Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

“The War George W. Bush Had Won, Barack Obama Had Lost”

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

This video is an antidote to the widespread revisionism that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a debacle from beginning to end and that George W. Bush was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. One can question the wisdom of many decisions involved in the conduct of the that war, but the fact is that The Surge had largely succeeded in pacifying Iraq and that the country was functioning quite well by the very lose standards of the Middle East before Barack Obama withdrew American troops, facilitating the rise of the Islamic State.

(Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

LinkSwarm for July 14, 2017

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Since I just topped up my Strategic Dog Reserve, blogging may get light at some point. But in the meantime, enjoy another Friday LinkSwarm:

  • This may be what’s driving some Democrats’ idee fixe on Russia: a guilty conscience:

    Radical left-wing icon former California Democratic Rep. Ron Dellums was a hired lobbyist for Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. June 9, 2016, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

    Dellums, who represented liberal San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., is a long-time darling of left-wing political activists. He served 13 terms in Congress as an African-American firebrand and proudly called himself a socialist. He retired in 1996.

    The former congressman is one of several high-profile Democratic partisans who was on Veselnitskaya’s payroll, working to defeat a law that is the hated object of a personal vendetta waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    A national outcry has erupted in the establishment media about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya. But there has been little focus on the Democrats who willingly served for years on her payroll helping to wage a Russian-led lobby campaign against the law. Congress passed the legislation, the Magnitsky Act, in response to the murder of Sergei Magnistky, a Russian lawyer who alleged corruption and human rights violations against numerous Russian officials.

    According to a complaint filed to the Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act division last July, Dellums failed to register as a foreign agent representing a Russian-driven effort led by Veselnitskaya to repeal the Magnitsky Act.

    Add Dellums to a list that includes Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Podesta brothers of high profile Democrats who have documented financial and lobbying ties to Putin’s government.

  • Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump, campaign aides.”
  • Russian journalist on how American journalists cover Russia, especially the Russian hacking story. “The way the American press writes about the topic, it’s like they’ve lost their heads.” Also: “Putin seem to look much smarter than he is, as if he operates from some master plan.” He’s actually a bumbler…
  • You know the Obama Veterans Administration that was only too happy to look the other way while veterans were dying on the waiting list? President Trump’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin has helped implement a number of reforms:

    In Shulkin’s five months on the job, the VA has been a whirlwind of activity:

    • The department announced last week that between President Trump’s inauguration and July 3, it had fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.
    • In April, the department launched a new website that lets veterans compare the wait times at its facilities and view Yelp-style reviews of each facility written by previous patients.
    • Veterans Health Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line — designed for those struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other forms of mental stress — is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds, and only about one percent of calls are being rerouted to a backup call center.” A year ago, an inspector general report noted that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers, some calls were taking more than a half hour to be answered and other callers were being given only an option to leave messages on voicemail.”
    • At the end of June, Shulkin unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic limb — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to a VA facility in New York. Veteran amputees demonstrated the technology, a collaboration among the VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the private sector. (The name alludes to the lifelike robotic hand that Luke Skywalker is fitted with in The Empire Strikes Back.)
    • In May, Shulkin said the department had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized ones that cost the federal government $25 million a year. He said that most of the buildings are not treatment facilities and could profitably be closed or consolidated. Of course, if he actually attempted to close or consolidate some of the buildings, he might face a controversy along the lines of those touched off by military-base-closing announcements in recent decades.

    Shulkin has also gotten some help from Congress during his short time on the job. At a time when Republican legislators have had enormous difficulty passing big pieces of legislation, they’ve made great progress on VA reform.

    One particular law designed to make the VA more accountable is arguably the most consequential legislation President Trump has signed so far. It establishes speedier procedures for firing employees, gives the department the authority to recoup bonuses and pensions from employees convicted of crimes, adds greater protections for whistleblowers who report errors and scandals, and expands employee training.

