Sunday, August 31, 2014

Your Smart Diplomacy™ update

It seems that Obama has no strategy or dealing with ISIS because his "national security" team (I use the term loosely) cannot agree on a strategy:
After a week of talk of eliminating the "cancer" of ISIS, President Obama said Thursday that he was not planning to significantly expand the war against the Islamic extremist movement anytime soon.
His remarks came after days of heated debate inside the top levels of his own national security bureaucracy about how, where, and whether to strike ISIS in Syria. But those deliberations – which included a bleak intelligence assessment of America's potential allies in Syria -- failed to produce a consensus battle plan. And so Obama, who has long been reluctant to enter into the Syrian conflict, told reporters Thursday that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for confronting ISIS on a regional level.
Those inside the administration advocating for going after ISIS in both Iraq and Syria were sorely disappointed – and lamented their boss's lack of urgency in rooting out a threat that only days before was being described in near-apocalyptic terms.
“Senior strategists in the U.S. government have been working hard all week to gather multiple options that the president had asked for to strike ISIS in Syria. There was a deep rooted belief among many -- especially among military circles -- that the ISIS threat can’t be kicked down the road, that it needs to be confronted now, and in a holistic way,” said one Obama administration official who works on the Middle East. “This press conference is going to lead to even more doubt by those that thought that this White House was ready to take meaningful action against ISIS across the board.”
Obama addressed the White House press corps Thursday afternoon just before personally chairing a meeting of his National Security Council, his top cabinet members and national security staffers. The meeting was the culmination of an intense week-long process that included series of lower level meetings and at last one Principals’ Committee that officials described as an effort to convince Obama to expand his air war against ISIS in Iraq to Syria as well.
But before the meeting even started, the president seemed to have made up his mind.
The President said that although he had ordered up options for striking ISIS in Syria, the administration’s priority was shoring up the integrity of Iraq, instead. Syria would have to wait. He also said he would send Secretary of State John Kerry to the region because “We don’t have a strategy yet,” to confront ISIS on a regional level.
To many outside the administration who have worked on Syria and the ISIS problem, Obama’s decision not to decide on a broader course of action will have negative implications for the war against ISIS. The administration raised expectations about altering its three-year policy of avoiding intervention in Syria, before Obama dashed those expectations Thursday.
“One has to wonder what sort of signal this administration is sending to ISIS by using tough rhetoric on one hand and then contravening what top officials just said,” said a former Pentagon official who served in Iraq. “It’s not just demoralizing to those who want to stop ISIS in its tracks, but ISIS is just going to act with greater impunity now if they believe they got a free pass. Every single ISIS leader was watching that.”
There were deep divisions inside the administration's deliberations over Syria. One set of officials advocated for a campaign to decimate ISIS in both countries by striking ISIS targets across Syria. This camp pushed for hitting near Aleppo where they are advancing, and with at least some coordination with the moderate Syrian rebels. The group, which included officials from State Department, intelligence community and some parts of the military, came up with extensive targeting options for the president that included not only ISIS military assets, but their infrastructure, command and control, and their financial capabilities. Even the oil pipelines they use to export crude for cash were on the target list.
Another group of officials -- led by White House and National Security staffers but also including some intelligence and military officials -- favored a more cautious approach that spurned any cooperation with the Free Syrian Army and focused strikes inside Syria on targets near the Iraqi border. The objective: cut off ISIS supply lines to Iraq. That strategy would fall more squarely within the existing limited missions that Obama has already outlined for his war.
Inside the intelligence community, there is a dispute about whether the Free Syrian Army, which has been fighting ISIS in Syria all year with little international support, can be a reliable partner for any military mission inside Syria.
So if your people can't agree on a strategy, do nothing. That's called Smart Diplomacy™. Even Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is disgusted:
Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that Obama, a cautious figure on all matters foreign, is being “too cautious” in this case
“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious,” Feinstein said. “And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy that can encourage that coalition from Arab nations.”

“I know that the military, I know that the state department, I know that others have been putting plans together,” she added, in a direct rebuke of Obama’s insistence that his administration does not “have a strategy yet” to roll back ISIS in Syria.
Her subtle savaging of the president went a step further. When asked if ISIS is, as Obama said in January, al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” Feinstein flatly disagreed. “I think it’s a major varsity team, if you want to use those kinds of monikers. But I see nothing that compares with its viciousness,” she noted.
She noted that this is the first group with the funding, training, and expertise to present a global military threat as well as an international terror threat.
“I mean, they crossed the border into Iraq before we even knew it happened,” Feinstein added, contradicting a series of administration officials who have insisted that they watched the ISIS group’s activities in western Syrian and Iraq closely and with great anxiety for over a year. “So this is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous. And they’ll kill with abandon.”
This does not seem like rocket surgery. John Hinderaker simplified it a bit for our practitioners of Smart Diplomacy™:
President Obama can’t come up with a strategy to deal with ISIS. It’s just so…complicated. Here’s an idea: how about if we kill them?
Careful, John. The Left might call you "uncivil."

The sad truth about "renewable" energy

John Hinderaker at Power Line links to an Ed Hoskins post at Watts Up With That dealing with, as Power Line puts it, "Why Renewable Energy is Hopeless?" Hinderaker explains it a little more simply than Hoskins does:
Ed Hoskins spotlights the intractable problem with solar and wind power: much of the time, the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. This means that in practice, solar and wind facilities can produce only a small fraction of their nominal capacities. This chart requires a bit of study; for three countries, the U.S., Germany and the U.K., it contrasts the nominal (“nameplate”) capacity of wind and solar facilities with their actual production of energy:

The chart is pretty damning. Hoskins goes into more detail:
[T]here is a major problem with these renewable energy sources. Their electrical output is not dispatchable. Their output is entirely unable respond to electricity demand as and when needed. Energy is contributed to the grid in a haphazard manner dependent on the weather, and certainly not necessarily when it is required.
(citations omitted)
For example solar power inevitably varies according to the time of day, the state of the weather and also of course radically with the seasons. Essentially solar power might only work effectively in Southern latitudes and it certainly does not do well in Northern Europe. In Germany the massive commitment to solar energy might well provide up to ~20% of country wide demand for a few hours on some fine summer days either side of noon, but at the time of maximum power demand on winter evenings solar energy input is necessarily nil.
(citations omitted)
Electricity generation from wind turbines is equally fickle, as for example in a week in July this year shown above. Similarly an established high pressure zone with little wind over the whole of Northern Europe is a common occurrence in winter months, that is when electricity demand is likely to be at its highest.
Conversely on occasions renewable energy output may be in excess of demand and this has to dumped unproductively. There is still no solution to electrical energy storage on a sufficiently large industrial scale. That is the reason that the word “nominally” is used here in relation to the measured outputs from renewable energy sources.
Overall the renewable energy output from these three major nations that have committed to massive investments in Renewable Energy amounts to a nominal ~31Gigawatts out of a total installed generating capacity of ~570Gigawatts or only ~5.5%.
But even that amount of energy production is not really as useful as one would wish, because of its intermittency and non-dispatchability.
A way to solve this problem might -- might -- be advances in the storage of energy that would allow the storage of electrical power for long periods of time. But such advances are not pending and are not even on the horizon at this point.

In short, as of the present time, there is no way that "renewable" energy will ever give an adequate return on its investment. It will always be expensive, unreliable, and in short supply.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Oh, goody.

