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For years, I have written in this humble blog that Obama and his team have created an unprecedented foreign policy disaster. The disaster be...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Year of The Monkey, Year of the Liar, or Year of the Train Wreck?

Last week, my Spanish wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year (Year of the Monkey) at our local Indian casino, surrounded by Filipinos, Vietnamese, Guamanians, Fijians, Italians, couple of Russians, a lone Brit, and, oh yes, some Chinese. Why? Because this is America that's why! I don't need a reason to celebrate anything or to own a 16-round S&W .40 or a 627 hp muscle car! Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, baby!

OK, now that I got that out of the way, I have to say that this Year of the Monkey has not kicked off well for conservatives. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia is a huge blow. Given the unfortunate importance that the Supreme Court has come to have in our lives, having a person with the patriotism, deep understanding of our history, and with the intellectual and ethical firepower of Scalia on the Court was a huge asset for those fighting for a limited government and trying to hold back the wave of trendiness assailing our courts.

As usual, the Republicans are handling the aftermath badly and getting outplayed by Obama and his progressive minions in the media. The whole debate, including a faux legal one I see brewing, about whether Obama can, or cannot, should or should not nominate a replacement or allow the next President to do so is nonsense. The issue is bogus and tailor-made for hypocrisy on both sides. The President's term is for four years, not three years. The President has the right under the Constitution to nominate a justice; the Senate, of course, has the right not to approve that person. The GOP should have come out and said that the President can send a nominee to the Senate; the Senate will undertake due deliberations; and then we'll see. Instead, well, you know what they did instead . . . paint themselves into a corner and the Dems are laughing.

We saw the GOP debate in South Carolina at the tail end of the Year of the Ram produce what can be only considered a train wreck. The debate was disappointing and destructive, and left lots of ammunition on the floor for the Dems to pick up and use in the general election. The Dems must have loved watching Republican candidates call each other liars; and Trump going off on an insane binge about Bush lying about WMD in Iraq, knowing about the 9/11 attack in advance, and basically going, well, Code Pink. It was awful. I had warmed up a bit to Trump, but was horrified by that performance; he wants the Democrats to win in the Year of the Monkey. The whole "Bush lied" meme is rubbish, and I have gone over it in prior postings (here and here, for example). It is conspiratorial nonsense of the worst kind, and calculated to let the Dems off the hook for their disastrous foreign policy.

Not a happy new year.


41 comments:

  1. The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has a crushing takedown of the Democrats' hypocrisy over Supreme Court nominations. I'll provide the link, but since it's behind the WSJ's paywall (it's actually more of a pay membrane) you can also get to it by Googling its headline, "Bork to the Future." Paying readers can use this:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/bork-to-the-future-1455644290

    Amid the carnage, there were two bright spots in the latest GOP debate. One was that Trump out-Trumped himself this time and probably alienated 1 or 2 percentage points' worth of his support with his florid rant against George W. Bush and the Iraq War. That must have hurt him in military-friendly South Carolina. And two, Rubio bounced back and regained a good bit of his credibility after Christie's ill-conceived and ultimately futile attack on him before New Hampshire. Still, the Dems' oppo-research commissars must be cackling themselves silly over all the sound-bites that they can use against the Republican candidate this fall.

    For all the reverence Republicans claim to have for Ronald Reagan, it's a puzzlement that they've all been grievously violating his Eleventh Commandment. This reflects poorly on them.

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    1. I was strongly leaning towards Trump while making regular donations to Cruz, But his nonsense over Iraq has me casting my Florida primary ballot vote for Cruz.

      I'm delivering it to the embassy in Seoul Friday so it gets delivered back to the States via diplomatic pouch.

      My vote is THAT important!

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    2. Christie's attack on Rubio was not ill-advised. It was a public service. Rubio needs to go back to South Florida, get a job selling real estate, and get out of public life. He's both wrong and mendacious on a non-negotiable issue and has little to recommend him other than a capacity for building relationships in legislatures and a certain salability. As for the last, we've had enough of Presidents who missed their vocation as local TV new presenters.

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  2. Didn't see the debate, but I have a bit of sympathy for the argument.
    What I think Bush actually did wrong, was to set incorrect expectations in the minds of the public. If everything had gone swimmingly (so many options/possibilities in hindsight), the public simply wouldn't have cared whatever/which WMDs were or weren't found.
    When things didn't go rosy, and the Bush admin has huge gaffes like telling people they should go shopping to support the troops, the poorly set expectations bit the administration.