  • New Senate GOP bill to repeal ObamaCare has tiny flaw in that it doesn’t repeal ObamaCare.
  • The One Sentence That Explains Washington Dysfunction: “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win.” So no one was ready to do anything policy-wise once he did. “Among those consequences: The expectation that Republicans might actually try to keep the promises they’ve made to voters over the last eight years.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • No matter which party is in charge of Washington, rain or shine, summer or winter, the deficit keeps growing. “Real monthly federal spending topped $400 billion for the first time in June.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • An appeals court vacated the conviction of former New York Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, just the latest in a long line of appeal reversals for former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. How much of Bharara’s once-sterling reputation was real, how much was showboating, and how much was good press from working at MSM-saturated New York City? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “ICE Director: There’s No Population Of Illegal Aliens Which Is Off The Table.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Mexico is reportedly very upset that both the united States and Texas are actually enforcing border control laws.
  • Remember: When you see an anti-Trump or anti-border control march, there’s a good chance it consists mostly of paid Soros shills.
  • Speaking of Soros:

    What we are actually witnessing — in Hungary, in the United States and in many other countries in recent years — is a populist reaction against the elite “progressive” consensus of which Soros is a prominent symbol. There is an international clique of influential people and organizations who share certain ideas about the future direction of political, social and economic policies, and who don’t want to be bothered with debating the merits of these policies. The ordinary people whose lives would be affected by the agenda of the elite aren’t being asked for their approval, and popular opposition to the elite agenda (e.g., the Brexit vote, Trump’s election, Hungary’s anti-“refugee” referendum) is treated by the elite media as evidence of incipient fascism. Never does it seem to have occurred to George Soros, or to anyone else in the international elite, that perhaps their policy ideas are wrong, that they have gone too far in their utopian “social justice” schemes. Unable to admit error, the progressive elite therefore resort to cheap insults and sloppy accusations of “fascism” to stigmatize opposition to the Left’s agenda.

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy makes the case for an independent Kurdistan. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • For ABC, religious liberty organization = hate group.
  • Seattle decides that they want to drive the affluent out of the city. I’m sure many cities in Texas would be happy to welcome them with open arms…
  • And just in case you thought that was going to be the craziest story out of Seattle this week: “Seattle Councilman Objects to Hosing Excrement-Covered Sidewalks Because It’s Racist.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • China’s housing bubble continues to expand. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Kid Rock is running in the 2018 Michigan Senate race. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
  • On the same subject. “Rock is arguably much better positioned than Trump for a successful political run.”
  • “The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked.”
  • Flaccid NFL ratings lead to Viagra and Cialis pulling out as sponsors. Maybe if they stopped focusing on politics, the NFL’s ratings wouldn’t be as soft….
  • Austin attorney “Omar Weaver Rosales, who filed hundreds of lawsuits against local small businesses alleging technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been suspended from practicing law in the Federal Western District for three years.”
  • Maine Democratic state rep threatens to kill President Trump, calls gun owners “pussies.”
  • Connecticut now requires a criminal conviction for civil forfeiture. Good. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “Bad move, Mongo! Moonshine has powerful friends in the slam.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Clint Eastwood, when looking to cast American Paris train heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone for a movie he’s directing, decided to cast Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone.
  • Radiohead gives the finger to anti-Israel BDS movement. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Was Shia LaBeouf always this big an asshole, or did he get worse after Trump and 4Chan broke him? “I got more millionaire lawyers than you know what to do with, you stupid bitch!” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Alyssa Milano is too busy as a member of “the Resistance” to take care of trivia like paying her taxes. Or her share of her employee’s taxes.
  • Woman climbs Mt. Everest to prove that vegans can do anything, dies. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • There’s a Friends of NRA Fundraiser on August 3rd in Georgetown.
  • AMC releases emails from fired Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont in which he states how he’s boiling with rage over subpar efforts by various production team members. It’s not a good look, but if you directed The Shawshank Redemption, I’m inclined to cut you more than the usual amount of slack over your film-making methods…
  • Marvel is actually doing a live Squirrel Girl TV show. Sure, it’s called New Warriors, but we all know what the real attraction is there…
  • A sailor-eye history of the USS Nevada battleship during World War II.
  • Speaking of World War II, here’s a history of the Mulberry artificial harbors that were crucial in unloading supplies right after D-Day.
  • From the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas: Proof that Bill Clinton doesn’t understand the power of metaphors in image form:

  • “Millions Of Policy Proposals Spill Into Sea As Brookings Institution Think Tanker Runs Aground Off Crimea Coast.” (Hat tip: JenDinnj’s Twitter feed.)
  • How did I miss this last week?