ISIS may now have shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles:
Islamic State militants stormed a Syrian airbase over the weekend, routing the remaining elements of the country’s army from northern Raqqah province and reportedly seizing a cache of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.
The seizure of Tabqa air base, while not the first installation of its type to fall to militants, highlights the Islamic State’s gains in the region and the group’s continued pilfering of advanced military equipment, particularly the surface-to-air missile systems known as MANPADS, short for Man Portable Air Defense Systems.
Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Switzerland-based research group Small Arms Survey and author of a recent report on MANPADS in Syria, believes that the takeover of Tabqa airbase could mark a “significant proliferation” of the weapons across the region.
“What we do know from previous airfield seizures is that these places are a source of MANPADS and similar weapons,” Schroeder said.
It is difficult to independently confirm that Islamic State seized MANPADS from Tabqa.  Charles Lister, an analyst at Brookings Doha Center who has tracked the flow of weapons in the region, tweeted a photo that purportedly showed an Islamic State fighter wielding what appeared to be MANPADS.

Schroeder did not know the model of the system but noted it has the characteristics of an SA-18 and other Soviet MANPADS.
“This is not a system we see often,” Schroeder said. “We know very little about it.”
The SA-18 is one of eight MANPADS variants in militant hands that have been documented by Small Arms Survey. While most are Soviet-era models, the Russian Federation SA-24 and Chinese FN-6 have been sighted in the almost four-year-old conflict.
For Damien Spleeters, an investigator for Conflict Armament Research who just 10 days ago was documenting the weapons of the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria, the takeover of Tabqa airbase is just another example of the Islamic State expanding its arsenal of advanced weaponry.
“Usually when you take an airbase you don’t just find one or two systems,” Spleeters said. “You find a lot more than that because airbases are meant to store those types of weapons.”
Spleeters added that the prevalence of advanced systems like the SA-24, which can hit aircraft flying at up to 20,000 feet, is “very worrying.”
You don't say.

And you wonder why American students don't know much about history

The College Board has hijacked US courses to teach a leftist, anti-American narrative:
The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has kicked off a national controversy by issuing a new and unprecedentedly detailed “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective. The College Board disclaims political intent, insisting that the new Framework provides a “balanced” guide that merely helps to streamline the AP U.S. History course while enhancing teacher flexibility. Not only the Framework itself, but the history of its development suggests that a balanced presentation of the American story was not the College Board’s goal.
The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.
This movement’s goals are clearly political, and include the promotion of an American foreign policy that eschews the unilateral use of force. The movement to “internationalize” the U.S. History curriculum also seeks to produce a generation of Americans more amendable to working through the United Nations and various left-leaning “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) on issues like the environment and nuclear proliferation. A willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution is likewise encouraged.
The College Board formed a close alliance with this movement to internationalize the teaching of American history just prior to initiating its redesign of the AP U.S. History exam. Key figures in that alliance are now in charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, including the committee charged with writing the new AP U.S. History exam. The new AP U.S. History Framework clearly shows the imprint of the movement to de-nationalize American history. Before I trace the rise of this movement and its ties to the College Board, let’s have a closer look at its goals.
NYU historian Thomas Bender is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level. The fullest and clearest statement of Bender’s views can be found in his 2006 book, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. Bender is a thoroughgoing critic of American exceptionalism, the notion that America is freer and more democratic than any other nation, and for that reason, a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.
In opposition to this, Bender wants to subordinate American identity to a cosmopolitan, “transnational” sensibility. Bender urges us to see each nation, our own included, as but “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” Whereas the old U.S. history forged a shared national identity by emphasizing America’s distinctiveness, Bender hopes to encourage cosmopolitanism by “internationalizing” the American story.
Bender laments that history as taught in our schools has bred an “acceptance of the nation as the dominant form of human solidarity.” The growing focus on gender, race, and ethnicity is welcome, says Bender, but does little to transform an underlying historical narrative built around the nation. Even the rise of world history in the schools has backfired, Bender maintains, by making it appear as though American history and world history are somehow different topics.
Bender understands that his transnational twist on American history has profound political implications. He complains that while working on his book (during George W. Bush’s presidency), “a discourse of exceptionalism and policies based on it became omnipresent in American public life.” Bender promises that his transnational framing of American history “will give little comfort” to the proponents of policies based on American exceptionalism.
He worries, however, that his globalizing approach to American history might be used to defend precisely the sort of “hegemonic” American foreign-policy he abhors. To prevent this, Bender urges that American history be taught, not only from an American point of view, but from the perspective of those who are subject to American power. “Americans have always found it difficult to imagine themselves as an enemy, as a problem for other people,” says Bender. By showing us ourselves through our enemies’ eyes, Bender hopes to promote humbler and more collaborative forms of American foreign-policy. 
Bender complains about George W. Bush era foreign policy, not only in respect to war, but also in the matters of, “environment, trade, nuclear, and other policies.” Clearly, he hopes that his anti-exceptionalist vision of American-history will encourage a different approach to foreign affairs. Bender also openly hopes that students exposed to a less “national” version of American history will sympathize with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution, rather than with Justice Antonin Scalia’s rejection of foreign law as an arbiter of American jurisprudence.
Read the whole sickening story from Stanley Kurtz here. As Power Line's Paul Mirengoff describes it:
In other words, we shouldn’t get caught up in the idea that there was something exceptional about America that induced immigrants to come here. We were just another place to go — “just another pleasant country somewhere on the UN Roll Call between Albania and Zimbabwe,” to borrow a phrase used by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to mock those who deny American exceptionalism.
Quoting Kurtz, Mirengoff concludes:
The College Board’s “curricular coup” occurred soon after it selected David Coleman as its new president. Coleman is the architect of the Common Core. There should be no doubt that the Common Core is driven by a leftist agenda.
Americans have started to figure out, albeit belatedly, the harms associated with that project, and they are beginning to fight back. But how do we fight back against the anti-American U.S. History curriculum being imposed by the College Board?
States can reject the common core. But if high schools want to offer AP U.S. History (and it is to their advantage and the advantage of students that they do so), they must teach it as the College Board prescribes. Otherwise, students will be at a severe disadvantage when they take the end-of-the-year exam upon which college credit may depend.

As Kurtz concludes:
The brief five-page conceptual guideline [that] the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test.
The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective.
One way or another, this cannot be allowed to stand.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My letter to Ohio State University President Michael Drake and The Ohio State University Board of Trustees on the travesty of justice being done to Jon Waters and The Ohio State University Marching Band.

President Michael Drake
205 Bricker Hall
190 North Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Attention: Secretary for Board of Trustees
210 Bricker Hall
190 North Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Dear President Drake and Board of Trustees:

My name is Jeff Cox. I am an attorney-at-law, author, historian, Columbus, Ohio, native currently living in Indianapolis, and proud alum of The Ohio State University Marching Band (“Band”). I am also the son of two Ohio State graduates, both of whom received their undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Journalism, one of whom just retired after four decades as a political journalist. Despite being raised in Indiana, both my loyal Ohio State Buckeye parents raised me as a loyal Ohio State Buckeye. At this point, the current Ohio State University (“University”) administration’s handling of the allegations against Jon Waters and the Band – and at this point they are just allegations – has us questioning that loyalty, and whether that loyalty is being returned by the current administration.

“Loyalty” is not just the emotional basis but the legal basis for the glaring faults with the current administration’s handling of the allegations against the Band, which I will boil down to three major points.

1. Report Dated July 22, 2014 issued by The Office of University Integrity and Compliance (“Office”) under the authority of Chris Glaros, Assistant Vice President for Compliance Operations and Investigations (“The Glaros Report”).

During my tenure as an attorney with the State of Indiana, I was periodically tasked with investigating possible wrongdoing and composing reports detailing the allegations of wrongdoing, the evidence of said wrongdoing, and the legal conclusions drawn therefrom. As a litigator, it is my job to review and analyze reports of alleged wrongdoing. As an author, I have investigated various questions of history and assembled the evidence into various history articles. It was those articles that eventually got me invited to write my book Rising Sun, Falling Skies; The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II, which itself contains elements of reporting and investigation. It was with this experience in mind that I read the Glaros Report.

