappropriate and unacceptable. We live in the 20th century, where the 19th century practice of changing borders by the use of force has no place in the present era.

“Let me be perfectly clear: Mr. Hitler is playing to a domestic audience. He adopts a sort of macho shtick, as a cut-up in the back of the class who appeals to disaffected countrymen. Our task is to demonstrate to Mr. Hitler that his current behavior is not really in his own interest, and brings neither security nor profit to Germany.

“As for acts of violence in Germany itself, we must express our worry to the German government over apparent extremism, but at the same time we must not overreact. As far as these sporadic attacks on random civilians, as, for example, during the recent Kristallnacht violence, we must keep things in perspective, when, for example, some terrorists randomly targeted some folks in a store. My job is sort of like a big-city mayor, to monitor these terrorist acts that are said to be done in the name of the German people. Let us not overreact and begin to listen to radio commentators who whip us up into a frenzy as if we were on the verge of war. We must not overestimate the SS, a sort of jayvee organization that remains a manageable problem.

“Here let me just say that we must never fall into the trap of blaming the German people abroad, but especially our German community here at home. National Socialism by no means has anything to do with socialism. These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy, and all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like the SS somehow represent socialism because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorist narrative. It is true that America and Germany have a complicated history, but there is no clash of civilizations. The notion that the America would be at war with Germany is an ugly lie.

“So make no mistake about it: National Socialism has nothing to do with Germany or the German people but is rather a violent extremist organization that has perverted the culture of Germany..."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fox News Mounts Aggressive Defense Against Unhinged Leftist Attacks on Bill O'Reilly


At the New York Times, "Bill O'Reilly and Fox News Redouble Defense of His Falklands Reporting":
The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday stepped up his defense against reports that he embellished stories about his war reporting earlier in his career, while some former colleagues continued to say he had exaggerated his experiences.

Mr. O’Reilly is contesting an article in the magazine Mother Jones and subsequent interviews with former journalists at CBS News that accuse him of misrepresenting his coverage of the Falklands war in 1982 as a young correspondent for CBS News.

The central dispute is whether Mr. O’Reilly reported from active war zones, as he has repeatedly said on the air and in his 2001 book, “The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America.”

Mr. O’Reilly has said that he had never claimed he reported from the Falkland Islands, where the fighting occurred. “I said I covered the Falklands war, which I did,” he said last Friday. He went on to describe his coverage of protests in the aftermath of the war on the streets of Buenos Aires, some 1,200 miles from the Falklands.

On Monday’s show, Mr. O’Reilly played CBS News footage from 1982 that showed the violent protests and quoted other correspondents describing the scene. He also included an interview with Don Browne, a former NBC News bureau chief who oversaw coverage of Latin America, who said there were tanks on the streets of the Argentine capital. “It was a real country at war,” Mr. Browne said. “It was a very intense situation where people got hurt.”

Mr. O’Reilly’s efforts to refute the claims by Mother Jones and some former CBS News colleagues occurred both on the air and off on Monday. During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter’s coverage was inappropriate. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”

David Corn, one of the reporters on the Mother Jones piece, said that the issue was not whether Mr. O’Reilly had reported on a violent protest, but whether Mr. O’Reilly had reported from a war zone...

And see especially Jonathan Tobin, who lampoons the left's attacks as a "non-scandal," at Commentary, "Forget O’Reilly, Fox Is Still the Real Target":
When you host the most-watched cable news show and do it on the Fox News Channel, you’ve got to expect your share of brickbats from the left. So it was not terribly surprising that in the wake of the Brian Williams scandal, some on the left would seek to take down someone on the right, especially one of the stars of the dominant cable news channel that liberals love to hate. But as much as the commentary about this non-scandal that is being hyped as one has understandably revolved around Bill O’Reilly and his incendiary personality, it has little to do with him and everything to do with the antagonism that the left feels toward his network.

