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Greenshirts, Etc.



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Andrew, I appreciate your extensive post on Robert F. Kennedy’s desire to imprison his political opponents. But I’d like to point out that he does not believe them to be merely guilty of reckless endangerment; he believes them to be guilty of treason.

Former Secret Service Agent: Upper-Level Management Using Secret Service as Job Fair, Abandoning Rank-and-File



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“You can’t view these [Secret Service] security failures in a vacuum,” says Dan Bongino, Republican candidate for Congress in Maryland’s Sixth District. “It’s not just that the dog wasn’t released. These all fit into a larger management problem.”

Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who wrote a book about his time protecting President George W. Bush and President Obama, Life Inside the Bubble.

The larger problem, said Bongino on Fox News Sunday, is an “insulated cabal at the top that has nearly abandoned the rank-and-file, and what you’re seeing now, Chris, is a near mutiny with the agents. There’s a reason all of these whistleblowers are appearing, I assure you it’s not by accident. They feel like they have no one to go to, and they feel like they’ve been abandoned by the upper-level bureaucracy.”

“Cabal”? “Mutiny”? Host Chris Wallace pressed Bongino to elaborate.

“There’s a small group of upper-level management that grew up together, let’s say, within the Secret Service,” explained Bongino, “and the problem is that they are married to the way things used to be done, Chris. Well, the threat footprint has changed. The world has evolved. It’s almost become that they’ve used the Secret Service, this small group — and there are good managers there — almost like a job search service for their secondary careers.”

“The problem with that,” said Bongino, “is the rank-and-file agents feel like the allegiance of the management is not to them, but to say, someone, maybe the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] secretary, who later on they can go into business with together. And it’s created significant problems and a distrust, and in our business trust is all that matters.” 

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Sen. Graham Urges Ground Troops: ‘If ISIS Survives Our Best Shot, We’re All Less Safe’



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Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urged President Obama to deploy American ground troops to combat Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, warning that the terror group will become a much greater threat should it survive the U.S. air campaign against it.

The South Carolina lawmaker spoke with CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday about the ongoing coalition campaign to “degrade, and ultimately destroy,” the Islamic State.

Crowley claimed there is not enough public support for a ground war, despite recent polls that show the majority of Americans are open to the idea should air strikes prove insufficient.

But Graham insisted that U.S. troops should be deployed regardless of public opinion. “The job of the commander-in-chief is to protect the country,” he said. “And I think most Americans understand if we don’t destroy ISIL — if they survive our best shot — that we’re all less safe. And at the end of the day, you cannot destroy ISIL in Syria without a ground component.”

Web Briefing: October 30, 2014

Netanyahu: Relationship with Obama One of ‘Mutual Respect and Mutual Appreciation’



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There is much speculation about President Obama’s relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the PM of the Jewish State says, “Actually, it is quite good.”

“I think you get to a point of mutual respect,” said Netanyahu, describing his relationship with the president on Face the Nation. “You cut to the chase very quickly, you talk about the real things openly, as befitting real allies. I think we have a relationship of mutual respect and mutual appreciation.”

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Hume: ISIS Bombing Campaign ‘Inspired by Politics and a Nearing Election’



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Expect the American campaign against the Islamic State to taper off following November’s midterm elections, says Brit Hume. “I think it’s beginning to look more and more as if our effort against ISIS is every bit as much inspired by politics and a nearing election as was the previous effort in Iraq,” said Hume on Fox News Sunday.

“The bombing campaign appears to be anything but really intense. . . . It looks like a quite mild bombing campaign undertaken for the purpose of appearing to do something toward the goal, the president says, of ultimately taking down ISIS.”

“My sense,” said Hume, “is after he gets past this election, his effort to take down ISIS — I don’t think it’s something he deeply believes in, I don’t think he could possibly believe in the approach he’s taken — will subside.”

Will: “What Isn’t Government’s Job Nowadays?”



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Can we trust the government to do its job? On Fox News Sunday columnist George Will parried: “What isn’t its job nowadays?” Will offered a quick run-through of governmental prerogatives in the early twenty-first century: “It’s fine tuning the curriculum of our students K-12. It’s monitoring sex on campuses. It’s deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks. It has designed our light bulbs. And it’s worried sick over the name of the Washington football team. This is a government that doesn’t know when to stop.”

Overreaching government is the natural consequence of progressivism, said Will, the “distilled essence” of which is that government is “a a) benign, that is, disinterested force — that’s false — and b) it is stocked with experts who are really gifted at doing things.”

