Andrew Ferguson’s Ted Cruz Profile September 23,2013
From yesterday’s New York Times, this:
In 2013, a Ferguson profile of Ted Cruz included a devastating section in which the journalist, trapped in cars and green rooms with his subject, realizes that Cruz only speaks in stump speeches, and won’t … stop … giving … them.
I remember reading the Cruz profile, “Washington Builds a Bugaboo” in in The Weekly Standard back in 2013, and the impression it left was permanent. Even now, it’s hard to look at Cruz without recalling the unflattering depictions of Cruz’s unyielding conversational style and tone-deaf careerism. It’s a good cautionary tale. Read the whole thing here.
September 23, 2013, Andrew Ferguson writes:
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party.
“Ted really worked at it. He’d practice at home in front of the mirror to get everything just right.”
— Paige Moore, a friend of the Cruz family
“I call them the Children of Reagan,” he says. He means the rising group of Republican officeholders who came to political consciousness during President Reagan’s two terms. He rattles off their names: “young leaders” like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Mike Lee, Scott Walker . . . and then sometimes he’ll pause, letting you wonder if he’s leaving out any of the Children’s names. Sometimes a helpful fan in the audience will volunteer it, to general appreciation from the crowd.
Among that tiny fraction of Americans who are paying attention to such things, Cruz seems to be the only person who is forgetting Ted Cruz’s name.
“Americans who worry about democracy need to keep on this guy,” warned a reporter for the New Republic back in February. And no wonder! Skim the tweets or scan the blogs or, if you’re older than one of Reagan’s Children, read the actual newspapers, and you’ll soon discover that Ted Cruz is far more than the freshman senator from Texas, only eight months in office. He is also the “scary” “McCarthyite” “Taliban” “bully” and “bomb-thrower” known for his “extremism” and his “arrogant” and “nihilistic” “disregard of facts.”
When you follow him around, however—for he is in constant motion, from Iowa to New Hampshire to every corner of Texas—this nasty fellow you’ve been reading about, the caricature Cruz, never appears. If “Ted Cruz” didn’t exist, professional Democrats and the mainstreamers in the Washington press corps would have to invent him.
And, in a way, he doesn’t, and they have: Indeed, the invention of Ted Cruz as Republican bugaboo makes an excellent case study in how partisan journalism and politics commingle these days, as jittery Washington prepares for the post-Obama era.
Already the litany of Cruz’s extremism has become an item in the progressive catechism. Most of it involves alleged violations of Senate etiquette, and it’s useful to glance over a few of them, to see how the legend grows.
The unnerved New Republic reporter mentioned above was alarmed in particular by Cruz’s questioning of soon-to-be defense secretary Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearings.
Cruz opposed Hagel’s nomination. The reasons seemed straightforward—Cruz disagreed with the nominee on questions of national defense and foreign policy, including Hagel’s well-attested aversion, or “antagonism,” as Cruz put it, toward Israel’s behavior in the Middle East. Cruz grilled Hagel (the verb is required when writing about congressional hearings) about his association with a ferociously anti-Israel U.S. diplomat called Chas Freeman. In 2009 Freeman resigned from the president’s National Intelligence Council after pro-Israel senators like Charles Schumer said his “statements against Israel were way over the top.”
At the hearing, Cruz asked Hagel whether he and Freeman had ever worked or junketed together, as press reports suggested. Hagel said no. Cruz moved on.
“Those old enough to remember, or who are familiar with, the history, will recognize Cruz’s line of attack as classic McCarthy tactics,” wrote TNR’s reporter. The mention of McCarthy is catnip for a good mainstreamer. “The Reincarnation of Joe McCarthy?” wondered a columnist for Forbes. The mere scent jogged the memory of a left-wing reporter for the New Yorker,who, Pavlov-style, wrote a story headlined: “Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?” She dug out old notes she had taken at a speech Cruz gave to a group of right-wingers a couple years before.
The New Yorker’s reporter didn’t mention it, but other people who were there say Cruz’s informal speech was boisterous and funny, tailored to an audience of like-minded ideologues. Just as a mention of Joe McCarthy thrills people on the left, so the right delights in mockery of Harvard, especially its law school—and especially if the speaker, like Cruz, is a graduate in good standing.