Despite the attention being lavished on this story by Fox rival CNN, there’s not all that much here to unwrap. The story published by Mother Jones magazine has an inflammatory headline comparing O’Reilly to Brian Williams, but even if you take the piece at face value — which is unjustified by its clear bias and use of innuendo — the comparison is pure hyperbole. There’s no dispute about O’Reilly being on the scene in Buenos Aires as riots convulsed Argentina as the Falklands War came to a disastrous end for that country. Nor is there [...] real dispute that those riots were violent and that people were shot there. The only possible point on which O’Reilly can be called out is whether reporting from Argentina can be termed “war reporting” or “combat” since he was not in the Falklands but rather on the Argentina home front.

It is, at best, a semantic point....

As we have come to see, Fox isn’t just the most-watched cable news outlet. It is the scapegoat for all of the anger harbored by both liberal journalists and politicians toward those who question their policies. It is no accident that both President Obama and Attorney General Holder regularly use Fox as a punch line in their speeches to tame liberal audiences. It is not so much an antagonist as it often pursues negative story lines about the administration that mainstream liberals ignore as it is a metaphor for the Democrats’ inability to silence dissent against their beloved president or his policies.

Fox’s conservative bias is no secret, though it is far more balanced at times than the openly and almost uniformly left-wing voices heard on MSNBC and often fairer than the supposedly down-the-middle CNN. The channel’s popularity is a function of the fact that almost half the country feels disenfranchised by mainstream outlets that cover up their liberal tilt with a veneer of faux objectivity.

This motive wouldn’t protect O’Reilly if he was actually caught in a Williams-style lie. But he wasn’t, so the intense focus on him on CNN tells us more about liberal resentment than it does about his supposedly fast-and-loose style.

Perhaps O’Reilly would be better off just ignoring the attacks as pinpricks from a jealous rival. But it’s hard to blame him for defending his reputation, especially when characters like Engberg are concerned. But though his furious response may have given this story some extra life, all it really has done is give us another opportunity to ponder the left’s pointless Fox obsession.
And yet still more, at Mediaite, "Ex-NBC Bureau Chief Backs Up O’Reilly’s Account of Falklands War Riot."

Path Clears for Net Neutrality Ahead of F.C.C. Vote


At NYT, "As Republicans Concede, F.C.C. Is Expected to Enforce Net Neutrality":
WASHINGTON — Last April, a dozen New York-based Internet companies gathered in the Flatiron District boardroom of the social media website Tumblr to hear dire warnings that broadband providers were about to get the right to charge for the fastest speeds on the web.

The implication: If they didn’t pay up, they would be stuck in the slow lane.

What followed has been the longest, most sustained campaign of Internet activism in history, one that the little guys appear to have won. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote to regulate the Internet as a public good. On Tuesday, Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, all but surrendered on efforts to overturn the coming ruling, conceding Democrats are lining up with President Obama in favor of the F.C.C.

“We’re not going to get a signed bill that doesn’t have Democrats’ support,” he said, explaining that Democrats have insisted on waiting until after Thursday’s F.C.C. vote before even beginning to talk.

“I told Democrats, Yes, you can wait until the 26th, but you’re going to lose the critical mass I think that’s necessary to come up with a legislative alternative once the F.C.C. acts,” he said.

In the battle over so-called net neutrality, a swarm of small players, from Tumblr to Etsy, BoingBoing to Reddit, has overwhelmed the giants of the tech world, Comcast, Verizon and TimeWarner Cable, with a new brand of corporate activism — New World versus Old. The biggest players on the Internet, Amazon and Google, have stayed in the background, while smaller players — some household names like Twitter and Netflix, others far more obscure, like and Urban Dictionary — have mobilized a grass-roots crusade.

“We don’t have an army of lobbyists to deploy. We don’t have financial resources to throw around,” said Liba Rubenstein, Tumblr’s director of social impact and public policy. “What we do have is access to an incredibly engaged, incredibly passionate user base, and we can give folks the tools to respond.”

