Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Skidaway Island Republican Club
True Perspectives 
The War in Cyber-space

Tuesday,  July 14, 2015
Plantation Club
Cocktails : 4:30 PM
Presentation : 5:00 PM
Sustaining members – Free
Regular members - $5
Non-Members - $10
All Welcome

 Jim' Van de Velde's resume: 
James Van de Velde, Ph.D., a Lecturer Johns Hopkins University and Adjunct Faculty at the Georgetown University, is also a Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Intelligence Reserves where he teaches at the National Intelligence University. He is also an Associate for the consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. He is a former White House Appointee in the US Department of State for nuclear weapons arms control under President George H. W. Bush, a former Lecturer and Residential College Dean at Yale University, and a former career Foreign Service Officer for the US State Department of State.  Dr. Van de Velde currently consults with US Cyber Command on US cyber strategy. He has consulted previously on national security affairs with Special Operations Command, the Open Source Academy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counter Proliferation Center, the National Counter Terrorism Center, the US Joint Staff, and the US Department of Treasury.  Dr. Van de Velde is an Associate Member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and has held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University and the US-Japan Program at Harvard University.  Dr. Van de Velde received his B.A. from Yale University in 1982 and his Ph.D. in National Security Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1988."


I am not yet back in the saddle but could not resists posting the above.
We just spent about 40 weeks out West where people are different. Their values are different than most who live in large urban areas.  Californians are very different.  They are at the extreme when it comes to values, life style and are change seekers as are Easterners.  Those in the middle, the area where  we spent a good of time, the meaty part of America, are unlike the suburbanites on the West and East coast who are, to my thinking, the bread.

I prefer protein to carbohydrates.

Americans with traditional values are being sandwiched in by the extremes and therein, lies many of our nation's problems.

Charles Krauthammer said it better than me when he pointed out the 'left have controlled out culture through various mediums, ie. TV, Hollywood,news and media folks and have been able to do so because of the break up and diminished influence of the family.and decline in education standards among other factors.'  See: http://www.staged.com/video?v=Klmb
Not only is Obama a lousy historian but he is an even worse artist.  He has drawn tens of red lines and  wasted buckets of paint.  (See 1, 1a and 1b below.)

1)The President Against the Historian

Michael Oren’s candid account of Obama’s Mideast policy has won him the right enemies.

By Bret Stephens 

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, has written the smartest and juiciest diplomatic memoir that I’ve read in years, and I’ve read my share. The book, called “Ally,” has the added virtues of being politically relevant and historically important. This has the Obama administration—which doesn’t come out looking too good in Mr. Oren’s account—in an epic snit.
The tantrum began two weeks ago, when Mr. Oren penned an op-edin this newspaper undiplomatically titled “How Obama Abandoned Israel.” The article did not acquit Israel of making mistakes in its relations with the White House, but pointed out that most of those mistakes were bungles of execution. The administration’s slights toward Israel were usually premeditated.
Like, for instance, keeping Jerusalem in the dark about Washington’s back-channel negotiations with Tehran, which is why Israel appears to be  spying  on the nuclear talks in Switzerland. Or leaking news of secret Israeli military operations against Hezbollah in Syria. Mr. Oren’s op-ed prompted  Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, to call Mr. Netanyahu and demand he publicly denounce the op-ed. The prime minister demurred on grounds that Mr. Oren, now a member of the Knesset, no longer works for him. The former ambassador, also one of Israel’s most celebrated historians, isn’t even a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, which makes him hard to typecast as a right-wing apparatchik.

But it’s typical of the administration that no Israeli slight is too minor not to be met with overreaction—and not only because Mr. Obama and his entourage have thin skins. One of the revelations of “Ally” is how eager the administration was to fabricate crises with Israel, apparently on the theory that strained relations would mollify Palestinians and extract concessions from Mr. Netanyahu.
To some extent, it worked: In 2009, Mr. Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state, an unprecedented step for a Likud leader, and he later imposed a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction, a step not even Labor Party leaders like Yitzhak Rabin ever took.
But no Israeli concession could ever appease Mr. Obama, who had the habit of demanding heroic political risks from Mr. Netanyahu while expecting heroic deference in return. In 2010, during a visit from Joe Biden, an Israeli functionary approved permits for the housing construction in a neighborhood of Jerusalem that Israel considers an integral part of the municipality but Palestinians consider a settlement.
The administration took the Palestinian side. Hillary Clinton spent 45 minutes berating Mr. Netanyahu over the phone. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg “summoned” Mr. Oren to Foggy Bottom and read out his list of administration demands. What follows is one of the more memorable scenes in “Ally.”
“Steinberg added his own furious comments—department staffers, I later heard, listened in on our conversation and cheered—about Israel’s insult to the president and the pride of the United States. Then came my turn to respond.
“ ‘Let me get this straight,’ I began. ‘We inadvertently slight the vice president and apologize, and I become the first foreign ambassador summoned by this administration to the State Department. Bashar al-Assad hosts Iranian president Ahmadinejad, who calls for murdering seven million Israelis, but do you summon Syria’s ambassador? No, you send your ambassador back to Damascus.’ ”
“Ally” is filled with such scenes, which helps explain why it infuriates the administration. Truth hurts. President Obama constantly boasts that he’s the best friend Israel has ever had. After reading Mr. Oren’s book, a fairer assessment is that Mr. Obama is a great friend when the decisions are easy—rushing firefighting equipment to Israel during a forest fire—a grudging friend when the decisions are uncomfortable—opposing the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N.—and no friend at all when the decisions are hard—stopping Iran from getting a bomb.
Best friends are with you when the decisions are hard.


Since “Ally” was published, Mr. Oren has been denounced in near-hysterical terms in the media, Israeli and American. In Israel the carping is politics as usual and in the U.S. it’s sucking-up-to-the-president as usual. The nastiest comments came from Leon Wieseltier, the gray eminence of minor magazines, and the most tedious ones came from the Anti-Defamation League, that factory of moral pronouncement. When these are the people yelling at you, you’ve likely done something right.
Mr. Oren has. His memoir is the best contribution yet to a growing literature—from Vali Nasr’s “Dispensable Nation” to Leon Panetta’s “Worthy Fights”—describing how foreign policy is made in the Age of Obama: lofty in its pronouncements and rich in its self-regard, but incompetent in its execution and dismal in its results. Good for Mr. Oren for providing such comprehensive evidence of the facts as he lived them.


Print Edition
Photo by: REUTERS
Steinitz: US report on Iran terrorism should end delusions about nuclear program
Steinitz was reacting to the annual report issued by Washington which determined that terrorist attacks worldwide surged by more than a third and fatalities soared by 81 percent in 2014.
The US State Department report detailing Iran’s continued sponsorship of international terrorism proves that Tehran cannot be trusted to curb its nuclear program, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Saturday.

