Monday, July 27, 2015

In the words of Lando Calrissian

"This deal is getting worse all the time." This Iran deal, that is. Marc Thiessen:
President Obama promised that his nuclear deal with Iran would not be “based on trust” but rather “unprecedented verification.” Now it turns out Obama’s verification regime is based on trust after all — trust in two secret side agreements negotiated exclusively between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that apparently no one (including the Obama administration) has seen.
Worse, Obama didn’t even reveal the existence of these secret side deals to Congress when he transmitted the nuclear accord to Capitol Hill. The agreements were uncovered, completely by chance, by two members of Congress — Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — who were in Vienna meeting with the U.N.-releated agency.
In an interview, Pompeo told me that he and Cotton were meeting with the deputy director of the IAEA and the agency’s two top Iran negotiators just days after the nuclear accord was announced, when they asked how the agency will carry out verification at the Iranian military complex at Parchin. IAEA officials told them, quite casually, that the details were all covered in agreements negotiated between the IAEA and the Iranian government. It was the first they had heard of the side deals.
Pompeo says they asked whether they could see those agreements. He says IAEA officials replied, “ ‘Oh no, of course not, no, you’re not going to get to see those.’ And so everybody on our side of the table asked, ‘Has Secretary Kerry seen these?’ ‘No, Secretary Kerry hasn’t seen them. No American is ever going to get to see them.’ ”
It turns out that only the two parties — the IAEA and Iran — get to see the actual agreements (though you can see a picture of Iranian and IAEA officials holding up what appear to be the secret accords here).
In other words, Obama is gambling our national security and handing over $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran, based on secret agreements negotiated between the IAEA and Iran that no U.S. official has seen.
“We need to see these documents in order to evaluate whether or not verification is ample to make such a big concession to the Iranians,” Pompeo says. “No member of Congress should be asked to vote on an agreement of this historic importance absent knowing what the terms of the verification process are.”
In fact, the Obama administration’s failure to transmit these side deals to Congress is a violation of the law. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which Obama signed into law, explicitly states that the president must transmit the nuclear agreement along with “all related materials and annexes.” That clearly covers any side agreements covering the verification of Iran’s compliance.
Susan Rice told reporters the administration “provided Congress with all of the documents that we drafted or were part of drafting and all documents shared with us by the IAEA.” Sorry, that’s not what the law requires.
Law, schmaw. Since when has Obama cared about obeying the law?
But the administration cannot hand over what it apparently does not have. For Pompeo, that raises even more troubling questions. “Why on earth is the president letting the negotiations [on verification] be negotiated by someone other than us?” he asks. How can it be that the administration would “do a deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, that’s spent its entire existence cheating, and we would sign off on a deal with them whose core provisions are completely unknown to our side? It’s remarkable.”
Elizabeth Price Foley at Instapundit has a word for it:
Cutting a nuclear deal with Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, without either realizing or revealing that there are “side deals” with the IAEA is treasonous. Members of Congress who now vote to support it without knowing the full terms of these side deals are likewise traitors.
Careful, Professor Foley. Talk like that might get you called "uncivil." Then again, what else could you call it?

Stopping the Iran deal

Michael Ledeen has an idea for a PR campaign to stop this abomination Obama and Kerry have negotiated with the Iranian mullahs:
I think most of those trying to stop the approval of the Iran Deal are going about it wrong.  I don’t believe you can stop this thing by going through the text and pointing out its myriad flaws, nor do I think it’s good enough to expose the many lies Obama, Kerry, Rhodes et. al. told us along the way, nor even to uncover secret deals.  Kerry and Zarif spent 27 hours alone during the negotiations, and we’re not going to get a transcript of those conversations, nor will either of them tell us what they may have agreed.  And even if they did, I don’t think it would produce enough public political rage to stiffen the wobbly spines of our elected leaders.
The critics are quite right for the most part: it’s an awful agreement, the administration has behaved abominably, and the deal should be rejected.  I’m just talking about the best way to do it, the best tactics to use.  Obama understands how to do it:  reduce the issue to a simple choice.  He does that when he says that Congress must either approve the Grand Bargain or plunge the Middle East–or is it the world?–into war.
We should answer it:  Iran has been at war with us for 36 years, and this deal–the latest of its kind–gives Iran lots of money to kill even more Americans.  Indeed, we’ve been doing it for quite a while.
In a single phrase:  the war is already ON, and we’re paying the Iranians to kill us.  You want to pay them even more?  Apparently that’s what Obama wants.
That’s the essence of the matter, but we’re all wrapped up in on-site inspections, complicated annexes and a steady flow of information that’s been withheld from us.  That won’t work.  Just stick to the one-liner.  Americans don’t like our guys getting murdered by Iranians and their proxies, and we don’t like being shaken down by our own killers.
Remember when comrade Lenin remarked that the capitalists would eventually buy the rope and supply it to their hangman?  Well here we are.
Let's repeat the key phrase here:
Iran has been at war with us for 36 years, and this deal–the latest of its kind–gives Iran lots of money to kill even more Americans.  Indeed, we’ve been doing it for quite a while.
In a single phrase:  the war is already ON, and we’re paying the Iranians to kill us.  You want to pay them even more?  Apparently that’s what Obama wants.
Of course, those of us who have been paying attention are well aware Iran has been at war with us for 36 years. That's why we oppose this deal. Those who have not been paying attention tend to support this deal, and, in fact, negotiated it.

Shout this loud and long, far and wide. This deal must be stopped.

