The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Thanks to Everyone Still Working Tonight and Tomorrow


Tonight, or tomorrow, if your neighbor is away visiting Aunt Edna, and you see somebody breaking into the house with no one home, local police will respond if you call 911 — working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Tonight, or tomorrow, if you burn the turkey or roast, or knock over a candle too close to your natural tree, firemen will respond — working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Tonight, or tomorrow, if Grandma trips over the open dishwasher and breaks her hip, paramedics or EMTs will respond — working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

From South Korea to Afghanistan, from the world’s oceans to Kuwait, from Germany to Guantanamo Bay, the men and women of our armed forces are on the job, hoping for a quiet day — working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Their support staff, in and out of uniform, show up for work. Our intelligence communities keep listening and watching.

A lot of our finest Americans don’t get much time off today and tomorrow. Thanks to all of them for their dedication and the sacrifices they make. Recent events have further illuminated the risks they take in their service to all of us.

Tags: Christmas

FAA to Americans: Hey, Drones Can Be Dangerous!


Just in time for Christmas, the Federal Aviation Administration releases a new video telling Americans how to “stay off the naughty list” with the drones they receive as presents this month.

“Don’t be careless or reckless; you could be fined if you endanger people or other aircraft.”

Does that apply to the guy whose policy involves flying drones that endanger people in other countries?

Maybe drone strikes are a genuinely irreplaceable tool in the U.S. effort against terror groups that target Americans. But it’s pretty remarkable how much public and Congressional outrage we’ve seen over water-boarding al-Qaeda terrorists, compared to the amount of outrage we’ve seen over the number of children killed in drone strikes, even if the numbers are on the low end of the estimate.

Tags: FAA


Only One Side in American Politics Is Ready for Guilt-by-Association Accusations


From the last Morning Jolt before Christmas:

Only One Side in American Politics Is Ready for Guilt-by-Association Accusations

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

New York congressman Charlie Rangel refused to believe protesters in his own city chanted support for cop-killers, prompting an incredulous CNN host to prove the Democratic lawmaker wrong.

Rangel appeared Monday with CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield to discuss the killing of two NYPD officers on Saturday. The congressman said that he felt there was a need to discuss the problems faced by New York and its police, but that the past couple days were not, in light of the officers’ deaths, the time to talk about them.

“But it is the time, congressman,” Banfield said. “There are people who are marching through the streets calling for dead cops in New York.”

“They are not, they are not,” Rangel said dismissively.

Banfield cut to video that showed protesters chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!”

Rangel tried to backtrack, saying the protesters’ behavior is “not acceptable” and speculating that those chanting must be mentally ill. “We should condemn it,” he said, “but we shouldn’t just concentrate on that.”

Let’s assume that Rangel genuinely had not seen or heard the video of protesters using that particular chant. His obliviousness says something about his news diet, as plenty of media sources have shown the video and discussed the significance. (The term “dead cops” gets 208,000 hits in a Google News search.) Odds are good you’ve seen it or read about it more than once in the past few days. For a lot of folks on the right, that video and that chant define the recent protests. Whatever debate there may be about militarization of police forces, the circumstances when officers use deadly force, and whether police training is sufficient, some portion of protesters appear driven not by a desire for justice but by an anarchic wholesale rejection of the police’s authority and violent animosity against the forces of law and order.

But note how confident Rangel was that the claim couldn’t be true, and that the protesters couldn’t possibly have chanted such a repugnant slogan. It’s a moral impossibility to him. Whatever he had seen of the protests, the idea of their anger at the police turning into a call for violence against the police is simply unthinkable to him, until he’s confronted with video evidence otherwise.

Do you remember seeing a picture of a banner at an anti-war protest saying “We support our troops when they shoot their officers”? If you were reading conservative blogs or alternative media back in the Iraq War days, I’ll bet you saw it. In our world, it was a big deal. It revealed a conservative’s worst suspicions about the anti-war Left, that they didn’t really support the troops at all, and that they yearned to see American soldiers shooting other American soldiers.

