“It’s not the job of the U.S. military to do nation building or produce democratic utopias.”
For The Daily Beast, Eli Lake writes: One way to understand Ted Cruz’s foreign policy, particularly if you are a Democrat, is through the prism of the social media phenomenon known as trolling. The best trolls are provocateurs. Their language is meant to expose a fallacy or weakness in the opponent’s position as opposed to offering a constructive alternative.
“The American president has a peculiar leadership responsibility to speak out for freedom.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the junior senator from Texas, there was a lot of trolling. Of Obama’s recent attempt to stop the fighting in Gaza, Cruz said, “We should be helping Israel, not Hamas, which is what John Kerry’s proposal would have done.” But Cruz found a silver lining. “It’s remarkable that the failures of the Obama, Clinton, Kerry foreign policy are not only uniting the left and right in Israel but might even be creating some common ground between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Cruz’s foreign policy approach hews much closer to that of one of Reagan’s top advisers, Jeane Kirkpatrick. She wrote a landmark essay for Commentary in 1979 called “Dictatorships And Double Standards” where she chastised President Jimmy Carter for pursuing human rights at the expense of U.S. national interests.
When speaking about the conditions that led up to the Egyptian military coup last year, Cruz observed: “One of the saddest things to see were posters among the people that said: ‘Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood,’ ‘America supports terrorists.’”
Cruz described Secretary of State John Kerry’s surprise deal with Vladimir Putin to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons in these words: “The incompetence of the Obama foreign policy was so manifest that it presented an opportunity for Putin to cast himself as a hero and save the day.” The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision last week to suspend all air travel to Israel after a Hamas rocket fell near Ben Gurion Airport amounted to an “economic boycott of Israel.”
But to think of Cruz as just a troll is to miss an important development in the Grand Old Party’s post-Bush foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »
“That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive.”
Yuval Levin‘s post at The Corner is bracing, and revealing, noteworthy not only because of the insights expressed here, but as an example of what team NRO does best: the most lucid writing on these matters you’ll find anywhere.
From Legalization by Edict:
“…the notion that the president can respond to a failure to get Congress to adopt his preferred course on a prominent and divisive public issue by just acting on his own as if a law he desires had been enacted has basically nothing to do with our system of government.
In one sense, the approach the president is said to be contemplating does fit into a pattern of his use of executive power. That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive. That’s how moving to compel nuns to buy contraception and abortive drugs for their employees became “they’re trying to take away your birth control.” This strategy needlessly divides the country and brings out the worst instincts of people on all sides, but it has obvious benefits for the administration and its allies. Liberals get both the substantive action and the political benefit of calling their opponents radicals and getting their supporters worked up. Obama’s legalization of millions would surely draw a response that could then be depicted as evidence of Republican hostility to immigrants, rather than of Republican hostility to illegal executive overreach that tries to make highly significant policy changes outside the bounds of our constitutional order.
But while the legalization now being talked about fits into that pattern in a sense, the sheer scope of its overreach would put it in a different category as a practical matter…(read more)
[VIDEO] Son of Hamas Founder Mosab Hassan Yousef: What Does Hamas Want? Conquest. When Do They Want It? Now.Posted: July 28, 2014
“Hamas is not seeking coexistence and compromise; Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over.”
– Mosab Hassan Yousef
The son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef revealed to CNN that Hamas’s “final destination” goes beyond just the destruction of Israel.
“Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, does not care about the lives of Israelis or Americans.”
“Hamas is not seeking coexistence and compromise; Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over,” said Mosab Hassan Yousef, who has rejected Hamas’s objectives and converted to Christianity. Ultimately, Hamas aims to help create an Islamic caliphate “on the rubble of any other civilization.” Read the rest of this entry »
“For those progressive Jews who have found solace in the myth that anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the events across the globe of the last few weeks have been a rude and discomforting awakening.”
For National Review Online, Abraham H. Miller writes: In the largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Chicago’s Petersen Park, residents last Saturday morning found anti-Semitic leaflets on their way to synagogue to observe the Sabbath. The leaflets threatened violence against the community unless Israel stopped the war with Gaza.
For those progressive Jews who have found solace in the myth that anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the events across the globe of the last few weeks have been a rude and discomforting awakening. And so they turned to their final recourse, the belief that America was different.
“Hatred is the great unifier. If you are going to hate anyone, hate Jews, because no one cares.”
Sure, there was a pogrom at a synagogue in Paris, but, well, that’s Paris. Muslims and their neo-fascist and leftist allies might walk through the streets of Germany shouting anti-Jewish slogans reminiscent of the Hitler Youth, but, well, that’s Germany.
Then came the pro-Hamas demonstrations in Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago.
In San Francisco, if not for the police, some 30 pro-Israel protesters would have been brutalized by over 300 people demonstrating on behalf of the genocidal Hamas terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »
Disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive imagination.
