Monthly Archives: August 2013
President Obama continues to telegraph to Syria that while he’s going to attack them, he’s not really going to attack-attack them.
From pool reporter @JimAcostaCNN: Pres Obama reaffirms no American boots on the ground in Syria and that US response will be “limited.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 30, 2013
This “take your medicine and move on” approach to foreign policy reminded me of this scene from the great HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. As you watch it, think of Obama as Captain Sobol (the officer siting and played by David Schwimmer from Friends)as Obama as he punishes Lieutenant Winters/Assad.
Sobol/Obama just wants to smack Winters/Assad around for show but not enough to do any damage. It’s simply posturing. The problem becomes Winters doesn’t “just take the punishment” but insists on going to a court martial. In the end that plays a major part in Sobol losing command of his company to Winters.
Like Sobol, Obama thinks he can carefully calculate just how much humiliation he can inflict on Assad before Assad bites back. It’s not hard to see many scenarios where Assad, who is in every sense fighting for his life, does not react with the resignation of a school boy being sent to detention but as an animal backed into a corner trying to survive.
Read enough about history and warfare and you’ll hear plenty of supposed “First Rule of War” sayings, but one that really is important and that policy makers either forget about or ignore is, “the enemy gets a vote”.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry don’t see Assad as an enemy but as a future negotiating partner to a political settlement of the Syrian civil war. It’s unlikely that Assad shares that same civilized view of things. From his point of view he will either continue to be the President of a subdued Syria or he’ll be dead.
Assad will get a vote on the reaction to the upcoming US strikes. So will Iran and maybe even Russia.
Captain Sobol didn’t have a fallback plan when his adversary took the “or else” part of his ultimatum. Does anyone really believe Obama has one or that Assad will just take his beating like a man and move on? It’s a hell of a gamble.
Tim Scott’s office confirms to Red Alert that the nation’s only black Sen. was NOT not invited to speak at the March http://t.co/B3UUkJcOrK
— Francesca Chambers (@fran_chambers) August 28, 2013
So a black Senator, appointed by an Indian-American, female Governor from SOUTH CAROLINA of all places isn’t invited to commemorate Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech because he and she are Republicans.
That and the fact that Scott is an inconvenient reminder to the race mongers on the Mall that it’s not still not 1963.
Yes, yes, I went Nazi, I lose. Whatever.
There’s simply no other way to read this post by Time’s Jay Newton-Small as anything other than propaganda in support of Obama administration’s unilateral decision to go to war without congressional approval.
Mr. Newton-Small’s “6 Ways Syria 2013 Isn’t Iraq 2003” is nothing more than a ham-handed attempt to absolve Barack Obama from fulfilling his constitutional obligations like George W. Bush did.
Point 1 boils down the idea that Syria, unlike Iraq isn’t a big deal because Obama, through his spokesman, says this isn’t about “regime change”. I’d remind Mr. Newtown-Small that Libya, another unilateral Obama war, wasn’t about “regime change”. Until is was. And when it became clear to everyone including the French (more about their Absolute Moral Authority(tm) in a second), Obama refused to acknowledge that.
It’s touching that Mr. Newton-Small is so credulous when it comes to the words of his former colleague at Time, but that’s simply not good enough for some of us.
Difference number 2 according to Mr.
GoeNewton-Small is that Syria will be “a limited engagement”. Again, all we have is the word of the administration’s spokesman for that. War is a funny thing, it’s not as easily stopped as it is started. I’m not surprised that Mr. Newton-Small is unfamiliar will one of the basic principles of war, “the enemy gets a vote”.
It’s not hard to build many realistic scenarios in which Obama’s “hopes” of a days long, not weeks long war morphs into something much, much more serious and costly.
I’m going to combine differences 3 & 4 into one point for my purposes.
Mr. Newton-Small argues that approval of the Arab-League and France for intervention in Syria give Obama’s War a patina of legitimacy America’s war in Iraq lack.
