Tag: Byron York

Your Daley Gator Anti-War-In-Syria Op-Ed Roundup

Unserious About Syria – Thomas Sowell

Why are we even talking about taking military action in Syria? What is that military action supposed to accomplish? And what is the probability that it will in fact accomplish whatever that unknown goal might be?

What is painfully clear from President Obama’s actions, inactions, and delays is that he is more or less playing by ear what specifically he is going to do, and when. He is telling us more about what he is not going to do – that he will not put “boots on the ground,” for example – than about what he will do.

All this is happening a year after issuing an ultimatum to the Bashar Assad regime in Syria against the use of chemical or biological weapons. When the president of the United States issues an ultimatum to another sovereign nation, he should know in advance what he is going to do if that ultimatum is rejected.

But that is not the way Barack Obama operates. Like so many people who are masters of lofty words, he does not pay nearly as much attention to mundane realities. Campaigning is his strong suit. Governing is not.

With the mainstream media ready to ooh and aah over his rhetoric, and pass over in silence his policy disasters as president, Obama is home free as far as domestic politics is concerned. But, on the world stage, neither America’s enemies nor her allies are hypnotized by his words or his image.

Nations that have to decide whether to ally themselves with us or with our enemies understand that they are making life-and-death decisions. It is not about rhetoric, image, or symbolism. It is about whether nations can count on the realism, wisdom, and dependability of the American government.

Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is a very clever man. But cleverness is not wisdom, or even common sense.

When he was in the Senate, Obama – along with Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, and Hillary Clinton – was critical of the Bush administration for not being favorable to the Assad regime.

Hillary Clinton said that she and other lawmakers who visited Assad considered him a “reformer.” Back in 2007, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, both Senator Biden and Senator Hagel chided her for not being more ready to negotiate with Assad.

Senator John Kerry in 2009 said, “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”

Some people said that having Joe Biden as vice president meant that President Obama had someone with many years of foreign-policy experience. What they ignored was that Biden had decades of experience being wrong on foreign-policy issues time and time again.

Biden opposed President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup that countered the Soviet Union’s buildup and helped bring about both the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union. General David Petraeus’s “surge” strategy that greatly reduced the terrorist attacks in Iraq was opposed in 2007 by Senator Biden, who said, “We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out.”

Senator Hillary Clinton not only opposed the surge from the outset, she was among those who refused to believe that it had succeeded, even after all the hard evidence had convinced most other people.

The grim reality is that the people in key positions to shape our foreign policy during the Obama administration – the president, the vice president, two secretaries of state, and the current secretary of defense – all have a track record of grossly misconceiving the issues, our enemies, and our national interest.

This is the administration that is now asking for a blank check from Congress to take unspecified military action to achieve unspecified goals. “Military action” is a polite phrase for killing people. It would be nice to believe that this has some purpose other than saving Barack Obama from political embarrassment after he issued an ultimatum without having thought through what he would do if that ultimatum was ignored.

He has the authority to take military action if he wants to. The question is whether he can sucker the Republicans into giving him political cover by pre-approving his unknown actions and unknown goals.

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Clear-Cut Stupidity On Syria – Jonah Goldberg

‘The genius of you Americans,” the Arab-nationalist and one-time president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, once explained, “is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing.”

I’ve long taken patriotic pride in such statements of befuddlement from foreigners. America is a gloriously complicated thing. We often confuse our national creeds for universal principles. We are a Jacksonian people (that’s Andrew Jackson, in case you were wondering) in love with Jeffersonian ideals and legalistically committed to Madisonian mechanisms. Like a guard dog that would rather not leave the porch, we are quick to anger but not necessarily quick to fight, and we are just as eager to forgive.

So from the vantage point of foreign brutes, bullies, and buffoons, it’s understandable that America’s methods could be confused for stupidity. This is why I love the old expression, “America can choke on a gnat, but swallow a tiger whole.”

So I am trying very hard to hold onto this perspective as I watch the president of the United States behave in a way you don’t have to be a pan-Arab autocrat to think is incredibly stupid.

Where to begin? Perhaps with Obama’s initial refusal to support the moderate rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a puppet of Iran and bagman for Hezbollah. Or we might start with Obama’s refusal to support the Green Movement in Iran, which sought to overthrow the Iranian regime, which would have been a triumph for both our principles and our national interests.

These were odd choices, particularly given his decision to help depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, an indisputably evil man, but also a dictator who posed no threat, who abided by our demands to relinquish WMDs, and whose domestic death toll was a tiny fraction of Assad’s.

“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy… where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government” was Obama’s justification for an attack on Libya – without congressional approval. But when Assad killed tenfold as many men, women, and children, Obama refused to act for nearly two years. And when he finally decided it was imperative to attack Assad – after the dictator crossed a chemical-weapons “red line” drawn by Obama himself – he suddenly discovered the need for congressional authorization.

Sort of.

Obama doesn’t believe he needs authorization from Congress to strike Syria, he just wants it. He’s like a kid desperate for a prom date, but too vain to admit it. In Libya, Obama had the U.N. and NATO on each arm, so he didn’t bother with asking the dog on Capitol Hill for a date. But now, faced with the prospect of going it alone, he’s in effect telling Congress, “Hey, it’s not like I need your company, but you’d be crazy not to go to war with me.”

Whoops. As even Nancy Pelosi’s own grandkid now knows, we mustn’t call it a war. “The president is not asking you to go to war,” Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress. He’s merely asking them to authorize a sustained cruise-missile attack on military installations to “degrade” the regime’s “capabilities.”

But, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey, no one has asked the military to do anything that might change the “momentum” of the Syrian civil war. This is like saying you’re going to attack a runaway car barreling toward a crowd of kids, but do nothing to actually, you know, slow it down. What good does it do to trash the radio and rip out the cup holders on an out-of-control car?

Meanwhile, according to numerous accounts, Assad is moving military assets into civilian areas and civilians into military areas, even as the Obama administration insists it makes no difference militarily to wait for Congress to debate. That’s not just stupid; it’s an outright lie that will be fact-checked with blood.

I understand the attraction the buddy system has for a man who, as a state legislator, perfected the art of voting “present” on hard questions. But it’s hard to see this as anything other than rank political cowardice.

The buck stopped with Truman. For Obama, the buck is kryptonite.

In Stockholm on Wednesday, the president said that the credibility of the world, America, Congress, and the international community is on the line. Everybody is on the hook for his red line, except for the one person who actually drew it.

I’d love to see the genius in that argument, but it looks like clear-cut stupidity to me.

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Community Organizer Goes To War – Ann Coulter

Oh, how I long for the days when liberals wailed that “the rest of the world” hated America, rather than now, when the rest of the world laughs at us.

With the vast majority of Americans opposing a strike against Syria, President Obama has requested that Congress vote on his powers as commander in chief under the Constitution. The president doesn’t need congressional approval to shoot a few missiles into Syria, nor – amazingly – has he said he’ll abide by such a vote, anyway.

Why is Congress even having a vote? This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover Obama’s own idiotic “red line” ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to get Congress on the record so that whatever happens, the media can blame Republicans.

No Republican who thinks seriously about America’s national security interests – by which I mean to exclude John McCain and Lindsey Graham – can support Obama’s “plan” to shoot blindly into this hornet’s nest.

It would be completely different if we knew with absolute certainty that Assad was responsible for chemical attacks on his own people. (I’m still waiting to see if it was a Syrian upset about a YouTube video.)

It would be different if instead of killing a few hundred civilians, Assad had killed 5,000 civilians with poison gas in a single day, as well as tens of thousands more with chemical weapons in the past few decades.

It would be different if Assad were known to torture his own people, administer summary executions, rapes, burnings and electric shocks, often in front of the victim’s wife or children.

It would be different if Assad had acted aggressively toward the United States itself, perhaps attempting to assassinate a former U.S. president or giving shelter to terrorists who had struck within the U.S. – someone like Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist.

It would be different if Assad were stirring up trouble in the entire Middle East by, for example, paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers in other countries.

It would also be different if we could be sure that intervention in Syria would not lead to a multi-nation conflagration.

It would be different if we knew that any action against Syria would not put al-Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood in power, but rather would result in a functioning, peaceful democracy.

