Last updated:
10:26 AM, 26 November 2014



Jim Miller on Politics

  Email:
jimxc1 at gmail.com



What's he reading? Francis Parkman.

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R-Rated:
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*new



Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Jian Ghomeshi has been charged.
Former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi is facing five charges in relation to a sexual assault investigation.

Mr. Ghomeshi, 47, has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance – choking,” Toronto police said in a news release.

According to the Criminal Code, anyone found guilty of attempting to choke someone to overcome their resistance to the commission of an indictable offence faces a maximum punishment of life in prison. Sexual assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
As I said in my original post, what makes this an especially exciting Canadian sex scandal is the charge that some officials at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have known about his sex problems for twelve years.

(Oddly enough, our journalists seem less interested in covering this sex scandal than they do in covering, for example, a scandal involving a Catholic priest or a Republican official.  Search news sites on his name, if you want evidence for that conclusion.)
- 10:26 AM, 26 November 2014   [link]


Republicans May See Today's New Yorker cartoon, as showing one of the weaknesses of ObamaCare.

Democrats may see it as showing one of the weaknesses of private medical insurance.

And they might both be right.
- 9:08 AM, 26 November 2014   [link]


Sometimes You Need National Guard Back-Up For A "Blue Flood"  In August, I argued that what Ferguson needed to stop the riots was a blue flood, a massive influx of police officers to restore order.  Instead what we have seen is a repetition of all the tactics that were tried — and failed — in the 1960s and 1970s.

What also worked back then, though not as well as blue floods, was bringing in the National Guard, in order to back up the police.  The Guard has to be used intelligently since Guardsmen are not police officers.  Perhaps the best use is to have them guard places and people, freeing the police to go out and sweep up the arsonists and looters.

The mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles, III, understands that his city needs more uniformed men to restore order, and asked Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for the help of the National Guard.  Which Governor Nixon promised, but didn't deliver.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said he was assured weeks ago that his city would get as many soldiers as needed to secure the businesses.  Then the plan changed, without explanation.
. . .
A frustrated Mayor James Knowles III called the guard’s delay “deeply disturbing.”  Early plans were to shield vulnerable businesses with a protective line of guardsmen, Knowles said.

“What should have happened last night?” Knowles asked.  “They should have had National Guard troops protecting the hard targets in Ferguson and allowed law enforcement to pursue a very mobile crowd of looters and arsonists.  That’s the problem.  (The police) could not secure the commercial districts.”
Governor Nixon hasn't explained his decisions, hasn't even explained why he has been unwilling to talk to Mayor Knowles, since August.

So what follows is speculation.

For a Democratic politician, Nixon has had surprisingly weak support from blacks, partly because of this history:
Nixon has overseen the state's involvement in the court settlements that ended mandatory urban busing in St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools.[7]  His role in the desegregation cases has caused friction with some African American leaders.
And probably for other reasons.

That may make him vulnerable to pressure from President Obama and Attorney General Holder, pressure that would cause Nixon to hold back the Guard, when he should have sent them in, months ago.
- 8:53 AM, 26 November 2014   [link]


Many People, Including Some Prominent Conservatives, Misjudged Obama's Temperament:  Noemie Emery reminds of those 2008 mistakes, and comes to this conclusion:
What these brains helped to give us was the worst presidential temperament since Richard M. Nixon, an under-experienced brittle narcissist, lacking in all the political skills save those of campaigning, whose main legacies will be an unworkable healthcare “reform” and a wholly avoidable Middle Eastern crisis.  Obama's lack of political sense has gotten him into many disasters, which his lack of political temperament only makes worse.
Which is, I think, unfair to Richard Nixon.  And leaves out the deepened racial divisions that he and Eric Holder have caused.

But I think she is mostly right.

Emery refers to a National Journal article, "Obama's Forging His Own Reality".  When I saw the article title, I immediately thought that people who forge their own realities belong in psychiatric hospitals, not the Oval Office.  But, having read the article, I can say the title is a bit misleading.  Obama and his close aides are ignoring the lessons of the 2014 election, are reading polls as they want to read them (as partisans often do), but they are not totally out of touch with reality.