    I was pretty certain we weren't going to find big depots of WMDs, but there was a lot potentially riding on 'being wrong' about that, and Bush *DEFINITELY* would not have been reelected in 2004 if Saddam was still in power.

    As for 9/11, GW simply receives the responsibility any commander-in-chief would in the same role. Nothing personal. It would've required some beyond-outstanding organizations to predict/prevent that attack in its temporal environment and we didn't, don't, and probably never will have those. Declaring Bush's 'share of the blame' to be "non-zero" is not that same thing as saying "It's Bush's fault, not Osama's". It was a failure, but Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and definitely Obama would've made the same "mistakes" or worse. GW gets that blame simply by the unluck of the draw, imo.

    - reader #1482

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    1. Trump's statements went beyond what is defensible.

      Bush had nine months to Clinton's eight years. Especially given leadtime and Clinton era policies like the Gorelick wall, one cannot support the contention that is was a matter of Bush, as opposed to Trump or Gore, being in office. Unless one is a nine eleven truther who thinks Bush was the real mastermind. Trump seemed in the grip of his emotions when he was interrupting the other candidates about this, so I am inclined to take the statements he made as sincere.

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    2. "No worse than Slick Willie" is a pretty damning conclusion.

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    3. "Depots"? Hellooo... Yes there were depots of chemical munitions. I was part of the initial effort on exploiting them until IEDs became the focus. Read up on Operation Avarice and associated others whose sole focus was purchasing and acquiring chemical weapons. I hate that people still don't know (willfully or otherwise) the full scope of how many pieces of chemical ordnance were recovered and STORED for eventual disposal; Daesh even walked away with some of these.

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    4. As far as I know, there was a set of known older munitions of which even unscom, in all their silliness, was aware. What the US public had reasonably been led to expect was a bunch of missiles armed with various chemical weapons. That didn't materialize, and while that shouldn't have eroded public support for the effort (because we invaded out of caution, not as part of a prosecution), we're a nation much weaker in spirit then ever before and turned to whatever made us feel good about ourselves. "Bush lied to us." is a phrase that makes people feel better for having supported the invasion but not liking the difficulty of the aftermath. It's not strictly true, but it was much easier to 'go there' because expectations were set incorrectly.

      What i'm trying to say with regards to 9/11 is that Bush takes *some* blame for it based pretty much upon luck-of-the-draw. Yes, Clinton gets a whole ton of blame as well for appointed a CIA chief who couldn't pull the trigger on something as simple as wiping out Osama when he had the chance, and for all of his general foreign policy problems that helped lead to 9/11.

      I'll have to read the transcript on Trump's latest... his previous discussions here werwn't problematic to me.

      - reader #1482

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    5. My apologies, I neglected to sign my February 17, 2016 at 10:18 AM 'Trump's statements went beyond what is defensible.' post.

      The transcript might not do justice to what was said. a) Some of it was interruptions with people talking over each other. b) There are aspects of his delivery which suggest sincerity, and that he surrounds himself with or is surrounded by people who buy that stuff.

      That didn't materialize Strictly speaking, that nifty cheap gas dispensing rocket that the Syrians have probably traces at least some of its engineering heritage to stuff Saddam dispersed.

      As far as I'm concerned, the binary chemical shells counted. We were trying to coerce the powers of the mid east into cooperating with our counter terrorism scheme. To do that, we either needed to make every power either show us their belly, or destroy them. Or them being someone we could trust to cooperate without any force or threat of force i.e. Israel. Saddam giving us his chemical program was among the minimum criteria we could have set to qualify as showing us his belly.

      Anti-Democrat

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    6. Saddam was guilty on WMD - which was confirmed when UNMOVIC reported "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" to the Security Council on 07MAR03, which established casus belli. Post-war, the Iraq Survey Group corroborated the UNMOVIC confirmation that Iraq remained in material breach.

      --As far as I know, there was a set of known older munitions of which even unscom, in all their silliness, was aware.--

      You're not describing Operation Avarice. Setting that aside, the Iraq Survey Group found many WMD-related violations, including a large procurement program, ready capability, a covert program in the Iraq intelligence services, and of course, denial and deception operations - all of it violating the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441).

      The propaganda trick behind the falsehood that 'no WMD was found' has been to compare the ISG findings to the pre-war intelligence, which was not the governing standard of Iraqi compliance, rather compare them to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) that Iraq breached for casus belli.

      Properly read, the ISG findings are rife with disarmament violations.


      --What the US public had reasonably been led to expect was a bunch of missiles armed with various chemical weapons.--

      In fact, Iraq had missile and CW violations.