Can we have faith in government? “I think we have much more to fear from excessive faith in government than from too little faith in government.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Junior: Greenshirt, ‘Denier.’



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Here’s Greenshirt Bobby Kennedy Jr., writing in EcoWatch:

Hysterics at the right wing think tanks and their acolytes at The Washington Times, talk radio and the blogosphere, are foaming in apoplexy because I supposedly suggested that “all climate deniers should be jailed.” Last week, that canard leapt from the wingnut echo chamber into New York magazine, which reported, under Jonathan Chait’s by-line, that “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. shares the opinion that climate denial should be criminalized.” Chait was quoting the National Review’s Kevin Williamson who made that outlandish claim at one of Heritage Foundation’s annual “Conference for Kooks.” Of course I never said that. I support the First Amendment which makes room for any citizen to, even knowingly, spew far more vile lies without legal consequence.

Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward goes to the tape. Listen to it carefully and you will hear Kennedy clearly express the wish that at least some of politicians who disagree with him on climate change should be jailed. He goes on to concede that would not be possible under the current law. Nevertheless, it is clear that in his brave new world Kennedy would like to see some of those who speak out against him in prison. The First Amendment stops that here for now, but that really doesn’t make those remarks much less sinister.

And there are ways around that pesky First Amendment. Kennedy would like to use “reckless endangerment” as a device to prosecute the Kochs for promoting their inconvenient opinions.

Wait, there’s more.

 Kennedy also argues that “corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty. This can be accomplished through an existing legal proceeding known as “charter revocation.” State Attorneys General can invoke this remedy whenever corporations put their profit-making before the “public welfare.”

As a precedent, Kennedy cites this:

In 1998, New York State’s Republican Attorney General, Dennis Vacco successfully invoked the “corporate death penalty” to revoke the charters of two non-profit tax-exempt tobacco industry front groups, The Tobacco Institute and the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR)… Attorney General Vacco seized their assets and distributed them to public institutions.

Hmmm, whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of that particular decision, it’s worth noting that it was directed against groups with charitable status, a status that rests on a presumption of some sort of public good. What Kennedy is contemplating is action against ‘regular’ corporations (such as ExxonMobil and Koch Industries) that support a political and scientific agenda with which he disagrees, corporations that, incidentally, he believes to be “enemies of mankind”. That hysterical and demagogic description tells you everything that you need to know. Kennedy’s is the language of a tyrant-in-the-making, prowling around America’s constitutional protections and looking for a way in.  

We should, I suppose, thank Kennedy for highlighting the fact that State attorneys-general have this power, and we should take steps to ensure—by law—that it cannot be abused by those who cannot stomach the awkwardness of free speech.

And there’s something else. As Laura Helmuth noted in Slate back in July, Kennedy can become very agitated when it comes to the use of thimoserol in vaccines, something he believes can cause autism in children:

It doesn’t. It just doesn’t. Every major scientific and medical organization in the country has evaluated the evidence and concluded that the preservative thimerosal is safe. The question is settled scientifically. Thimerosal, out of an abundance of caution, was removed from childhood vaccines 13 years ago, although it is used in some flu vaccines. And yet Kennedy, perhaps more than any other anti-vaccine zealot, has confused parents into worrying that vaccines, which have saved more lives than almost any other public health practice in history, could harm their children….

She then quotes this from a Washington Post profile of Kennedy:

The more Kennedy talked on the subject, the more his rhetoric became hyperbolic. During one 2011 segment on his Air America radio show, he accused government scientists of being “involved in a massive fraud.” He said they skewed studies to demonstrate the safety of thimerosal. “I can see that this fraud is doing extraordinary damage to the brains of American children,” he said.

Last year, he gave the keynote speech at an anti-vaccine gathering in Chicago. There, he said of a scientist who is a vocal proponent of vaccines and already the object of much hate mail from anti-vaccine activists that this scientist and others like him, “should be in jail, and the key should be thrown away.”

“Should be in jail, and the key should be thrown away.”

There’s a pattern here. 

CDC Director: ‘Glitch’ Prevented Quick Removal of Ebola-Contaminated Material in Dallas



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Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden made the Sunday show rounds this weekend to assure Americans their government is doing all it can to prevent an Ebola outbreak – but he also admitted that mismanagement and bureaucratic red tape has made those efforts more difficult.

CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Frieden why it took the government days to remove Ebola-contaminated clothes, bed sheets and other objects from the Dallas apartment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first-ever Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States.

“The reason we had some challenges with the medical waste is that’s the first time we’ve had to deal with that situation,” he said. “And just by chance, there had been a glitch in our system — the government system to approve a waste removal company to do that.”

“That’s been resolved,” Frieden added. “I wish it had been resolved sooner, but it’s resolved.”

Van Jones: ‘We Have to Remember the History of African-American Leaders Killed in U.S.’



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“We have to remember the history of African-American leaders being killed in this country,” said Van Jones, formerly the Obama administration’s green jobs czar, discussing Secret Service incompetence on ABC’s This Week.

Jones was responding to comments by Missouri congressman Emanuel Cleaver, reported in Friday’s New York Times: “ ‘Well, the Secret Service, they’re trying to expose the president.’ You hear a lot of that from African-Americans in particular.”

Jones criticized Cleaver’s comment as “unfair,” remarking on the incredible stress that Secret Service agents are constantly under, but noted that “there’s a big sensitivity in the black community. The minute [Obama] first announced, every African American that I knew above the age of 50 said, he’s going to be killed.”

“The last thing I want to say,” added Jones, “is this president has been threatened more than any other president, and he deserves a better job.”

CDC Director: ‘Confident’ U.S. Will Not Suffer Ebola Outbreak



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Center for Disease Control director Tom Friedan is “quite confident we will not have a widespread outbreak” of Ebola in the United States, because we have the resources to confront the virus quickly. “We will stop it in its tracks, because we’ve got infection control in hospitals and public health that tracks and isolates people if they get symptoms.”

“In Africa,” though, says Friedan, “the story is different.” American doctors assisted in stopping the rapid spread of the disease in Nigeria, “but that kind of intensive response is hard to marshal everywhere. And I’m quite concerned. The longer this goes on in these three west African countries, the greater the possibility that other countries in Africa are going to have to fight this on their territories as well.”

Earlier in his appearance, Friedan noted that as long as Ebola remains widespread in Africa, the United States will be at risk.

Should the Church Allow Married Men to be Priests?



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From The Tablet:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has said that priestly celibacy is not a dogma and “can be changed”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Director of News and Current Affairs, James Harding, for a programme charting Francis’ papacy, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said that a shortage of vocations could “impel” bishops’ conferences to ordain married men.

“If I were a bishop of a diocese that had a very small number of priests … I would ask permission I think of Rome to ordain suitable married men. But I think it’s got to be done very carefully because I think celibacy is a great gift to the Church,” he added.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Charts: Wage-Unemployment Puzzle, and Inflation



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I’m doing some research — well, “research” — for a column, and thought to share two charts.

This one is a puzzle: Why is wage growth flat even though the unemployment rate is falling rapidly?

And wages aren’t the only price that isn’t growing. Here are two important measures of overall prices, and those same two measures with volatile food and energy prices removes.

— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Hilarious Outrage From Before Media Knew Virginia Horse-Trade Was a Democratic Scandal [Wayback Edition]



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Charlie Cooke has already mourned the bones of Sir Walter Raleigh and Patrick Henry in his great Terry McAuliffe philippic, so I’ll just point out something about the specific scandal that has the gladhanding governor of Virginia in hot water.

The Phil Puckett resignation started out as a Republican scandal — and back then there didn’t seem to be much concern from the media that, in the Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy’s phrasing, “it was not entirely clear to Richmond’s increasingly bewildered and antsy political class just what [the offender at the moment] had done.”

Back then, Virginia Senate Republicans stood accused of offering state senator Phillip Puckett a job if he resigned his seat, which would have thwarted a McAuliffe scheme to push increased Medicaid commitments through the senate. I reported on that story in June, when Puckett had in fact given up his senate seat. At the time, Puckett, a Democrat with deep roots in southwestern Virginia who managed to stay in office for many years in a heavily Republican district, mentioned the need to vacate his seat so his daughter could be confirmed to a judgeship that was being blocked by what Vozzella and Portnoy call “Senate Republicans’ anti-nepotism policy.” (When will the Republicans lighten up with these ethical rules of theirs, for heaven’s sake?) Puckett also alluded to some family health problems (also rumored to be the case by other observers), and he discontinued discussions of his own job prospect once the issue came up. 

Quoting my earlier article:

Yet Puckett has been turned into an Old Dominion Benedict Arnold by national media.