This bit of knee-jerk denial always stuck with me:

Appearing on the program with her was talk-show host Michael Graham, who mentioned a controversial sign displayed by war protesters at a March 15 rally in San Francisco. The sign — which made the cover of this month’s Whistleblower Magazine — stated: “We support our troops when they shoot their officers.”

Garofalo responded by calling into question whether the sign in fact existed and had been part of the event.

“That one guy that had that one sign — that you’ll probably beat into the ground,” she said. “You’re going to use it over and over whether it actually existed or not. That’s what all you right-wing radio hosts do. You make s— up all the time.”

When you’re a conservative, you know that any time there’s a nut job claiming to act in the name of a cause you support — from opposing government overreach to opposition to abortion — you’ll have that figure thrown at you for the rest of time. Never mind that you’re the kind of law-abiding citizen who always uses turn signals and doesn’t remove the mattress tag; the very fact that you disagree with a liberal is a signal that you’re a dangerous extremist at heart. Liberals clearly are unprepared for this, and thus are stunned when they face the guilt-by-association charge that their rhetoric denouncing big corporations, the military, police, and so on could fuel the fires of violent anti–World Bank protests, violent Occupy protests, and so on.

The Daily Beast tries to identify the perpetrators:

Evidence from photos, videos, social-media posts and interviews suggest that a group — the New York chapter of the Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee, or TMOC — might have been involved. There is no definitive proof that TMOC led the call for dead cops, but there is a web of circumstantial ties with the group at its center.

TMOC’s own social-media posts put them near the scene of the cry for police blood. Some of the slogans used that night — including “arms up, shoot back!” — are the same as the ones used by TMOC. And recently the group admitted that some of its members were arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge, just hours after the “dead cops” chant was recorded.

The bedrock of TMOC’s politics, judged by their social-media output, is hatred for police and endorsement of violence against them. The group seems to blend “black bloc” anarchist street violence with social-media campaigns. Keeping their organizing online, members can plan and incite without coming out from behind their digital masks until they hit the streets. (The group did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Tags: Politics , Charlie Rangel

How About That 2016 Democratic Convention in Brooklyn?


New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, having stood so closely to the anti-police protests that the city’s police forces no longer trust him, now is calling for all protests to be suspended until after the slain officers’ funerals.

Now that the mayor has played with fire and gotten burned, he’s making a request that almost certainly won’t be honored — after all, the protest movement rejects the police’s lawful authority, so they’re not just going to salute and obey the mayor — and that is, for obvious reasons, completely unenforceable.

Please, please, please, Democrats. Do as Bill de Blasio wishes and hold your 2016 National Convention in Brooklyn. Perhaps no politician better symbolizes the consequences of the Left’s shortsighted, shamelessly opportunistic thinking than the mayor.

The new face of Democrats.

For obvious reasons, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, are looking like much better options today.

Tags: New York City , Bill de Blasio , Police , Democratic National Convention

Reminder: Republicans Swept the North Pole in the Midterms


The guys at The Fix ask if Santa Claus is a Republican or a Democrat.

We resolved this two years ago:

Tags: Something Lighter


How the Brooklyn Shootings Are Like the Oklahoma City Bombing


The names “Alfred Sharpton” and “Al Sharpton” appear 81 times in White House visitor logs.

That little factoid is featured in the first Morning Jolt of the week.

Inevitably, someone will read headline of this post and scoff that the death toll in Oklahoma City was much worse than the murder of two police officers.

The militia movement of the mid-1990s involved thousands of people across the country protesting against the government for abusing police powers, stemming from high-profile, heavily covered actions of law-enforcement agents that resulted in what protesters perceived as the needless deaths of young individuals (Waco, Ruby Ridge). Then a high-profile, unprovoked act of aggression in a major city — the Oklahoma City bombing — changed the way those outside the militia movement thought about that cause forever.

