John McCain Speaks For Me On CodePink

This morning the Senate Armed Services Committee conducted a hearing at which Henry Kissinger was a witness. When Kissinger entered the committee chamber, a ragtag group of ten or so CodePink members stood up, holding signs and chanting “Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes.” One of them dangled a pair of handcuffs. The demonstrators were virtually standing over Kissinger, as for some reason the Capitol Police were absent or were slow to act.

John McCain was presiding over the hearing. When the disturbance died down, he let the CodePink miscreants have it with both barrels. “Low-life scum” is, in my view, a fair assessment of their character:

This persecution of Kissinger has been going on for decades. It has something to do with Vietnam, apparently. Quite a few years ago, Kissinger spoke at the Annual Dinner of the Center of the American Experiment here in Minneapolis. I was astonished, even then, to see a little group of “war crimes” protesters show up in front of the venue. How long can these leftists continue to hate? Forever, seemingly.

On this one, John McCain deserves the thanks of civilized people everywhere. Well done, Senator McCain!

Thank you for that non-answer, nominee

As I watched Loretta Lynch’s testimony yesterday, I had the feeling I had seen this act before. Her approach to answering questions, her tone, and some of her word choices left me with a strong sense of deja vu.

Only in the evening did I realize where I had seen Lynch’s act. It was during the confirmation hearing of Cornelia Pillard, now a judge on the D.C. Circuit.

Like Pillard, when a Republican Senator asked a question, Lynch typically began her answer with “Thank you, Senator.” If the question was at all pointed, both Pillard and Lynch said “Thank you for that question, Senator.”

Usually, they then proceeded not to answer it. However, Pillard, a professor, was somewhat more inclined to answer than Lynch, a litigator.

When Democrats asked a question, the usual practice of Pillard and Lynch was not to thank them. To say “thank you” would confirm that the question was a softball, designed to help the witness. So instead the response usually would begin with something like “Certainly, Senator.”

It seems clear that Pillard and Lynch received the same coaching. And both followed instructions quite well.

Is there anything wrong with this? No. But the point is worth making in the context of Lynch’s confirmation proceedings.

The question before Republican Senators — as one of them after another stated — is whether they can be confident that Lynch will not be another Eric Holder. Lynch expressed no disagreement with any position taken, or practice engaged in, by the Holder DOJ.

Instead, she offered something resembling a tautology. She promised “to be myself.”

But Lynch wasn’t herself during the hearing. Her answers were programmed and generic. She was Cornelia Pillard (and who knows how many other nominees), serving up testimony choreographed by some consultant.

Again, this isn’t problematic unless one accepts the premise — which many Republican Senators espoused and some may even believe — that the Holder Justice Department is beyond the pale. If one accepts that premise, then more should be required of Lynch than a deferential, coached answering style and meaningless “commitments” to uphold the rule of law and to meet with Senators to address their concerns.

What’s required is an acknowledgement that something is wrong at DOJ. Lynch never even hinted that there might be something wrong. And the evidence strongly suggests that she’s fully on-board with the radical, lawless agenda of Eric Holder, who helped put her in the position to succeed him.

Who knows the real Loretta Lynch better — Eric Holder who smoothed the path for her and President Obama who nominated her, or Republican Senators who know her through her courtesy visit and choreographed testimony?

“Thank you for that question, blogger.” It answers itself.

The Bergdahl decision

Apart from the interest of the Obama administration in preserving appearances, it’s hard to understand how Bowe Bergdahl might not be charged with desertion. President Obama staged a Rose Garden celebration to announce the swap of Bergdahl for hardened terrorist prisoners last year. Susan Rice stepped forward to praise Bergdahl’s service despite the circumstances of his capture and the disgust of his fellow soldiers, but the powerful comments of those fellow soldiers cast dark shadows on the affair.

What now? Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters reviews the relevant facts in the video below; Peters has a few choice words on the possibility that Bergdahl might walk.

Peters comments:

What we have here is very, very clear, it’s damnably clear that the White House which doesn’t understand why this is a big deal. I mean, he just deserted, right?Wouldn’t anybody do that? And they just want to protect the president. And they are pressuring the Army, pressuring the Army to whitewash this. And they don’t understand that for the military, those who went before, retirees like me, those on active duty, this is a powerful matter, as you heard from the young soldier, of precedent and principle.

If you let Bergdahl walk — it’s not about this pathetic little creep, Bergdahl, it’s about the principle — if you let him walk with full pay and benefits and a promotion despite overwhelming evidence that he deserted his post in wartime, you make it virtually impossible to prosecute future deserters. Now, in the Army, I’m sure — the Army’s not perfect. You’ve got some people craven enough and ambitious enough to save to the White House, and I’m sure they are arguing the White House’s point, but so far you’ve got some generals that are showing backbone and saying, no, for the good of the Army, for the good of the military, he has to go through the Article 32 and into court-martial. And the White House is fighting it tooth and nail because they don’t give a damn about our military, they just care about this pathetic Puss in Boots president’s reputation.

Transcript via RCP.

Civil War on the Left, Part 15

While the ruckus over Jon Chait’s critique of PC grinds on (he’s getting a lot more blowback form the Left than from me), I note with amusement another act of Leftist cannibalism taking place over in the UK.

Germaine Greer, no longer germane?

Germaine Greer, no longer germane?

When I was coming of age back in the 1970s, one of the leading feminist intelletuals was Germaine Greer, author of The Female Eunuch. I recall her appearing on Buckley’s Firing Line, and thinking the title of her most famous book was somehow fitting.