Steinitz was reacting to the annual report just issued by Washington, which determined that terrorist attacks worldwide spiked by more than a third and fatalities soared by 81 percent in 2014.

Last year saw Islamic State eclipse al-Qaida as the leading jihadist terrorist group, the State Department said on Friday.

Steinitz, however, is more concerned with the report’s findings on Iran. The minister said the report’s conclusions “dealt a death knell” to “the American delusion, according to which an easing of sanctions as part of an interim nuclear treaty would lead to a moderation of its position.”

“That’s why the report should serve as a warning sign for anyone who thinks Iran will moderate its behavior after a final-status nuclear treaty,” he said.

The State Department report faults Tehran for continuing to fund its proxy organizations throughout the Middle East – namely Hezbollah and Hamas – during 2014, even while it was engaged in talks with the West. Iran also expanded its foreign operations in Africa, Asia and South America, the report finds.

Despite facing costly obstacles from the Syrian civil war, Iran continued arming and funding terrorist proxies that target Israel throughout 2014 largely unabated, the report noted.

The annual accounting of organized terrorism worldwide asserts that Iran has continued, if not expanded, its operations beyond its historical focus on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to a limited number of operations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as to “various groups throughout the Middle East.”

“Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC),” the report reads.

“These Palestinian terrorist groups have been behind a number of deaths from attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Much of Iran’s efforts throughout 2014 focused on maintaining its “resistance front” in Syria and Iraq, the report says, through its support for Shia governments and militias. The report notes of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force presence on the ground in both countries.

The report makes note of an Israeli naval raid in March 2014 on a cargo ship traversing the Red Sea, the Klos C, off the coast of Sudan. The ship’s cargo included 40 M-302 rockets, 180 mortars, and approximately 400,000 rounds of ammunition hidden within crates of cement labeled “Made in Iran.”

“Although Hamas’s ties to Tehran have been strained due to the Syrian civil war, in a November 25 speech, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei highlighted Iran’s military support to ‘Palestinian brothers’ in Gaza and called for the West Bank to be similarly armed,” the report continues.

“In December, Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk announced bilateral relations with Iran and Hamas were ‘back on track.’” In the north, Iran continues providing Hezbollah – active in the fight in Syria as well as against the Jewish state from Lebanon – with “hundreds of millions of dollars,” the report states, noting that Tehran is training “thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran.”

“Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC Aerospace Force, stated in November that ‘the IRGC and Hezbollah are a single apparatus jointed together,’ and Lebanese Hezbollah deputy secretary Gen.

Naim Qassem boasted that Iran had provided his organization with missiles that have ‘pinpoint accuracy’ in separate November public remarks,” it states.

The State Department asserts that, in admitting its arming of Hezbollah, Iran is in open violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1747.

The report praises Israel’s response to terrorist threats throughout 2014, which saw war with Hamas in Gaza lasting more than 50 days that summer.

“Israel was hit by a record volume of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and the Sinai in 2014, according to the Israeli government, with more than 4,660 projectiles launched, most during the July-August conflict, at Israeli territory compared to 74 launchings in 2013 and 2,557 in 2012,” it says, referring to Israel as a “committed counterterrorism partner.”

“Militants from Gaza also infiltrated Israeli territory using tunnels in six separate attacks and, for the first time, by a sea-borne operation,” it continues. The report praises Egypt for taking aggressive counterterrorism measures against Hamas and its tunnel operations in Sinai.

It notes, briefly, that Iranian proliferation of nuclear weapons remains a concern.

In that regard, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is due to meet his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Monday to discuss the final round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program, beginning later in the week, a senior French diplomatic source said on Saturday.

The bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers summit in Luxembourg, will be followed by a meeting between Zarif and all the European parties negotiating with Iran.

“We will see if we have moved forward or gone backwards,” said the diplomat. “There is still a lot of work to do to get the robust deal that we are hoping for.”

He said major powers, which also include the United States, Russia and China, are not thinking about a long-term extension to the talks and are focused on reaching a deal around the June 30 deadline.

Iran and the group of six – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany – reached a framework nuclear deal on April 2 in Lausanne. They aim for a final agreement by June 30 under which Iran would restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

France has been sticking to a tougher line than the US in the negotiations.

Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.

The road to ‘entropy on a scale not seen in centuries’
               Former military intel chief warns that it begins with “wishful thinking” in the White House

               By Clifford D. May
Illustration on Obama's fantasist thinking on a nuclear Iran by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times
                                                                                                                                                       Illustration on Obama’s fantasist thinking on a nuclear Iran by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times 
Lt. Gen Michael T. Flynn (ret.) served 33 years in the U.S. Army. Being named President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 was the culmination of his career. He thought his job was to relate facts, not fables. It soon became clear that his superiors didn’t agree. 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. Ted Deutch is the ranking member. Last week, they invited Gen. Flynn to testify. They – and anyone else concerned about the threats facing America and her allies -- should think hard about what he told them.

Most pressing is the nuclear deal with Iran’s rulers that the president is attempting to conclude by the end of this month. Gen. Flynn warned that it is shaping up as “not a permanent fix but merely a placeholder. The 10-year time frame only makes sense if the administration truly believes the Iranian regime will change its strategic course.” And that, he said, can only be characterized as “wishful thinking.”
Iran’s rulers continue to claim that whatever nuclear research they are conducting -- in facilities buried under mountains and at military installations – is exclusively for generating electricity and other peaceful purposes. But they also are developing missiles – presumably not as a means for keeping air conditioners humming in kindergartens. The missiles they possess today can reach targets throughout most of the Middle East. The missiles they will possess tomorrow, Gen. Flynn predicted, “will include ICBMs capable of attacking the American homeland.”

He is puzzled by the fact that Iran’s missile program has been excluded from the negotiations: “I don’t see how delivery systems (missiles or sophisticated guidance) can be excluded from any ‘deal.’ Reach is as important as force, just as in boxing.”

Expanding on his remarks in written testimony, Gen. Flynn emphasized that Iran’s increasing capabilities should be viewed in light of its intentions. But the White House, he said, has refused to “acknowledge the frequent warnings from our intelligence community, especially defense intelligence, regarding the hegemonic behaviors of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” In other words, Iran’s Supreme Leader and his Islamic Revolutionary Guards clearly mean to extend their theocratic empire throughout Middle East.