  • I May Have to Buy This Shirt

    Saturday, February 18th, 2017

    This one right here.

    W Shark

    And if there’s a Kickstarter to get that scene into Sharknado 5, I’m in…

    LinkSwarm for October 30, 2015

    Friday, October 30th, 2015

    Right now Austin is enjoying our traditional “two weeks of flooding following three months of drought” fall. Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • “In Iraq, Obama took a war that we had won at a considerable expense in lives and treasure, and threw it away for the callowest of political reasons. In Syria and Libya, he involved us in wars of choice without Congressional authorization, and proceeded to hand victories to the Islamists. Obama’s policy here has been a debacle of the first order, and the press wants to talk about Bush as a way of protecting him.”
  • Paul Ryan elected Speaker of the House. If Ryan decides to govern as an actual Republican, he could be a very effective Speaker…
  • The IRS has Stingray cell phone surveillance gear. Get ready for a whole new round of Tea Party audits…
  • Speaking of the IRS, the House of Representatives is justified in impeaching IRS chief John Koskinen.
  • At the most recent Republican Presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio said the H1-B visa program is badly in need of reform. One tiny problem: Sen. Rubio’s own H1-B bill doesn’t implement any of the reforms demanded by Presidential Candidate Rubio. “It does not require recruitment of American workers. It does not require employers to ‘pay more than you would pay someone else’…Rubio’s bill would provide Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his comrades ‘a huge increase in the supply of lower-cost foreign guest workers so they can undercut and replace American workers.'” Indeed, Rubio’s bill “would triple the number of H1-B foreign workers admitted.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Get ready for steep ObamaCare price hikes for 2016.
  • Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition is starting to come apart thanks to the refugee crisis.
  • Venezuela is selling gold to cover bond payments. (Hat tip: Commonsense and Wonder.)
  • Al-Shabaab Islamic militant group in Somalia pledge loyalty to the Islamic State.
  • The Islamic State schools ban: “math, music, philosophy, history, French and geography as incompatible with Islam.”
  • Not news: Journalist in Sweden gets stoned. News: The wrong kind of stoned.
  • Teacher’s hate Common Core. The only people that seem to love it are Washington bureaucrats and Jeb Bush…
  • Speaking of Jeb, He has not succeeded this year, and there is no particular reason to believe he will…Jeb just isn’t very good at this.”
  • “Even beyond the fact that Bush has spent almost a year and ended up among the statistical noise despite all of his organizational and financial advantages, this all but proved that he’s simply not a good enough candidate to run in the general election.”
  • Jeb Bush’s campaign also hasn’t knocked on any doors in Iowa.
  • Ben Carson’s campaign is working with other Republican Presidential campaigns to extract their debates from the liberal clutches of the MSM.”
  • How to fix the Republican debates: “First, cancel the rest of the debates. Instead, announce that the RNC will host the debates and pick the panel of questioners. Allow any news organization that wishes to broadcast it.”
  • A look at the Russian BMD-2 infantry fighting vehicle.
  • John Wiley Price trail delayed again.
  • Reminder: Most acts at SXSW don’t get paid.
  • Feminism is “a War Against Human Nature aimed at using the coercive power of government to bring about an androgynous ‘equality’ that ignores the actual differences between men and women. Feminism is a totalitarian movement to destroy civilization as we know it — and feminists say so themselves.”
  • Salon’s pro-pedophile agenda:

  • How to stamp out Cultural Marxism in a single generation.
  • Flash is dying. Netcraft confirms it…
  • Iraq: It’s All George W. Bush’s Fault

    Thursday, June 12th, 2014

    (Note: This headline is only slightly factitious.)

