The Kobani conundrum

Turkey has finally agreed to allow Iraqi Kurdish forces to cross its border with Syria to help fight ISIS and thereby relieve the besieged town of Kobani. For weeks, Turkey had refused to allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters or weapons to cross its border in support of the Kurdish fighters defending Kobani.

Why the change? The New York Times cites “international pressure.” But the pressure has been there all along.

More to the point, it seems to me, is the fact that (in the words of the Times) “as the United States-led coalition has increased its airstrikes as well as its coordination with the Kurdish fighters, who have provided targeting information, the militants have lost momentum after appearing close to overrunning the town.” In other words, the Obama administration is beginning to behave seriously, at least in Kobani, and may actually be winning there. The predictable consequence is that Turkey takes the U.S. more seriously.

Turkey has also come under pressure from its Kurdish population. There have been mass protests against the government’s unwillingness to assist in the relief of Kobani. The Turkish government has resisted the pressure, both international and internal, because it considers the Syrian Kurds who are resisting ISIS as terrorists and its mortal enemies. And, indeed, these forces are associated with the PKK which is the enemy of the Turkish government.

By agreeing to help the Iraqi Kurds, President Erdogen seeks to thread the needle. He can no longer be accused of doing nothing to relieve Kobani, but at the same time he tries to limit his assistance to the Iraqi peshmerga, an ally.

In reality, though, allowing Iraqi Kurds into Syria will almost certainly play into the hands of Erdogen’s Kurdish enemies in Syria. According to Michael Rubin, “as soon as those Kurdish fighters enter Syria, they will subordinate themselves to the YPG [the peshmerga associated with the PKK] which know the ground and are, at this point, better motivated and more skilled.”

Erdogen surely understands this, but now apparently sees value in cooperating President Obama and in relieving some of the domestic pressure that his unwillingness to lift a finger to help Kobani has generated.

It isn’t just Erdogen who faces a Kobani conundrum. The Obama administration is airlifting arms to YPG even though the State Department has designated it (along with its political arm, the PYD, and the PKK) a terrorist organization.

Rubin argues that the designation “is long overdue for a review, if not elimination.” He adds:

The PYD governs Syrian Kurdistan better than any other group which holds territory runs its government. Nowhere else in Syria can girls walk to school without escort (let alone attend school) or is there regularly scheduled municipal trash pick up.

And the YPG, meanwhile, has been the most effective force fighting ISIS and the Nusra Front. Given a choice between ISIS and the PKK, the United States should choose the PKK.

Mugged by reality on the ground in Northern Syria, the Obama administration may be coming around to the same view.

Bottomly’s bottom line

What happens when “women become men” at Wellesley College, which has always been, and purports to remain, an all women’s school? The New York Times Magazine took up the question this week in its Sunday magazine.

It’s a question the Wellesley administration could reasonably be expected to have answered already. After all, the existence of transgendered students at women’s colleges is no secret.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the transgendered are the “T” in GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) — a now well-established minority group that has its own Dean at many co-ed colleges. And they are, so to speak, the trendiest subgroup within the GLBT classification. In academic and other left-wing circles, demands for equal rights for the transgendered have become a rallying cry, it being increasingly difficult plausibly to view gays as significantly oppressed.

Yet Wellesley seems to have been caught flat-footed by its transgendered students. Barely in advance of publication of the New York Times story, Wellesley’s president, H. Kim Bottomly, sent the following letter, dated October 15, 2014, to alumni:

Dear [Alum]:

I am writing to alert you to an article that will appear as this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (October 19, 2014) cover story, and which was posted online earlier today.

The piece raises questions about something we have been exploring on campus: what does it mean to be a women’s college at a time when ideas about gender are shifting? The responses we are hearing from our students, faculty, staff, and alums are as varied and complex as the notion of gender itself.

We expect the story to stimulate a great deal of conversation and I wanted you to have the statement that I provided to the Times.

I look forward to the conversation.

Who doesn’t like a good conversation?