According to the New Yorker reporter, Cruz said this two years ago:
“There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
Having been found guilty as a McCarthyite, Cruz is of course granted no license for hyperbole, even among friends (and donors!). When Cruz attended Harvard Law, in the mid-90s, it was still the intellectual locus of a dying movement called Critical Legal Studies that was explicitly inspired by Marx, whose other followers, history shows, seldom reconciled themselves to the U.S. government. Earnestly, with that mock disinterestedness that characterizes the most dutiful of the mainstreamers, the reporter got an “equal-time” comment from a spokesman for the law school. The spokesman confessed to being “puzzled by the senator’s assertions.” For the record.
There is a professor at Harvard Law famous for, among other things, being a Republican. The New Yorker sleuth tracked him down. He told her that in fact, during Cruz’s Harvard years, 4 professors had publicly confessed to Republicanism. There were over 200 faculty at the law school at the time, but none, according to the New Yorker’s investigation, called for the Communists to overthrow the government. The question in the New Yorker headline answered itself. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1985, Barack Obama had just arrived in Chicago for his new job as a community organizer when he headed to Smitty’s Barbershop, a tiny storefront on the South Side. As Smitty cut his hair, Obama listened to the men in the shop talk politics and racial grievance. When the barber finished, he handed Obama a mirror and said, “Haircuts ten dollars. What’s your name, anyway?”
“Barack, huh,” Smitty responded. “You a Muslim?”
“Grandfather was,” Obama said, according to his memoir Dreams From My Father.
Smitty’s question, which Obama didn’t exactly answer, prefigured a controversy that continues to this day…
Byron York writes: Fresh from a controversy over his views on evolution, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is now involved in a controversy over his views, or lack of them, on President Obama’s religion. On Saturday, two Washington Post reporters asked Walker, in the nation’s capital for a governor’s meeting, whether Obama is a Christian. Walker said he didn’t know.
Informed by the reporters that Obama is in fact a Christian, Walker replied, “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” protesting that the president’s religion is not a topic of great interest to voters. “I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue,” Walker told the Post.
“In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.”
Nevertheless, the story created at least a minor explosion in the political press, and Democrats quickly used it to attack a Republican who has recently risen to the top tier of the GOP 2016 presidential field.
But when it comes to confusion, or wrong information, about Obama’s religion, Scott Walker is far from alone. Polls have long shown many Americans know little about the president’s faith.
“One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian.”
In June, 2012, Gallup asked, “Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The “don’t know” group included 36 percent of Democrats. (A larger number of Republicans, 47 percent, said they didn’t know Obama’s religion, as did 46 percent of independents.)
“By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well.”
In August, 2010, a Pew poll made news when it found that 18 percent of those surveyed believed Obama is a Muslim. But just as notably, 43 percent of respondents in that survey told Pew they didn’t know Obama’s religion. Among those who said they didn’t know were 41 percent of Democrats.
One notable suggestion in the Pew survey was that in Obama’s first couple of years in office, as Americans became more familiar with him as president, they became less sure of his religious faith. In March 2009, shortly after Obama entered the White House, 34 percent said they did not know his religion, while 48 percent identified him as a Christian. By August 2010, the number of Americans who said they did not know Obama’s religion had grown to 43 percent, while the number who identified him as Christian fell to 34 percent. The trend was true not just of the president’s political opponents but of his supporters as well. “Even among Democrats, fewer than half (46 percent) now identify his religion as Christian, down from 55 percent last year,” Pew wrote in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
After training, moderate rebels to get pickups with gear to call for American B-1B bombers
Military officials point to U.S. airstrikes, called in by Kurdish fighters, that helped drive Islamic State fighters from the city of Kobani as the model for the new campaign.
“We were getting information from the Kurds from our command and control element. We were getting information quickly enough for the purposes of what we were trying to achieve: target ISIL fighters and their positions.”
— Lt. Col. Sumangil
Still, there are significant differences with what the U.S.-trained rebels will face. In Kobani, a larger and more-cohesive Kurdish force was fighting from a fixed position against a single enemy—Islamic State—without having to worry about the Syrian regime or other rebel groups.
U.S. officials also are confronted with the fragile nature of the international coalition assembled to fight Islamic State, the uneasy peace with Iran inside of Iraq, and questions about whether U.S. warplanes can or should target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The plan comes as the U.S. prepares to start training moderate rebels, who are waging a two-front fight against the extremists and the Syrian regime. Defense officials said the training will begin in mid-to-late March in Jordan, with a second site due to open soon after in Turkey.