And it would be different if an attack on Syria would so terrify other dictators in the region that they would instantly give up their WMDs – say, Iran abandoning its nuclear program.

If all of that were true, this would be a military intervention worth supporting!

All of that was true about Iraq, but the Democrats hysterically opposed that war. They opposed it even after all this was known to be true – indeed, especially after it was known to be true! The loudest opponent was Barack Obama.

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had attempted to assassinate former president George H.W. Bush. He gave shelter to Abdul Rahman Yasin, a conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers in Israel.

Soon after Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi was so terrified of an attack on his own country, he voluntarily relinquished his WMDs – which turned out to be far more extensive than previously imagined.

Al-Qaida not only did not take over Iraq, but got its butt handed to it in Iraq, where the U.S. and its allies killed thousands of al-Qaida fighters, including the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Iraq became the first genuine Arab democracy, holding several elections and presiding over a trial of Saddam Hussein.

Does anyone imagine that any of this would result from an Obama-led operation in Syria? How did his interventions work out in Egypt and Libya?

As for chemical weapons – the casus belli for the current drums of war – in a matter of hours on March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein slaughtered roughly 5,000 Kurdish civilians in Halabja with mustard, sarin and VX gas. The victims blistered, vomited or laughed hysterically before dropping dead. Thousands more would die later from the after-effects of these poisons.

Saddam launched nearly two dozen more chemical attacks on the Kurds, resulting in at least 50,000 deaths, perhaps three times that many. That’s to say nothing of the tens of thousands of Iranians Saddam killed with poison gas. Indeed, in making the case against Assad recently, Secretary of State John Kerry said his use of chemical weapons put him in the same league as “Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.”

Not even close – but may we ask why Kerry sneered at the war that removed such a monster as Hussein?

There were endless United Nations reports and resolutions both establishing that Saddam had used chemical weapons and calling on him to give them up. (For the eighth billionth time, we did find chemical weapons in Iraq, just no “stockpiles.” Those had been moved before the war, according to Saddam’s own general, Georges Sada – to Syria.)

On far less evidence, our current president accuses Assad of using chemical weapons against a fraction of the civilians provably murdered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein. So why did Obama angrily denounce the military operation that removed Hussein? Why did he call that a “war of choice”?

Obama says Assad – unlike that great statesman Saddam Hussein – has posed “a challenge to the world.” But the world disagrees. Even our usual ally, Britain, disagrees. So Obama demands the United States act alone to stop a dictator, who – compared to Saddam – is a piker.

At this point, Assad is at least 49,000 dead bodies short of the good cause the Iraq War was, even if chemical weapons had been the only reason to take out Saddam Hussein.

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Say No On Syria – Dick Morris

Congress should reject President Obama’s appeal for authorization to attack Syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Just as state Sen. Barack Obama opposed the use of force resolution against Saddam Hussein in 2002, Congress should turn aside the president’s appeal to attack now that his particular “red line” has been crossed in Syria. If he was against drawing the line against Hussein, what is the need to draw the line with Bashar Assad?

In “The Great Deformation,” former Budget Director David Stockman writes eloquently about the costs of a “welfare” and a “warfare” state, noting that they both drain our national economy – the warfare state particularly. With our economy trembling on the brink of a major crash, in the opinion of many economists, this is no time for another expensive military operation.

Above all, it is wrong to commit our nation’s military to a confused and contradictory conflict. How can we fight when The Wall Street Journal attributes to a Pentagon official the fear that “the wrong groups in the opposition would be able to take advantage of [an American bombing campaign]?” He said that the administration did not want to topple Assad from power – just to punish him for using gas.

This kind of half-in, half-out mission is exactly the kind of intervention we must avoid. It creates its own momentum and leads to ever greater involvement, regardless of the initial intent.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has said that we would become “al Qaeda’s airforce” should we attack Assad. The evidence is overwhelming that al Qaeda is the alternative to Assad in Syria. The illusion of a liberal, democratic alternative is as ephemeral in Syria as it has proven to be in Egypt. In bombing Assad, we would inevitably become involved on the wrong side of a civil war. Not that Assad is the right side; there is no right side, and we should stay out.

Why is the president asking for congressional approval of his intervention? Is it a sudden concern for the limitations of executive power? Or is it a desire to use the gas episode to get a Gulf of Tonkin-style open-ended OK for intervention in this civil war? Could it be related to his desire to appease the Saudi monarchy by backing the rebels that Riyadh desperately wants to win?

We must all step back, at this juncture, and question what five decades of war have accomplished. Vietnam was, unquestionably, a total waste of men, money and political credibility. We lost, and we would have accomplished nothing had we won. The fall of the Soviet Empire would not have been hastened one day by defeat or advanced one day by victory. The war between China and Vietnam within years of the end of U.S. involvement showed how flawed the domino theory really was.

The first Gulf War, obviously, achieved nothing. It left Hussein in power and we had to go in again. The second Gulf War is increasingly appearing to be destructive in its impact. We seem to have succeeded only in giving Iran a staunch ally in the Middle East. The recent killing of 52 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf – the sanctuary we established for opponents of the Ayatollah – reportedly by Iraqi forces, shows how flawed our involvement was.

The Afghan War has degraded al Qaeda’s ability to fight, but the broader effort at nation-building has only really propped up a regime that non-governmental organization Transparency International rates as the second most corrupt on Earth.

Libya? The jury is still out, but the activity of al Qaeda there, as evidenced by the Benghazi raid, indicates it may have a similarly disappointing outcome.

It is plainly time to say no. It is time to heed the warning of President Eisenhower against limited wars, unbalanced budgets and the military industrial complex.

Syria is, indeed, the time to draw a red line. But the line should be against military adventures.

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Why Many Republicans Won’t Support Obama On Syria Attack – Byron York

Early signs say it will be hard for President Obama to win congressional authorization for military action in Syria. That could change; lawmakers might re-write the president’s draft authorization into something they can live with, ultimately allowing Obama to go forward. But whatever happens, Republicans have a compelling case for rejecting the president’s request. Based on off-the-record conversations with some of them, this is it:

1) The chemical weapons evidence. The Obama administration appears to believe that conclusive proof that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians creates an unassailable case for U.S. intervention. A few lawmakers will likely challenge whether the proof is really conclusive. But a far larger number will accept the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons – and still reject intervention.

Those lawmakers will argue that Obama did not intervene when Assad used conventional weapons to slaughter thousands of innocent people; the death toll in the two-and-and-half-year civil war is put at 100,000. What is different now? They will also point to the various atrocities and human rights violations around the world in which the United States has not intervened. American involvement, they will argue, should be contingent on a genuine U.S. national security interest, not the simple fact that an awful thing has been done.

2) The blank check problem. Lots of lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, believe Obama’s draft resolution gives the president too much power. The draft would grant Obama the authority to use armed force “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in connection with weapons of mass destruction in Syria, for the purpose of preventing the future use or spread of those weapons, or, more generally, protecting the U.S. and its allies.

For many lawmakers, that’s too broad a mandate. But a significant number of members might reject even a narrowed version of the resolution on the grounds that, once the use of force is authorized, Congress as a practical matter will have little control over how the president exercises it.

3) The nature of the Syrian opposition. Many Republicans will never be convinced the U.S. can come to the aid of good rebels in Syria without also helping bad rebels in Syria. It’s just too complicated, they believe, and there are simply too many bad guys. Why risk aiding al Qaeda or its affiliates? These Republicans remain unconvinced by arguments from fellow GOP lawmakers like John McCain, who point out that in the Libyan operation the U.S. essentially set up a safe area for good rebels in Benghazi. Given what happened later in that Libyan city, the skeptics will remain unconvinced.

4) The lack of confidence in Barack Obama. There’s no doubt the president has been extremely reluctant to take action in Syria. He also showed terrible judgment by painting himself into a corner with his 2012 “red line” comments on chemical weapons. For those reasons, and more, some Republicans will argue that they simply cannot entrust special warmaking powers to a president who they believe is not competent to use them.

5) The “first to die” dilemma. Some Republicans are so war-weary that they would be loathe to authorize any military action in the absence of an actual attack on the United States. When Sen. Rand Paul re-phrased John Kerry’s words from Vietnam – Kerry famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?” which Paul changed to “How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?” – the senator from Kentucky was signaling that there is virtually no way lawmakers like him will ever support a Syrian initiative.