The anti-police-shooting movement — some would say anti-police movement — of today involves thousands of people protesting against the government for abusing police powers, stemming from high-profile, heavily covered actions of law-enforcement agents that resulted in what protesters perceived as the needless deaths of young individuals (Ferguson, Staten Island). The question is whether this high-profile, unprovoked act of aggression in a major city — the Brooklyn shootings — will change the way those outside the movement think about that cause forever.

From today’s Jolt:

How the Brooklyn Shootings Are Like the Oklahoma City Bombing

Friday, I wrote in relation to The Interview and folks like Touré who claim that making the film is akin to “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater”:

The thinking of the censor-minded is that somehow, Sony should have known that depicting Kim Jong Un in a humiliating way would have generated a furious, dangerous, threatening response. This is a bit of First Amendment jujitsu, where somehow you’re responsible not just for what you say but for how someone else reacts to it. You’re expected to have clairvoyant abilities of how someone is going to react, and then not speak aloud the argument you wanted to make, because preventing their potentially violent, dangerous, or threatening reaction is more important than your right to speak.

Saturday, some nut-job killed two cops in cold blood in Brooklyn, N.Y.:

“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours . . . Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” Brinsley, 28, wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of a silver handgun.

He also included the sick hashtags: #ShootThePolice #RIPEricGarner #RIPMike Brown.

“This May Be My Final Post . . . I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.”

Quite a few folks on the right contended that the Left’s furious rhetoric denouncing police forces as racist and malicious led to the killer’s actions.

The boss lays out the argument that the protesters are morally culpable for the killings and a sudden uptick of violence targeting police officers:

If the anti-police protesters in New York who were braying for dead police officers meant what they said, they should be very pleased tonight. Here is video of their chant, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” . . . 

We’ve heard a lot lately about tensions between the police and the communities they serve. But usually no one is willing to point out that a major source of that tension is an irrational animus toward the police, fueled by activists and commentators who lie about what they do.

Protesting police actions is not, ipso facto, a call for violence against the police. But that particular chant — “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” — is precisely that. We can argue whether that chant rises to the explicit level of threat to the point where it would not be protected under the Constitution. We can argue whether or not the shooter would have gone on his anti-police rampage if the protesters had not chanted that slogan, or if it the protesters had any particular impact on his actions.

But I don’t think there’s going to be much dispute that chanting that you want to see cops dead is a terrible, terrible idea. If the protesters denouncing the New York Police Department want to be regarded as something beyond violent anarchist scum, they’ll have to — no pun intended — police their own. When somebody starts chanting that they want dead cops, if you’re a protester with an ounce of sense, you have to stand up to that. This movement likes to claim that when it comes to police misbehavior, “silence equals consent.” That would apply to the violence of this anti-police movement, as well.

If you oppose this recent anti-police protest movement, these incidents of violence against cops are probably the single most effective way to turn public sentiment against them. (The presence of Al Sharpton was probably the second-most effective way.)

Police shootings will do for the anti-police movement what the Oklahoma City bombing did to the militia movement.

No, The Interview Is Not Like Shouting ‘Fire’ in a Crowded Theater


The MSNBC host Touré​ — who has made his share of controversial statements in the past — asked his guest moments ago whether Sony Pictures’ making The Interview amounted to “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” He later asked if depicting the assassination of Kim Jong Un was “inappropriate.”

(It’s as if he wanted to illustrate David French’s point that “free speech may be a value people broadly support, but they also take it completely for granted, giving it zero thought in their daily lives. . . . A critical mass of Americans are not necessarily going to see the meaning and purpose of enduring even the slightest risk for a raunchy comedy.”)

