Daily Archives: August 30, 2013

This is probably not going to end well

Reporting for duty

Reporting for duty

A band of ambitious incompetents are in charge of the country, led by, get this: John Kerry (!).

A year ago, Obama boxed himself with his stupid, amateurish talk about “a red line” in Syria. Assad’s  now called his bluff : Obama has to act or be exposed as the weakling that he is, but how to do that without offending his base or being asked by Norway to send back his Nobel Peace Prize?

Enter John Kerry, the bicycle riding Francophile who looks so silly in lycra tighty-shorts, who’s desperate to prove he can be every bit as butch as Hillary Clinton. If the country is lucky, he and Obama will order a few missiles fired across Assad’s palace and call it a day – certainly their Democrat allies in Congress seem unwilling to agree to more than that – but what the Europeans worry about is that these two buffoons, after blustering and failing, will keep ratcheting it up until the Middle East explodes. Kerry really, really wants to be president. If Assad doesn’t fold after the first salvo of missiles, will Kerry accept defeat and watch his dream die, or will he commit us to full-on war? Before you answer that, remember: this man still thinks he won the election of 2000.

For Kerry, the Syria crisis is an opportunity to step out of the shadows of both Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and establish himself anew in front of the American people. Kerry has long shuddered at the thought that he’s dovish or too soft, and his aides have privately argued that he’s been more forward leaning on a Syria strike than some other administration officials.

Obama, aware that the American people are weary of war, has thus far remained comfortably seated in the second chair on the prosecution’s side.

That dynamic suits the designs of both men, according to one former senior State Department official.

“Having Kerry out front gives Kerry what he wants, a visible public profile on the burning issue of the day, and gives the White House what they want, a measure of remove from a no-win conflict,” the former official said. “If things go surprisingly well, the president can always swoop back into public view.”

But while Kerry has pounded out the case against Assad, he has yet to recommend a sentence. On the Thursday night conference call, Kerry pushed back on lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who urged the administration to retaliate without offering a specific plan that they would support.

“He really put it back on the members well,” said a source who was on the call. “When he asked [Pelosi] what she suggested doing, she literally stuttered.”

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Just say no

Mayor in training

Mayor in training

Josh Barro: NYC needs a mayor who’s willing to let the subway kittens die. I heard this story on the radio yesterday and was appalled. Barro was too.

The next mayor of New York, if he or she is to do a good job, will have to say “no” a lot.

“No” to public employee unions who want a retroactive raise the city can’t afford. “No” to city councilmembers who will try to spend every tax dollar that comes in instead of rebuilding the city’s reserve funds. “No” to NIMBYs who don’t want anything new built in their neighborhoods. “No” to commuters seeking relief from fare increases, bridge tolls, parking fines, and an alleged “war on cars.”

Today, Dan Amira gave the candidates a “no” test, and only Republican Joe Lhota passed it. The question was: Would you shut down two subway lines for 90 minutes to save a couple of kittens who are loose on the tracks, as NYC Transit did yesterday?

Christine Quinn said she would. Bill Thompson said he would “work” to save the kittens. Anthony Weiner said he wouldn’t just shut down the subway, he’d personally crawl across the third rail to rescue them. John Catsimatidis submitted a few noncommittal lines of poetry.

Only Lhota gave the correct answer: No, you do not strand thousands of New Yorkers for 90 minutes in a futile effort to herd two cats whose lives we are inexplicably prioritizing over the rats who are run over, or drowned, or exterminated in the subways every day.

The most terrifying aspect of this campaign is that New York is poised to elect its first non-asshole mayor since Abe Beame. There’s a reason big cities elect mayors like Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani and Rahm Emanuel and Richard Daley and Ed Rendell. The mayor’s main job is to say “no.” Those guys are good at saying “no.” Lhota is the only person in the field who resembles them.

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Must be a tough day for the Kool-Aid crowd

 

I tell you that is how we do it, and it works: always. Try it!

I tell you that is how we do it, and it works: always. Try it!

Obama wins court battle, will keep White House visitors log secret and sealed until 2025.

Those of you with a loooong memory – all the way back to the 2007 campaign – may remember the Great Divider’s vowed to conduct “the most transparent administration in history”, and who can possibly forget his repetition of that promise in his 2010 State of the Union address after he’d forgotten to do what he promised in 2008?

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama talked about the importance of restoring trust in government.

To close the credibility gap, Obama said, “we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.”

“That’s why, for the first time in history, my administration posts our White House visitors online,” he said.