Coming soon to America

The Islamic Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It is in France already:
Social networks across France responded angrily to the news a 21-year-old woman was beaten up by a gang of girls and young women for the crime of wearing a bikini in a park. Authorities are yet to have identified the attackers but The Independent reports commentators assume they were Muslims.
According to police the young victim was sunbathing with two friends in the Parc Léo Lagrange in Reims, northern France, last Wednesday when one of her five female attackers verbally abused her for “immorally” exposing so much flesh in a public place. The sunbather shouted back at which point the other girls and young women moved in, slapping and punching her.
Passers-by intervened to protect the badly bruised victim.
The attackers, aged 16 to 24, were soon arrested. The three oldest were remanded to appear in court in September, the remaining two girls, aged 16 and 17, face further questioning.
Authorities have not named the assailants but have said they all come from housing estates with large Muslim populations. Although police told L’Union newspaper that the victim was unable to confirm her assailants were motivated by “religious opinions”, bloggers in France have cited the incident as the latest example of the radical Islamic threat to French values.
If my visit to France last month is any indication, the French are far from being the "rude, cheese-eating surrender monkeys" we Americans usually believe them to be. Far from it. The response to this incident gives us more evidence of French backbone. First we have the Mayor of Reims:
The mayor of Reims, Arnaud Robinet, said: “We have to be very careful not to jump to conclusions. All the same, I can understand why people have assumed that this attack had religious motives. If that turns out to be the case, it is a very serious incident.
This is far more intelligent than what we usually get here in the US these days: remember that they still consider the motive for the attack at the Chattanooga recruiting office "unknown" and seem at great pains to avoid acknowledging even the possibility of an Islamist element. Remember, too, the "workplace violence" at Fort Hood.

But there's more:

In response to the attack a demonstration was organised. Wearing bikinis and other bathing costumes protesters rallied in the park where the beating took place.

Faced with drizzle and cold winds only small number showed up, but across France hundreds responded to a Twitter appeal by the anti-racist organisation SOS Racisme to post images of themselves or others wearing skimpy bathing costumes in public places using the hashtag ‘#jeportemonmaillotauparcleo’ (I wear my swimsuit in Park Leo).

One Lorine (@LorineTinti) has a particularly note-worthy tweet:

#jeportemonmaillotauParcLeo #peaceandlovelesgars #bisousbisous 
Good for her.

Not to be outdone, Grégory Herpe Photo (@GregoryHerpe69) comes back with a message of defiance:
#jeportemonmaillotauParcLeo ! La France est un pays libre. Les femmes y sont libres. ça te gêne? Change de pays. 
Which translates to:
“France is a free country. Women there are free. It annoys you? Change country.” 
John Hinderaker at Power Line ominously adds: "She probably has no idea how out of fashion that sentiment is with opinion elites in her country, and ours."

This is how they will operate: Islamists seeking to impose their version of shari'a law on non-Muslims through fear. We have already seen efforts at doing so in places like Minneapolis. We will see more of it in the days ahead until we come to grips with our barbaric enemy.

The rope with which to nuke us

German business interests helped drive the Iran nuclear deal:
Before the ink could barely dry on the Iran Deal, Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Garbiel flew to Tehran, making him the first leading Western figure to do so after the nuclear agreement was reached Vienna earlier this month.
Gabriel who is also Germany’s Vice-Chancellor met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and other top Iranian leaders described the moods of the visit as “being with old friends.”
[...]
The German weekly Die Welt reported [translation by Legal Insurrection]:
[Not just in streets of Tehran] but also in German board rooms there was great elation over the [Iran] deal: The German economy is electrified at the prospect of again doing business with the Islamic country. German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) (…) estimates that German exports to Iran could be doubled to €5 billion in coming two years.
Another leading trade body, the Federation of German Industry (BDI), is even more bullish on Iran and foresees the trade volume cross the €10 billion-mark in next few years. Eric Schweitzer, DIHK-President told Die Welt that as far as the German business goes, “the doors [in Tehran] are very, very wide open”. Industry players in Germany are counting on the great prestige attached to the “Made in Germany” label in Iran–which is synonymous with high-quality and reliability.
The clerics in Tehran could not agree more with German industry’s assessment.
Could we soon expect Iranian Regime using “reliable” German construction cranes to hang dissidents and homosexuals – having been forced to make do with other substandard options for far too long?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Required reading but missing the point

