Thursday, April 30, 2015


Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins University is a certified member of the foreign policy establishment, and therefore no partisan conservative. He writes lucidly in the latest issue of The American Interest about the fundamental differences between arms control with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and with Iran today. Today’s arms talks with Iran are more significant than our talks with the Soviets, which is why Mandelbaum is dismayed with the weakness of Obama’s arms diplomacy:
For all the contemporaneous attention they commanded, the arms control talks and agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union had less significance than do the current negotiations with Iran. . . If the Islamic Republic becomes a nuclear weapons state, other Middle Eastern countries will likely get nuclear weapons of their own. If that occurs, the conditions that forestalled nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union will be absent. . .
During the Cold War American arms control policy was linked to Soviet foreign policy. When that policy waxed aggressive, it became politically impossible to gain the necessary political support in the United States for an arms control accord. . . The Obama approach to the Iranian nuclear program has had, if anything, the opposite effect. As the negotiations have proceeded the Iranian regime has expanded rather than pulled back from the initiatives that threaten the security of countries aligned with the United States.
The article cannot conceal that Mandelbaum thinks Obama is na├»ve in his Iran strategy. He not only thinks we shouldn’t take military options off the table, but that an effective campaign against Iran could be done at relatively low risk to ourselves.
In the current negotiations, by contrast, the United States is far stronger than Iran, yet it is the United States that has made major concessions. After beginning the negotiations by insisting that the Tehran regime relinquish all its nuclear facilities and cease all its nuclear activities relevant to making a bomb, the Obama administration has ended by permitting Iran to keep virtually all of those facilities and continue some of those activities. How did this happen?
Part of the explanation may lie in Barack Obama’s personal faith in the transformative power of exposure to the global economy and his fervent desire for an agreement to serve as a capstone to his presidency. Surely the main reason, however, is that, while there is a vast disparity in power between the two parties, the United States is not willing to use the ultimate form of power and the Iranian leaders know this.
The only certain way to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons is to destroy its facilities for doing so. President Obama has occasionally hinted that he is prepared to do this—“all options are on the table,” he has said—but over time this threat, such as it is, has lost credibility.
But most significant is his concluding paragraph:
[F]inally, if the Obama administration is in fact resolutely opposed to the use of force to keep Iran from making nuclear weapons, then American foreign policy has changed in a fundamental way. For more than seven decades, since its entry into World War II, the United States has carried out a foreign policy of global scope that has included the willingness to go to war on behalf of vital American interests. There is no higher or more urgent current American interest beyond the country’s borders than keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of an aggressive, theocratic, anti-American regime located in a region that harbors much of the oil on which the global economy depends. If fighting to vindicate that interest has become unthinkable, then American foreign policy has entered a new era. Whatever else may be said about this new era and the kind of world to which it will give rise, one thing is certain. By promulgating this new foreign policy (if that is what he is doing), Barack Obama will have achieved one of the goals he set out for himself when he came to the White House: he will be a transformational President.
That’s not an endorsement.  Read the whole thing, as a they say.