In mid-October, the technology activist group Fight for the Future acquired the direct phone numbers of about 30 F.C.C. officials, circumventing the F.C.C.’s switchboard to send calls directly to policy makers at the agency. That set off a torrent of more than 55,000 phone calls until the group turned off the spigot Dec. 3.

In November, President Obama cited “almost four million public comments” when he publicly pressured the F.C.C. to turn away from its paid “fast lane” proposal and embrace a new regulatory framework.

Since then, the lobbying has only grown more intense. Last week, 102 small Internet companies, including Yelp, Kickstarter and Meetup, wrote the F.C.C. to say the threat of Internet service providers “abusing their gatekeeper power to impose tolls and discriminate against competitive companies is the real threat to our future,” not “heavy-handed regulation” and possible taxation, as conservatives in Washington say.

On Feb. 5, the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the popular Firefox web browser, posted a pro-net neutrality banner just below its search window, proclaiming, “In just a few days, the web could change forever,” and imploring users to sign the firm’s petition; close to 300,000 have signed, said Dave Steer, Mozilla’s director for advocacy, who has helped mobilize Silicon Valley for Net Neutrality.

“This is not East Coast-West Coast thing. It’s not a for-profit company versus nonprofit thing. It’s all of us,” he proclaimed. “We came together under the banner of Team Internet.”

Republicans who had branded net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet” have grown much quieter under the barrage.

“Tech companies would be better served to work with Congress on clear rules for the road. The thing that they’re buying into right now is a lot of legal uncertainty,” said Senator Thune, who warned that the F.C.C.’s new rule would face litigation from opponents and a possible reversal from a future, more Republican F.C.C. “I’m not sure exactly what their thinking is.”

Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism

Here's the link to Stanley Kurtz's opus, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.
President Barack Obama surprised many voters during a pre-election interview when he approvingly noted that Ronald Reagan had “changed the trajectory of America” in a way that other presidents had not. In effect, Obama was saying that he, too, aimed to transform America in some fundamental way. Yet while Americans in 1982 may have been divided over Reagan’s politics, at least they knew what he stood for. Do we really understand Obama’s vision for our country?

In his controversial new book, veteran journalist Stanley Kurtz culls together two years of investigations from archives and never-before-tapped sources to present an exhaustively-researched exposé of President Obama’s biggest secret—the socialist convictions and tactical ruthlessness he has long swept under the rug.

A personable figure, a thoughtful politician, and an inspiring orator, Obama has hidden his core political beliefs from the American people—sometimes by directly misrepresenting his past and sometimes by omitting or parceling out damaging information to disguise its real importance. The president presents himself as a post-ideological pragmatist, yet his current policies grow directly from the nexus of socialist associates and theories that has shaped him throughout his adult life.

Kurtz makes an in-depth exploration of the president’s connections to radical groups such as ACORN, UNO of Chicago, the Midwest Academy, and the Socialist Scholars Conferences. He explains what modern “stealth” socialism is, how it has changed, and how it continues to influence the Democratic Party. He sheds light on what the New York Times called a “lost chapter” of the president’s life—his years at Columbia—and proves that Obama’s youthful infatuation with socialism was not just a phase. Those ideas have shaped his political views and set the groundwork for the long-term strategy of his administration.

It could be argued that Obama’s past no longer matters, but, in a sense, it matters more than the present. Obama has adopted the gradualist socialist strategy of his mentors, seeking to combine comprehensive government regulation of private businesses with a steadily enlarging public sector. Eventually, in his hands, capitalist America could resemble a socialist-inspired Scandinavian welfare state.

The gap between inner conviction and public relations in Obama’s case is vastly wider than for most American politicians. If Americans understood in 2008 the facts Kurtz reveals in this shocking political biography, Obama would not be president today. The fears of his harshest critics are justified: our Commander-in- Chief is a Radical-in-Chief.

