Obama and the Office of the Petulancy


Barack ObamaIt’s difficult to overstate how poorly Barack Obama performed at Monday’s press conference from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. As France deals with the aftermath of an ISIS attack leaving 132 dead (so far), hundreds wounded, and thousands of lives shattered, the ersatz leader of the free world responded with an embarrassing display of indifference, peevishness, and open contempt. He was less “President Obama” and more “Petulant Obama.”

As reporters lobbed obvious questions about Obama’s dismissive description of ISIS as a JV team, his broken promise to degrade and destroy the group, and the massive intelligence failure that rocked Europe, he seemed annoyed at all the fuss.

“There will be setbacks and there will be successes,” Obama said calmly. “The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback.”

The Superflous Commander in Chief


1086461_1280x720As I watched President Obama’s press conference in Antalya, Turkey, I began to feel that I was seeing an historic moment unfold.

It was deceptively like what we’re used to, full of condescension, impatience, hubris, straw men and false choices. He mentioned multiple times that he has to meet every few weeks with a bunch of guys to go over details, that it’s complicated. He reminded more that one journalist that he’d already answered ‘that’ question. He diminished his critics’ understanding and motives.

But he did not look forward. He was the politician voting present. He was himself, untouched by events, incapable of even the awareness that in the days that follow the logic of those events may mark his words today as the beginning of his loss of relevance.

Three Cheers for the Man in the Red Shirt


Before you do anything else, read Kevin Creighton’s post about the personal lessons one should take from the Paris Attacks; Kevin knows what he’s talking about and please defer to his expertise should anything I say conflict with it. That said, people are often warned not to “try to be a hero” in a terrorist attack or shooting spree. There is some wisdom in this, depending on precisely what one has in mind by “hero.” As Kevin says, one’s first duty isn’t to engage the killer, but to remove oneself — and those under one’s protection — from danger as quickly and safely as possible, though “further action is up to you and the circumstances you’re in.” In other words, focus on saving lives and don’t be an idiot. Sometimes, as we saw on the French train earlier this year, that means stopping the killer directly, though not everyone will be in a position to do so.

Though we’re still in the early days of this — which means that some stories may not entirely check out — it appears some people, having removed themselves from imminent danger, made the evaluation Kevin suggests and decided to return to save others. Via the New York Times, here’s an amazing account both of what happened in the Bataclan theater:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review shudder at reports that ISIS communications have advanced to the point that intelligence efforts to infiltrate have “gone dark” thanks in part to the revelations from Edward Snowden.  They also slam President Obama for moving full steam ahead with his plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.  And they are glad to see University of Missouri police considering charges against the media professor who tried to stop the press from covering campus protests.

Security So Tight at the G20 Even a Gnat Couldn’t Get In … Oh, Wait


So yesterday, the heads of the Group of 20 leading world economies arrived in the resort city of Antalya, in Turkey, for a two-day summit. The hotels housing the attendees were separated from the rest of the neighborhood by thousands of barricades. Only accredited visitors were given access to the area. The governor of Antalya, Muammer Türker, proudly announced they’d installed more than 350 new security cameras, and had also inaugurated license plate and facial recognition systems to prevent unauthorized access. The Coast Guard was deployed off the coast of Antalya to interdict threats from sea. Officials were considering establishing a no-fly zone over the area. Some 12,000 police and soldiers were deployed, and the Turkish military promised ’round-the-clock air defences. Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, who is coordinating the summit, affirmed that security was at its highest level:

“As some 35 or 36 delegations, including the world’s 20 most prominent countries, as well as heads of state, will be at the summit, we don’t see any security weakness.”

Lessons from Paris


shutterstock_207060784“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”Vegetius

As the world recoils in horror from the atrocities carried out on the streets of Paris Friday night, we’re beginning to realize that this is a calamity we’ve seen before: The attacks on the theater, nightclub, soccer stadium, and shopping mall are almost exact copies of earlier attacks in Mumbai and Nairobi, and we’ve seen smaller versions of these kind of attacks on American soil at Fort Hood and in Garland, TX; Ottawa, Canada; and during the Boston Marathon. There is no such thing as “rules of engagement” for radical Islamic militants: In this global war on terror, we are all behind enemy lines. We have met the enemy, and they are among us.