Note Syria is “Obama’s War” and Iraq is “America’s” in my telling of it. That’s because the only legitimacy an American military action requires is the consent of the governed as expressed through their legitimately selected representatives. France, the Arab League and the UN simply don’t matter.
Is it nice to have allies? Sure. But let’s not pretend we didn’t have them in Iraq.
But Mr. Newton-Small isn’t talking about the practical necessity of allies, politically or militarily, he’s arguing that France and the Arab League hold a moral veto over US actions.
And finally we come to the nub of the matter in difference number 6. Apparently in Mr. Newton-Small’s reading of the Constitution the war making power vested in Congress is trumped by certain verbal incantations of the President’s press secretary.
When asked, Carney on Tuesday said Syria poses a “significant challenge to or threat to the United States’ national security interests.” The language is important, as the president must seek permission from Congress to go to war unless the U.S. is imminently threatened.
I’m not sure what Mr. Newton-Small thinks Carney was here was so important. If in Mr. Newton-Smith’s version of things an “imminent threat” allows for unilateral and immediate action without Congress so Obama is in the clear, there’s a small problem. Carney called Syria a “threat” not an imminent one. If a President can launch a war whenever there’s a “significant challenge or threat” then Congress’ power to declare war is meaningless. Every country in the world would meet those standards at some point. I’m also interested in the notion that a President’s press secretary’s interpretation of the Constitution and relevant statutes is all powerful and binding.
But that’s just a warm-up for Mr. Newton-Small’s heroic defense of Barack Obama. You see there could be a debate, should Mr. Obama deign to allow it.
Maybe Obama should allow the debate in Congress. It’d be a headache, for sure, and the posturing could last longer than the intervention itself, but it might also reassure nervous members like Lee who worry Obama is getting the U.S. into another decade-long war in the Middle East. And given U.S. polls showing huge opposition to engagement in Syria, it might help assuage the American public as well.
“Allow the debate in Congress”? I’m very curious about Mr. Newton-Small’s understanding of the US Constitution that apparently require presidential assent to congressional debates. Certainly Obama could moot the debate by launching an illegal war before Congress rouses itself to action but the notion that Obama can “allow” and by implication “disallow” congressional debate is stunning.
Of course when you act as nothing more than a propagandist for a power grabbing executive, that is the kind of nonsense you wind up writing.
Some Republicans are in a tizzy because there are conservatives who think the best way to get rid of ObamaCare is…to get rid of ObamaCare.
In order to not to be seen as completely outside the conservative camp many of these folks have decided that they will float the idea that ObamaCare should be delyaed by a year as part of the upcoming
CR debt ceiling fight. Here’s an example of the case they make.
Rather than defunding Obamacare through the continuing resolution, one House leadership source says, “there is a growing sense that the more effective route would be using the debt limit and sequestration to achieve targeted strikes on the law, such as delays of various components.”
The case for including Obamacare in upcoming budget and debt negotiations is strong. The law is in trouble. The White House understands this. The president can pretend, as he did in his weekly address last week, that it’s just Republicans pointing out the mounting challenges to the reforms. It’s not. Those responsible for implementing various elements of the law are worried, too. Some of them—including officials at HHS, Treasury, and the IRS—have said so in meetings with stakeholders who are trying to shape the regulations flowing from the law. And it was the Obama administration that announced the delay in the implementation of the employer mandate. There are other parts of the law that ought to be delayed, too.
If ObamaCare programs are not ready to go and on-schedule implementation will result in “chaos”, why exactly should conservatives give Obama another year to get things in shape? Having forced a delay on the grounds that the law as written is badly flawed, won’t the GOP open themselves up to charges that they now must work to “fix” it? And if the roll out of ObamaCare will be such a disaster, isn’t that the second best outcome? Let people see what a mess it is and build public support for total repeal? Of course, the real pressure will again be to “fix” it or move to a single payer system, but that’s another post.
