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Football, the Destruction of the Body, and the Building of the Spirit


The NFL will survive the media feeding frenzy that Rich properly decries in his Politico column. The news cycle will move on, the storylines on the field will overtake the storylines in courts and the commissioner’s office, and all will once again be well in pro football.

At least for now.

But there’s a much larger issue looming in the background — the toll on players’ bodies and minds from prolonged, violent collisions. Malcolm Gladwell started the conversation with his 2009 New Yorker article, “Offensive Play: How Different are Dogfighting and Football,” and the conversation hasn’t really stopped. Even football reporters — those people who owe their livelihood to football’s dominant popularity — are starting to express ambivalence about what happens to players over the long term. After steady growth, youth football participation is down almost 10 percent, with the “concussion crisis” seen as the prime cause. The concern over concussions isn’t just limited to college and pro sports, with one (NFL-funded) study indicating that high-school football players are almost twice as likely to suffer concussions as college football players. And high-school football players were almost twice as likely to suffer concussions as the athletes in the second-most-dangerous sport, lacrosse. (By the way, high-school lacrosse players suffer more concussions than college football players).

While the studies are interesting, they simply reinforce common sense. A sport built around violent, high-speed contact is going to result in more injuries than other sports. Parents should have known this well before Gladwell’s article and well before the “concussion crisis.” Moreover, many of those injuries have long-term consequences. How many middle-aged men are hobbled by “old football injuries?” Growing up in the South, lingering effects of football were simply a fact of life. From bank managers to car salesmen to accountants, the landscape was littered with guys who could trace scars on their knees or suffered enduring neck or back pain and stiffness from their playing days. My first cousin started at defensive end for Mississippi State University (I loved going to games in SEC stadiums and hearing “tackle by French” echo across the landscape,) and he still feels the effects of his college playing days.

So, yes, football breaks down the body. Not every player’s body. And maybe not even most players’ bodies. But, yes, it does break down the body more than other sports.

But does that mean we should shun it?

Keep reading this post . . .

Ukrainian President Requests Lethal Aid in Address to Congress


In his address to a joint session of Congress this morning, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko requested lethal military aid for his country’s soldiers fighting “on the front for freedom and democracy.”

After first thanking the United States for showing solidarity with Ukraine and its people, Poroshenko noted that the Ukraine’s soldiers “need more equipment, both lethal and non-lethal.”

“Please understand me correctly,” Poroshenko continued. “Blankets, night-vision goggles are also important. But one cannot win the war with blankets. More importantly, one cannot keep the peace with a blanket.”

Earlier in the address, Poroshenko called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent aggression in Eastern Ukraine “the worst security crisis since the U.S.–U.S.S.R. standoff in 1962.” He declared Ukraine’s “underequipped and underappreciated” soldiers to be “the only thing that now stands between reality of the peaceful coexistence and the nightmare of the full lapse into the previous century, into the new Cold War.”

You can view Poroshenko’s full address to Congress here.


Angry Anti-War Outburst Disrupts Yet Another Capitol Hill Hearing on ISIS


In what is fast becoming a feature of congressional meetings on the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State, an anti-war protester angrily denounced Chuck Hagel during the defense secretary’s testimony before being dragged out kicking by Capitol Hill police.

The secretary of state was in the middle of testifying in front of the House Armed Services Committee, explaining to lawmakers the supposed contributions to the anti-Islamic State coalition from regional powers such as Turkey, when he was suddenly interrupted. 

“Cut the mic off! Cut the mic off!” a man shouted aggressively, rising to his feet as police officers surrounded him. “We don’t need a ten-year-long war! You’re not a friend of the United States with all this fighting! You’re going to bankrupt this country and it’ll go down by the old Soviet Union!”

“Most of you got your money from defense contractors!” he continued, as two officers grabbed him and pushed him down the aisle. “They own this government!”

