Risen rules

In an email message over the weekend, Gabriel Schoenfeld writes to raise a question close to my heart:

Should journalists be free to choose which laws they are required to observe and which ones they can break at will? That, essentially, is what James Risen, Pulitzer-prize winning reporter at the New York Times, is demanding as the trial of alleged CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling draws near.

Is the Justice Department going to send Risen to jail if he refuses to testify as a key prosecution witness? Or will Eric Holder wither under the certain-to-come ferocious criticism from the press? The Sterling case is likely to turn out to be the most important and controversial of the many leak prosecutions that the Obama administration has brought. As I argue in “A Privileged Press?” in the latest edition of the Weekly Standard, at stake in the outcome are a couple of no small things, like our national security and the rule of law.

Mr. Schoenfeld, it should be noted, is the author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media and the Rule of Law, which I believe to be the best book out on the subject.

Hamas’s “victory”

Hamas and Israel have entered into a ceasefire on terms mediated by the government of Egypt. I believe that the terms mirror those to which Israel agreed on July 15. Hamas proclaims victory while Israel is already engaged in the political debate and self-criticism that follows its inconclusive wars. Bassam Tawil takes an illuminating look at Hamas’s “victory.’” Unfortunately, Hamas survives to continue on its genocidal mission.

The genocidal mission is set forth in Hamas’s charter and the mission explains Hamas’s modus operandi. See, for example, the facts laid out in Tawil’s column. Hamas’s charter does not explain the useful idiots who fail to take its charter seriously.

Is Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff one such useful idiot? He did not seem to mind playing the fool in his recent interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking from his lair in Doha, Qatar. Isikoff’s account of the interview is posted together with a six-minute video in which Isikoff can be seen earnestly asking Meshaal such tough questions as “what did you mean?” when you said that what the Israel is doing in Gaza is “like the Holocaust.”

Just before the ceasefire, the UN published maps showing the damage in ‎Gaza‬, but, according to the IDF, the UN’s maps tell only half the story. The truth is that many of these buildings, including schools and hospitals, were used by Hamas‬ for to launch rockets. This is one video you probably won’t be seeing on CNN.

UPDATE: For the Israeli political aftermath as of today, see David Horovitz’s “The war Netanyahu one, and the one he may lose.”

Obama can’t wiggle out of his ISIS as the jayvee analogy

Unless ISIS somehow turns out to be a flash-in-the-pan terrorist outfit, there’s a good chance that the signature statement of Barack Obama’s presidency will be his characterization of ISIS as “the jayvee.” To avoid this stain, Obama’s new press secretary, Josh Earnest, has been assigned to explain the statement away.

Earnest argued that when Obama referred to local terrorists groups as “the jayvee,” he wasn’t singling out ISIS. Here is the exchange in which Earnest made this claim:

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC: Did the president underestimate ISIS when he referred to them in an interview only a couple months ago as a JV squad and making a reference to National Basketball Association basketball teams like the Lakers?

JOSH EARNEST: Well, I thought somebody might ask this question today so I wanted to pull the transcript of the interview because it’s important to understand the context in which this was delivered. So let me just read the full quote and then we can talk about it just a little bit. The president said quote:

I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

So the president was not singling out ISIL [ISIS], he was talking about the very different threat that is posed by a range of extremists around the globe. Many of them do not have designs on attacking the West or attacking the United States, and that is what puts them in stark contrast to the goals and capability of the previously existing al Qaeda core network that was let by Osama bin Laden.

Earnest is not telling the truth. As Peter Wehner shows, Obama was, in fact, referring to ISIS when he derided jihadists engaged in local power struggles.

This becomes clear once we refer to the comment by the New Yorker’s David Remnick that prompted Obama’s now infamous comment. Here is Remnick’s account:

In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

Obama then discussed Fallujah specifically:

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

Thus, when Obama characterized “local jihadists” as the jayvee, he plainly had in mind the group that planted the al Qaeda flag in Fallujah.

Which group had planted al Qaeda’s flag in Fallujah? That would be ISIS.