How many Republicans hold some or all of these beliefs? Quite a few. Perhaps in anticipation of a close vote, a new argument is circulating among pro-interventionists which says that protecting the prerogatives of future presidents is so important that Republicans should support Obama’s Syrian action even if there is no good case for doing so.

Rejecting Obama could permanently weaken the presidency, argues political scientist James Ceaser in an article cited by influential conservative commentator William Kristol. Therefore, Republicans should vote to authorize force “even if they think that the president’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks…even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and…even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.”

That will be a very hard sell for Republicans. In the end, many will carefully consider all the evidence and then vote their instincts. And that will mean a vote against Barack Obama.

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Unless He’s Serious, Vote No – Charles Krauthammer

Sen. Bob Corker: “What is it you’re seeking?”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”

– Senate hearing on the use of force in Syria, Sept. 3

We have a problem. The president proposes attacking Syria, and his top military officer cannot tell you the objective. Does the commander in chief know his own objective? Why, yes. “A shot across the bow,” explained Barack Obama.

Now, a shot across the bow is a warning. Its purpose is to say: Cease and desist, or the next shot will sink you. But Obama has already told the world – and Bashar al-Assad in particular – that there will be no next shot. He has insisted time and again that the operation will be finite and highly limited. Take the shot, kill some fish, go home.

What then is the purpose? Dempsey hasn’t a clue, but Secretary of State John Kerry says it will uphold and proclaim a norm and thus deter future use of chemical weapons. With a few Tomahawk missiles? Hitting sites that, thanks to the administration having leaked the target list, have already been scrubbed of important military assets?

This is risible. If anything, a pinprick from which Assad emerges unscathed would simply enhance his stature and vindicate his conduct.

Deterrence depends entirely on perception, and the perception in the Middle East is universal: Obama wants no part of Syria.

Assad has to go, says Obama, and then lifts not a finger for two years. Obama lays down a “red line,” and then ignores it. Shamed finally by a massive poison gas attack, he sends Kerry to make an impassioned case for righteous and urgent retaliation – and the very next day, Obama undermines everything by declaring an indefinite timeout to seek congressional approval.

This stunning zigzag, following months of hesitation, ambivalence, contradiction and studied delay, left our regional allies shocked and our enemies gleeful. I had strongly advocated going to Congress. But it was inconceivable that, instead of recalling Congress to emergency session, Obama would simply place everything in suspension while Congress finished its Labor Day barbecues and he flew off to Stockholm and St. Petersburg. So much for the fierce urgency of enforcing an international taboo and speaking for the dead children of Damascus.

Here’s how deterrence works in the Middle East. Syria, long committed to the destruction of Israel, has not engaged Israel militarily in 30 years. Why? Because it recognizes Israel as a serious adversary with serious policies.

This year alone, Israel has four times conducted airstrikes in Syria. No Syrian response. How did Israel get away with it? Israel had announced that it would not tolerate Assad acquiring or transferring to Hezbollah advanced weaponry. No grandiloquent speeches by the Israeli foreign minister. No leaked target lists. Indeed, the Israelis didn’t acknowledge the strikes even after they had carried them out. Unlike the American president, they have no interest in basking in perceived toughness. They care only about effect. They care about just one audience – the party to be deterred, namely Assad and his allies.

Assad knows who did it. He didn’t have to see the Israeli prime minister preening about it on world television.

And yet here is Obama, having yet done nothing but hesitate, threaten, retract and wander about the stage, claiming Wednesday in Sweden to be the conscience of the world, upholding not his own red line but the world’s. And, incidentally, Congress’s – a transparent attempt at offloading responsibility.

What should Congress do?

To his dovish base, Obama insists on how limited and militarily marginal the strike will be. To undecided hawks such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are prepared to support a policy that would really alter the course of the civil war, he vaguely promises the opposite – to degrade Assad’s military while upgrading that of the resistance.

Problem is, Obama promised U.S. weaponry three months ago and not a rifle has arrived. This time around, what seems in the making is a mere pinprick, designed to be, one U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times, “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That’s why Dempsey is so glum. That’s why U.S. allies are so stunned. There’s no strategy, no purpose here other than helping Obama escape self-inflicted humiliation.

This is deeply unserious. Unless Obama can show the country that his don’t-mock-me airstrike is, in fact, part of a serious strategic plan, Congress should vote no.

John McCain changed the administration’s authorization resolution to include, mirabile dictu, a U.S. strategy in Syria: to alter the military equation (against Assad). Unfortunately, Obama is not known for being bound by what Congress passes (see, for example: health care, employer mandate).

When Obama tells the nation what he told McCain and Lindsey Graham in private – that he plans to degrade Assad’s forces, upgrade the resistance and alter the balance of forces – Congress might well consider authorizing the use of force. But until then, it’s no.

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An Accidental War – Mark Steyn

I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Martha’s Vineyard, but as a military strategy it’s not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington. And it’s trickier than it sounds: I’m sure Miley’s choreographer assured her she was “just muscular enough not to get mocked,” and one wouldn’t want to see the United States reduced to twerking arrhythmically to no avail in front of an unimpressed Bashar Assad’s Robin Thicke. Okay, okay, that metaphor’s as thinly stretched as Miley’s talent, so what does unmockable musculature boil down to? From the New York Times: “A wide range of officials characterize the action under consideration as ‘limited,’ perhaps lasting no more than a day or two.”

Yeah, I know, that’s what Edward III said about the Hundred Years’ War. But Obama seems to mean it:

An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets. Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site.

Got that? So, if you’re a Syrian air-base commander, you might want to think about moving those Russian helicopters, or at least yourself – perhaps to that black-eyed cutie’s apartment, above the restaurant where the kibbeh with the pomegranate sauce is to die for, just for the night, until the Great Satan has twerked his ordnance at you twice or thrice and gone away to threaten the Yemenis or Somalis or whoever’s next.

In the world’s most legalistic culture, it was perhaps inevitable that battle plans would eventually be treated under courtroom discovery rules and have to be disclosed to the other side in your pre-war statement. But in this case it doesn’t seem to be impressing anyone. Like his patrons in Tehran and Moscow, Assad’s reaction to American threats is to double up with laughter and say, “Bring it, twerkypants.” Headline from Friday’s Guardian in London: “Syria: ‘Napalm’ Bomb Dropped on School Playground, BBC Claims” – which, if true, suggests that even a blood-soaked mass murderer is not without a sense of humor. Napalm, eh? There’s a word I haven’t heard since, oh, 40 years ago or thereabouts, somewhere in the general vicinity of southeast Asia.

The BBC footage is grisly; the British media have been far more invested in the Syrian civil war than their U.S. colleagues. But what’s the net effect of all the harrowing human-interest stories? This week, David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer recess to permit the people’s representatives to express their support for the impending attack. Instead, for the first time since the British defeat at Yorktown in 1782, the House of Commons voted to deny Her Majesty’s Government the use of force. Under the Obama “reset,” even the Coalition of the Willing is unwilling. “It’s clear to me that the British Parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action,” said the prime minister. So the Brits are out, and, if he goes at all, Obama will be waging war without even Austin Powers’s Union Jack fig leaf.

“This House will not fight for king and country”? Not exactly. What the British people are sick of, quite reasonably enough, is ineffectual warmongering, whether in the cause of Blairite liberal interventionism or of Bush’s big-power assertiveness. The problem with the American way of war is that, technologically, it can’t lose, but, in every other sense, it can’t win. No one in his right mind wants to get into a tank battle or a naval bombardment with the guys responsible for over 40 percent of the planet’s military expenditures. Which is why these days there aren’t a lot of tank battles. The consummate interventionist Robert Kagan wrote in his recent book that the American military “remains unmatched.” It’s unmatched in the sense that the only guy in town with a tennis racket isn’t going to be playing a lot of tennis matches. But the object of war, in Liddell Hart’s famous distillation, is not to destroy the enemy’s tanks (or Russian helicopters) but his will. And on that front America loses, always. The “unmatched” superpower cannot impose its will on Kabul kleptocrats, Pashtun goatherds, Egyptian generals, or Benghazi militia. There is no reason to believe Syria would be an exception to this rule. America’s inability to win ought to be a burning national question, but it’s not even being asked.