Security personnel were clearly spooked. “You get up and step out too, right now,” one officer told another man dressed in pink, the trademark of anti-war group Code Pink.

“Don’t make me wait,” the officer warned, hauling the protester to his feet and escorting him out of the hearing room. 

Web Briefing: October 1, 2014

Keep Scotland Scottish: Vote ‘No’


I don’t have a strong opinion on today’s Scottish independence vote; it’s a peaceful foreign country that in no way threatens us, so it’s none of our business as a nation, and our government should certainly not express any opinion on the matter. But I do have an opinion. Scotland is as much our Mother Country as England is, and I share with many Americans a sentimental attachment to Caledonia. That’s why, if I were a Scot, I’d vote against independence.

It’s the only way Scotland can stay Scottish.

The socialist loons of the Scottish National Party have made clear that they are committed to two steps which would lead to Scotland’s eventual disappearance as anything but a geographical designation: membership in the EU and mass immigration. Just as the anti-EU, pro-sovereignty sentiment is making UKIP a major player and could lead to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU within a few years, the SNP wants to break away from the U.K. but immediately surrender Scotland’s newfound independence to Brussels. If people thought rule from Westminster was bad, they’ll be in for a surprise.

The SNP has also pledged to substantially increase immigration from overseas, “to lower the current financial maintenance thresholds and minimum salary levels for entry to Scotland,” and “have an inclusive approach to citizenship and a humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees.” It’s pretty obvious where that will lead. Given how few Scots there are (a little over 5 million), it wouldn’t take that much immigration to fundamentally change the nation’s demography and create the kind of problems Latvia or Cyprus face, but without a foreign invader forcing it upon them.

The flip side is that I also would like England to survive, and Scotland’s departure would improve UKIP’s prospects immensely and accelerate England’s liberation from the EU. Independence would dramatically weaken the electoral prospects of the Labour Party in England and at the same time deliver a colossal defeat for the TINO (Tory in name only) David Cameron and a Conservative-party establishment that seems to suffer from the same dysfunction as our own Republicans.

But that doesn’t seem like it outweighs the damage Scotland would suffer from an independence shaped and led by the SNP. A vote for “independence” is effectively a vote for rule from Brussels and large-scale immigration, putting Alba on the road to oblivion.

Vote No — for Scotland.


If the House GOP Has a Strategy to End Ex-Im, They Should Explain It


As I have mentioned before, there’s an underlying assumption that the GOP leadership’s plan to give the Ex-Im Bank nine more months of life is intended to get us closer to killing the bank. But we really don’t know if that’s the case since the GOP leadership has never actually explained how this strategy would work, and hasn’t even said publicly that this is the strategy.

And there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. For one thing, many Republicans don’t seem to understand that there is a fundamental difference between being pro-free-market and being pro-business. Many of them support any crony program that comes their way because it’s supported by some business group – think about their support for farm subsidies, their refusal to kill green-energy subsidies, or any other federal handout to corporations.

Moreover, there still isn’t widespread and vocal support for killing the Ex-Im Bank in Congress. In fact, it seems that many Republicans prefer, most of all, to avoid the topic. With the exception of Majority Leader McCarthy, the GOP leadership hasn’t come out against the bank. 

Finally, while the debate over helping the Syrian rebels and authorizing air strikes in the Middle East took attention away from the Ex-Im fight, it shouldn’t have ended opposition to the bank. Democrats wanted to support the House spending bill that included the Islamic State provisions in order to back the president. So the introduction of that debate reduced Democrats’ leverage for opposing an Ex-Im-free CR, in the House and the Senate and made a government shutdown a lot less likely. The Hill has a piece that seems to confirm this point:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Senate passage of the House continuing resolution is necessary to prevent another government shutdown.

“It’s not perfect, that’s for sure,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “But the funding resolution before us is infinitely better than the alternatives, another government shutdown.”

