Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How the World Turned Against Israel

I'll be teaching all day, so in light of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech tonight, here's a repost of Joshua Muravchik's, Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel.

More later...

Israel and the Democrats

From Bret Stephens, at WSJ, "The Democratic Party is on the cusp of abandoning the state of Israel. That’s a shame, though less for Israel than it is for the Democrats":

Kerry Israel photo Offensive_Remarks_zpsephccmzw.jpg

The Democrats’ historic support for the Jewish state has always been what’s best about the party. The understanding not only that Jews are entitled to a state, but also that a liberal democracy is entitled to defend itself—robustly and sometimes pre-emptively—against illiberal enemies, is why the party of Harry Truman, Scoop Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan commands historic respect.

But that party is evaporating. A 2014 Pew survey found that just 39% of liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to Israel than they are to the Palestinians. That compares with 77% of conservative Republicans. During last summer’s war in Gaza, Pew found liberals about as likely to blame Israel as they were to blame Hamas for the violence.

That means the GOP is now the engine, the Democrats at best a wheel, in U.S. support for Israel. The Obama administration is the kill switch. Over the weekend, a defensive White House put out a statement noting the various ways it has supported Israel. It highlighted the 1985 U.S.-Israel free-trade agreement and a military assistance package concluded in 2007. When Barack Obama must cite the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as evidence of his pro-Israel bona fides, you know there is a problem.

True, there is also the administration’s financial support for the Iron Dome missile-defense system, along with votes at the U.N.’s General Assembly opposing the usual anti-Israel resolutions. The administration and its congressional lemmings are nothing if not heroic when it comes to easy votes.

But this week Democrats don’t have the luxury of an easy vote. Will they boycott the Israeli prime minister’s speech? Will they insist the administration put any deal it reaches with Iran to a vote in Congress? Will they support a fresh round of sanctions, vehemently opposed by the president, if no deal is reached?

The administration is now trying to dodge all this by waging an unprecedented campaign of personal vilification against Benjamin Netanyahu (of a sort they would never dream of waging against, say, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan ), accusing him of seeking political gain for himself in the U.S. at Mr. Obama’s expense.

Yet the calendar chiefly dictating the timing of Mr. Netanyahu’s speech was set by John Kerry , not John Boehner , when the secretary of state decided that the U.S. and Iran would have to conclude a framework deal by the end of this month. Mr. Netanyahu is only guilty of wanting to speak to Congress before it is handed a diplomatic fait accompli that amounts to a serial betrayal of every promise Mr. Obama ever made to Israel.

Among those betrayals...
Keep reading.

Cartoon Credit: William Warren.

Barack Obama and the War Against the Jews

From David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, at FrontPage Magazine.

And read the pamphlet here, in pdf.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee — March 2, 2015

Here's the prime minister's speech from yesterday:



Andrea Tantaros: 'Is This White House Anti-Semitic?'

Watch: "Fox’s Andrea Tantaros Doubles Down on Charge that Obama Is ‘Anti-Semitic’" (via FAM Blog).

Tensions Mount Ahead of Netanyahu Speech

At WSJ, "Before Key Speech, Netanyahu Hails U.S. Ties":
WASHINGTON—American and Israeli leaders publicly traded words of admiration Monday, but tensions surrounding U.S. talks with Iran over its nuclear program mounted on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s speech to Congress, where he will urge lawmakers to thwart President Barack Obama ’s top foreign-policy initiative.

As both sides searched for conciliatory language, Mr. Netanyahu described the U.S. as “family,” and Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, emphasized America’s “bedrock commitments” to the state of Israel.

But the rhetorical embraces, in speeches before 16,000 members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, came as Mr. Netanyahu prepared to make his biggest attempt to scuttle a potential deal with Iran. The Israeli leader, who opposes any Iranian nuclear-enrichment capability, laid bare his distrust of the Obama administration’s effort. He said the issue was a matter of U.S. “security,” but of Israeli “survival.”

He added that “Israel and the United States agree that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but we disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama said Monday there remains “substantial disagreement” between his administration and Mr. Netanyahu. As world powers resumed talks with Iran in Geneva in hopes of meeting an end-of-March deadline, Mr. Obama also said the U.S. wants a final agreement requiring a partial freeze of Iran’s nuclear program for at least 10 years...
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Netanyahu's Speech and the Lessons of Culture

From Roger Kimball, at Pajamas, "The Lessons of Culture, Benjamin Netanyahu Edition":
Here we are, on the eve of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to both houses of the United States Congress. The Obama administration is acting like a petulant twelve year old  — how dare the prime minister of Israel come to the United States and speak before Congress when he wasn’t invited by us? — and the rancid Pelosi-Reid contingent of the Democratic Party has promised to take their marbles and go home: they won’t even listen to what he has to say.

The ostensible issue is Iran, with which the Obama administration is currently capitula– er, negotiating. The presence of a Jew, and a Jew from Israel, in the nation’s capital (and Capitol) is sure to offend the mullahs in Tehran, and it might just upset the delicate diplomacy by which Obama privately assures that Iran gets nuclear weapons while publicly pretending to prevent that eventuality.

Back in 2001, when Barack Obama was in the Illinois state Senate and still battening on the wisdom of the “Reverend” Jeremiah (“God-Damn America”) Wright, Netanyahu was more forthright, and more percipient, than most politicians about the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Those attacks, he said, were part of “a war to reverse the triumph of the West.”

Netanyahu was right then, and he is still right. For the prime minister of Israel, it is an existential — a life-or-death — issue. (Actually, it is an existential issue for the entire world, as Ilan Berman shows in his forthcoming book Iran’s Deadly Ambition.) The tiny, dynamic country of Israel is surrounded by Islamic states of varying degrees of radicalism, monstrousness, and doctrinal identity; nearly all are united in hating Israel and plotting for its destruction.