Paul Bracken in The American Interest. Here's the intro:
Commentary on the agreement with Iran has focused too much on the “art of the deal” and how it was struck. The real focus should be on the long-term consequences for nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
This is a great piece as far as it goes -- with one critical exception. I'll give you Bracken's take in this extended excerpt (emphasis mine):
The Iran agreement is one development in this long process. It’s like negotiating an end to a long war where each side gets to keep its forces intact. Here, the “war” is the American-led effort to prevent Iran’s atomic bomb. A “surrender” was never accepted by Iran, in the agreement itself or in the behavior that surrounds it. It wasn’t a strategic surrender of its bomb program in the sense that Iran has foresworn nuclear weapons. At best it was a tactical surrender of those parts of it, like old centrifuges, that leaders thought they could shed without too much political loss at home. In sum, Iran’s residual nuclear capability is largely untouched.
Ending the Vietnam War was hardly settled once the United States signed an agreement in Paris with the government of North Vietnam. The agreement didn’t terminate the war—far from it. Rather, the Paris peace accord was an important development that shaped what followed. What was critical then is what’s critical now. North Vietnam wasn’t required to stand down any of its forces. They remained in place. This gave Hanoi freedom of action to exploit the post-Paris peace agreement situation. Hanoi never agreed to abandon its long-term goal of conquering South Vietnam, and that’s exactly what they did over the next two years.
There’s a more general lesson here. Instead of focusing on what is agreed to in a document, we need to focus on the surviving capability that was central to the conflict in the first place. If that capability remains, the details over verification and implementation of any agreement are radically changed, because the side with it has the power to use its residual capability to wreck the deal, or dance around the edges to change it, alter its scope, or any of a number of other strategies.
Iran has only accepted an armistice—a tactical, temporary suspension of some aspects of its nuclear program. It retains a capability to conduct other parts of its atomic program openly. Iran’s nuclear technology system has not been reduced, let alone dismantled. The knowhow, organizational structures, staffs, and systems (for example, advanced centrifuges and missiles) remain essentially intact.
Let’s put Iran’s residual nuclear program in the Middle East context. Iran’s Sunni rivals, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are organizing against it. These rivals have a lot of money, and they’ve recently crossed a major escalation threshold, using military force in Bahrain and Yemen. Even Israel has joined this coalition in a de facto way.
Nearby, a civil war in Syria has reached brutal levels of violence. Yet it goes on, putting paid to arguments that large-scale war is some kind of obsolete or improbable development. Some 300,000 people killed with all manner of outside states and subnational groups intervening for their own narrow purpose. That the result is apparent stalemate, or that many of the interventions look ill conceived, doesn’t change the fact that Iran can easily see something like this happening to them. Especially for Iran, this is an important fear; Iran suffered large-scale chemical warfare attack in its war with Iraq in the 1980s. I have yet to meet any Iranian who doesn’t believe that this was at least tacitly approved of by the United States and Israel.
Finally, U.S. military capability is not appreciably any less than it was a few years ago. The United States is trying to get out of the area in terms of its deployed forces in theater. But the whole shift to maritime and cyber power in announced American plans points to exerting military force from a distance and from off shore.
Absent some deterrent, the United States can destroy a large part of Iran’s military, opening it up to the kind of catastrophe Syria is now suffering. This really would shut down Iran’s nuclear program if it happened. The point here isn’t to make the case that the Middle East is a dangerous place. Everyone knows that. It’s to make the point that Iran’s residual nuclear program exists in this strategic environment.
Two conclusions follow from this. First, no amount of negotiating skill on the West’s part was going to alter this strategic environment. No personal relations between negotiators could reverse the strategic realities that Iran faces. That members of the two teams went to MIT and swapped gifts for their grandchildren is all very nice. But it doesn’t come close to altering Iran’s dangerous situation.
Second, even if the mullahs were to pass from the scene, Iran’s strategic situation doesn’t change. I would say that even the disestablishment of the Iranian Guards wouldn’t make a difference. The Iranian state needs something to keep the forces of chaos at bay. It has a nuclear capability because it did everything in its power to build it—in the face of an economic siege, cyber attack, targeted killing of its scientists, and the P5+1 negotiations.
Iran isn’t going to give this capability up easily; moreover, no side promise from the United States or others that they will not strong arm Iran if they do give up their nuclear effort is likely to carry much weight in Tehran.
This is the big problem that advocates of negotiations with Iran, including those who somehow draw a moral equivalency between the US and Iran, fail to understand, perhaps willfully -- and Bracken, while not advocating the deal, makes the same mistake: the issue is not Iran having nuclear weapons so much as the Iranian mullahs having nuclear weapons.

This is a huge distinction. You cannot treat the mullahcratic government the same way you would treat, say, a secular parliamentary government. This is not Austria getting nukes. The issue in the 1930s was not so much Germany getting the Wehrmacht but Hitler controlling that Wehrmacht.

The mullahs want regional hegemony based on Shari'a law arising out of Shia Islam -- and an interpretation of Islam that has an apocalyptic element to it -- that is not in the interest of the US. The mullahs have acted in furtherance of that goal, including support for Hezbo'allah, Hamas, Shi'ite rebels in Iraq who fought US troops, and others. That hegemony includes removal of Israel. This is not a rational strategic goal, but a religious goal. Remember that historically the Persians and Jews have had good relations -- it was Cyrus the Great who ended the Babylonian Captivity, after all. Iran was not in the thrall of Arab Nationalism because Iran is not Arab; it is Persian.

Note that Iran had good relations with Israel until 1979; when the mullahs took power Iran immediately became a sworn enemy of Israel intent on its destruction. Iran's strategic outlook ever since has driven largely by the interests of the mullahs, not the country as a whole.

That means Iran is not the problem; the mullahs are. To solve the problem, one must remove the mullahs from the equation.The US could have argued that Iran can have nukes, but the mullahs cannot. But in yet another testament to the stupidity of the Obama administration and his laughably-named "national security" team, Obama refused to aid the 2009 Green Revolution in its goal of the removal of the mullahs.

This agreement does nothing to advance peace in the Middle East because there can be no peace as long as the mullahs are in power. They will not allow it until they get what they want. In fact, it makes a nuclear attack by the mullahs more likely -- one to which the US would have difficulty responding.

How? All the mullahs have to do is slip a nuke to one of their terrorist proxies like Hezbo'allah. Hezbo'allah already has agents in the US. Detonate the nuke. The mullahs celebrate it but do not accept responsibility. And idiots like John Kerry and Barbara Boxer will argue that without proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the US could not retaliate in kind.

That was the threat in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, a threat the leftists never acknowledged. And that is the threat from the Iranian mullahs, a threat they still do not acknowledge.

Because they trust pieces of paper.

This is what you get when you have idiots running your foreign policy establishment, like we do now.

And ultimately we will all pay the price for the stupidity of people who should have known better but willfully refused to learn.

Intelligence is in short supply here.