I found the Glaros Report indeed shocking, though not for the reasons you might believe or perhaps wish. I was a member of the Band from 1989-1993. I witnessed most of the behaviors described in the Glaros Report at one time or another. I didn’t like it and didn’t take part in any of it, including the Midnight Ramp. I made clear that I did not like it and as a result I received no pressure whatsoever to take part in it. No nicknames, no insults, nothing. How this comports with the general references to “peer pressure” and a “sexualized culture” made in the Glaros Report is, at best, unclear.

No, the most shocking part of the Glaros Report was its legal conclusions and the structure of its narrative as well as the underlying investigation. I use the terminology in that order deliberately, as it appears the legal conclusions were written before the narrative was prepared, which in turn seems to have been done before the investigation was concluded or possibly even begun. This is a completely improper procedure for investigating allegations of wrongdoing.

Some of the most egregious examples:

Sample Size Page 3 of the Glaros Report states “Conclusions were made using a preponderance of the evidence standard.”

Yet, Pages 3 -4 state that the investigators contacted 5 Band members, including the Complainant’s Child. The investigators contacted 6 Band alumni, including Jon Waters. Furthermore Page 3, Footnote 3 states:
The complainant and witnesses recommended specific people to interview and we have talked with or tried to contact each of them. As of July 15, 2014, we were still receiving information from some of the witnesses interviewed. […W]e did not randomly interview current Band members for this investigation.”

 In other words, the investigators contacted 5 Band members, including the Complainant’s Child, out of 225 Band members. The investigators contacted 6 Marching Band alumni, including Jon Waters, out of thousands of Band alumni. That is by itself an awfully small sample size to defame the entire Band. Even worse, Footnote 3 by itself appears to confirm that the investigators only contacted people recommended by the Complainant and the Complainant’s witnesses.

 It’s easy to establish a preponderance of the evidence if one looks for and considers only evidence supporting one side of a case. This is not a method for seeking truth but a method for finding someone guilty.

Glaring Contradictions – As stated earlier, Page 3 of the Glaros Report states “Conclusions were made using a preponderance of the evidence standard.” Yet Page 5 contains the following statement:

Most witnesses indicated that participation in Midnight Ramp was not required. Some witnesses stated that students not participating in the tradition would receive negative treatment from other students and staff. Other witnesses stated that there were no consequences for not participating, while one witness stated that she was “told not to talk about it outside of the Band.”

By the Glaros Report’s own admission, “Most witnesses indicated that participation in Midnight Ramp was not required.” By the preponderance of evidence standard the Glaros Report states is used, the Midnight Ramp was not required. Yet the Glaros Report never makes this clear. Moreover, the use of the term “some” to indicate the witnesses that said “students not participating in the tradition would receive negative treatment from other students and staff, as opposed to the term “most” witnesses used in the previous sentence, is also revealing, and indicative that “most” witnesses in fact did not receive negative treatment.

Thus, by the standards explicitly stated in the Glaros Report, the Midnight Ramp was not an issue and should not have been included in the Glaros Report at all.

Factually Unsupported Statements and Misleading Language Page 4 contains statements that the Midnight Ramp was “oversee[n]” by Waters or “under Waters’ direction.” This is a factual error. A more accurate term might be “monitor.” The use of “oversee” and “direction” suggests Waters controlled it. While Page 5 references an alcohol poisoning incident that occurred “five or six years ago,” after which staff agreed to monitor the event to make sure nothing like that happened again, none of the alleged witness statements mentioned in the Glaros Report support the conclusion that Waters “over[saw] or “direct[ed]” the Midnight Ramp. This was terminology chosen by the author of the Glaros Report, not by the witnesses.

Factually unsupported statements and misleading language appear throughout the Glaros Report. The previous example of the Midnight Ramp included the statements that “most” witnesses said the Midnight Ramp was not required, but “some” said there was “negative treatment” if one did not participate. “Most” and “some” are not defined, which is by itself suspicious given that the relatively low number of witnesses interviewed should have indicated actual numbers of witnesses speaking to each. “Negative treatment” is not defined. At all.

There is far more where that came from. Page 8 contains the statement:

Several witnesses indicated that new Band members were subject to “Rookie Introductions,” which occurred at the front of a moving bus en route to away games. These sometimes included sexually explicit questioning and dirty jokes. A witness stated that one such episode entailed using a dildo as a microphone. Another witness confirmed that sexually explicit Rookie Introductions occurred in the Fall of 2013.

“Sometimes included” does not properly indicate how often the introductions were of a sexual nature or how much of each individual introduction was sexual. I remember that mine was not sexual at all. Plus, a single account does not “confirm,” unless, perhaps, the “confirm” is a reference to the author’s own biases.

Page 15 is especially bad in this regard. It contains the statement: “The misconduct described above affected many students’ musical education through the Marching Band, some to a significant degree, as evidenced by feelings of regret and shame that were communicated in our interviews.” Except none of the witness statements quoted in the Glaros Report contain any statements of “feelings of regret [or] shame.” Furthermore, as stated above, the investigators by their own admission interviewed 5 band members, including the Complainant’s Child, out of 225 band members. The investigators contacted 6 marching band alumni, including Jon Waters, out of thousands of Band alumni. How, exactly, that constitutes “many” is somewhat unclear. And aside from the bald statement that “the misconduct described above affected many students’ musical education through the Marching Band, some to a significant degree,” there is no evidence in the Glaros Report that any student was affected at all, nor is there any explanation of any effect.

Page 15 also says “The subjects of the sexual harassment were impressionable and developing students.” Which seems like an obfuscation of the fact that the “subjects” of the “sexual harassment” were legally adults. Page 15 also states “We find that the Marching Band’s culture facilitated acts of sexual harassment under both university policy and Title IX, creating a hostile environment for students.” It is not clear from the Glaros Report that the alleged victims all agree. In fact, based on media statements made by several of the witnesses, it appears that they in fact do not.

While I would like to believe this was just the result of inartful writing, the totality of the Glaros Report and the current administration’s response thereto support the belief that this report was actually intended to give a false impression that would bring in Title IX.

Lack of Factual Integrity – This term is my own, a reference to the necessity to “show your work” but make allowances for confidentiality. Whether in my books or in my briefs, I must always show my work – my sources of information, my case law, so that they can be checked. My book, for instance, contains some 30 pages of end notes citing my sources. Nothing of the sort appears in the Glaros Report. With witnesses whose identities must be kept confidential, that is somewhat understandable, except there are methods of handling confidential witnesses, statements, and information that preserve the factual integrity of the report. Such methods include designation of witnesses, declaration of when and, if necessary, where the witness interview took place and by whom, additional information to give context to the witness statement, and even where the full transcript of the witness statement is located and how it may be acquired.

This is not rocket surgery, but basic investigatory and report-writing technique. Yet, again, except for a designation of witnesses that appears at the beginning of the Glaros Report and is never mentioned again, nothing of the sort appears in the Glaros Report. There is no easy way to even begin checking the work of the Office here. No way to verify the witness statements, no way to check for context. For all we know, most of these witnesses and their interviews do not exist and never did; in essence, the Glaros Report says, “Trust us.” Part of my practice involves criminal defense, where such conduct by the government is utterly unacceptable.

Even worse is the hearsay that appears in Glaros Report. For instance, Page 17 quotes Pam Bork, “Physical Therapy Manager with Student Health Services who volunteered for 18 years with the Band,” as saying other students (non-Band members) who were on the bus at the Cal game were “horrified” by the atmosphere. Not only is there no identification of who these people were, there is no indication they were interviewed at all. Page 17 also says Bork added that she was concerned that someone would get hurt and that she quit the Band because she believed “something bad was going to happen,” and then referenced a sexual assault that had occurred as what she feared could come to pass. The Glaros Report never gives any details of this alleged sexual assault.