Kevin D. Williamson — no slouch when it comes to precise language himself — has a must-read in this weekend’s National Review, reminding us that the “ancients understood something that has been neglected in recent centuries: Grammar is the foundation of logic.”
There will always be occasions for discretion and interpretation on legal questions, but it is not the case that such discretion should presumptively empower the IRS to do things that the IRS is not legally entitled to do simply because Barack Obama wishes it to be so. If history teaches us anything, it is that a system of law that presumptively sides with political power soon ceases to be any sort of system of law at all. Rather, it becomes a post facto justification for the will to power, an intellectual window dressing on might-makes-right rule.
The matter addressed in Halbig is hardly the Obama administration’s first attempt to circumvent the law as written — see Hobby Lobby, etc. — nor is it the progressives’ only attempt to impose what they imagine to be enlightened ad-hocracy on the American people. The disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive managerial imagination: The law, in their view, is not something that limits the ambitions of princes, but something that empowers them to do what they see fit… (read more)
From Halbig and Hammurabi
[Kevin Williamson's book "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure" is available at Amazon]
The United States is pulling embassy staff out of Tripoli, and has issued a travel advisory that nicely outlines what a nightmare Libya has become. If Obama were a Republican, the press coverage of this stinking corpse of a policy flub would be quite different.
For The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead writes: The reckless and thoughtless Libya intervention just keeps looking worse. But don’t read the critics to see how horrible things are: as the government announces that the U.S. has officially evacuated its embassy in Tripoli this morning, the latest State Department travel advisory for the country says it all:
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately. Read the rest of this entry »
For National Review Online, Hans A. von Spakovsky writes: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: two different federal courts of appeal, issuing completely contradictory rulings on the very same day, on the very same issue.
“An Exchange established by the federal government cannot possibly be ‘an exchange established by the State.’ To hold otherwise would be to engage in distortion, not interpretation.”
– Senior Judge Ray Randolph
That’s what happened Tuesday. If nothing else, the dueling rulings should hasten the day when the next phase of litigation involving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reaches the Supreme Court.
In Halbig v. Burwell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the administration, voiding an IRS regulation that provided tax credits in the form of a subsidy to individuals purchasing health insurance through exchanges run by the federal government. Meanwhile, in Richmond, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held the exact opposite: In King v. Burwell, it concluded that the IRS had the power to authorize such subsidies.
The language of the statute is not ambiguous, so the Justice Department was forced to argue that the IRS rule was a valid exercise of regulatory authority to implement the intent of the law.
The Obamacare law specifically says that the federal government can provide subsidies for insurance bought on an exchange “established by the State.” But there is no mention whatsoever of extending the subsidies to those who purchase coverage on an exchange run by the federal government. Read the rest of this entry »
In the United States, God is on the currency. By brilliant design, though, he is not mentioned in the Constitution. The founders were explicit: This country would never formally align God with one political party, or allow someone to use religion to ignore civil laws. At least that was the intent. In this summer of the violent God, five justices on the Supreme Court seem to feel otherwise.
Egan packs a lot of misunderstandings into a few words. Read the rest of this entry »
For Commentary Magazine, Max Boot writes: It tells you all you need to know about Hamas that its biggest victory to date against Israel–one that is no doubt being celebrated in the fortified bunkers that house its leadership–was the death of four young Palestinian boys on a Gaza City beach on Wednesday. The boys were apparently killed by an Israeli bomb or missile.
Needless to say, the Israel Defense Forces do not deliberately target children–any more than do the armed forces of the United States or other civilized powers. That is both morally abhorrent and strategically stupid: What possible purpose can be served in killing children? But while deeply harmful and counterproductive for Israel, this inadvertent strike was a big win for Hamas. It produced the most coveted of victories in modern warfare: a front-page picture, taken by the storiedNew York Times photographer Tyler Hicks, of one dead boy lying on the Gaza sand and another being carried in a man’s arms.
There is no surer or better way for Hamas to make its propaganda point, which is the only point of this entire exercise from its standpoint. Hamas, like other terrorist groups, knows it cannot win a military victory against a much more powerful enemy, but it can win a public-relations victory by fostering the illusion that Israel is the aggressor and the Palestinians its victims.
Such an image is as powerful as it is misleading. All informed observers know the facts. Read the rest of this entry »
The summer when America fell apart
When I read that opening sentence, I thought – finally, someone’s on the same page. When we began this ongoing theme – The Global Panic of July 2014 – it was meant as a joke, dark humor to survive the seemingly endless cascade of bad news. But it’s also an amplified recognition of reality; increasing disorder and dysfunction, nationally and internationally. Mixed with breathtaking technological advances, with the promise of more economic disruption to come. From 9/11 until now, we are witnessing a disintegration of the post-war world order. This summer marks even more global instability. Things are unravelling at a faster pace than even my most pessimistic colleagues have suggested. A historic turning point? If so, Victor Davis Hanson‘s an informed tour guide. Read the whole thing here.
