November 2014, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
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.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.If he were resigning on his own, I would have expected them to have a replacement ready, but they don't appear even to have formally started the search.
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.
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.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.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.”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?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.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]
Want To See Some Snow Pictures? The Daily Mail has them.
Just when beleaguered Buffalo residents started to dig out from a historic blizzard that dumped up to 65 inches - it's snowing again in western New York.If you scroll down to the "best rated" comments, you'll see that some readers are predicting a baby boom next August.
- 7:08 PM, 20 November 2014 [link]
If Rand Paul Was Trying To Discredit Himself, he met the right man.
On Thursday morning, Senator Rand Paul, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, met with Al Sharpton to discuss “criminal-justice issues and more,” according to a National Action Network press release. Sharpton released the following statement:This meeting makes Paul look ignorant and unscrupulous.We talked about his position on dealing with some criminal justice issues that I am concerned about. We also discussed mandatory sentencing that he and Senator Cory Booker are proposing. We do not agree on executive action on the President, I agree and he does not. It was a very candid and courteous conversation. We pledged to continue to have such conversations where conservatives and progressives can have dialogue and break the log jam in American discussion.The Republican senator met with the rabble-rousing reverend to discuss “criminal-justice reform, demilitarization of police, and the senator’s recent trip to Ferguson,” according to Senator Paul’s press secretary. Asked how the senator felt about the meeting in light of the $4.5 million in tax liens reportedly owed by Sharpton, Paul’s press secretary responded, “This meeting is another example of Senator Paul’s willingness to work across the aisle to solve our nation’s problems.”
He can't be completely unaware of Sharpton's record, can he?
(Some will wonder why Sharpton met with Paul. It was probably just a little ploy to get more attention, and perhaps protection from prosecution on tax charges, from the Obama administration.)
- 6:13 PM, 20 November 2014 [link]
Why Las Vegas? As I understand it, President Obama plans to outline his unilateral immigration amnesty on TV tomorrow night, and then fly to Las Vegas to make a another speech or two, on Friday.
The Christian Science Monitor wondered about that, too, and came up with a number of explanations (not exclusive), including this one.
The choice of Nevada as a venue for the rollout of the immigration moves is an interesting one. It’s the home state of soon-to-be Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who faces a very tough reelection fight in 2016.Which seems plausible to me and, if correct, shows how far ahead the two men think, politically.
- 7:12 PM, 19 November 2014 [link]
That Hillary Clinton "Reset" With Russia Didn't Work Out Very Well, Did It? For the latest evidence of that failure, consider President Putin's greeting to our new ambassador.
President Vladimir Putin greeted the new U.S. ambassador to Russia on Wednesday with a demand for Washington to treat Moscow as an equal partner and stay out of its internal affairs.(I am relieved to see that Tefft is a professional diplomat, not a clueless Obama contributor.)
Relations between the United States and Russia were strained when Obama took office in 2009. He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to believe they could be repaired from the damage done by that cowboy, George W. Bush. They hoped to do that by — let me be blunt — appeasing Putin and company.
Their strategy has failed, all too obviously; in spite of those concessions, our relations have deteriorated, and are so bad with Putin himself that I assume — all right, hope — that experts in the State Department and CIA are even now trying to calculate how long Putin will live, since it is unlikely that we will see any significant improvement in relations, until after he passes from the scene.
Let me suggest, with a historical analogy, one reason why relations between our two nations worsened after Obama became president, and Clinton, secretary of state.
I am going to do that by way of three British prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, best known by his title, Marquess of Salisbury, and the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany, Otto von Bismarck. (I don't know how much each of you know about the four, so I am just linking to their Wikipedia biographies (which are fascinating), rather than give brief descriptions, which would bore some of you, and leave others still puzzled.)
Chancellor Bismark, famous for his adherence to "realpolitik", got along well with the two Conservative prime ministers, Disraeli and Salisbury, but not at all with the Liberal prime minister, Gladstone. Here's Robert Massie's summary, explaining why.