“A war to reverse the triumph of the West.” For Netanyahu, and for you, I hope, Dear Reader, that is a bad thing.

For Barack Obama?

I cannot answer the latter question with any confidence. But as I contemplate the long war to “reverse the triumph of the West,” I find it sobering indeed to contemplate the deeds of the Obama administration around the world. Its naivete, fueled by its arrogance, poisonous racialism, and allegiance to “progressive” ideology make it a powerfully corrosive instrument of cultural dissolution and political instability.

Behind Netanyahu’s comment about the “triumph of the West” was a recognition of how long in coming, and how painfully won, that triumph had been. There was also, I fancy, an appreciation of how disastrous the alternatives are.

Anyone looking for an illustration doesn’t have far to seek.

If your stomach is too delicate to watch the many snuff videos flooding the internet of people being beheaded, pushed off tall buildings, stoned, flogged, or incinerated, take a look at this depiction of Islamic State legates reading from the Koran and smashing priceless 3000-year-old sculptures in aMosul museum.

A few years ago, in an essay on “The Lessons of Culture” in Future Tense: The Lessons of Culture in an Age of Upheaval, I had occasion to quote Netanyahu on the war “to reverse the triumph of the West.” Since that war has been proceeding apace, I thought it might interest some readers to revisit an edited version of that essay as the world prepares for the prime minister’s address to Congress. I begin with these hors d’oeuvres...
Keep reading.

Are We Really Surprised Democrats Who Booed Jerusalem Will Boycott Netanyahu's Speech?

Nope, not surprised at all.

See Katie Pavlich, at Town Hall:
During the 2012 DNC convention in Charlotte, Democrats in attendance loudly booed after God and Jerusalem were placed back into the Party platform after being deliberately left out. I remember because I was there.

Just two weeks ago, President Obama referred to Jews murdered in Paris by an Islamic terrorist as some "folks in a deli."

Are we really surprised Democrats are boycotting Netanyahu's speech because Obama didn't approve it? Hardly. After all, they're part of the Party that booed God and Jerusalem as Israel's capitol city.
The party of hate. The video's at the link.

Emergency Committee for Israel: 'Where's Hillary?'

Via Mary Katharine Ham, at Hot Air, "Video: First TV ad against Hillary asks her the question the press won’t."



Genevieve Morton Body Paint

Via Theo Spark.



'Centrist' Democrats Ready to Strike Against 'Elizabeth Warren Wing' of the Party

They're all a bunch of commie bastards, IMO.

But this is interesting in illustrated how the idiot Dems are freakin' over their ideological extremism heading into 2016.

At the Hill, "Centrist Dems ready strike against Warren wing":
Centrist Democrats are gathering their forces to fight back against the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of their party, fearing a sharp turn to the left could prove disastrous in the 2016 elections.

For months, moderate Democrats have kept silent, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) barbed attacks against Wall Street, income inequality and the “rigged economy” thrilled the base and stirred desire for a more populist approach.

But with the race for the White House set to begin, centrists are moving to seize back the agenda.

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

"I have great respect for Sen. Warren — she's a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side."

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, "it's going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition."

"To the extent that Republicans beat up on workers and Democrats beat up on employers — I'm not sure that offers voters much of a vision," Peters said.

Warren’s rapid ascent has highlighted growing tensions in the Democratic Party about its identity in the post-Obama era.

Caught in the crossfire is the party’s likely nominee in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose husband took the party in a decisively centrist direction during his eight years in office.

Former President Bill Clinton’s rise within the party had been aided by groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, which believed that previous presidential nominees including Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis had run on platforms that were too far to the left, resulting in crushing defeats.

But the tensions from those long-ago fights are now tangible again. Progressives distrust Hillary Clinton and are pushing Warren to challenge her from the left in the presidential election, though Warren has repeatedly rebuffed their pleas.

Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose said in a statement to The Hill that “Warren is a relentless fighter for priorities that will help level the playing field for middle-class families.”

Publicly, Democratic lawmakers are hesitant to discuss a growing rift...
Via Hot Air and Memeorandum.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Vile Israel-Hating Professor Stephen Walt Cheers Netanyahu 'Blowing Up' the U.S.-Israel 'Special Relationship'

From the reviled co-author of the "Israel Lobby," at Foreign Policy, "Bibi Blows Up the Special Relationship":
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be the only person who was looking forward to his visit to the United States this week. House Speaker John Boehner, who cooked up the invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, has now been exposed as a narrow-minded partisan who put his party’s fortunes ahead of broader diplomatic interests. The White House is supremely ticked off, with National Security Advisor Susan Rice terming the visit “destructive” to the U.S.-Israel relationship and Secretary of State John Kerry pointedly reminding people of how bad Netanyahu’s past advice has been. A chorus of reliably “pro-Israel” pundits — including some prominent members of Israel’s national security establishment — appear to share Rice’s view (if not her choice of words) and have denounced Netanyahu’s refusal to reschedule in no uncertain terms.

Even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the “leviathan among lobbies,” seems to be unhappy about the whole business. Sure, it’s giving Netanyahu a prominent platform at its policy conference this week and is reportedly twisting arms on Capitol Hill to keep more Democrats from boycotting Netanyahu’s speech, but AIPAC appears to have been blindsided by the invitation itself, and partisan wrangling over Israel goes against its entire political playbook.

But in point of fact, AIPAC and other key organizations in the lobby have only themselves to blame. The contretemps taking place now is at least partly the result of the policies they have supported and the tactics they have employed over many years. It’s not the end of U.S. support for Israel, but it may well mark an important and ultimately positive shift in what has become a dysfunctional — even bizarre — relationship.It’s not the end of U.S. support for Israel, but it may well mark an important and ultimately positive shift in what has become a dysfunctional — even bizarre — relationship.

