News of the Future — Moderate Syrian Rebel Edition

Mosul, Iraq, October 8, 2014 — Multiple sources have confirmed that Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) forces, part of the “moderate” rebel groups recently trained and armed by the Obama administration, have defeated three small groups of ISIS fighters — with perhaps 25 to 40 members of the terrorist organization killed in each battle — on the outskirts of Raqqa, the Syrian city thought to be home to ISIS leadership. In his daily briefing, a smirking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Today’s victories conclusively prove that the president’s critics were operating from ignorance and partisanship, and not in the best interests of the United States and the region.” President Obama is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday to discuss this rare Middle East success for his administration.

Mosul, Iraq, October 13, 2014 — Turning away from battling ISIS forces which have regrouped and repelled each FSA attack since the “moderates’” modest victories last week, the Free Syrian Army has returned to what its leadership has consistently said is its true goal: attacking the forces of the Assad regime. Although the FSA has some weapons superior to those used by the Syrian government’s regular army forces, especially in small and vehicle-mounted guns, there appear to be both Russian and Iranian military advisors serving alongside the Assad forces and giving them a distinct tactical advantage over the quickly trained FSA. So far, while the FSA has not lost many men, they have not taken any new ground and have ceded control of several small towns and villages in northern Syria to government forces. When asked about the events, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said simply, “We can’t expect never to lose any battles against a foe as extreme as ISIS.” When pointed out by a reporter that the battle did not involve ISIS, Mr. Earnest offered only, “Just remember, Osama bin Laden is dead. We don’t have anything to prove.”

Please read the rest of my article (and tomorrow's news today!) here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60446/news-future-%E2%80%94-moderate-syrian-rebel-edition

Crocodile tears over GOP refusal to cooperate with Obama

My first ever piece for TheHill.com:

Democrats are in a froth over a statement by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) suggesting that some Republicans want to avoid a vote supporting President Obama’s military action in Syria because “We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Despite Kingston himself strongly supporting a congressional debate and vote, Democrats are shocked – shocked!! – that politicians would behave politically. They are scandalized that, as Juan Williams put it, some Republicans “delight in not working with Democrats.”

But from the “turnabout is fair play” files, a reminder of recent history is in order:

In January 2009, newly-inaugurated Obama met with congressional leadership to discuss the so-called “stimulus” bill. Then House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) offered suggestions which ABC News reported as “some of the day’s most engaging moments.” But when the conversation moved to actually incorporating those ideas, the president’s response was, “I won.” In short, Republicans’ ideas are simply not welcome. This was the tone set by the leader of the Democratic Party within 72 hours of his taking office.

Please read the rest of my piece for TheHill.com here:
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/217907-crocodile-tears-over-gop-refusal-to-cooperate-with-obama

13 Hours in Benghazi (Buy the book!)

On September 11 and 12, 2012, in an attack by Islamist militants on the U.S. Diplomatic Compound (unofficially sometimes called a consulate) in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed — the first death of an American ambassador by a violent act since 1979. Chris Stevens had earned the admiration and respect of many local Benghazans by making improved relations between Libyans and Americans his calling — one that he was willing to take great risks to accomplish. Also killed that fateful night was the affable State Department computer specialist Sean Smith, known ironically to his friends in the online gaming world as “Vile Rat.”

Far more people would have died had it not been for the efforts of the Annex Security Team, a group of private security contractors, each of whom had served in the United States Marines, Army, or Navy, working for an organization called the Global Response Staff (“GRS”), who risked their lives and defied orders by leaving the nearby CIA Annex in order to save the State Department staff at the Diplomatic Compound.

But the terrorists weren’t finished. A few hours after the “consulate” burned, killing Stevens and Smith by smoke inhalation in what was supposed to be a safe haven within the primary residence on the walled property, they massed in force and attacked the CIA Annex to which the Team and the evacuated State Department staff had fallen back.

In that series of firefights, two more men, Glen “Bub” Doherty — who had arrived from Tripoli as part of a group of reinforcements — and Tyrone “Rone” Woods — a Team member and former Navy SEAL who also had paramedic training — lost their lives. Another member of the team, Mark “Oz” Geist, suffered devastating injuries to his arm (requiring 15 surgeries so far), while a Diplomatic Security agent, Dave Ubben, was also badly hurt.

The deaths of Bub and Rone, and the injuries to Oz and Ubben, occurred in the last major violent episode of the battle: a series of mortar attacks that were too precise to have been just “good luck” for the terrorists and belie the Obama administration’s early claims of a disorganized protest that simply turned violent.

The story of the attacks on both Compounds, the bravery of the Annex Security Team and others — as well as the apparent cowardice of some, including the CIA station chief on location — is told in a riveting new book entitled 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60385/reliving-benghazis-13-hours

Court Packing Scheme Pays off for Democrats

One of the main reasons that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blew up the traditional applicability of the filibuster in the United States Senate was so that President Obama could pack the DC Circuit Court of Appeals with liberal judges, anticipating the need for bias, or at least partisanship, on the bench in order to defend Obamacare from legal challenge.

This particular appeals court, officially called the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is often considered the second-most important court in the country since it handles so many cases related to the regulatory power of the federal government.

Prior to the confirmations of Judges Patricia Millett and Nina Pillard in December 2013 and Robert Wilkins in January 2014, the court had an even balance of Democratic and Republican appointees (four of each) and had such a light caseload that the existing judges were substantially underworked. Judge Millet ended up getting two Republican votes for her confirmation, while Judge Pillard was opposed by all Republicans and three Democrats. Judge Wilkins was confirmed on a 55-43 party-line vote.