Touré is not alone:

In The Atlantic, Trevor Timm pointed out that the vast majority of those who invoke the “fire in crowded theater” point completely misunderstand its context and legal relevance:

Today, despite the “crowded theater” quote’s legal irrelevance, advocates of censorship have not stopped trotting it out as the final word on the lawful limits of the First Amendment. As Rottman wrote, for this reason, it’s “worse than useless in defining the boundaries of constitutional speech. When used metaphorically, it can be deployed against any unpopular speech.” Worse, its advocates are tacitly endorsing one of the broadest censorship decisions ever brought down by the Court. It is quite simply, as Ken White calls it, “the most famous and pervasive lazy cheat in American dialogue about free speech.”

The thinking of the censor-minded is that somehow, Sony should have known that depicting Kim Jong Un in a humiliating way would have generated a furious, dangerous, threatening response. This is a bit of First Amendment jujitsu, where somehow you’re responsible not just for what you say but for how someone else reacts to it. You’re expected to have clairvoyant abilities of how someone is going to react, and then not speak aloud the argument you wanted to make, because preventing their potentially violent, dangerous, or threatening reaction is more important than your right to speak.

Note that the quote is: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

There cannot be any lawful limitation on truthfully shouting fire in a theater. While The Interview is fiction, the film’s portrayal of North Korea as a dangerous, paranoid, despotic state run by a young lunatic is pretty darn accurate.

Tags: North Korea , First Amendment

The Post-Constitutional Presidency Continues


On MSNBC, one of the hosts just gleefully compared Obama’s end-of-the-year statement to a “middle finger.”

Leader of the free world, ladies and gentlemen!

In his comments, Obama indicated he’s exceptionally likely to veto legislation approving the Keystone pipeline. He’s concluded he doesn’t need Congress for a de facto amnesty. He’s concluded he doesn’t need Congress to normalize relations with Cuba, even though an act of Congress is needed to lift the embargo, congressionally passed funding is needed to open a new embassy, and any American ambassador to Havana would require Senate approval.

It’s not surprising that Obama doesn’t welcome the Republican-controlled Congress arriving in January. It is a bit surprising how little he thinks it matters.

Tags: Barack Obama , Keystone Pipeline

The North Korean Hacking Threat Hits Close to Home


Featured in the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The North Korean Hacking Threat Is Closer Than You Think

The latest news out of North Korea is outrageous, and I’ve just about had it with this — BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Ha-ha-ha, Morning Jolt Readers! It is I, Kim Jong-un, and my friends at Guardians of Peace group have helped me hack into the Morning Jolt newsletter!

Now I can interrupt Jim’s writing whenever I want, and he’ll have no idea! Finally, we the Heroic People’s Collective of Noble Righteous Revolutionary Justice can stop Jim’s capitalistic running dog propaganda. Let’s check in to see what he’s saying, and laugh at how he doesn’t know we’re doing this . . . 

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

. . . This fat pant-load thinks he can push us around. I’d say we need to give this guy a little chin music, except I can’t decide which chin to start with. I’ve never seen a one-man cause of national starvation. I understand he was initially excited about the proposed plan of revenge against Sony, because he thought the plan involved snacking.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

This is not funny, Running Dog Geraghty. Words can hurt, you know. Dad said I was big-boned.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

It looks like we’re being threatened by the little kid from Pixar’s Up.

He’s the only world leader whose haircut gets worse every single time. It’s like his barber used up all the electricity in the country shaving the sides. You can tell every general standing behind him is trying to not stare at it, because they don’t want to. There’s that awkward silence, nobody knows how to talk to him. Obviously, the only reason anybody hung around with this guy was because his dad was a homicidal maniac who ran the country.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

That is really uncalled for. It’s lonely being the heir to the throne of a Communist monarchy.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Think about it, the only reason women sleep with him is because he can kill their families. He couldn’t even get a real NBA star to come over to his country and hang out; he had to settle for Dennis Rodman. He grew up a die-hard Michael Jordan fan, and he has to settle for Rodman. At least hold out for Scottie Pippen!

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Why is everyone always so mean to me?