To be sure, a small part of the problem lies with Netanyahu himself. He seems to get on well with Vladimir Putin, but his bombastic and self-righteous moralism grates on most of the foreign leaders who have had to deal with him. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called him a liar, and then-President Bill Clinton once responded to Bibi’s antics by exploding, “Who’s the fucking superpower here?” Netanyahu’s lack of chemistry with President Barack Obama is well known, of course, yet Netanyahu has done little to try to win the U.S. president over. Instead, he or his cabinet ministers have repeatedly treated Obama and other U.S. officials — including Vice President Joe Biden and Kerry — with a degree of disdain bordering on contempt.

But as Matt Duss notes in an important piece in Tablet, the real divide is about policy, not personality. The flap over Netanyahu’s speech is exposing what has long been obvious but is usually denied by politicians: U.S. and Israeli interests overlap on some issues but they are not identical. It might be in Israel’s interest for the United States to insist on zero Iranian enrichment and for the United States to go to war to secure that goal, but such an attack is definitely not in America’s interest. Instead, America’s strategic position would be enhanced if it could get a diplomatic deal that kept Iran from going nuclear and opened the door to a more constructive relationship.

Similarly, though Netanyahu and his government remain staunchly opposed to a genuine two-state solution with the Palestinians, that outcome would be very good for the United States. It is definitely not in America’s interest for its closest ally in the Middle East to deny millions of Palestinian Arabs either full equality in Israel proper or any semblance of political rights in the West Bank, and it hurts U.S. interests every time Israel launches another punishing attack on the captive population in Gaza, inevitably causing hundreds of civilian deaths. Such actions — conducted with U.S. weaponry and subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer — do enormous damage to America’s image in the Middle East and have long been a staple ingredient in the jihadi narrative.

Similarly, it might be in Israel’s interest to have its own nuclear deterrent, but having to turn a blind eye to Tel Aviv’s undeclared arsenal makes Washington look hypocritical and undermines its broader effort to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The point is that no two states have the same interests, and that is as true of the United States and Israel as it is of America’s relations with many other democracies.

The controversy over Netanyahu’s visit has also exposed a core of resentment that the power of the lobby has long suppressed...
Still more.

Notice how it's all Israel's fault. The conflict in U.S.-Israel relations, the absence of peace in the Middle East and "human rights" for those angelic "Palestinians" --- and frankly, Iran's nuclear proliferation regime itself. And notice the "Israel First" canards Walt slathers throughout the piece, including the idea that it would be in "Israel’s interest for the United States to insist on zero Iranian enrichment and for the United States to go to war to secure that goal." The Jewish tail wagging the American dog. Got it. And that blood libel of the so-called "punishing" attacks on Gaza's "captive population," you know, the same population that Hamas throws up as human shields every chance it gets? Priceless.

Anything that destroys the power of "the lobby" is good. You know, if Jews run an influential interest group in Washington anything that weakens that cabal ought to be cheered. "Who's the fucking superpower here"? Conspiracy much?

Professor Stephen Walt is a puny stinking wretch of a man, a seriously vile and disgusting anti-Semite who's never found a Jew-hating slur he didn't like. Screw him and the far-left BDS camel he rode in on.

Nikki Lund

Some babetastic Rule 5 blogging.

At Egotastic!, "Nikki Lund Bikini Pictures Heat Up the Chilly Malibu Shoreline."

Be Prepared on #ObamaCare

From James Capretta and Yuval Levin, at the Weekly Standard, "Be Prepared: How to respond if the Court ends Obamacare ­subsidies":
Few people expect much to happen on health care in the 114th Congress, certainly not President Obama. He plans to continue bending and twisting his interpretation of Obamacare’s many complex provisions as necessary to keep it afloat and to avoid dealing at all with opposition to the law among the public or the Republicans who now run Congress.

But King v. Burwell could upend the president’s plans. That’s the case, now on the Supreme Court’s docket, contesting the legality of subsidy payments to people in states that chose not to build their own Obamacare insurance exchanges. A decision against the government’s provision of the subsidies would undermine the law in the 37 affected states and, in the process, disrupt insurance for millions of people who signed up for coverage on the assumption that the subsidies would be available to them.

The blame for the mess that would surely ensue should rightfully fall on the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. Congressional Democrats wrote the statute on their own, and the administration has enforced it. If the Court rules that the statute was written carelessly and enforced lawlessly, Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves.

But don’t expect them to take responsibility. If the administration loses the case, Obama is sure to denounce the ruling as an ideological power grab by the Court and then to demand that Republicans in Congress fix it, with no strings attached. Further, the administration will almost certainly develop a workaround for the states, allowing them to designate and use the federal exchange as if it had been built by the states. This would give administration officials a justification to continue paying federal subsidies in the states agreeing to the workaround, even if it were legally questionable.

It will be tempting, under these circumstances, for Republicans in Congress to stand back and watch events unfold rather than step into the breach with a plan of action. After all, they had nothing to do with writing or implementing Obamacare, so why should they have to offer a solution? Moreover, many conservatives will see the loss of federal subsidies as the first step in the full unwinding of the law. Why on earth would the GOP want to step in?

What exactly would happen in the aftermath of a Court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs is certainly unpredictable. It is possible, perhaps, that the public would be so disgusted with the lawlessness of the administration that opinion would swing in the GOP’s favor, tempting the party to do nothing while the administration is forced to scramble to pick up the pieces. But it seems more likely that a combination of the president demanding a simple fix and public concern about the fate of the several million people with disrupted insurance arrangements in the affected states would put at least some of the pressure for a fix on Republicans.