At the same time, the threat is spreading. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi called on Tuesday for the United Nations to endorse an international military campaign against Islamic State in Libya, a day after he ordered cross-border airstrikes in retaliation for the execution of 21 Egyptian Christians by the extremist group. The U.N. Security Council was to meet in emergency session on Wednesday, but the U.S. and several other council members called in advance for a political solution.
The Obama administration has been facing growing pressure to step up support for the moderate Syrian rebels from Republican hawks in Congress and from some allies, as well as conservative critics.
The first training sessions are to last between six and eight weeks. The training will focus on helping the rebel forces hold territory and counter Islamic State fighters—not to take on the Syrian army.
After that the U.S. will consider introducing what it is calling “the new Syrian force” onto the battlefield, officials said.
A team of four to six rebels will each be given a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, outfitted with a machine gun, communications gear and Global Positioning System trackers enabling them to call in airstrikes. Read the rest of this entry »
News of the research project, which is called “Body Leads” and run by the Pentagon’s internal think tank known as the Office of Net Assessment, was first reported in an article by Ray Locker of USA Today.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby on Friday confirmed the existence of the program, which costs about $300,000 a year. He said it’s designed to help U.S. officials get a better understanding of world leaders’ “decision-making processes.” But, he added, it’s not used to inform any policy decisions.
“Mr. Marshall is an out-of-the-box thinker who likes to study all kinds of issues,” Kirby said during a press conference, referring to the 92-year-old Andrew Marshall, who directs the office and was first appointed to the position during the Nixon administration.
Of Marshall’s reports, Kirby said, “Many of them will never go beyond his office.”
The department has no plans to make the documents public, even though they’re not classified, Kirby added. When asked whether they would be released under a Freedom of Information Act request, he said, “We’ll certainly take the request under consideration.” Read the rest of this entry »
Joel B. Pollak reports: The implosion of The New Republic, pending its move to New York and re-establishment as a “digital media” company, has consumed much of the political commentariat in recent days. The change is deeply mourned by former editors and writers for the publication, many of whom resigned in protest. However, the shift mirrors that of other publications that shifted further left in recent years, only to stumble into commercial failure.
Former publisher Marty Peretz lamented in 2013 that the magazine he sold to Facebook guru Chris Hughes–a key social media operative in Barack Obama’s rise to power–had moved in a nakedly partisan direction, away from its traditional center-left liberalism: “The magazine wasn’t supposed to be a White House siphon….The magazine now seems to live in a space where those ‘little insurrections of the mind’ are unwelcome. It is akin to the atmosphere in many colleges and universities: There are prevailing orthodoxies but they aren’t recognized as such. Mr. Obama himself is the main one. Read the rest of this entry »
South African Pierre Korkie Also Killed in Raid
“There were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger… Both Mr. Somers and a second non-U.S. citizen hostage were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation.”
— U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Luke Somers, 33 years old, was killed by militants, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday. Several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, were also killed in the raid.
South African teacher Pierre Korkie was also killed in the raid, according to a charity that had been trying to help negotiate his release.
“The United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located. And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice.”
— President Barack Obama
Mr. Hagel said the raid was ordered by President Barack Obama because “there were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers’ life was in imminent danger.”
“Both Mr. Somers and a second non-U.S. citizen hostage were murdered by the AQAP terrorists during the course of the operation,” Mr. Hagel said in a statement.
A U.S. official said Mr. Somers was shot by militants as the raid unfolded and wasn’t killed in crossfire.
“We received with sadness the news that Pierre was killed in an attempt by American Special Forces, in the early hours of this morning, to free hostages in Yemen.”
— Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman
It wasn’t immediately clear where Mr. Somers’s remains were.
The raid took place after AQAP had warned that they would kill Mr. Somers if U.S. forces attempted another “foolish” rescue attempt, in a video statement released Thursday. In the video, an AQAP commander threatened to kill Mr. Somers by the end of the week if their unspecified demands weren’t met. Read the rest of this entry »
The move comes as the President’s short list for the potential nominees got even shorter in recent days—top candidates including Michelle Flournoy, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and current Homeland Security Jeh Johnson all removed themselves from consideration
David Bastawrous—Special Report: Senior White House officials say President Obama has decided to nominate Ashton Carter as the next Secretary of Defense, a number of news outlets are reporting. The New York Times reports that the administration will hold off on making the official announcement until at least the end of the week, as the vetting process is still
“Though a Yale and Oxford trained physicist by trade, Carter has previously worked the number 2 and 3 positions in the Pentagon after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.”