    The problem with George W. Bush’s Middle East policy is that there’s no political gain there, no matter how great the price or resounding the achievement, that Obama can’t throw away through his manifestly gross incompetence. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s successor organization, the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “consolidated and extended their control over northern Iraq on Wednesday, seizing Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, threatening the strategic oil refining town of Baiji and pushing south toward Baghdad, their ultimate target.”

    That’s the same ISIS that captured Mosul, where they seized $429 million worth of Iraqi dinars from the local bank, making them the richest terrorist army in the world.

    Remember when Obama declared that “al Qaeda is on the run”?

    And remember when Obama pulled out of Iraq and walked away without a status of forces agreement there?

    Now two battalions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds forces have deployed to Iraq, ostensibly to support Maliki’s Shiite government. So now, in theory, we’re allied with the Mullahs in Iran in Iraq against the Isalmists we’re supporting in Syria against the Iran-aligned government of Bashar Assad.

    About the only good news out of the region is that the Kurds are holding their own. An independent Kurdistan would be far from the worst development in the region, and would probably freak out both Iran and Turkey enough to distract them from further mischief elsewhere.

    The current situation highlights the age-old truth that the Middle East is filled with people whose deepest desire appears to be to kill and gain power over members of rival clans/tribes/factions/confessions/etc. This has been true for pretty much all of recorded history save when a strong power (Ottoman, British, Baathist) is able to keep those tendencies in check through heavy policing, military occupation, or a brutal security state apparatus. The presence of our troops there gives the natives a distraction and a target, allowing them to temporarily stop killing each other in preference to killing us. The exceptions to this rule, such as multicultural Lebanon circa 1946-1974, have proven frustratingly ephemeral.

    Israel provided a temporary target of unifying hatred, but the Jewish state’s defensive measures have made it increasingly difficult to get close enough to any Jews to kill them, hence back to the old internecine pursuits.

    Bush43’s foreign policy in the Middle East and the decision to invade Iraq stems, in large measure, from Bush41’s decision not to let Schwartzkopf take Baghdad in The Gulf War. Whether doing so would have brought all on all our Iraqi troubles two decades earlier is debatable. There is much to say for toppling a totalitarian thug like Saddam, not least of which was liberating the children’s prison, where children as young as 5 were tortured to make their mothers talk. Perhaps the ideal strategy would have been to depose and execute Saddam and his top regime supporters in 1991, then immediately leave and let Iraqi factions kill each other rather than our troops. But I doubt anyone put forward that idea as a serious suggestion at the time.

    Bush43 ultimately succeeded in largely pacifying Iraq, but the cost was high and, as recent events proved, the gains were temporary. The problem with interventionist policy in the Middle East is that there is no gain safe from the feckless impulses of surrender and appeasement that dominate the Democratic Party’s thinking today. The Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party is dead, and Obama and Kerry perfectly embody the combination of naivete, hubris, multilateralist, and hostility to the military that dominates today. They love signing treaties and “the peace process,” even though it’s all process and no peace.

    It turns out that Ron Paul may be right for the wrong reasons. Because no foreign policy gain in the Middle East is safe from Democratic incompetence, Republicans should not pursue any interventionist foreign policy there, especially in the name of impossible “stability”. No interventionist accomplishment there can endure long past the end of a Republican President’s term, because there is no gain safe from the likes of Kerry and Obama. And since there is no indication the nature of the Democratic Party will be changing any time soon, a military interventionist foreign policy there, no matter how well-intentioned, well-planned, and well-executed, must be doomed to ultimate failure.

    In hindsight, the liberation of Iraq turns out to be a tragic mistake, because Bush underestimated how decisively his hard-won gains could be undone by the incompetence of his successor.