Contrary to the emotional blackmail some leftists are attempting to peddle, Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem. Like many failed cities, Detroit comes to mind, and every city besieged recently by rioting, Democrats and their union pals have had carte blanche to inflict their ideas and policies on Baltimore since 1967, the last time there was a Republican Mayor.
In 2012, after four years of his own failed policies, President Obama won a whopping87.4% of the Baltimore City vote. Democrats run the city of Baltimore, the unions, the schools, and, yes, the police force. Since 1969, there have only been only been two Republican governors of the State of Maryland.
Elijah Cummings has represented Baltimore in the U.S. Congress for more than thirty years. As I write this, despite his objectively disastrous reign, the Democrat-infested mainstream media is treating the Democrat like a local folk hero, not the obvious and glaring failure he really is.
Every single member of the Baltimore city council is a Democrat.
Liberalism and all the toxic government dependence and cronyism and union corruption and failed schools that comes along with it, has run amok in Baltimore for a half-century, and that is Baltimore’s problem. It is the free people of Baltimore who elect and then re-elect those who institute policies that have so spectacularly failed that once-great city. It is the free people of Baltimore who elected Mayor Room-To-Destroy.
You can call the arson and looting and violence we are seeing on our television screens, rioting. That’s one way to describe the chaos. Another way to describe it is Democrat infighting. This is blue-on-blue violence. The thugs using the suspicious death of Freddie Gray (at the hands of a Democrat-led police department) to justify the looting that updates their home entertainment systems, are Democrats protesting Democrat leaders and Democrat policies in a Democrat-run city.
Poverty has nothing to do with it. This madness and chaos and anarchy is a Democrat-driven culture that starts at the top with a racially-divisive White House heartbreakingly effective at ginning up hate and violence.
Where I currently reside here in Watauga County, North Carolina, the poverty level is 31.3%. Median income is only $34,293. In both of those areas we are much worse off than Baltimore, that has a poverty rate of only 23.8% and a median income of $41,385.
Despite all that, we don’t riot here in Watauga County. Thankfully, we have not been poisoned by the same left-wing culture that is rotting Baltimore, and so many other cities like it, from the inside out. We get along remarkably well. We are neighbors. We are people who help out one another. We take pride in our community, and are grateful for what we do have. We are far from perfect, but we work out our many differences in civilized ways. Solutions are our goal, not cronyism, narcissistic victimhood, and the blaming of others.
One attitude we don’t have here is the soul-killing belief that somebody owes us something, which, of course, is a recipe for discontent. Because if you’re not getting what’s owed to you, how can you be anything but angry?
Democrats and their never-ending grievance campaigns; their never-ending propaganda that government largess is the answer; their never-ending caves to corrupt unions; their never-ending warehousing of innocent children in failed public schools — that’s a Democrat problem, not America’s problem.
I might believe Baltimore was an American problem if the city was interested in new ideas and a new direction under new leaders. But we all know that will never happen. After Democrat policies result in despair and anarchy, Democrats always demand more of the same, only bigger.
And the media goes right along.
And things only get worse.
I wish you all the luck in the world Baltimore. And I truly wish you had the courage to change. If you ever do, send up a flare. Until then, there is nothing anyone can do for you. You are victims of your own choices, and no one can make choices for you but you.
As far as the good people of Baltimore trapped by the terrible voting of your fellow citizens, I suggest you buy more guns until you can move to a city not run by those who see rioting as part of the Master Plan.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               


