Author Archives: Paul Mirengoff

“Don’t do stupid [stuff]” and “Smart Power” — what’s the difference?

Featured image Hillary Clinton famously chided President Obama for his foreign policy when she declared: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” But what is the organizing principle of Clinton’s foreign policy? According to Clinton, it is “smart power.” In remarks posted on her website (before it was scrubbed of content), she said she is “enormously proud of what we have achieved” using her »

Obama weaves a Syrian fantasy

Featured image The New York Times homes in on a concern I expressed with President Obama’s plan to use “moderate” Syrian rebels as his foot soldiers in the campaign against ISIS in Syria — namely, that these rebels are at war with the Assad regime, not ISIS. Since pushing ISIS from parts of northern Syria early this year, Syria’s rebels have few military advances to point to and in many areas have »

Hillary Clinton scrubs the vanilla from her website, leaving it calorie-free

Featured image Jeryl Bier reports that Hillary Clinton’s website, Hillaryclintonoffice.com, has removed the only substantive content it contained. The “remarks” button on the website, which made a little bit of content available, vanished sometime between July 23 and August 27. The content that formerly appeared consists of February 14, 2013 remarks at the Joint Civilian Service Award Presentation; April 2, 2013 remarks at Vital Voices (a non-governmental organization promoting women’s leadership); and »

Dems grow desperate as Elise Stefanik opens up a lead

Featured image The race in New York’s 21st congressional district between Republican Elise Stefanik (a Power Line pick) and Democrat Aaron Wolff is rated a toss-up by pundits like Larry Sabato and Stu Rothenberg. But there have been signs of panic from Democrats. Earlier this month, a self-described “independent analyst” and “Wolff supporter” wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, the Watertown Daily Times, asking about Stefanik’s dating history: »

Obama’s legal justification for asserting the power to attack ISIS: ironic and weak

Featured image President Obama initially justified air strikes against ISIS on the legal theory that, as commander-in-chief, he has a responsibility to protect U.S. citizens and facilities. However, as Eli Lake points out, Obama’s battle against ISIS quickly expanded into an effort to protect Iraqi infrastructure. And now it has expanded into an effort (how serious we don’t know) to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. By what legal theory does Obama justify this »

Arab states not eager to follow feckless Obama

Featured image So now President Obama wants to organize a coalition to take on ISIS, the group whose rise he ignored on the theory that it was the terrorist “jayvee.” Arab states — notably Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan — and Turkey are to be key members of the coalition. Obama assigns these states primary responsibility for mobilizing Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. Presumably, Obama »

Obama again comes up short

Featured image In his mercifully brief address to the nation about ISIS, President Obama assured Americans that the military action he has in mind will differ from the action we took under President Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those campaigns, we used U.S. ground troops. In the upcoming campaign, we will not, relying instead on Iraqi forces and Kurds in Iraq and the Free Syrian Army in Syria. While some may »

This day in baseball history: Phillies take 6 game lead with 22 left to play

Featured image On September 10, 1964, the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 behind the pitching of Chris Short, who pitched his 11th complete game of the season. With the victory, Philadelphia moved 6 games ahead of St. Louis. Cincinnati, which beat Pittsburgh 3-0 on a shutout by ex-Pirate Bob Purkey, and San Francisco, 5-1 winner over Los Angeles, also trailed the Phillies by 6 games. With their loss to »

Obama tries to catch up with the parade

Featured image The usual purpose of an address like the one President Obama will deliver tonight regarding ISIS is to rally support for military action by explaining to the citizenry why such action is required. But Obama will flip that script tonight, as he tries to demonstrate that his awareness of ISIS’s threat matches that of the citizenry. Recent events, which culminated in the beheadings of two Americans, have convinced the public »

On Penn State, Ray Rice, Bruce Levenson, and sanctimony [UPDATED]

Featured image Sports may or may not breed discipline, but these days they certainly breed disciplinarians, too many of whom wear suits and sit behind desks. Three new developments remind us of this. The first development is a good one. The NCAA has announced that it will lift sanctions against Penn State. It imposed the sanctions in the aftermath of revelations that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky molested children »

Ordinary politics as corruption: the left’s new totalitarian hobby horse

Featured image Whatever one thinks about the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell on fraud and extortion charges, there is little doubt that the legal theories that produced the conviction blur the distinction between criminal corruption and ordinary politics. Indeed, it is my view that the left sees no such distinction. To the extent that ordinary politics stands in the way of its agenda, the left perceives ordinary politics as, at »

About the claim that Syrian “moderates” sold Sotloff to ISIS

Featured image A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, the journalist beheaded by ISIS last week, claims that Sotloff was sold to ISIS by “so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support.” He based this claim on information from “sources on the ground” that the Sotloff family deems credible. The spokesman did not identify the rebel group the family believes was responsible for selling Sotloff to ISIS. I don’t »

Poll: Obama is a flop

Featured image According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, registered voters believe, by a margin of 55-39, that President Obama is a failure, rather than a success, as president. Among all Americans, the conclusion is the same, though the margin is smaller — 52-42. Moreover, 41 percent of registered voters strongly believe that Obama is a failure. Thus, by a margin of 41-39, more registered voters strongly believe Obama has failed than »

Romney’s foreign policy team, then and now

Featured image Josh Rogin reports that leaders of Mitt Romney’s 2012 foreign policy brain trust have kept the team together in a secret effort to influence lawmakers and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates. This operation is called the John Hay Initiative. My first reaction is that I love the name. John Hay is one of the most underrated figures in American history — a brilliant Secretary of State and an outstanding man »

Obama’s “organizing” fantasy

Featured image President Obama has improved upon his statement of the American objective regarding ISIS. He now says that he intends to “degrade and destroy” this barbaric outfit, not merely to convert it into a “manageable problem.” However, Obama has not retracted, or even “walked back,” his statement about how to deal with ISIS. He has consistently taken the position that “what we’ve got to do is make sure that we are »

Bob McDonnell and the criminalization of politics

Featured image For former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, found guilty last week of fraud and extortion, I have only the small amount of sympathy reserved for those who fall from grace deservedly, but not due to true malice or viciousness. However, I agree with William & Mary law professor Jeffrey Bellin that charges like those brought against McDonnell present the real danger of criminalizing ordinary politics. The essence of the legal case »

Poll: Cotton leads Pryor by 5 points [UPDATED]

Featured image A new poll by NBC/Marist shows Tom Cotton leading Mark Pryor 45-40 among likely voters (registered voters divide evenly, 41-41). That’s a big swing from NBC/Marist’s last survey of the race, taken in very early May. It had Pryor leading 51-40. This was only poll in which Pryor cracked 50 percent. The early May poll was, then, an outlier. But most polls taken around that time had Pryor ahead. No »