    LinkSwarm for October 11, 2013

    Friday, October 11th, 2013

    A LinkSwarm heavy on shutdown-related news:

  • For epitomizing what Democrats have done to Detroit, Kwame Kirkpatrick gets 28 years.
  • Hey Venezuela, how’s that Socialism working out for you? Inflation hits 49.4%. (Hat tip: Prairie Pundit.)
  • Victor Davis Hanson thinks Republicans are winning.
  • ObamaCare, or food?
  • Steyn on the shutdown. “The conventional wisdom of the U.S. media is that Republicans are being grossly irresponsible not just to wave through another couple trillion or so on Washington’s overdraft facility.”
  • Catholic priests prohibited from giving Mass.
  • The revolving door between the Democratic Party and the IRS.
  • How the GOP establishment tried to seize control of Freedomworks.
  • The Magic of Obama: White House gift shop goes bankrupt.
  • Department of Fish & Wildlife lift ban minutes before North Dakota files lawsuit.
  • Le Pen poised to win European Parliament elections? That’s Marine Le Pen, or Le Pen: The Next Generation.
  • Five years after the meltdown, families still hoarding cash.
  • Kent Hance to retire as Texas Tech Chancellor. Hance’s political career is in many ways emblematic of the evolution of Texas politics, starting out as a conservative Democrat, elected to the state Senate in 1974, defeating George W. Bush for a U.S. congressional seat in 1978, played key roll in backing the Kemp-Roth tax cuts in 1981, narrowly losing the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate to Lloyd Doggett (who would then get stomped by Phil Gramm in the general election) in 1984, followed Gramm by switching to the Republican Party in 1985, losing the GOP Gubernatorial nomination to an un-retired Bill Clements in 1986, getting appointed to the Railroad Commission in 1987, winning re-election to it in 1988, and losing to Clayton Williams in the 1990 Republican Gubernatorial primary. He had a long, long career as a bridesmaid…
  • Raising the debt limit means bankrupting your children.
  • “This 20 year old has discovered Sex Is Awesome!!! and just wants us all to know that. Yeah Sugar-Tits we sort of know. We’ve been enjoying it for years, but without quite as much Noob Squeeing about it.”
  • Fisking Obama’s NSA Conference (Part 1)

    Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

    Obama gave his speech on the NSA scandal a few days ago. I wanted to fisk it because it’s eminently fiskable, and I don’t think that anyone else has done it (though Scott Shackford over at Reason took a stab).

    Comments in blockquotes are from Obama’s press conference, the rest are mine (along with referenced quotes to others).

    I’m going to take one question.

    One whole question? How generous of you! Not only did George W. Bush hold far more press sessions than Obama, I seem to remember him answering a lot more questions at each one as well.

    And then remember, people are going to have opportunity to — I’ll also answer questions when I’m with the Chinese president today.

    “One, Barack Obama is terrified of the press and refuses to face them on his own. Two, out of fear he is using foreign leaders as props to keep the press from getting out of hand, and to force them to ask questions having nothing to do with his scandals.”

    So I don’t want the whole day to just be a bleeding press conference.

    How about just one day you have a press conference where you actually answer all the questions reporters have on Benghazi, the IRS, Pigford, and the NSA?

    But I’m going to take Jackie Calmes’s question.

    Ah, yes, Jackie Calmes. Even among the Obama-philic staff of The New York Times, Colmes stands out for consistently pushing the Obama line, be it the desirability of Keynesian pump-priming deficit spending over fiscal responsibility, Obama’s credentials as a pragmatist, or claiming ObamaCare will reduce the deficit, Obama can always count on Jackie to lend him a helping hand! Imagine Bush only taking one question at a press conference, then calling on Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller.

    Q: Mr. President, could you please react to the reports of secret government surveillance of phones and Internet? And can you also assure Americans that the government—your government doesn’t have some massive secret database of all their personal online information and activity?

    “Could you reassure.” Funny, I thought it was the job of reporters to ask questions to elicit information, not “assurance.” What a nice, slow pitch over the middle of the plate.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah. You know, when I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more than any commitment I make: number one, to keep the American people safe;

    I’m sure Ambassador Stephens deeply appreciated those efforts during the last few hours of his life.

    and number two, to uphold the Constitution. And that includes what I consider to be a constitutional right to privacy and an observance of civil liberties.

    Funny, Mr. Obama’s fervor to uphold the Constitution (especially such “troublesome” sections as the Second and Tenth Amendments) has seemed fairly underwhelming to non-liberal observers, especially compared to his enthusiasm for expanding the size and scope of the federal government, or even reducing his golf handicap.