Bob Corker tells John Kerry "You've been fleeced" by the Iranian mullahs:
It all started off so well for Secretary of State John Kerry. At the beginning of his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the deal he crafted with Iran, Kerry got a hero’s welcome from a group of observers to the hearing. Granted, it was from the deep thinkers of Code Pink, but you gotta take what you can get, amirite?
Kerry told the committee that he could guarantee this deal would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon during the term of the agreement, which prompted chair Bob Corker (R-TN) to reply, "You’ve been fleeced[.]"
Corker was not the only one. Senator James Risch (R-ID) said "With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled and the American people are going to pay."

DUH!

Kerry did have some defenders, though. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA):
“I support the right of my colleagues to say anything they want, but you’ve sat there and you’ve heard two of my colleagues go after you with words that I am going to repeat. You were fleeced, one said. The other said you have been bamboozled,” she said.
“So putting aside the fact that I think that’s disrespectful and insulting, it — that’s their right to do. There are other ways to express your disagreement, but that goes to the — your core as a human being and your intelligence, and I think you are highly intelligent.”
Boxer then added, “My colleagues think that you were fleeced, that you were bamboozled, that means everybody was fleeced and bamboozled, everybody, almost everybody in the world.”
That Barbara Boxer thinks you are "highly intelligent" is ... not much of an endorsement. When Kerry was in the Senate, Boxer might have been the only senator dumber than he was. Now that Kerry has become the Single Dumbest Senior Government Official since - at least - the horse the Emperor Caligula made Roman consul, Boxer now takes the top spot in the Senate.

Of course, Corker himself is a bit of an expert in getting fleeced:
Oh, Kerry got fleeced? Because I thought a bunch of dumbass, sell-out, go-along-to-get-along Republican Senators got fleeced by Obama and Kerry into approving this treaty before it was even finished.
So now we're in the "I just can't believe the outrageous things I already voted for" phase of the Failure Theater performance.
This public service message has been brought to you by the makers of sodium pentothal, who remind you that "The truth hurts."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Did Ebola doom Periclean Athens?

Unfortunately timed plagues can have a major effect on history. The so-called Plague of Justinian in the 6th century -- now believed to have been bubonic plague -- killed some 40 percent of the population of Constantinople, a quarter of the population of the Eastern Mediterranean, and permanently crippled Roman military power, effectively ending Emperor Justinian's efforts to recapture the Western Roman Empire and leaving the Romans vulnerable to the Muslim invasions a century later. The catalyst for release of the plague is believed to have been the so-called Climate Crisis of the 6th Century, in which most of the earth suffered from unseasonable weather, causing crop failures and famines worldwide. The political effects were devastating, leading to the fall of Teotihuacan, Sassanid Persia, and the Gupta Empire, among others, and the rise of Islam. 

Another plague that had a major effect on history was The Plague of Athens in 430 BC. Just as Athens was getting the upper hand in the Peloponnesian War, Athens was crippled by this plague. The city was made more vulnerable by the overcrowding caused by refugees fleeing Spartan troops in the Attic countryside. Athens lost one-third to two-thirds of its population, including its best general Pericles and both of his sons. Athens never fully recovered from this plague, and went on to lose the Peloponnesian War. 

This plague has never been identified. Now, one researcher believes it was none other than the Ebola virus:
Could the first recorded Ebola outbreak have occurred not in Africa less than 40 years ago, but rather, more than 2,400 years ago, in ancient Greece? That's what one professor of infectious diseases and history now suggests.
[...]
In the new paper, (University of Michigan history and infectious diseases Professor Powel) Kazanjian suggests that an Ebola virus may have been the culprit in the infamous Plague of Athens, a five-year epidemic that began in 430 B.C., whose cause has long been a matter of conjecture among physicians and historians. The famed historian Thucydides, who chronicled the Peloponnesian War between the rival city-states of Athens and Sparta, was not only an eyewitness to the Athenian disease, but also contracted it himself and survived.
"The Athenian epidemic in 430 B.C. has had a fascinating attraction for researchers of communicable diseases for a long period of time," said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Athenian illness, also called Thucydides syndrome, began with an abrupt onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and pain in the stomach and extremities, accompanied by furious vomiting. Those who survived after seven days of illness also experienced severe diarrhea. Additional symptoms included reddened eyes, hiccups and bleeding from the mouth. Stricken individuals also sometimes experienced cough, seizures, confusion, rashes, pustules, ulcers, and even loss of fingers and toes, possibly due to gangrene.
As the disease progressedin those afflicted, Thucydides noted that people became so dehydrated that some plunged themselves into wells in futile attempts to quench their unceasing thirst. The disease often ended in death, typically by day seven to nine of the illness. Medical treatment was useless against the disease's severity and bleak outcome.
"Thucydides' vivid description allows present-day historians and clinicians to speculate about the cause of prior epidemics and the historical roots of our epidemics we know about today," Kazanjian said.
The Athenian disease began south of Egypt in a region Thucydides called "Aethiopia," a term that ancient Greeks used to refer to regions in sub-Saharan Africa, where modern Ebola outbreaks have occurred, Kazanjian said. In the ancient world, sub-Saharan Africans migrated to Greece to work as farmers or servants, thereby providing a potential human vector for Ebola.
Kazanjian argued that the symptoms, mortality rate and origin in sub-Saharan Africa that characterize the Plague of Athens are consistent with what is known about Ebola. He added that physicians were among the first victims of the Athenian disease in Thucydides' account, just as modern health care workers have proven especially vulnerable to Ebola, with nearly 500 dying from the virus in the current outbreak as of January, according to the World Health Organization.
"Diseases like Ebola, which we sometimes lump into the category of a new or emerging disease, may actually be much older than we realize," Kazanjian said. His paper was published June 1 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
A number of other possible causes of Thucydides syndrome have been suggested over the years, including typhus, smallpox, measles, anthrax, the bubonic plague and toxic shock syndrome. Kazanjian argued that no other disease matches the features of the Athenian disease as well as Ebola does; however, he said, "my study does not answer this question definitively. …
The actual cause remains elusive, he said."
"We may never know what caused the Athenian epidemic," said Schaffner, who did not take part in Kazanjian's paper. "I think it's a bit far-fetched that the plague of Athens was Ebola, but I think it's great fun that new people have become engaged in what I call studious speculation of the subject."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why are we losing to ISIS?