Let us stipulate that many of those war-weary masses are ignorant and myopic. But at a certain level they grasp something that their leaders don’t: For a quarter-century, from Kuwait to Kosovo to Kandahar, the civilized world has gone to war only in order to save or liberate Muslims. The Pentagon is little more than central dispatch for the U.S. military’s Muslim Fast Squad. And what do we have to show for it? Liberating Syria isn’t like liberating the Netherlands: In the Middle East, the enemy of our enemy is also our enemy. Yes, those BBC images of schoolchildren with burning flesh are heart-rending. So we’ll get rid of Assad and install the local branch of al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or whatever plucky neophyte democrat makes it to the presidential palace first – and then, instead of napalmed schoolyards, there will be, as in Egypt, burning Christian churches and women raped for going uncovered.

So what do we want in Syria? Obama can’t say, other than for him to look muscular without being mocked, like a camp bodybuilder admiring himself in the gym mirror.

Oh, well. If the British won’t be along for the ride, the French are apparently still in. What was the old gag from a decade ago during those interminable U.N. resolutions with Chirac saying “Non!” every time? Ah, yes: “Going to war without the French is like going hunting without an accordion.” Oddly enough, the worst setback for the Islamic imperialists in recent years has been President Hollande’s intervention in Mali, where, unlike the money-no-object Pentagon, the French troops had such undernourished supply lines that they had to hitch a ride to the war on C-17 transports from the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force. And yet they won – insofar as anyone ever really wins on that benighted sod.

Meanwhile, the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility anyway.

Maybe it’s time to learn the accordion…

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5 Reasons Not To Bomb Syria – John Hawkins

Barack Obama knows that America’s military is a big stick, but unfortunately Roosevelt’s advice about speaking softly doesn’t seem to have stuck. Because Barack Obama recklessly shot off his mouth about a “red line” in Syria, he’s demanding that our nation insert itself into a civil war between terrorist groups, both of which have chemical weapons, to protect his ego. Happily, the American people recognize what a foolish move this would be. A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only 9% of Americans currently support bombing Syria. This is why Barack Obama has punted his Syrian War to Congress. He’s hoping that it’ll be foolish enough to vote in favor of war to give him the political cover he needs to bomb. Not only should Congress vote against the war in Syria, if Obama bombs that country anyway, Congress should immediately cut off funds for the war and move to impeach him. Why?

1) We don’t have a son-of-a-b*tch in Syria. During the Cold War, America used to semi-regularly ally itself with some rather unsavory leaders and groups. The oft repeated rationale for supporting a dictator in those days was, “He may be a son-of-a-b*tch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” In other words, both sides are bad guys, but this bad guy would work with us instead of the Soviets. In this case, we don’t have a dog in the fight. It’s a civil war between two groups that both despise us and will continue to hate us. Why risk American blood and treasure for people who will hate our guts no matter what we do?

2) Why act as Al-Qaeda’s Air Force? Barack Obama is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even he should know that Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11. Well now, Bin Laden’s boys are teamed up with the rebels that are fighting Bashar al-Assad. We just spent a decade killing as many members of Al-Qaeda as humanly possible in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; so how much sense does it make for Barack Obama to help Al-Qaeda take over Syria by bombing Bashar al-Assad? Bashar al-Assad may be our enemy, but we should be thrilled he’s killing Al-Qaeda and getting more of his terrorist pals in Hezbollah offed in the process.

3) What makes anyone think Obama can pull this off with no repercussions? What is there in Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House that makes anyone think he’s likely to handle this well? The fact that he didn’t kill a drone program George W. Bush set up? Because he was too distracted playing cards with Reggie Love to screw up killing Osama Bin Laden? Bush essentially won Iraq and Obama screwed up pulling out of that country and has put a hard-earned victory at risk. He’s also on track to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Afghanistan. His incompetence got Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, Obama helped get rid of a relatively friendly dictator in favor of anti-American, pro-terrorist theocrats who lasted just over a year before they were thrown out of power by an Egyptian public that seems to hate Obama almost as much as the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, we now think Obama is going to insert himself into a terrorist-heavy civil war in the Middle East without creating as many problems as he solves? That’s like emptying a box of live spiders in a teenage girl’s slumber party and not expecting any screaming.

4) It invites retaliation from Iran and Hezbollah. Many conservatives believe that if we have a choice between bombing Iran or letting it acquire nuclear weapons, we’d be better off to bomb Iran. However, that is supposed to be a last resort after every other measure has failed. Given that Iran and Hezbollah are actively supporting Bashar al-Assad, bombing him means actively opposing both of them in a war. Could they retaliate against us with terrorist attacks? That’s certainly possible. Will they go after Israel to get at us? That’s highly likely. Will Israel respond to those attacks? Yes, Israel will. Could this set off a larger regional war? Again, that’s certainly possible. While Iran and Hezbollah have much more to fear from us than we do from them, you don’t walk up and kick a bee hive just because President Prissy Pants has worked himself into a huff.

5) It’s not in our national interest to bomb Syria. Costly though it may have been, it was in our national interest to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan over 9/11 and to target an aggressive enemy of America like Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That being said, had we known in advance how long our troops would be stuck in Iraq, it’s highly doubtful that we would have ever invaded. On the other hand, what’s the rationale for bombing the side that’s fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria? Both sides hate America. Both sides cooperate with terrorists. If anything, since Al-Qaeda is determined to kill Americans and Assad is not, the current dictator in charge is probably the lesser of two evils. Moreover, encouraging other nations to join us in imposing harsh sanctions on Syria would be just as effective as bombing when it comes to discouraging the use of WMDs without being as provocative. So, what argument is left? Are we supposed to bomb Syria to avoid looking “weak?” Well, if people have that impression, they can ask Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki what they think about that if they’re willing to search through the bowels of hell long enough to find them.

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IRS Scandal Raises Fears About Enforcing Obamacare (Byron York)

IRS Scandal Raises Fears About Enforcing Obamacare – Byron York

The Internal Revenue Service scandal would be bad enough if the IRS just handled issues like collecting income taxes and granting nonprofit status. But the immensely powerful federal agency is about to become even more powerful with the arrival of national health care, and that makes the still-unfolding scandal even more troubling.

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“When I hold town meetings, a great deal of distrust comes through about the size and increasing power of government,” says Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. “The IRS targeting crystallizes that distrust in a very big way because of the IRS’ reach into taxpayer information. What’s happened heightens fears about how the IRS will handle taxpayer information and wield its power when it enforces Obamacare starting next year.”

The IRS is critical to Obamacare. The structure created by the Affordable Care Act requires the government to know about both the health care coverage (or lack of it) and the financial resources of every American. The IRS, which already knows the latter, was the only agency with the reach to do the job.

A look at the text of the health care law reveals that much of it consists of amending the Internal Revenue Code to give the IRS more power. When Obamacare goes fully into effect in January, every American will have to prove to the IRS that he or she has “qualifying” health coverage, meaning coverage with a list of features approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. That will be done by submitting a document to the IRS, something like a W-2, to confirm coverage.

The IRS will also decide who is, and who is not, eligible for Obamacare’s subsidies. The law authorizes the IRS to share confidential taxpayer information with the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of determining those subsidies. And since subsidies don’t just apply to a relatively small number of the nation’s poorest citizens – under the law, they can go to a family of four with a household income of nearly $90,000 – they will affect a huge segment of the population.

In addition, the IRS will keep track of even the smallest changes in Americans’ financial condition. Did you get a raise recently? You’ll need to notify the IRS; it might affect your subsidy status. Have your hours been reduced at work? Notify the IRS. Change jobs? Same.

Last August, IRS official Nina Olson testified before Congress on the changes Obamacare will bring to Americans’ dealings with the nation’s tax collector. “Do you believe that most Americans are going to update the IRS or state exchanges when they change jobs, get married, move states, whatever?” Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg asked Olson.

“I think it’s going to be a very great learning curve,” Olson answered. If Americans don’t keep the IRS up to date on their financial status, they might incur penalties, which the IRS will collect by withholding income tax refunds. “I think it will be a surprise to taxpayers if they don’t update their information,” Olson said.