      Beyond that, you're not describing a reasonable expectation. The UN disarmament process was Iraqi compliance-based, not US/UN evidence-based. Recall that the UN disarmament process was not like a crime-scene forensic investigation that searched for evidence while guarding carefully against the contamination or loss of physical evidence in a controlled area. Indeed, the Iraq Survey Group qualified its findings with the caveat that much evidence was lost before and during its post-war investigation. Rather, the UN weapons inspections tested whether Iraq disarmed in compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441).

      Thus, any expectation of piles of evidence was unreasonable on its face given the compliance-based design of the UN disarmament process. As designed, Iraq's noncompliance was confirmed for casus belli.

      --because we invaded out of caution, not as part of a prosecution--

      Both apply to the why of OIF.

      Regarding caution, Saddam was confirmed guilty on WMD, including illicit secret IIS labs that were "ideal ... to continue CW agent R&D or small-scale production efforts" (Iraq Survey Group), and terrorism - also managed by IIS - that included Islamic terrorism, including the al Qaeda network.

      Regarding prosecution, Iraq was presumed guilty. There was no burden of proof on the US and UN to prove Iraq was in material breach. The burden of proof was on Iraq to cure its guilt by proving compliance to get out of breach. At the decision point for OIF, Iraq was confirmed to be in material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, including the disarmament mandates of UNSCRs 687 and 1441, for casus belli.

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    7. We seem to be in violent agreement here.

      - reader #1482

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  3. We had a very enjoyable Chinese meal last week courtesy of our local "chinky", as Chinese restaurants used to be affectionately known before the term became Unthinkable.

    As for the casino that is politics: it's my understanding that in Italian "casino"can mean gambling hall or brothel, according to which syllable is stressed.

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    1. "Chinky"? Ha! You couldn't say that here in the States. The Indian casino on a nearby reservation is more gambling hall and restaurant than the other interpretation.

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    2. Ahem. My wife is Chinese (from the beautiful island of Taiwan), and at this point, three Sinitic languages are sometimes used in my house (Mandarin, Kejia/Hakka, Minnan/Hoklo). I sometimes turn an extra dollar myself doing freelance Chinese-English document translation.

      Still, 恭贺新禧!新年快乐!(Happy New Year!)

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    3. BTW--in honor of my own Jewish ancestors and my own culinary tastes--

      What do you call the three thousand years in which the Jews had no Chinese food?
      The Dark Ages.

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    4. Are there people who insist on Kosher Chinese cuisine? Is it even conceivable?

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    5. There are 2+ 'halal' chinese restaurants in the San Francisco bay area (odd to see the mix of arabic and chinese writing on the walls). The one I went to was really good, though very ethnic fare, not "Americanized". I presume that due to the relatively long-running presence of jews in China, there's some good kosher chinese food as well?

      - reader #1482

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    6. dearieme and anonymous:

      I have eaten halal Chinese food in Taiwan, Mainland China, and northern Thailand. The guy who taught me Chinese in college said that in the corner of the Loess Plateau where he grew up, there were lots of Muslim eateries and that due to the Muslim domination of butchering, there was little meat available apart from mutton--which my teacher thought too greasy for his tastes, and ended up a vegetarian. It is quite good, and I have no qualms about patronizing "清真"--qing zhen/halal places. Halal Chinese food features beef, mutton, or chicken instead of pork.

      My guess is that a kosher Chinese cuisine would do the same--while abstaining from shellfish as well. Further, since traditional Chinese cuisine did not use dairy products, keeping separate sets of dishes for meat and dairy meals might not be that hard. I have also heard that in New York, there are Chinese chefs who have managed to learn the rules of kashrut in order to cater to Orthodox Jewish clientele.

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    7. Thanks, chaps. I had assumed that Chinese cuisine would be sorely afflicted by lack of pork and prawn but I suppose initiative conquers all.

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  4. I think Trump may have hurt himself in the last debate. If he is the nominee, look for him to double cross those who supported him in the primary. If he makes it to the WH, he will be the ultimate XX er. So far with him in the mix this is turning into the year of the ass.

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    1. Year of the Ass. Damn! I wish I had thought of that. I might just steal it.

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    2. you should update the title of this post, and quick.. :)

      - reader #1482

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  5. Trump never said Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. That would be insane. What he did was blame both Clinton and Bush for 9/11. That's factually true even if Clinton deserves far more of the blame. But Trump didn't apportion blame numerically, he just hit both of them. Remember that Bush gave a speech before the attacks telling people not to profile Arabs. If Arabs had been profiled that day, the attacks may have been prevented. Of course Clinton is far more guilty, but Trump had a nugget of a point.