Gen. Flynn told lawmakers – more tactfully than I am about to – that President Obama’s policies are failing not just vis-à-vis Iran but also vis-à-vis the Islamic State and al Qaeda. The death toll in Syria since a civil war began there in 2011 and in Iraq since the U.S. withdrawal the same year is over 200,000 with no indication that the carnage will end any time soon.  Libya and Yemen are in chaos. Russia, China and North Korea are taking advantage of what they perceive as American fecklessness. One could go on.
Not only isn’t President Obama asking his advisors for an alternative policy, “anyone who proposes one,” Gen. Flynn told Congress, “is immediately exiled from the establishment.”
He knows whereof he speaks. He was – assuming I’ve read the evidence correctly and I’m confident I have -- forced out as military intel chief last year for refusing to toe the administration’s line that the “tide of war” is receding and that the terrorists are “on the run.” Echoing those memes would have been a career-booster but it would have been dishonest at a time when he and other top intelligence officers were well aware that the conflicts initiated by those claiming to fight for the global triumph of Islam are spreading, intensifying and accelerating.
The White House insists that if Iran signs a nuclear agreement and then proceeds to violate it, U.S. intelligence will not be blindsided. As someone who knows what America’s spooks can and cannot do, Gen. Flynn is skeptical. He cited a recent Defense Science Board study concluding that “creative missile and nuclear proliferators” have the upper hand “in the cat and mouse game they are playing with the United States and the international community.”

Not long ago, President Obama was saying that no deal with Iran would be preferable to a bad deal with Iran. Were that proposition still operative, the American side would walk unless Iran agreed to “open up all of its facilities, scientific, military, and current nuclear facilities, for international inspections.”

Iran’s rulers have been saying they will never do that.  The most they may permit is “managed access” which lets them decide where inspectors go and when. Would that give them an opportunity to hide what they don’t want inspectors to see? The question answers itself.

The president and his supporters say if we don’t go along with Iran’s terms for an agreement the consequence will be war. Gen. Flynn told Congress that a range of other options should be considered and he suggested key components of some of them. His main point, however, is that “we face a very radicalized element in the likes of Islamic extremism, Sunni and Shia.” That leads him to this tough conclusion: “The administration's refusal to state what we can plainly see is beyond irresponsible.”

He worries that unless there is a shift, the result will be “entropy on a scale not seen in centuries. We would have no way of anticipating risk, much less managing or containing it. Delusions abound these days, but anyone who can argue for an ICBM- or nuclear-capable Iran is more a pyromaniac than pragmatist.”

If Gen. Flynn’s warnings have begun to resonate on Capitol Hill, I would expect a solid majority of members of Congress – Democratic and Republican alike – to vehemently oppose any agreement with Iran based on “wishful thinking.” But perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

Imperative Meeting

I am repeating this invitation to hear Jim Van de Velde discuss cyberspace and cyber attacks and matters pertaining to cyber terrorism.  This is an extremely timely presentation given by an extraordinarily competent expert on this important topic.

Jim will speak at The Plantation Club, July 14, at 5PM.

He is speaking under the auspices of The SIRC, as part of its information series!

Please come.


 Jim' Van de Velde's resume: 
James Van de Velde, Ph.D., a Lecturer Johns Hopkins University and Adjunct Faculty at the Georgetown University, is also a Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Intelligence Reserves where he teaches at the National Intelligence University. He is also an Associate for the consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. He is a former White House Appointee in the US Department of State for nuclear weapons arms control under President George H. W. Bush, a former Lecturer and Residential College Dean at Yale University, and a former career Foreign Service Officer for the US State Department of State.  Dr. Van de Velde currently consults with US Cyber Command on US cyber strategy. He has consulted previously on national security affairs with Special Operations Command, the Open Source Academy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counter Proliferation Center, the National Counter Terrorism Center, the US Joint Staff, and the US Department of Treasury.  Dr. Van de Velde is an Associate Member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and has held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University and the US-Japan Program at Harvard University.  Dr. Van de Velde received his B.A. from Yale University in 1982 and his Ph.D. in National Security Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1988."

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Demwits" Answer - Put Government In Control, Spend More Money and Blame Republicans! Compassion Is Measured By How Much Money You Throw At The Problem!

We arrived from our coast to coast after 7078 miles from the day we left.  I will have much to say about our trip  and will do so after I have gone through 40 days of unread mail etc.

Have a Happy and Safe 4th.  Me

Posted but did not have time to mail before we left.  I felt these articles and my comment would stand the test of time for a few weeks.

“A liberal’s paradise would be a place where
everybody has guaranteed employment, free
comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food,
free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law
enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place
does indeed already exist: It's called Prison." 

When all else fails, put the government in charge, spend more money and lower the standards so the poor can experience a rise in their self-esteem
The only thing knee jerk liberals  know and use as cover for continuing to boost their welfare flops  is spend more money.

After the excessive speed of the train wreck in Philly, the "Demwits in Congress" blamed Republicans for the crash because they were not spending enough money on a failed rail system run under government auspices which, annually, loses tons of money due to poor management and excessive rules and regulations..
Baltimore's rioting,, the consequence of over 100 years of "Demwit" control resulting in failed schools, a failed society,  is all the Republicans fault.  Why?  Because they have not spent enough money.

In Chicago, various public pensions are so deep in debt they could collapse and the reason, Demwits paid off union workers by raising retirement benefits as inducement for being voted back in office and though they do not blame Republicans, they demand  more money from the wealthy who, of course, are not paying their "fair share."

Obama goes to Georgetown University and asks for more money to fight poverty so government can continue programs which destroy the black family structure and therefore, any hope they can dig out from under "Demwit " policies that crush them, keep them in their dire straights all because Libs want to govern.

Wake up idiots and quit voting for your own self enslavement or are you too stupid to understand how you are being taken for a ride? (See 1 and 1a below.)

As for Obama's contribution to solving the problems, of which he complains, he has made them worse by his combative and disingenuous attitude and outright lies.

His  divide and conquer approach towards governance  hearkens back to his radical upbringing and contempt for anyone espousing a different view.  This is typical liberality in action. If they say it, it must be so and if you disagree you are not only a racial bigot but you also have no compassion.

Compassion is measured in how much money you throw at the problem!

And then there is Hypocritic Hillar-ious telling the poor she is on their side while earning big bucks from the very fat cats she professes are everyone's enemy.

Wake up you damn fools and see how the wool is being pulled over your eyes and destroying America and the freedom we all have enjoyed.

And while I am on the subject of aberrant behaviour by liberals, I love it when they commit an act that, if not illegal, is immoral and they assuage themselves by apologizing or they spout these meaningless words: "I accept responsibility." Stephanopolous just did!
George Friedman reviews the world scene. (See 2 below.)

Hell, Obama's Doctrine cannot succeed at training an effective Iraqi military unit that is capable of winning over ISIS without abandoning their weapons and running away.