And now the IRS has been exposed abusing its authority for apparently partisan purposes. At the height of the Tea Party movement, IRS officials applied special scrutiny to organizations with “Tea Party” or words like “patriot” in their names when those groups applied for tax-exempt status.

At his brief news conference Monday, President Obama sought to assure Americans that he will correct the situation. “If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous and there’s no place for it,” Obama said before heading to New York City for a series of fundraisers.

In the next few weeks, the details of the IRS’ apparent misconduct will be spelled out in a series of hastily arranged congressional hearings. Most of the discussion will focus on political nonprofits and the selective treatment they received from the IRS. For millions of Americans, the hearings will do what Charles Grassley noticed at those town meetings in Iowa: reduce their faith that the federal government will treat them fairly.

And that will mean even more anxieties about the coming of Obamacare. “Now every American understands there are elements of the IRS that go off on their own,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told MSNBC Monday morning. “Why would you trust the bureaucracy with your health if you can’t trust the bureaucracy with your politics?”

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – A Brass Age (Thomas Sowell) – More Op-Eds

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A Brass Age – Thomas Sowell

This may be the golden age of presumptuous ignorance. The most recent demonstrations of that are the Occupy Wall Street mobs. It is doubtful how many of these semi-literate sloganizers could tell the difference between a stock and a bond.

Yet there they are, mouthing off about Wall Street on television, cheered on by politicians and the media. If this is not a golden age of presumptuous ignorance, perhaps it should be called a brass age.

No one has more brass than the president of the United States, though his brass may be more polished than that of the Occupy Wall Street mobs. When Barack Obama speaks loftily about “investing in the industries of the future,” does anyone ask: What in the world would qualify him to know what are the industries of the future?

Why would people who have spent their careers in politics know more about investing than people who have spent their careers as investors?

Presumptuous ignorance is not confined to politicians or rowdy political activists, by any means. From time to time, I get a huffy letter or e-mail from a reader who begins, “You obviously don’t know what you are talking about…”

The particular subject may be one on which my research assistants and I have amassed piles of research material and official statistics. It may even be a subject on which I have written a few books, but somehow the presumptuously ignorant just know that I didn’t really study that issue, because my conclusions don’t agree with theirs or with what they have heard.

At one time I was foolish enough to try to reason with such people. But one of the best New Year’s resolutions I ever made, some years ago, was to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people. It has been good for my blood pressure and probably for my health in general.

A recent column of mine that mentioned the “indirect subsidies” from the government to the Postal Service brought the presumptuously ignorant out in force, fighting mad.

Because the government does not directly subsidize the current operating expenses of the Postal Service, that is supposed to show that the Postal Service pays its own way and costs the taxpayers nothing.

Politicians may be crooks but they are not fools. Easily observable direct subsidies can create a political problem. Far better to set up an arrangement that will allow government-sponsored enterprises – whether the Postal Service, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Tennessee Valley Authority – to operate in such a way that they can claim to be self-supporting and not costing the taxpayers anything, no matter how much indirect subsidy they get.

As just one example, the Postal Service has a multi-billion-dollar line of credit at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Hey, we could all use a few billions, every now and then, to get us over the rough spots. But we are not the Postal Service.

Theoretically, the Postal Service is going to pay it all back some day, and that theoretical possibility keeps it from being called a direct subsidy. The Postal Service is also exempt from paying taxes, among other exemptions it has from costs that other businesses have to pay.

Exemption from taxes, and from other requirements that apply to other businesses, are also not called subsidies. For people who mistake words for realities, that is enough for them to buy the political line – and to get huffy with those who don’t.

Loan guarantees are a favorite form of hidden subsidies for all sorts of special interests. At a given point in time, it can be said that these guarantees cost the taxpayers nothing. But when they suddenly do cost something – as with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – they can cost billions.

One of the reasons for so much presumptuous ignorance flourishing in our time may be the emphasis on “self-esteem” in our schools and colleges. Children not yet a decade old have been encouraged, or even required, to write letters to public figures, sounding off on issues ranging from taxes to nuclear missiles.

Our schools begin promoting presumptuous ignorance early on. It is apparently one of the few things they teach well. The end result is people without much knowledge, but with a lot of brass.

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Obama’s Green Robber Barons – Michelle Malkin

Had enough of fat cat Barack Obama, his jet-setting wife and his multi-millionaire Chicago consigliere/real-estate mogul Valerie Jarrett attacking the “rich”? Well, brace yourselves. You’ll be hearing much more from the White House about the “wealthy few” who aren’t paying their “fair share” as Obama’s re-election campaign doubles down on class-war demagoguery.

As usual, there’s always a set of immunity charms for the privileged friends and family of the ruling class. When it comes to all the Green Robber Barons who’ve reaped an obscenely unfair share of billions of tax dollars from the Obama administration, the envy trumpeteers will be quieter than a nest of mute church mice.

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What Really Happened In The Gingrich Ethics Case? – Byron York

The Romney campaign has been hitting Newt Gingrich hard over the 1990s ethics case that resulted in the former Speaker being reprimanded and paying a $300,000 penalty. Before the Iowa caucuses, Romney and his supporting super PAC did serious damage to Gingrich with an ad attacking Gingrich’s ethics past. Since then, Romney has made other ads and web videos focusing on the ethics matter, and at the Republican debate in Tampa Monday night, Romney said Gingrich “had to resign in disgrace.”

In private conversations, Romney aides often mention the ethics case as part of their larger argument that Gingrich would be unelectable in a race against President Obama.

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Schools Of Education – Walter Williams

Larry Sand’s article “No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can’t Read” – written for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, based in Raleigh, N.C. – blames schools of education for the decline in America’s education. Education professors drum into students that they should not “drill and kill” or be the “sage on the stage” but instead be the “guide on the side” who “facilitates student discovery.”

This kind of harebrained thinking, coupled with multicultural nonsense, explains today’s education. During his teacher education, Sand says, “teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. – all under the rubric of ‘Culturally Responsive Education.'”

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The Sinking Of The West – Mark Steyn

Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won’t use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?

Oh, dear. You’ve got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that. See page 185 of my most recent book, where I contrast the orderly, dignified, and moving behavior of those on the Titanic (the ship, not the mendacious Hollywood blockbuster) with that manifested in more recent disasters. There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

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Newt Was Right – Andrew C. McCarthy

Newt Gingrich’s ardent admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt owes more to the latter’s unflinching wartime leadership than his welfare-state policy prescriptions. This week, though, the former Speaker is also undoubtedly in accord with FDR’s aphorism, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” To his great credit, Newt has made an enemy of CAIR.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, that is. The nation’s best known cheerleader for radical Islam – or, as Fox News compliantly puts it, “the largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States” – has issued a blistering press release that labels Gingrich “one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

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The NYT Shilling Again For Leftwing Murderers – David Horowitz

The New York Times, which played a key role in getting convicted and unrepentant murderer Kathy Boudin a parole, has now published a similar massive plea posing as a news story for her accomplice, Judy Clark. The piece is maliciously titled “The Radical Transformation of Judy Clark” as though Clark, understanding the heinous nature of her crime which left 9 children fatherless, is prepared to renounce the life that led to it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course Clark is in her sixties now and regrets her separation from the infant she abandoned to commit the crime (her last crime not her only crime). Her daughter is now 31 and she would obviously like to be able to share the kind of life with her that her victims cannot share with their dead fathers.

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Daily Benefactor Columnists – The Solyndra Fraud (Andrew C. McCarthy) – More Op-Eds

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The Solyndra Fraud – Andrew C. McCarthy

The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be guiding any competent prosecutor’s office in the investigation of a scheme that cost victims – in this case, American taxpayers – a fortune.

Fraud against the United States is one of the most serious felony offenses in the federal penal law. It is even more serious than another apparent Solyndra violation that has captured congressional attention: the Obama administration’s flouting of a statute designed to protect taxpayers.

Homing in on one of the several shocking aspects of the Solyndra scandal, lawmakers noted that, a few months before the “clean energy” enterprise went belly-up last week, the Obama Energy Department signed off on a sweetheart deal. In the event of bankruptcy – the destination to which it was screamingly obvious Solyndra was headed despite the president’s injection of $535 million in federal loans – the cozily connected private investors would be given priority over American taxpayers. In other words, when the busted company’s assets were sold off, Obama pals would recoup some of their losses, while you would be left holding the half-billion-dollar bag.

