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A report out of Pakistan said, “A 17-year-old girl and her husband were killed by her family for marrying without its consent.” Yeah, what’s new, right? Dog Bites Man. Had you and I been the girl’s parents, we wouldn’t have been so happy either: The husband was 30, and had married twice before. Indeed, he was married when he took the 17-year-old for a bride. Anyway, her parents, uncles, and grandfather apparently killed them both.

But get this: “. . . the couple was hacked to death with a butcher’s knife.”

Once, Reverend William Sloane Coffin was on Firing Line with WFB. He said there was no crime of which he could not imagine himself capable. WFB expressed appropriate incredulity. So do I.

Word to the Wise, from the Inside


In a column last week, I noted a news item headed “Pentagon Says Missile Defense System Hit Target in Test.” (Article here.) I applauded this result. And said,

In March of last year — the 30th anniversary of Reagan’s SDI speech — I looked into the progress of our program. I talked to many experts about it. I did a piece for National Review, and a series here on NRO.

This is what I concluded, in simplest terms: We can do this (missile defense) if we want to — but only if we want to. It’s a matter of political will, primarily. And that ebbs and flows with voters’ presidential choices.

I got a letter from a reader that contains some important information. I wanted to share it with you here. The reader-writer works on the inside:

. . . Prevailing rumor was that the future of the program was hanging on this test, so pride and relief were thick in the air Monday morning.

What doesn’t come across in the media reports is that we test missiles in order to improve them, not simply to qualify them. We could certainly spend millions setting up realistic tests that our systems would pass every time, because our systems work very well against any threat that currently exists. But if we want a missile defense that can address tomorrow’s threats, we need to design tests that are genuinely difficult, so we can continue to improve our system’s performance. Each test that “fails” provides crucial data, and in some ways more valuable data than a “successful” test does. It’s very frustrating, then, that a string of “failed” tests is interpreted by the media, the public, and ultimately Congress as evidence of a failing program. (This is also why I cringe whenever American commenters chortle at “failed” North Korean tests.)

You’re entirely correct to say that it’s a matter of political will. A key part of that political will is communication, to explain to the American people why we should invest in these programs. That communication has been so lacking recently that I’m not sure I myself would think we were getting our money’s worth in the area of missile defense if I didn’t have personal experience with it.

That letter is both illuminating and, I think, chilling. Naturally, I am a little wary of national crusades. I think missile defense ought to be one, as I’ve written often (and vainly).

Also, memo to self: Never chortle at a “failed” Nork nuke test.


A Job for Lois


I guess I knew about this when the matter came to light, but I had forgotten about it — what with the speed and volume of news and all. A Politico article reminded me: “In most of her criticized email correspondence released thus far from GOP investigators, Lerner has referred to scrutinizing conservative groups, like Crossroads GPS, while at the same time joking with colleagues that she wanted to work for the pro-Obama group Organizing for America.”

That would be a nice job for her. Red-hot partisans should not work in sensitive governmental positions such as Lerner had. They belong at the DNC or wherever.

Actually, I’m a red-hot partisan, but I believe I could do an IRS job fairly. Who would believe it, though? The Lois Lerners should make honest women and men of themselves, and wear their colors forthrightly — same as the rest of us partisans.

Web Briefing: January 28, 2015

Have You Seen It?


All my life, I have heard people criticize “unbridled capitalism.” They don’t criticize capitalism per se. (Well, some of them do.) They criticize “unbridled capitalism.” I have no idea where this capitalism has ever been practiced. You? Hong Kong in its heyday? Singapore on its best day?

Anyway, a Reuters report begins, “Pope Francis, whose criticisms of unbridled capitalism have prompted some to label him a Marxist, said in an interview published on Sunday that communists had stolen the flag of Christianity.” Etc., etc.

It reminds me of Rand Paul, who pretends that his conservative critics favor a military solution to every problem (while claiming that he himself is a Reagan man, which is especially galling). On the plus side, it could be that the libertarian senator favors “unbridled capitalism.”

Anyway, a pox on strawmen. Also, capitalism around the world could use less bridling, not more.