Monday, February 23, 2015


The Laura Poitras documentary on Edward Snowden debuts tonight on HBO.

And I gotta say, it was pretty interesting seeing Glenn Greenwald on stage last night with an Oscar.

At LAT, "Oscars 2015: 'Citizenfour' wins for documentary feature." And at the New Yorker, "Why “Citizenfour” Deserved Its Oscar" (via Memeorandum).

And FWIW, at Reddit, "We are Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald from the Oscar-winning documentary CITIZENFOUR. AUAA."

No need to rehash my disagreements with Greenwald. Longtime readers know how I feel. I would remind folks of Louise Mensch's destruction of these hypocritical traitors from last year, "David Miranda – Snowden’s Mule, and physical data."

NPH wasn't joking last night when he joked about Snowden's "treason."

Obama’s Multipronged Assault on Truth and Reality

From Peter Wehner, at Commentary:
President Obama is fond of invoking the term “narrative,” so it’s worth considering several instances in which he invokes exactly the wrong narrative–the wrong frame–around events.

The most obvious is the president’s repeated insistence that militant Islam is utterly disconnected from the Islamic faith. As this much-discussed essay in the Atlantic points out:
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
The author, Graeme Wood, adds this:
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
President Obama continues to insist the opposite, pretending that what is true is false, and even suggesting those who are speaking the truth are actually endangering the lives of innocent people. This makes Mr. Obama’s comments offensive as well as ignorant.

But that hardly exhausts the examples of false narratives employed by the president...
Keep reading.

This story, amazingly, just won't go away. It's damaging the White House. And it's going to hurt the Democrats in the presidential election.

Rudy Giuliani: My Bluntness Overshadowed My Message

Well, thank you for your bluntness, Mr. Mayor.

At WSJ, "Whether you agreed with me or not, I hope this can be the basis of a real conversation about national leadership":
There has been no shortage of news coverage—and criticism—regarding comments I made about President Obama at a political gathering last week in New York. My blunt language suggesting that the president doesn’t love America notwithstanding, I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart. My intended focus really was the effect his words and his actions have on the morale of the country, and how that effect may damage his performance. Let me explain.

The role of an American president is unique. It is not simply that he or she is vested with the executive power of just any national government. Rather, the president heads the government of the one country with an unequaled record of promoting and protecting human freedom—and the only country in the world that is in a position to continue doing so if properly led.

Our leaders’ best efforts have combined intelligence, compassion, strength and perhaps most notably a strong sense of optimism. Leading this country well means being able to capture the unlimited possibilities before us. Those possibilities exist because we have political and economic freedom that unleashes the potential in each of us. American values, worn with pride, give our nation a unique moral authority that can help achieve foreign-policy and security goals while fostering the consensus necessary to address thorny domestic issues.

Irrespective of what a president may think or feel, his inability or disinclination to emphasize what is right with America can hamstring our success as a nation. This is particularly true when a president is seen, as President Obama is, as criticizing his country more than other presidents have done, regardless of their political affiliation. Furthermore, this president sometimes seems to have a difficult time in expressing adequate support for important allies, particularly Israel, Ukraine and Jordan. We can all agree that the Islamic State militants and other radical Islamists—including the regime in Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world—threaten our safety and security. Any reluctance to hold up America and its ideals in contrast to the nation’s enemies weakens our message. Any reluctance to define accurately the beliefs of our enemies helps them camouflage themselves and confuses our military and intelligence efforts.

Presidents John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all possessed the ability to walk a fine line by placing any constructive criticisms regarding the ways the country might improve in the context of their unbending belief in American exceptionalism. Those presidents acknowledged America’s flaws, but always led with a fundamental belief in the country’s greatness and the example we set for the world. When President Reagan called America a shining city upon a hill, it burnished our image, rallied our allies and helped ultimately to defeat the Soviet empire.