Wellesley’s statement to the New York Times is as content-free as President Bottomly’s letter:

Gender identity is a complex matter, and the national discourse on this subject is evolving. In our view, as the leading women’s college, our responsibility is to contribute to the conversation in ways that are inclusive, constructive, and meaningful to members of our own community and to the community at large.

We are approaching the discussion of gender fluidity and transgender experience with sensitivity, and in a way that reflects our values and mission. I have appointed an advisory group to evaluate the College’s current policies and practices, and we are hosting a range of community events, programs, and activities to explore what it means to be a women’s college at a time when ideas about gender are becoming more fluid. By exploring these issues in depth together, we will determine how to best meet the changing needs of our community as a whole.

I am proud to be part of the Wellesley community where people feel free to share their views and argue for their convictions—a community that has always been proud of all its students and alums.

This campus exploration began at the start of the semester with President Bottomly’s Convocation address, Being a Women’s College in the 21st Century.

The cliche-to-sentence ratio of this statement exceeds 1:1.

As for Bottomly’s Convocation address, it did not specifically address, “gender fluidity and transgender experience” or the like. The address is devoted instead to extolling the virtues of all women’s colleges.

One therefore could construe the address as suggesting that when women become men at Wellesley, they no longer belong at Wellesley. But I doubt that this is the message Bottomly intended to convey.

The bottom line is that Bottomly doesn’t seem to have a clue about what should happen when women become men at Wellesely. Either that or she doesn’t want to say.

Leadership used to mean more than looking forward to a conversation.

Separated at Birth?

Now maybe this is just the dinner wine talking, but ponder the photos below and keep in mind that you’ve never seen Bill DeBlasio and Spiro Agnew together now, have you?  Draw your own conclusions and parallels.  (I know what you’re thinking: Step awaaaay from the pinot. . .  Probably good advice.)


Udall Describes Himself as “Brain Dead.” Who Can Argue?

If you haven’t yet seen it, you really must watch this interview of Senator Mark Udall by a Denver television station. Asked whether Common Core is good or bad, he answers “Yes.” The interviewer doesn’t seem to notice. It’s downhill from there; asked to name three books that have influenced him, Udall is stumped and suggests they come back and re-tape another time. Remarkable:

The Udalls have been something of a political dynasty. Which is odd: normally, in order to have a family dynasty, someone along the way has to be a good politician. But what Udall could possibly be described as a good–let alone charismatic–politician? None that I know of. But with Mark Udall, the family brand has degenerated in a manner analogous to the decline from John Kennedy to Robert Jr. No wonder he called Cory Gardner “Senator” in their recent debate.

PAUL adds: Stuart Udall, Secretary of Interior under JFK, is my favorite Udall. He brought joy to my life by requiring that the Washington Redskins racially integrate the team as a condition of playing in the newly constructed D.C. Stadium (now RFK Stadium). With the addition of a few black players, the Redskins quickly went from being the worst team in the NFL to being competitive.

Dems Blast the “Tricky, Little-Known Maneuver” That Passed Obamacare

Former Secretary of Labor Bob Reich, on behalf of MoveOn, warns Democrats what will happen if Republicans take control of the Senate: they may use a “tricky, little-known maneuver” to “ram through” their “right-wing policies” with only 51 votes, instead of the 60 votes “usually required” in the Senate. Here he is:

So the “tricky, little-known maneuver” that the Republicans may use is reconciliation. Reconciliation dates to the 1974 Budget Act and has been used many times since to enact spending and tax legislation. The House Rules Committee explains the reconciliation process here.

Reconciliation has never been a partisan issue; it has been favored by both Democrats and Republicans for budget matters. But the most controversial use of the procedure, by far, took place in 2010 when the Democrats relied on it to pass Obamacare without a single Republican vote, and without having 60 votes in the Senate. James Capretta reminds us of that piece of history:

Without reconciliation, Obamacare would not have become law at all. It’s true that the main Obamacare structure was passed by the Senate in December 2009 under normal rules for legislative consideration. That’s because Democrats at that time had 60 votes (including two independent senators who caucus with them). They didn’t need to resort to reconciliation to pass the bill as long as all 60 of their senators stuck together and supported passage, which they did.