California Dreaming


When I joked about deciding that everybody should live in San Francisco, I half expected that some loopy lefty would come out and endorse that proposal. I didn’t think it would be Reihan!

Okay, he doesn’t say exactly that. His point about population density and the artificial scarcity of housing in places such as San Francisco is in fact a very good one — and one that has some appeal on the other side of the political divide. I have a friend and correspondent who is a pretty up-and-down-the-line San Francisco liberal, and he is forever going on about the stupidity of the city’s anti-development agenda, another example of Robert Conquest’s dictum that everybody is a conservative about the thing he knows best. 

I detect that there is an opportunity for some free-market outreach on this issue.  


New House Majority Leader: Border Security, Then Legalization


Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who replaced Virginia representative Eric Cantor as House majority leader this month, said that there is an “opportunity” to negotiate for the legalization of illegal immigrants, but only after the border is secured.

“I believe there’s an opportunity,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “But if you don’t secure the borders, there’s nothing.”

McCarthy seemed determine not to repeat Cantor’s mistake of appearing out of step with the Republican base on immigration.

“I’m on record saying nothing about immigration, until we secure the borders,” McCarthy said. “Until you secure the borders, you cannot have the conversation about anything else.”

One of the top House Democrats advocating for legislation along the lines of the Senate immigration bill has given up, at least on the legislative process.

“Nothing’s going to happen,” Representative Luis Gutierrez told the Washington Post. “My point of view is, this is over. There’s no reason to continue to wait. Every day, 1,000 people get deported. The president should stop deportations. There’s no reason to wait.”

McCarthy blamed the current influx of unaccompanied children on a lack of border security.

“Look at the humanitarian crisis that is happening right now along the border states. These are children coming from three major countries in Central America. They’re going across. Kids are dying,” he said. “It’s because our borders are not secure.”

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Bill Clinton: Hillary Shouldn’t Run on Obama’s Record


Bill Clinton believes it would be foolish for any Democratic presidential candidate to attempt to run on President Obama’s economic record in 2016.

“That’s not what anybody should do,” Clinton told NBC’s David Gregory during an interview that aired Sunday on Meet the Press. ”You should run on making it better. But he didn’t cause the meltdown. The actions that his administration took kept it from being worse. And there had been a concerted effort to stop implementing his economic plan in the second term so none of you have any idea whether they would have worked or not.”

That comment came in response to Gregory asking, “What challenges would a Democratic candidate for president face running on the Obama economy?”

Clinton said he doesn’t know if his wife will run for president, though. “I’m a footsoldier in an army,” he said. ”I will do what I am instructed to do.”

The former president also tried to help mitigate the public-relations problem caused when Hillary Clinton said they were “dead broke” when they left the White House.

“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Clinton said. ”Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I’m shocked that it’s happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks.”

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Obama’s Ex-Lawyer: Boehner Can Defund Obama, Not Sue Him


The attorney who advised President Obama to circumvent Congress with an array of executive orders disputed House speaker John Boehner’s right to challenge those maneuvers in court, but she did acknowledge that the House has the authority to defund those initiatives.

Kathryn Ruemmler’s comments came just months after she worked with Obama during a government shutdown over whether Congress would defund Obamacare. “Congress has a lot of tools available to it to challenge the president if they disagree to the things that he’s doing,” Ruemmler, who stepped down as White House counsel in May, said on Meet the Press. “Most importantly, the power of the purse. But, you know, a lawsuit, to say it’s frivolous I think is an understatement.”

“The power of the purse” — that was the conservative argument for why it was appropriate for the House to pass a spending bill that funded all of government except for the Affordable Care Act.

“The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, the most important check we have on an overreaching executive,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), one of the advocates for attempting to defund Obamacare, in August. “Now is the best chance we have to exercise this power in order to defund Obamacare.”

Ruemmler was an important part of “helping develop options to carry out Mr. Obama’s decision to take unilateral executive actions to bypass congressional inaction,” according to the New York Times’ Charlie Savage.