Can there be any doubt in anyone’s mind that Obama would have done what he’d said he’d do if he hadn’t been sued and forced to defend his secrecy policy over the next three years? And of course, now that he’s won that battle, there’s no particular reason to throw away his victory just to satisfy his critics, is there?

“The promises made then are no longer operative”, White House spokesman told FWIW today. “Just forget it.”

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Rube Awakening, II

No there, thereUh oh, now even the New Yorker is stirring – “Obama promises Syria Strike Will Have No Purpose”

(Note: Andy Borowitz is a satirist – Dollar Bill, you won’t have to defend your hero for this, today. Tomorrow ….)

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”

“Let me be clear,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our goal will not be to effect régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days and then leave.”

While Mr. Obama clearly hoped that his proposal of a brief and pointless intervention in Syria would reassure the international community, it immediately drew howls of protest from U.S. allies, who argued that two days was too open-ended a timeframe for such a mission.

That criticism led White House spokesman Jay Carney to brief reporters later in the day, arguing that the President was willing to scale down the U.S. mission to “twenty-four hours, thirty-six tops.”

“It may take twenty-four hours, but it could also take twelve,” Mr. Carney said.

“Maybe we get in there, take a look around, and get out right away. But however long it takes, one thing will not change: this mission will have no point. The President is resolute about that.”

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A rube awakening

What else could you ask for?

What else could you ask for?

The NYT discovers that Obama is a feckless idiot (there’s that term again) when it comes to foreign policy. Gee, a guy who was a community organizer, law school assistant and a six-day senator lacks any capability for dealing with a harsh world? Who’d have thunk? The failure to get Britain to join him on his most excellent adventure has his biggest fans wondering who he is; the rest of us already had the measure of the man.

 [I]t is what one former adviser to Mr. Obama, who declined to be quoted by name, “the kind of setback that reeks of misjudgment and mismanagement.”

Other former players in the Obama team, at least when speaking on the record, were only slightly more forgiving. “I think Obama is fighting a lot of war weariness and war wariness in both Britain and the U.S.,” said Christopher R. Hill, Mr. Obama’s first ambassador to Iraq and a longtime diplomat before becoming dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. “But you could almost see it coming. When you don’t have an overall diplomatic strategy, it’s hard to marshal a coalition. It’s better to have diplomacy backed by force, than force without a diplomatic strategy.”

[I]n this case, Mr. Obama has done comparatively little to explain his longer-term strategy for changing the course of events in Syria without getting sucked into a war. In fact, he has argued the opposite — that a brief strike will do the trick of teaching the Syrians a lesson.

“It doesn’t seem credible,” said Eliot Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the author of “Supreme Command,” a study of presidents and their relationships with the military. “The argument has been that you can do a strike, call it a day, and say ‘We taught them a lesson.’” If so, said Mr. Cohen, who served as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, “I fear it will just be a symbolic use of power.”

The British Parliament, however, fears it will be something else: the beginning of another conflict in which the West will inevitably get sucked in.

Update: This just in, from White House Dossier: Quote of the Day

  • “We’re hardly ‘going it alone’ in Syria. Al Qaeda will be providing ground support.”

    – Secretary of State John Kerry

    A note from our attorneys: This is not a real quote

     

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Summer draws closer to fall

The garden was hammered this year by all the rain, but some good things survived, and today was harvest time for part of it.

IMG_0193

IMG_0194

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A sad reflection on the value of NYC public schools

Mayoral candidate and City Council Chairman Christine Quinn tells her high-school volunteers to skip school and help her campaign. No argument here about the quality of the product being put out by Quinn and her fellow council members and so I agree with her that to miss a few days of school is to miss nothing – it’s just rare to see a politician be so candid.

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The victors rewrite history

Chinese scribeIt’s a process at least as old as Chinese civilization, where each new dynasty rewrote the history of the one before to prove that the new emperor was God’s chosen. Still, old or not, it’s disconcerting to watch history being altered before one’s eyes.

LATimes: Democrats responsible for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to this article ,

Only 64 percent of Democrats in Congress voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act (153 for, 91 against in the House; and 46 for, 21 against in the Senate). But 80 percent of Republicans (136 for, 35 against in the House; and 27 for, 6 against in the Senate) voted for the 1964 Act.

Wikipedia, which has been known on occasion to get its facts right, has the same numbers.