And the pressure could be especially acute on Republican governors in the affected states. They are the ones who will be presiding over insurance markets that could unravel entirely. If the president offers them an easy route to building a “state” exchange, and there is no prospect of an alternative coming from Congress, then it seems probable that many Republican leaders in these states will succumb to the pressure coming from both the administration and the public to fix the mess by adopting state exchanges. Several Republican governors have stated that they would not accept such a “solution,” but as we have seen with the lure of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, the pressure to do so could ultimately be hard to resist.

If events were to unfold this way, it would, of course, be politically disastrous for the GOP. But it would also mean the party had missed a huge opportunity. Obamacare is being fully implemented nationwide. There will be some 10 or 11 million people getting insurance through the exchanges, and another several million more getting covered through Medicaid. The longer implementation proceeds, the harder it will be to undo. If the Court strikes a significant blow to the law, it will be perhaps the last opportunity for Republicans to begin moving health care policy in a very different direction in the Obama years. Despite the political risks, the GOP should recognize and take advantage of such an opportunity...
Keep reading.

Placentia Teacher Hangs Herself in Classroom

This is sad.

At the O.C. Register, "'Right away we knew something really horrible had happened': Photography teacher ID'd as woman found hanged at El Dorado High in Placentia."

The woman, Jillian Jacobson, a popular photography teacher, left no suicide note.

Also at ABC 7 Los Angeles, "STUDENTS FIND TEACHER HANGING IN PLACENTIA CLASSROOM."

Why Do Leftists Hate Asian-Americans?

Well, I posted on this last week or so, "Leftist Racial Bias Against Asian-Americans in College Admissions."

And now here comes Michael Walsh, at Pajamas, sounding the tocsin on the left's despicable racism. See, "Why Do Democrats Hate Asian-Americans? Because They’re Smart and Successful":
This piece appeared in the Los Angeles Times recently, and it deserves a lot more notice from conservatives than it’s received so far. It’s not that it doesn’t tell us things we didn’t already know — it’s that the Left is so blatant about its prejudices, and so determined to tear down any semblance of meritocracy regarding college admissions. And, mostly, it reminds us that Asian-Americans need to recognize who their enemies are...

Six Words Might Decide Fate of #ObamaCare

At WaPo, "Six words might decide the fate of Obamacare at the Supreme Court":
When the Supreme Court takes up the latest challenge to President Obama’s health-care law this week, how the justices interpret a six-word phrase in the bill could determine its fate.

The law, adopted in 2010, says the federal government can pay subsidies to help people afford insurance bought through “an Exchange established by the state.”

But two-thirds of the states have opted against setting up their own exchanges, and as a result, more Americans have been buying insurance through the federal insurance marketplace. Now, opponents of the law will make their case to the high court that Americans who are not using the state exchanges are ineligible for subsidies. And if they win, insurance premiums could skyrocket and many people might drop their coverage — possibly undermining the whole health-care program.

And as the justices weigh whether the health-care law in fact has a fatal glitch, one of the key questions is this: Why did the Obama administration rule-writing officials in the Internal Revenue Service and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, ultimately interpret the language the way they did?

It had never occurred to the Treasury Department official responsible for making the changes in the tax code required by the law that there was more than one way to read the phrase — until she happened across an article in a trade journal.

Emily McMahon, deputy assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, read an article in Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Tax Report in January 2011 raising questions about whether federal subsidies could be paid for millions of Americans buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to Treasury Department officials. The issue was whether the law allowed these payments if the coverage was bought in states that did not set up their own insurance marketplaces.

So McMahon called a meeting with two of her top lawyers, one of them recalled, and asked whether there was “a glitch in the law we needed to worry about.”

In the end, the Treasury and IRS officials who wrote the rules adopted the more expansive reading of the law — allowing subsidies for all marketplaces — because they concluded this was required for the new health-care initiative to succeed, according to current and former agency officials and documents they provided to congressional investigators. And, the officials reasoned, Congress would not have passed a law that it wanted to fail.

“Nobody I talked to in government, including many people involved in the legislative process, thought this was a question,” recalled David Gamage, a tax law professor at the University of California at Berkeley hired to help the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy implement the law. “Nobody thought the argument [limiting the subsidies] was persuasive.’’

While it was clear to the rules’ authors at Treasury and the IRS that the issue was a practical matter and not a political one, they met regularly with White House officials, who were closely monitoring the drafting of the regulations, two former officials said.

And while the team of tax attorneys had no doubt that the subsidies should apply to all marketplaces, there was a significant debate inside Treasury and the IRS about how much of their reasoning should be spelled out in public. The agency was sensitive to the legal and political minefield it was navigating...
Still more.

Militant Longshoreman's Union Boasts Clout in Era of Globalization

From yesterday's front page, at the Los Angeles Times, "On docks, workers still have power."

And I guess this is a theme at the cheerleading L.A. Times, because the newspaper ran a virtually identical piece a couple of weeks ago, "Small but powerful union is at center of port dispute":
The dispute that has snarled West Coast shipping revolves around a rarity in American business — a small but mighty union.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union represents 20,000 dockworkers, a fraction of the organized ranks of teachers, truck drivers or healthcare workers. But the port workers — who still queue up at hiring halls daily for work and spend years earning full membership — stand guard over a crucial chokepoint in the global economy.

For decades these "lords of the docks" have been paid like blue-collar royalty. Their current contract pays $26 to $41 an hour, with free healthcare for members. Some earn six figures with overtime. Even as a growing chorus of business groups clamor for a resolution to their months-long contract talks with the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents shipping companies, the union sees little need to back down.

"They have unique skills that aren't easily replaced," said Goetz Wolff, who teaches about labor and economics at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. "They're not going to roll over and play dead."
Leftists love militant unions, as they represent the spearhead of the revolutionary struggle against capital. And that's why the Times is pumping up these goons as if they were going out of business tomorrow.

President Obama's Leftist Media Enablers Push Back Against U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

This is totally predictable.

It's like I said earlier, it's only a matter of time before Rep. Gabbard switches parties.