I have plenty more examples of the shoddy work behind the Glaros Report. As a litigator, it is my professional opinion that this report could be easily destroyed in any court of law, so poorly written and conceived that it may not even be admissible – except to show defamation by the current administration.

Generally speaking, in both the private sector and in government law one cannot expect to turn in a report as poorly-written and conceived as the Glaros Report, let alone release it to the public, and expect to stay employed in assembling and writing such reports much longer. Yet the current administration has pointedly and repeatedly stood by the Glaros Report.

The current administration’s position thus changes things, and makes it look as if the Glaros Report is not the result of incompetence but of malice, that it is was not so much an investigation but an assassination. An assassination of character. Of Jon Waters. Of the Band and its alumni. Of The Ohio State University.

Which brings me to my second point:

2. The Public Handling of the Glaros Report.

Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics rather famously holds “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” That is, unfortunately, the most charitable way of explaining how the current administration has handled the Glaros Report.

As much of an abomination as it is, the Glaros Report could have been easily withheld under the investigatory or deliberative records exceptions to the public records statute until, at the very least, someone competent could have rewritten it. At least according to the public timeline, that was not done here.

The Glaros Report is dated July 22. The announcement of Waters’ firing was July 24. Granted, there was the deadline established by Title IX, but absolutely nothing in Title IX, the 2001 “Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties” statement or the April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” necessitated firing Waters. There were plenty of options, including censure, policy changes, or assignment of a Title IX coordinator that the Band has been lacking. But it appears none of these other options was even considered. Without considering these other options and apparently not even performing due diligence on the accuracy of the Glaros Report, the current administration quickly in that 2-day period chose the nuclear option: firing the best band director in the country, one who has been innovative in show design, who has brought excitement back to marching bands across the country, and has brought nothing but good press and energy to The Ohio State University.

None of the other possible options would have attracted much in the way of possible media attention. Firing the best and most famous college band director in the country was certain to get maximum media attention. And so it did. And it brought in with it the aforementioned shoddy Glaros Report that can easily be argued defames Waters, the Band and all its alumni to national media attention. Furthermore, little of the inaccurate sensationalized reporting by the media of the Glaros Report (i.e., alleging the Midnight Ramp was “hazing,” even though it fits neither a legal nor a practical definition) was corrected by the current administration, and may have in some cases even been abetted by it. The current administration did absolutely nothing to defend the University or the Band.

Even worse, the current administration decided to have a second investigation into the alleged “sexualized culture” of the Band, an investigation to be headed by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery. Not explained is why a second investigation into the alleged “sexualized culture” is needed if the first investigation into that same culture that resulted in the Glaros Report and the firing of Waters was so “thorough,” a word specifically used by the current administration. Montgomery herself has stated she will not reopen the first investigation that resulted in the Glaros Report. Not explained is how she can look into the alleged “sexualized culture” without reviewing the Glaros Report that supposedly documents that culture.

So the current administration “stands behind” (another phrase it frequently uses) the first investigation and the Glaros Report. But will have second investigation. That will look into the same subject matter as the first investigation. But will not look into the first investigation. Because the first investigation was so “thorough” that it does not need to be reviewed by a second investigation, even though that second investigation is supposed to cover the same subject matter.

Not even Monty Python could concoct a scheme that’s so preposterous. At least in the “Dead Parrot” sketch, Michael Palin tried to explain to John Cleese, however ridiculously, that the parrot was still alive. The current administration will not even do that, arrogantly responding to the increasing questions about the Glaros Report with a machine-like “Read the report.” As if somehow the current administration has the right to invoke papal infallibility.

No crisis management specialist worth the title would recommend handling the Glaros Report like this. Based on my own experience in crisis management and consultations with crisis managers, from the standpoint of the University and the Band, this situation has been handled in such a way as to do maximum damage to both. The current administration could not have damaged Ohio State more if it was trying. “A cabal of its enemies,” indeed.

Which brings me to my final issue:

3. Duty of Loyalty to Ohio State.

The President of The Ohio State University is not a king, nor a god, a potentate, a pope, an emir, sheikh, an emperor, or even a princeps. The president is an agent. Ultimately, so are the trustees. All are agents of the principal: The Ohio State University. In legal terms an agent is obligated to act in the best interests of the principal and only the best interests of the principal. As “Buckeye Battle Cry” says “Our honor defend, we will fight to the end for Ohio.”

Yet here there was no honor defended, and no one fought for Ohio, including and especially those whose duty it was to do so. The investigators at the Office of Compliance and Integrity did not have to find a violation of Title IX, but they chose to do so, straining and stretching, warping and twisting alleged facts into the Glaros Report. In so doing, the investigators at the Office of Compliance and Integrity appear to have been so determined to find a lack of the former that they sacrificed the latter. Even though a due diligence review of the Glaros Report would have revealed its many flaws, the current administration seems to have been almost eager to accept it as the gospel truth, and quickly used it as justification for use of the nuclear option – firing the best band director in the country.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was subjected by the Athenians to a sham trail after which he was sentenced to death. The Athenians only forced Socrates to drink hemlock. They did not drop a nuclear bomb on his house and wipe out him, his family and friends, and a large chunk of Athens. But that is in essence what the current administration has done with the Band. The Band, which used to have a spotless reputation and was old and unquestionably the best in the country under Jon Waters, has been badly damaged, perhaps irreparably, and its survival is at stake. The thousands alumni of the Band, including myself, have been libeled as sexual deviants. And all by an, at the very least, incompetent piece of investigation and writing in the Glaros Report.

It is difficult to see how any of the current administration’s actions here have been in the best interests of the University or even could have been contemplated as in the best interests of the University. Nothing – not the facts of the case, even as presented in the shoddy Glaros Report; not Title IX; not even and especially simple notions of justice and fairness – required the use of the Glaros Report to smear Waters and the Band.

So why was the Glaros Report handled this way? We have asked ourselves that, and there is no easy or pleasant answer. It does not make sense. One does not destroy a precious, beloved asset over a century in the making except through incompetence or malice. There is that choice again. It is not a pleasant choice, but one with which the current administration has presented us.

Incompetence or malice? We should not be asking ourselves this question. We should not be wondering about ulterior motives. And yet we are. The thousands of Band alumni, the tens of thousands of Ohio State alumni who have supported us over the years, should trust the current administration – with the president, the trustees, the deans, the provosts, the staff, to protect and act in the best interests of The Ohio State University.

That was clearly not done here. The current administration cannot even make a case that it was done here, and the more and more information comes out about the shoddy Glaros Report – especially the interviewed witnesses who denounce it as inaccurate – the more and more the report looks less like an investigation and more like an assassination. And when we dare to question it, the current administration treats us with arrogance and contempt.

The current administration’s actions here have broken the bond of trust that should exist between it and the alumni and students of The Ohio State University. At this point, nothing said by the current administration or those chosen by it, including Betty Montgomery, can be trusted as be an accurate representation of the facts about this affair. The only way to begin to rebuild that trust is for the current administration to admit its mistake and for the trustees to earn the word “trust” in their titles by retracting the Glaros Report and reinstating Jon Waters as band director.

Anything less and that broken trust will become irreparable.

Please provide me with confirmation that you received my letter. I request feedback from the Board of Trustees regarding this matter.

Truly yours,


Jeffrey R. Cox, Esq.
Attorney-at-law licensed in Indiana and California
Author, Rising Sun Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II.
JD 2003 – Indiana University-Indianapolis McKinney School of Law
BA National Security Policy Studies 1994 – The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University Marching Band (C-Row) – 1989-1993

cc: Chris Glaros
The Ohio State University
Assistant Vice President of Compliance Operations and Investigations
1534 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43201

Archie Griffin
ATTN: Sherri Moore
Longaberger Alumni House
2200 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43210

Betty Montgomery
6530 West Campus Oval
Suite 210
New Albany, Ohio 43054

David Axelrod
Huntington Center
41 South High Street
Suite 2400
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another Crusade in the offing?

