Author Archives: Paul Mirengoff

In Kabul, it feels like the Taliban has already won

Featured image Were it not for the high probability that 2015 will be significantly worse, 2014 would long be remembered as an awful year in Afghanistan. Sufficiently awful for Pamela Constable to write that “the last time Kabul felt like this, the Taliban reigned.” Constable reports: Many winters ago, I stood in a vast, empty intersection of central Kabul. The only sounds were the jingle of passing horse carts and the ticking »

A law and order re-run?

Featured image For most of 2014, the big story was the worsening of the security situation in key parts of the Middle East and the growing threat to U.S. national security resulting from the rise of ISIS in that region. Late in the year, however, a new big story emerged — the growing threat to U.S. domestic tranquility. One aspect of this threat became manifest with the cyber-attack on Sony. We will »

On Messi, Mourinho, and Martinez

Featured image Why not end the year with a soccer post? This one will cover (1) the world player of the year award, (2) the EPL title race, and (3) Everton. 1. Three players are finalists for world player of the year, to be announced next month. The three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Manuel Neuer. Ronaldo has been phenomenal this year for Real Madrid, but did not shine at the »

The legacy Obama dreads

Featured image Like all presidents, and probably more than most, President Obama is concerned about his legacy. Obama devoutly hopes that the following sentence will not appear in history books: Although he was the first African-American elected president, race relations worsened during his time in office. It’s not that Obama hates the idea of race relations worsening during his time in office. The idea of “no justice, no peace” may well appeal »

Jim Webb — born sponging

Featured image Jim Webb reportedly is fixing to run a fiery populist campaign for president. That campaign, if it materializes, will not be helped by the fact that he gave nearly $100,000 from his PAC, “Born Fighting,” to members of his family. “Born Fighting” supposedly is dedicated to backing “candidates and entities” who support economic fairness, “reorienting our national security posture,” and developing greater accountability in government. But Business Insider reports that, »

What is different for Hillary Clinton the second time around?

Featured image We closed today’s Power Line show with a brief discussion of the outlook for Hillary Clinton in the coming year. I speculated, and Steve agreed, that Clinton likely will not be able to clear the field of rivals for the Democratic nomination. This time next year, she may very well still be the Democratic frontrunner, but probably will not have an unimpeded path to the nomination. This was about where »

Ferguson cop disciplined after disparaging Michael Brown’s “memorial”

Featured image Timothy Zoll, the spokesman for the Ferguson police department who characterized a makeshift memorial to Michael Brown as a “pile of trash in the middle of the street,” has been placed on unpaid leave. As I discussed here, when the Washington Post contacted Zoll after a motorist ran over the Brown “memorial,” Zoll responded (in part) by saying “a pile of trash in the middle of the street; the Washington »

Obama’s impending regulatory assault

Featured image President Obama promised that 2014 would be the year of the presidential “phone and pen.” Atypically, Obama delivered to some extent on that promise. For Obama, 2015 will be the year in which he eschews the phone and resorts even more to the pen. His controversial executive orders on amnesty and Cuba are just the tip of that iceberg. For years, leftist dominated federal agencies have been clamoring for an »

While Obama dithered, Iran profited

Featured image If one headline summarizes 2014, it’s the title of this post (I say so in all modesty). It is a multi-purpose headline — one that applies, at a minimum, to Iraq, Syria, and Iran itself. When it comes to Iraq, no one has stated the facts more clearly than James Jeffrey, who served under President Obama as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2010-2012. Here, via the Washington Post, is »

Jim Webb for vice president?

Featured image In response to my post about Jim Webb’s presidential prospects, a reader suggests that Webb may actually be angling for the vice presidency: I wonder if Webb’s intent isn’t to become VP nominee. He simply informs Clinton, Warren, or whoever wins the nomination that they will not carry VA, NC, WV, & PA if he campaigns in those states for the Republican nominee which he will do if he is »

The Redskins and the Cowboys — what a difference two years make

Featured image Tomorrow, the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys meet in the final game of the regular NFL season. Two years ago, these teams also played in the regular season finale. Then, first place in the NFC East was on the line. The Redskins, led by their brilliant rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, prevailed. Tomorrow, nothing much is on the line. The Cowboys have already won the NFC East; the Redskins »

My meditation on David Brooks and Peggy Noonan

Featured image Let me begin by confessing my weakness for pundits who produce original and/or against-the-grain ideas. I also confess to the related tendency of preferring a plausible but misguided center-right defense of President Obama’s latest offensive policy initiative to the umpteenth denunciation of the policy on sound conservative grounds. These weaknesses help explain why I like David Brooks’ work. He’s the rare opinion-writer who comes up with ideas that I not »

One man’s “memorial” is another’s “pile of trash”

Featured image A motorist has run over a memorial erected to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The memorial consisted of odds-and-ends placed in the middle of the street. Brown’s supporters have reassembled it. His supporters claim that the motorist ran over the memorial intentionally. How they know the driver’s intentions is unclear. In any event, it was probably inevitable that items situated in the middle of a street would eventually be run »

Will 2016 resemble 1968 for Democrats?

Featured image I’ve been dismissive of Jim Webb’s prospects for winning the Democratic presidential nomination. But Jacob Heilbrunn’s column on Webb, and Steve’s commentary on that column, made me take another look. On second look, I still don’t see Webb getting very far. Will female Democrats favor Webb — currently in his third marriage and the author of what some might consider a sexist novel — over Hillary Clinton? Not likely. Will »

Thomas Friedman’s misguided end-zone dance

Featured image Yesterday, I mentioned that Thomas Friedman is taunting Vladimir Putin for being exposed by the drop in oil prices as a “delusional thug” who, with oil tide receding, is now “swimming naked.” Friedman is also taunting conservatives for having been impressed by Putin’s successes, which is rich coming from a columnist who has long been in the tank for Communist China’s one-party rule. Not surprisingly, Friedman misses the point of »

Assad and ISIS are 2014′s biggest winners, thanks in part to Obama

Featured image During the next few days, pundits will be designating their “winners and losers” of 2014. There can be little doubt about the year’s two biggest winners. Clearly, they are Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. Third place goes to Iran, which finds itself in greatly improved economic shape and within striking distance of becoming a nuclear power. But that’s nothing compared to Assad’s remarkable, turnaround year. As Seth Mandel, quoting NPR, reminds »

What a receding tide reveals

Featured image Ukraine’s parliament voted yesterday to remove a legal impediment to joining the NATO defense alliance. The vote ends Ukraine’s “non-aligned” status which it had adopted to assure Russia it would not join NATO. 303 members out of a possible 450 voted for the change. They did so knowing that NATO will not accept Ukraine as a member in the foreseeable future. Membership would carry with it security guarantees. And, as »