    Now, the programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press

    Well, there’s a pretty vague formulation. Why not just come out and say “The NSA FISA Prism intercept program?” Is this just an inadvertently vague phrasing, or is it deliberate in order to provide plausible deniability if proven false? Given the extensive revisions the Benghazi talking points underwent, I’m going to go with “deliberate.”

    are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.

    Funny, but congressional Republicans have said otherwise, and that they had no idea of the breadth and depth of NSA’s Prism program. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) says the same thing. And Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney walked back the “every member” claim. Even so, notice the “when it comes to telephone calls” qualifier, which suggests large swathes of other types of data collection they haven’t been briefed on.

    With respect to all these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs.

    I can’t actually ding that as a lie, since the intelligence committee people who have talked about it (including Marco Rubio) have sounded supportive of it, even the “hand over all your metadata for all phone customers” portion.

    These are programs that have been authorized by broad, bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.

    The general NSA program yes. “Obtain the records for every phone call made in America?” Not so much. Also don’t forget that as Senator, Obama himself railed against the government conducting “a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document.” Of course, seizing every record isn’t a fishing expedition, it’s a net-drag operation designed to capture all the fish. And George W. Bush’s NSA director says the program has expanded under Obama.

    And so I think at the outset, it’s important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we’re doing.

    Some representatives, and not “constantly.”

    Now, let — let me take the two issues separately. When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.

    This statement is almost certainly false, given that some Americans are almost certainly covered by one of the 1,769 classified wiretap orders filed in 2012.

    That’s not what this program’s about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.

    This is almost certainly a lie. I can’t imagine there’s not a name-matching algorithm operating even at this very early stage of metadata sifting.

    But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.

    And the NSA’s idea of “people who might engage in terrorism” is “everyone who owns a Verizon phone?”

    If these folks — if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation. So I want to be very clear. Some of the hype that we’ve been hearing over the last day or so — nobody’s listening to the content of people’s phone calls.

    The strawman set alight here is so large that Nicolas Cage should be standing underneath it screaming “No, not the bees!” First, as Shackford noted in his piece, ” Nobody said that the program was about listening to telephone calls.” Second, just because you’re not actually listening in, doesn’t mean that you can’t glean data from the metadata, including sensitive and potentially blackmail-worthy data. And, as the IRS scandal shows, there’s no reason for the public to believe that Obama Administration officials won’t abuse such data if they get their hands on it.

    There’s that word “fully” again. And there’s a great deal of evidence that court has become little more than a rubber stamp, turning down a whopping .03% of the requests submitted.

    And so not only does that court authorize the initial gathering of data, but I want to repeat, if anybody in government wanted to go further than just that top-line data and wanted to, for example, listen to Jackie Calmes’s phone call, they’d have to go back to a federal judge and — and — and indicate why, in fact, they were doing further — further probing.

    Again with the listening to phone calls. Handwaving.

    Now, with respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States. And again, in this instance, not only is Congress fully apprised of it, but what is also true is that the FISA Court has to authorize it.

    Given that the NSA intercepts 1.7 billion emails a day, I find it hard to believe that they’re all to or from foreigners, unless an usually high percentage of them are Nigerian princes.

    So in summary, what you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved (on them ?). Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.

    For this summary of lies and half-truths, see the fisking of the previous lies and half-truths.

    And we’re also setting up — we’ve also set up an audit process when I came into office to make sure that we’re, after the fact, making absolutely certain that all the safeguards are being properly observed.

    Which is it? You’ve set it up, or you’re going to set it up? And we should trust you for that same sterling oversight you’ve observed for Benghazi, Pigford, and the IRS? Speaking of “audit processes.” Bad choice of words there, O…

    Now, having said all that, you’ll remember when I made that speech a couple of weeks ago

    No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. You give so many speeches, and say so little in each of them.

    about the need for us to shift out of a perpetual war mindset.