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

I’d call for a retaliatory cyber-strike taking down the North Korean electrical grid, except nobody would notice. When he says “it’s time to turn out the light” at bedtime, he means the country’s lone electrical light. This is why “how many North Koreans does it take to screw in a light bulb” jokes don’t work there. But that’s okay, because nothing else works there, either.

You and I may not have the money, power, palaces, and alleged nuclear arsenal that Kim Jong Un has, but we can hold our heads high in a way he can’t. We don’t have to wrap ourselves and our entire country in an endless labyrinth of lies to prevent everyone around us from killing us, and we don’t live in constant terror that people will see the world as it actually is and us as we actually are. What a pathetic form of existence.

You’re mean, Running Dog Geraghty. Really, really mean.

Tags: Something Lighter , North Korea

Bloomberg: The Real Threat with North Korea Is U.S. Overreaction


The editors at Bloomberg have identified the real threat in the controversy over The Interview and North Korea’s hack attack: American overreaction.

Like so many Hollywood movies, North Korea’s offensive against Sony Pictures Entertainment could end badly — which is why U.S. officials have to be careful not to overreact.

. . . Now that unnamed U.S. officials have claimed North Korea is behind the cyberattack that crippled Sony’s computers, some are calling for the government to retaliate. That would be a mistake.

. . . Sony and other corporations can’t expect the U.S. government to respond to every attack on their behalf. However embarrassing and costly to the studio, the hacking represents a cybercrime, not an act of cyberterrorism directed at civilians or vital national infrastructure. (By the same token, threats against theaters showing a Hollywood comedy that mocks Kim Jong Un hardly compare with the vows of annihilation that constantly pour out of North Korean state media.)

What about the consequences of underreaction?

You can literally watch the reaction to a threat from a foreign power in our cities, as Sony quickly removes the billboards . . . how in the world is our reaction the problem here?

Why do we have to be so careful to not provoke them? Why doesn’t anybody ever fear the consequences of angering Americans?

Tags: North Korea

How Many Americans Are Being Held Hostage Overseas?


A point in today’s Jolt spotlighting further . . . 

To get Bowe Bergdahl back, the United States took five of the worst captured killers in Guantanamo Bay and released them to Qatar. To get the release of Alan Gross, an American aid worker illegally detained in 2009, Obama normalized relations with Cuba. (Do you notice that Obama’s “concessions” to get prisoners back always involve him doing something he wanted to do anyway?)

Even if you thought the embargo was ineffective, it is exceptionally dangerous for the United States to give a hostile regime everything it wants for releasing an American.

How many Americans are being held hostage abroad? Nobody’s sure of the exact number, and our government won’t tell us, according to this September report:

Gross is one of possibly hundreds of Americans being held abroad by hostile regimes, terrorist groups and criminal organizations that don’t provide due process, according to the David House Agency, a Los Angeles-based international crisis resource agency. Given the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of not negotiating with terrorist groups and its lack of formal diplomatic relations with countries like Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, getting Americans out of trouble and back onto U.S. soil can be complicated or even impossible.

“It’s not just a global problem. It’s an international reality,” said Eric Volz, managing director for the agency. “Institutional kidnappings are at a rate never seen before. More Americans are traveling internationally and doing mission work. That’s why we are seeing it at a higher rate.”

“It’s reaching a tipping point,” he added. “These are just not isolated incidents.”

State Department officials declined to comment on any Americans being held captive overseas citing “privacy issues.” The department has reportedly told families of hostages held by terror groups not to publicize their plight, warning that it could put them in greater jeopardy. But the families of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded in recent weeks by an Islamic State extremist in videos released on the Internet, have angrily denounced the U.S. government for not doing more to help free the men.

These concessions make us less safe. The Pentagon has noted “the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas” and is reviewing its policy options.

You’ll recall that back in 2009, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il got what he wanted — a meeting with former president Bill Clinton in Pyongyang — and then released two detained American journalists:

If you’re hostile to the United States, why not take hostages? Sure, there’s a chance the Americans may try to send in Navy SEALs. But there’s a pretty good chance this administration will play ball.