“She advised Mr. Obama that he could make recess appointments during a Senate vacation in 2012 even though the Senate was holding ‘pro forma’ sessions to avoid a formal recess, arguing that if the courts disagreed, the presidency would most likely be no worse off than if Mr. Obama did not challenge the tactic, officials said,” Savage wrote.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that those so-called “recess appointments” were unconstitutional. The defeat was Obama’s twelfth unanimous loss at the Supreme Court since January 2012.

“Not every case in which the president has exceeded his authority has made it all the way to the Supreme Court,” Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) a former law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, told National Review Online. “The fact that his track record is as bad as it is in the Supreme Court . . . is yet another indication of the fact that we’ve got a president who is playing fast and loose with the Constitution.”

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Obama’s Former Ambassador to Iraq: Crisis a ‘National-Security Emergency for the U.S.’


Former United States ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey warned that the ongoing crisis in the Middle Eastern country poses a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies.

“The most important thing . . . is that this is a national-security emergency for the United States,” said Jeffrey, who served in the diplomatic post under President Obama from 2010 to 2012. He also served as George W. Bush’s deputy national-security adviser.

“It’s a huge terrorist threat, it’s our allies and partners under stress, it’s a possible civil war in the middle of the Middle East, and it’s even an impact on our oil and energy security,” he said on Face the Nation. “We need to act and we need to continue acting very quickly.”

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Nation’s Vanden Heuvel Tells Bill Kristol to Enlist in Iraqi Army if He’s So Worried about Region


The Nation’s editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, sparred with Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard by voicing her opposition to re-engaging in Iraq and urging Kristol to sign up to fight on behalf of the Iraqis if he is so concerned about the long-term outcome in the region.

“I have to say — sitting next to Bill Kristol, man, I mean — the architects of catastrophe that have cost this country trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, there should be accountability,” she said on This Week. “We don’t need armchair warriors — if you feel so strongly, you should, with all due respect, enlist in the Iraqi army.”

“That’s a very cute line, Katrina,” he quipped back.

He noted that while President George W. Bush was widely criticized and paid a price politically for going into Iraq, the Bush administration ultimately “left things peaceful” in the country, before President Barack Obama withdrew and allowed the situation to get worse. President Obama had even said the region was peaceful thanks to American forces in Iraq as recently as 2011, Kristol added.

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Issa: ‘Hard to Believe’ Lerner Doesn’t Have Copies of E-mails


House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa finds it very implausible that Lois Lerner didn’t keep copies of her e-mails that are now missing. Under the Federal Records Act, Lerner, a longtime IRS employee, would know that she is required by law to preserve those e-mails.

“To not have print-to-paper, which is the policy that she had to know, is pretty hard to believe,” the California Republican said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Do I believe that she printed to paper? Yes, she’s an attorney of long standing and it’s kind of hard to believe that you wouldn’t cover with your own paper copies.”

Issa questioned Lerner’s attorney’s claims that she did not print out her e-mails, and said the attorney has “outright lied a number of times” throughout the investigation in an effort to get Lerner “off the hook after flubbing the taking of the Fifth.”

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

Lois Lerner’s Attorney: She’s ‘As Upset as Anybody Else’ about Lost E-mails


Lois Lerner isn’t to blame for the loss of thousands of e-mails sent during the period of the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservative groups, according to her attorney. In fact, she wishes they could be retrieved.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, William Taylor explained that Lerner’s computer screen “went blue” one day, and ultimately resulted in her losing all of her e-mails from a two-year span.

“She was as upset as anybody else was about the loss of the e-mails,” Taylor said. “The truth is this was one of those things that happened — at the time she did everything she could to retrieve it.”

“That’s the story — that’s all there is to it,” he added.

Tags: Sunday Shows June 29 2014

OFA Lauds Obama’s ‘Mic Drop’ on Boehner’s Lawsuit


President Obama’s campaign team at Organizing for Action is really impressed with his blowing off the threat of a legal challenge to his unilateral executive actions, so they’re fundraising off of a comment that they regard as a “mic drop” on House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).