Most of the stories alleging that donations to the Clinton Foundation resulted in, or at least coincided with, favors from Hillary Clinton’s State Department have involved foreign donors. The two most notable examples are Canadian businessman Frank Giustra and Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk.
Now, however, questions have been raised as to whether contributions to the Clinton Foundation by General Electric had anything to do with action taken by the State Department on GE’s behalf.
There appears to be no dispute that in 2012, the State Department lobbied the Algerian government in a successful effort to help GE obtain contracts to sell power plants to Algeria. Indeed, GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt, seems to admit as much, calling it standard practice for the U.S. government to provide help to U.S. companies trying to sell products abroad.
To my knowledge, there is also no dispute that GE contributed to the Clinton Foundation around this time. The National Center for Public Policy Research, citing the Wall Street Journal, says that “GE donated between $500,000 and $1 million to a health partnership with the Clinton Foundation,” and that “Clinton’s subsequent actions helped GE obtain a contract with the Algerian government to supply turbines for six power plants to the tune of $1.9 billion.”
Immelt is correct that the U.S. government often helps U.S. companies sell products abroad. By contrast, it isn’t standard practice to ignore violations of sanctions designed to prevent nuclear proliferation. Thus, GE’s case is distinguishable from Pinchuk’s.
But if it’s part of the government’s job to help companies like GE sell goods and services abroad, then such companies should not have to “contribute” $500,000 to $1 million in exchange for that service.
To be fair, there does not seem to be any hard evidence of a quid pro quo relationship between GE’s contribution to the Clinton Foundation and the State Department’s help with Algeria. Nor is smoking gun evidence, if it ever existed, likely to appear now. As we know, Hillary has destroyed tens of thousands of emails as well as her server. And Immelt said today that GE will not release the emails GE exchanged with Hillary Clinton’s State Department during the period in which it was donating to the Clinton Foundation.
Nonetheless, several lines of inquiry remain open. One is whether Clinton’s State Department pressed hard for foreign business on behalf of major companies (if any) that sought assistance but did not make or promise large cash contributions to the Clinton Foundation. If the State Department didn’t, it would be easy to infer that the efforts on GE’s behalf were another instance of “pay to play.”
A second line of inquiry pertains to Algeria. What, if anything, did the Clinton Foundation receive from Algeria and what, if anything, did the Algerian government receive in exchange for awarding power plants to GE or for any cash contributions it made to the Clinton Foundation?
As to the first question, we know that in 2010, the Clinton Foundation accepted a $500,000 donation from Algeria. The money was used to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, according to the Foundation. But, of course, Algeria could have contributed directly to Haitian relief without going through the Clinton Foundation.
This brings us to the second question — what did Algeria, having gone through the Clinton Foundation, receive from Hillary Clinton? According to the Washington Post, Algeria wanted better relations with the U.S. and relief from the State Department on human rights issues.
The Post adds:
[Algeria's] contribution [to the Clinton Foundation] coincided with a spike in the North African country’s lobbying visits to the State Department.
That year [2010], Algeria spent $422,097 lobbying U.S. government officials on human rights issues and U.S.-Algerian relations, according to filings made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Data tracked by the Sunlight Foundation shows that while the Algerian government’s overall spending on lobbying in the United States remained steady, there was an increase in 2010 in State Department meetings held with lobbyists representing the country — with 12 visits to department officials that year, including some visits with top political appointees. In the years before and after, only a handful of State Department visits were recorded by Algeria lobbyists.
Thus, it looks like Algeria’s contribution bought it access to the State Department in 2010. Whether actual U.S. policy towards Algeria changed at that point, or later on when Algeria did business with GE at the State Department’s urging, is a matter worth exploring.