Obviously, I cannot read President Obama’s mind or heart, and to the extent that my words suggested otherwise, it was not my intention. When asked last week whether I thought the president was a patriot, I said I did, and would repeat that. I bear him no ill will, and in fact think that his personal journey is inspiring and a testament to much of what makes this country great.

I hope and pray that President Obama can rise to the occasion and underscore America’s greatness as our history and values merit. If he does so, I will be the first to applaud him. But I can only be disheartened when I hear him claim, as he did last August, that our response to 9/11 betrayed the ideals of this country. When he interjected that “we tortured some folks,” he undermined those who managed successfully to protect us from further attack.

And to say, as the president has, that American exceptionalism is no more exceptional than the exceptionalism of any other country in the world, does not suggest a becoming and endearing modesty, but rather a stark lack of moral clarity...
Still more.

Retired White Plains Police Officer Kills Two Teenage Daughters Before Taking His Own Life

Two beautiful daughters snuffed out. God, what a waste of precious life.

Video from CBS News New York, and also at Memeorandum.

Kayla Mueller's Parents Say U.S. Ransom Policy Came First

We don't pay ransom for hostages, simple as that.

And it's kinda sad.

The U.S. did attempt a rescue mission, however. So that should count for quite a bit, you'd think.

And I don't care if Ms. Mueller was a brainwashed anti-Israel leftist. She's certainly not the only one to die at the hands of Islamic State. I would't wish this upon anyone.

Still, her parents are wrong to fault the U.S. government's refusal to pay ransom. Sure, it's their own child. But in the long run, it's better not to reward terror.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shop Amazon - Save on Oscar Nominees and Winners

Well, now that the Oscars are over --- in case you've got a hankering to check out some of the films.

At Amazon:

Meanwhile, at LAT, "'Birdman' takes top film, directing honors."

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Obama Selfie photo Selfie-Video-600-LI1-594x425_zpssfpvuupo.jpg

Also at Randy's Roundtable, "Friday Nite Funnies," and Reaganite Republican, "Reaganite's SUNDAY FUNNIES."

Still more at Lonely Con, "Saturday Funnies," and Theo Spark, "Cartoon Roundup..."

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – Act Stupidly."

How Can You Not Love Rudy Giuliani?

Ezra Levant doing his new gig for Rebel Media:

Obama Loves America — Just Not the One We Live In

From Kyle Smith, at the New York Post:
Rudy Giuliani thinks President Obama doesn’t love America. That’s not true. Obama surely loves America, though not the actual existing country. He is head-over-heels gaga for a fictional America, a notional America, an enlightened America, America with an asterisk.

This is a great country, potentially, if it ever grows up and learns a few things.

Whenever Obama praises America, especially in foreign lands, he is careful to append caveats that make it clear America should, as he once said in another context, get off its high horse. He doesn’t apologize, exactly, but he makes it clear that his overall image of America is of a morally shrunken, chastened land whose sins render it unfit to exert much authority in the world.

“There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,” Obama said in France.

We need “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” he said in Egypt, suggesting the US had not previously respected Muslims much, adding that “fear and anger” has “led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.”

In Prague, he said America has “a moral responsibility to act” on arms control because only the US had “used a nuclear weapon,” as though winning a war that Japan started was shameful.

Obama’s famous view of American exceptionalism — “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism” — is curiously qualified: When you ask a mom whether she thinks her baby is cute, you expect to hear, “Of course!” not a reflection on the nature of subjectivity.

Sometimes, though, the automatic response, going with your gut, is the correct one: America really is exceptional. The data prove it. We routinely stand as an outlier in surveys of international attitudes, because we have unique features, and those features make us better than other countries. Somebody has to be the best country on Earth. It happens to be us.

Except it didn’t just happen. We are the oldest democracy, and the succeeding ones — our many imitators around the globe — were far more suspicious of freedom, individual rights and tipping too much of the balance of power to the people rather than an elite class.