On Wednesday, the House voted 319-108 to approve the $1 trillion bill that will keep the government funded through Dec. 11. The House added an amendment authorizing a program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebel groups to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

If the Senate fails to pass the measure, the government could shut down on Oct. 1.

Some lawmakers oppose lumping the two issues together, but it was done in part so lawmakers could leave town by the end of the week to campaign for the midterm elections.

“Breaking up the legislation the House sent us is not a viable option,” Reid said.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the CR around 5 p.m. on Thursday before adjourning until after the midterm elections. 

The fact that House leadership didn’t remove Ex-Im authorization from a CR some Democrats had to vote for suggests that this wasn’t about avoiding a government shutdown at all.

Immigration Agent Union: Obama Admin ‘Widened the Loopholes’ for ISIS to Enter U.S.


The Obama administration has “widened the loopholes” that Islamic State and other extremist fighters could use to enter the United States, a leading union of immigration officials says.

In a statement obtained by National Review Online, the U.S. National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, a union representing 12,000 federal immigration agents, sounded the alarm that not only could jihadists “slip across our porous southern border,” but that fighters could also “exploit our loose and lax visa policies to gain entry to the United States.”

USCIS cites two main issues: a dearth of resources for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for enforcement and tracking and the administration’s decision to increase the number of immigrants allowed in for asylum purposes.

“Our caseworkers cannot even do in-person interviews for people seeking citizenship, they cannot enforce restrictions on welfare use, and they even lack even the basic office space to properly function,” union president Kenneth Palinkas said in the statement. “Applications for entry are rubber-stamped, the result of grading agents by speed rather than discretion. We’ve become the visa clearinghouse for the world.”

President Obama’s potential executive action to grant legal status to certain illegal immigrants, including those who have overstayed their visas, is another opportunity for people “who are being targeted for radicalization or who already subscribe to radicalized views” to stay in the country, the union said.

Mystic Chords


In response to a post by John McGinnis about Scotland, Michael Greve writes some thought-provoking comments.

John writes: “[C]onstitutional federalism likely has a greater future in Europe than in the United States where, with a few exceptions like Texas, geographical areas increasingly do not map onto very distinctive cultures.” Really? The truth is the reverse. “[C]onstitutional structures are matters not only of the intellect but also of the heart,” John says. Darn right. And if you want constitutional federalism, people’s hearts have to run to the Constitution, not some parochial attachments. Once you map statehood onto culture, constitutionalism becomes a bloodless abstraction. That’s why in our entire constitutional debate there’s a lot a burble about large versus small states but never a word about protecting local folkways or customs in Connecticut or Georgia; why the most brutal assault on the Constitution was preceded by a lot of romantic claptrap about a distinctive Southern “culture”; why places like Oklahoma and Alaska could not become states until they were no longer identifiable by culture, language etc; and why Puerto Rico and for that matter Indian reservations cannot ever become states. And that’s why constitutional federalism is (still) a reality here and a bureaucratic nightmare and an international law illusion over there.

McGinnis then replies.

‘Can Brownback Survive?’


Eliana has a piece on the homepage about the high-stakes governor’s race, where Sam Brownback is in trouble. A little on his comeback plan:

Brownback, for his part, appears uncowed by the onslaught, and his strategy for victory is becoming clear. Up to this point, all of the focus on Brownback’s record has allowed Davis to avoid staking out his own positions. In their first debate earlier this month, Brownback called Davis “the Nancy Pelosi of Kansas.” Davis represents a house district in eastern Lawrence, a city widely considered more liberal than the rest of the state, and the Brownback team’s gamble is that, while Kansas voters may not be fiery conservatives, they are not Lawrence liberals.

And they are certainly not Obama liberals. As Brownback’s strategist puts it, “If people look at the difference between Brownback, four times elected statewide, two times by double digits, versus Davis, a two-time Obama delegate, I think we know how this movie ends.”