Before serving as both Leon Panetta’s and Chuck Hagel’s deputy, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. The role placed Carter at the helm of, among other things, managing the DOD’s stock of weaponry.
Carter also has significant fiscal management experience within the DOD, as he was tasked with carrying out the 2012 $500 billion sequester cuts within the department.
Republican Senator Jim Inhoffe, a member of the Committee on Armed Services, today spoke of his support for Carter as the nominee. Read the rest of this entry »
Scott Shackford writes: This morning’s news cycle has temporarily shifted away from fretting about what might happen in Ferguson, Missouri, to the news that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is resigning after serving less than two years.
“One of the top choices to replace Hagel is Michéle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Hagel’s predecessors. She’s also an administration insider…Rather than proposing a different course for the administration’s foreign policy, she appears to possibly be the person to entrench it for rest of Obama’s term.”
The New York Times got the news, which will apparently be announced formally in a statement this morning:
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.
Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.
But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.
In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.
It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing….(read more)
A very important vine from yesterday: https://t.co/hK3W3I21Dj
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 25, 2014
Scott Shackford: …But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.
But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.
Well, that’s one way to put it, but later on in the story, reporter Helen Cooper notes Hagel’s struggles to fit in with a White House full of intense Obama campaign insiders and their need to control all messaging:
A respected former senator who struck a friendship with Mr. Obama when they were both critics of the Iraq war from positions on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Hagel has nonetheless had trouble penetrating the tight team of former campaign aides and advisers who form Mr. Obama’s closely knit set of loyalists. Senior administration officials have characterized him as quiet during Cabinet meetings; Mr. Hagel’s defenders said that he waited until he was alone with the president before sharing his views, the better to avoid leaks. Read the rest of this entry »
“What is the flexible response doctrine, and why is it so important?”
— Joseph Miller
Joseph Miller is the pen name for a ranking Department of Defense official with a background in U.S. special operations and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has worked in strategic planning.
[Note: This is not a parody, satire, or reporting commented on by punditfromanotherplanet for humor purposes (yes we do that sometimes) this is from The Daily Caller, via Yahoo News, read the full report here.]
The report is in, and the review of the president’s foreign policy is clear: If there is not an immediate course-reversal, the United States is in serious danger.
In 2013, the United States Institute for Peace, “a congressionally-created, independent, nonpartisan institution whose mission is to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflicts around the world,” was asked to assist the National Defense Panel with reviewing the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The National Defense Panel is a congressional-mandated bipartisan commission that’s co-chairs were appointed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
“Given the current state of affairs and the threats posed to our nation, the panel felt that the two-war doctrine was still required to meet our nation’s national security challenges.”
On July 31, the National Defense Panel released its long-awaited report on the effects of the QDR and delivered its findings to Congress. The panel pulled no punches — its findings were a scathing indictment of Obama’s foreign policy, national security policy, and defense policy. The panel found that president Barack Obama’s QDR, military force reductions, and trillion-dollar defense budget cuts are dangerous — and will leave the country in a position where it is unable to respond to threats to our nation’s security. This, the panel concluded, must be reversed as soon as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered an aircraft carrier — the USS George H.W. Bush — to move from the northern Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.
Hagel’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the order will give the president added flexibility if military action is required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 5, 2014
Forget the “pivot” or “rebalance.”A much simpler question is in order.
For The National Interest, Harry White writes: The “rebalance” isn’t working. Washington wants to ensure the survival of an order in Asia where it sits at the head of the table, and China pursues her interests in a way her neighbors can live with. But that hope is slipping away. To give us the best chance of the United States maintaining a strong and sustainable position in Asia, President Obama needs to decide what he really wants, and what he can live without. In his West Point speech last week, we saw a glimmer of that realization from the president.
“President Obama’s approach has failed to convince Beijing of the benefits of abiding by the status quo, or that seeking to alter it will incur unacceptable costs.”
So far, Obama has tried to manage Beijing by taking a middle road between reassurance and deterrence. Too soft an approach would invite revisionism, goes the line, and being too assertive would accelerate the trend towards a deeply adversarial relationship. He took a conciliatory line at the Sunnylands Summit, resisted Japanese calls to take a harder line on China in the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands through most of last year, and the administration, in the form of the vice president, was notably cordial in visits to Beijing, including right after the ADIZ declaration at the end of 2013.