America: Heck, yeah...
Keep reading.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: Islamic State Would Kill 'Every Christian and Jew and Vegetarian In Their Way...'

At ABC News, "ISIS Would Kill ‘Every Christian and Jew and Vegetarian In Their Way,’ Says Lindsey Graham."

Also at Memeorandum.

Jeff Gordon Races His Last Daytona 500

At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Jeff Gordon’s final Daytona 500: ‘You want to win this race’."

And at the Charlotte Observer, "Jeff Gordon's last ride starts from Daytona 500 pole."

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson: Watch Your Back When Visiting Mall of America

You've got to be "particularly careful," you know, with all those non-Muslim violent extremists looking to randomly murder people they can't relate to, or something.


Also, at Atlas Shrugs, "VIDEO: Islamic Group calls for jihad attacks on malls in new video, DHS Secretary says malls in America not safe."

Leftist Racial Bias Against Asian-Americans in College Admissions

At LAT, "For Asian Americans, a changing landscape on college admissions":
In a windowless classroom at an Arcadia tutoring center, parents crammed into child-sized desks and dug through their pockets and purses for pens as Ann Lee launches a PowerPoint presentation.

Her primer on college admissions begins with the basics: application deadlines, the relative virtues of the SAT versus the ACT and how many Advanced Placement tests to take.

Then she eases into a potentially incendiary topic — one that many counselors like her have learned they cannot avoid.

“Let's talk about Asians,” she says.

Lee's next slide shows three columns of numbers from a Princeton University study that tried to measure how race and ethnicity affect admissions by using SAT scores as a benchmark. It uses the term “bonus” to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant's race is worth. She points to the first column.

African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says.

She points to the second column.

“Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.”

The last column draws gasps.

Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points — in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission.

“Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college? The answer is yes,” Lee says.

“Zenme keyi,” one mother hisses in Chinese. How can this be possible?

College admission season ignites deep anxieties for Asian American families, who spend more than any other demographic on education. At elite universities across the U.S., Asian Americans form a larger share of the student body than they do of the population as a whole. And increasingly they have turned against affirmative action policies that could alter those ratios, and accuse admissions committees of discriminating against Asian American applicants.

That perspective has pitted them against advocates for diversity: More college berths for Asian American students mean fewer for black and Latino students, who are statistically underrepresented at top universities.

But in the San Gabriel Valley's hyper-competitive ethnic Asian communities, arguments for diversity can sometimes fall on deaf ears. For immigrant parents raised in Asia's all-or-nothing test cultures, a good education is not just a measure of success — it's a matter of survival. They see academic achievement as a moral virtue, and families organize their lives around their child's education, moving to the best school districts and paying for tutoring and tennis lessons. An acceptance letter from a prestigious college is often the only acceptable return on an investment that stretches over decades.

Lee is the co-founder of HS2 Academy, a college prep business that assumes that racial bias is a fact of college admissions and counsels students accordingly. At 10 centers across the state, the academy's counselors teach countermeasures to Asian American applicants. The goal, Lee says, is to help prospective college students avoid coming off like another “cookie-cutter Asian.”

“Everyone is in orchestra and plays piano,” Lee says. “Everyone plays tennis. Everyone wants to be a doctor, and write about immigrating to America. You can't get in with these cliche applications.”

Like a lot of students at Arcadia High School, Yue Liang plans to apply to University of California campuses and major in engineering — or if her mother wins that argument, pre-med. She excels at math, takes multiple AP courses and volunteers, as does nearly everyone she knows.

Being of Asian descent, the junior says, is “a disadvantage.” The problem, she says, is in the numbers.

Asian families flock to the San Gabriel Valley's school districts because they have some of the highest Academic Performance Index scores in the state. But with hundreds of top-performing students at each high school, focusing on a small set of elite institutions, it's easy to get lost in the crowd.