When, in March 1880, Disraeli's Conservative government was replaced by a Liberal cabinet headed by W. E. Gladstone, talk of an alliance evaporated. Bismark detested Gladstone. The Chancellor was always suspicious of the manner in which the English conducted diplomacy; its dependence on public opinion seemed to him absurd. When Disraeli and Salisbury were in power, this nervousness was soothed; they were practical, conservative men who would find a way for realism to triumph. But Gladstone, a hero to German liberals, was a moralist who preached that conscience had a role in domestic politics and international affairs. The Chancellor referred to the Prime Minister as "Professor Gladstone" and "that big Utopian Babbler." Bismark believed Gladstonian morality, carried into diplomacy, led to murkiness, miscalculation, and bumbling, exemplified by England's confusion over whether her enemy in the east was Russia or Turkey. To defend Turkey, England had stood against Russia in 1877 and at the Congress of Berlin. But in the 1880 campaign, which led to victory, Gladstone had passionately denounced the Turks for their atrocities against the Bulgarian Christians. Turks, Gladstone had thundered, were "that inhuman exception to the human race." Britain's swing back and forth on issues like this made it harder for Bismark to maintain his delicately balanced European system.Do you think it likely that Putin sees Obama and Clinton in a somewhat similar way?.
I do, and I'll bring in a more recent example to support that view. The American president who had the most success negotiating with Communist leaders was, not a moralist like Jimmy Carter, but "realist" Richard M. Nixon. He and Bismark would not have liked each other, but they would have understood each other — and neither would have pointlessly offended the other by lecturing him on morality.
- 1:58 PM, 19 November 2014 [link]
Andrew Malcolm's Weekly Collection of jokes is not among his best. but there are some that may make you chuckle.
Malcolm liked this one best:
Meyers: The Secret Service says there have been 40 cases of White House fence-jumping in the last five years. If the trend continues, they’re going to take away Joe Biden’s Frisbee.But I preferred these two:
Meyers: Kobe Bryant missed his 13,418th shot, breaking the record for most shots missed in an NBA career. Said his teammates, “I’m open!”
- 10:12 AM, 19 November 2014 [link]
Fake Indian Gets Interrupted by a real Indian.
Not, apparently, as a protest over Elizabeth Warren's fakery, but that's all right; we'll take the symbolism, anyway.
There should be more such protests, if she runs for president, as she may.
- 8:07 AM, 19 November 2014 [link]
Whenever There Is Another Delay On The Keystone XL Pipeline, I apologize to our Canadian friends.
There are arguments against the pipeline; there are arguments for the pipeline. (I think the latter are far stronger, as does, by the way, our State Department.) But there is simply no excuse for not deciding, for delaying again and again, in order that Democrats can try to keep the support of both construction workers, and wealthy environmentalists like Tom Steyer.
We should treat Canadians well, because they are fine neighbors, and because it is in our long-term interest to treat them well.
(What will happen? Here's my best guess: When the Republicans take control of the Senate, they will pass the pipeline approval, and Obama will veto it, choosing wealthy environmentalists over working people (and consumers). There won't be enough votes to over-ride his veto, and so it will be an issue in the 2016 election.
Money from Greens will continue to move to the Democratic Party; workers will continue to move to the Republican Party.)
- 6:20 AM, 19 November 2014 [link]
Unilateral Presidential Action On Immigration Is "Not How Our Democracy Functions" The Washington Post reminds President Obama of his own words, words that imply that what he is threatening to do may be unconstitutional.
Three years ago, when advocacy groups pressed him to take such a step, Mr. Obama demurred. “Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting,” he said. “Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”The editorial begins with a somewhat fanciful example of what could happen, if Obama goes ahead and defies democratic standards, and, perhaps, the Constitution.
Democrats urging President Obama to “go big” in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:But the general point the Post is making — that what one president does, another may also do — is accurate.
Early in his presidency, Obama ended a discussion with congressional Republicans by saying: "I won." It's time for Obama to admit that he lost this November, time for him to accept what the voters told him.
(This is a bit of a digression, but I wish one or two of those congressional Republicans would have reminded Obama that they had won, too. If they hadn't won their elections, they would not have been in that room.)