As Andrew Stiles reported here at NRO, Republicans on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee say this arrangement ran afoul of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law – compassionate conservatism in green bunting – is a monstrosity, under which Leviathan, which can’t run a post office, uses your money to pick winners and losers in the economy’s energy sector. The idea is cockamamie, but Congress did at least write in a mandate that taxpayers who fund these “investments” must be prioritized over other stakeholders. The idea is to prevent cronies from pushing ahead of the public if things go awry – as they are wont to do when pols fancy themselves venture capitalists.

On the Energy Policy Act, the administration’s malfeasance is significant, but secondary. That’s because the act is not a penal statute. It tells the cabinet officials how to structure these “innovative technology” loans, but it provides no remedy if Congress’s directives are ignored.

The criminal law, by contrast, is not content to assume the good faith of government officials. It targets anyone – from low-level swindlers to top elective officeholders – who attempts to influence the issuance of government loans by making false statements; who engages in schemes to defraud the United States; or who conspires “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof, in any manner or for any purpose.” The penalties are steep: Fraud in connection with government loans, for example, can be punished by up to 30 years in the slammer.

Although Solyndra was a private company, moreover, it was using its government loans as a springboard to go public. When the sale of securities is involved, federal law criminalizes fraudulent schemes, false statements of material fact, and statements that omit any “material fact necessary in order to make the statements made… not misleading.” And we’re not just talking about statements made in required SEC filings. Any statement made to deceive the market can be actionable. In 2003, for example, the Justice Department famously charged Martha Stewart with securities fraud. Among other allegations, prosecutors cited public statements she had made in press releases and at a conference for securities analysts – statements in which she withheld damaging information in an effort to inflate the value of her corporation and its stock.

That’s exactly what President Obama did on May 26, 2010, with his Solyndra friends about to launch their initial public offering of stock. The solar-panel company’s California factory was selected as the fitting site for a presidential speech on the virtues of confiscating taxpayer billions to prop up pie-in-the-sky clean-energy businesses.

By then, the con game was already well under way. Solyndra had first tried to get Energy Act funding during the Bush administration, but had been rebuffed shortly before President Bush left office. Small wonder: Solyndra, as former hedge-fund manager Bruce Krasting concluded, was “an absolute complete disaster.” Its operating expenses, including supply costs, nearly doubled its revenue in 2009 – and that’s without factoring in capital expenditures and other costs in what, Krasting observes, is a “low margin” industry. The chance that Solyndra would ever become profitable was essentially nonexistent, particularly given that solar-panel competitors backed by China produce energy at drastically lower prices.

Yet, as Stiles reports, within six days of Obama’s taking office, an Energy Department official acknowledged that the Solyndra “approval process” was suddenly being considered anew. Eventually, the administration made Solyndra the very first recipient of a public loan guarantee when the Energy Act program was beefed up in 2009 – just part of nearly a trillion dollars burned through under the Obama stimulus.

For a while after Solyndra tanked, the administration stonewalled the House subcommittee’s investigation, but we now know that minions in the Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget had enormous qualms about the Solyndra loan. They realized that the company was hemorrhaging money and, even with the loan, would lack the necessary working capital to turn that equation around. Yet they caved under White House pressure to sign off in time for Vice President Joe Biden to make a ballyhooed announcement of the loan in September 2009. An OMB e-mail laments that the timing of the loan approval was driven by the politics of the announcement “rather than the other way around.”

Why so much pressure to give half a billion dollars to a doomed venture? The administration insists it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Solyndra’s big backers include the George Kaiser Family Foundation. No, of course not. George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil magnate, just happens to be a major Obama fundraiser who bundled oodles in contributions for the president’s 2008 campaign. Solyndra officers and investors are said to have visited the White House no fewer than 20 times while the loan guarantee was being considered and, later, revised. Kaiser, too, made several visits – but not to worry: Both he and administration officials deny any impropriety. You’re to believe that the White House was just turning up the heat on OMB and DOE because Solyndra seemed like such a swell investment.

Except it didn’t seem so swell to people who knew how to add and subtract, and those people weren’t all at OMB and DOE. Flush with confidence that their mega-loan from Uncle Sam would make the company attractive to private investors, Solyndra’s backers prepared to take the company public. Unfortunately, SEC rules for an initial public offering of stock require the disclosure of more than Obama speeches glowing with solar power. Companies that want access to the market have to reveal their financial condition.

In Solyndra’s case, outside auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found that condition to be dire. “The company has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception, and has a net stockholders’ deficit,” the PWC accountants concluded. Even with the gigantic Obama loan, Solyndra was such a basket case that PWC found “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

The “going concern” language is not boilerplate. As Townhall finance maven John Ransom explains, it is a term of art to which auditors resort when there is an extraordinary need to protect themselves and the company from legal liability. Angry investors who’ve lost their shirts tend to scapegoat the loser company’s accountants. In truth, even if the accountants affixed a neon “going concern” sign to the company’s financial statements, investors would have no one but themselves to blame. But it is unusual: The language is absent from the statements of many companies that actually end up going bankrupt. Auditors reserve it for the hopeless causes – like Solyndra.

With no alternative if they wanted to make a play for market financing, Solyndra’s backers disclosed the auditors’ bleak diagnosis in March 2010. The government had thus been aware of it for two months when President Obama made his May 26 Solyndra speech – the speech Solyndra backers were clearly hoping would mitigate the damage.

As president, Obama had a fiduciary responsibility to be forthright about Solyndra’s grim prospects – in speaking to the American taxpayers whose money he had redistributed, and to the American investors who were about to be solicited for even more funding. Instead, he pulled a Martha Stewart.

The president looked us in the eye and averred that, when it came to channeling public funds into private hands, “We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra.” He bragged that the $535 billion loan had enabled the company to build the state-of-the-art factory in which he was then speaking. He said nothing about how Solyndra was continuing to lose money – public money – at a catastrophic pace. Instead, he painted the brightest of pictures: 3,000 construction workers to build the thriving plant; manufacturers in 22 states building an endless stream of supplies; technicians in a dozen states constructing the advanced equipment that would make the factory hum; and Solyndra fully “expect[ing] to hire a thousand workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world.”

Not content with that rosy portrait, the president further predicted a “ripple effect”: Solyndra would “generate business for companies throughout our country who will create jobs supplying this factory with parts and materials.” Sure it would. The auditors had scrutinized Solyndra and found it to have, from its inception, a fatally flawed business model that was hurtling toward collapse. Obama touted it as a redistribution success story that would be rippling jobs, growth, and spectacular success for the foreseeable future.

It was a breathtaking misrepresentation. Happily, it proved insufficient to dupe investors who, unlike taxpayers, get to choose where their money goes. They stacked what the administration was saying against what the PWC auditors were saying and wisely went with PWC. Solyndra had to pull its initial public offering due to lack of interest.

But fraud doesn’t have to be fully successful to be a fraud, and this one still had another chapter to go. As the IPO failed and the company inevitably sank in a sea of red ink, Solyndra’s panicked backers pleaded with the administration to restructure the loan terms – to insulate them from their poor business judgment, allowing them to recoup some of their investment while the public took the fall.

It should go without saying that the duty of soi-disant public servants is to serve the public. In this instance, the proper course was clear. As structured, the loan gave the public first dibs on Solyndra’s assets if it collapsed, and, as we’ve seen, the law requires it. There was no good reason to contemplate a change.

In addition, as Andrew Stiles relates, OMB had figured out that there was no economic sense in restructuring: Solyndra was heading for bankruptcy anyway, and an immediate liquidation would net the government a better deal – about $170 million better. The case for leaving things where they stood was so palpable that OMB openly feared “questions will be asked” if DOE proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. So, with numbing predictability, the Obama administration proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. In exchange for lending some of their own money and thus buying more time, Solyndra officials were given priority over taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million in the event of a bankruptcy – the event all the insiders and government officials could see coming from the start, and that hit the rest of us like a $535 billion thunderbolt last week.