The notoriously and irrationally pacifist Vatican has said military action against ISIS is "probably necessary":
For anyone familiar with the Vatican’s recent history of bitter opposition to any US use of military force in the Middle East, Rome’s increasingly vocal support for the recent American airstrikes in Iraq may seem, to say the least, a little disorienting.
On Monday, the Vatican’s previously tacit approval for the American intervention turned explicit, as two senior officials offered what amounts to a blessing through official communications channels.
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”

Lingua spoke plaintively of the ordeals faced by an estimated 100,000 Christian refugees from northern Iraq – many of whom, he said, are children – to account for his view of the American campaign.
“You can see these kids sleeping on the streets,” Lingua said, adding, “[there is so much] suffering.”
In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.”
Both Lingua and Tomasi went on to say that the international community needs to do more to unmask whoever’s supporting the radical Islamic State forces and to cut off its supply of arms, signaling reservations about widening the conflict.
At the same time, their endorsement of the American action, however grudging, was unmistakable. In light of recent history, it’s a sharp reversal of course.
Indeed. The Vatican's previous comments suggested it had forgotten that Christ's admonition to "turn the other cheek" was for individual, not state, conduct. Why the change now? Vatican reporter John L. Allen, Jr. explains:
So, what gives? What’s the significance of the Vatican offering the Obama administration this time around, if not a green light, certainly a clear yellow?
Three points seem most important.
First, there seems a small but telling shift in Vatican reflection on what constitutes a “just war.” Martino’s 2003 comment suggested that the leadership of the Catholic Church was only prepared to endorse a military incursion, however well-motivated, if it came with explicit international authorization, which in practice means the blessing of the United Nations.
The face-value way to read Monday’s comments from Lingua and Tomasi, however, is as a recognition that there are times when the situation is sufficiently urgent that anyone who steps in, with or without a formal U.N. resolution, can claim the moral high ground.
Even if full legitimacy under international law remains the ideal, in other words, there’s now an exception on the record in favor of “unilateral” action.
Second, the emerging Vatican line clearly establishes a limit to pacifism as an option within Catholic social teaching. In effect, the take-away is that there are times when the use of force is the only option left to serve the greater good.
Third, and most basically, what’s different about 2014 with respect to 2003 isn’t so much the theory but the facts on the ground
The Vatican is also seeing if its "50 years of ecumenical outreach," as Allen puts it, is worth anything by calling on Muslims to denounce and act against ISIS:
The Vatican called on Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbarity" and "unspeakable criminal acts" of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying a failure to do so would jeopardize the future of interreligious dialogue.

"The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill," said a statement from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released by the Vatican Aug. 12.

"All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and must denounce the invocation of religion to justify them," the statement said. "Otherwise, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility would remain to the interreligious dialogue patiently pursued in recent years?"

The document noted that the "majority of Muslim religious and political institutions" have opposed the Islamic State's avowed mission of restoring a caliphate, a sovereign Muslim state under Islamic law, to succeed the Ottoman Caliphate abolished after the founding of modern Turkey in 1923.

The Vatican listed some of the "shameful practices" recently committed by the "jihadists" of the Islamic State, which the U.S. government has classified as a terrorist group. Among the practices cited:
-- "The execrable practice of beheading, crucifixion and hanging of corpses in public places."

-- "The choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of tribute or exodus."

-- "The abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as war booty."

-- "The imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation," or female genital mutilation.
"No cause can justify such barbarity and certainly not a religion," the document said.
Ed Morrissey explains the stakes for Il Vaticano:
The Council’s question is a challenge to their partners, demanding some investment in the risks of peace and tolerance. Pope Francis’ last two predecessors both took a lot of criticism for their efforts to reach out in dialogue with Muslim leaders. Now it’s time to see whether those leaders and their successors have the same fortitude, or whether these have just been empty gestures all along. If after decades of engagement these leaders cannot bring themselves condemn the forced conversion, beheadings, ethnoreligious cleansing and flat-out genocides of ISIS, then it leaves very little value in continued engagement from the Vatican’s perspective.
I'm not holding out much hope for success here. Osama bin Laden wanted a clash of civilizations. ISIS is determined to make that happen.

It's about time

U.S. sending weapons directly to Kurdish forces, officials say.
The U.S. government has begun to funnel weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Iraq, deepening U.S. involvement in a conflict that the Obama administration had long sought to avoid.
The arms pipeline, which one former U.S. military official described as a trickle, opened in recent days as the Kurds’ pesh merga fighters have struggled to stem advances by Islamic State forces that have swept across northern Iraq.
The weapons are being supplied by the CIA, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the spy agency’s involvement.
“They need everything, especially heavy weapons,” said the former U.S. official, who is working closely with Kurdish leaders. While arms have started flowing to Kurdish forces near the city of Irbil, the official said Kurds in the vicinity of the key city of Sulaymaniyah have yet to receive any U.S. support.
The U.S. military has conducted a handful of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in recent days, but Kurdish leaders have complained that they are outgunned and unable to mount a counter-offensive without more American assistance.
The U.S. government has previously sold billions of dollars of weapons to the government of Iraq. Many of those American-supplied arms ended up in the hands of Islamic State fighters as they routed Iraqi army units across the country last month.
American officials have tried to expedite the transfer of arms from the government in Baghdad to Kurdish fighters in the north, but that process has gone slowly, prompting Washington to open a direct pipeline to the Kurds. The CIA declined to comment.

A U.S. military official said the Pentagon and State Department were discussing other possible ways to deliver weapons to the Kurds via open channels, but that they would need special legal authorization. Normally U.S. arms sales are restricted to sovereign or central governments.
With Iraq's central government on the verge of a complete collapse and the Kurds essentially controlling their own state, that may not be legal barrier much longer.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Title IX now presumes all men on campus guilty

In case you're wondering, yes I am watching very closely the slander of The Ohio State University Marching Band and the unjust firing of its director, Jon Waters. I will post a full response to it in time. For now, take a look at some examples of the "due process" now afforded men on college campuses, all in the name of Title IX:

A former University of Massachusetts Amherst student who said he was expelled last fall over allegations he sexually assaulted a female student is suing the school, saying administrators unfairly and mistakenly found him responsible and discriminated against him because he is a man.

The suit, filed Thursday in US District Court in Springfield, said the university violated Title IX, a federal law banning gender discrimination on college campuses, when the student “was met with overall hostility, dismissal and pre-judgment as ‘guilty’ before the decision was even rendered.” The suit was filed under the pseudonym John Doe to protect the student’s identity.

“The university displayed a distressing lack of due process and rush to judgment, undermining the most basic tenets of our judicial system,” the student’s lawyer, Andrew T. Miltenberg, said in an e-mail.

The suit demands that the student be paid damages “in an amount to be determined at trial” and that the university reverse its decision and expunge his disciplinary record.


