Is Obama’s bombing campaign a side show?

President Obama should be commended for yesterday’s air attacks against ISIS. In addition, his decision to bomb the jidhadist Khorasan group, which is believed to be plotting attacks against the West, is praiseworthy. As to this affiliate of al Qaeda, Obama seems, for once, to be acting rather than reacting.

Even so, I tend to agree with Max Boot who argues that the most consequential news from the Levant yesterday is not the air attacks, but rather advances by ISIS on the ground. In Iraq, ISIS attackers in Anbar Province reportedly killed more than 300 Iraqi soldiers after a weeklong siege in which the Iraqi army seemed unable to supply its soldiers or fight effectively.

In Syria, ISIS continued its successful attacks on Kurds in the north. More than 130,000 refugees have fled to Turkey.

The question, of course, is whether our bombing attacks will reverse ISIS’s successes on the ground or at least halt them. For Boot the answer is no — not in the absence of an effective ground force able to take advantage of the disruption created by American bombs.

No such force seems to exist in Syria, at least not one that we would like to see succeed. The forces we hope are moderately aligned with U.S. interests apparently are being pulled out of Syria for a year of training.

In Iraq, the army seems incapable of taking on ISIS. And, says Boot, the Kurdish peshmerga is in only marginally better shape. Accordingly, six weeks of U.S. air strikes have failed to dislodge ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq or to prevent ISIS’s recent success in Anbar Province described above.

Former Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates both insist that it will take U.S. “boots on the ground” to galvanize and train the potential anti-ISIS forces. As long as President Obama refuses to permit such participation, the bombing campaign probably will remain something of a sideshow.

This day in baseball history — Reds sweep Phils; Yanks pull away

On September 23, 1964, the Cincinnati Reds completed a three game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies. They thus pulled to within three and half games of Philadelphia. St. Louis and San Francisco were both five games back.

The most exciting game of the Reds-Phillies series (played at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia) was the opener. The Reds won that contest 1-0 behind the shutout pitching of journeyman John Tsitouris (9-13 on the season with a 3.80 ERA).

Cincinnati scored the lone run on a steal of home by utility infielder Chico Ruiz (in a parody of the utility man’s usual demand, Ruiz once joked “bench me or trade me”). Ruiz stole home on his own initiative, with the great Frank Robinson at the plate. But since there were two outs and he had the element of surprise in his favor, his attempt was a reasonable move. (It’s difficult to say who was more surprised by Ruiz’s romp, Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey or Reds manager Dick Sisler).

Cincinnati won the second game 9-2 behind Jim O’Toole. The Reds pounded Phillies starter Chris Short, chasing the overworked left-hander in the fifth inning.

This game also featured a steal of home. However, it was a more conventional play — a double steal in which Vade Pinson stole second while Pete Rose came home.

The final game was another tight affair. The Phils took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning behind Dennis Bennett. One of the Reds runs had come on a solo home run by Ruiz, one of only two he hit during his eight year career.

It was a sweet moment for the Cuban utility man. He had been subjected to merciless bench jockeying from Philadelphia manager Gene Mauch for stealing home in the opener. Mauch had insisted, erroneously, that Ruiz’s gambit was “the bonehead play of the year.”

The Reds blew open the series finale with four runs in the top of the seventh. Rose knocked in the tying run with a single, and Pinson drove home three more with a home run off of reliever Ed Roebuck.

Suddenly, with nine games left to play, the Phillies’ lead no longer looked insurmountable.

Just as suddenly, the New York Yankees seemed to be pulling away in the American League. On September 21, they led Baltimore by only game and Chicago by two.

However, on both of the following two day, they won doubleheaders over Cleveland. Meanwhile, Baltimore lost two games to Detroit while Chicago split two with the Los Angeles Angels.

As a result, the Yankees now led the Orioles and the White Sox by four games.

It had been three days of twists and turns, with several more to come.

Too cool for school — Obama’s latte salute

The video below speaks volumes about President Obama, not only concerning his underlying disdain for our military, but also as regards basic decency. In my opinion, a president who thinks he’s too cool properly to return a salute from our servicemen is presumptively unfit to command them.

By the way, I received this video clip via a lawyer who was badly wounded serving in Iraq. He was offended by Obama’s latte salute, and with very good reason.

Now is the time to support Tom Cotton

I share John’s uneasiness about the November elections. Republican chances of gaining control of the Senate have been downgraded to less than 60 percent by Nate Silver, whose track record as a political forecaster is outstanding.

One reason for the downgrade is the emergence of pseudo-independent Greg Orman in the Kansas race. If he defeats Republican Pat Roberts, and the polls give him a clear lead, the GOP will have to win seven Democratic seats (assuming the GOP wins somewhat dicey races in Georgia and Kentucky).

Turning over seven seats is no small task. There are only three that seem nearly certain to turn — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. That leaves four more, assuming Roberts loses in Kansas.

The list of seats that Republicans have a decent chance of turning is not long. In my view, it consists of Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire (maybe), North Carolina, and Louisiana. Optimists might also include Michigan.

If our friend Tom Cotton were to lose his race in Arkansas, Republicans would need to win four of the six remaining tight races (assuming, again, that Roberts loses and Michigan doesn’t turn). But Colorado and Iowa are purple states, and the Republican is running behind in North Carolina.