    I agree that "Bush lied" is wrong and stupid.

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    1. I believe he said that the CIA had warned Bush about the 9/11 attack ahead of time. Which is absurd.

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    2. I didn't see anything in the transcript about Trump blaming Clinton for nine eleven.

      I found two instances of him blaming Bush.

      That said, I have not taken the time to examine every line.

      Anti-Democrat

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  6. The Repubs are going to need divine intervention to win the Presidency. I keep hoping for a lightning strike for the biblical impact but short of that we all know who's going to be president.

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    1. Where there is death there is hope. She doesn't look to be a picture of rude health.

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    2. Ted Cruz may be playing a long game. If so, he may surprise us.

      I count the SC GOP Debate as evidence for the theory that the Clintons incited both Trump and Perot.

      Consider also that our lower societal trust would make polls less reliable.

      We've got two days until South Carolina, and the dirty tricks are ramping up. It is possible we may be surprised.

      That said, I've caught myself overhyping Cruz, and projecting myself onto Cruz, so it is not impossible that this is simply Cruz mania on my part.

      Anti-Democrat

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    3. This is definitely one of the more 'out there' GOP races... at least in my memory. The last 30 years of GOP nomination politics seem really tame by comparison?

      - reader #1482

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    4. You don't need divine intervention. All the leading Republicans poll passably against both Sanders and Cutthroat Bitch. As a rule, Sanders polls a bit better than CB and Trump polls a bit worse than the other Republicans.

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  7. Answer to "Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?".
    Answer to "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?".

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    1. Excellent material, thank you.

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    2. It's jolly enterprising to dress up utter defeat as victory, and reckless folly as wisdom, but it's hardly a suitable basis for improving foreign policy in future.

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    3. Thank you. Knowing what we know now (and knew then), the President's decision for OIF was correct on the law and the facts.

      I suggest this compare-and-contrast exercise of the truth of the matter told by the primary sources of the mission versus the anti-OIF propaganda endorsed by Mr. Trump.

      First, if you (and your readers) haven't yet, review the whole OIF FAQ post. It's essentially a cheat sheet that flags and synthesizes the primary sources of the mission: the situation, the controlling law, policy, and precedent that defined the operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire, and in accordance, the determinative facts that governed the decision for OIF.

      Then, when you've laid the foundation with the law and policy, fact basis - ie, the why - of the Iraq intervention, read the 16FEB16 Vox article, America's unlearned lesson: the forgotten truth about why we invaded Iraq. Compare and contrast.

      The Vox article shows that setting the record straight on the Iraq intervention in the political discourse is about more than just OIF. Our opponents have undertaken to stigmatize the whole paradigm of American leadership of the free world with the demonstrably false narrative of OIF that's endorsed by Mr. Trump.

      How the Iraq issue is understood in the zeitgeist, either truth of the matter or false narrative, lays the course for the American orientation to the world moving forward.

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    4. I have no doubt that the 'bulk of the forces' critical of OIF are mainly the Obama-style 'anti-capitalist' claptrap... It's amazing how Obama's flunkies pulled this "yes we can" crap when everything they do in relation to the rest of the world is "no we can't".... can't help.. can't follow through...

      To *me*, the biggest problem with OIF was not the planning for post-invasion pacification, but the domestic political planning for 2008+. I never would have imagined that we'd elect a President that would throw away 5 years of sacrifice simply because of his and his backers' dislike of capitalism. I was pretty certain that anybody elected President would, when actually coming into office, realize that to turn tail and run would be to demean the sacrifice of our soldiers.
      I was quite wrong.

      Sadly, that needed to be taken into account in 2003, one way or the other.

      - reader #1482

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  8. If it's the "Year of the Monkey", then Trump is going to be a shoe in as the next POTUS. I've decided this is God's punishment of the baby boomers. They're retirements will be destroyed by government "bail ins" taking most of their savings while also cutting Social Security and Medicare "for the children".

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  9. BUT, neither chicken nor duck was consumed by the wife?

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  10. It quoted him telling a large audience “from East Azerbaijan province” in Tehran on Wednesday that “the US and many European governments’ policies are dominated by this (Zionist) network, and the Americans’ dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue should be understood within this particular framework.”

    ED

    Um. So, since the “Zionists” control Europe they want to import humdreds of thoused of their death sworn adversaries into those countries to terrorize and destabile their countries?

    Yeah, right.

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  11. Trump has grown too erratic. Rubio is simply unsuitable every which way. Cruz it will have to be.

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  12. and the band played Waltzing Matilda - https://goo.gl/R5MNI3

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