The recent lawsuit against UMass Amherst contends that the male student, a Connecticut native and a sophomore at the time, met the female student, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, at a party in a friend’s dorm room.
During a night of drinking, playing card games, and dancing with friends, the two students became friendly and flirted, and she later invited him to her room to have sex, the lawsuit said. They had consensual sex, and the female student at no point showed signs of intoxication, according to the suit.
The next day, the female student could not remember what had happened, according to the lawsuit. At her roommate’s urging, the female student went to the campus health center for an evaluation. The following day, she filed a complaint with the dean of students’ office.
In her written complaint, she never called what happened harassment, assault, or rape, according to the lawsuit.
Three days later, the university told the male student he was under investigation for threatening behavior, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and violating community living standards, the lawsuit said. He was immediately ordered to move off campus and was barred from the premises except to attend classes, the lawsuit said.
Two months later, the university held a disciplinary hearing, the lawsuit said. But the male student had not been given copies of case documents beforehand, key pieces of evidence were not presented during the hearing, the male student was repeatedly interrupted, and questions he had were ignored, the suit said.
Two days later, the student was told he had been found “responsible” for three violations: “sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and community living standards,” and he would be expelled.
The student’s appeal was denied.
Drew University:
Kevin Parisi is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and barely weighs 120 pounds.
He’s hunched over and walking with a cane after back surgery earlier this year. He suffers from severe anxiety and digestive disorders, along with extreme allergies and panic attacks.
But in his junior year at Drew University in Madison, N.J., Parisi was accused of forcing a fellow student — one who is now a professional athlete — to have sex with him.
He was kicked off campus and placed under investigation. Three months went by before he was found "not responsible" in a campus disciplinary proceeding. Local police never filed charges against him.
Being accused, however, was enough to cause his world to collapse. Now he is suing Drew for assuming he was guilty from the outset and treating him as such until it was determined he was innocent.
He is also suing his accuser and her boyfriend at the time, claiming they concocted the false allegation to preserve their relationship. [...]

At issue is what happened one morning in September 2013 — even the date is disputed, with Parisi saying it was Sept. 24 and the university saying it was Sept. 10.
Parisi said in his lawsuit that he awoke at about 10 a.m. to find the woman, an acquaintance with whom he occasionally smoked cigarettes, sitting on his dorm-room desk.
She told him she had just broken up with her boyfriend. “She was completely calm," Parisi told the Examiner. He then asked if she wanted to join him in his bed.
She said "yes."
“There was no more talk of the boyfriend or the breakup after that," Parisi told the Examiner. She answered "yes" when he asked her multiple times if she wanted to have sex.
The woman is at least two inches taller than him and outweighs him by 20 pounds, Parisi said, claiming that he couldn't have forced her to do anything she didn't want to do.
Fearing for her relationship with her boyfriend, she told him not to tell anyone about their encounter, Parisi's lawsuit claimed. He agreed.
But she told someone else, a female friend who was a fellow Drew student, according to court documents.
Parisi said the woman visited him later the same day and again told Parisi not to tell anyone what had happened. Parisi again agreed.
But sometime later that day, she told her boyfriend, according to Parisi's lawsuit. He then accompanied her to file a sexual assault complaint against Parisi with campus police.
Parisi's lawsuit alleges the woman called him after she filed the complaint and told him not to worry because she would tell investigators that the sex was consensual, adding that her boyfriend had forced her to file the complaint. She never followed through, Parisi told the Examiner.
A day later, Parisi was summoned to meet with his resident adviser, who informed him that he would be barred from campus, except for his classes and the cafeteria, starting immediately.
He was also informed that the university had put in place a “no-contact order” between Parisi, his accuser and her boyfriend.
Parisi, who said he was too scared to tell his parents what was going on, moved in with a friend who had an off-campus apartment. Forced to sleep on a dirty kitchen floor, Parisi said his medical conditions became worse.
Parisi's lawsuit alleges that the woman also asked her friend to lie about their conversation the previous day. At some point after this conversation, the woman’s mother allegedly called the friend to scold her for not lying, the complaint says.
Even though Parisi was immediately kicked off campus, he told the Examiner that it wasn’t until a week later that he spoke to two university investigators. He did not immediately seek counsel because he was scared.
A week after the sexual encounter, according to Parisi, his accuser called him from a blocked phone number to apologize for “ruining” his life.
“She sounded like she was crying when she said it,” Parisi told the Examiner.
Parisi informed university police that she broke the no-contact order and that her complaint was false, as it was his understanding the order worked both ways. Drew University's response to Parisi's lawsuit, however, only states that it placed the order on Parisi.
Drew officials claimed they “did not impose sanctions” on the woman for violating the no-contact order. The university also didn't impose sanctions on her for allegedly filing a false claim of sexual misconduct.
A few days after filing the university complaint against Parisi, the woman's boyfriend called Madison police to report that Parisi had raped her, according to Parisi's complaint.
Even though the university’s policy is to conclude investigations into sexual assault claims “within 15 working days of the date of the complaint,” because the police had been called, the university suspended its investigation.
Parisi told the Examiner he found out about the matter being in police hands when his father called campus security several weeks after the initial encounter.
During this time, Parisi said his anxiety and digestive disorders got worse due to the stress of the situation, and he was taken to the emergency room for exhaustion and dehydration.
It was at this point that his parents finally learned what was happening. Parisi then moved back in with his family — 45 minutes away from campus.
After Parisi moved back in with his parents, he sought legal counsel, who discovered that his accuser and her boyfriend didn’t cooperate with Madison police following the initial rape accusation.
Finally, in late November, Drew University reopened its investigation of the matter under pressure from Parisi’s father and after Parisi's lawyer discovered that the two were not cooperating with police.
Around Nov. 30, 2013, the woman again asked her friend to lie about the sexual encounter with Parisi — this time to the university's Human Rights Committee, according to Parisi's complaint. The friend never did, according to Parisi's lawsuit.
Drew, according to Parisi’s lawsuit, never interviewed the accuser's friend during its investigation. The university, a private school of about 2,400 students, denied Parisi's assertion, saying the friend rejected repeated requests for a statement about the alleged assault.
On Dec. 17, 2013 — nearly three months after the incident — Drew University informed Parisi he had been found “not responsible” for violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy.
A month later, the Madison Police Department sent an email to Drew saying it found no wrongdoing on Parisi's part, according to Parisi's lawsuit, which was not disputed by the university.
Why is this happening? Title IX:
This reversal of one of the bedrock principles of the American justice system stems from a bizarre interpretation of the Title IX provision in the Education Amendments of 1972 designed to protect women from discrimination.
The interpretation has been forced on universities by the Obama administration, and it thrives on many American college campuses, thanks to politically correct cultures that take women's words at face value while assuming the worst about men.
Elizabeth Price Foley, a Florida International University law professor, described the problem with the interpretation of Title IX as benefiting women at the expense of men in a “he said/she said” situation.
“The Department of Education under the Obama administration has adopted shockingly broad new guidelines under Title IX that not only encompass off-campus behavior — that should be no business of a college or university — but also require the use of a low ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard for sexual assault claims,” Price Foley told the Examiner.
“The individuals who hear these claims are generally predisposed to find in favor of a female accuser, and young men are sometimes severely punished by colleges and universities based on little more than a bare accusation made by someone whose memory of events is questionable,” she added.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I hope it works better than it did for Lon Nol

The US has reportedly begun bombing ISIS targets in Iraq in the area of Mount Sinjar, where Yazidis are cut off by ISIS and are slowly dying of starvation and thirst. The US is reportedly also making air drops of supplies to the Yazidis. The Pentagon is denying both. Officially, anyway.