The New York Times reported on January 3, 2014:

Black-clad Sunni militants of Al Qaeda destroyed the Falluja Police Headquarters and mayor’s office, planted their flag atop other government buildings and decreed the western Iraqi city to be their new independent state on Friday in an escalating threat to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose forces were struggling to retake control late into the night.

The advances by the militants — members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS — came after days of fighting in Falluja, Ramadi and other areas of Anbar Province.

As Wehner concludes:

There is therefore only one possible interpretation: the president had ISIS/ISIL in mind when he made his “jayvee” reference. And there’s only one possible conclusion about what Mr. Earnest said: It’s false. He’s distorting the truth in order to exonerate his boss, the president, from having made a statement that was deeply and dangerously misinformed.

There is no getting around it. And given what ISIS has since achieved — plus the administration’s recent concession that ISIS has designs on attacking the U.S. — Obama’s “jayvee” comment will probably become the tag line of his presidency, in something like the way “Mission Accomplished” is President Bush’s.

There’s this difference, though. “Mission Accomplished” was a banner made for a military unit that had, in fact, accomplished its mission and was arriving home. Bush stood under the banner.

The jayvee analogy is something the oh-so-clever, oh-so-cool Obama professed himself. It makes the man some used to call our “smartest president” look criminally foolish.

Barack Obama, the Teflon President

Back in the 1980s, the Democratic Party media dubbed Ronald Reagan the “Teflon President.” By this, they meant that their false, dishonest and trivial attacks on Reagan didn’t sway the public, which appreciated the most meteoric economic recovery in modern history and restoration of America’s status as not just a great power, but a competent one.

Something quite different is happening with Barack Obama. By any possible measure, he has been an awful president. His administration has been good for hedge fund managers and “green” energy scammers, but disastrous for working class Americans, especially African-Americans. Median income and household wealth are down, and let’s not even talk about foreign policy or the national debt. Yet, Obama’s approval ratings have a relatively high floor of around 40%.

Currently, the Gallup Poll has Obama under water at 42%/51%, while Rasmussen has him at 45%/53% among likely voters. Is it conceivable that more than 40% of Americans are really satisfied with the Obama administration? I don’t think so. But ignorance doesn’t tell the story; low information voters have been hurt worse, personally, by the Obama administration’s policies than anyone else.

I think what is happening is that America’s politics have become so tribal that large numbers of people lie to pollsters. We have seen this throughout the Obama administration, when African-Americans have told pollsters the economy is doing well, more than any other demographic group, even as they have been hammered disproportionately by unemployment and wage cuts. American politics have become so polarized, and the Democratic Party has whipped its followers into such a frenzy, that 40% of us would purport to approve of a Democratic president if he burned down the White House, disbanded the Navy, and spent his evenings howling at the moon.

Barack Obama really is a Teflon president: for close to half of Americans, the facts bounce off him. Because they really don’t care about the facts; either that or they are cashing government checks and are indifferent to anything else. This does not bode well for our democracy.

CNN Hypes Audio Recording of Gunshots

CNN has obtained and published an audio recording of a Ferguson, Missouri man engaged in what sounds like a sex chat with a woman. In the midst of it, you can hear gun shots in the background. These are presumed to be, although CNN says repeatedly that it has not verified the recording, the sounds of Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown. Erik Wemple relates the story behind the recording.

Various observers, including CNN’s talking heads, have tried to attach great significance to the audio recording. CNN, promoting the recording as if it were a Blowup-type moment, recruited an audio expert who says he hears ten shots on the recording. I think there are pretty clearly eleven. CNN says that the recording “tells a different story” from Michael Brown’s autopsy, which found that he was shot six times. Beyond that, CNN and other observers have laid great emphasis on the fact that there is a “pause” in the shots. Six are fired, then a couple of seconds go by, and four–or five, as I think–additional shots are heard.

Is there anything especially newsworthy about this recording? I don’t think so. First, it is reasonable to assume that the number of shots fired by Officer Wilson has long been known to investigators. Assuming that he started with a full magazine, as in all probability he would, all you have to do is see how many rounds are left. Further, the idea that the recording somehow conflicts with the autopsy is ridiculous. If Brown was charging (or fleeing from) Officer Wilson, and Wilson fired his gun ten or eleven times, it is reasonable that four or five shots missed, and six didn’t. The number of shots fired is entirely consistent with the number that struck Brown.