(As I recall, I had doubts about Obama's temperament in 2007 and 2008, but looking back I don't think that I saw how large a problem it would be for him — and us.)
- 7:43 AM, 26 November 2014   [link]


Revenge Of The White Van Man:  A leader of the Labour Party resigned her position, after a tweet, accompanied by this picture:

White van man with English flags

The Guardian attempts to explain why that picture (and the tweet) caused so much fuss..
If you’re not British, Labour politician Emily Thornberry’s resignation for posting a tweet of a house, some flags and a van may seem baffling.  Here’s why it happened

Emily Thornberry’s resignation from the Labour shadow cabinet for posting an image of a house in Rochester has provoked fury in Britain and bafflement abroad.  While political commentators in the UK were divided over whether she should have resigned, they were fairly united in the belief that Thornberry had committed an embarrassing and potentially devastating faux pas.

At worst, she had shown her (and therefore Labour’s) contempt for the patriotic working classes.   According to the prime minister, David Cameron, “effectively what this means is Ed Miliband’s Labour party sneers at people who work hard, who are patriotic and who love their country. And I think that’s completely appalling.”
For Americans:  The flags are English flags, often thought to be associated with racism, and the van is a symbol of the working class — which Labour once represented.

For an American equivalent, imagine a prominent Democrat posting a picture from, for example, Harlem, that appeared to sneer at blacks.

(Lady Nugee, as she is also known, doesn't seem to be particularly neighborly.

Thornberry was the "shadow" attorney general, which means that she would have been their head lawyer, if Labour won the next election.)
- 6:35 PM, 25 November 2014   [link]


Glenn Kessler Corrects The White House — And The New York Times — On Immigration:  It's a nice piece of research.

Here's the claim:
President George H.W. Bush “expanded the family fairness program to cover more than 1.5 million unauthorized spouses and children.  This represented about 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time.”

– White House press secretary Josh Earnest, news briefing, Nov. 19, 2014

“If you look, every president — Democrat and Republican — over decades has done the same thing.  George H.W. Bush — about 40 percent of the undocumented persons, at the time, were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.”

– President Obama, interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Nov. 23, 2014
Here are the facts:
Bush’s action in 1990 was designed to ease family disruptions caused by the landmark 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed nearly 3 million illegal immigrants to gain legal permanent residency.

Under typical immigrant patterns, families do not all arrive together.  Thus some family members qualified for residence but others still faced deportation.  President Ronald Reagan at first eased the rules for minor children, and then Bush in early 1990 extended it to cover children and spouses, including authorization to work.  However, the new rule did not make them legal residents, and they were required to renew their ”voluntary departure” status annually; they also had no legal basis to return to the United States if they left the country.
How many were affected by that executive order, and the law that superseded it less than a year later?  What's the right number and the right percent?  Not 1.5 million but about 100,000, not 40 but about 6, says Kessler.

But the White House has their story, and they are sticking to it.

It is dismaying to see how unwilling this White House is to admit they were wrong, even when presented with irrefutable evidence.

(And the New York Times?  The White House estimates appear to have come from a 1990 article, based on a confused exchange in Congressional testimony, an exchange that the Times apparently did not bother to check.)
- 1:16 PM, 25 November 2014   [link]


The Most Important Story Yesterday Was The Failure Of Nuclear Talks With Iran:  Technically, they didn't fail; they were just extended for seven months.
The US and Iran say they are confident of reaching a deal over Tehran's nuclear programme after agreeing a seven-month extension to talks.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said a deal was close but US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that several points of disagreement remained.

Six world powers want Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Extended because we, and our allies, are unwilling to admit that the talks have failed, and have no realistic chance of succeeding.

Among those "several points" are whether or not Iran should have nuclear weapons (and ballistic missiles).  When John Kerry is issuing warnings, we can conclude, tentatively, that the talks are failing, and that, at the very least, he fears that no agreement can be reached.

If John Kerry has gotten that far, the rest of us should be able to reach the obvious conclusion.

So why are we talking to Iran?  Hope on our side, and money on their side.
On 24 November 2013, Iran agreed an interim deal with the European Union and the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China, Russia plus Germany - that saw it commit for a six-month period to curb its uranium enrichment activities.  Iran also agreed not to commission or fuel the Arak heavy-water reactor, from whose spent fuel plutonium could be extracted.  The two sides subsequently agreed that the interim deal would be implemented on 20 January 2014.

In return, the P5+1 and EU will provide sanctions relief that the White House values at between $6bn (£3.65bn) and $7bn (£4.26bn).  They have committed to suspend sanctions on Iran's petrochemical exports; imports of goods and services for its automotive manufacturing sector; and its import and export of gold and other precious metals.  They will also license the supply of spare parts and services for Iran's civil aviation sector; help establish a financial channel to support humanitarian trade and facilitate payments for UN obligations and tuition payments for students studying abroad; and modify EU procedures for the authorisation of financial transactions.