At BizPac Review, "Combat veteran Democrat crossed Obama in Hawaii; now she’s paying a price."

Erin Heatherton Body Paint

Following-up from the other day, "Uncovered Erin Heatherton."



The Murder of Boris Nemtsov

At WSJ, "Another Putin opponent is killed by unknown assailants":
In the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin ’s Russia, we may never learn who shot dead Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night, much less why. The longtime opposition leader had once been Russia’s deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, and he might have steered Russia toward a decent future had he been given a chance. Instead, he was fated to become a courageous voice for democracy and human rights who risked his life to alert an indifferent West to the dangers of doing business with the man in the Kremlin.

Some of those warnings appeared in these pages. In March 2012, he and fellow opposition leader Garry Kasparov warned against President Obama’s “reset” with Russia, urging that the Administration replace the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik amendment with the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials guilty of human-rights violations.

Nemtsov was also not afraid of criticizing Mr. Putin by name, noting in that same op-ed that he “is not the legitimate leader of Russia” given the ballot stuffing that went into his 2012 election. For his honesty he was repeatedly arrested and jailed by the Russian government. He was also the rare Russian willing to speak up for Ukraine’s democracy movement. “By supporting Ukraine,” he said in December 2013, “we also support ourselves.”

With his murder, Nemtsov’s name now joins that of other opponents of Mr. Putin who have met violent deaths or otherwise been brutalized by his regime: journalist Anna Politkovskaya, human-rights researcher Natalya Estemirova, opposition leader Alexei Navalny. One day their names will be celebrated in Russia, long after Mr. Putin is gone.

Quartering Spyware Troops in a Digital Age: Why Your Home Should Be Your Castle

From Glenn Reynolds, at USA Today, "Quartering spyware troops in the digital age":
In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner published a famous paper on the closing of the American frontier. The last unsettled areas, he said, were being populated, and that meant the end of an era.

I think that something a bit like that is happening in my field of constitutional law. The last part of the Bill of Rights left almost untouched — the Third Amendment — is now becoming the subject of substantial academic commentary, with a symposium on the amendment, which I attended, this past weekend held by the Tennessee Law Review.

The Tennessee Law Review published the very first law review article on the Third Amendment back in 1949. But there weren't very many to follow: a handful, over many decades. Maybe that's because the Third Amendment just plain works. It provides: "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

That doesn't happen much — The Onion ran a parody piece some years ago entitled "Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year" — and so it may just be that the Third Amendment is the only part of the Bill of Rights that really works. Except that it may not be working the way that we think.

The only Supreme Court case in which the Third Amendment did any heavy lifting is Griswold v. Connecticut, a case that's not about troop-quartering, but about birth control. The Supreme Court held that the Third Amendment's "penumbra" (a legal term that predates the Griswold case) extended to protecting the privacy of the home from government intrusions. "Would we," asked the court, "allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives?" The very idea, said the court, was "repulsive."

Likewise, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Engblom v. Carey that the Third Amendment protects a "fundamental right to privacy" in the home. Since then, courts haven't done much to flesh these holdings out, but I wonder if they should. In the 18th century, when the Third Amendment was drafted, "troop quartering" meant literally having troops move into your house to live at your expense and sleep in your beds. It destroyed any semblance of domestic privacy, opening up conversations, affection, even spats to the observation and participation of outsiders. It converted a home into an arena.

Today we don't have that, but we have numerous intrusions that didn't exist in James Madison's day: Government spying on phones, computers, and video — is spyware on your computer like having a tiny soldier quartered on your hard drive? — intrusive regulations on child-rearing and education, the threat of dangerous "no-knock" raids by soldierly SWAT teams that break down doors first and ask questions later.

The Third Amendment hasn't been invoked in these cases — well, actually, it has, in the case of a SWAT team in Henderson, Nev., that took over a family home so that it could position itself against a neighbor's house — but maybe it should be. At least, maybe we should go farther in recognizing a fundamental right of privacy in people's homes...
More.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

LAPD Shoots and Kills Homeless Man in Downtown Los Angeles (VIDEO)

At LAT, "Police fatally shoot man in struggle over officer's gun, authorities say":

Authorities said Sunday night that Los Angeles police fatally shot a man on skid row during a struggle over an officer's weapons.

Police officials offered a detailed account of what they say prompted the Sunday morning shooting, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers assigned to the LAPD's Central Division and Safer Cities Initiative — a task force focused on skid row — responded to the location about noon Sunday after receiving a 911 call reporting a possible robbery.

Smith said the officers approached the man and made contact with him, at which point he "began fighting and physically resisting the officers." The officers attempted to take him into custody and at one point, attempted to use a Taser that Smith said was "ineffective."

The man continued to resist police, Smith said, and the man and some of the officers fell to the ground.

"At some point in there, a struggle over one of the officer's weapons occurred," Smith said. "At that point an officer-involved shooting happened."

Two officers and a sergeant fired at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear how many times the officers fired, although at least five shots can be heard on the video recording that captured the shooting.

No other gun was recovered at the scene, Smith said. It was unclear if the man had any other weapons among his possessions — investigators were still combing the scene late Sunday night.

The man has been tentatively identified, but Smith said it was unclear if he was homeless.

Two officers were treated and released for injuries sustained in the struggle, Smith said. The extent of those injuries was unclear...
More.

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Branco Cartoon photo ISIS-Jobs-600-LI-594x425_zpsx0umhpez.jpg

Also at Lonely Con, "Saturday Funnies," and Theo Spark's, "Cartoon Roundup."

And at Reaganite Republican, "Reaganite's SUNDAY FUNNIES."

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – It Takes A Village."

Anti-Israel Protesters Dragged Out of AIPAC Conference (VIDEO)

These people are disgusting, murderous bastards.