“This week, our Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced he’s planning to sue President Obama over the executive actions he’s taken as president,” OFA executive director Jon Carson wrote in a fundraising e-mail. “Well, here’s what President Obama had to say about it: ’What I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘If you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through Congress?’

“That’s what we like to call a mic drop,” Carson wrote.

I don’t think Carson knows what a mic drop looks like. Anyway, they think that Obama’s executive orders have the makings of a good campaign platform. “OFA is going to be repeating that message over and over — Americans are frustrated that Congress refuses to do their jobs, because of people like John Boehner,” Carson added. “We’re holding him accountable, and putting his inaction on the issues into focus.”

Obama Jokes About Boehner Lawsuit in Return to Campaign Trail


President Obama joked that he might have given House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) the idea to file a lawsuit against his executive actions, but he didn’t think Boehner would follow through with it.

“I’m not sure which of the things I’ve done they find most offensive, but they’ve decided they’re going to sue me for doing my job,” Obama said Friday during his speech in Minneapolis. “I mean, I might have said in the heat of the moment during one of these debates, ‘I want to raise the minimum wage, so sue me when I do.’ But I didn’t think they were going to take it literally.”

The joke was one of the few lines in the speech that Americans haven’t heard before. The whole thing had the feeling of a reelection campaign, from explaining why he ran for president — “you’re the reason” — to encouraging people to fight cynicism — “hope is a better choice” — to the litany of Republican horribles. “Don’t boo, by the way,” he said. “I want you to vote.”

And the whole speech was apropos of a letter he received from a Minnesota woman who — whatever her eloquence — wasn’t the first person to write the president. It’s hard not to think that, after weeks of lurching from scandal to controversy to crisis and back to scandal, this was the best reason they could come up with to get President Obama some earned media in an environment he can control.

And, of course, the elections are coming. “I hope you’ll sign up to support Democrats who will have Barack’s back — when you do, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to meet him in person next month,” First Lady Michelle Obama wrote in a DNC e-mail that went out Saturday afternoon.

Is It Possible to Make Nazis Even More Offensive?


The great punk theorist Legs McNeil has a story about the first appearance of the Ramones at CBGB that he tells very well. He starts with a rant deploring the sappy, mellow, earth-toned grooviness of the early 1970s — a time when longhaired, denim-and-suede guitar strummers soared on both Wings and Eagles, when take-it-easy rockers rode into towns on horses with no name. McNeil limns it all with such disgust and quasi-reactionary brio that you’d be ashamed not to share his horror of the hippies and their laid-back indiscipline. Then comes the night when the Ramones show up, which McNeil depicts as a hard-edged, no-nonsense, leatherbound deliverance from years of shaggy excess. In describing how mind-blowingly cool the punk pioneers appeared to be, McNeil talks about their black boots and jackets, their lankiness and height, their all-black fashion; and at last he reaches for a phrase that can capture the awesomeness of it all: “It looked like the SS had just walked in,” McNeil says, with obvious awe and admiration.

I’ve always figured people who really get into the Nazis are following a similar appeal. Sure, you want to uphold the purity of Aryan blood, but most of all, you want to look sharp, fit, militaristic; you want to wear fantastic uniforms and look like this guy:

No more! Apparently even Nazis have given up on fantastic Hugo Boss uniforms. Maybe it’s the recession. From Rolling Stone’s Thomas Rogers:

Over the past year, partly because of leaders like [Internet TV Nazi hipster host Patrick] Schroeder and partly because of the unstoppable globalization of youth culture, the hipsterification of the German neo-Nazi scene has begun to gain steam. This winter, the German media came up with a new term, “nipster,” to describe the trend of people dressing like Brooklyn hipsters at Nazi events. Experts have noted that the German neo-Nazi presence on Tumblr and other social networking sites has become sleeker and more sophisticated. Neo-Nazi clothing has become more stylish and difficult to recognize. There’s even a vegan Nazi cooking show. “If the definition of the nipster is someone who can live in the mainstream,” Schroeder explains, “then I see it as the future of the movement.”