“They come with festering cancers, rotting teeth, wheezing lungs and aching joints, lining up for hours to see the doctors who arrive with a mobile clinic to deliver health care to the most underserved of America’s poor,” the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak wrote in her column titled “By resigning, Virginia lawmaker Phillip Puckett betrayed his own people.”

“GOP Straight Up Bribes Democratic Senator In Effort To Block Obamacare,”reported the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Ashley Alman. “Republicans offered to move Democratic state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett and his daughter into prestigious jobs in exchange for Puckett’s resignation,” Grim and Alman continued, “which will flip the chamber into Republican hands. Puckett officially accepted the offer on Monday, but then appeared to back away amid a public outcry.”

“I used to think Gov. Terry McAuliffe was the most venal politician among Virginia Democrats,” thought Jamelle Bouie of Slate. “But, I was wrong. That title goes to state Sen. Phillip Puckett, who resigned on Monday as part of a deal to give Republicans control of the state Senate, and thus a full veto on the Medicaid expansion.”

© Larrymetayer | Dreamstime.com - Former President Bill Clinton And Candidate For Governor For The State Of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe Photo

Bouie had it right the first time. Now the Puckett brouhaha has boomeranged on the Democrats, as it turns out McAuliffe’s chief of staff Paul Reagan made an extraordinarily straightforward and oily plea to Puckett to stay in office:

“We would be very eager to accommodate her if, if that would be helpful in keeping you in the Senate,” Reagan said in a voicemail to Puckett. “We, we would basically do anything.”

Why don’t I ever get voicemails like that?

And while it’s fun to read about team McAuliffe’s venality (McAuliffe’s proud delight in his own corruption is in fact the closest thing he has to charm), do we really need federal investigators hunting heads over some horse trading in a state capital? (Presumably the answer will be yes, because the GOP got the better of this particular trade.)

At least the Democrats can still blame Reagan.

Tags: Virginia

Are Some Republicans Unrealistic about How Low Tax Rates Can Go?



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So asks my AEI colleagues James Pethokoukis. Here’s his answer.

Report: ISIS Beheads British Hostage, Threatens an American



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A new video purportedly shows another beheading of a Western hostage, British aid worker Alan Henning, by an Islamic State militant, according to the Associated Press.

While the wire service is still confirming the authenticity of the video, it reportedly mirrors previous beheading videos. At the end of the video, the militant threatens to kill an American hostage next.

“Obama, you have started your aerial bombard of Shams [Syria], which keep on striking our people, so it is only right that we strike the next of your people,” the man in the video says.

Henning had been in captivity since December of last year after he was taken crossing the Syria–Turkey border. Last week, CNN reported that the British foreign office released audio of Henning pleading to be spared.

Wait, There’s a Problem with Christian Medical Missionaries?



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Let me begin by confessing my biases right away. Kent Brantly — the American missionary who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia — isn’t just one of my heroes, he’s also (distantly) family. He’s my uncle’s nephew. I’m not sure if that makes us some form of cousin, but it feels family-ish.

And let me confess more bias. That same uncle served for years as a medical missionary in Nigeria and Tanzania, and my brother-in-law (also a doctor) has taken multiple medical mission trips. Heck, as a lawyer I feel near-useless (completely useless?) by comparison. 

So, given this background, I reacted with perhaps special revulsion upon reading this piece from Slate’s Brian Palmer, where an atheist asks, “Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?”

Now, why would someone possibly be concerned that a number of fellow citizens have decided to leave the prosperity of American medicine (for all its problems, it’s still pretty darn lucrative), travel to the developing world, and sometimes risk life and limb to provide medical care to the poorest of the poor?

Here’s why:

And yet, for secular Americans—or religious Americans who prefer their medicine to be focused more on science than faith—it may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation. Our historic ambivalence toward missionary medicine has crystallized into suspicion over the past several decades. It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?

Let’s translate. Dear missionaries who are sacrificing so much because of your love for Jesus, shut up about Jesus. Squelch the beliefs that guide your life, that give you meaning and purpose, so that other people — thousands of miles away — don’t have to think of you sharing the Gospel. 

(And never mind the utterly insulting insinuation that faithful Christian doctors aren’t as focused on science.)

As the writer notes, this is an old critique — one that treats the Christian message as a kind of cultural cancer, something to be contained and ultimately excised (so long as it doesn’t kill the good deeds). One hears this critique in the states all the time, especially on campus, where the only “good” Christians are the ones who shut up and serve. Get thee to a soup kitchen! And don’t let me hear a word!