Goldberg: ‘Muddled Nature’ of ISIS Strategy Driving Down Confidence in Obama


Danger at the Southern Border


Two claims perpetuated by the Obama administration — that the border is secure and we’re now safer than we’ve been since ( 9/11, 2008, take your pick) — imploded yesterday during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson whether he was aware that four known terrorists were caught attempting to cross the border in Texas on September 10, the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. Johnson equivocated, “Sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind. That doesn’t mean there is none.”

Johnson was pressed by Chaffetz, stating that he had reason to believe four individuals with ties to known Middle East terrorist groups were apprehended along the southern border on the day in question. This apparently jogged Johnson’s memory a bit. He responded, “I’ve heard reports to that effect. I don’t know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them . . .”

Johnson’s claims are, of course, implausible. For the last several weeks, Americans have seen Islamic State terrorists behead two Americans and make repeated threats to strike the United States. Senior administration officials have declared the group a threat like we’ve never before seen. Islamic State videos promise to visit death and destruction on America and urge lone-wolf terrorists to strike soft targets in our country. Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies report Americans are being radicalized and hundreds, if not thousands, of them are fighting as jihadists in Iraq and Syria. And the president himself has given a speech stating his intention to take some form of nebulous action against the threat. Under such circumstances, reports of suspected terrorists entering the country don’t get buried with low-level staffers.

Johnson’s diffident response to Chaffetz isn’t yet another manifestation of this administration’s ineptitude regarding matters pertaining to the Islamic State. Rather, it’s a perpetuation of the administration’s long-standing effort to minimize concerns regarding border security in order to lessen resistance to amnesty and the continued massive influx of illegal aliens. After all, in advocating for the Gang-of Eight bill, Johnson’s predecessor, Janet Napolitano, assured senators that the border was “as secure as it’s ever been.” This, despite the fact that nearly 500,000 individuals were apprehended attempting to illegally cross the border in the preceding year alone, yet the Government Accountability Office reports that we have operational control of only 6.5 percent, or 129 of 1993 miles, of our southern border (Not to worry: Another 744 miles are considered “managed.”) How many more illegal crossers, then, escaped detection?

Political imperative trumps national security. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it frequently was said that the terrorists only have to be successful once. Let’s pray we continue to dodge bullets. And that they’re only bullets.

DWS Denies ‘DWS PAC’ Has Any Relation to Her Name


Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s days as Democratic National Committee chairwoman may be numbered, according to a new report by Politico.

The Florida congresswoman is increasingly falling out of favor among the party’s leaders, including President Obama, in part to Wasserman Schultz using DNC resources and connections to advance herself. In an interview with Politico, she downplayed donations to a group called DWS PAC, which she said has nothing to do with her initials.

“It stands for Democrats Win Seats,” she said. “And that’s important. It stands for Democrats Win Seats. It is a political action committee that exists to elect Democrats.”

Yet the organization has very clear connections to Wasserman Schultz: Her father previously served as its treasurer, and it is run by a staffer who also works for the DNC and Wasserman Schultz’s congressional campaign committee.

The congresswoman has also rankled Democrats for requesting the DNC pay for her clothes, complaining about not being able to hire a donor’s daughter, and leveling over-the-top attacks (she recently said Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker gives women the “back of his hand”). There were some who suspected Wasserman Schultz wouldn’t last as chairwoman past the last election cycle; now some think she may not make it through this November. For more from Politico, click here.