Tags: Cuba , North Korea , National Security

How Much Did the State Department Consult on The Interview?


A disturbing wrinkle in the controversy over the comedic film The Interview:

CEO Michael Lynton showed a rough cut of the movie to U.S. officials before moving ahead. Now hackers are threatening to bomb any theater that shows it.

The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film — including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode — their blessing.

The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.

According to the e-mails, the government officials are “someone very senior in State” and “Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues” who “was helping to consult on the film.”

Hollywood and government officials working together isn’t, by itself, ominous and menacing. Michael Bay’s relationship with the Pentagon ensures all of those glamorous shots of military hardware in the Transformers movies, and we know how closely members of the administration worked with the makers of  Zero Dark Thirty, with one of the producers getting access to a CIA awards ceremony with then–CIA director Leon Panetta in attendance.

The e-mails suggest everyone involved had good intentions — the producers didn’t want to depict something that would spur a violent response from Pyongyang, and the government officials attempted to give their best assessment of how North Korea would respond. But what if the State Department officials had said parts of the film were a bad idea and would be too provocative to depict? Doesn’t this amount to giving the U.S. government de facto creative control over the film?

The point may be moot, as North Korea has learned the lesson of the Mohammed cartoons and demonstrated that they can restrict American freedom of expression through threats.

Tags: North Korea

Pyongyang Defeats Hollywood


No getting around it in today’s Jolt; the middle of the week turned deeply depressing, quickly. Besides the Cuba news, North Korea now enjoys veto power over what’s playing at your neighborhood movie theater:

Pyongyang Defeats Hollywood

Elsewhere in “Unconditional Surrender” news . . . 

Hours after an announcement that U.S. authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the entertainment company announced it was pulling the release of the film The Interview.

The comedy about journalists who score an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was scheduled for a Dec. 25 release.

“Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” according to a statement from the company.

Sony also removed any mention of the movie from its website by Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Wednesday, a federal law enforcement official offered the news about North Korea.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a formal announcement of attribution by the U.S. government could come as soon as Thursday.

U.S. investigators believe the attacks originated outside North Korea, but they have determined that the actions were sanctioned by North Korean leaders, a second U.S. official said Wednesday.

The U.S. government is not prepared to issue formal charges against North Korea or its leadership, but the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a lesser statement of attribution is expected.

They get veto power over our films now.

No formal charges? How about a cyber-counterattack?

This is one of those days where Hollywood stars are on our side:

Rob Lowe just blasted Sony, calling the movie company a spineless sellout and comparing it to the famous British Prime Minister who caved in to Hitler.

Lowe reacted to Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview,” saying, “Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.”

Chamberlain famously conceded Czechoslovakia to the Nazis in 1938. His policy of appeasement became synonymous with cowardice.

So far no word from Seth Rogen on whether he embraces Rob’s statement.

Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, “An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

And Newt Gingrich got into the act, tweeting “@RobLowe, No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.”

To which Rob retweeted “It wasn’t the hackers who won, it was the terrorists and almost certainly the North Korean dictatorship, this was an act of war.”

Michael Moore just fired his own salvo saying, “Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I’d also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.”

You’re not allowed to see this movie. Kim Jong Un says so.

Remember when we thought the Red Dawn remake was silly for changing the villains from China to North Korea? It was strangely prophetic.

Tags: North Korea , Hollywood

Castro Lives Long Enough to See a Big Win.


Brezhnev keeled over in 1982, Qaddafi died a violent death at the hands of his people, but Castro hung on long enough to see the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, fewer travel restrictions, increased U.S. exports, and likely a removal of sanctions for sponsoring terrorism.

Tags: Fidel Castro , Cuba

How Far Is North Korea Willing to Go to Derail a Critical Movie?


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Just How Far Is North Korea Willing to Go to Derail a Critical Movie?