One sign at the protest compared Israel to Islamic State, where "both have hijacked peaceful religions" for violence and murder.



More, "USA: Five arrested in pro-Israel conference protest."

PREVIOUSLY: "Barack Obama: Mainstreaming Jew-Hatred in America."

Hillary Clinton Seen Launching White House Bid in April

Well, the only surprise here is the timing. I mean, does anyone think Hillary wasn't mounting a run for the 2016 Democrat Party nomination?

At WSJ, "Hillary Clinton Seen Launching Presidential Bid in April":
Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising.

Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to people engaged in recent discussions about the presumed Democratic front-runner’s emerging 2016 campaign. Many within her camp have advocated her staying out of the fray until the summer.

Jumping in sooner would help the Democratic field take shape, reassuring party leaders and donors that the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is running. A super PAC loyal to Mrs. Clinton has faced hesitation from donors who don’t want to make big pledges until she is a candidate. Such concerns would evaporate after she announces.

But Mrs. Clinton would become an even larger target for Republicans when she enters the race. She also would be pressed to opine on a raft of thorny issues in the news, including how to combat the military advances of Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

One influential proponent of an earlier announcement is John Podesta, who is expected to play an important role in Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, one person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Podesta, who in January resigned as senior adviser in the Obama White House, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton.

Many Democratic activists say they would like to see the race begin in earnest—something that won’t happen until Mrs. Clinton jumps in.

Mrs. Clinton “should get in right now. If she’s going to run, get a campaign going,” said Jason Frerichs, a county Democratic chairman in Iowa, the state that holds the first contest of the 2016 campaign.

Mrs. Clinton, according to some close associates, doesn’t relish the campaign trail and is in no particular hurry to announce, especially given the scant competition for her party’s nomination. Most polls show Mrs. Clinton running far ahead of her nearest potential challenger, Vice President Joe Biden .

“She’s obviously biding her time before she gets out there,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat.

Mrs. Clinton, 67 years old, made known her feelings about grueling campaigns in a private meeting last month with London Mayor Boris Johnson. Mr. Johnson later said she had bemoaned the lengthy U.S. presidential campaigns.

During her 2008 bid, she teared up at a campaign event in New Hampshire when describing the rigors of campaign life: lack of sleep, an overreliance on pizza and limited ability to exercise.

“If I were taking this on, seeing what candidates went through last time around, I’d sure want to put it off as long as I could,” said Doug Goldman, a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama who lives in San Francisco. At this point in the 2008 cycle, Mrs. Clinton already was a candidate.

Mrs. Clinton’s team has considered first forming an exploratory committee, a common in-between step candidates use to signal they are running while avoiding the formal launch of a campaign. But her camp now appears likely to scrap that idea.

A later entrance into the race comes with certain perils. She hopes to raise more than $1 billion for the campaign, people familiar with her plans said, and some Democratic donors are concerned that if she waits until the summer, she would be hard-pressed to meet that goal...
More.

PREVIOUSLY: "Can a Democratic Win the Presidency After Two Terms of Obama?", and "Hillary Clinton Faces Uphill Fight for White, Rural Vote."

Ransom Paid as ISIS Releases at Least 19 Christian Captives

Yeah, I was wondering about the reports of Islamic State releasing Christians. Seems to me that they'd rather behead them.

But ransom was paid, according to the Times of Israel, "Islamic State frees 19 Christians as ransom paid: activists."

Thousands Attend March in Memory of Boris Nemtsov (VIDEO)

Via Telegraph UK:


Republicans Have 13-Point Edge Over Dems on Foreign Policy

Surprisingly, the treasonous Democrats have a more favorable view overall in public opinion, but on the issues that count --- and foreign policy's going to count hella lot in 2016 --- the GOP has the edge.

At Pew, "The GOP has a 13-point edge over Dems on making wise decisions about foreign policy'."

Obama's Legacy on Trial

At Time, "The fate of the president’s key initiatives rests with the Supreme Court":
When U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration overhaul on Feb. 16, he did more than throw the future of 5 million immigrants facing deportation into doubt. In siding with Texas and 25 other states that had challenged Obama’s Executive Order, Hanen ensured that the fate of one of the President’s signature initiatives will be tied up in litigation that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would be in good company there. In the past six years, nearly all the building blocks of Obama’s domestic legacy–from health care and financial reforms to environmental regulations–have been challenged in court. Dodd-Frank, the massive banking-reform law enacted after the financial crisis, has been picked at in dozens of federal cases. Last June, the Supreme Court confirmed a lower court’s decision to overturn a handful of the Administration’s recess appointments. And by the end of the court’s current term this summer, the Justices will have ruled three separate times on Obamacare and twice on the Administration’s new EPA mandates that are meant to curb climate change.

These lawsuits are both a symptom and a cause of the partisan gridlock in Washington. On one hand, they are part of a continuing Republican effort to undo the Obama Administration’s early legislative victories. On the other, they represent a pushback against a White House that has used regulatory and executive action to end-run a divided Congress–a tactic that has exposed it to legal challenges. But if the battles are ending up at the Supreme Court, they are starting at the state level with increasingly large partisan groups of state attorneys general.

Since Obama took office, state attorneys general have joined to participate in hundreds of suits against the federal government. Sometimes they have directly sued federal agencies; other times they’ve filed influential friend-of-the-court briefs or collaborated with private entities on legal strategies. In 2010 alone, coalitions of attorneys general sued the Obama Administration a record 52 times, according to Paul Nolette, a political scientist at Marquette University and an expert on modern-day attorneys general.

It wasn’t always that way. In the 1980s and ’90s, state attorneys general acted largely independently of one another. If a states’-rights issue arose, state challenges were often nonpartisan and involved smaller groups of AGs. But that bipartisan collaboration withered as the nation become more polarized, and partisan AG associations, formed in the past 15 years, helped facilitate collaboration between members.