As Ralph Peters explains, "We’re losing to ISIS because Obama has no will to fight."

Of course not. Obama knows ISIS is the enemy of America and, indeed, all of Western Civilization. But they are not his enemy, and that's the only thing that matters to him.

Still think Edward Snowden is a hero?

Thanks to him, the US and British overseas spy network has been effectively destroyed:
Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.
Western intelligence agencies say they have been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in US history.
Senior government sources confirmed that China had also cracked the encrypted documents, which contain details of secret intelligence techniques and information that could allow British and American spies to be identified.
Instapundit quotes an earlier report from The Guardian:
MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations because Russian security services had broken into encrypted files held by American computer analyst Snowden. . . .
The files held by Snowden were encrypted, but now British officials believe both countries have hacked into the files, according to the report.
The newspaper quotes a series of anonymous sources from Downing Street, the Home Office and British intelligence saying that the documents contained intelligence techniques and information that would enable foreign powers to identify British and American spies. . . .
A “senior Home Office source” was also quoted by the newspaper, saying: “Putin didn’t give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.”
The Sunday Times also quoted a “British intelligence source” saying that Russian and Chinese officials would be examining Snowden’s material for “years to come”.
“Snowden has done incalculable damage,” the intelligence source reportedly said. “In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to prevent them from being identified and killed.”
Yup. A real hero, that Snowden. Like John Walker. And Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. And Benedict Arnold.

George Orwell's Junior Anti-Sex League

Apparently has at least two members, law professors Stephen Schulhofer and Erin Murphy, who are unfortunately on the American Law Institute's team for drafting the Model Penal Code. Ashe Schow:
The act of sex is not illegal. But if two members of the American Law Institute have their way, it will be — unless you follow their rules.
Law professors Stephen J. Schulhofer and Erin Murphy are trying to update the criminal code when it comes to sex offenses, believing current definitions of rape and sexual assault are antiquated. The focus of their draft is on what constitutes consent. It adopts the "yes means yes," or "affirmative consent" model that was passed in California last year.
The California law applies only to college campuses, however. Schulhofer and Murphy aim to take that definition of consent — which says that before every escalation of a sexual encounter, clear and convincing consent must be given — to the state or federal level. No one actually has sex this way, requesting permission and having it granted perhaps a dozen times in a single encounter.
But the theory that millions of Americans are having sex wrongly has gained currency among campus activists. This new attempt to alter the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code, a highly influential document that has been adopted in whole or in part by many states' legislatures, is part of a push to bring authoritarianism into the bedroom.
Schulhofer and Murphy do not intend to make sexual intercourse impossible to construe as an innocent act. But this would be the consequence of their draft. Any act of sex in which permission is not repeatedly requested and granted would put at least one of the parties, usually men, in legal jeopardy. Absent the repeated "May I…?" and affirmative responses, any woman could later have her partner locked up over unexpressed mental reservations. Men could make the same accusations.
No one who opposes this legal change argues that consent is unnecessary. But the "yes means yes" standard is so stringent that it would criminalize millions of Americans overnight unless no one reports them.
Think this could never happen? Think again.
The American Law Institute was founded in 1923 "to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work," according to its charter. It is a consequential organization. The Institute's Model Penal Code of 1962 was adopted almost entirely in New Jersey, New York and Oregon, with nearly two-thirds of the states using at least some portion of it.
So, Schulhofer and Murphy want to change an important document.
The two presented their first draft of a new model penal code for sexual offenses to the Institute's 2014 annual meeting. Members discussed the draft vigorously. Because the discussion ran out of time, the draft was referred back to Schulhofer and Murphy for reworking.
They presented a reworked draft at ALI's 2015 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. It was dated April 28, just three weeks before the meeting on May 19. Schulhofer and Murphy were criticized for providing the draft so close to the meeting, giving lawyers limited time to read and analyze its 250 pages. But the "reworked" draft is actually just a reorganized version of the 2014 draft, with hardly any changes.
This made it easy for opponents to produce an opposition letter with 22 co-signers to pick the document apart. It also showed that Schulhofer and Murphy did not allow the feedback received in 2014 to affect their views.
The reality of their proposal is right out of Oceania.
Opponents say the draft would further burden an already over-criminalized and over-incarcerated American public.
The opponents' letter provides this common and hypothetical encounter: "Person A and Person B are on a date and walking down the street. Person A, feeling romantically and sexually attracted, timidly reaches out to hold B's hand and feels a thrill as their hands touch. Person B does nothing, but six months later files a criminal complaint."
Under Schulhofer and Murphy's new rules, according to the opposition letter, Person A is guilty of "criminal sexual contact." That's because Section 213.0(5) of the draft "defines 'sexual contact' expansively, to include any touching of any body part of another person, whether done by the actor or by the person touched. Any kind of contact may qualify; there are no limits on either the body part touched or the manner in which it is touched."
Person A would be guilty of the act only if Person B filed a complaint, but therein lies a profound problem with Schulhofer and Murphy's draft. Everything is potentially a sexual assault unless done strictly according to their rules about obtaining prior consent to every action, no matter how innocuous, of every sexual encounter. There is no need to say "no." Without the presence of a prior "yes," the act is already an assault.
By this definition, millions of Americans — perhaps almost all sexually active people — become offenders. Previously, it was not thought necessary to ask verbally, "May I hold your hand?" or "May I kiss you now?," if a couple had been together for a while, or for months or years. It was recognized that either previous requests or implicit indications had given permission for a touch or a kiss. Men and women can and often do misread signals coming from someone to whom they are attracted, but it has not been thought appropriate to criminalize a touch or a kiss attempted in light of what seemed to be implicit assent.
Proponents of "affirmative consent" rules might argue that an explicit question is not necessary if there are proper social cues. But given the scope of the proposed definitions, the only safe way to be sure a person is consenting is to ask explicitly at every step of the sexual process. Thinking that a person "seemed into you" during a date would not be a strong enough social cue to presume the person wanted his or her hand held.
The law wouldn't apply only to first dates or similar new encounters, but would apply even in committed relationships. This means affirmative consent would be mandated for every sexual encounter, even to married couples. Given that divorce and custody cases frequently produce false accusations of child abuse, it's easy to imagine false accusations of sexual abuse proliferating if Schulhofer and Murphy's rules aren't followed every time a couple has sex.
Schulhofer and Murphy's draft makes clear "that when a complainant's behavior has been passive — neither expressly inviting nor rebuking the defendant's sexual advances, that behavior cannot be considered sufficient to show affirmative permission."
Silence and passivity could automatically be construed as unwillingness, and would make a "guilty" verdict far more likely. Indeed, Schulhofer and Murphy say this is what they want, writing in their draft that "the appropriate default position clearly is to err in the direction of protecting individuals against unwanted sexual imposition."
In other words, when in doubt, convict.
This idea is by itself horrifying. That it has come to so many college campuses -- including Ohio State, thanks to Michael Drake -- is an affront to any reasonable notion of human nature, justice and fair play.