Of the school's 4,000 students, nearly 3,000 are of Asian descent, and like Yue are willing to do whatever it takes to gain entrance to a prestigious university. They will study until they can't remember how to have fun and stuff their schedules with extracurriculars. But there's an important part of their college applications that they can't improve as easily as an SAT score: their ethnicity.

In the San Gabriel Valley, where aspirationally named tutoring centers such as Little Harvard and Ivy League cluster within walking distance of high schools, many of them priced more cheaply than a baby-sitter, it didn't take long for some centers to respond to students' and parents' fears of being edged out of a top school because of some intangible missing quality.

Helping Asian American students, many of whom lead similar lives, requires the embrace of some stereotypes, says Crystal Zell, HS2's assistant director of counseling. They are good at math and bad at writing and aspire to be doctors, engineers or bankers, according to the cliches. She works with her students to identify what's unique about them — and most of the time, that's not their career ambitions or their ethnicity.

“Everyone comes in wanting the same thing,” Zell said. “But that's because they don't know about anything else.”

This is kinda depressing, and doubly so in that the discrimination is so widespread. And remember, this is left-wing collectivist discrimination through radical left-wing affirmative action social engineering. That is, left-wing Democrat Party racism.

Disgusting. Sickening. But completely representative of the American left's monstrous rape of basic decency.

RELATED: At the Wall Street Journal, "Is Admissions Bar Higher for Asians at Elite Schools? School Standards Are Probed Even as Enrollment Increases; A Bias Claim at Princeton":
Princeton, where Asian-Americans constitute about 13% of the student body, faces such a challenge. A spokesman for the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights said it is investigating a complaint filed by Jian Li, now a 17-year-old freshman at Yale University. Despite racking up the maximum 2400 score on the SAT and 2390 -- 10 points below the ceiling -- on SAT2 subject tests in physics, chemistry and calculus, Mr. Li was spurned by three Ivy League universities, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Office for Civil Rights initially rejected Mr. Li's complaint due to "insufficient" evidence. Mr. Li appealed, citing a white high-school classmate admitted to Princeton despite lower test scores and grades. The office notified him late last month that it would look into the case.

His complaint seeks to suspend federal financial assistance to Princeton until the university "discontinues discrimination against Asian-Americans in all forms by eliminating race preferences, legacy preferences, and athlete preferences." Legacy preference is the edge most elite colleges, including Princeton, give to alumni children. The Office for Civil Rights has the power to terminate such financial aid but usually works with colleges to resolve cases rather than taking enforcement action.

Mr. Li, who emigrated to the U.S. from China as a 4-year-old and graduated from a public high school in Livingston, N.J., said he hopes his action will set a precedent for other Asian-American students. He wants to "send a message to the admissions committee to be more cognizant of possible bias, and that the way they're conducting admissions is not really equitable," he said.

Princeton spokeswoman Cass Cliatt said the university is aware of the complaint and will provide the Office for Civil Rights with information it has requested. Princeton has said in the past that it considers applicants as individuals and doesn't discriminate against Asian-Americans.

When elite colleges began practicing affirmative action in the late 1960s and 1970s, they gave an admissions boost to Asian-American applicants as well as blacks and Hispanics. As the percentage of Asian-Americans in elite schools quickly overtook their slice of the U.S. population, many colleges stopped giving them preference -- and in some cases may have leaned the other way.

In 1990, a federal investigation concluded that Harvard University admitted Asian-American applicants at a lower rate than white students despite the Asians' slightly stronger test scores and grades. Federal investigators also found that Harvard admissions staff had stereotyped Asian-American candidates as quiet, shy and oriented toward math and science. The government didn't bring charges because it concluded it was Harvard's preferences for athletes and alumni children -- few of whom were Asian -- that accounted for the admissions gap.

The University of California came under similar scrutiny at about the same time...