There’s hope that this time the majority of peace-loving Germans are standing up against Nazi hipsters:

In 2012, the daily Welt heralded the “hipster” as Germany’s “new object of hate” and just this February, the country’s biggest tabloid, Bild, offered a guide to “hipster types” for its readers.

For the record, I don’t recommend hatred of hipsters, or hatred of any other group, even for Americans. I doubly don’t recommend it for folks from the land of Bach and Goethe. Rogers ventures that the rise of the German hipster presents “both an opportunity and a dilemma,” and one Junge Nationaldemokraten flack specifies, “I mean nationalist hipster, not Nazi hipster.”

In the full-spectrum blast of planetary brotherhood that is Federation International de Football Association’s World Cup, can’t we cut the krauts a little slack? It’s a sign of progress that National Socialists are so deplored, that the swamp of racial-purist pseudoscience in which they spawned is so dry, that Hitlerites now have to dress in the cast-off rags of Americans who themselves bought the original rags in quaint secondhand stores. The Rolling Stone piece acknowledges this after its first few million words, bringing in a Tim to help disambiguate:

“It’s noticeable,” Tim says, over the phone, and explains that everything that emerges in German mainstream culture ends up in the [neo-Nazi] scene, just with a delay. “We don’t walk around the city center with our eyes closed,” he says, “we see what people are wearing on TV.” He also agrees that the Nazi Tumblr style has gotten “more youthful” and “looser.”

Heil Hipster” is the title. My recollection of interwar history is that the German political class believed it was safer to have Hitler inside the tent, and you see how that turned out; so the “nipster” is not a species to be underestimated. But since every nation is now condemned to endlessly beginning National Conversations, it might not be a bad thing for Germans — who before they were the disposable cogs of Bismarck and Wilhelm II and Hitler were the envy of Europe because they were business-oriented — to unpack the Nazi portmanteau and take a fresh look at the part that says “socialist.”

And the rest of you need to stop hating hipsters. Imagine how barren a world without hipsters would be. I’ll imagine it for you: If it weren’t for hipsters, you’d still be wearing a tie as short as the one the guy’s wearing in the poster two images up.

Tags: Socialism

Krauthammer’s Take: Arming the Syrian Opposition Will Do ‘Probably Nothing’


The U.S. missed its best opportunity to fight Syria’s Assad regime and the country’s radical rebels two years ago, “when Assad was reeling,” Charles Krauthammer said on Special Report.

He was unenthusiastic about President Obama’s $500 million plan to train and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition to stave off civil war that has also bolstered the al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency in Iraq.

When asked what he thought the program would accomplish in the Syrian civil war, Krauthammer replied, “Probably nothing, but it’s worth a try, because it’s all we have.”

Obama Jokes about Executive Order to Make Boys Play Fair


“And last month, three young girls wrote to me that boys aren’t fair because they don’t pass the ball in gym class,” President Obama said in Minnesota. “So there’s a wide spectrum — and I’m going to prepare an executive order on that.” 

It’s funny, because he issues a lot of orders.

Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality (Yet Again)


Here’s Radio Free Europe with a reminder of how “traditional” values are playing out in today’s Russia:

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has awarded Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov with an order for “glory and honor.”  Patriarch Kirill gave the order to Zyuganov in Moscow on June 27, one day after the longtime communist leader celebrated his 70th birthday.

Kirill said Zyuganov — who in 2010 called for the re-Stalinization of Russia and has called the Soviet Union “the most humane state in human history” — deserves the award as “one of the most famous Russian politicians who has expressed interest in the welfare of the nation and the protection of traditional moral values.”

And to think there are those who still believe that Pussy Riot was the problem.

Potential 2016 Candidates with the Most Upside . . .


. . . compared with where they are in the discussion right now, in my view: Mike Pence and Marco Rubio.

21 New Cabins Booked This Week.


That’s on top of the dozen booked the prior week. The National Review 2014 Post-Election Caribbean Cruise is filling up very fast. Choice cabins and the most affordable staterooms are going . . . going . . .

Get yours before it’s gone. Visit

Tags: NR Cruise


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