Now that it appears the House GOP leadership (motto: We’re always just one more surrender away from victory) doesn’t want to fight on the CR because the fallout would be to painful, we’re supposed to believe that they are going to use the much bigger hammer of the debt ceiling. Well, if you are going to use a bigger hammer, why not go for a bigger goal? The implications of not raising the debt ceiling are much greater than a temporary government shutdown. Shouldn’t that mean going for the commensurately large goal?
Here’s the dirty little secret…the GOP is not in a million years going to let the debt ceiling expire. They will take something far less, chained CPI maybe, for it. Don’t let them fool you with their tough talk. They took ObamaCare repeal away when they decoupled it from the CR fight.
The only way ObamaCare will be delayed in part (the subsidies will start on time, just watch) is if Obama thinks it’s better to give in on that to buy some time than to stand firm and risk it faltering next year. Part of him may even be ok with it flailing out of the box. If by some chance the House flips back to the Democrats (which a no delay or defund outcome could lead to if GOP pushes amnesty) then he will have the chance to double down and push for a single payer system that he and most liberals really want.
Here’s the question supporters of delay never answer…suppose you win and get your delay, then what? We’re right back here next year. The only thing that has changed is Obama will have had another year to get ready. Sure the GOP might hold the House and win the Senate but not with veto/filibuster proof margins. Obama isn’t going to agree to a series of delays that might outlast him and give the GOP the chance to kill it after 2016. So what’s the end game for supporters of delay?
That they don’t have one should tell you all you need to know about who is serious about fighting ObamaCare and who isn’t.
4 plus years and 2 crushing presidential election years later and the conservative movement (let alone the GOP) is still trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fight the next battle.
Unfortunately, far too many have concluded the lesson to be learned from Barack Obama’s victories is that the right isn’t offering a sufficiently compelling menu of government programs to compete with Obama’s and the Democrats’.
Take this from Peter Wehner.
In the face of America’s deep cultural and structural problems, assembling an agenda–including a comprehensive social-capital agenda that equips Americans, especially poor Americans, with the skills, values and habits that will allow them to succeed in a modern, free society–is a hugely complicated task. It will require a thoroughgoing reform agenda focused on entitlements, education, immigration, our financial system, and our tax code. A lot of good work is being done by policy experts and public intellectuals, by governors, and some members of Congress. (At a later date I’ll lay out what I think would constitute the broad outlines of an agenda, but for starters it might be worth reading this, this, and this.)
Or this from Jennifer Rubin
Take instead GOP governors like Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Chris Christie (New Jersey) and others who show up with something that might actually attract minority voters — better schools, more jobs and the like. When Christie was in Camden on Wednesday, African American elected officials, religious leaders and parents weren’t cheering the governor for showing up; they were cheering his move to take over the failing schools, put in good people and a decent curriculum and insist those schools work.
And here is where the most ideological pols on the right fail. These are people who regard transactional politics as debased and think the highest calling of a politician is to reject deal-making. Even if the ideologues show up in minority areas, they don’t have anything minority voters want to hear. A lecture on “free-market economics” or a tutorial on the “rule of law”? Puleez. These voters already think Republicans are out to lunch and don’t understand them.
At the heart of both of their arguments is the notion that government is and should play an important role in the success and happiness of individuals. As a philosophical matter that’s a proposition much more akin to Obama and the liberals than it is to the traditional definition of conservatism.
Conservatives generally believe that the key to an individuals happiness lies within them and that big government programs, no matter how good the intention behind them or how well run they may be, are an impediment to maximizing ones freedom, success and happiness.
When self-described conservatives discredit those core philosophical beliefs as “out of touch” and “stale” (Whener’s terms) or insist that the only way to reach certain voters is through a public service bidding war with Democrats as Rubin does, one begins to wonder ways they think of themselves as conservatives.
For all the derision of the “shutdown/defund” strategy, the accommodation caucus ignores that the only GOP success in the Obama era has come from harnessing the confrontational, anti-big government energy of 2009-2010. I understand that big government advocates on the right want to write the 2010 midterms out the picture because it’s rather inconvenient for them.
