Loose Canons

Loose Canons

Israel to Kerry: Back Off

By 1.20.14

April is the deadline John Kerry has set for himself. By then he aims to negotiate a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He’s been at it for six months, to the dismay of pretty much everyone, especially the Israelis.

Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon blew his stack at Kerry. Yaalon said, in conversations with American and Israeli officials, that Kerry “operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism — can’t teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.” He added, “The American plan for security arrangements that was shown to us isn’t worth the paper it was written on.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded, saying “The remarks of the Israeli defense minister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially in light of everything that the United States is doing to support Israeli’s security needs.” You can read that two ways. What Yaalon said in characterizing Kerry and his actions is entirely accurate.

Loose Canons

Obama ‘Reforms’ the NSA

By 1.17.14

You might think that in the sixth year of his presidency, Barack Obama would no longer be blaming George Bush for everything that is wrong in the world. And you’d be wrong, as he proved in another tiresome speech this morning.

For about fifty minutes, Obama droned on, telling us how he would use his administrative powers (and possibly work with Congress) to “reform” the intelligence gathering activities of the NSA and, presumably, the rest of the intelligence community. He began by lecturing us (for those who didn’t pay attention in fourth grade or see the Disney movie about “Johnny Tremain,” Paul Revere and the “Sons of Liberty”) about the history of American intelligence gathering. Most important to him, Obama told us that the “worst abuses” occurred before he became president.

Loose Canons

Gatesgate and Other SGO

By 1.13.14

In Nixonian terms, Robert Gates’s memoir Duty would already be labeled “Gatesgate” if the revelations in it were half as good as the reports of them are. Add to that the dissolution of Iraq, Ed Gillespie’s imminent Senate candidacy and a tinge of GW Bridge envy and you have a lot of SGO for a month that’s only half-over.

(For those just joining us, “SGO” is the comprehensively useful acronym invented by my friend and former SEAL Al Clark. It means “s*** goin’ on” which is as good a shorthand for politics as anyone can devise.)

The Economist seems to have captured the moment in its editorial cartoon this week. In the foreground, de facto Secretary of State Dennis Rodman is handing a “Happy Birthday” balloon to Kim Jong-un. In the background stands Barack Obama asking angrily how he can respond to amateurs messing around in foreign affairs. Next to him stands Bob Gates, saying “You could write a book.”

Loose Canons

So Many Intolerable Lies

By 1.6.14

Two events last week — one an announcement by the Marine Corps, the other speeches at the inauguration of New York City's new mayor — illustrated vividly how President Obama and his media cohort have so narrowed  the boundaries of political speech that we no longer believe we can challenge outright lies.

Among the lies we’ve become inured to is that women can perform every job a man can, including those of combat infantryman and special operators. We’ve also been told the lie that the injection of women into combat arms has no effect on the warrior culture. The liberals insist that the culture isn’t of any value to combat effectiveness regardless of what the warriors themselves say.

And we have relied on the promises made by all of the military leaders, including the Marines, that they’d never diminish the physical standards that any prospective warrior had to meet simply to allow women into combat arms.

Loose Canons

Good Riddance to 2013

By 12.30.13

The political poltroonery of 2012 had gained so much momentum that poor little ’13 never had a chance. In ’12, the Supreme Court decided that Obamacare was incomprehensible but constitutional, the Republicans repeatedly helped the Dems expand the national debt, Candy Crowley defeated Mitt Romney in a presidential debate and, to no one’s surprise, Obama got re-elected. 2013 just had to be better, right?

Well, not so much. Cowering in the first known case of auto-triskaidekaphobia, ’13 stumbled its way into the ash heap of history.

As ’12 ended, Speaker John Boehner told Harry Reid to do something to himself that is anatomically impossible and then wept when Reid refused. As JANUARY began, it seemed inevitable that Reid and Mitch McConnell would again save the day for MSNBC viewers and they did by borrowing enough money from China to build a bridge from one fiscal cliff to the next.

Loose Canons

NSA’s Bad Week

By 12.23.13

History admonishes us that the law has to be maintained like a carefully tended garden. Even when a law has undergone a thorough modernization less than ten years ago, when it deals with critical national security issues directly affected by technology — as does the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in regard to terrorism — it needs to be evolved even more often.

The collision of technology’s limits and our constitutional rights made for a very bad week for the National Security Agency. Two events — one, a U.S. district court decision and the other the report of a presidential committee on NSA’s activities — combined to put in doubt NSA’s ability under the Constitution to continue its massive data collection.

The second event, the report by President Obama’s advisory committee on NSA, is being advertised as a rebuke of the NSA’s practices, but it really was not. The panels’ 46 recommendations would — if adopted or enacted by Congress — do very little to change what NSA’s been doing for the past six years or so.

Loose Canons

After Newtown, a Wasted Year

By 12.16.13

From now on, whenever liberals demand support for gun control because — as they always say — it’s to protect our children, the only proper response is to laugh out loud.

We’re now a year after the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre in which twenty children were killed as well as six school staff members. Nothing has been done to prevent a recurrence. Our children and grandchildren are as vulnerable as they were a year ago.

That’s not because the liberals haven’t forced more gun controls into law.

It’s because — as I wrote three days after Newtown — that the states have made it almost impossible to involuntarily commit the dangerous mentally ill and because we’ve not taken the obvious steps to make schools more hardened targets.

Loose Canons

NSA’s Porn Trackers

By 12.11.13

According to the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Americans are less safe from terrorist attacks than they were a year or two ago.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) said, according to a Washington Post report, that terrorist groups are more numerous and have more sophisticated, hard-to-detect bombs. That story included Cong. Mike Rogers’s (R-MI) statements that al Qaeda is growing and that terrorists are adapting to a strategy of smaller attacks.

Rogers, according to that same report, said al Qaeda is changing because groups around the world that used to operate independently are joining with al Qaeda.

This is no time to joke about Obama’s campaign rhetoric claiming that al Qaeda was dead and GM still alive because of him. Rogers and Feinstein are as well informed on these matters as anyone in Congress, and what they say must give us pause.

Once again we are faced with the question of whether our intelligence apparatus is as good as it can be and whether its assets are being applied to the best advantage. The answer to that is an unfortunate — and possibly tragic — no.