“If Asia continues on its present strategic trajectory, China will become more adventurous in seeking to cement its claims to disputed territory, and tension between Beijing and Washington will continue to deepen.”
On the other hand, in April, he made his own statement that the United States would fight to defend the Senkakus, is building up its military presence in the Philippines and has worked to strengthen its partnerships in the region. He also added that the Pacific hosts the bulk of U.S. military assets. America’s target is to have 60 percent of Air and Naval forces in the Pacific by 2020—those services are necessary for a presence in Asia and have been partially shielded from budgetary pressure. Just last week at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in harmony with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, took a firm line on China. Read the rest of this entry »
“We’re measuring them by the size of their mistakes, and that is amateur hour.”
From NRO‘s Molly Wharton: Former Navy SEAL and FBI special agent Jonathan Gilliam thinks that the Obama administration has shown it’s not up for the task of effectively and safely overseeing America’s wars, and the recent prisoner exchange of five high-level Taliban generals for American Bowe Bergdahl is just the latest example…
“I just don’t know where their politics end and their legality and their war-fighting start.”
For WSJ‘s China Real Time Report, William Kazer writes: A Chinese general used a regional security conference this weekend to tell a global audience that U.S. rhetoric about the South China Sea risks provoking Beijing.
“As U.S. power declines, Washington needs to rely on its allies in order to reach its goal of containing China’s development.”
For the Chinese language audience, the general used language saltier — and perhaps more provocative — to describe how he feels about U.S. power.
For The Washington Post, FRED HIATT writes: Poland and the United States will announce next week the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe in response to events in Ukraine. That was the word from Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, who visited The Post Friday after meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Siemoniak said the decision has been made on a political level and that military planners are working out details. There will also be intensified cooperation in air defense, special forces, cyberdefense and other areas. Poland will play a leading regional role, “under U.S. patronage,” he said.
But the defense minister also said that any immediate NATO response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, while important, matter less than a long-term shift in the defense postures of Europe and America. The United States, having announced a “pivot” to Asia, needs to “re-pivot” to Europe, he said, and European countries that have cut back on defense spending need to reverse the trends. Read the rest of this entry »
TOKYO (AP) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations Sunday, announcing that the U.S. will send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China must better respect its neighbors.
“…you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe.”
— Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
In unusually forceful remarks about China, Hagel drew a direct line between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the ongoing territorial disputes between China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.
“I think we’re seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect and intimidation and coercion in Europe today with what the Russians have done with Ukraine,” Hagel told reporters after a meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. “We must be very careful and we must be very clear, all nations of the world, that in the 21st century this will not stand, you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe.” Read the rest of this entry »
Rules for Radicals are Different than Rules for You and Me
Jim Geraghty writes: Shortly after Barack Obama rose to the presidency, the Right became fascinated by Saul Alinsky, and in particular by the philosopher and community organizer’s “Rules for Radicals.” Many on the right focused their attention on Alinsky’s Fourth Rule: “Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
The strategy of “making them live up to their own book of rules” is frequently mentioned and discussed these days at Breitbart.com, Instapundit, Ace of Spades, and just about every other conservative website and blog.
James O’Keefe, the activist and journalist behind the famous ACORN videos, articulated the approach directly: “The Left doesn’t care about the laws or the rules. They are hypocrites, and the only way to win is to make them live up to their book of rules. I have found that the only thing they care about is racism, sexism and exploitation.”
“…not that many liberals care whether their brethren are following their own book of rules. They’ve demonstrated a remarkable acceptance for one another’s hypocrisy.”
Not to take away from O’Keefe’s work, which generates must-watch videos and scandal-inspired resignations with metronomic regularity, but there may be a flaw in this strategy. Ultimately, not that many liberals care whether their brethren are following their own book of rules. They’ve demonstrated a remarkable acceptance for one another’s hypocrisy.
The current proposed defense budget from the Obama administration would mothball the US fleets of venerable A-10 close air support (CAS) aircraft and the even more venerable U2 spyplanes (of Francis Gary Powers fame).