Up until now, the hacking of Sony Pictures — suspected to be the work of North Korea, in response to the upcoming comedy film The Interview — has been mostly fun and games as long as you don’t work in Hollywood. (Our Tim Cavanaugh points out that we’re all chuckling about messages that constitute stolen property.)

The furious reaction from Pyongyang is particularly ironic, since having a hostile foreign state with nuclear weapons throw a temper tantrum and/or launch a cyber-war is basically the greatest publicity a film could possibly want. Considering the way they’re reacting, you would think The Interview has actual footage of Kim Jong Un dancing “YMCA” in pink underwear or something. (Actually, the film’s climax features an actor playing Kim Jong Un meeting a spectacularly unfortunate end. Spoiler and content warnings for that link.)

The fun just stopped:

The Sony hackers have threatened a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen Seth Rogen and James Franco’s North Korean comedy “The Interview,” substantially escalating the stakes surrounding the release of the movie.

The attackers also released the promised “Christmas gift” of files. The contents of the files are unknown but it’s called “Michael Lynton,” who is the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

Past messages have included budgets to Sony films, salary information of top executives, and employee medical records and social security numbers.

There have been suspicions that the attack may have been launched by North Korea in retaliation for “The Interview’s” depiction of an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. The country has denied involvement but praised the attacks.

North Korea — or somebody working on their behalf — wouldn’t be dumb enough to launch a terror attack on American movie theaters on Christmas Day, would they?

Somebody’s getting nervous.

“The Interview” stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled all upcoming media appearances following the latest threats made against theaters showing the movie, Variety has confirmed.

The duo has withdrawn from previously scheduled press appearances, including Rogen’s Thursday appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and a chat with Buzzfeed Brews, leading up to “The Interview’s” Christmas Day release.

According to insiders, Rogen and Franco are still scheduled to appear at Thursday’s New York special screening of “The Interview.” The two were at the Los Angeles premiere last week, but didn’t do press interviews.

Sometimes North Korea’s idea of saber-rattling is drawing the saber and stabbing you:

The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a Republic of Korea Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country’s west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen. A South Korean-led official investigation carried out by a team of international experts from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden presented a summary of its investigation on 20 May 2010, concluding that the warship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired by a midget submarine.

The Norks’ entire concept of deterrence, and what kind of risk is acceptable in their metronomic brinksmanship, is completely different from ours.

Maybe the threat to movie theaters is nothing but bluster. But we’ve seen a gunman shoot up the Canadian Parliament, a guy out on parole take hostages and kill hostages in an Australian chocolate shop, and the Taliban massacre children in a school. The sense of what’s really “unthinkable” in our chaotic world gets a little narrower, week by week.

What, “two thumbs down” just isn’t enough for the Norks?

Tags: North Korea

Get Ready for Jeb Bush’s Spanish on the Stump


Here’s Jeb Bush, speaking at the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC’s eleventh annual luncheon in Coral Gables, Fla., at the beginning of the month:

Even if you speak no Spanish, you can figure out his opening joke about his “tenemos hermanos muy famosos . . . Marvin Bush.” And then he mentions “Oh, si, si, el otro.”

Speaking fluent Spanish may or may not win over many Hispanic or Latino voters. Very few Democrats who have won this demographic in the past speak it (Obama doesn’t), and HUD secretary and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, allegedly the preeminent Latino Democratic politician in the United States, does not speak much Spanish

But many loud voices in the media — buying into the notion that a Republican presidential candidate must support a path to citizenship and denounce the “xenophobic” elements of the party — are likely to treat Bush’s fluency as a factor that could win over many Hispanic or Latino voters.