But then Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race in January 2010; the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority and could no longer close off debate on legislation without the help of at least one Republican senator.

At that point, the president and his allies had two choices. They could compromise with Republicans and bring back a bill to the Senate that could garner a large bipartisan majority. Or they could ignore the election results in Massachusetts and pull an unprecedented legislative maneuver, essentially switching from regular order to reconciliation at the eleventh hour, thereby bypassing any need for Republican support. As they had done at every other step in the process, the Democrats chose the partisan route. They created a separate bill, with scores and scores of legislative changes that essentially became the vehicle for a House-Senate conference on the legislation. That bill was designated a reconciliation bill. Then they passed the original Senate bill through the House on the explicit promise that it would be immediately amended by this highly unusual reconciliation bill, which then passed both the House and Senate a few days later, on an entirely party-line vote.

Ironically, the Democrats’ use of reconciliation to pass Obamacare was indeed a “tricky maneuver,” unlike the standard use of reconciliation by both parties to move budget legislation. And note Reich’s discreet reference to the filibuster–60 votes are “usually required” in the Senate–except, of course, to the extent that Harry Reid unilaterally changes the rules. The filibuster is either reviled or, as here, hallowed, depending entirely on whose ox is being gored.

Reich knows all of this, but he is secure in the knowledge that the Democrats’ rank and file, including the donors to whom MoveOn’s video is addressed, are ignorant of the most basic facts of government and do not have memories that reach back to the distant past of 2010. So there is no effective constraint on dishonesty if you are a Democrat bent on fundraising.

Still, this must have been an uncomfortable moment for Bob Reich, who once thought he was somebody. To have to shill so disgracefully and mislead so baldly is a sad comedown for a former cabinet secretary.

More Fake Republicans For Orman

In Kansas, Larry Lessig’s Mayday PAC is running an ad on behalf of Independent Democrat Greg Orman featuring, according to Women For Kansas, “lifelong Republican” Nancy Moffitt:

It is striking how Democrats love to find “lifelong Republicans” who have suddenly seen the light. It generally turns out, however, that their devotion to the GOP is less than advertised. A reader looked up Ms. Moffitt’s Kansas voter registration:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.47.39 PM

Sure enough, she’s a registered Democrat. Our correspondent adds:

Nancy Moffitt re-located to Kansas sometime in 2010. Before then, she lived in Arkansas. An initial voter records search shows that Moffitt requested a Democratic ballot in 2008.

Given that Ms. Moffitt is in her 70s, it is possible that she was a Republican for most of her life (as opposed to being a “lifelong Republican”), as she puts it in the video. That would allow for her having been a Democrat since, say, the Carter administration.

If the Democrats want to attack Pat Roberts, or any other Republican, they are free to do so. But it seems they can’t resist the extra bit of credibility that comes from using a Democrat who claims to have once been a Republican. Maybe Republicans should start putting me in ads, and identify me as a former Democrat; that would be equally honest.

Happer on the Hapless Climatistas

The Puffington Host is up this afternoon with the headline “Another Month, Another Heat Record Broken.”  Get ready for whoops of celebration from the 97 percent: we’re back in business!  The “pause” is over!  Hand over your car keys!

While we await the familiar refrain, you might want to take in the presentation below from Will Happer, given last week at the George Marshall Institute in Washington.  Who is Happer? He is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, where he specialized in the study of atomic physics, optics and spectroscopy. From 1991-93, Happer served as director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.  Sounds like a guy who might know a thing or two about this subject.  Happer goes through the basics of the controversy once again, with special scorn for the favorite talking point that carbon dioxide should be regarded as pollution. (By far the most potent greenhouse gas is water vapor: funny that the climatistas don’t refer to H2O as “water vapor pollution.”  That would be too obviously embarrassing.)  The video is over an hour long, but his presentation is about 40 minutes; the rest consists of questions and answers, some of them quite good if you have the time.