That drafters of the ALI's Model Penal Code want to make this the law shows just how far the rot in the legal profession has spread.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beautiful Ballerina Pic of the Day

The position of My Favorite Ballerina On Earth is spoken for, but Jacky Sabrina Rouillon has certainly gotten my attention with this pic from her Facebook page. Incredible beauty and grace. Merde and best wishes to you, Mlle. Rouillon.


If they build it, I will come

The Egyptian government has approved a plan to rebuild Alexandria's Pharos Lighthouse:
Egypt is planning to rebuild one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Standing at 137 metres tall, the Lighthouse was built in 280 BC and collapsed after a series of earthquakes in 1323. Now, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities is in the process of approving plans to rebuild it.
Only after an in-depth look into what reconstructing the giant tower would consist of, were plans submitted, Dr Mostafa Amin from the Council told Egyptian newspaper Youm7.
Alexandria’s governor is now going to assess the plans and decide whether to give them final approval.
Also known as the Pharos Lighthouse, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the world’s tallest structures for hundreds of years.
The influence of the Pharos Lighthouse, the ruins of which were located in Alexandria's eastern harbor in 1994, continues to be far and wide:
Lying for centuries on the sea bed, ruins from the Lighthouse of Alexandria were discovered by French archaeologists in 1994.
Jean-Yves Empereur, lead archaeologist, wrote at the time that he had found "columns of all sizes, in their hundreds, column bases and capitals, sphinxes, statues, and some immense blocks of granite which, given where they lie, certainly came from the famous lighthouse."
Experts said the importance of Alexandria's lighthouse lies with the far-reaching influence of its innovative architecture. Its distinctive tapering tiers have been influential in both Islamic and western styles of architecture, according to Dr Judith McKenzie, an archaeology lecturer of the University of Oxford and the author of Architecture of Alexandria.
"You still see that structure on church spires now if you look at any churches in London designed by Christopher Wren, and even minarets on the mosques of Cairo," she said. The word 'minaret' is derives from the Arabic for lighthouse.
Not just Arabic. According to Wikipedia:
Pharos became the etymological origin of the word 'lighthouse' in Greek (φάρος), Persian (Fānūs – فانوس), many Romance languages such as French (phare), Italian and Spanish (faro), Romanian (far) and Portuguese (farol), and even some Slavic languages like Bulgarian (far). In Russian, a derived word means "headlight" (fara – фара).
While Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, it was the Pharos Lighthouse that was the real source of Alexandria's fame, and it continues to be the symbol of the city.

2006 computer reconstruction of Alexandria's Pharos Lighthouse. From Wikimedia Commons.
It has always been a source of mild resentment for me that the ruins of the Pharos Lighthouse were used to build the stupid Qaitbey fort that no one cares about. The fort is crumbling, but its continuing presence on the original foundations of the Lighthouse means the rebuilt Lighthouse will have to be constructed next to it.

