Loose Canons

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.

Loose Canons

Obama’s Coin Toss

By 12.9.13

Speaking to a forum on Middle East policy on Saturday, President Obama showed how cavalierly he regards his nuclear deal with Iran. Obama said, “We have to be vigilant about maintaining our security postures, not be naive about the dangers that an Iranian regime poses, fight them wherever they’re engaging in terrorism or actions that are hostile to us or our allies.”

“But,” he added, “we have to not constantly assume that it’s not possible for Iran, like any country, to change over time. It may not be likely. If you asked me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state that I was just describing earlier, I wouldn’t say that it’s more than fifty-fifty. But we have to try.”

This is typical Obama: pose a brave stance at the beginning and then toss off the consequences of being wrong as if they are meaningless. He states the false premises so precisely and carefully that he usually gets away with his pose.

Loose Canons

An Anglo-Catholic Mystic and Appeaser

By 12.8.13

Hitler-Chamberlain-Munich-Appeasement comparisons have long become a cliché. The latest proposed nuclear deal with Iran may be unwise, but not every bad policy, however dangerous, equals 1938. The British prime minister who ceded Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in a vain quest for peace never recovered from his ignominy, although he later backed his successor Winston Churchill. Neville Chamberlain’s partner in appeasement was Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, the tall, slender nobleman who embodied British aristocratic understatement.

Halifax’s biographer is the distinguished British conservative writer Andrew Roberts, who now lives in New York, and whom I briefly met recently at a Winston Churchill symposium. The Holy Fox: the Life of Lord Halifax has been out of print for years and is hard to get. Roberts delightedly told me it’s being republished early in 2014. Days later, I happily found a rare old copy at a Washington, D.C. used book store.