    Translation: “I’m a 9/10 Democrat.” How Obama’s love of drone strikes, and his decision to intervene in the Libyan civil war (and now, possibly, the Syrian civil war as well) tie into shifting out of a “perpetual war mindset” remains unclear. As does how we get Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and various other terrorist groups (some backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran) to stop killing Americans. It would probably be quite easy to “shift out of a perpetual war mindset” if fighters for radical Islam weren’t waging perpetual war on us.

    I specifically said that one of the things that we’re going to have to discuss and debate is how were we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some trade-offs involved.

    So far the “trade offs” of your foreign policy seem to be “keep fighting long enough to avoid being accused of losing in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not doing enough in either place to actually win.”

    And I welcome this debate.

    Given how thin-skinned you are, how negatively you react to people criticizing you, and how poorly you performed debating Mitt Romney, I rather doubt that.

    And I think it’s healthy for our democracy. I think it’s a sign of maturity, because probably five years ago, six years ago, we might not have been having this debate. And I think it’s interesting that there are some folks on the left, but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it who weren’t very worried about it when it was a Republican president. I think that’s good that we’re having this discussion.

    You know what debate we weren’t having 5 or 6 years ago? “Why is the IRS targeting the Administration’s political opponents?” And we weren’t having that debate because George W. Bush wasn’t using the IRS to target his political opponents. Unlike you.

    We also weren’t having this debate because we really believed that Bush was committed to fighting the war on terror. Unlike you. Moreover, we weren’t having this debate back when there were 22 classified wiretap orders because that didn’t seem excessive. Now that there are 1,769 classified wiretap orders, under an Administration known for abusing its power, it’s a lot more urgent concern. We didn’t have that debate under a Republican because he didn’t have the documented pattern of abuse of power you do. Was it short-sighted of our representatives to sign off on the more expansive measures of the Patriot Act? Obviously so, though how could they have known your abusive administration was coming down the pike so soon?

    But I think it’s important for everybody to understand, and I think the American people understand, that there are some trade-offs involved. You know, I came in with a health skepticism about these programs.

    Sure you did…right up until you realized you were in charge of them. See also: Lord Acton.

    My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards.

    How convenient that everything is secret so we can’t evaluate these “improvements” your team has made.

    But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks.

    Maybe. But how many did they prevent, and at what cost? Which of those 1,769 secret wiretap orders were more effective than the previous 22?

    And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content — that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing.

    I’m sure that Obama feels that any encroachment’s on other people’s privacy are entirely acceptable, just as he feels spending more of other people’s money on higher spending and taxes is just fine and dandy. And I don’t think that gathering phone and email data for every American is “worth doing.” Or constitutional.

    That’s — some other folks may have a different assessment of that. But I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.

    No one (at least among conservatives or libertarians) believes that you can reach 100% security, because human beings are inherently imperfect creatures. But we’re not asking for “100% privacy,” we’re demanding the level of freedom and privacy guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. And the TSA seems to be closing in on 100% inconvenience for 0% effectivety. 100% privacy and 100% security are both unreachable, but 100% secret surveillance of a free nation’s phone calls and emails is intolerable.

    And [all?] I can say is, is that in evaluating these programs, they make a difference [to] anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity. And the fact that they’re under very strict supervision by all three branches of government and that they do not involve listening to people’s phone calls, do not involve reading the emails of U.S. citizens or U.S. residents, absent further action by a federal court, that is entirely consistent with what we would do, for example, in a criminal investigation.

    Both the scandal and the leak of same proves that the supervision isn’t “very strict.”

    Once again Obama stands up his “listening to every phone call” and “reading every email” strawmen to give them another pummeling. And I severely doubt that any police department in any city has ever sworn out a warrant that said “give me the phone records for every call in [for example] New York City over the last month.” This is the sort of abuse that can only be carried out by the vast, unaccountable, black budget national security state. Worse still, your Administration’s unwillingness to name and confront the threat posed by radical Islam has made us all less safe still.

    I think, on balance, we — you know, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about. But again, this — these programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate. And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up.

    They are.

    And we’re happy to have that debate. OK.