I realize one can over read the support for small government embodied by the 2010 midterms but it was a rare moment of opposition to government expansion conservatives should try to build on, not airbrush out of history.
Conservatism needs to stand for smaller government and maximum individual freedom. Advocates for big government conservatism should have the decency to stop using the word conservative to describe themselves. There’s already a perfectly good word for what they are…Republican.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, –Article V of the United States Constitution
There’s been talk of holding a constitutional convention on conservative blogs for years. Recently conservative radio host Mark Levin (Liberty Amendments) and right leaning/libertarian law professor Randy Barnett (Federalism Amendments) have issued a set of proposed amendments a convention could take up. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn gave the movement a boost when he publicly called for such a convention.
While I’m sympathetic to the needs driving the idea and the general thrust of both sets of proposals, I think actually calling such a convention would be a disaster.
To get two-thirds (34) of the states to agree to the convention. Assuming all of the states that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 agree with the idea (a large and unfounded assumption) you have 23 states. Where are you getting the other 11 from?
But lets again assume that you can find the other 11 from Obama states. It’s very likely they will then want to push for a far more liberal agenda than Levin, Barnett, Coburn and conservative supporters would want.
Suddenly the agenda won’t just be limiting the federal government but also things like adding rights to health care, housing, and a “living wage”. No doubt there would also be discussion of a constitutional guarantees for people to be free from racism, homophobia and all sorts of other things currently found in college speech codes.
Given that delegates would mostly likely be picked by the state legislatures, ask yourself who is more likely to send delegates that will be squishy and find compromise with the other side? People picked by Republicans or Democrats? Yeah.
And even if they didn’t cave because they are ideologically moderate, the reality is that getting anything our of a convention let alone something that could be ratified would, as before, require compromise (see Compromise, Great). What are you willing to give up to the left to get something you like.?
Of curse whatever, if anything, this convention would turn out would still have to be ratified by 3/4s of the states (38).
What if the proposed amendments were offered to the states piecemeal and voted on separately? It would be a lot harder to stop a “No H8” amendment than it would be to ratify a national sales tax as Barnett proposes.
A constitutional convention is a crap shot that could easily backfire on its advocates. Remember the original convention was only supposed to be empowered to revise the Articles of Confederation but in the end they created an entirely new form of national government.
My bottom line is much like it is with the Balanced Budget amendments that are floated around…if the political will existed to do many of these things, they would get done with out going through this difficult process.
If you aren’t really serous about a convention but want to use the chatter around calling for one to lay groundwork to build popular support for conservative policies, fine. But if you think a gimmick like a constitutional convention can replace the lack of political support for limiting government you aren’t really serious about actually changing the political and legal processes of the country.
There are real fights to be had in the next few month, let’s not follow people who don’t want to have them down the road chasing shiny objects.
ICYMI, a GOP Congressman got hit wit a question from an 11 year old girl about what the Congressman could do to prevent her father from being deported.
The GOP needs to come up with a strategy for dealing with what will no doubt be a recurring tactic.
Here’s my suggestion…remind people that being anti-amnesty doesn’t mean you’re indifferent to the suffering of people. We just reserve our concern and care for different people…..
US citizens break the law and get separated from their kids all the time. Not sure why we’re supposed to feel worse for kids of illegal immigrants than we do those kids who are punished for things they didn’t do.
People who are waiting years to come here legally and be reunited with their families deserve our sympathy. The also deserve a legal immigration system that isn’t bogged down by processing the claims of millions of people who jumped the line and came here illegally.
We should remember the kids of parents who have had their identity stolen by illegal immigrants or brokers who cater to illegals. It must be awful for a child when your parents are stressed by being the victim of a crime, have to spend a lot of money to get their good name back or can’t buy a house or a car because someone has wrecked their credit history.
And mostly we should remember the children of Americans who can’t find work or make less money than they would otherwise because millions of illegal aliens are taking jobs from their parents or driving their wages down.