This message ignores the reality that a missionary is a human being, a whole person, not an antibiotic-dispensing robot. And as a whole person — made fully alive by their faith — they recognize that physical aid (as important as that is) is only part of the story. They understand that the most significant message of Christ isn’t “Get up and walk,” it’s instead, “Your sins are forgiven.” Why should a missionary ignore the most important message to deliver the lesser service?

Not content with the classical critique, Palmer continues:

There are serious questions about the quality of care provided by religious organizations in Africa. A 2008 report by the African Religious Heath Assets Programme concluded that faith-based facilities were “often severely understaffed and many health workers were under-qualified.” Drug shortages and the inability to transport patients who needed more intensive care also hampered the system.

There is also a troubling lack of oversight. Large religious health care facilities tend to be consistent in their care, but the hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller clinics in Africa are a mystery. We don’t know whether missionary doctors are following international standards of care. (I’ve heard murmurs among career international health specialists that missionaries may be less likely to wear appropriate protective equipment, which is especially troubling in the context of the Ebola outbreak.) We don’t know what happens to the patients who rely on missionary doctors if and when the caregivers return to their home countries. There are extremely weak medical malpractice laws (and even weaker court systems to enforce them) in much of sub-Saharan Africa, so we have no sense whatsoever of how many mistakes missionary doctors are making.

In other words, he has a problem with medical missionaries because they’re not operating in first-world hospitals with first-world reporting systems and first-world systems of legal accountability? If there weren’t staffing shortages, drug shortages, a lack of large health-care facilities, and all the other issues that dominate developing-world medicine, we wouldn’t need medical missionaries.

But in the end, Palmer — despite his biases — swallows his objections because, well, there’s just no choice. Let the filthy Christians serve:

We have a choice: Swallow our objections and support these facilities, spend vast sums of money to build up Africa’s secular health care capacity immediately, or watch the continent drown in Ebola, HIV, and countless other disease outbreaks.

As an atheist, I try to make choices based on evidence and reason. So until we’re finally ready to invest heavily in secular medicine for Africa, I suggest we stand aside and let God do His work.

The column is not redeemed by a closing non-aggression pledge. 

I hope and pray that if presented evidence that people from another faith (or no faith at all) were doing good works at a rate that put my own church to shame, I’d have the integrity to unreservedly applaud them for their virtue and exhort my church to do better. 

While Mr. Palmer is no Ann Coulter (who wrote the worst column ever penned about Christian service overseas), his post was sad evidence that, at least in some quarters of the atheist community, it is virtually impossible for “evidence and reason” to overcome their own bigotry.

You Want Executive Action? Here’s Some Executive Action



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The president promises to lawlessly amnesty millions of illegal aliens on his own say-so, enabling them to get work cards, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, EITC, foreign travel documents, and the rest. But there are executive powers that he really does possess that he’s not using. Senator Sessions has helpfully provided a number of “lawful, constitutional executive actions” that the president should already be undertaking but isn’t:

  • Complete the border fence that Congress has previously passed into law;
  • Create the exit-entry system to track foreign visa-holders, which Congress has repeatedly mandated;
  • Cancel visas to any country that won’t take back its own citizens;
  • Stop the improper issuance of billions of dollars in child tax credits to illegal immigrants,
  • Enforce the currently un-enforced public charge rule for immigrants to the U.S., both legal and illegal;
  • Crack down on abuse of the H-1B guest worker program that is displacing U.S. workers;
  • Increase, don’t reduce, prosecutions under the proven Operation Streamline;
  • Instead of suing states that are trying to enforce the law, target sanctuary cities that are defying the law; and
  • Cancel all meetings with pro-amnesty groups to plot executive amnesty, and instead meet with Chris Crane, Ken Palinkas, and Chris Cabrera (of ICE, USCIS, and Border Patrol). Instead of ordering them not to do their jobs, sit down with them ask what they need to end the lawlessness and restore integrity to our nation’s immigration system.”

My colleague Jessica Vaughan points out that the president has the authority “to deny admission to any alien that has (or cannot establish to the government’s satisfaction that he or she doesn’t have) a communicable disease of public health significance.”

And Christian Adams explains that the president has even broader power than that, citing the statute that allows him to bar entry to any foreigner for any reason:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

So, with all these lawful executive powers, why is he ignoring them and claiming powers he does not have?