The P5+1 and EU have also committed to facilitate Iran's access to $4.2bn in restricted funds on a set schedule at regular intervals throughout the six-month period.
So, in effect, we are paying them to talk to us, and, in return are getting promises to suspend some of their efforts to get nuclear weapons.

Michael Ledeen thinks that we should learn from history.
It's not Barack Obama's unique failure; the same thing happened to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  Both of them came to believe they had a deal with Khamenei, and both of them were rudely disabused of their error when the Iranians walked away.  Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was so sure it was a done deal, and so intent on getting it signed and sealed, that she issued three hundred visas over a single weekend in September 2006, for passengers to travel on Ali Larijani's plane to New York for a signing ceremony at the UN.   She then flew to New York to await the Persians.  But Larijani's plane sat on the tarmac in Tehran, and neither he nor the 300 ever came.

It's time for serious students and policy makers to draw appropriate conclusions from this consistent pattern, and to rethink their Iran policy views.

The basic conclusion: Khamenei does not want a deal with the United States (aka “The Great Satan”).  Obama has been pursuing a strategic alliance with Iran since 2008, well before his inauguration and even before his election.  During the election campaign he quietly dispatched retired Ambassador William Miller to Tehran to inform the mullahs that a new era in Iranian-American relations was about to begin, and the "dialogue" between Washington and Tehran has continued for more than six years.  No sensible person doubts Obama's willingness to be generous to the Iranians.  Any lingering skepticism should be definitively eliminated by the latest "extension," which reportedly bestows $700 million on Khamenei every month for continuing to talk.
What does Ledeen think we should do?  Support those inside Iran — and there are millions of them — who want to overthrow this evil regime.

I have no idea whether that could work, now, but I do think it would be better than our current delusional policy.  Unfortunately, we are probably stuck with that policy until we have a new president in 2017.
- 9:00 AM, 25 November 2014   [link]


"Protests" Or "Rioting Mainly For Fun And Profit"?  Our news organizations prefer to describe what happened in Ferguson, Missouri last night with the first word, although admitting that there was some vandalism and looting.  But even that, they often imply, was triggered by righteous anger at the decision of the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

But they very seldom — these days — describe similar behavior by young white men, for example the "pumpkin riot" in New Hampshire, as partly a protest, or as having any understandable motives.

In fact, there is considerable overlap in motives between the rioters in New Hampshire and Missouri.  Some young men find it fun to break things, set fires, and pick fights with the police.  Which they will do, given a chance, after their team wins — or loses — a big game.  Or a big court verdict.

What makes the Ferguson riot different from the New Hampshire riot is that many of the Ferguson rioters are also motivated by profit, by the chance to get electronics, food, clothes, and liquor at one hundred percent discounts.

There are, of course, people on the far left in Ferguson (including Communists) who are rioting mainly for political reasons, but I think we should recognize that many are out in the streets more for fun and loot than making a political statement.

(Long-time readers will recognize the ideas of Edward Banfield, especially the ideas in his wildly controversial book, The Unheavenly City, and the revised version, The Unheavenly City Revisited.

Today I learned that he made all of his works, including that book, available, free.  The scans aren't great, but they are readable.)
- 7:21 AM, 25 November 2014   [link]


This Steve Kelley Cartoon on the Ferguson coverage is pretty good.
- 5:26 PM, 24 November 2014   [link]


Every Once In A While, Juan Williams Says Something Important That Everyone Else is afraid to say.
Fox’s Eric Bolling went after Al Sharpton today for his tax issues that have somehow not stopped his White House invitations.  Juan Williams agreed and went so far as to say it’s “insulting to black people” for the White House to be elevating Sharpton like that.

Williams suspected that the Obama White House just doesn’t like Jesse Jackson and since Sharpton is the only big alternative, the White House just “anointed him as their official black leader,” which people find insulting.
And for saying that, we can be grateful to Williams.

I would go even further and say that the very idea of an "official black leader" is insulting to black people, who can, and usually do, speak for themselves.
- 1:38 PM, 24 November 2014   [link]


Here's A Challenge for oenophiles.

(I can't do grim news in every post, no matter how much there is in the world.)
- 1:14 PM, 24 November 2014   [link]


Ground Chuck:  Hagel is out as Defense Secretary, and he appears to have been fired, despite what he and the White House are saying.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday, closing out a relatively brief, mostly low-profile tenure at the Defense Department.