Meanwhile, his lackeys at The Pentagon and State Department  tell us it is simply an expected setback. (See 2a, 2b and 2c below.)
Republicans are dying because the "Demwits" are doing so well.. (See 3 below.)
Iran and world shipping.  (See 4  and 4a below.)
1) 'Just Asking'
By Thomas Sowell

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric -- and disregard of reality.
One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to "ask from society's lottery winners" that they make a "modest investment" in government programs to help the poor.
Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just "ask" for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.
Despite pious rhetoric on the left about "asking" the more fortunate for more money, the government does not "ask" anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don't pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.
So please don't insult our intelligence by talking piously about "asking."
And please don't call the government's pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit "investment." Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about "investing in the industries of the future"? After Solyndra and other companies in which he "invested" the taxpayers' money went bankrupt, we haven't heard those soaring words so much.
Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama's rhetoric, these producers are called "society's lottery winners."
Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?
Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?
Most people who want to redistribute wealth don't want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want "the rich" to pay their undefined "fair share" of taxes. This "fair share" must remain undefined because all it really means is "more."
Once you have defined it -- whether at 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent -- you wouldn't be able to come back for more.
Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. "You didn't build that!" he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world's wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.
And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?
The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?
When all else fails, redistributionists can say, as Obama did at Georgetown University, that "coldhearted, free-market capitalist types" are people who "pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use," so they should let the government take that extra money to help the poor.
Slippery use of the word "use" seems to confine it to personal consumption. The real question is whether the investment of wealth is likely to be done better by those who created that wealth in the first place or by politicians. The track record of politicians hardly suggests that turning ever more of a nation's wealth over to them is likely to turn out well.
It certainly has not turned out well in the American economy under Barack Obama

1a)   The Poverty Preening of Professor Obama

The president once again suggests the moral inferiority of those who disagree with him.

So this is what the president means by having a “conversation.”

At a Georgetown University conference last week, President Obama appeared on a panel billed as a “conversation” on poverty. It proved illuminating, though not in the way its sponsors intended.
Begin with the panel itself. A solitary conservative, the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks, was pitted against two liberals, President Obama and Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam. The panel was moderated by the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne.

To put it another way, what we had here was a “conversation” stacked in favor of liberals, moderated by a liberal, and taking place before a liberal crowd at a liberal university.

As if to underscore the point, the president and the moderator squeezed off three boorish references to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—all rooted in the idea that it would take a “miracle” to get GOP leaders to care about the poor.

In its news report, the New York Times parroted the party line about a conversation: “Obama Urges Liberals and Conservatives to Unite on Poverty.” Politico captured it more honestly: “Obama calls out financiers, conservatives and churches on poverty.”

Nor were these the only ones called out. While paying lip service to the notion that those who disagree with him might in fact have hearts, Mr. Obama—rather than engage with Mr. Brooks—used the occasion to review his enemies list. It included the Republican Congress (their budgets prove they don’t care), hedge-fund managers (they take money that belongs to kindergarten teachers), the churches (they’re not committed to helping the poor because they worry too much about abortion and marriage), Fox News (it vilifies the poor) and, for good measure, parents who send their children to private schools (they are withdrawing from the “commons”).

The unifying progressive contention here is the assertion that America isn’t “investing” enough in the poor—by which is meant the government isn’t spending enough. Though President Obama did acknowledge the importance of family by defending his past criticisms of absent fathers, he went on to declare it will be next to impossible to find “common ground” on poverty until his critics accept his spending argument.

Likewise for Mr. Putnam. Though his research underscores the devastating consequences of broken families, he too focused mostly on too little government spending.

Now, leave aside the argument of whether poverty owes more to a lack of government spending or to family structure and other social breakdowns. Truth is, it’s simply false to say that Republicans won’t make the public “investments” needed to help the poor.

In New York in the 1990s, for example, Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani not only invested in the police but sent them into the areas where they were most needed—primarily poor and minority neighborhoods. In too many other Democratic cities, by contrast, mayors in effect cede whole neighborhoods to the thugs and gangs.

Republicans are also willing to spend on education. What they are not willing to do is dump ever more dollars down the same rathole of big-city public school systems that function more as jobs programs for city bureaucrats and members of the teachers unions.

While we’re on the subject, note that it is the president who has tried to kill the Opportunity Scholarship program that gives poor parents in the District of Columbia the opportunity to send their children to schools such as the one where he and Michelle Obama send their own kids, the exclusive private school Sidwell Friends. Meanwhile, it is Republican John Boehner who has kept the program and public funding in place for those children who need it.

Mr. Brooks gamely tried to push back on the progressive pieties, arguing that antipoverty programs need to get past treating the poor as liabilities to be managed and start looking at poor men and women as untapped human capital. He further noted how it is the poor who suffer most when we measure programs by intentions rather than results. It would have been instructive to hear the president and Mr. Putnam explain if there is any metric they might embrace in place of what seems to be the one-size-fits-all liberal answer to any failed government anti-poverty program: increase spending.

On the flip side, it would similarly be good for Republicans to address the hard implications of their own message. If, for example, broken families are indeed driving modern American poverty, is the only answer despair—or praying for some miracle? And if you believe the government can’t help but bungle something as basic as food stamps, shouldn’t you bring this same skepticism to a “conservative” program that enlists the government to, say, discourage divorce or promote chastity?

Of course, this would require a genuine conversation, not a stacked stage for the president to once again parade his moral superiority as the answer to his critics.

2) A Net Assessment of the World
A pretentious title requires a modest beginning. The world has increasingly destabilized and it is necessary to try to state, as clearly as possible, what has happened and why. This is not because the world is uniquely disorderly; it is that disorder takes a different form each time, though it is always complex.

To put it simply, a vast swath of the Eurasian landmass (understood to be Europe and Asia together) is in political, military and economic disarray. Europe and China are struggling with the consequences of the 2008 crisis, which left not only economic but institutional challenges. Russia is undergoing a geopolitical crisis in Ukraine and an economic problem at home. The Arab world, from the Levant to Iran, from the Turkish border through the Arabian Peninsula, is embroiled in politically destabilizing warfare. The Western Hemisphere is relatively stable, as is the Asian Archipelago. ButEurasia is destabilizing in multiple dimensions.

We can do an infinite regression to try to understand the cause, but let's begin with the last systemic shift the world experienced: the end of the Cold War.

The Repercussions of the Soviet Collapse

The Cold War was a frozen conflict in one sense: The Soviet Union was contained in a line running from the North Cape of Norway to Pakistan. There was some movement, but relatively little. When the Soviet Union fell, two important things happened. First, a massive devolution occurred, freeing some formally independent states from domination by the Soviets and creating independent states within the former Soviet Union. As a result, a potentially unstable belt emerged between the Baltic and Black seas.