How about the pause? Is it significant that Wilson stopped for a couple of seconds before resuming firing (assuming the tape reflects what CNN thinks it does)? I don’t think so. We don’t know, of course, whether the audiotape, or any other evidence, contradicts Officer Wilson’s account, since we haven’t heard Wilson’s side of the story. But, given that all of the bullets struck Brown from the front, it is plausible that Brown charged Wilson and Wilson fired in self-defense. It makes sense that Wilson would fire six rounds, then pause to see whether he had stopped Brown. (It usually takes several bullets to stop an assailant, and we don’t know how many of the first six shots missed.) If Brown resumed charging after a moment or two, Wilson would have continued firing. He only hit Brown with one shot that clearly would have stopped him; that bullet struck Brown in the top of the head, and most likely was the last one Wilson fired.

So the audio recording is consistent with what one would expect to hear if Brown charged Wilson and Wilson acted in self-defense. Whether it differs in any way from the account that Wilson gave to investigators is doubtful–Wilson likely knew how many shots he had fired, and certainly knew that the number would be obvious from an inspection of his pistol–but we can’t know for sure at this point. In short, the audio recording is interesting, but a non-story, at least for now.

College board mandates left-wing narrative for AP U.S. History

The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement exams, is effectively requiring that AP U.S. History be taught from a hard-left perspective. It is doing so through a newly-issued “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. I warned of this development here.

Stanley Kurtz provides the back story. He points out that the co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework, Suzanne Sinke and Ted Dickson, worked closely together on a project whose goal was to reshape the U.S. History Survey Course along the lines recommended by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

Bender, a history professor at NYU, is (in Kurtz’s words) “the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level.” He is also a leading critic of “American exceptionalism,” which celebrates America as a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

By contrast, Bender views America as (in his words) just “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” It is this view (and worse) that he has successfully urged the College Board to coerce high schools into teaching to our nation’s best young history students.

The La Pietra Report was the fruit of a project to create an internationalized U.S. history curriculum. Kurtz says that approximately one-third of the participants who forged the new curriculum were non-Americans. One of them was Cuban.

The co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework are also enthusiasts of the “internationalization” of U.S. history and enemies of American exceptionalism. According to Kurtz, Dickson was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

On behalf of a joint advisory board of the Organization of American Historians and the AP (OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board), he co-edited a book called America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Bender wrote the introduction, in which he explained the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

As for Sinke, a history professor at Florida State, she wrote the portion of the AP Framework on immigration. Kurtz reports that she tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. She says her goal is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

In other words, we shouldn’t get caught up in the idea that there was something exceptional about America that induced immigrants to come here. We were just another place to go — “just another pleasant country somewhere on the UN Roll Call between Albania and Zimbabwe,” to borrow a phrase used by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to mock those who deny American exceptionalism.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director who was in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, also holds the United States in low esteem. Kurtz notes that he contributed a piece on American cultural imperialism to America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History:

Charap’s essay highlights America’s commercial advertisements and anti-Soviet propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the Cold War. Charap seeks out off-putting examples of American propaganda and then suggests that students to put themselves in the places of people in the Soviet block or developing world as they respond to the American presence.

This, indeed, is teaching students to see their country through the eyes of its alleged “victims” and enemies.

And for Charap, our “victims” include the people in Central and Eastern Europe who were oppressed by the Soviet Union. This narrative goes beyond denying American exceptionalism. It is squarely anti-American.

The College Board’s “curricular coup” occurred soon after it selected David Coleman as its new president. Coleman is the architect of the Common Core. There should be no doubt that the Common Core is driven by a leftist agenda.

Americans have started to figure out, albeit belatedly, the harms associated with that project, and they are beginning to fight back. But how do we fight back against the anti-American U.S. History curriculum being imposed by the College Board?

States can reject the common core. But if high schools want to offer AP U.S. History (and it is to their advantage and the advantage of students that they do so), they must teach it as the College Board prescribes. Otherwise, students will be at a severe disadvantage when they take the end-of-the-year exam upon which college credit may depend.