Hagel’s departure was “a mutual decision,” a senior defense official said, reached after “several weeks” of discussions about the outlook for the remainder of the administration.

President Barack Obama, who accepted Hagel’s resignation, is expected to announce the departure at a morning ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House.  Hagel has agreed to stay at the Pentagon until his successor is confirmed, the Pentagon said
If he were resigning on his own, I would have expected them to have a replacement ready, but they don't even appear to have formally started the search.

Why?

Probably because he disagreed, publicly, with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and, worse, President Obama.  And because Hagel has not been an effective spokesman for the administration.

Why now?

Perhaps to distract from the failure of the negotiations with Iran.
- 8:36 AM, 24 November 2014   [link]


This Iranian Diplomat Doesn't Sound very diplomatic.
Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks is known to frequently scream and shout at Western diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a practice that has caused alarm among bodyguards stationed outside the negotiating room, according to a member of the Iranian diplomatic team who spoke to the Farsi-language press.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif—who is scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with Kerry this evening in Vienna—”frequently shouts at Western diplomats” in such a forceful manner that bodyguards have hurriedly entered the negotiation room on occasion worried that an incident might occur, according to one Iranian diplomat involved in negotiations who spoke anonymously with the Iranian press earlier this week.
According to the article, the Iranians say (in their own press) that the yelling is part of a deliberate good cop-bad cop tactic, the kind of tactic that you use if you think you are negotiating with fools.

Or, perhaps, if you know the other side is desperate for a deal, and you enjoy mocking them.

(Should the US find a leather-lunged diplomat to yell back?  Perhaps.  But I say that because I think these "talks" ("shouts"?) had no chance of succeeding, were simply a way for Iran to ease the sanctions while they went on developing nuclear weapons.)
- 6:29 AM, 24 November 2014   [link]


Obama Bundler Accused of statutory rape.
He’s a mega bundler for President Obama.  He’s been on Air Force One.  He’s shared a Christmas visit with Michelle Obama at the White House.  And now he’s being accused of sex with a minor.

Terry Bean, 66, a gay activist and major Democratic fund-raiser, was arrested Wednesday in Portland, Ore., for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
Apparently, there is a video recording of the encounter(s).  And there may have been an attempt at blackmail.

If you haven't heard about this story, that's because most news organizations haven't covered it; a Bing search of news sites with "Terry Bean" a few minutes ago turned up just 449 hits in the last week.  And since both "Terry" and "Bean" are common names, no doubt many of those hits are false positives.

(There's a little more in this USA Today column, and if you want pictures, you can see them in this Daily Mail article.)
- 7:52 PM, 23 November 2014   [link]


Ronald Reagan, RINO?  Pete Wehner makes a point that anyone who was paying attention during the Reagan presidency (or his 1976 campaign) would agree with:  Ronald Reagan was too good a politician to be a purist.

Which, by the standards of some would make Reagan a RINO, a Republican In Name Only.

Talk show host Mark Levin didn't care for this argument, and attacked Wehner.  Here's a sample from Wehner's reply:
I never said that Senator Schweiker was a “crazed leftist.” What I did say (in this COMMENTARY essay I co-authored with Henry Olsen) is that Senator Schweiker was a liberal.  If anything, we understated the case.  As this document shows, the left-wing group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) gave Senator Schweiker an approval rating of 85% in 1974, which is the same rating the ADA gave to Senator George McGovern; and in 1975, the year before Reagan picked Schweiker to be his running mate, Senator Schweiker received an 89% rating.  Senator Schweiker cosponsored a national health insurance bill introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy; was a primary sponsor of legislation (the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act) that created a massive federal jobs program; voted against an attempt to stop federal funds from paying for abortions; supported the Equal Rights Amendment; opposed the Vietnam War; and opposed funding key defense systems.  Steven Hayward, in his wonderful book The Age of Reagan, wrote, “Schweiker was arguably as liberal as Jimmy Carter’s running mate, Sen. Walter Mondale.”

Anyone who listens to Mr. Levin knows he would excoriate any conservative today who named a liberal like Schweiker to be his vice presidential nominee, as Reagan did.  And an honest reading of some parts of Reagan’s political record — when he was governor of California he liberalized abortion laws, and when he was president he signed into law record tax increases and he championed amnesty — means that he would fail the purity test that Levin applies to conservatives today.
As I said, none of this would surprise anyone who was paying attention back then, or anyone who takes an honest look at all of Reagan's record, now.