This will be a huge deal. I love Egypt, especially its pyramids (which are threatened by idiot Islamists) but I really love Ptolemaic Egypt. If this gets done, I will have to find a way to visit. Obama has certainly done little to help the people of Egypt, so it is up to us to do so.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not one brain among them

That is the most charitable description of Obama's laughably-named "national security" team -- himself, Valerie Jarrett, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Jen Psaki, etc. That one cannot scrape enough brain matter out of their skulls to come up with one actual, normal-sized, fully-functional brain. Latest evidence: the case of Bowe Bergdahl, which just keeps getting worse and worse:
In the space of nine months, he went from being heralded at the White House to facing prison for life.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military charged Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the former Taliban captive who was freed in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy.
His capture, release and now charge became a parable of how narratives about the war in Afghanistan did not pan out. The soldier whose service Susan Rice, U.S. national security adviser, once characterized as “honorable” and whose release came at the price of five prisoners could now himself end up in an American prison for life. The prison exchange that some political operatives thought would be heralded was instead widely condemned. And the war that was supposed to be ending with no soldier left behind has now been extended for five months.
Bergdahl’s case will now go before an Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a grand jury in civilian court, to determine how the case should proceed. While many soldiers in the U.S. military’s history have served long sentences for such crimes, many are highly dubious he will serve a life sentence. There is a sense that there is no interest in handing out a long sentence to a soldier who may not have passed muster had the nation not been so desperate for troops when he joined in 2007—the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That said, there are many in the military who remain tremendously angry at Bergdahl. They believe he was a deserter and that the five-year search for him endangered other troops.
Army Colonel Daniel King announced at a nationally televised press conference out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that Bergdahl was charged with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy—“endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place.” The former carries a maximum five-year penalty, the reduction of rank down to private, the forfeiture of all military compensation, and a dishonorable discharge. The latter could result in the same punishment—plus a life-in-prison sentence.
Bergdahl, who turns 29 years-old Saturday, disappeared in June 2009 from Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan while serving as a private from the 25th Infantry Division. The U.S. military devoted an enormous amount of resources in the search for him, particularly after videos appeared showing in in custody. In addition, his family and their hometown of Hailey, Idaho, fought to keep attention on Bergdahl’s case. In May 2014, Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Taliban members held at Guantanamo Bay who were subsequently transferred to Qatari custody for a year.
President Obama made the announcement of Bergdahl’s release in a Rose Garden ceremony flanked by Bergdahl’s parents, even as the circumstances of his disappearance were shrouded in uncertainty and charges that he abandoned his post and troops. Politically, the administration celebrated negotiating his release after years of failed bids by both the current and former administration, at least one attempted escape by Bergdahl and countless patrols searching for him. Photos released by the White House showed the president walking arm-in-arm with Bergdahl’s parents. Many called the timing key as many hoped the U.S. was winding down its war in Afghanistan.
But the political benefits and the timing of the war both proved incorrect. The president faced immediate backlash for heralding a soldier suspected of abandoning his post. That was only further fueled when, in a June 2014 interview with CNN, Rice said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”
But will Obama admit his mistake here? Of course not:
The incoming White House communications director defended the decision to trade Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders last year, even as newly announced desertion charges for Bergdahl renewed Republican criticism of the prisoner swap.
"Was it worth it? Absolutely," Jen Psaki told Megyn Kelly on Fox News' "The Kelly File." "We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military, defending our national security every day, that we're going to do everything to bring them home if we can, and that's what we did in this case."
Psaki's comments were the first from a top administration official since the charges were announced earlier Wednesday. 
Meanwhile, the five Taliban commanders released in exchange for Bergdahl have been living in luxury in Qatar and even trying to make connections with the Taliban again.

Not one brain among them. Patterico is demanding an apology from the White House for smearing Bergdahl's accusers as liars and psychopaths. Right. Like that's going to happen.

Scott Johnson:
Obama secured Bergdahl’s release in exchange for five of the worst Taliban officials detained at Guantanamo. At least some of them will resume their sinister activities shortly if they have not done so already. Coming as they do in the context of the final stages of the deal in process with Iran, the charges cast a wider illumination.
Congress was cut out of the deal; Obama declined to provide Congress the legally required notification to which it was entitled in connection with the release of the detainees.
As a “deal,” the exchange was pathetic. We gave up five former Taliban commanders and officials for a deserter whose desertion aided the enemy. The trade served as a pretext for otherwise indefensible actions in furtherance of Obama’s misguided mission to close Gitmo.
The war was supposedly over, except it’s not, and we were obligated to do anything necessary to bring Bergdahl home, even if he deserted, except we weren’t. Is there any precedent vindicating the supposed principle cited for the Bergdahl deal? Neither Obama nor Rice cited one. It remains a bad deal wrapped in deceitful rhetoric and a complete humiliation of the United States
Recalling Obama’s and Rice’s praise of the deal, we see that they are willing to say anything in defense of a bad cause. We already knew that, but there is much more to come.
Tom Bevan:
Far from serving with honor and distinction, Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in military prison.
Perhaps that’s what’s really going on here: The military brass wants to correct the record, at least the one created by Obama and Susan Rice. If that’s what is going on, the Army’s legal system will sort out the excesses, if there were any. But more is at stake than political reputations.
In the ensuing 10 months since their release, we’ve learned that at least one of the five prisoners remanded to Qatar from Guantanamo Bay as part of the original swap has been caught making phone calls to the Taliban.
Qatar’s “strict monitoring” of the Taliban 5—if it ever really existed—is set to expire this spring, effectively allowing them to roam free. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year that there is “very little” his agency can do to prevent them from returning to the battlefield and trying to kill American soldiers.
So, far from the fairy tale of a hero’s homecoming that President Obama tried to spin for the American people that Saturday morning 10 months ago, this story doesn’t have a happy ending for America. In his effort to empty the Gitmo detainee facility, the president traded five hard-core terrorists for a man who now stands officially accused of abandoning his fellow soldiers. He very may well be court-martialed and spend a good deal of his life behind bars. It’s the Taliban 5 who, beginning in just a few short weeks, get to live happily ever after. 
Leon Wolf:
Psaki refuses to answer two critical questions that Kelly repeatedly posed to her – 1) did Obama know at the time of the swap that substantial questions existed about whether Bergdahl was a deserter, and 2) what alternate methods were considered to get Bergdahl back other than trading away five high value prisoners?
These questions go to the very heart of this particular controversy in terms of evaluating whether what the Obama administration did was wise or displayed good judgment – especially important questions given that the Bergdahl swap was unquestionably illegal. The facial bluster the Obama administration resorts to is that, as an American soldier, Bergdahl was entitled to have the United States do literally anything to get him back. However, when pressed on the point, even the perpetually clueless Psaki realizes that the American public has a concrete belief that Audie Murphy would have been entitled to a more strenuous effort at recover than, well.. than Bowe Bergdahl.
And second, it isn’t true that the government would have done literally anything to get Bergdahl back. Presumably, if his captors had demanded a nuclear weapon for his release, even the Obama administration would have demurred. So it follows that at some point, a cost-benefit analysis has to be engaged in during the course of these swaps that must of course include the possibility or probability that what we are trading away might ultimately be used against us in war in the future.
These are the sorts of factors any reasonable person would want to evaluate when determining the exact level of stupidity that infested the Obama administration’s decision-making process with respect to Bowe Bergdahl. And moreover, it is the kind of information to which Congress was legally entitled before the swap took place so that they could have conferred with the Administration to ensure that they knew about the concerns that Bergdahl was a deserter and evaluated whether the price given up for Bergdahl was too high.
The fact that the Obama administration continues to stonewall on these points, in addition to their illegal refusal to consult with Congress before the swap, lends credence to the theory set forth by Kelly which the Administration pretends to pooh pooh – that the Administration actually wanted these particular detainees set free, and viewed their release as a feature, not a bug. Because they have been essentially prevented from shutting down Gitmo by Congress, they saw an opportunity to release some of its prisoners and took it, using the trade for Bergdahl as a pretext.
It sounds insane, but no more insane than the actual terms of the Bergdahl swap itself.
Not one brain among them.