What we do know is that the Clintons received money from both GE and Algeria; GE received lucrative contracts from Algeria; and Algeria got, at a minimum, increased access to the State Department, at least in 2010.
Even without emails, this story has real possibilities

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making

Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making
By Kevin D. Williamson 


Announcing the indictment on Monday of six Minnesota based Somali immigrants for seeking to join ISIS, United States Attorney Andrew Luger declared that the indictment represented “a Minnesota problem.” He meant that as an indictment of Minnesota. Native Minnesotans are somehow at fault for the irresistible attraction to wage jihad felt by an uncomfortably large number of Somali immigrants in our midst. A disinterested observer might start with the common denominator among the defendants past and present.
That, however, is not what Luger had in mind. He meant to direct attention to something we have done or failed to do. Luger’s statement represents the received wisdom in these parts, but it is exceedingly stupid. In this sense, I am sincerely sorry to say, Luger himself is part of “the Minnesota problem.”
Pretending that the problem derives from insufficient time, attention and resources spent on the Somali community by the various arms of the state contributes to the problem. In that wholly unintended sense Luger may have been on to something.
We can see it after each set of arrests or convictions renews our attention to the problem in our midst. Let me pause and note that National Review’s Ian Tuttle went looking in several of the right places when he visited Minneapolis and St. Paul this past fall for the NR article“Terror in the Twin Cities.”
Making the case that we have a “Minnesota problem” of politically correct misdirection and misdiagnosis, I give you as Exhibit A today’s Pavlovian Star Tribune story by Mila Koumpilova: “Terror charges leave shock and dismay across Twin Cities.” The Star Tribune reports:
Monday’s federal charges against six Minneapolis men accused of conspiring to join Islamic extremists overseas spurred soul-searching and pledges for action across the Twin Cities — from the governor’s office in St. Paul to the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where four of the men were students.
Some wondered what they might have done differently in the run-up to the charges; Minnesota leaders vowed to do more to engage with the Somali community in their aftermath.
“I think we need to do a better job, all of us, in providing a lot of good reasons for young Somali youth to see their better future here in Minnesota,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in an interview.
* * * * *
On Tuesday, Dayton said he and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith had met with U.S. Attorney Andy Luger on Sunday and discussed the arrests. He said he promised that his office would do more to reach out to Somali community leaders, promote Somali-American appointments to state leadership positions and explore ways to boost job opportunities for young Somalis.
“We pledged whatever assistance we could,” he said.
Hours after authorities announced the charges on Monday, a Minnesota House panel voted to boost state funding tenfold to combat terrorist recruitment in Minnesota. Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, offered an amendment that would raise Department of Public Safety funding earmarked to combat recruitment, to $250,000. Kahn said the money would support partnerships between community groups and government agencies to thwart recruitment efforts.
“We’ll be able to better understand the appeal and recruitment tools … and develop an effective response so more misguided youth aren’t tricked into becoming terrorists,” Kahn said in a statement.
And so on, and so on.
As the den grandmother of the Minnesota left, Phyllis Kahn reduces the stupidity to its essence: “tricked into becoming terrorist.” Hmmmm. What might have “tricked” these “misguided youth”? Ms. Koumpilova wasn’t asking and Rep. Kahn wasn’t saying.
We have a “Minnesota problem,” alright, but it does not derive from a lack of resources devoted to the community of Somali immigrants. It is lodged in Minnesota’s political and cultural establishment. It is represented by United States Attorney Luger and Governor Dayton and the Star Tribune itself. They faithfully parrot the liberal pieties and observe the relevant taboos.