Meanwhile, along the southwestern border of the former Soviet Union, the demarcation line of the Cold War that generally cut through the Islamic world disappeared. Countries that were locked into place by the Cold War suddenly were able to move, and internal forces were set into motion that would, in due course, challenge the nation-states created after World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire that had been frozen by the Cold War.

Two emblematic events immediately occurred. In 1990, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union was complete, Iraq invaded Kuwait and seemed to threaten Saudi Arabia. This followed an extended war with Iran from which Iraq emerged in a more favorable position than Tehran, and Baghdad seemed to be claiming Kuwait as its prize. The United States mobilized not only its Cold War coalition, but also states from the former Soviet bloc and the Arab world, to reverse this. The unintended consequence was to focus at least some Sunnis both on the possibilities created by the end of the Cold War and on the American role as regional hegemon, which in turn led to 9/11 and is still being played out now, both to the south and north of the old Cold War dividing line.

The second event was the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian war that left about 100,000 people dead. It was a war of old grudges and new fears. It seemed to represent a unique situation that was not applicable to the rest of the region, but it in fact defined the new world system in two ways. First, Yugoslavia was the southern extension of the borderland between the Soviet Union and Western Europe. What happened in Yugoslavia raised questions that most people ignored, about what the long-term reality in this borderland would be. Second, among other things, the war centered on an east-west schism between Christians and Muslims, and the worst of the bloodletting occurred in this context. The United States and NATO interceded in Kosovo against Serbia despite Russian protests, and Moscow was ultimately sidelined from the peacekeeping mission that defused the war. The explosion in the Balkans foreshadowed much of what was to come later.
While Russia weakened and declined, the two ends of Eurasia flourished. The decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany ushered in a period of significant prosperity that had two results. The European Union, created through the Maastricht Treaty the same year the Soviet Union disintegrated, expanded its influence eastward into the former Soviet sphere and southward, incorporating disparate states whose differences were hidden by the prosperous period. And China, after the end of the Japanese economic miracle, became the global low-wage, high-growth country, powered by the appetite for its exports in prosperous Europe and North America.

The forces at work in Eurasia were hidden. The fragility of peripheral nations in Europe relative to German economic power was not fully visible. The cyclical nature of China's growth, similar in many ways to the dynamics of Japan in the previous generation, was also invisible. The consequences of the end of the Cold War Islamic world, the forces that were unleashed beneath the surface and the fragility of the states that were containing them were hidden beneath the illusion of American power after the victory in Kuwait. Only in Russia was weakness visible, and one of two erroneous conclusions was reached: Either Russia was permanently impotent, or its misery would cause it to evolve into a liberal democracy. All seemed right with Eurasia.

Signs of Destabilization

The first indication of trouble was, of course, 9/11. It was the American attack that was critical. Drawing on the recollection of Desert Storm, it was assumed that American power could reshape the Islamic world at will. All power has limits, but the limits of American power were not visible until later in the 2000s. At that point two other events intervened. The first was the re-emergence of Russia as at least a regional power when it invaded Georgia in 2008. The other was, of course, the financial crisis. Both combined to define the current situation.

The financial crisis transformed Chinese behavior. Although China was already reaching the end of its economic cycle, the decline in appetites for Chinese exports changed the dynamic of China's economy. Not only did the decline suppress growth, but Beijing's attempts to shift growth to domestic consumption created inflation that made its exports even less competitive. The result was a political crisis as the Chinese government became increasingly concerned about instability and therefore increasingly oppressive in an attempt to control the situation.

At the other end of Eurasia, the differences between the interests of Germany — Europe's major exporter — and those of Southern Europe's developing economies exposed the underlying contradiction in the European Union. Germany had to export. The weaker countries had to develop their economies. The two collided first in the sovereign debt crisis, and again in the austerity policies imposed on Southern Europe and the resulting economic crisis. As a result, Europe became increasingly fragmented.

In a reversal of roles, Russia took advantage of the fragmentation of Europe, using its status as a natural gas supplier to shape Europe's policies toward Russia. Russia was no longer the cripple of Europe but a significant regional power, influencing events not only on the Continent but also in the Middle East.

It was at this point that Russia encountered the United States. The United States has an elective relationship with the rest of the world. Except when a regional hegemon is trying to dominate Europe, the United States limits its global exposure. It exports relatively little, and almost half of what it does export goes to Canada and Mexico. But as Russia became more assertive, and particularly as it tried to recoup its losses after the fall of the Ukrainian government and the ensuing installation of a pro-Western government, the United States began to increase its focus on Ukraine and the borderlands between Europe and Russia.

At the same time that Washington felt it had to respond to Russia, the United States sought to minimize its exposure in the Middle East. Recognizing the limits of its power, the United States came to see the four indigenous powers in the region — Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel — as bearing the primary responsibility for regional stability and as counterbalances to each other's power.

The Current State of Play

This brings us to the contemporary world. There is general economic malaise around the globe. That malaise has forced China to control social forces by repression. It has created an existential crisis in Europe that goes far beyond Greece but is being acted out in a Greek-German relationship. The Russians have reached for regional power but have fallen short, for the moment. The nation-states of the Middle East are fraying, and the four major powers are maneuvering in various ways to contain the situation.

The United States remains the world's leading power, but at the same time, the institutions that it used during the Cold War have become ineffective. Even though NATO is increasing deployments and training in Eastern Europe, it is a military alliance that lacks a substantial military. The International Monetary Fund has become, in many cases, the problem and not the solution to economic difficulties. The United States has avoided entanglement in the economic problems in Europe and China and has limited its exposure in the Middle East. Yet it is becoming more directly involved with Russia, with its primordial fear of a European hegemon aroused, however far-fetched the prospect.

After every systemic war, there is an illusion that the victorious coalition will continue to be cohesive and govern as effectively as it fought. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna sought to meld the alliance against France into an entity that could manage the peace. After World War I, the Allies (absent the United States) created the League of Nations. After World War II, it was the United Nations. After the Cold War ended, it was assumed that the United Nations, NATO, IMF, World Bank and other multinational institutions could manage the global system. In each case, the victorious powers sought to use wartime alliance structures to manage the post-war world. In each case, they failed, because the thing that bound them together — the enemy — no longer existed. Therefore, the institutions became powerless and the illusion of unity dissolved.

This is what has happened here. The collapse of the Soviet Union put into motion processes that the Cold War institutions could not manage. The net assessment, therefore, is that the Cold War delayed the emergence of realities that were buried under its weight, and the prosperity of the 1990s hid the limits of Eurasia as a whole. What we are seeing now are fundamental re-emerging realities that were already there. Europe is a highly fragmented collection of nation-states. China contains its centrifugal forces through a powerful and repressive government in Beijing. Russia is neither an equal of the United States nor a helpless cripple to be ignored or tutored. And the map of the Middle East, created by the Ottomans and the Europeans, has hidden underlying forces that are rearing their heads.