As Kurtz concludes:

The brief five-page conceptual guideline [that] the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test.

The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective.

One way or another, this cannot be allowed to stand.

Green Weenies for Third Graders?

Can we award one of our coveted Green Weenies to a bunch of third graders, or would that be bullying? We really do try to restrain ourselves from beating up on the Climatistas every day, because they just make it so easy with their relentless hysteria and McCarthyite antics. But when the Climatistas reach a whole new level of absurdity, we just can’t let it pass.

There’s a brand new website—IsThisHowYouFeel?—where climate scientists have embraced one of the common exercises of third grade teachers: handwritten letters about how you feel about something important! If I didn’t know better I’d suspect this was Anthony Watts taking up satire. But no, they really mean it. This one may be my favorite:

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

How climate change makes me feel:

I feel a maelstrom of emotions

I am exasperated. Exasperated no one is listening.

I am frustrated. Frustrated we are not solving the problem.

I am anxious. Anxious that we start acting now.

I am perplexed. Perplexed that the urgency is not appreciated.

I am dumbfounded. Dumbfounded by our inaction.

I am distressed. Distressed we are changing our planet.

I am upset. Upset for what our inaction will mean for all life.

I am annoyed. Annoyed with the media’s portrayal of the science.

I am angry. Angry that vested interests bias the debate.

I am infuriated. Infuriated we are destroying our planet.

But most of all I am apprehensive. Apprehensive about our children’s future.

Associate Professor Anthony J. Richardson, Climate Change Ecologist

Prof. Richardson left off, “I am a loser.”

This one is equally fine:

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Knowing how much is at stake, knowing that I am one of the few people who understand the magnitude of the consequences and then realizing that most of the people around me are oblivious. Some of the people are not only oblivious, they also do not want to understand. They have made up their mind, maybe based on the opinion of someone they trust, someone in their family, or a friend, maybe based on a political conviction, but certainly not based on facts. 

It makes me feel sick. Looking at my children and realizing that they won’t have the same quality of life we had. Far from it. That they will live in a world facing severe water and food shortages, a world marked by wars caused by the consequences of climate change. 

It makes me feel sad. And it scares me. It scares me more than anything else. I see a group of people sitting in a boat, happily waving, taking pictures on the way, not knowing that this boat is floating right into a powerful and deadly waterfall. It is still time to pull out  of the stream. We might lose some boat equipment but we might be able to save the people in the boat. But no one acts.

Time is running out.

Associate Professor Katrin Meissner, ARC Future Fellow

This one is pretty good, too:

Dear Earth,

Just a quick note to say thanks so much for the last 4 billion years or so. It’s been great! The planetary life support systems worked really well, the whole biological evolution thing was a nice surprise and meant that humans got to come into being and I got to exist!

I’m really sorry about the last couple of 100 years – we’ve really stuffed things up haven’t we! I though we climate scientist might be able to save the day but alas no one really took as seriously. Everyone wants to keep opening new coal mines and for some reason that escapes me are happy to ignore the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel. Well, no one can say we didn’t try!

You’re probably quietly happy that “peak human” time has come and gone and it’s kind of all downhill got us now, though I guess you’re more than a bit miffed at what we’ve done to your lovely ecosystem (the forests and corals were a really nice touch by the way) and sorry again for the tigers, sharks etc.

In case you were wondering, our modeling suggests that your global biogeochemical cycles (especially the carbon one) should reach a new dynamic equilibrium in about 100,000 years or so. I guess it will be a bit of a rocky road until then but, oh well, no one said the universe was meant to be stable!

All the best and do try and maintain that “can do” attitude we love so much.

Prof Brendan G. Mackey, PhD

There’s a bunch more if you have the time. Congratulations to all the Climatistas who have become rising third graders. Green Weenies all around.

UPDATE:  Hoo boy, not to be outdone, photographer Nick Bowers has compiled a bunch Leibowitz-style black and white photos of “Scared Scientists.”  This ought to do the trick.  (Though they look like outtakes from Grapes of Wrath or something, though I suppose that’s the point.)  Here’s one, of Shauna Murray, an Australian biologist:

Fright 1 copyLooks to me more like desperation.