I suppose it's a promotion

From his normal position as a just-plain idiot: Jimmy Carter is rightfully branded a useful idiot of Hamas by Andrew McCarthy:
Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson have jointly penned a characteristically appalling op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine assigning primary blame to Israel for the war in the Middle East. The key to ending the violence, they contend, is for the United States and the European Union to recognize the Hamas terrorist organization as a legitimate “political force.”
According to the authors, the latest outbreak of fighting was triggered neither by Hamas’s murder of three Israeli teenagers nor its firing of thousands of missiles into Israel. Rather, they proceed from the premise that Israel is the culprit, for what Carter and Robinson deceitfully describe as:
[Its] deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.
This surely reflects Obama administration thinking, as well. Obama’s presidency has aptly been called the second (and now third) Carter term — a downward spiral from the shambles made of American foreign policy in the late seventies. Mrs. Robinson is the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, whose pro-terrorist sympathies and anti-Israel animus were ably chronicled several years back by Michael Rubin. (See “Mary Robinson, War Criminal?”) In 2001, she led the notorious Durban conference (the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Zenophobia and Related Intolerance”) that was so rabidly anti-Semitic the American delegation stormed out. Yet, eight years later under a new, hard-Left administration, there stood Robinson in the White House being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Of course, anyone who grasps the details of the “unity government” and Hamas’s strategy in agreeing to it quickly realizes it is the antithesis of “a promising move toward peace.” In fact, Hamas is simply applying the Hezbollah model to the Palestinian territories. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization — Iran’s forward jihadist militia and oft-time Hamas mentor — agreed to participate in a unity government while maintaining the independence of its jihadist military and intelligence apparatus. That is exactly what Hamas has done.
As this excellent analysis by Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute relates, Hamas’s agreement to join its rival Fatah in a unity government does not relinquish control of either its 20,000-strong jihadist force, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or its internal intelligence and security apparatus. These forces are already far stronger than the Palestinian Authority’s security forces under the control of Fatah (which Hamas routed and ejected from Gaza in 2007).
Note, moreover, the stealthy hand of Iran in the mix. Hamas has had to come crawling back to the mullahs, hat in hand. After angering Tehran (and thus losing much of its funding and weapons support) by jumping on the Sunni side of the Syrian civil war, Hamas saw its preferred patron, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian regime, overthrown. The terrorist organization now finds itself opposed by the new anti-Brotherhood government in Cairo, and thus on the outs with that government’s backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Isolated more than ever, Hamas is working hard to get back in Iran’s good graces. Its leaders conducted extensive meetings with top Iranian and Hezbollah officials prior to agreeing to cede governing authority over Gaza to the unity government. Carter and Robinson claim that this was a “major concession.” In truth, it was a coup, as Iran’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pact attests.
Ah, Iran. Jimmy Carter's biggest and most enduring accomplishment.
By taking on the appearance of a political party but maintaining its own, extra-governmental, Iran-backed military and intelligence force, Hamas gets the best of all terrorist worlds. Its participation in government enables anti-Israel Leftists like Carter and Robinson to echo claims by Islamic-supremacist strongmen like Turkey’s Recep Erdogan that Hamas is just a political party; yet, its jihadist arsenal allows it to intimidate any Palestinian opposition while continuing to terrorize Israel.
Equally laughable is Carter and Robinson’s contention that, by its agreement to the unity government, Hamas should be vicariously understood as assenting to the “technocratic” government’s agreement to the three Quartet conditions: “nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements.” In reality, as the war makes clear, the unity government is a ploy that enables Palestinians — who broadly and materially support Hamas’s jihad – to continue seeking Israel’s destruction while pretending to comply with the conditions on which the U.S. and Europe rely (nodding and winking) to rationalize billions in Palestinian aid.
Carter and Robinson are desperate to derive or otherwise manufacture Hamas’s purported agreement to the Quartet conditions because Hamas has made quite clear that it will never actually agree to renounce the jihad and accept Israel’s right to exist. The authors would cut Hamas slack on this score because, they say, the organization cannot be expected to “cooperate in its own demise.”
Even by loathsome Carter-Robinson standards, the assertion is breathtaking. The operating assumption of their op-ed is that Israel must cooperate in its own demise by ceasing to defend itself and abandoning the blockades absent which Hamas would quickly acquire even more deadly mass-destruction weapons. Furthermore, Hamas’ raison d’être is the annihilation of Israel by terrorist jihad; so by the authors’ reasoning, it could never be expected to agree to non-violent coexistence with a Jewish state since that would amount to the demise of Hamas.
Without the demise of Hamas, there is no chance for peace in the Middle East. It will require tuning out terror’s useful idiots.
Most intelligent people tuned out Jimmy Carter long ago. It's almost a prerequisite for being intelligent.

Comprehensive immigration reform versus the Ebola virus

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is far, far worse than most of us realize. Richard Fernandez provides a chilling graphic of the skyrocketing number of cases:

This is yet another instance in which the national delusion that is the Obama presidency comes up against the hard reality of nature:
[T]he World Health Organization is meeting to decide whether the experimental drug Zmapp should be provided to the stricken African countries. Nothing like demanding a uncertified, unneeded product created by a morally defective capitalist pharmaceutical system to save the world. The LA Times reports:
[T]he World Health Organization said it was convening a panel of medical ethicists early next week to consider whether experimental drugs should be more widely released. 
A decision to allow two American health workers infected in Liberia to have access to an experimental treatment — while dozens of African doctors and nurses have perished — has ignited a controversy over the ethics of the decision, which reportedly sidestepped Liberian health regulations.
If the serum proves their last hope they’ll first demand it as a ‘right’– then commandeer it if necessary.  Necessity knows no bounds. But that cuts both ways. There may be no serum other than a few experimental vials. Reality doesn’t give a damn about Liberian health regulations nor WHO edicts nor speeches by president Obama. It cares about facts.
About who invested in medical research, and who didn’t; about who has good epidemic controls systems and which don’t; about which country have functioning border controls and which care about ‘immigration reform’.  And there isn’t any serum in production, then there’s no serum. The problem is that since our leaders have messed up the facts, they can’t fix things with speeches.
War, Famine and Pestilence all obey the laws of physics. The media, government and the academy have heretofore cared about the laws of political correctness and the tyranny of appearances.  Now we get to see who wins. In recent years it has become fashionable to claim the Narrative trumps reality. Yet you can’t bribe viruses, can’t “hide” infectious victims, can’t appease dictators and you can’t print money. As I’ve written many times before, nobody beats arithmetic.
Not even Saudi Arabia. If the Saudis don’t act rationally then the Haj can become one giant virus distribution system, their K street lobby notwithstanding. If Obama doesn’t close the border, if something can come along, something will come along.  Something like Ebola, which if unchecked will teach the Boko Haram and ISIS that chopping off people’s heads and having sex with hundreds of kidnapped African schoolgirls isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The narrative of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is often given a mystical interpretation. But it can be viewed as a straightforward secular warning against folly. According to Billy Graham, the First Horseman is the great liar, the false prophet, the anti-Christ.  But even if you’re not a Billy Graham fan, and even if you hate him, it’s easy to see how a venal government, a debased culture, a system of self-deception can lead to famine, pestilence and war.
Corrupting the information store will get you every time.
We had the Plague of Justinian. We had the Black Death. Now we have the Ebola virus. Up against "comprehensive immigration reform." We'll see who wins.

The Third Reich saw itself as "peace-loving" too.

The Perception Gap Between China and Its Neighbors: China’s self-image is enormously different from how it is perceived by other regional actors:
China’s ascendance in world affairs is one of the most significant and challenging issues in today’s international system. This underscores the importance of understanding China’s role in the world. However, when people debate about how to understand China and its policies, they often overlook the importance of perception, especially how Chinese see themselves and their relations with the rest of the world. In fact, there exists a huge perception gap between China’s self-image and how the outside world sees China. Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, used to say that he was sad to see “the gulf in understanding” between Chinese and Westerners. If we examine China’s recent territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, we can clearly see such a “gulf in understanding” between China and its neighbors. In fact, it’s more than a gulf; the perception gap has grown as wide as the Pacific Ocean.
Where people outside China tend to see China’s recent foreign policy behavior, such as the actions in South China Sea, as aggressive and bullying, many Chinese genuinely believe that China is a peace-loving country and see themselves as the victims. They believe that China’s neighbors have long been violating China’s sovereignty, rights, and interests inside the “nine-dashed line” in the South China Sea. For example, the Chinese have routinely used a three-phrase narrative to describe these violations in South China Sea: “海域被瓜分” (water territories have been carved up), “岛礁被侵占” (islands and reefs have been occupied), and “资源被掠夺” (resources have been plundered). A Google search of these phrases gives over 293,000 results. Chinese media has detailed reports on the foreign theft, such as how many islands and reefs are occupied by Vietnam and the Philippines and the number of oil and gas wells drilled by foreign companies. Many people also believe that there is an international coalition conspiring against China, with the United States facilitating this bloc. Thus, they see China as the victim: one country against many.
Sure sounds like the Chinese government's use of loaded phrases like "water territories have been carved up," “islands and reefs have been occupied," and “resources have been plundered" to justify its “nine-dashed line” has more to do with that perception gap than anything else. China has made its bed here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Welcome to the 1930s. Again.

