President Obama has no concept of accountability. His minions know that no matter what they do, they’re never going to suffer consequences for their mistakes, no matter how grievous or embarrassing. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, presides over the biggest flop the Internet has seen since Al Gore invented it. White House press secretary Jay Carney says Mrs. Sebelius, despite spending $634 million on the Obamacare website disaster, still has the president’s “full confidence.”

Mr. Carney’s predecessor, Robert Gibbs, now that he no longer has to say things he doesn’t believe and can speak for himself, disagrees. Mr. Gibbs characterized the rollout of the health care takeover as “excruciatingly embarrassing.” He told MSNBC that it was “bungled badly.” Would-be Obamacare enrollees and curiosity-seekers alike have encountered technical malfunctions, including error messages and crashed pages, when they tried to log on to The initial “traffic jam” explanation — that it was simply the happy crush of eager enrollees all trying to sign up at once — was abandoned in the face of complaints that even attempts to log on in the wee hours of the morning failed.

The president likens the opening of the Obamacare exchanges to glitches that Apple encounters when it introduces a new operating system for its cellphones and electronic tablets. “I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads,” the president protested, “or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t.”

STEPHEN DINAN: THE US DEBT JUMPS 328 BILLION…TOPS 17 TRILLION U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week. The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday. The $328 billion increase shattered the previous high […]


“12 Years a Slave” is a 2013 British-American historical drama film based on the 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery.

In this film, we’re light-years away from the cartoonish violence of Django Unchained.

In his treatment of slavery in the American South in Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville contrasts modern with ancient slavery. While ancient slavery, he wrote, typically aimed to constrain only the body — to force the enslaved into servile work – modern slavery aims to entrap the mind. It “overturns the order of nature,” constituting what Tocqueville chillingly called “spiritualized despotism and violence.” That thesis is amply illustrated in the compelling new film from the London-born black director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave, which boasts an all-star cast and a gripping story based on a mid-19th-century autobiography by a free black man, Solomon Northrup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

A talented musician living in New York in 1841 with his family, Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) accepts an attractive financial offer from a group of traveling performers. Without leaving word for his wife, who is away at the time, he travels with the group to Washington, D.C., where he awakens to find himself drugged and bound in chains. Severed from his previous life, he is given the name Platt, shipped off to Louisiana, and forced into slavery. Early on, Solomon, untrained in the ways of servitude, resists. He responds to his circumstances as one would hope any free individual would do, not just denying that he is a slave but also adding, “I will have satisfaction for this wrong.” That line might give viewers the false expectation of a revenge film — something 12 Years a Slave most definitely is not. It is rather a story of endurance, courage, and hope in the midst of grave injustice.

For his resistance, Solomon/Platt is given severe beatings and taunted with the not-so-rhetorical question, “Are you a slave?” Another slave warns him: “Tell no one who you are and tell no one you can read or write, unless you want to be a dead nigger.” The incompatibility between education and slavery is a leitmotif of 19th-century writing about slavery. Tocqueville notes it, as does Frederick Douglass, who concludes: “to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man.”

To survive, Solomon/Platt must not only avoid active resistance; he must also pretend to be what he is not, a contented slave. His path from freedom to slavery makes him a fitting vehicle for the communication of the evils of slavery to those who cannot imagine themselves as slaves. He begins where every ordinary free citizen begins. The focus of the film is on the dramatic contrast between, on the one hand, the expectation of an ordinary life rich with work, leisure, and family and, on the other, a nightmare condition of barbaric injustice. Ejiofor is magnificent as Solomon/Platt. He manages to accommodate himself, sometimes with great anguish, to his state of servitude without ever surrendering to it. He maintains his sense of dignity throughout, and his life is testimony to the possibility of transcendence in the midst of the most oppressive of conditions


The least dispiriting moment of another grim week in Washington was the sight of ornery veterans tearing down the Barrycades around the war memorials on the National Mall, dragging them up the street, and dumping them outside the White House. This was, as Kevin Williamson wrote at National Review, “as excellent a gesture of the American spirit as our increasingly docile nation has seen in years.” Indeed. The wounded vet with two artificial legs balancing the Barrycade on his Segway was especially impressive. It would have been even better had these disgruntled citizens neatly lined up the Barrycades across the front of the White House and round the sides, symbolically Barrycading him in as punishment for Barrycading them out. But, in a town where an unarmed woman can be left a bullet-riddled corpse merely for driving too near His Benign Majesty’s palace and nobody seems to care, one appreciates a certain caution.

By Wednesday, however, it was business as usual. Which is to say the usual last-minute deal just ahead of the usual make-or-break deadline to resume spending as usual. There was nothing surprising about this. Everyone knew the Republicans were going to fold. Folding is what Republicans do. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so good at folding Obama should hire them as White House valets. So the only real question was when to fold. They could at least have left it for a day or two after the midnight chimes of October 17 had come and gone. It would have been useful to demonstrate that just as the sequester did not cause the sky to fall and the shutdown had zero impact on the life of the country so this latest phoney-baloney do-or-die date would not have led to the end of the world as we know it. If you’re going to place another trillion dollars of debt (or more than the entire national debts of Canada and Australia combined) on the backs of the American people in one grubby late-night deal, you might as well get a teachable moment out of it.


In considering the Republican retreat that ended the partial government shutdown, funded Obamacare, and unconditionally extended more credit on Uncle Sam’s tapped-out credit card, my friend Jonah Goldberg argues that we should be more understanding of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s predicament. Politics, Jonah aptly observes, is the art of the possible, and McConnell had “no good options” when he led the GOP cave-in to all of President Obama’s demands — a decision that, McConnell insists, was not in any way influenced by the tidy $3 billion earmark thrown in for one of his pet Kentucky boondoggles.