The English portion of Bush’s speech, critiquing Obama’s foreign policy, is likely to play well on the stump in the GOP primary:

Words matter. Presidents need to set United States aspirations and intentions, with little gap between words and deeds. Think of the Russian reset. Think of the Syrian Red Line. Think of the pivot to Asia. Think of taking out ISIS. All of these things were perhaps important, but none of them have been accomplished. And it has created a big gap between our rhetoric and our action, and it undermines our credibility in the world. Our allies don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us. There is no situation worse for stability and peace than that. The iron rule of superpower deterrent is mean it when you say it, and it has been broken by this president.

Tags: Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush: I Am ‘Actively Exploring’ Running for President


Well, now we know:

A Note from Jeb Bush

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!


Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.


Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.


We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.


We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.


In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.


In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.


Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.



Jeb Bush

Tags: Jeb Bush

The Overhyped Obama Bump Over Executive Amnesty


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Overhyped Obama Bump Over Executive Amnesty

Peter Beinart’s theory:

Remember when pundits loved Barack Obama? It’s been quite a few years now. But I suspect some of the adoration is about to come back.

Politically, Obama’s immigration gamble is working. Fearful of alienating Hispanics or shutting down the government, Republican leaders have largely abandoned hope of overturning Obama’s move. What’s more, Obama’s approval ratings are up 15 points among Hispanics but have not dropped among Anglo whites. Add immigration to health-care reform and the fiscal stimulus and more commentators will start noticing that, whether you like Obama’s agenda or not, it’s been the most consequential of any Democratic president’s since Lyndon Johnson.

The executive amnesty may not have dropped Obama’s numbers among “Anglo whites” but that’s probably because they already hit the floor. And the bump among Latinos is pretty marginal in terms of the overall electorate. Take a look at Obama’s approval in the Real Clear Politics average for the past three months and see if you can spot the amnesty bump. It’s harder to find than Waldo:

The red line (skipping over the obvious “red line” joke) is Obama’s disapproval, steady in the low-to-mid 50s. The black line is his approval, steady in the low-to-mid 40s.

We often hear the accurate fact that Hispanics or Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States — but it’s easy to forget that amounts to only 17 percent of the U.S. population, as of 2012. A 15 point bump among that 17 percent of the electorate turns into . . . a 2.5 point bump overall.

Tags: amnesty , Barack Obama

Romney Was Right to Oppose Negotiating with Child-Killers


The news out of Pakistan is horrifying: More than 126 dead, mostly children, in a Taliban attack on a school.

Back in 2012, the entire foreign-policy establishment, inside and outside the Obama administration, thought Mitt Romney was a fool for opposing negotiations with the Taliban. Who’s the fool now?

Who wanted the United States to sit down across a table and make concessions to a the kind of men who massacre children?

Back in 2008, as a presidential candidate, Obama denounced the Pakistani government for . . . negotiating with the Taliban.

We can’t coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he’s making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants. What I’ve said is we’re going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.

Glad to see the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange deal helped open a dialogue and moderate the Taliban’s behavior.

If you can’t trust a face like this . . . er, never mind.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Barack Obama , Pakistan , Taliban

A Choice, Not a Metaphorical Brother-in-Law


NBC News:

Jeb Bush is moving closer and closer to a presidential bid in 2016 — after announcing he would release 250,000 emails from his days as Florida governor, as well as release a new book.

Presuming Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ 2016 nominee, grassroots conservatives will want to beat her with the blazing passion of a thousand suns going supernova.

Earlier this month:

George W. Bush might have developed a brotherly relationship with Bill Clinton — but he’s still picking his actual brother, Jeb, over Clinton’s wife, Hillary, in a potential 2016 presidential match-up.

The two former presidents have developed a close friendship, with Bush sometimes calling Clinton his “brother from another mother.” In an interview, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Bush what that makes Hillary Clinton.

“My sister-in-law,” he said.

It’s great that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and the Bush and Clinton families get along so well these days, but the Republican party’s base is not going to entrust the task of beating Hillary Clinton to her metaphorical brother-in-law.

Jeb Bush, speaking at National Constitution Center Liberty Medal ceremony honoring Hillary Clinton in September 2013.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Jeb Bush


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