Miltech fans like me become attached to quirky planes like these, whose specialized missions lead to extreme designs (in the case of the A-10, basically a flying tank, and for the U2, an elegant jet-powered sailplane). Both aircraft have survived multiple attempts to kill them in the past, and both have proven their worth over and over again in surprising ways. Like the ancient B-52, that has been reborn over and over again to carry out missions it was never conceived for, these two aircraft have proven the value of a design that does one thing very well but isn’t all things to all people for all missions. Hated by the bean-counters and mega-defense contractors because they are such sturdy hedgehogs of the air, these old soldiers stand their ground in one corner of “mission space” against all comers. In this they are the opposite of what Defense Secretary Hagel says will replace the A-10, the gold-plated Swiss-Army-Knife F-35, which tries to do everything for everyone everywhere and, in doing so, does nothing extremely well.
Both the Warthog and the Dragon Lady have very vocal fans in and out of Congress. Time will tell whether they finally fall to the dreams of the budgeteers and bloated defense contractors.
The biggest news from the Pentagon this week is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s new budget plan, which is designed to refit U.S. armed forces in a manner suitable for emerging threats. Informing Hagel’s thinking on the budget is the looming drawdown from the United States’ longest ground war ever – Afghanistan. Consequently, the proposed budget would see the U.S. Army reduced in size to pre-World War II levels…
From Ukraine to Syria to the Pacific, a hands-off foreign policy invites more trouble
Niall Ferguson writes: Since former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke uttered the word “taper” in June 2013, emerging-market stocks and currencies have taken a beating. It is not clear why talk of (thus far) modest reductions in the Fed’s large-scale asset-purchase program should have had such big repercussions outside the United States. The best economic explanation is that capital has been flowing out of emerging markets in anticipation of future rises in U.S. interest rates, of which the taper is a harbinger. While plausible, that cannot be the whole story.
“Mr. Obama’s supporters like nothing better than to portray him as the peacemaker to George W. Bush’s warmonger. But it is now almost certain that more people have died violent deaths in the Greater Middle East during this presidency than during the last one.”
For it is not only U.S. monetary policy that is being tapered. Even more significant is the “geopolitical taper.” By this I mean the fundamental shift we are witnessing in the national-security strategy of the U.S.—and like the Fed’s tapering, this one also means big repercussions for the world. To see the geopolitical taper at work, consider President Obama’s comment Wednesday on the horrific killings of protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The president said: “There will be consequences if people step over the line.”
No one took that warning seriously—Ukrainian government snipers kept on killing people in Independence Square regardless. The world remembers the red line that Mr. Obama once drew over the use of chemical weapons in Syria . . . and then ignored once the line had been crossed. The compromise deal reached on Friday in Ukraine calling for early elections and a coalition government may or may not spell the end of the crisis. In any case, the negotiations were conducted without concern for Mr. Obama.
“Syria has been one of the great fiascos of post-World War II American foreign policy. When President Obama might have intervened effectively, he hesitated. When he did intervene, it was ineffectual…”
US To Spend Over $1 Trillion On Nuclear Arsenal Over Next 30 Years
WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – The United States is estimated to spend over $1 trillion over the next thirty years on upgrades and maintenance of its nuclear arsenal.
The report from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) released Tuesday finds that the US will likely spend over $1 trillion during the next three decades to maintain its current nuclear arsenal and purchase new, replacement systems. The defense budget needed will peak to levels comparable to the Reagan-era build-up of nuclear forces, the report states.
Specific concern is given to the replacement of systems set to begin expiring in 2030. US plans from 2024-2029 include the construction of five strategic submarines, 72 strategic bombers, and 240 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The planned amount of nuclear delivery vehicles is greater than that of China, the United Kingdom and France combined – although vast budget concerns remain.
“The strategic and financial challenges facing our country are enormous,” Jon Wolfsthal, CNS Deputy Director and former nuclear advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden, writes in the report. “Policy makers lack the basic information needed to make smart choices about our nuclear arsenal, putting both our deterrent and future reductions at risk.”
Memo to the Saudis: ‘Welcome to the club’.
Richard Miniter writes: Arabs don’t trust Obama either.
As 2013 ends, President Obama has lost credibility with many people who trusted him at the start of the year. Thanks to the Healthcare.gov debacle, polls find support for the president among women and independents has dropped to the lowest ebb of his presidency. Obama’s words — promising Americans they could keep their doctors under his health care plan — didn’t match his deeds.
Surprisingly, the same thing is happening on the other side of the world among Arabs in the Middle East and for the same reason.
Too often, Obama’s speeches and actions don’t match.