In the past decade, the practice of suing the federal government has become “institutionalized,” Nolette says. Under Obama, Republican attorneys general have been particularly active. “We’ve never seen anywhere close to this level of intense Republican activism and collaboration before,” he says. Michael Greve, a conservative scholar and professor of law at George Mason University, expects the trend to continue. “If the next President is a Republican, you’ll see the same crusade on the part of Democrats,” he says...
Politics in the age of polarization. This is just the way it is nowadays.

More at the Hill, "GOP fears grow over ObamaCare challenge" (via Memeorandum).

Congress Should Hear Out Netanyahu

Hey, a rare righteous editorial at the Los Angeles Times. Deserves a post:
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday about the dangers posed by Iran's nuclear program, he will have to overcome the deafening political static created by the circumstances of his invitation. Not only did House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) invite the prime minister without consulting with the White House — leading to charges that Netanyahu was “meddling” in the making of American foreign policy — but he has given Netanyahu an enviable international platform two weeks before Israel's election.

Clearly irked, President Obama is declining to meet Netanyahu during his visit, and Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice has gone so far as to say that the injection of partisanship into the U.S.-Israeli relationship was “destructive.” Meanwhile, some [America- and Israel-hating] Democratic members of Congress plan to boycott the speech.

We understand their irritation, but Netanyahu deserves a respectful hearing even if the auspices of his appearance are exasperating. Like other nations in the region, Israel has understandable concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. It is not only worried about a doomsday scenario in which Iran — whose anti-Zionist rhetoric is legendary — launches an attack on Tel Aviv; it also worries that an Iranian nuclear weapon would encourage countries such as Saudi Arabia to follow suit. (Unsurprisingly, Israel prefers the status quo, in which it has a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region.)

But hearing out Netanyahu doesn't mean taking everything he says at face value or abdicating to Israel this country's decision about whether it's possible to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without making a fateful decision to use military force...
More.

Also, from Yuli Edelstein, "Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress comes at right time, right place."

PREVIOUSLY: "Netanyahu to Target Obama in Speech to Joint Session of Congress."

Natasha Vargas-Cooper Protects Her Twitter Account

I'll give her credit, though.

She did post a series of apologetic tweets yesterday, which I saw and thought about blogging, considering the hail of vituperation she brought down on herself with her smug dissing of critics.

At Twitchy, "Jezebel writer who smeared Scott Walker has protected her Twitter account."

Natasha Vargas-Cooper photo natasha-vc_zpsgl2dtror.png

More at the Other McCain, "Hey, @natashavc, Sorry Your Dishonest Scott Walker Smear Got Breitbarted."

Hanging On: Debbie Harry on Punk and Sex at 69

At Telegraph UK, "Debbie Harry on punk, refusing to retire and sex at 69":
Forty years after Blondie found fame on the New York scene, Debbie Harry is still waving the flag for women in the music business – of every age.

In 1980, during a tour with Blondie, Debbie Harry hosted a tea party at a London hotel, gathering together many of the women prominent in music at the time. Chrissie Hynde was there; Siouxsie Sioux; the Slits guitarist Viv Albertine; Pauline Black from The Selecter; and Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex. Chris Stein, Harry’s boyfriend at the time as well as the other half of Blondie’s creative core, published pictures of it in his recent book Negative, a collection of his photographs from the early years of their fame.

It looks as though there was a lot of laughter. This was a different time for women in music. Two years earlier Kate Bush, who was invited to tea but didn’t make it, had become the first female solo performer to reach number one in the British charts with her own song (Wuthering Heights).

There was a widespread assumption that there was room for just one main female performer in each genre. If another appeared, they were expected to battle it out for the title of queen of pop/soul/disco/punk.

Harry was keen to cut through that. “I really wanted to get together with all the punk females for an afternoon of celebration,” she explains. “It’s a great memory.” If you did that today, I say, you would need more than a hotel room. “I would need a hall!” she says, laughing. “It has changed a lot. It’s really grown, hasn’t it?”

In part, the large number of women making music now is down to the influence of those pioneers. Poly Styrene died in 2011, but remarkably the others are all still creating: both Hynde and Albertine have made fine solo albums in the past three years; Sioux never really went away; Black still plays with her band, and last summer Bush returned to the live arena for the first time since she was 20 with a triumphant run of London shows, which sold out in minutes.

As for Harry, I am talking to her in Paris, backstage at a theatre where she is preparing to play that night, at a party to launch a new perfume. To mark the 10th anniversary of its Black XS fragrance, Paco Rabanne has launched two limited-edition scents called Black XS Be a Legend – one for men, one for women – with a tuxedo-clad Harry and Iggy Pop fronting the ad campaign.

“It was great to work with Iggy again,” Harry says. They met when she was a waitress at the legendary New York music venue Max’s Kansas City, and Blondie’s first real tour was as his support act, at a time when his band included David Bowie on the keyboard. “They treated us in a way that was very generous and smart. They said, 'We want the show to be great – for all of us. We want to put on a unified piece.’ And bands were awful to each other at that time.”

Though Blondie grew out of the New York punk scene in the mid-1970s, they had an unashamedly pop slant, with their genre-bending music taking in elements of everything that was popular in clubs at the time, from rap to reggae to disco. But they also had a strong subversive streak.

“It was very much about irony at that time. It was about a sophisticated sort of put-down, antisocial but witty. We were always trying for that play on words, for the double entendre.”

Harry has always identified herself as a feminist, and there is a quiet strength in the way she presents herself, a sense that here is a woman very much in control. Before she was famous, she was on her way home from a club one rainy night in New York.
“It was two or three in the morning and I couldn’t find a cab. A car kept coming round and offering me a ride, so I accepted. Once in the car I noticed there were no door handles on the inside, which made me wary. I don’t know how, but I managed to put my hand through the window and open the door from the outside.”