Obama administration says he has "succeeded" in Yemen

Who couldn't see this one coming?
A White House spokesman said American efforts in Yemen are a "template that has succeeded," even as President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the country by boat.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday said that the U.S. still had Yemeni extremists in its crosshairs.
According to media reports, Hadi fled the presidential palace in Yemen as rebels attempted an armed takeover of the city of Aden.
Taken out of context, you say? Nope:
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: I know you’re asked this every time something terrible happens in Yemen, but now that we have essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model for a counter-terrorism strategy?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Jon, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country…
KARL: That’s astounding. You’re saying that you still see Yemen as the model, that building up the central government which has now collapsed, a president who has apparently fled the country, Saudi troops have amassed on one boarder, the Iranians supporting the rebels. You consider this as a model for counter-terrorism?
EARNEST: Again, Jon, what the United States considers to be our strategy when confronting the effort to try to mitigate the threat that is posed by extremists is to prevent them from establishing a safe haven. And certainly in a chaotic, dangerous situation like in Yemen, what the United States will do and has done is work to try to support the central government, build up the capacity of local fighters, and use our own technological and military capabilities to apply pressure on the extremists there.
OK, folks. Who called it? Who called it?


Hate to break it to Josh Earnest, but Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf was funnier. And more believable.

Sigh! The Obama administration has indeed become a caricature of itself. Noah Rothman:
As this administration has entered its waning days, it seems to have long ago gave up on appealing to the political sensibilities of average Americans. It is easy to let oneself believe that the White House has simply lost touch with reality. But there is a difference between being out of touch and simply exhibiting such childlike petulance that you refuse to accept unpleasant truths. Obama’s administration has adopted the latter approach to bad news.
[...]
On a day when what the White House calls the “legitimate government” of Yemen dissolves and its president flees the country out of fear for his personal safety, it takes a galling level of chutzpah to insist that the administration’s counterterror approach in Yemen – one centered on building up “the central government” – remains a noteworthy achievement. But they hope that you’ll believe them and not your lying eyes. And, you know what? Many of this president’s most blinkered supporters will do just that.
Of course. That's how he was elected in the first place.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Required reading

Michael Goodwin in the New York Post. A taste of the truth:
First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.
He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican “enemies.” He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.
Now he’s coming for Israel.
Barack Obama’s promise to transform America was too modest. He is transforming the whole world before our eyes. Do you see it yet?
Against the backdrop of the tsunami of trouble he has unleashed, Obama’s pledge to “reassess” America’s relationship with Israel cannot be taken lightly. Already paving the way for an Iranian nuke, he is hinting he’ll also let the other anti-Semites at Turtle Bay have their way. That could mean American support for punitive Security Council resolutions or for Palestinian statehood initiatives. It could mean both, or something worse.
Whatever form the punishment takes, it will aim to teach Bibi Netanyahu never again to upstage him. And to teach Israeli voters never again to elect somebody Obama doesn’t like.
Apologists and wishful thinkers, including some Jews, insist Obama real­izes that the special relationship between Israel and the United States must prevail and that allowing too much daylight between friends will encourage enemies.
Those people are slow learners, or, more dangerously, deny-ists.
If Obama’s six years in office teach us anything, it is that he is impervious to appeals to good sense. Quite the contrary. Even respectful suggestions from supporters that he behave in the traditions of American presidents fill him with angry determination to do it his way.
For Israel, the consequences will be intended. Those who make excuses for Obama’s policy failures — naive, bad advice, bad luck — have not come to grips with his dark impulses and deep-seated rage.
Read the whole thing.