So the bottom line, I think, is that the Republicans desperately need Tom Cotton to win in “red” Arkansas.

But that’s not the only reason to support Tom. He is a potential Republican superstar for decades to come. Tom has it all. He is exceptionally intelligent, strongly conservative, a true patriot, and a man of principle.

His personal journal — from a small town in Arkansas, to Harvard College and Law School, to “Big Law,” but then to serving as a volunteer in the infantry in Iraq after 9/11 — seemed so implausible to the left that when we reported it, many thought we had invented Tom.

But Tom’s sacrifice to his country didn’t end with his service in Iraq. After a stint here in the Washington D.C. area, during which I got to know him pretty well, he was set to leave the Army. After a visit to our wounded warriors at Walter Read Hospital, however, he told me he still didn’t think he had done enough.

This time, frankly, I thought I was talking to a fictional character. But truth can be stranger than fiction. Tom volunteered for another tour in harm’s way, this time in Afghanistan.

Politics can change the best of people, but it doesn’t seem to have changed Tom. While many conservative Republicans, all-too conscious of public opinion polls, were shying away from aggressive prosecution of the war on terror, Tom was a consistent voice for staying the course. For example, at an AEI event a year ago, he warned about the rise of al Qaeda style forces in Iraq.

In sum, a man of Tom’s character and intellect would be worthy of support even if his race were irrelevant to control of the Senate. As noted, though, his race may well be central to Republican control.

The good news is that Tom is ahead. A new poll from PPP puts his lead at six points.

The bad news is that the race is probably much tighter. No other poll taken in the last month gives Tom that big of a lead, and one such poll actually has his opponent, Mark Pryor, fractionally ahead.

Now is the time to support Tom Cotton. As John says, contributions in October are less valuable to a candidate than contributions now.

You can support Tom by donating here. I just did, again.

How Dumb Is The New York Times?

Does the New York Times still employ any managing editors or copy editors who know anything?  First, today’s story on “corporate inversions.”  Check out the hed carefully:

Inversions Hed copy

But what example do they feature in the photo in the story?

Hortons copy

So I guess Canada now counts as “overseas” for the NY Times.

The Times is apparently more ignorant of Christianity, which, last time I heard, was a major religion even in New York City.  In a story back in July about pilgrims to the Holy Land, Mollie Hemingway captured this blooper (since corrected online):

Burial copy

I guess it just depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.


Climatistas Don Their Brownshirts

Apparently yesterday’s rant about the Koch brothers wasn’t enough for Little Bobby.  Here he is calling for the jailing of the Koch brothers, and possibly politicians who “deny” climate change, when all they’re really denying is the will to power of brownshirts like Little Bobby.  (John referred to this rant yesterday, but here’s the tape.)  He cites “reckless endangerment” as the legal cause of action for jailing the Kochs, who belong “with all the other war criminals.”  Hmm: shouldn’t Little Bobby be in prison for the “reckless endangerment” of his unrelenting claims that vaccines cause autism, which every scientific review has debunked?  How many children of getting the old childhood diseases again because their stupid, gullible parents listened to this demagogue?  (Video is just 45 seconds long—hardly time to pour a shot glass for Power Line’s Little Bobby Drinking Game.)

Add some music to your day

I had not heard of Ann Hampton Callaway before her audacious 1999 recording To Ella With Love, but I’m glad I took a chance on that disc. Ella led me eventually to Ann’s superb show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York when I stopped over on my way to Israel in June 2007, and then to the rest of her recordings. There is no arguing about taste, but in my view she is the foremost living practitioner of the Great American Songbook.

Ann graciously consented to a telephone interview in advance of her two shows at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in 2008. It was a memorable experience. Ann is one of the most articulate people I have ever spoken with and a passionate proponent of the Great American Songbook, describing herself as “a keeper of the flame.” I wrote up my interview with Ann in “In praise of Ann Hampton Callaway.”

Ann’s new disc is another audacious and beautiful tribute, this one to Sarah Vaughan, aptly titled From Sassy to Divine: The Sarah Vaughan Project. I’ve been listening to it on Rhapsody this week. Like Ella, it’s a labor of love full of the musicality and creativity that distinguishes Ann’s work. Here is a good write-up on the project. A propos of the Sarah Vaughan project, Ann told me back in 2008, “We need performers in every generation to maintain our legacy,” such performers being the practical advocates of “the songs and the artists who have made a mark on our consciousness.”

Is this enough of an excuse to say that of the Sarah Vaughan recordings with which I am familiar, my favorite is her magnificently beautiful I Love Brazil! on Pablo, produced with his usual loving care by Norman Granz? I think the Brazilian setting and the Brazilian songs and the Brazilian musicians elicited something special from Vaughan. The video below features her singing “Like a Lover (Cantador)” accompanied by Dorival Caymmi, the song’s composer (with Nelson Motta, the English lyrics are by Alan and Marilyn Bergman). You may be familiar with the old Sergio Mendes version of the song, which wasn’t bad. However, the song never sounded quite this good, either before or after Miss Sarah had her way with it. Please check it out.