The administration’s rationalization is priceless. According to DOE officials, the restructuring was necessary “to create a situation whereby investors felt there was a value in their investment.” Of course, the value in an investment is the value created by the business in which the investment is made. Here, Solyndra had no value. Investors could be enticed only by an invalid arrangement to recoup some of their losses – by a scheme to make the public an even bigger sap.

The word for such schemes is fraud.

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‘Pass This Jobs Bill!’ – Mark Steyn

The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his “American Jobs Act.” That’s a good name for it: an act. “Pass this bill now!” he declared 24 times at a stop in Raleigh, N.C., and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: “Pass this bill now!”

Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the prompter-in-chief. In North Carolina, a still-devoted hopeychanger cried out, “I love you!”

“I love you, too,” said the president. “But…”

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So A Comatose Guy Walks Into A Bar… – Ann Coulter

Liberals are on their high horses about a single audience member at CNN’s Republican debate whom they believe wanted a hypothetical man without health insurance in a hypothetical coma to die – hypothetically.

(Democrats want people in comas to die only when they are not hypothetical but real, like Terri Schiavo.)

I concur with the audience member who shouted “Yes!” This has nothing to do with any actual people in comas – the people Democrats want to kill – it’s just a big “screw you” to the moderator.

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Obama Plagued By Democrats’ Ingratitude – Byron York

For generations, Democrats longed for a president who could enact national health care. Barack Obama did it.

For years, Democrats longed for a president who could massively increase federal spending, impose broad new regulations and fight for higher taxes. Barack Obama did it.

For much of the past decade, Democrats longed for a president who could pull American forces out of Iraq and redirect U.S. security policy toward al Qaeda. Barack Obama did it – and killed Osama bin Laden, to boot.

Obama did all that, and more. And now many Democrats are afraid to be seen with him. Some gratitude.

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You Can’t Tax The Rich – Thomas Sowell

Ninety years ago – in 1921 – federal income-tax policies reached an absurdity that many people today seem to want to repeat. Those who believe in high taxes on “the rich” got their way. The tax rate on people in the top income bracket was 73 percent in 1921. On the other hand, the rich also got their way: They didn’t actually pay those taxes.

The number of people with taxable incomes of $300,000 a year or more – equivalent to far more than $1 million in today’s money – declined from over 1,000 people in 1916 to fewer than 300 in 1921. Were the rich all going broke?

It might look that way. More than four-fifths of the total taxable income earned by people making $300,000 a year up and vanished into thin air.

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Obama’s Quiver Is Empty – Victor Davis Hanson

Ex-president George W. Bush with accustomed candor once shrugged after the end of his eight-year presidency, “People were kind of tired of me.” That ennui happens eventually with most presidents. But in the case of Barack Obama, our modern Phaethon, his fiery crash is coming after 32, not 96, months.

We can sense the national weariness with Obama in a variety of strange and unexpected ways. There is the self-pitying anguish of liberal columnists who scapegoat him for turning the public against their own leftwing agenda. The current silence of “moderate” Republicans and conservative op-ed writers who once in near ecstasy jumped ship to join Obama is deafening. A growing number of Democratic representatives and senators up for reelection do not want their partisan president to visit their districts in the runup to November 2012. Approval ratings hover around 40 percent.

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The Cash-For-Visas Program – Michelle Malkin

As part of his warmed-over jobs plan, President Obama is repackaging “Buy American” stimulus subsidies to help hard-hit homegrown businesses. At the same time, however, Congress is pushing to expand a fraud-riddled investor program that puts U.S. citizenship for sale to the highest foreign business bidders.

Call it the Buy America Cash-for-Visas plan.

As I first reported 10 years ago, the EB-5 immigrant investor program was created under an obscure section of the 1990 Immigration Act. The law allows 10,000 wealthy foreigners a year to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million in new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses.

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Quick Reminder: Obama Is Supporting Al-Qaeda Terrorists In Libya

Jihadis Who Killed Americans Get U.S. Support In Libya – Byron York

There’s no question that the rebels Americans are currently fighting for in Libya include in their ranks jihadis who in recent years traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill Americans. The only question is whether that worries you or not.

Take Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, a leader of U.S.-supported rebels in the fighting for Adjabiya. His hometown, Darnah, has produced many jihadis, and after the Sept. 11 attacks al-Hasidi traveled to Afghanistan to fight the “foreign invasion” — that is, the U.S. military. According to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, al-Hasidi says he was later captured in Pakistan, handed over to the U.S., then held in prison in Libya before being released in 2008.

In addition to fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan, al-Hasidi also says he recruited about two dozen men to fight the U.S. in Iraq.

Now al-Hasidi and his allies are moving toward Tripoli, which would not be possible without the military power of the United States. The men who devoted so much energy to killing Americans are now thankfully watching Americans kill for them.

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To some observers, that’s no big deal. “No one seems all that frightened by him,” the New York Times wrote of al-Hasidi after a visit to Darnah in early March. Al-Hasidi, the paper reported, “praises Osama bin Laden’s ‘good points’ but denounces the 9/11 attacks on the United States.” And besides, the Times reported, al-Hasidi finds it amusing that the government of Moammar Gadhafi considers him an al Qaeda terrorist. “He promised to lay down his arms once victory is won and return, he said, to teaching,” the Times reported.

Maybe you believe that. Maybe you don’t. The problem is, al-Hasidi is by no means alone. We know that from intelligence gained in the Iraq War.

During that war, American strategists became increasingly concerned by the number of foreign fighters who came to Iraq to take up arms against the U.S. In an October 2007 raid near Sinjar, Iraq, American forces captured a computer that had biographical information on about 700 foreign terrorists who had come to Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007. An analysis of the so-called “Sinjar documents” found that Libya sent more fighters to the Iraqi front than any other country except Saudi Arabia; Libyans accounted for nearly 20 percent of the foreign fighters in the Sinjar documents.

Some of those Libyans were from an al Qaeda-affiliated organization called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose membership reportedly included one Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi. In 2004, then-CIA Director George Tenet named the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group part of the “next wave” of terrorism that could threaten U.S. security whether or not al Qaeda was destroyed.

So what should the United States do about Libyan fighters who went to Iraq to kill Americans? And Libyans who went to Afghanistan to kill Americans? And Libyans who recruited them and helped them with their travels? Should we be hunting those people down? Or should we be fighting on their behalf?

“It’s a real concern, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” says Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “The question for policymakers is, does that concern mean we should not be seeking change in those countries?” Rubin supports U.S. involvement in the Libyan war and believes the number of people like al-Hasidi is relatively small. “It’s not a reason not to support the rebels,” he says. “It is a reason not to arm them, or not to trust others to arm them.”

As for the jihadis who killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rubin would like to see U.S. “hit teams” take care of them. But that, of course, would be way, way, way outside the United Nations Security Council Resolution that guides American actions in Libya. If the U.S.-led coalition prevails, it seems likely that some of the jihadis will choose not to return to lives as humble schoolteachers, as al-Hasidi claims, but instead become part of the new leadership of Libya.

There’s no way the U.S. can be involved in an action like the Libyan war without coming in contact with some pretty bad actors. That’s a good reason not to be involved in an action like the Libyan war. But even if involvement is an ugly necessity, do we have to give active support and protection to people who have devoted their lives to killing Americans?

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Daily Benefactor News – Dems Are Earmark Junkies But GOP Goes Straight

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Dems Are Earmark Junkies But GOP Goes Straight – Washington Examiner

Press coverage of the budget frenzy on Capitol Hill has suggested that pork-barrel earmark spending is still a bipartisan problem, that after months of self-righteous rhetoric about fiscal discipline, Republicans and Democrats remain equal-opportunity earmarkers.

It’s not true. A new analysis by a group of federal-spending watchdogs shows a striking imbalance between the parties when it comes to earmark requests. Democrats remain raging spenders, while Republicans have made enormous strides in cleaning up their act. In the Senate, the GOP made only one-third as many earmark requests as Democrats for 2011, and in the House, Republicans have nearly given up earmarking altogether – while Democrats roll on.