The United States is, by far, the world's most powerful nation. That does not mean that the United States can — or has an interest to — solve the problems of the world, contain the forces that are at work or stand in front of those forces and compel them to stop. Even the toughest guy in the bar can't take on the entire bar and win.

2a)  ISIS Military Victory Belies Obama's Rosy Progress Reports

Politico reports that Obama's public relations team is furiously spinning a serious setback in the fight against ISIS after the Islamic extremist group seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday. The White House on Monday conceded the seizure represents a “setback” but, according to The Hill, suggested it's unlikely to switch combat strategy, which relies on U.S.-led airstrikes and training Iraqi security forces to fight the ground war.

2b) Islamic State Victory Threatens to Unravel Obama’s Iraq Strategy

Islamic State’s seizure of the Iraqi city of Ramadi threatens to unravel President Barack Obama’s strategy for defeating the Sunni extremist group without sending U.S. ground troops back to Iraq.

Ramadi’s fall, two days after a U.S. general said Islamic State was “losing” in Iraq, is the militants’ biggest success since they swept across northern Iraq a year ago. Deploying car bombs and executing dozens of pro-government soldiers and civilians, the group raised its black banner over the capital of Anbar province as government forces fled.

On Monday, U.S. officials insisted that there’s no need to change the administration’s reliance upon airpower and the training of pro-government Iraqi forces. Ramadi, they said, will be freed eventually.
“Our strategy is working,” said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, who denied that Iraqi forces fled their positions as they did last year in the face of an Islamic State blitzkrieg in northern Iraq. The Islamic State “forces simply had the upper hand, and it was time for Iraqi forces to reposition,” he said.

Continued administration assertions of strategic success risk the return of the Vietnam War-era “credibility gap,” according to some analysts.

“The administration is now trying, again and again, to spin its way to victory,” said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It isn’t working.”
The lack of combat success is reflected in perceptions among the U.S. public. In a New York Times-CBS News poll, 64 percent of respondents said the fight against Islamic State is going “somewhat” or “very” badly. The survey of 1,027 adults was conducted from April 30 to May 3.

‘Major Setback’

“This is a major setback, both for the Iraqi government and the U.S.,” retired Army General David Barno, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said of Ramadi’s capture. “It calls into question whether the Iraqi security forces can fight effectively.”

In Washington, retired military officers and other analysts said the U.S. needs to reconsider its approach to the conflict. Obama, who was elected in 2008 after promising to extract the U.S. from a decade of war, has ruled out the use of American ground troops against the jihadists of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

American advisers have trained about 7,000 Iraqis to date, with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 now receiving instruction. Barno said the pace of the training effort should be quickened.

‘Wake-Up Call’

“Show me some success,” said Michael Barbero, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who led the training of Iraqi forces during one of his three combat tours in Iraq. “None of it is working. It should be a wake-up call.”

The loss of Ramadi, about 68 miles (100 kilometers) west of Baghdad, exposes the Iraqi capital to possible attacks on its international airport, if not the heavily defended city itself.

The need to recapture Ramadi, where U.S. Marines battled al-Qaeda units for months in 2006, also is likely to delay the much-anticipated Iraqi offensive to liberate Mosul in the country’s north. And Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s decision to call upon Iranian-backed Shiite militias to fight in the Sunni city now -- though endorsed by local leaders -- risks exacerbating sectarian animosities.

‘Political Agenda’

“There is a political agenda behind the prime minister’s decision to send the militias,” said Ahmed al-Misari, a Sunni lawmaker who spoke from Baghdad by phone, adding that he feared a repeat of sectarian killings seen in other areas where the militias have fought.

At stake could be Iraq’s integrity as a single state. As militant attacks mounted in recent weeks, representatives of Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish communities complained that the Shiite-dominated central government has been slow to provide them with arms and ammunition.

“The Anbar officials and tribal leaders have been begging the defense minister to send the Iraqi government forces to Anbar and to the tribal fighters weapons and ammunition so they can resist the aggressive attacks carried out” by Islamic State, Nahida al-Dayni, a Sunni lawmaker, said by phone. “The response was always weak.”

U.S.-backed forces last month retook Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein and a Sunni stronghold. After that victory, which featured Shiite militias supported by Iran, the Iraqi government announced plans to retake all of Anbar province.

‘On the Defensive’

On May 15, Marine Corps Brigadier General Thomas Weidley, chief of staff for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said Islamic State was “on the defensive throughout Iraq and Syria.”

The ability of Islamic State to mass several hundred fighters for Ramadi’s capture, however, exposed airpower’s limits. Without U.S. personnel on the front lines who can pinpoint targets, it is difficult to use air attacks against enemy forces in cities.

“There’s no question this is not a relentless air-to-ground campaign,” said Barno.
Even as Ramadi’s fate was being sealed, the U.S.-led coalition flew just eight airstrikes in the 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m. Monday local time.

The toll on Islamic State was modest: four fighting positions, five buildings, two armored vehicles, two mortar potions, one armed personnel carrier, some ammunition and a command-and-control facility, according to the Defense Department.

“There will be ups and downs to this fight, and Ramadi is a great example of a down,” Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in Washington on Monday.

‘Pretty Confident’

Still, Morell said he was “pretty confident” that “given time, given a mixture of airstrikes” combined with Kurdish fighters, Shiite militia and retraining of Iraqi security forces, Islamic State will be pushed from Iraq.

The U.S. currently has 3,040 soldiers in Iraq training and advising Iraqi security forces, including at al-Asad air base in the Sunni heartland.

Army General Martin Dempsey, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was criticized by some Iraq veterans’ families last month when he said the city was “not symbolic in any way,” said Monday that the U.S. will continue to back Iraqi forces.

‘Much Effort’

“Setbacks are regrettable, but not uncommon in warfare,” Dempsey said in a statement. But he also acknowledged that “much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”
The nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War said the administration needs to reexamine its approach.

“The U.S. must recognize that its policy of defeating ISIS is insufficient,” wrote Jessica Lewis McFate, a former Army intelligence officer. “American national security requires a regional policy to stabilize the Middle East.”

Republicans were quick to assail the president’s approach. Arizona Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Ramadi’s loss “huge” and said more American ground troops would be needed to turn the tide.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an expected Republican presidential candidate, complained that “right now our piecemeal strategy to deal with ISIS doesn’t inspire confidence.”
More battles lie ahead.

The militants may seek to retake Tikrit or the oil refinery at Baiji -- described by Brigadier General Weidley as a “stalemate” -- in the weeks leading to the June 29 anniversary of the Islamic State declaring a new caliphate in Iraq and Syria, according to IHS Country Risk.