I agree that we must be realistic about what was achievable in the Obamacare battle. What I don’t get, though, is why our sympathetic cast of mind must be from the GOP-establishment perspective alone. Aren’t we also obliged to be realistic about the options available to the Republicans who took seriously their campaign promises to do everything within their power — which includes their constitutional power of the purse — to stop Obamacare?

Virtually all congressional Republicans elected or reelected since 2010 ran on that promise. Stopping Obamacare is the cause that most animated the conservative base, without which there would be no Republican majority in the House. If Republicans expected to maintain that support, they had to act on that commitment.

Beyond promises, something also had to be done because Obamacare is a disaster for the productive part of the country. And, more urgently, that something had to be done now. This was not a manufactured crisis. Obamacare was set to commence on October 1. Consequently, Republicans had two options. Option One was the GOP establishment’s “win elections, then repeal” strategy: Do nothing for now; allow Obamacare to be implemented; assume its unpopularity would increase, creating a climate for extended, uninterrupted GOP electoral success, finally leading to a Republican Congress of such substantial majorities that an Obamacare repeal would pass both houses and be signed by a Republican president. As we shall see, core assumptions of “win elections, then repeal” require the suspension of disbelief.


The Oslo Accords were an egregious, imbecilic act of moral turpitude, whose ratification hinged on an endorsement by a soon-to-be convicted drug-smuggling fraudster, and which brings dishonor to anyone associated with it.

Many people, close to father [Yitzhak Rabin] told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets and that Arafat wasn’t delivering the goods – Dalia Rabin, October 8, 2010

Sandwiched between the end of September, the month in which the Oslo Accords were signed, and beginning of November, in which Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, October is a month awash with introspective ruminations, retrospective reflections, solemn memorial ceremonies and soul-searching commemorations.

Closely connected in the public mind

It is a month in which, invariably, some-well known public figure can be found analyzing – or pontificating on – the significance of an event (the Oslo Accords), whose anniversary has just recently been observed, or of an event whose anniversary is just about to be observed (the Rabin assassination).

Moreover, because of discrepancies between the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, anniversaries according to the latter sometimes fall within – as occurred this year with the 18th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination. According to the Hebrew calendar this took place on the 12th of the month Heshvan, i.e. on Wednesday, October 16, this week.

Although they are entirely separate events – the signing of the Oslo Accords and the Rabin assassination – they have become almost inextricably intertwined in the public consciousness to comprise a contrived tragi-heroic conceptual complex presented as “Rabin’s heritage.”

The proximity of the dates has facilitated this perceptual fusion of the two events, which have cognitively merged to become mutually sustaining components in the perpetuation and propagation of this “heritage.”


Many years ago, Science News or Scientific American had an article on negotiation strategies.  Their conclusion was that the best strategy was “Tit-For-Tat”.  If your negotiating partner is cooperative, then be cooperative.  If not, pay back the same way.  Many business courses also support this view.    Negotiations include actions as well as words.  Actions […]



“I want at least 1,000 to 2,000 to die in one day,” Shahawar Siraj told an NYPD informant.

The Pakistani illegal alien and Muslim bookstore employee was discussing his plans to kill as many New Yorkers as possible. “I’m going to f___ this country very bad.”

But before Siraj and his collaborator could bomb the 34th Street subway station, they were arrested. Their plans to bomb the subway and Macy’s came to nothing. But under Bill de Blasio, the New York Police Department would never have been allowed to lay a finger on them.

Some years later, Ahmed Ferhani was telling an NYPD undercover detective about his plan to bomb churches and synagogues. He talked of blowing up “the biggest synagogue” in Manhattan, dressing up as a Jewish worshiper, planting a bomb and walking away.

What both cases had in common was a lack of external leads. They weren’t Al Qaeda members. Their attacks would have been as much of a shock as the Boston Marathon bombings or the Fort Hood shootings. They were the “lone wolf” Jihadists who have become today’s terrorist threat.

America Grows Weary of War While our Enemies Amass Their Forces: Sequestration’s National Security Toll : Peter Huessy ****

As the U.S. cuts important military capabilities to meet arbitrary budget reduction targets, the Department of Defense and the nation’s security will continue to take a beating without some new long-term budget and strategy agreement.

The security of our friends and allies, such as the Republic of Korea, Germany, Columbia and Israel, will also suffer as we risk cuts to tactical air support for Seoul, NATO support for extended nuclear deterrence in Europe and counter insurgency assistance for Bogota against FARC, and missile defenses for Tel Aviv.

Why are we in this predicament? Sequestration — automatic defense budget cuts — are cutting $50 billion a year out of $350 billion in our defense spending this year, and every year, for the next eight years as part of the 2011 debt reduction agreement.

As military personnel costs and the overseas war contingency funding are exempt from such cuts, the remaining accounts — of research, development and acquisition of weapons systems –are being hammered. Moreover, these cuts come on top of the overall defense cuts of $300 billion in 2009; the $175 billion cut in 2010, and the $487 billion cut in 2011.

Added together, defense spending from 2009-2022 has, and will be, reduced by more than $1.5 trillion, not including a projected further near-trillion dollar reduction in 10-year costs of overseas contingency operations such as in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.

To avoid further sequestration, we need a new long-term budget agreement — including entitlement reform with spending restraints. Otherwise, as the October 2, 2013 Congressional Budget Office update warned, the U.S. economy will be hard pressed under such rising spending and a growing debt to have sufficient capital to invest in new business to employ the 24 million Americans not now employed or working only part-time.

ROGER KIMBALL: REMEMBERING AMERICA I was having lunch yesterday with a politically mature Democrat, one of those “Scoop Jackson” fellows you read about in books but — unless you are older than I am — have probably never met outside a book’s pages. These are the chaps who see a fairly large role for government but who are […]