The watchdog groups – Taxpayers for Common Sense, WashingtonWatch.com, and Taxpayers Against Earmarks – counted total earmark requests in the 2011 budget. Those requests were made by lawmakers earlier this year, but Democratic leaders, afraid that their party’s spending priorities might cost them at the polls, decided not to pass a budget before the Nov. 2 elections. This week, they distilled those earmark requests – threw some out, combined others – into the omnibus bill that was under consideration in the Senate until Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it Thursday night. While that bill was loaded with spending, looking back at the original earmark requests tells us a lot about the spending inclinations of both parties.

In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.

Where did those GOP earmark requests come from? Just four Republican lawmakers: South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, who did not run for re-election this year; Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, who lost his bid for re-election; maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul; and spending king Rep. Don Young of Alaska. The other Republican members of the House – 174 of them – requested a total of zero earmarks.

Talk to Republicans, and they’ll say it would be nice if there were no earmark requests at all, but party leaders can’t control everybody. “Brown’s retiring, Cao’s defeated, Paul is Paul and Young is Young,” one GOP aide shrugs. Still, the bottom line is that the House GOP’s nearly perfect renunciation of earmarks is striking. “For a voluntary moratorium, it was impressive that there were only four scofflaws,” says Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The Senate is a different story. But even though some Republicans are still seeking earmarks, Democrats are by far the bigger spenders. The watchdog groups found that Democrats requested 15,133 earmarks for 2011, for a total of $54.9 billion, while Republicans requested 5,352 earmarks, for a total of $22 billion.

If you look at the top 10 Senate earmarkers as measured by the total dollar value of earmarks requested, there are seven Democrats and three Republicans. (The leader of the pack is Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who requested $4.4 billion in earmarks.) The three Republicans are Sens. Roger Wicker, Sam Brownback and Thad Cochran. One of them, Brownback, is leaving the Senate, while the other two are from Mississippi, which is apparently earmark heaven.

Go down the list a bit more and the party differences are just as clear. Of the top 50 earmarkers in the Senate, 38 are Democrats and 12 are Republicans. And at the bottom of the list, you’ll find that the lawmakers who requested few earmarks for relatively small amounts of money are mostly Republicans. And, of course, the senators who have sworn off earmarks entirely (and are trying to convince the rest of the Senate to go along) are Republicans, too.

You’d think that President Obama would be siding with those lawmakers, both House and Senate, in the fight against earmarks. “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks,” the president said in his Nov. 13 radio address. Instead, Obama pushed the Senate to approve the earmark-laden Democratic spending bill.

No matter. The story of earmarks in the past year is one of Republican self-improvement. The party that wallowed in earmark spending in the past decade is trying to reform itself. In the House especially, their efforts have led to notable success, but they’re making progress in the Senate, too. Perhaps the reforms will be temporary – beginning next year, Republicans will control the House and feel all the temptations of power – but so far, it’s a remarkable accomplishment.

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TSA goes after man who dared defy their ultimate autority!

This story has everyone talking, and rightfully so. John Tyner refused to go through the “nude body scanner” and refused to go through a “groin check” and now, is being targeted by the TSA for leaving the security area.

Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a press conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. The investigation could lead to prosecution and “civil penalties” of up to $11,000, he said.
 
TSA agents told John Tyner on Saturday that he could be fined up to $10,000.  

“That’s the old fine,” said Aguilar. “It has been increased.”

Penalties for what?

“The requirement for all the passengers is that once they enter the screening area and submit themselves to the screening process, to complete the screening,” said Aguilar. “This passenger took exception.”

 

At question is how far the TSA can intrude upon our persons to allow us to board an airliner, and if the invasive body checks, and nude scanners are a threat to our liberties. And of course, who knows where the images of our naked bodies will end up? Certainly, one could easily see how images of a famous person might bring a healthy price tag.

One way or another this story will end up changing the manner in which Americans are screened at airports. Here is a roundup of what other bloggers are saying and reporting.

Donald Douglas has some updates and a video of Tyner on Fox News

Clifton asks the obvious question about payback. And sees a unlikely union joining forces to fight this battle.

Tyner was given a choice, submit to a search he found offensive or not fly.  He chose the latter and now they are going to investigate him for making that choice?  I don’t understand how he could have left without permission when he was escorted out by security.  I think TSA is looking to make an example out of Tyner so that no one else thinks to stand up for themselves. The whole thing reeks of Big Brother throwing its weight around.
I must say, the left was correct on this issue.  You will recall back in the days shortly after 9/11 many on the left squawked about trading rights for higher security.  Meanwhile many of us on the right were willing to make the trade.  Ten years later as TSA starts to push its weight around, we are starting to see the light.  Perhaps now that the left and right are on the same page, we can come together to demand the effective security we all deserve.
Bluegrass Pundit wonders if the TSA would be worse if they went the union route. One guess as to how he answers his own question
As if Americans didn’t have enough complaints about the TSA, the Federal Labor Relations Authority has decided they can unionize. Instead of letting them unionize, we need to fire them all and disband the TSA.

The Washington Post reported:

In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation. The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.

Cubachi, shares some news that might offer a solution, airports, can, but will they choose to opt-out?

The TSA screenings and pat downs have become the biggest topic of conversation across the country. Even in Europe, the Germans are upset about this and are demonstrating their frustration with these invasive searches by protesting in “flesh mobs” in German airports. All of us are aware of the invasion of privacy and incredibly uncomfortable nature of these pat downs, not to mention the amount of radiation these screenings produce. Just today, news came out of 100 naked body scan pictures were leaked online.

However, did you know that local airports can opt out of TSA screeners at checkpoints?

Byron York has more:

The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

Mica, one of the authors of the original TSA bill, has recently written to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screening. “When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,” Mica writes. “As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law.”

Of course,a s we all know, and as Doug Powers points out, we are so obsessed with NOT PROFILING,that accosting toddlers is OK. Jim Hoft points out that the Fourth Amendment has become the latest victim of this perverse fixation on political correctness!

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air looks at what else our Big Brothers are looking into controlling, for our own damned good of course!

Remember, in Hopenchange, everything not expressly permitted will be outlawed.  In an attempt to deal with the supposed epidemic of distracted drivers, especially younger drivers, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Obama administration will review its options in blocking cell phone use in cars:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.

“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.”

Moonbattery has news that a “certain religion” might mot have to endure such indinities though. Any guess which faith that is?

Nuns who don’t want to pose naked for sniggering bureaucrats are left with the option of a public groping, but the Muslims who instigate this insanity with their terror attacks can’t be expected to endure such indignities. They’re special, after all.

William Teach asks about the whereabouts of a certain four-letter group?

Leave it to the ACLU to ignore an issue that has Americans, both Left and Right, up in arms. Have you ever noticed that the ACLU tends to ignore the real issues 90% of the time? And the other 10% of the time, they usually do the right thing for the wrong reason(s). Witness the national ACLU

The ACLU said, “[During] the new standard pat-down, a screener of the same sex will examine your head, shirt collar area, and waistband, and may use either the front or back of his or her hands to feel your body, including buttocks, around breasts, and between the legs, feeling up to the top of the thigh. Women in tight skirts that don’t allow an agent to feel the thigh area may be asked to remove the skirt in a private screening area and will be given a gown or towel to put on.”

If you search the ACLU website, there is zip. Nada. Zilch. Nor any complaints from the national ACLU in the news about people getting groped and abused. A few State ACLU chapters have chimed in, but, they don’t seem all that concerned, either.

Jill ponders whether or not these searches are actually useful, or perhaps just a cheap thrill?

 

 

 

Pilots and flight attendants also object, and one pilot has filed suit:

 

Although he has a libertarian streak, Roberts’ objection to the procedure goes beyond personal privacy and political philosophy. He says the screening just doesn’t work. It doesn’t improve passenger safety or deter terrorism. It’s just another example of the federal government closing the barn door after the horse gets out, and violating the rights of the innocent to make it look like the government is doing something about security.

Roberts notes the progression of this liberty-leeching invasion:

After the shoe-bomber attempt, we had to remove our shoes. After the underpants bomber, we had to be electronically strip searched and groped.

What will happen, he asks, after the first time a terrorist smuggles a bomb on a plane inside his rectum or in a breast implant?

There was a time, not too long ago, when that would have been a comedian’s witty one-liner. Now, it sounds more like the future rushing upon us.

 

SilverFiddle offers an excellent take that is well worth your time. And Chris winds us up with some humor, that makes a great point!