A decade earlier, when President George W. Bush proposed nominating judges to this same court, Democrats argued strenuously that the court’s caseload did not justify adding more judges. In fact, after current Chief Justice John Roberts was elevated to the Supreme Court from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the Democrats blocked the nomination of the man President Bush had chosen to replace him.

But because the current administration recognized this court as critical in future legal challenges to Obamacare, they wanted to – and hypocritically did – shift the balance of the court in a decidedly Progressive way – which is to say in a way which recognizes almost no limits on government power nor on the appropriate behavior of judges in expanding that power.

Please read the entirety of my article for The Federalist here:
http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/05/harry-reids-court-packing-scheme-pays-off-in-halbig-case/

The Sketchy Criticism of SketchFactor

There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery — then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson

The inventors of a new iPhone (and soon on Android) app called SketchFactor think that similar, albeit not necessarily race-based, concerns — such as caring for one’s personal safety — represent a market to be tapped.

Ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri, make the debate about SketchFactor particularly timely since — although with hugely different levels of importance and emotion — both are causing debates over race relations and racism in the United States.

And so the app uses public data combined with crowdsourced reports of “sketch” — meaning activity in a location that ranges from weird to dangerous, from catcalls to racial profiling, which is then marked on a map — to help users avoid neighborhoods or routes that might offer unwanted encounters.

No doubt that crowdsourced information allows the injection of bias, even racism, into such an application. But there’s a reason why so many of today’s most successful travel and leisure websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp rely on user contributions to generate content that other users largely trust. It is a proven model, at least if there is a critical mass of participants.

But when they learned of SketchFactor, the left-wing blogosphere went crazy with cries of “racist!”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60268/sketchfactor-and-its-skittish-critics

No Asylum for Current Flood Across the Border

A Denver Post guest op-ed argued for giving asylum to children crossing illegally into the US right now. I disagree, and sent the Post a rebuttal, which they printed here:

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26343789/no-border-kids-dont-deserve-asylum

Ferguson on Fire

As the suicide of Robin Williams — one of the few self-inflicted deaths of a public figure which truly saddened me; the man made me laugh since my teenage years — grabs the headlines, Ferguson, Missouri is literally and figuratively on fire.

On Saturday in the majority-black suburb of St. Louis, 18-year old African-American Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white policeman. Details of the encounter between Brown and the as yet unnamed officer remain sketchy but it is undisputed that Brown was unarmed. A friend of Brown’s who witnessed the shooting claims that the officer shot Brown in the back and then shot him again repeatedly after Brown was attempting to surrender. According to CNN, “Authorities counter that Brown attacked the officer in his car and tried to take his gun.”

Urban legend — and requisite accompanying celebrity-promoted hashtag — has already been made regarding Mr. Brown putting up his hands and calling out “Don’t shoot!”

We don’t have enough information to fairly discuss just what happened and why. But some of the immediate reactions to the shooting are now making as much news as the terrible event itself.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60244/ferguson-fire

Extraordinary Irresponsibility

In yet another uninspiring performance by our unengaged and unengaging president, this time a press conference at the end of a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama discussed, among other things, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which, according to The One, “we” have achieved.

It’s not entirely clear just how “we,” meaning the president, his feckless Secretary of State John Kerry, and his utterly incompetent foreign policy team (but at least they’re loyal — the most important characteristic for employees of any petty dictator), helped achieve anything other than the emboldening of Hamas, which led to the death of many more of Hamas’ human shields. Obama further asked how “we build on this temporary cessation of violence.”

It is unclear whether Hamas will go along with Israel’s offer to extend the ceasefire beyond its original 72 hours, which will determine how they who are actually fighting might or might not “build on” anything. As for what “we” might do, well, Martha’s Vineyard is very nice this time of year.

Showing his further detachment from reality on the subject — or more likely his ingrained anti-Israeli bias — Obama claimed (twice!) “I have no sympathy for Hamas.”

Well, isn’t that special?

Please read the entirety of my article for The American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60198/extraordinary-irresponsibility

Pass the House Border Bill

Conservative and liberal media alike were all atwitter with Thursday’s midday news that the House of Representatives was going on its summer recess without passing a border-related bill because Republicans did not have the votes to pass it. The left was particularly pleased in the apparent inability of the new House leadership team to pass a relatively inexpensive bill that contained at least one conservative priority on an extremely visible issue.

Later in the day, we learned that Speaker of the House John Boehner and House GOP leadership are keeping the House in session until there is a vote on a bill, which may occur on Friday.

Boehner is right to do this, and the House should pass the bill under consideration.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60147/pass-house-border-bill

Join me July 30 at Denver Press Club

DUE TO TORRENTIAL RAIN AND STREET FLOODING, WE'RE RESCHEDULING THIS EVENT.

WILL LET YOU KNOW OF FUTURE DATE WHEN IT'S SET

To all my readers and friends who are in or near Denver:

Please join me on Wednesday, July 30 at the Denver Press Club on July 30th at 6:00 where I will be guest bartending.  The Denver Press Club is located at 1330 Glenarm Place, directly across the street from the Denver Athletic Club.

We'll get a chance to discuss important issues, have some fun, and view the many Pulitzer prizes that adorn the walls of the Press Club.

The Press Club's web site is here and you can get directions here.

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