- 10:53 AM, 18 November 2014 [link]
Senator Mary Landrieu Is About To Find Out How Many Friends She Has In Senate: Specifically, among the Democrats in the Senate.
For six years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, resisted calls to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.Landrieu believes she has the 60 votes needed to proceed; others aren't so sure.
Reid's decision to allow a vote reveals — like an X-ray — his priorities. Any legislator could have come to an informed opinion on the pipeline six years ago, could have decided whether it was, net, a good thing for the United States. But that was not enough to persuade Reid (and his Democratic majority) to allow it to come to a vote.
But the chance that he might be able to save one Senate Democrat, is.
And there is no reason to think that a majority of Democrats in the Senate disagree with him.
(Even if she gets the vote, it probably won't save her. She won 42.1 percent of the vote in the general election; the three Republicans together won 55.8 percent. (Three other Democrats together won 1.4 percent.)
- 10:24 AM, 18 November 2014 [link]
Who Were The Biggest GOP Senate Winners? Here they are, in order of their winning margins:
Republican Senate Winners in the 2014 Election
When comparing these wins, we should make some allowance for how Democratic (or Republican) a state is. And, if we do that, then the most impressive winner, by far, is Susan Collins in Maine. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost the state to Barack Obama, 56-41% (401,306-292,276 votes). In this off-year election, Collins actually won more votes (411,211) than Obama did in 2012.
And the least impressive winner? Perhaps Dan Sullivan in Alaska. Mitt Romney won the state 55-41% (164,676-122,640 votes), but Sullivan was able to attract only 119,579 votes in that hotly contested election. (He would have done better, I suspect, if Alaska Republicans were a little less fratricidal.)
(Sources: For the vote totals, I used the unofficial numbers from this Politico article; for general background, I used this overall Wikipedia article.)
- 3:39 PM, 17 November 2014
Oops! I forgot Pat Roberts in Kansas. That's fixed, now.
*I went ahead and put Greg Orman in the Democratic column, even though he was officially running as an independent. The evidence seemed pretty strong that he would caucus with the Democrats, if he won that election.
- 6:23 PM, 17 November2014 [link]
Last Year, In Australia, Men Gave Birth to 54 babies.
The article doesn't say how many women in Australia sired children, but I suppose a few must have, given the new rules.
No doubt biologists from all over the world are buying tickets to Australia, in order to study this phenomena.
- 12:43 PM, 17 November 2014 [link]
Vernon Jordan Has A Great "Forgettery" And that talent may have saved Bill Clinton's presidency.
Jordan wasn't the only person close to Clinton who had lapses of memory back then. And a few were unwilling to testify, were willing even to go to jail, rather than testify. I thought at the time, and still think, that we are justified in inferring that those who "forgot" what they had heard and seen, or refused to tell us, under oath, were probably covering up Clinton crimes, as well as Clinton scandals.
(Here's Jordan's Wikipedia biography.)
- 9:32 AM, 17 November 2014 [link]
Who Agrees With Me That Illegal Immigration Has Hurt Working Class Americans? Among others, President Obama.
Or at least he did, back in 2006, when he wrote Audacity of Hope.
As Neil Munro says, Obama was making the "exact argument that the president’s critics have been making as he now rushes to announce a sweeping executive order that would give work permits to millions of illegal immigrants in the country".
Let's take this one step farther. Which ethnic groups have the highest proportions of unskilled workers? As we all know (or should know), blacks and Hispanics. So, we could, if we were a New York Times headline writer, say that: "Poor and Minorities Hit Hardest by Illegal Immigration".
That 2006 position might explain why the Obama administration did not even introduce a "comprehensive" immigration bill in the first two years of his presidency, when his party controlled both houses of Congress with large majorities, despite the promise in the 2008 Democratic platform.
(Back in 2006, economist Paul Krugman was making the same economic arguments as Obama — after looking at studies of the problem by other economists. Krugman hasn't exactly changed his position on the effects, but now favors amnesty, anyway.)
- 8:06 AM, 17 November 2014 [link]