Turns out Greer is too old-timey for today’s identity politics Left. A group of students at Cambridge University are running the speaker disinvitation drill for Greer:

CUSU Women’s Officer Amelia Horgan posted the following statement on the Facebook event:

“The CUSU Women’s Campaign would like to express concern over the invitation of Germaine Greer …to speak at the Cambridge Union. Greer’s transphobia has been demonstrated not only in her writing, but also in her actions. In 1996 she publicly opposed the appointment of a trans woman academic to a position within Newnham college, outing her in the process. As such, Greer’s invitation to speak within our University community is all the more worrying – is institutional memory really so terrifyingly limited when it comes to bigotry?

Greer does not represent feminism, and she does not represent us.”

It’s fun watching these folks turn on each other. (Once again, if you have time to visit the link, you’ll see the comment thread is overwhelmingly negative toward the identity politics crowd.)

Johnson’s short course on Iran

In the January 21 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on our ongoing negotiations with Iran, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared as the principal witness. Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen also appeared in his last time around before he assumes responsibilities as CIA deputy director.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson questioned Blinken and Cohen over seven and a half minutes toward the end of the hearing. In the preface to his questions, Senator Johnson provides a short course on the problematic concessions on which our negotiations with Iran are founded (video below). Senator Johnson also demonstrates the false assumptions — I won’t call it wishful thinking, because Blinken doesn’t even appear to believe what he’s saying — on which the negotiations are allegedly predicated. The video below makes a good companion to the video of Senator Rubio from the hearing posted here yesterday.

The Hatch hemorrhage

Live blogging yesterday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general, Paul noted that Senator Hatch expressed his hopes that he would be able to vote to confirm Lynch. “I hope he won’t,” Paul added, “but after hearing his questioning, I fear he will.”

Last night Senator Hatch’s press secretary sent us a message including a video (below) of Senator Hatch’s questioning of Lynch. The press secretary wrote to point out that Senator Hatch’s questions focused on “several important issues, including Lynch’s commitment to the rule of law, immigration, executive overreach, tech and intellectual property, the criminal justice system, child pornography, victim restitution and civil rights issues.”

Senator Hatch deems the following to be the “highlights,” with timestamps added by the press secretary for our convenience:

Lynch pledged to follow the rule of law and act independently of the White House, defending laws as passed by Congress without regard to personal views or biases. She specifically pledged to “take that independence very seriously” (3:20).

Senator Hatch was able to get firm commitments from Ms. Lynch to work with Congress on the LEADs Act, protecting data stored abroad (6:30) and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (7:31), two major priorities of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force.

Ms. Lynch also committed to work with Senator Hatch on the Amy and Vicky Act to help victims of child pornography and abuse gain restitution (8:40).

Here is the video with which you can see these highlights with your own eyes.

We are living through a constitutional crisis of the first order, with the executive branch revising and rewriting and ignoring the law of the land as it sees fit, not only with respect to illegal immigration, but also with respect to Obamacare and other matters. Senator Hatch has seemed to understand. As the press secretary points out, Senator Hatch has previously stated his desire for a new attorney general “committed to putting the rule of law before partisan politics[,]” presumably because we don’t have one now. Indeed, we have an attorney general who has served as the administration’s protector in scandals such as Fast & Furious and the IRS abuses, to take two prominent examples that deeply implicate the rule of law.

That Senator Hatch finds the “assurances” stated above to be “highlights” — the sort of “highlights” that presage a vote for confirmation — is newsworthy, if not shocking, but I’ll go with shocking as well.

UPDATE: Via Twitter (below), I see that Senator Hatch has announced his strong support for Lynch’s appointment. At least we read the tea leaves correctly.

Behind the White House’s defense of the Taliban

As Scott discusses in the post immediately below, the Obama administration today claimed that the Taliban is an “armed insurrection” — you know, kind of like George Washington’s Continental Army — not a terrorist group. It is therefore materially different, spokesperson Eric Schultz argued, from ISIS. Thus, it is okay for the U.S. to swap prisoners with the Taliban (see Bergdahl, Bowe), but not okay to make concessions to ISIS in exchange for prisoners.

I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that Schultz didn’t call the Taliban — which routinely butchers innocent civilians through car bombs and the like — “agrarian reformers.”

The administration’s characterization of the Taliban is more than just an attempt to wriggle out of the moral difficulty inherent in the Bergdahl swap. It reveals, I think, the administration’s true view of the Taliban — as, for that matter, the swap did.

As I wrote at the time of the swap, Obama wants to make deals with the Taliban. It’s probably no stretch to say that, for him, the Taliban is to Afghanistan what Iran is to much of the Middle East — a force on the rise with which he hopes to make a grand bargain that will end war and bring stability.

Obama himself has more than hinted at this. In touting the Bergdahl deal, Obama expressed his hope that it would “open the door for broader discussions. . .about the future of [Afghanistan] by building confidence” with the Taliban.

Obama can’t very well gain the confidence of the Taliban if he describes the outfit as “terrorist” and compares it to ISIS. Hence, his spokesman’s valiant defense of the butchers who facilitated 9/11.

When Obama’s spokesman calls the Taliban an “armed insurrection” — thereby attempting to confer legitimacy on this outfit — what he really means is “peace partner.”

Scott is right, the Obama administration is more than just a clown show. It “falls into the killer clown horror genre.”