1939. Again.
Poland said that a renewed buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border raises the specter of a possible invasion, as President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to prepare a response to U.S. and European sanctions.
“Unfortunately, Russia has restored its combat-readiness on the Ukraine border with more than a dozen battalion-sized combat groups,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, told TVN24 BiS television yesterday, while giving no indication that an invasion was imminent. “There’s a lot of equipment. This is the sort of thing one does to exert pressure or to invade.”
Putin has showed no sign of backing down over Ukraine since the U.S. and the European Union tightened sanctions last week, with Russia massing forces on its neighbor’s border in the biggest military buildup since troops were withdrawn from the area in May.

Ukraine expressed alarm about a new deployment of Russian forces on its frontier as it pressed an offensive against pro-Russian separatists. There’s “active combat taking place” on the outskirts of Donetsk, with two civilians killed, the city council said on its website last night.
The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is steaily (sic) worsening, John Ging, director of humanitarian operations for the United Nations, said at an emergency meeting of the Security Council yesterday in New York. He said the fighting has killed at least 1,367 people -- both civilians and combatants -- and wounded 4,087 since mid-April.

About 3.9 million people live in areas directly affected by violence and face imminent security threats, while more than 1,000 people flee conflict zones every day, said Ging, who cited a Russian estimate that 740,000 Ukrainians have crossed into Russia since the beginning of the year.
Putin said the government has proposed measures to retaliate against sanctions. Russia may limit or ban flights over Siberia by European carriers bound for Asia as a response to sanctions levied against the country, the Moscow-based Vedomosti newspaper reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t identify.
“Political instruments of pressure on the economy are unacceptable, they contradict all norms and rules,” Putin said yesterday during a meeting with Alexey Gordeev, governor of the Voronezh region near Ukraine. Any retaliation “must be done extremely carefully to support producers and avoid harming consumers.”
Numbers of troops?
Russia has deployed 45,000 soldiers, 160 tanks and as many as 1,360 armored vehicles, a Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, told reporters in Kiev yesterday. There are also 192 Russian warplanes and 137 military helicopters, as well as artillery systems and multiple rocket launchers, he said.
Changing and conflicting estimates of the Russian troop presence near Ukraine depend in part on different assumptions.
While estimates cited by Ukraine include about 20,000 Russian forces in Crimea, those by the U.S. and NATO don’t.
On that basis, Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters yesterday that Russia still has “north of 10,000 troops” on Ukraine’s border, and NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said in a posting on Twitter that the number is about 20,000.
“The numbers aren’t the key metric here,” Kirby said. “What matters is that they continue to reinforce these units, that they are very capable and very ready across what we call combined arms capabilities -- armor, artillery, air defense, special forces, and that they are closer to the border than they were in the spring.”

Ukraine’s armed forces are pushing ahead with their campaign after the U.S. and the EU increased pressure on Putin over his backing of the rebels with an expansion of sanctions. Last month’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which the U.S. says was probably caused by a missile fired by the insurgents, has helped harden attitudes against Russia. The rebels and Putin’s government blame Ukrainian forces.
While Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the conflict, the U.S. and its EU allies blame Putin for failing to rein in the insurgency and stop the war.
Don't worry. I'm sure, Obama, Jarrett, Kerry, and their Smart Diplomacy will handle it.

Why the threat from Ebola in the US is overrated

From "Associate Professor, lab rat (microbiologist/infectious disease epidemiologist) and occasional blogger [and] full-time nerd" Tara C. Smith:
It’s odd to see otherwise pretty rational folks getting nervous about the news that the American Ebola patients are being flown back to the United States for treatment. “What if Ebola gets out?” “What if it infects the doctors/pilots/nurses taking care of them?” “I don’t want Ebola in the US!”
Friends, I have news for you: Ebola is *already* in the US.
OK, um, not the most comforting. But there's more:
Ebola is a virus with no vaccine or cure. [Still not making me feel better -- JC] As such, any scientist who wants to work with the live virus needs to have biosafety level 4 facilities (the highest, most secure labs in existence–abbreviated BSL4) available to them. We have a number of those here in the United States, and people are working with many of the Ebola types here. Have you heard of any Ebola outbreaks occurring here in the US? Nope. These scientists are highly trained and very careful, just like people treating these Ebola patients and working out all the logistics of their arrival and transport will be.
Second, you might not know that we’ve already experienced patients coming into the US with deadly hemorrhagic fever infections. We’ve had more than one case of imported Lassa fever, another African hemorrhagic fever virus with a fairly high fatality rate in humans (though not rising to the level of Ebola outbreaks). One occurred in Pennsylvania; another in New York just this past April; a previous one in New Jersey a decade ago. All told, there have been at least 7  cases of Lassa fever imported into the United States–and those are just the ones we know about, who were sick enough to be hospitalized, and whose symptoms and travel history alerted doctors to take samples and contact the CDC. It’s not surprising this would show up occasionally in the US, as Lassa causes up to 300,000 infections per year in Africa.
How many secondary cases occurred from those importations? None. Like Ebola, Lassa is spread human to human via contact with blood and other body fluids. It’s not readily transmissible or easily airborne, so the risk to others in US hospitals (or on public transportation or other similar places) is quite low.
The upshot?
Ebola is a terrible disease. It kills many that it infects. ["Many?" It kills 90% of those it infects. -- JC] It *can* spread fairly rapidly when precautions are not carefully adhered to: when cultural practices such as ritual washing of bodies are continued despite warnings, or when needles are reused because of a lack of medical supplies, or when gloves and other protective gear are not available, or when patients are sharing beds because they are brought to hospitals lacking even such basics as enough beds or clean bedding for patients. But if all you know of Ebola is from The Hot Zone or Outbreak, well, that’s not really what Ebola looks like. I interviewed colleagues from Doctors without Borders a few years back on their experiences with an Ebola outbreak, and they noted:
“As for the disease, it is not as bloody and dramatic as in the movies or books. The patients mostly look sick and weak. If there is blood, it is not a lot, usually in the vomit or diarrhea, occasionally from the gums or nose. The transmission is rather ordinary, just contact with infected body fluids. It does not occur because of mere proximity or via an airborne route (as in Outbreak if I recall correctly). The outbreak control organizations in the movies have no problem implementing their solutions once these have been found. In reality, we know what needs to be done, the problem is getting it to happen. This is why community relations are such an issue, where they are not such a problem in the movies.”
So, sure, be concerned. But be rational as well. Yes, we know all too well that our public health agencies can fuck up. I’m not saying there is zero chance of something going wrong. But it is low. As an infectious disease specialist (and one with an extreme interest in Ebola), I’m way more concerned about influenza or measles many other “ordinary” viruses than I am about Ebola. Ebola is exotic and its symptoms can be terrifying, but also much easier to contain by people who know their stuff.
Makes me feel better, I guess. It's not that I don't trust Dr. Smith, but that I don't trust anything connected to this current administration to be handled with any degree of competence.