Facing Reality

Facing Reality

posted by John Schroeder

I find the contrast between the impeachment of Richard Nixon and the impeachment of Bill Clinton one of the most fascinating comparisons in American history.  There is no connection in most people’s minds; the accusations, personalities, and political environment were extraordinarily different.  History has come to label Richard Nixon a crook and Bill Clinton if not a hero, something close.  But these perceptions are based on something most people neglect.  Nixon resigned and saved the nation the divisive and unseemly spectacle of a Senate trial while Clinton stood on trail and prevailed.  I have read many that believe Nixon could have prevailed in a Senate trail and no one doubts that Bill Clinton was guilty of perjury.  So who is really the crook?  The different historical narratives that surround these men are far more a function of their personal choices than they are the facts of each case or even the politics of the moment.
My first reaction when I saw the NYTimes headlines this AM,
…was that her campaign was effectively over.  Particularly when followed up in hours by a Reuters story that the Clinton Foundation was playing some sort of three-card Monty with its IRS reporting.  And yet over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw says, “I’m not sure if this is a “bombshell” report from the New York Times this morning or if it’s just more of the same old same old when it comes to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.”  The simple fact of the matter is that to Richard Nixon reality mattered, so he stepped down for the good of the nation.  To the Clintons all that matters is public perception.  Thus wrongdoing, or even the appearance of wrongdoing, is not the issue, only that it can be spun.  As Shaw admits, we don’t know if this will be a serious issue for Hillary until it has been through the spin cycle – the facts notwithstanding.  The nation has not recovered from the divorce of reality and public perception wrought in the Clinton impeachment.
Fred Barnes is in the Wall Street Journal this morning discussing how incredibly high the 2016 stakes are.  He focuses on policy and the way Washington works.  He is absolutely correct on every count, but I wonder if any candidate can pull off what needs to be done if the chasm between reality and public perception remains so wide.  Barnes notes:
The history here is not encouraging. When President Dwight Eisenhower arrived at the White House in 1953, he was expected to begin dismantling the New Deal. But some New Deal policies were popular, and the task of uprooting programs in place for nearly two decades was daunting. The New Deal survived almost wholly intact.
The perception of Obama is such that unless that perception can be brought far closer to reality than it currently is, reversing what he has done may prove impossible for even the most gifted and trained of leaders.  Add to that mix the  glowing perception of Hillary, despite a mountain of evidence of her incredibly poor judgement, if not criminal action (how complicit was she in the actions of Bill?; Benghazi; the email scandal; the Foundation…), and one must wonder if reality matters at all anymore.  The stakes of 2016 are actually far higher than the errant, wrong-headed and dangerous polices of the Obama administration.  A nation that cannot face reality is a nation doomed.
You would think that simple numbers could be argued, but as Hugh discovered yesterday in his interview with Michelle Ye Hee Lee, some people want to argue straw men (perception) instead of the actual numbers, you know?
When the matter cannot simply be counted things can get much more complicated, much faster.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the on going discussion over same sex marriage.  Questions of the candidates related to it seem to be the latest “litmus test” questions, much like “Do you believe in evolution?”  The questions are not meant to inquire into the subject and substance of the issue, but rather to elicit a response that will allow the observer to label the interviewee in some fashion.  The questions create a perception instead of explore a reality.
Over last weekend, last week’s, “Would you attend a loved one’s same-sex marriage ceremony?’ became the far more loaded, ”Do you think that homosexuality is a choice?”  This latter question has almost nothing to do with the realities of the situation.  It is an attempt to cast homosexuality as a trait, and thus equate it to race or gender.  It may be true that, as Rubio said in responding to the inquiry, “sexual preference is something that people are born with,” but a preference is something very different than a trait.  It is how we choose to act, each of us with our own preferences, that defines us.  We all have or have had at some point unhealthy preferences.  But only if we choose to act upon them do they become identifying traits.  Smoking is actually enjoyable for many, many people, and thus preferred.  If people succumb to this preference they become “smokers.”  But we do not consider people that have tried it, enjoyed it, and may even prefer it “smokers” if they choose to ignore their preference for the sake of their health.  It is the choice that sets the identity, not the preference – that is reality.
It is not reality to think a same-sex marriage is equal to an opposite-sex marriage.  Yes, technology allows same-sex couples to produce children, but the reality is that it requires intervention from outside the marriage for those children to be produced.   Quite the opposite is true in an opposite sex couple – outside intervention is required to prevent children from resulting.  These facts are reality.  To say same sex and opposite sex marriage are the same is a perception, not a reality. I would have far less trouble with same-sex marriage if the discussion advocating it was based in reality instead of perception.
The shift goes back to the Bill of Rights. Instead of highlighting the free exercise of religion, Levin turns to the other part of the First Amendment, the prohibition against religious establishment. He cites James Madison’s ideas about religious liberty, noting that Madison’s primary concern was that religion involves higher things and should not be a matter of law. To establish a religion is to compel everyone to affirm tenets that some believe are false. To make someone join in a religious rite he thinks is contrary to God’s will is tyranny.
The relevance to today’s coercions is obvious. It amounts to subjecting people to the same kind of “establishment of religion” that Madison feared. Levin continues: “They are in this sense more like religious believers under compulsion in a society with an established church than like believers denied the freedom to exercise their religion.”
So, liberals aren’t trying to “kill religious liberty.” They are, instead, returning to the days when “the Anglo-American world had a formal state religion—except that now the state religion is supposed to be progressive liberalism.”
The irony would be delicious were it not so tragic in its consequence.  Even more ironic is that this new established religion is based on perception, not reality.  I will not deny that my Christian faith supposes things supernatural that cannot be proven empirically.  But my Christian faith also does not deny the reality of the natural world that can be empirically explored.  Deepest of the ironies is that modern science came out of the Church in a effort to learn of God by learning of His creation.
Barnes is right  – 2016 is pivotal, but on a deeper level than he imagines.  The “new normal” Barnes fears is about more than how Washington works.  Job One for the 2016 candidates is to pivot to reality and restore to old normal.  We cannot afford to have them play the Clintonian game of perception over reality to get elected and then expect them to be able to govern based on reality.  In operating that way, Bill Clinton forever removed that option from the table.  Obama has shown, in the Clinton wake, that a perception based campaign can only lead to perception based governance.  Our candidates have to face reality squarely, including the reality of the many people’s errant perceptions.