The driver swerved to try to stop her escaping, but that gave her the momentum to throw herself out of the moving car. She thought no more of it until years later, when she saw the driver on the news. It was Ted Bundy, the serial killer who eventually confessed to murdering at least 30 women. “I always say my instincts saved me.”

As a performer there was something defiantly self-contained about Harry. Although she constantly played with images of sexy blond bombshells, there was a sense that she was doing this not to excite her audience but to please herself: you can look, but you can’t touch.

Her impact was huge. Andy Warhol featured her in silk-screen portraits (she still has one, though she confesses she has recently been tempted to sell it), and every few years her look emerges yet again on the catwalks. She is flattered, but points out that her look was itself cobbled together from comic books and Hollywood films, mixed in with English punk influences and later the strong lines of the New York-based designer Stephen Sprouse. “It’s very flattering and it’s nice to be loved like that. It’s amazing to me that it made such an impression, but also it seems like a natural process, if you go back to the things that influenced me and the elements that I took from.”

If, in the late 1970s, Harry threw the ball in the air, it was Madonna who caught it and ran with it. In the mid-1980s Harry took a lengthy break from music while Stein battled with illness, and the Material Girl took a similar blend of pop and New York-street attitude, and became a global superstar.

“There was a switch in music,” Harry says. “And I think it may have been primarily with her. She really went to showbiz. She was a solo artist; she wasn’t in a band; she wasn’t representing anyone but herself. And she did very well.”...
More.

Netanyahu to Target Obama in Speech to Joint Session of Congress

At the Washington Post, "Netanyahu’s address to Congress will be most important speech of his life":
Netanyahu photo B-9VFOKWkAA-xeG_zpshktnahxi.jpg
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress will probably be the most important speech of his career — and one that has already jeopardized relations between Israel and the United States.

On Tuesday morning, Netanyahu will confront an American president and insist that the future of the State of Israel, and the world, is imperiled by a pending “bad deal” with Iran on its nuclear program.

Also hanging in the balance is Netanyahu’s own political future. Just two weeks after the speech, Netanyahu will either be reelected to a historic fourth term as prime minister or be out of a job.

Netanyahu has spent three terms as Israeli prime minister focused on the dangers posed by Iran. In his first address to Congress in 1996, he warned that an atomic Iran would “presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind.”

His supporters call him prescient; his detractors say Netanyahu has been warning for 20 years that “time is running out” on the Iran threat. His critics say Netanyahu is a broken record, a Cassandra obsessed, willing to deeply damage U.S.-Israeli relations in a futile confrontation with the United States that wins Israel nothing.

His opponents in Israel and the United States say the speech is mostly a cynical ploy to get reelected in a tight March 17 vote, by fear-mongering on Iran and by opposing an American president who is not very popular in Israel.

On Tuesday morning, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry meets with his counterparts in Switzerland to try to complete a framework accord with Iran by the end of March, Netanyahu will stand at the lectern in Congress to tell Americans, essentially, that President Obama is either foolhardy or weak and about to sign a deal with the devil.

Netanyahu will warn, as he has in the past, that the Americans are gambling on a radical Iranian regime run by Muslim clerics who deny the Holocaust, sponsor terrorist groups, support a murderous regime in Syria and pledge to destroy Israel.

As his chartered plane wings toward Washington on Sunday afternoon, Netanyahu’s advisers say the final author of the speech will be Netanyahu himself.

The prime minister’s press office released photographs of Netanyahu penning his speech in longhand.

Netanyahu will write the speech because he considers himself not only an authority on the minutiae of the Iran nuclear program — the number, type and productivity of the centrifuges and the estimates of low-enriched uranium to the kilogram — but also an expert on U.S. politics and the American people.

Netanyahu studied at MIT and served as Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in New York. He has been called the “most American” of Israeli prime ministers.

This is his moment. Netanyahu’s English is fluid, conversational, persuasive and often blunt. He has a flair for stagecraft. His guiding light, says his inner circle, is Britain’s wartime premier and great orator, Winston Churchill, who is the only other foreign leader to have addressed a joint meeting of Congress three times.

During Netanyahu’s second speech to Congress in May 2009, he received 29 standing ovations.

Netanyahu’s critics in Israel and in the Obama administration warn that the Israeli leader is really no Churchill and that he has seriously miscalculated this time.

Israeli relations with Democrats and the Obama administration are at a historic low.
More.

Also, at Arutz Sheva, "Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike" (via Memeorandum).

Heh, and the idiot leftists are up in arms. So the vile William Saletan, at Slate, "Netanyahu's Speech in Congress is a Revolting and Dangerous Gamble." Lol. Tell us how you really feel about it!

Tori Kelly Might Just Be the Next Britney Spears/Katy Perry/Taylor Swift

At Elle:


Tori Kelly, a 22-year-old YouTube sensation that Simon Cowell called "almost annoying" on season nine of American Idol before kicking her out of the competition, has just one thing to say to the TV host: "Thank you for not putting me on your show. Everything happens for a reason and I probably wouldn't be who I am now if I had made it on that show."

Kelly's new single, "Nobody Love," debuting today, is primed to be the singer/songwriter's breakout hit that she's been waiting for, after releasing two "teaser" EPs that—thanks to their intimate and acoustic-driven style—garnered her a cult following on YouTube (she has one million subscribers), with 661,000 Facebook likes and 443,000 Twitter followers.

Kelly is backed by her music manager, Scooter Braun (who also looks after Justin Bieber), and Max Martin, the Swedish producer who has ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for over a decade with a string of hits for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, P!nk, and Taylor Swift. She has been praised for having a set of "emotionally expressive" and "powerful" vocal pipes that rival top pop stars before her, like Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey...
More.