There are two possible responses to the dispersed threat of Islamic terrorism: Increased surveillance and security in the hopes that you’ll catch terrorists in the same net you use to corral regular citizens, or an empowered, aware citizenry that can stop an attack dead in its tracks. I prefer the second option myself, not only because it works, but it errs on the side of freedom, and that’s always a good thing.

Alive in Paris


Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 10.19.05I’m alive and so is my family. I’m not “reporting live,” however, because I saw none of this and haven’t left the apartment since my brother called to tell me what had happened.

Here’s what I know. It’s probably close what you know. At least 127 dead. Eight terrorists dead, of whom seven blew themselves up. A state of emergency has been decreed. I’m trying to figure out what this means. Among other things, it seems — although I’m not an expert in French jurisprudence — that the state now has the authority to toss what we’d consider First and Fourth Amendment rights into the toilet:

Le décret déclarant ou la loi prorogeant l’état d’urgence peuvent, par une disposition expresse :

As the terror attacks in Paris unfolded, John, Scott and Steve hosted Episode 29 of the Power Line Show. The attacks threw both halves of the show into sharp relief. We started by interviewing Dan Polisar, author of in important article in titled “What Do Palestinians Want?

Polisar reviewed years’ worth of public opinion polling of Palestinians. He found several common themes; a common denominator is a lack of contact with reality. As twisted as Palestinian culture is, what we saw in Paris tonight reflects an even more virulent version of the same ideology.

Breaking: Jihadi John Gone?


jihadi-john-goneLast night, Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook announced that the United States had assassinated Mohamed Emwazi, aka “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State militant who executed several Western prisoners with a small knife, and whose grizzly YouTube videos made world headlines.

Though the government has not confirmed it, some news outlets report that he was, in fact, killed:

According to ABC News, a U.S. official described the attack as a “clean hit” with no harm to others on the ground. He also said that Emwazi, a British citizen, was “eviscerated” upon departing from a building in Raqqa, Syria, before entering a vehicle.

No, Rubio: The American Dream Is Not Universal


MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Presidential candidate Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (L) (R-FL) speaks during the Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The fourth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top eight candidates, and another for four other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)I’m a fan of Sen. Marco Rubio. He’s an impressive man, and really shines in debates. If he’s the GOP nominee, I’ll relish watching his performances against Hillary Clinton (recall that her only experience facing off with a good debater forced her to run for her first term in this cycle, instead of planning her presidential library at the end of her historic two terms).

Yet, in Tuesday night’s GOP debate on the Fox Business Network, I was struck by what Rubio said about the American Dream, rightly seen as a desire to live in a society of economic and personal liberty:

It’s a universal dream of a better life that people have all over the world.

The Kurds, Mount Sinjar, and Highway 47: A Quick Guide


_86641866_030081031-1I’ve spent the morning reading conflicting reports from Mount Sinjar (also known as Shingal) and Highway 47. A lot of the reporting about this, it seems to me, would be impossible to understand without some background knowledge — or a glossary, at least — so I thought I’d be helpful and try to make what’s happening there easier to follow. Forgive me if I’ve only made it more confusing, but at least that’s in a sense more accurate, because the situation is anything but clear.

First, some maps. Sinjar, the city, is shown by the red arrow:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 08.55.57Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 09.05.32The Sinjar Mountains are a 100-kilometer long range in northwestern Iraq. The highest segment is in Nineveh Governorate, and partly administered by Iraqi Kurdistan; the western and lower segment is in Syria, and controlled by the de facto autonomous Syrian Kurdistan, Rojava. The city of Sinjar — marked with the red arrow — is just south of the range.

A Question For Free Traders on the Trans-Pacific Partnership


Up or down on the TPP?  How would you decide?

When Obamacare was being debated I had liberal friends whose argument in favor consisted of “We need to do something,” and “Health care is a right.” One of my responses was that slogans are not legislation and it is only the details of bill that are relevant. In the case of Obamacare, it was a 2,000-page piece of legislation that no one understood, and today even some of my liberal friend rue its passage as they understand what it actually contained.



berlin-wall-falling-2I’m sure you’ve all been reading Titus’s dispatches from Romania with the same fascination I have; if not, I commend them to your attention. But you may have overlooked an especially interesting comment from Percival on Titus’s final dispatch:

Even in a year full of surprises, the events in Romania in 1989 still stick out. It all seemed to happen so fast, even to those of us over here who were paying attention.