Even the ultra-liberal blog Raw Story acknowledges the vote totals:

When we look at the party vote in both houses of Congress, it fits the historical pattern. Republicans are more in favor of the bill:

80% of Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the bill. Less than 70% of Democrats did. Indeed, Minority Leader Republican Everett Dirksen led the fight to end the filibuster. Meanwhile, Democrats such as Richard Russell of Georgia and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina tried as hard as they could to sustain a filibuster.

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Megan McArdle points out what we’ve noted here before: renovations have a very short shelf-life

What will they think of next?!

What will they think of next?! Bitsy shows off her new dishwasher to Muffy – Greenwich, circa 2011

 Old and in the way

HGTV has been around for a couple of decades now, it should have an extensive back catalog. So why, I asked myself, do they limit reruns to the last couple of years?

The answer to the question is obvious almost as soon as you ask it: The older houses would look too dated. This isn’t a huge problem with House Hunters, but for virtually any other show, small details would put off the viewer: the ubiquitous travertine and “Tuscan style” pictures of grapes from the late 1990s and early 2000s; the flashy glass backsplashes that are already on their way out almost as quickly as they came in. So HGTV confines itself to the last couple of years, when the renovations will still look relatively fresh.

HGTV’s products … are essentially a perishable good. A 2008 episode of a kitchen renovation show has essentially expired. It cannot be safely aired.

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Since nothing of substance transpired at last night’s BOE meeting, here’s something else

Ramadamadingdong Tamm and supporters (Frank Ferricker, center) serenade BOE members and guests

Ramadamadingdong Tamm and supporters (Frank Ferricker, center) serenade BOE members and guests

Observing the goings on at last night’s Board of Education meeting I was struck by the rigid hierarchical nature of school administration and its insistence on prompt obedience. At the last meeting I attended, our new school supervisor William McKersie opened by mentioning that a yellow packet of materials had been distributed, and then instructed everyone in the audience to “hold them up, so I can see that you all got one.” Wow – he told them to do it and at least half the audience; adults, presumably successful, accomplished individuals, dutifully raised their packets high.

Last night he did it again. Ascending the podium, Dr. McKersie cleared his throat and said in a deep, sonorous voice, “Good Evening”. No response. He paused, then repeated “Good Eveeennning”. And by golly, this time almost three-quarters of the audience boomed back, “good evening.” Even allowing for half the chanters just being polite, that’s a huge Pavlovian response to authority. This stuff has a life-long affect on some people; for the rest of us, it just serves as a reminder of why we so hated school.

(By the way, is there some reason female PTA members feel it necessary to go in pairs to the microphone, even when only one of them will speak (read a prepared speech, actually)? I know girls do that when they head off to the bathroom, but at public meetings too? Just asking.)

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♬ When will they ever learn, when will they eeevvverrr learn?

 

It was just a (bad) TV show

It was just a (bad) TV show

Woman busted for hiring undercover cop as hit man. After following stories like this for decades, the lesson is clear: there are no legitimate, honest hit men out there for hire, only undercover cops. You want something done right, do it yourself.

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Why are our three stooges silent?

(UPDATE: GPD Folks informs us that it was a Metro North SWAT team on that train, not our own force.  I’m leaving this post as is because the point is the same: the authorities think a single-shot firearm is sufficient for a citizen to try to defend himself and his family, while the police (who are theoretically trained, and better marksmen, although they aren’t) feel it necessary for their own protection to go after a single (unarmed) bad guy with fully-automatic assault rifles – on a train crowded with hundreds of unarmed, defenseless civilians. I won’t change the post except for this: our three stooges have company up in Hartford.)

The three Greenwich selectmen recently signed on to the “Mayors Against Guns” initiative presumably because they’re worried about the safety of their fellow citizens and think that the way to preserve that safety is to, among other things, ban what Selcetman Drew Marzullo described as ” high-capacity assault weapon with the capability of firing hundreds of rounds with one pull of the trigger”  That kind of rifle is illegal and civilians are prohibited from owning them, but the police do have them, and used them two days ago to frighten  commuters. Peter Tesi is the town’s police commissioner and, at least nominally, in charge of them. He might want to make inquiry of the chief as to why the force felt it necessary to barge onto a crowded train with assault rifles “capable of firing hundreds of rounds with one pull of the trigger” to apprehend (try to – they failed) a single “heavy-set Hispanic”. Is spraying a commuter car with hundreds of bullets a safe, even a sane idea, or is this an example of boys with toys run amok?

Gives literal meaning to the term “overkill” – time for retraining? Video here.

All Aboard the Sugar Donut Express!

All Aboard the Sugar Donut Express!

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