So while I’m not unsympathetic to this young girl’s fears, she’s not the only one with skin in the game. Maybe we could occasionally remember the people her dad and people like him are hurting.
Added: One thing about the video….the crowd cheers. Don’t do that. It’s not happy time when families are broken up. The little girl didn’t do anything wrong, her father did. That she’s scared and sad is terrible. Enforcing the law is necessary and right but it’s rarely a cause for joy. Criminals leave wreckage in their wake.
If it’s not already a civil war, it’s pretty damn close.
The Egyptian Health Ministry said late in the day more than 600 people had died when security forces Wednesday razed two protest camps in Cairo and routed demonstrators calling for the reinstatement of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted July 3.
The Interior Ministry warned police were authorized to use lethal force to protect themselves and promised to punish “terrorist actions and sabotage,” The New York Times reported.
The warning came after the offices of the governor of Giza were set afire. Hundreds of protesters marched in Alexandria, confronting police. The main highway circling Cairo also was blocked, the Times said.
Here’s the thing…I don’t really care.
The Muslim Brotherhood are the bad guys, right? The ones that support terrorists, planned on turning Egypt into a one party, increasingly Islamic state, and the ones who are burning Coptic churches.
We’re seeing some very old currents play out in the Mideast. There’s the never ending Sunni-Shia civil war and the Islamists vs. secularists fight playing out in Syria and Egypt.
The fight in Egypt is a long time in the making. The Muslim Brotherhood has spent half a century waiting to take over Egypt. Having won it at the ballot box only to lose it to a military coup, there interest in a political settlement is going to be zero and they aren’t just going to go away. Better to have the fight now and try and influence the winner (likely the army) later. Calling for an end to fighting or kneecapping the army doesn’t solve anything.
You can hit Obama for not “passivity” but really he shouldn’t be doing anything right now. The right hit on him is that his egomaniacal belief that his words and presence would be enough to quiet and soothe these real battle lines was immature and ridiculous.
Turns out a lot of House Repubicans don’t want to talk to voters this summer.
Sadly, it turns out my Congressman is one of them.
I went to his website to see if there was a list of them, there was nothing. That was my first hint he would be skipping the chance to speak with and hear from his bosses.
Undaunted I called his office to confirm this. The person who answered the phone said he didn’t know if there would be any. That was my second hint. If there were any planned it seems likely they’d have a list by the phone to make things easier.
I was transferred to another staffer who said she didn’t know (my third hint) but would be happy to have the Congressman’s scheduler call me back (my final hint).
I declined by hanging up on her. I presume that was the effect she was going for and I was happy to oblige.
It shouldn’t take 3 staffers and 2 phone calls to find this information out.
My district is pretty purple after redistricting and my Congressman is one of the most liberal Republicans in the House. If he can’t be bothered to at least try and answer my concerns and give me a reason to support him, then I can’t be bothered to vote for him.
What a difference two weeks makes when you’re a clueless fool. Kerry on August 1, 2013
“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of descendance into chaos, into violence,” Kerry was quoted as having told Geo. “And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment – so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he added. The interviewer questioned him over allegations that Egyptian troops have shot dead people in the streets. “Oh, no. That’s not restoring democracy, and we’re very, very concerned… I’ve been in touch with all of the players there. And we have made it clear that that is absolutely unacceptable, it cannot happen,” Kerry said, according to AFP.
Kerry on August 14th, 2013
It is estimated that 278 people were killed Wednesday when the army raided camps across Egypt where supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi have been protesting for the past month. The death total includes 43 police officers sent to dismantle the pro-Morsi sit-ins, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry. “Today’s events are deplorable, and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy,” Kerry said during a 5-minute surprise appearance at the State Department’s daily press briefing. “It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.” “Violence will not create a roadmap to Egypt’s future,” he said.
In fairness, who could have possibly foreseen a Mideastern military junta turning it’s weapons on its citizens? I mean, that never happens! But don’t worry, we have the very best people at the top as Egypt slides into civil war.