The DDR was less a surprise, at least to me, because I had a friend in Berlin at the time. She was living close to the Wall and told me that the protesters had stopped chanting “Wir wollen aus” (dissident emigrants) and switched to “Wir bleiben hier” (revolutionaries). The penny had dropped, the worm had turned, and nothing could ever be as it had been again. But one minute Romania seemed like it was going to hang on, and the next Ceaușescu was giving that disaster of a speech on the balcony when he realized that it was only a matter of time before it all came down.

Harvard Fellow Attends Anti-Police Brutality Conference … in Iran


Speaking of education, I caught Michael Totten’s latest column at World Affairs Journal about this group of twenty-odd American yo-yos who’ve gone to a conference in Iran against police brutality and racism. No, not Iranian policy brutality and racism. American police brutality and racism. Mike, reporting this with the journalistic equivalent of a straight face, notes that,

The Iranian government hunts down gay people and hangs them from cranes. It sends the Basij militia into the streets to attack peaceful protesters with clubs, chains, knives and axes. It routinely and as a matter of policy tortures liberal activists and intellectuals in Evin Prison.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review shudder as intelligence experts believe it’s likely ISIS or some other terrorist group smuggled a bomb onto the doomed Russian airliner.  They also scold Bernie Sanders for deciding now that Hillary’s emails are an issue for concern.  And they shake their heads at the massive protests of Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.  No podcast Friday.  We’ll be back Monday.

Putin’s Propaganda, Dugin’s Lunacy, and You


tass_re146fc7_0I was asking myself this morning why I felt a special need to emphasize that the biggest threats to Europe may not be the ravening hordes of Muslim invaders (or desperate refugees) swarming across its borders (or dying en masse in the Mediterranean) and threatening to suck on the teat of its precious welfare services (or being promptly deported back to hell). After all, who am I trying to persuade? And why? Few members of Ricochet will be voting in European elections, after all. And I hardly wish to make the point that unlimited immigration to Europe will be an unfettered boon; it isn’t even a point I believe.

It took me the day to sort out my thoughts. Europe is not now under grave threat from either communists or Nazis in their most recognizable historic form. There are some left, of course. But perhaps I don’t need to run through the list of them; I’ll just say that I’m on call should you have any questions about Europeans who might be Nazis and how to recognize them, likewise should you have questions about  Europeans who might be communists, I can help you out. (As for the latter, bet you can figure it out without my help. See, for example, the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way, which really exists, as do many such groupuscules. I think time-travelling technology may be involved, or perhaps someone pickled them. Do spend a few minutes on their site, by the way, and tell me whether you think their understandable grievances require our legitimization, given that they’ve got nowhere mainstream to go with their concerns, and Europe’s pointy-headed elite insistently lock them out of the political process. For the record, I am totally in favor locking the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way out of the political process. Call me a pointy-headed European elitist all you like, but I think the world is a better place when people like them are marginalized, mocked, dismissed, and irrelevant.)

My real concern is Russia. It’s Duginism, in particular. But before discussing him, let me take you on a little tour of the kind of Russian propaganda in which Europe’s wallowing — but let me bring it home for you with an example that might feel more personal. Like this:

ISIS vs. Russia?


Yesterday, CNN reported that US intelligence believes ISIS brought down Kogalymavia Flight 9268 — the Russian airline out of Egypt — with a bomb. This morning, the WSJ reports that the United Kingdom has come to the same conclusion and has grounded all flights out of Sharm El Sheikh, where the flight originated (there are thousands of Brits there currently on holiday). Several people on Ricochet have previously speculated that the plane was taken out by a bomb near its tail and the Islamic State has already claimed credit for this deed.

My question is this: what does it all mean? Is this the beginning of a broader campaign by ISIS against Russia? Will Chechnya once again explode in violence and terrorism? Will Russia become more involved against battling ISIS, at least to save face?