‘The Media’s Absurd NFL Hysteria’


I wrote my Politico column today on the ongoing self-congratulatory, absurdly excessive media coverage of the NFL: 
Over the past few weeks, two sets of initials have dominated the news — ISIL and NFL — and the casual listener would be hard-pressed to decide which is more odious.
It’s a wonder that President Barack Obama didn’t include a passage in his speech to the nation last week pledging to bring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to justice.
Such is the weight the press has put on the NFL’s punishment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for punching his then-fiancée that Denis McDonough, the president’s chief of staff, had to weigh in on “Meet the Press”: “I think we all know that Ray Rice being suspended indefinitely seems to be exactly the right thing.”
On the NFL, the media has lost its collective mind. It’s as if the people who controlled CNN’s programming in the aftermath of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 have been put in charge of all press coverage of the NFL, and brought to the task the same sense of proportion, good taste and dignity that characterized the network’s handling of the missing plane.
If you missed it, by the way, you should read Andy’s column on ESPN from over the weekend. 
From commenter NJCon172:
Here is the path to redemption of the NFL:
Janay Rice divorces Ray Rice (making the “how could she stay with him?” crowd happy).
Ray Rice marries Michael Sam and take custody of Adrian Peterson’s children.
The Washington Redskins then sign Ray Rice (Sam?) and Michael Sam (Rice?) to long-term contracts creating so much PC good will that they no longer have to change the team name.

Barbara Boxer ‘Actually Shaking and Trembling’ after Witnessing Criticism of John Kerry


Sentor Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) thought she’d seen the dark underbelly of American politics during her career as a U.S. Senator. But the horror she saw in Wednesday’s Foreign Affairs committee hearing was so foul, so utterly vile, that she actually began “shaking and trembling” in response to it.

The primary offense was committed by Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who expressed skepticism about the White House’s plan to combat the Islamic State while questioning John Kerry.

Not only did he charge the secretary of state and President Obama with exercising “the worst possible judgment,” he accused the administration of playing a “political game” with their claim that a thirteen-year-old resolution passed after 9/11 granted them authority to act in Iraq.

“You’re asking us to approve something that we know, the way you’ve laid it out, makes no sense,” Corker said. “We have a strong sense that our military leaders have urged you to put special forces on the ground, but no, we’re not going to do that. So this doesn’t even sound serious. It seems like a political answer to the United States as they cry out about this uncivilized activity. But it doesn’t seem real to me.”

The exchange immediately followed questioning from committee chairman Bob Menendez, who had also grilled Kerry.

“I think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now such angry comments aimed at you Mr. Secretary, and through you at our president, Mr. Secretary,” Boxer said, speaking after Menendez and Corker. “I think it’s shocking. I’m actually shaking and trembling.”

“This is not the time to show anger to the people who are working night and day — whether you agree with them or not — to protect our people,” the California lawmaker intoned. “This is just a sad opening of a hearing. I’ve never seen in it, and I’ve gone through some tough ones.”

Rubio’s Recovery


Marco Rubio is slowly climbing out of the hole he dug himself with so-called comprehensive immigration reform. He has set out the pillars of a reform-oriented domestic platform. Events abroad are vindicating his world view, and he gave a serious defense speech yesterday, as Mario noted; we have an op-Ed version here. And he is crab-walking away from his mistake on immigration, although I would prefer a more frank admission that he got it wrong. He’s a bit of a hostage to Jeb in 2016. If the former Florida governor runs, it makes it very tough for him. But if Jeb doesn’t go, as seems most likely, he is well-positioned to surprise all those people who have prematurely written him off.

Scotland’s Independence Vote: What to Look For, and When


Scotland will vote today on whether to declare independence from the United Kingdom. Polls show that the race is very close, with a slight edge for the “no”s. Since many Americans will be eagerly following this race, I thought I’d post a few details about when the results will be announced and how different regions of Scotland are likely to vote.  

Scotland’s polls will close at 10 p.m. British Summer Time, which corresponds to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. All Scots 16 and older are eligible to vote, and well over 95 percent of those eligible have registered. Virtually all of these people are expected to cast a ballot in what will be the highest-turnout election in Scottish history.

Once the polls are closed, the ballots will be shipped to a central office for each of Scotland’s 32 local government agencies. Since Scots will cast paper ballots, they will be counted by hand. This means the first results won’t be available until many hours after the polls close.