The Iraqi government’s catastrophic defeat at Ramadi has brought into focus the fact that,  as our Max Boot noted yesterday, ISIS is winning and the U.S. and its allies are losing. Though the White House and the Pentagon remain in denial about recent developments, there is little doubt that the U.S. strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terror group is an abysmal failure. Though bombing and Special Forces raids have inflicted damage on the group, it remains in control of much of Iraq and Syria. To the extent its efforts to expand the so-called caliphate have been restrained, that has been largely due to the efforts of Iran-backed militias that have given Tehran an even greater say in the country’s fate. But while Iraqis flee the onset of the ISIS butchers, it cannot have failed to come to the attention of both ISIS and Iran that Americans are currently paying more attention to the argument about the initial decision to invade the country in 2003. All of which raises the question not so much about the administration’s lackluster effort to prevail as it does about whether the American people are ultimately prepared to shrug off ultimate defeat in Iraq as they once did in Vietnam.

Last month was the 40 th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and most of the coverage focused, as it has always done, on the American evacuation of Saigon and the stories about the last people to escape the city as it fell to North Vietnamese troops. For the most part, the American memory of the war ends at that point with little if any thought given to the question of what happened to the country after the U.S. gave up. The horrors of the “re-education” camps and the ordeal of the boat people have largely slipped down the collective memory hole. Though some writers,  such as Norman Podhoretz tried to address the moral questions raised by the communist victory, as far as the overwhelming majority of Americans are concerned, Vietnam no longer existed once the war ended. We washed our hands of it as if blaming the Vietnamese people more than the U.S. leaders who had plunged the nation into the war for the suffering that America had endured during the long conflict.
I reference this disturbing fact because the current debacle with ISIS and the general indifference toward it here raise the question of whether Americans are going through a similar process with respect to Iraq. It would seem obvious that during a week when it appears that a loathsome Islamist organization is taking control of places like Ramadi for which Americans fought and bled only a few years ago that we would be intensely debating the wisdom of President Obama’s efforts to make good on his pledge to defeat ISIS. But there’s no sign that the White House feels any particular pressure to reassess its half-hearted approach to the war.
As was true of Vietnam, the overwhelming majority of Americans — Republicans as well as Democrats — have now come to the conclusion that the U.S. invasion was a mistake. Though the world is better off without a monster like Saddam Hussein and, as some GOP candidates have pointed out this week, the decision was reasonable given what we knew then, few now think it was a good idea. Indeed, given the rise of Iran as its rival collapsed, it’s possible to argue that the horrors of Saddam’s regime notwithstanding, the war hurt U.S. security in the long run. If the current debate about the war’s origins are any indication, it will take a lot more videos of ISIS beheading or burning hostages to galvanize Americans into thinking they ought to do something more to stop it. The trauma of the war is such that the success of the surge that won the war in 2007 and 2008 after initial setbacks and the subsequent spectacle of Iraq’s collapse after President Obama pulled U.S. troops seems to be less important in the minds of much of the press and the people than the pointless finger pointing about what happened in 2003.
Seen in that light, it appears a lot of Americans would like Iraq to fade from our consciousness, as Vietnam once did, like a bad dream. But the problem with that attitude is that while the atrocities visited on the Vietnamese people by the communist victors in that war were awful, they were largely contained to a Southeast Asia that America could afford to ignore even during the Cold War. Not even genocide in Cambodia rattled Americans enough to revisit their decision to forget about that war. So, too, many of us may think we can do the same in Iraq regardless of how bad thing might be as it falls into the hands of ISIS or Iran’s allies.
Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is located in the middle of one of the most strategic regions in the world. As ISIS has proved as it branches out to Libya, it cannot necessarily be contained in Iraq and Syria. Nor can an Iran that is, thanks to President Obama’s desire for détente with the Islamist regime, prepared to compete with ISIS for regional hegemony, leaving moderate Arab nations and Israel to look to their own defenses.
Like it or not, Iraq can’t be as easily put in America’s rear-view mirror as Vietnam was. If President Obama can’t be motivated to do more than to contain ISIS or minimize its gains, his foreign policy legacy will be a disaster that will bedevil his successor and the people of the Middle East. Unlike that triumph of North Vietnamese communism that Norman Podhoretz rightly decried but which did not prove to be a strategic threat to the U.S., an ISIS victory will be a catastrophe. Though Americans may still prefer to pick at the scar of our misguided decision to enter the war, eventually they’re going to have to come to grips with the need to win it or pay the consequences.
3)- The Republicans in 2016 Are DOOMED!!!!!!
 Erick Erickson

Every once in a while you stumble into a news cycle and think, “This cannot be a coincidence.”
As news reports bring word that Hillary Clinton is still refusing to answer questions from the press, Ramadi falls to ISIS, and things just aren’t going well for the Democrats right now, fear not. The press steps in with its usual “The GOP is doomed” headlines.
We begin on May 16th with the Washington Post. The GOP has such a big field of candidates, party leaders are “anxious about their chances in ’16.” That’s the actual title. It seems having such a deep field is a bad thing, unlike last time when having such a shallow field was a bad thing.
If only the GOP would coronate one candidate, just like the Democrats.
Keeping up the theme, the New York Times on the same day, claimed the GOP was baiting the left to turn on Hillary. The Democrats, you see, are so united for Hillary that the GOP is forced to spend money to try to drum up a primary for Hillary Clinton.
Slate rushed in with some back patting for the Democrats. Turns out ISIS’s leader is just like a Republican candidate for President. Fear not Democrats, they’re all just an easily beaten fringe.
The Atlantic chimed in yesterday that if you watch Fox News, you are stupid, dumb, and incapable of grasping reality. Fear not Democrats, the Republicans are so deluded that there is no way they can win.
And today the Politico gets in on the game. Yes, “the GOP is dying off. Literally.” That’s their headline.
The GOP will not pick up millennials, it is the party of old people, and it is just so outdated.
So fear not Democrats. The media has you covered. The GOP will never win again because it is closed minded, only watches Fox, is fringey like ISIS, is dying off, has too many candidates for President, and is only pretending to give Hillary a hard time.
Hey, perhaps the corollary here is that the press has convinced the Democrats they have nothing to fear and the coronation of an old corrupt lady from New York for President who won’t answer questions is brilliant strategy.
No, it just has to be a coincidence that on the same weekend five major media outlets run the same basic talking points against the GOP.
Author:  Russ Read 