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Says Obama's Extremism Summit a 'Mess'

Yeah, well, Mr. Ambassador, join the club.

At Foreign policy, "Russia's U.N. Ambassador Says Obama's Extremism Summit a 'Mess'":
Despite bitter differences over the fate of Syria and Ukraine, the United States and Russia still agree on one thing: the need to confront violent Islamic extremists from North Africa to the Middle East. But forging a coordinated strategy for combating the scourge has been complicated by the deteriorating state of relations between the Cold War superpowers.

With foreign dignitaries gathered in Washington for President Barack Obama’s conference on extremism, Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, denounced what he perceived as the latest American slights against Russia. He accused the United States of failing to seek Moscow and other capitals’ views on the event’s agenda, and said it snubbed Russia’s close allies, including Serbia, which was not invited to the conference.

“The United States believes in its exceptionalism and it has to say at every corner that the United States is going to lead,” Churkin said. “Fine, I’m prepared to listen to those statements if they want to position themselves this way.… What the hell.”

He added: “But they should not proceed from this premise in their relations with Russia and China, really, because they should take advantage of our willingness to cooperate.”

The Russian diplomat also offered a not-so-subtle warning that Russia’s cooperation on matters of vital importance to Washington, like the Iranian nuclear negotiations, should not be taken for granted. “Russia is a very responsible member” of the international community, said Churkin, noting that Moscow had worked very hard to have the Iranian nuclear talks succeed. “It would not take much for Russia to do some mischief in those talks, to make agreement even more difficult.”...

A week ago, Russia championed the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at helping to strangle the ability of the Islamic State and al Qaeda to raise money through the sale of oil, gas, and antiquities and the kidnapping of hostages. Following the vote, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, voiced strong U.S. support for the resolution in remarks to the council. But she made no mention of Moscow’s contribution, and instead took a swipe at Russia and China for blocking an earlier resolution that would have subjected Syrian leaders to the International Criminal Court.

Churkin accused the United States of pushing the United Nations to the sidelines, saying the international body should be the one that is leading in countering extremism.

America’s insistence on staking out a leadership role in the fight against terrorism would only embolden jihadis to take up the fight, Churkin said. It will “attract the extremists, you know, to fight that American-led coalition,” he said.

He also complained that while the Obama administration claims to be launching a broad international fight against extremists, it “did not consult us” about the substance of the meeting. “Originally, they did not even invite us,” Churkin said.

He lambasted the White House for inviting envoys from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to the counter-extremist event but ignoring Serbia, which currently chairs the group. Meanwhile, he said, Kosovo was asked to participate, even though it is not a member of the U.N.

And though Russia is eager to work with the United States on battling extremism, Churkin had low expectations on what the White House conference would yield. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s going to produce a mess,” he said.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment on Churkin’s remarks.

The United States did invite a delegation from Russia, which was headed by Moscow’s top spy, Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s modern-day KGB.

The three-day meeting began Tuesday with a focus on the domestic threat of extremism in the United States, and shifted on Thursday to the international effort to combat terrorism. Speaking Thursday morning at the State Department before representatives of more than 60 countries, President Obama painted a grim portrait of a world buffeted by terrorism...

Islamic State Claims to Behead 21 Peshmerga Fighters

I don't see the video posted at the usual counter-jihad sites, but certainly ISIS has been accelerating its pace of terror.

At CNN, "ISIS claims to behead 21 Peshmerga soldiers, releases video of them in cages":
Irbil, Iraq (CNN)ISIS appears to be trumping its own brutality once again.

In a new propaganda video, the terror group claims to have beheaded at least 21 captured Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in Iraq. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of this video.

The video includes scenes showing Peshmerga prisoners still alive in cages and paraded in the streets of Kirkuk, which ISIS has shown in a previous video earlier this month.

The footage, released Saturday, also purports to show the prisoners once again in cages and interviewed by a man holding a microphone with an ISIS logo on it...
Expect updates.