Results will be announced only when all counting in a locality is complete; no precincts to straggle in throughout the night. We should, therefore, expect that results from Scotland’s three largest cities — Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, will not be reported until late on the American East Coast. 

Polls throughout the race have shown a very strong correlation between “yes” votes and support in the last Scottish election for the pro-independence Scottish National Party. Nearly 90 percent of 2011 SNP voters say they will vote yes. This means that we can get a very rough idea of how each of the local-government results is likely to go based on how strong support was for the SNP in the last election. This basic “yes” indicator is modified by two other correlations consistently shown in the polls. First, supporters of the Conservative party will almost unanimously vote “no.” Second, about a quarter of Labor or Liberal Democrat supporters say they will vote “yes.” 

The leftist newspaper the Guardian has given estimates of when each local government is expected to announce its returns. Cross-indexing this with the political data described above can therefore give us a rough idea as the results are announced of whether advocates of independence are likely to succeed.  

The SNP/Pro-Independence Heartland
Support for Scottish independence is strongest in the regions north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh axis, except in the Orkney and Shetland islands. That means returns from Eilean Siar, Aberdeenshire, Perth & Kinross, Moray, Angus, Highlands, Fife, Dundee, Falkirk, Stirling, Clackmannshire, and Argyll and Bute will provide heavy “yes” margins ranging between 10 and 35 points in favor of independence. Since many of these authorities are scheduled to report early, that means “yes” should be leading in the first couple of hours after the results start coming in.

These areas have 33.6 percent of Scotland’s population according to the most recent census.

The Pro-Unionist Bastions
As one might expect, areas bordering England are heavily against independence. The three largest cities are also likely to oppose independence, although by significantly smaller margins. Two Glaswegian suburbs with heavy Tory (East Renfrewshire) or Labor (West Dunbartonshire) sympathies will also strongly oppose independence.

Thus, expect “no” votes from Orkney, Shetland, Scottish Borders, Dumfriess & Galloway, East Lothian, South Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh City, Glasgow City, and Aberdeen City.  The “no” percentage margins will be much larger in the first localities on this list and much smaller in the larger cities. However, because of their significantly larger size, the cities will contribute many more net votes for union than their smaller, rural brothers.

These regions have 37.2 percent of the population.

The Swingy Suburbs
The election is likely to be decided in the Glasgow and Edinburgh suburbs. These areas as a whole tend to be balanced between supporters of the SNP and those of Labour, which suggests very narrow and close margins in Midlothian, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, and North Ayrshire. If the polls are right and voting follows partisan inclination, the side that carries these populous and swing areas will win the vote.

These regions have 29.1 percent of the population.

Population = Poll Results?
Here’s an indirect confirmation of the polls. Since virtually every Scottish adult is expected to cast a vote, the share of each area’s population should be a good proxy for its share of the vote. If you split the swing suburbs 50-50 and assign half of the population share to each side, you get 48.1 percent “yes,” 51.9 percent “no.” That’s about where the polls’ average is right now — 48 yes, 52 no. If the polls are correct, then, either the heartland must vote yes by much higher margins than the bastions vote no or the independence side must carry the suburbs with over 55 percent of the vote for “yes” to prevail.

But the Polls Could Be Wrong
Since turnout is expected to be much higher than for other elections, many habitual non-voters will cast ballots today. Polls suggest these folks will split for independence by a few points. That will likely not change which group each locality has been assigned to unless non-voters in each region significantly depart from the habitual voters’ breakdown (e.g., first-time voters in a heavy “yes” area are heavily “no”, etc.).

Féachana sona!

Report: Obama Requiring Personal Signoff of Syria Bombing Targets


President Obama will take a hands-on approach to the United States airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State and will personally sign off on bombing targets in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper reports that the president has put in place much stricter requirements for strikes in Syria – where the country’s ongoing civil war and President Bashar Assad’s government complicate the situation – than in Iraq, where the U.S. continues to carry out airstrikes. Officials told the Journal that President Obama views taking action in Syria as being similar to U.S. counterterrorism operations in countries such as Somalia or Yemen.