Germany in 2008 enthusiastically hosted candidate Barack Obama for his so-called “Victory Column” speech. Now, Germans suddenly sound as if they are near-enemies of the U.S. Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly was furious that her cell phone was tapped by American intelligence agents.
“Asian powers apparently assume that Obama won’t guarantee the security of the Japanese as America had in the past.”
She just kicked the top CIA official out of Germany, further enraged that the U.S. had recruited at least one German official to provide intelligence on the German government. Polls show that Germans find Vladimir Putin’s Russian tyranny almost as popular as Barack Obama’s America. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway writes: Someone I’m related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I’m not a disinterested observer shouldn’t stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.”
[Also see - Mollie Hemingway on Media Illiteracy]
Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter’s not alone here — the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
“The problem is ultimately not Carter’s ignorance. The problem is that we live in an environment where you can become a “senior political economy reporter” for a major news organization at age 28.”
Still, perhaps there are reasons to criticize Cheney and the invasion of Iraq, but the trouble was that Carter couldn’t articulate any of them substantively, and what’s more, Hewitt asked a series of questions establishing that Carter doesn’t even have an acceptable baseline of knowledge to spout off on the topic. Some of the questions, such as whether Carter has read specific books, might seem pedantic. Others seemed to be a pretty basic litmus test about knowledge of al Qaeda and the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
Don’t hand the IRS investigation over to a special prosecutor.
“Let’s talk reality. As a matter of constitutional law, there is no such thing as an independent counsel. In our system, prosecution is a plenary executive power. All federal investigations and prosecutions proceed under the authority of the president; neither the Congress nor the courts have police powers. Any prosecutor, regardless of how “independent” we’d like him to be, would have to serve at the pleasure of the president, and would report to Eric Holder…”
Liberals are increasingly religious about their own liberalism, treating it like a comprehensive view of reality and the human good
Before we begin, a little housekeeping is in order. Acting on judgement that defies logic, Damon Linker elects to insert “Paul Krugman” as the seventh and eighth words in the following essay–and then, stranger still, leaves them there, thinking it’s a good way to open his article, having bypassed what I assume were multiple chances to change his mind in the editing process. Revealing that he thinks Krugman is relevant, for some reason. Almost killing any chance a non-New-York-Times-reading liberal reader will want to proceed any further.
Or if they do make it to the second paragraph, taking anything in the article seriously. If Linker had buried that digression in the middle of the essay, it might have been easer to charitably overlook.
Funny how that works. By trying to avoid “sounding like Paul Krugman”, Linker succeeds in planting a poisoned seed right at the beginning–and he succeeds in doing what he claimed he wanted to avoid–sounding like Paul Krugman. Is this a good thing? I think not!
On the other hand, it might work as a test of his material. It reminds me of a method comedian Louis C.K. described for making sure his material is good. If the audience is in a good mood, giving away laughter too early, too easy, he starts the show by insulting the audience, making them unhappy, right off the bat. Bam. Discomfort. Uncertainty. Then, he knows that if they laugh at his jokes after that, the material must be good. As Louis C.K. concludes, “Okay, now we can get to work”.
So, if you can make it past words seven and eight (or the multitude of times you had to read Krugman’s name in my own annoyingly-long prologue, then you’re medically inoculated!) because the title sounded promising, you’ll find it’s actually a very good article. And it was worth making it past that lapse in judgement, and my unseemly introduction. Read on!
At the risk of sounding like Paul Krugman — who returns to a handful of cherished topics over and over again in his New York Times column — I want to revisit one of my hobby horses, which I most recently raised in my discussion of Hobby Lobby.
My own cherished topic is this: Liberalism’s decline from a political philosophy of pluralism into a rigidly intolerant dogma.
The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex. For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left.
The result is a dogmatic form of liberalism that threatens to poison American civic life for the foreseeable future. Conservative Reihan Salam describes it, only somewhat hyperbolically, as a form of “weaponized secularism.”
The rise of dogmatic liberalism is the American left-wing expression of the broader trend that Mark Lilla identified in a recent blockbuster essay for The New Republic. The reigning dogma of our time, according to Lilla, is libertarianism — by which he means far more than the anti-tax, anti-regulation ideology that Americans identify with the post-Reagan Republican Party, and that the rest of the world calls “neoliberalism.”
At its deepest level, libertarianism is “a mentality, a mood, a presumption… a prejudice” in favor of the liberation of the autonomous individual from all constraints originating from received habits, traditions, authorities, or institutions. Libertarianism in this sense fuels the American right’s anti-government furies, but it also animates the left’s push for same-sex marriage — and has prepared the way for its stunningly rapid acceptance — in countries throughout the West. Read the rest of this entry »