Iran’s seizure of the MV Maersk Tigris container ship was a small example that shed light on a significant security vulnerability. 18 percent of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, making it what the U.S. Energy Information Administration has called “the world’s most important chokepoint.” The IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard Corps) Navy is well aware of the importance of this narrow and crucial shipping lane. Further escalation in the area could have a profound effect on oil markets and seaborne trade, making it a matter of national security for not just the U.S., but also the dozens of nations that engage in trade in the region.
There are both immediate and long-term reasons the attack on the Maersk is an important flash point. In the immediate, the IRGCN’s actions are a direct affront to U.S. sovereignty. The Tigris was sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, a sovereign nation that, according to the Compact of Free Association, is under the sole military protection of the U.S. The IRGCN knew by attacking the Tigris they were provoking the U.S. military into action, as was evidenced by the dispatching of the USS Farragut missile cruiser, which unfortunately did not arrive in time to save the Tigris from being boarded. The target and the timing were undoubtedly intentional.
The Tigris attack is evidence of a grander Iranian strategy: exposing the vulnerabilities of key shipping routes. Aside from the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will soon have the ability to apply pressure to the Bab el Mandeb, another crucial choke point off the southwest coast of Yemen from which 4 percent of the world’s oil supply flows. Iran is closely supporting and training the Houthi rebels, who have at least partial control of the crucial port city of Aden. This means that in conjunction with their presence in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran could eventually threaten 22 percent of the global oil supply.
Even the smallest disruption of commercial shipping lanes can have profound effects on markets. Maersk, the Copenhagen based company that owns the Tigris, saw a 5 percent (approx.) drop in stock the day after the attack. As of the writing of this article, elements from the US Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group are accompanying U.S. flagged cargo ships through the Strait, which could cost taxpayers millions. This attack could also prove consequential for oil markets, shipping costs, and insurance costs in the near future.
The ripple effect these kinds of attacks can have on markets is profound, and Iran is certainly aware of it. In the late 1980s, Iran began harassing Kuwaiti oil tankers throughout the Persian Gulf, destabilizing the oil market and presenting a threat to US interests. The U.S. responded by allowing Kuwait to re-register vessels under the U.S. flag, thus allowing them to be escorted by U.S. naval forces. Iran responded by mining areas in the Gulf that led to the damage of the USS Samuel B. Roberts, injuring 10 sailors. In retaliation, the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, a naval operation that led to the destruction of 5 Iranian Naval ships and damage of 2 oil platforms. Following the operation, Iranian harassment of neutral ships would decrease.
Iran has few options it can leverage to harm the U.S., but exposing vulnerabilities in shipping lanes is one of them. The spectrum of attacks Iran could engage in varies, as does the severity. As we saw in the 1980s, Iran could harass neutral shipping to apply pressure as needed. Should they choose to engage in more severe operations, Iran could also attempt to blockade or mine the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al Mandeb, throwing markets into free fall. Granted the latter option would essentially draw a massive U.S. response that would be detrimental to Iran, it still presents them with a worst- case scenario option, one that must be strategically accounted for.
Iran would probably choose to avoid a direct confrontation with the U.S., but their ability to pose a threat in the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al Mandeb gains them leverage. Regionally, it gives Iran further means to apply pressure to their neighbors. The ability to disrupt trade in the region presents an existential threat to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Gulf nations that survive on energy exports.
The threat may not be as immediately existential on a global stage, but it certainly could be problematic to the U.S., EU, and essentially any other nation that is buying or selling goods being shipped through the two choke points. The threat of Iranian harassment of these strategically important areas is by itself a point in Iran’s favor, and therefore one that the U.S. will have to account for when dealing with Iran in the future. It is Iran’s strategy to collect enough of these small power projection capabilities in order to eventually become a dominant world power. It is essentially a marathon strategy of small steps towards an eventual goal, one that will have repercussions for much of the global community should it go unchecked.

Author:  Unknown 

An Iranian naval frigate
An Iranian ship fired warning shots across the bow of a ship from Singapore in the Persian Gulf in the third such aggressive incident by Tehran against commercial vessels in recent weeks.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat fired across the bow of the Alpine Eternity, an oil tanker manned by 22-23 crew members. The ship was sailing in international waters near the coast of the United Arab Emirates when it was attacked.
According to U.S. officials, coastguard vessels from the UAE came to the ship’s aid after hearing its cry for help. The Iranian patrol boats gave up the fight shortly thereafter.
A statement issued through Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority read, “Such interference with navigational rights is a serious violation of international law. The freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce are of critical importance to Singapore and other maritime and trading nations.”
As with the other incidences, Iran claimed to have a legal dispute with the Alpine Eternity and its parent company. In late March, the Singapore ship accidentally hit an Iranian oil platform. Although Iranian officials demanded reparations, to date, the shipping company has not paid Iran any compensation.

On April 28, Iran seized control of the ship in the Straits of Hormuz flying the flag of the Marshall Islands after firing warning shots across its bow and ordering the ship to sail into Iranian waters.  Iran again claimed that there was a financial dispute over goods that had not been delivered. The ship was release more than one week later.
After that incident, the U.S. navy accompanied ships bearing the U.S. flag through the Straits for a week’s time.
A few days previously, a ship bearing the U.S. flag was intercepted and surrounded by four patrol boats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards navy. After following the ship on its course for some time, the aggressive action ended when the patrol boats pulled away.
“Iran is playing a game that is apparent to those it’s playing with but conducted under legal pretense,” said Afshon Ostovar, a senior analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Kreiger School who expertise is in Iran. “The Iranians have done their homework. They knew which ship to attack and how to justify their action.”
The posturing comes amidst the final stages of negotiations with the U.S. and other Western world powers over Iran’s nuclear aspirations as well as tensions with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States who are supporting Yemini President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against the Iranian-backed Houti rebels who are fighting to take over Yemen.
The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are the two key conduits for petroleum traded by sea. About 20% of the world's petroleum, and close to 35% of the petroleum traded by sea, passes through the strait.
Iranian muscle-flexing in these key waterways Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz can be read as a warning ahead of a key shipment of alleged humanitarian aid Iran is planning to ferry to Yemen during a five-day humanitarian cease fire. Iran has vowed to send the shipment to the port city of Hodeida in defiance of the American-Saudi coalition that has designated the city of Djibouti as the distribution point for all humanitarian aid. An Iranian naval escort will accompany the ship.
American is closely monitoring the vessel and has pointedly questioned why a naval escort is necessary for an aid ship. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Yemen on May 20.
In an embarrassing incident last April, an Iranian convoy of ships on route to Yemen turned around when confronted with U.S. naval ships tracking its course.
 “The return of the convoy was very embarrassing, and it was very public,” Ostovar said. “The leadership had to respond.”
Scott Lucas, an Iran analyst and professor of international relations at UK’s Birmingham University, commented that another confrontation could disrupt the nuclear talks. “If we have a major confrontation over an Iranian cargo ship, then there’s no way you are going to insulate the talks,” he said.