The White House has yet to authorize any strikes in Syria, but said it will not announce action beforehand  give Islamic State and al-Nusra Front fighters time to prepare themselves.

Obama’s Backhanded Endorsement of a Limited Ground War


On September 16, General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told a Senate committee that Mr. Obama had ruled out ground-air controllers called Joint Tactical Air Controller (JTACs). A platoon on a combat patrol tries always to include a JTAC.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama firmly reiterated, “I will not commit our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.” Three hours later, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, aboard Air Force One with the president, said American advisers in Iraq “could be in a position to even call in air strikes . . . They would not have a combat role. They would not be personally or directly engaging the enemy.”

Thus unless you strangle an enemy with your bare hands, you do not have a combat role. You are not fighting a ground war, although your radio call from the ground results in the deaths of the enemy 300 meters in front of you.

The sophomoric deceit of the White House is risible.

The good news is that our military has maneuvered the president into a backhanded endorsement of a limited ground war. Based on my years of reporting from the frontlines in Anbar Province and Mosul, I give the president a 10 percent chance of succeeding by using the Iraqi army to drive out the Islamic State. The odds are about 50–50 that the Sunni tribes, with dozens of American adviser teams and JTACs, can drive the group back into Syria. Those tribes, however, will not accede to being placed under the Iraqi Army and the Shiite government in Baghdad. Iran now controls Baghdad.

The odds of success are 100–1 without American adviser teams, each with an aggressive JTAC and sensible Rules of Engagement (heretofore entirely too rigid).

— Bing West is the author of six books on Iraq and Afghanistan, including One Million Steps: a Marine Platoon at War.

John McCain Touts Jeb Bush’s 2016 Potential


Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) touted former governor Jeb Bush (R., Fla.) as a potential contender in the 2016 presidential elections while discussing the merits of nominating a governor as opposed to a senator.

“I think that governors who are successful obviously have a cachet that is probably helpful to them, particularly, since the Congress is held in low esteem,” McCain tells National Review Online. “I think there will be some who are very competitive, including Jeb Bush if he decides to run.”

McCain says he hadn’t decided to back Bush. “I keep hearing that he may be considering a runs and he was a successful governor of the state of Florida,” he says. “I like him. I haven’t decided obviously, but I think he would be viable.”

Asked if he thought that Republicans might hesitate to nominate a freshman senator in light Obama’s performance, McCain says no.

“I don’t think that that’s particularly relevant to be honest with you,” he says.

Former governor Mike Huckabee (R., Ark.), who is mulling a presidential run, told reporters Monday that the Republican party needs to avoid nominating a senator.

“If not me, I would be supportive of someone who has had executive experience and who has been a governor prior to somebody having only had legislative experience, which I think is fundamentally different in the manner in which one serves,” Huckabee said.

Governor Bobby Jindal (R., La.) followed the same logic while comparing Bill Clinton to President Obama.

“I do think Bill Clinton, having served as a governor, I think that was better preparation for being president [than] simply being a senator, as we’ve seen with President Obama,” Jindal told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), another likely candidate, brushed off that suggestion.

“I’m not sure it’s news that governors tend to prefer governors,” Cruz told NRO Wednesday.

Fire on the Water


This week’s Between the Covers podcast is with Robert Haddick, author of Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific. We discuss whether China poses a military threat to the United States and how the United States should respond, and also evaluate the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia strategy.

McCarthy: Muslim Extremists ‘Feigning Moderation’ to Make ‘Real Progress of Sharia Implementation’


Make sure to check out Andrew’s recent writings on the subject, “In Search of the ‘Moderate Islamists” and “Obama’s Go-To ‘Moderate Islamist.’


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