    Joe the Plumber certainly remembers how “happy” you and your supporters are to have “debates.” Funny how you and your supporters willingness to abuse and leak government information was already on display even before you were elected. We should have taken that as a sign.

    That ends the fisking of Obama’s answer to Calmes’ question. This is already so long I think I’ll go ahead and post it, and save the fisking for Obama’s answer to the other question he allowed to a later post.

    LinkSwarm for April 26, 2013

    Friday, April 26th, 2013

    For a startling change of pace, this week the Friday LinkSwarm will be on…Friday!

  • So where are those violent mobs of Americans attacking Muslims the media keeps implying are common? Nowhere to be found.

    “Clearly, some observers fear ordinary Americans more than they do terrorists; they fret more over how dangerously unintelligent and hateful Yanks will respond to bombings than they do over the bombings themselves. But where is this Islamophobic mob? Where are these marauding Muslim-haters undergoing a post-Boston freakout? They are a figment of liberal observers’ imaginations.”

  • Finally catching up on work Andrew Breitbart and Lee Stranahan were doing three years ago, The New York Times finally discovered that there was massive fraud in the Pigford “black farmer settlement, namely hundred of millions of dollars going to people who had never farmed in their life for “discrimination” by the Department of Agriculture.
  • It takes some chutzpah to lobby against voter ID bills when you’ve already been convicted of voter fraud.
  • Walter Russell Mead on the Wreck of the Euro. “Meanwhile everything in Europe gets worse. As we’ve said before, with the exception of communism itself, the euro has been the biggest economic catastrophe to befall the continent (and the world) since the 1930s. Politicians in Europe thought they were living in a post-historical period in which mistakes didn’t really matter all that much. They were horribly wrong, and the wreck of the euro is blighting lives and embittering spirits on a truly staggering scale.” Quibble: $500,000 won’t just buy you “a pretty nice house;” in most of the country, it will buy you mansion.
  • Iowahawk’s new digs. (Though he’s also escaped from his captors at his old digs as well.)
  • Denmark rethinks welfare. “Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. The population is aging, and in many regions of the country people without jobs now outnumber those with them.”
  • Back-to-back record lows for Texas. How’s that global warming working out for ya?
  • Drink, Drive, Get Public Employee of the Year. (And yes, of course she’s a Democrat.)
  • “If Maureen Dowd’s evisceration manqué of President Obama’s gun control strategy in the New York Times is any indication, Ms. Dowd is in the wrong line of work. She doesn’t understand American politics. She doesn’t know how votes are gained and lost, she doesn’t know what presidents do or understand what powers they have, and above all she doesn’t understand how politicians think.” On the plus side, Dowd did say that Obama “still has not learned how to govern.”
  • Max Baucus to retire. “Mr. Baucus is the sixth Democrat since the start of the year to opt not to run for re-election in 2014, following Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.”
  • Funny what 4+ years of Obama has done for Bush43’s image. “Among registered voters, his approval rating today is equal to President Obama’s, at 47 percent.”
  • “Kerry possesses neither principle nor expertise, and so the odds of him saying something both daft and morally bankrupt are always high.”
  • Shotgun beats baseball bat.
  • Feminist political correctness now trumps rights of the accused and due process of law on campus.
  • Infowars has a dating site. No, really.
  • Pelosi Thanks Bush

    Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

    To congratulate him for taking a leading role in hunting down Osama Bin laden.

    And the moon became as blood…

    Obama Loses the David Brooks Vote

    Thursday, January 6th, 2011

    It is well known that one of the biggest reasons for columnist David Brooks’ otherwise inexplicable swoon over Obama was his natty dressing style. “I remember distinctly an image of—we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.”

    However, Obama may have just lost the all-important Brooks vote due to this image:

    Can David Brooks possibly love an Obama that can’t even button a jacket correctly? Sure, you and I may think “Eh, it happens.” But we’re not hyper-fashion-aware columnists for The New York Times.

    Also, does anyone doubt that if Bush misbuttoned his jacket, it would have instantly been proclaimed a sign of mental deficiency across the lefty blogosphere?