But these historical facts are inconvenient for some purists on the right, who like to argue that conservatives will succeed through purity — which is unlikely — and that Reagan gave us an example of that strategy — which is historically inaccurate.

People believe what they want to believe, more often than not.

(Here's a brief Wikipedia biography of Schweiker.  I had forgotten that Reagan made him Health and Human Services secretary, perhaps as a reward for that 1976 support.

For the record:  I have listened to Mark Levin, but never for more than a minute or two.  Long ago, I decided that people who yell at me when I am right next to them, or right by the radio, probably aren't making rational arguments, and so when he comes on, I find myself almost immediately turning him off, or tuning into a different station.  No doubt my simple rule — pay no attention to people who are shouting at you when they don't have to — is wrong some of the time, but I think that it is right often enough so that I will continue to use it.)
- 7:25 PM, 23 November 2014   [link]


Ron Fournier Is Disillusioned With President Obama:  Here's what Fournier said near the end of today's "Fox News Sunday".
FOURNIER: I think that's a big part of it, and also we have a president who -- our president thinks we can work with.  So, it kind of changes the dynamic a little bit.   But big picture, look, this is the president who -- is president, because he promised he could change the culture of Washington.  He promised that he could break gridlock and he promised to get us out of two wars.  He's 0 for 3 in the fundamental reasons that he's promised -- that -- he became president.  And I think that hurts him his legacy.  If I can go back to Iran real quickly?

WALLACE: Sure.

FOURNIER: Does it kind of fits? I have a problem, I agree with everything everybody on the panel said, I have a problem squaring a circle between a president who says I can't deal with Republicans, and a president who says I can deal in good faith with the Iranians.   I don't know how you square that circle.
Especially when you consider that Obama has negotiated successfully with the Republicans, on , for instance, the sequester, and no one in the West has had any success negotiating with the Iranians.  In fact, the Iranians bragged after the last round that they never intended to make an agreement, they were just using the negotiations to gain time, and fend off sanctions.

As far as I can tell — without knowing anything about the secret part of the negotiations — the current round of negotiations is following the same pattern; the Iranians are getting concrete advantages like the easing of sanctions, while giving us only vague promises to keep negotiating, and possibly to slow down, slightly their mad rush to acquire atomic weapons.

(It's an obvious point, but deserves repeating:  There are other nations in the region, notably Saudi Arabia, that will start their own nuclear weapons programs (if they have not already) if the Iranians appear to be close to getting the bomb.)
- 5:37 PM, 23 November 2014   [link]


In The Short Term, President Obama Has Killed any chance of comprehensive immigration reform.
At the end of 2012 opponents of “comprehensive immigration reform” — i.e. Amnesty and Guestworkers First, Border Security Later — seemed to be in deep trouble.  Republican moderates and business donors, citing the Romney debacle, were saying the party had to cave on the issue.  Chuck Todd predicted 80 or 90 votes in the Senate.   But look at the posture today: The Gang of 8 “comprehensive” bill has been blocked, almost certainly for the rest of the year.  When the new Congress convenes, it will vaporize.  And now Obama’s executive amnesty has pretty much destroyed the possibility of passing similar legislation in 2015 and probably 2016.  The executive amnesty itself is large, but could have been larger.  It might very well get blocked by Congress or thrown out in court — or cancelled by the next President.  Meanwhile it’s likely to trigger a backlash that could dash the hopes of building on this amnesty with other, serial amnesties, which was always the main danger.
But not, says Mickey Kaus, in the long term.

(For the record:  Chuck Todd is too much of a partisan to be trusted on vote counts.)
- 6:57 AM, 21 November 2014   [link]


Here's A Different Viewpoint on the Keystone XL pipeline.
I like to think of it as Keystone XL Derrangement Syndrome: the way perfectly reasonable North American environmentalists take leave of their senses when this benighted pipeline is mentioned.  Thinking that not building the pipeline will somehow decrease oil consumption makes no sense.

And yet, I really hope they succeed in stopping it: not because I think it’ll make the slightest bit of difference to Greenhouse Gas emissions – it won’t – but because deep down, beneath the sedimentary layers of cynicism, I’m still a Venezuelan patriot, and Keystone XL is a disaster for Venezuela.
Because that Canadian oil competes directly with Venezuelan oil.

(I'm charmed by his claim that some opponents are "perfectly reasonable" environmentalists.   I suppose there may be a few such, but there can't be very many.)
- 6:37 AM, 21 November 2014   [link]


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