Confucius Say . . .



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At the beginning of our latest podcast, Mona Charen and I have a guest, Henry Olsen. He is a guru on elections and electorates, plus other important matters. Then Mona and I discuss a range of issues — beginning with Hong Kong. Could Tiananmen Square be repeated? And how about the broader question of democracy, for peoples that don’t have it? Democracy for me but not for thee?

Then we talk about the business of terrorist-killing — this is very important business. It is hard to do without harming or killing innocent people in the process, as President Obama knows. Does he have a twinge of sympathy for Israel, which tries to take out terrorists who place themselves and their matériel amid schoolkids and hospital patients?

We talk about the University of Chicago — which has just done a stirring thing. They have dropped the Confucius Institute from their campus. What’s a Confucius Institute? In large part, an extension of the Chinese Communist Party’s “soft power.” There are hundreds of these damn institutes in free countries.

The other day, I did a little post about Kim Jong-un — who has been out of public view for a while, I believe. The word is, he’s laid up by gout. While a schoolboy in Switzerland, he developed a fondness for cheese, and gorges on the stuff (again, according to reports). Thanks to the Communist system, millions of North Koreans are starving — but their leader is all too well fed.

Mona and I talk about this. Then some more issues. We go out with some music: the last few minutes of The Firebird, Stravinsky’s ballet. When they opened Carnegie Hall’s season on Wednesday night, the Berlin Philharmonic played some excerpts from this ballet. In my review, I wrote that Stefan Dohr’s horn solo was just about the best part of the whole evening. He is one of the great instrumentalists in the world.

To hear Dohr play the solo in question — not this week, but years ago — go here.

The President’s Peculiar Tolerance for Risk



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This administration’s cavalier responses to a series of threats to the safety and security of America and Americans has no parallel in recent history. Although there have been various moments of national peril during the last half-century, never has the nation’s leadership displayed such disinterest, nonchalance, and even recklessness regarding their primary duty to its citizens.

The Ebola scare is but the latest demonstration of official somnolence. While it’s wise for government officials to project calmness so as not to fan hysteria, the administration’s bewildering record of nonfeasance regarding security matters suggests not calmness, but an indifference that seems to invite catastrophe.

At the very time that the terrorist threat has never been greater — when a rabid, well-financed terrorist army proclaims its intent to strike on U.S. soil — this administration opens our borders to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and refuses to tell us where they’re being resettled — by our own government, no less. It sends 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola but rejects sending even three National Guardsmen to secure our southern border, and  dismisses any suggestion of travel restrictions from Ebola-stricken West Africa.

The public’s anxiety levels weren’t quite reduced by the news that the commander-in-chief misses 60 percent of his intelligence briefings. Nor were they lowered upon learning that the administration rejected numerous pleas for additional security prior to the 9/11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi. But it’s unclear whether regular intelligence briefings would make any difference. This is a president so comfortable with risk that he would ignore the counsel of his top defense and intelligence advisers to retain  a military presence in Iraq, gambling that the global goodwill engendered by his mere presence in the Oval Office was sufficient to forestall the implosion of the Middle East.

And a nuclear Iran? No worries. They can be contained. It’s those Jewish settlements we need to keep an eye on.

Even videotaped beheadings of Americans created no sense of urgency within the administration. Until, that is, polls emphatically showed the American people expected  urgency from their government.

And therein lies the limit to Obama’s tolerance for risk. A nation imperiled is one thing; a president or party imperiled is quite another.

Another Man Got Backstage with Obama



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A man posing as a member of Congress got backstage near President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation last week, but that’s not the first time such a lapse took place.

After the 2011 State of the Union address, Secret Service agents let another man, Michigan Senate Majority leader Randy Richardville, approach Obama because they thought he was a member of Congress.

“Security officials mistook his Michigan lapel pin for the one that members of Congress wear,” Crain’s Detroit Business reports. “As he walked the halls of Congress alone, he said he saw a group of people with machine guns and military outfits and a man walking backward taking pictures. So Richardville figured the president might be walking right past him soon, so he decided to wait and see.”

He was right — so right, that he ended up walking and talking with Obama. “I said I kind of liked [his speech], so we started walking,” Richardville told CDB. “I said, ‘You wouldn’t mind signing my ticket, would you?’ I didn’t want any Republicans to see that, but he went ahead and autographed it. I put it back in my pocket and we just started talking about life walking down the halls of Congress right after the State of the Union.”

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