“We are glad the Americans are here,” said Ahmed al-Ibrahim, an adviser to some of Saudi Arabia’s royals and officials, when I met with him recently, “but we fear that the president has lost credibility after Syria.”
Astonished Saudi officials are contrasting Obama’s quick actions in South Sudan with his unwillingness to act in places like Syria or in Bahrain.
The Saudi official is referring to Obama’s “red line” vow of military action if the Syrian dictator Bashir Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Assad did and Obama didn’t. Saudi officials were stunned.
Next came the revelation earlier this year that Obama was secretly negotiating with Iran, the mortal enemy of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Officials in both nations have told me that they simply don’t believe that the president can sweet-talk the mullahs out of the weapons they have coveted for years.
John Fund writes: President Obama’s aides went to extraordinary lengths to uncover the identity of a senior official who was using Twitter to make snarky comments about White House staffers. Suspicion gradually centered on Jofi Joseph, the point man on nuclear nonproliferation at the National Security Council. So at a meeting in which everyone was in on the scam an inaccurate but innocuous news tidbit was revealed. When Joseph used his anonymous Twitter handle #natlsecwonk to broadcast the tidbit he was caught and promptly fired. He was not fired for revealing any secrets, but for making disparaging comments about thin-skinned administration players ranging from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
What apparently intensified the campaign to identify the “snarker” was a comment about Valerie Jarrett, the senior Obama adviser who has her own Secret Service detail and appears to exercise an inordinate amount of power behind the scenes. Joseph tweeted “I’m a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me.”
Jarrett, an old Chicago friend of both Barack and Michelle Obama, appears to exercise such extraordinary influence she is sometimes quietly referred to as “Rasputin” on Capitol Hill, a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia’s Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I. Read the rest of this entry »
Joe Pappalardo writes: Presidents often rely on slogans and catchphrases to give their policies some direction and clarity. In 2011 the Obama administration announced its most far-reaching foreign policy initiative: The Pivot to the Pacific. The stated goal is toexpand the U.S. presence in the Pacific Rim to “rebalance” American priorities—and to make it plain to China that the United States and its Pacific allies have partial control over the South China Sea, a patch of water that is vital for its natural resources and strategic shipping lanes.
But recently the news has reported that the pivot is failing. Reuters declared in a headline, “As Obama’s Asia ‘pivot’ falters, China steps into the gap.” DoDBuzz said, “Shutdown Threatens Pacific Pivot.” The basis of these gloomy prognoses is threefold: Obama cancelled an appearance at a conference in the Philippines due to the government shutdown, a Marine Corps base in Australia is vacant, and the fact that China is surging in both sea bases and economic clout. On closer inspection, each of these trends is less worrisome than it appears—but they could become weak points in the pivot if left unchecked.
Read the rest of this entry »
Washington’s Boogey-Man Bad-Boy Voodoo-Doll Senator
How does Senator Ted Cruz freak out liberals? Usually by being good at what he does.
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party. Read the rest of this entry »
Victor Davis Hanson writes: It is very possible that the president will not obtain a joint authorization to bomb Syria; if he chooses to go ahead and attack anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president has decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious.
So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance Russia, Iran, Assad, China, Islamists, and almost anyone else who does not like the U.S. Doing something small, with or without congressional approval, will be looked upon as a cynical waste of human lives to restore Obama’s credibility, the sort of craven, immoral political act that a younger Obama made a career out of mocking. Doing something big will invite public and global outrage if only moderately successful, and doom the Obama presidency if unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »
Many of the leaks about U.S. strike plans for Syria, a copious flow of surprisingly specific information on ship dispositions and possible targets, have been authorized as a way for President Obama to signal the limited scope of operations to friends and foes.
But a number of leaks have been decidedly unauthorized — and, according to Obama administration sources, likely emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself.
By Barbara Starr
American special forces units overseas have been on alert for the past several days for a mission to attack potential al Qaeda targets if those behind the most recent terror threats against U.S. interests can be identified, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.The official declined to identify the units or their locations because of the sensitive nature of the information. The units, along with several others, were put on heightened alert by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week. The United States closed embassies and consulates across an area of Africa and the Middle East and imposed a global travel alert for Americans following threats against U.S. interests described as serious and credible. An intercepted message among senior al Qaeda operatives in the last several days raised concerns that led to the closures, CNN has learned.
Three sources said the United States has information that members of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning an unspecified attack.