Have We Reached Peak ISISmania Yet? By Patrick Poole

Incentives — financial and other — for sources to give false information to U.S. federal security agencies is leading to bad intel reaching all the way to Congressional decision makers. And that’s one of many serious problems.

A few thoughts on the current bout of ISISmania and the systemic problems it exposes:

1) ISISmania has created a financial/legal incentive for sources (most of them “shady” to begin with) used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to manufacture info whole-cloth.

This is nothing new. Think “prison snitches.” Various foreign actors are passing along disinformation to us as well, so mountains of BS are being fed into the system from the get-go.

Imagine, for a purely hypothetical example, a member of Congress getting an authentic report from a senior agency official, but the report is later found to have originated with a non-credible source. So the member of Congress who repeated the report was actually correct that the intel had been shared with them — but the information itself wasn’t reliable.

It never should have been shared in the first place, but it’s the member of Congress who ends up with egg on their face when the agency issues its denial. No one, whether politicians or agency officials, wants to later admit they were duped, so erroneous info never gets corrected.

2) There are considerable problems on the collection and analysis sides of intel in both the intelligence community and law enforcement. In fact, very few know how to do collection — and good analysis is basically prohibited these days.

So the BS and disinfo never gets sifted out. It then gets passed on to elected officials, which is some of what we’re seeing. Then you have agencies and the administration selectively manipulating and leaking according to their own respective agendas. This is how the sausage is being made in DC these days.

Islam or Islamism: A Distinction without a Difference? By David Solway ****

Thirteen years after 9/11, after some 24,000 [1] terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims since that fateful date, after the atrocities carried out and still being carried out by Caliphate-aspiring terrorist militias, after civil wars, incursions, the mass extermination and eviction of Christian populations in Muslim lands and territories, hostage-takings, kidnappings, beheadings, bombings, missile barrages — after all this, many Westerners still appear to endorse a strict distinction between Islam and Islamism. The former, we believe or have been led to believe, is a “religion of peace” whose doctrines have been twisted and misinterpreted by a cadre of extremists. Islam, according to this perspective, cannot be held accountable for a band of criminals willfully violating the tenets and premises of a venerable Abrahamic faith.

The claim is unsustainable. Where it is not advanced disingenuously — for profit, power or position — it is plainly a function of culpable or lazy ignorance or, at best, of a desire to be (or to seem) tolerant and supremely civil. I suspect that the majority of such Western apologists have not cracked a single page of the Koran or perused even a scattering of the ahadith [2] and sirah [3], where the chasm on which they insist between Islam and Islamism is nowhere to be found. The Koran, in particular, brims with exhortations to violence against unbelievers, which the 1400-year imperial history of Islam has honored to the letter. The religious mandate as well as the empirical practice are undeniably Islamic, not “Islamist” — a concept that has no meaning in the theological literature.

Far too many of us cannot bring ourselves to understand that the enemy we are facing is not some fringe minority of “radicals” who are abusing not only their victims but the principles of the faith they proclaim. For one thing, the jihadists and their enablers may be a “minority,” but they number in the millions — the lowball figure [4] of 1% of the ummah yields 15-16 million; a not unreasonable estimate [5] of 10% gives 150-160 million. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of people determined to kill you. When one considers that this number amounts to half the population of the United States out for one’s blood, it puts the issue into perspective. For another thing, the shahids [6] and mujahidin [7] know perfectly well how to read their sacred texts, far better than their victims, dupes, extenuators and fellow-travelers who neglect to study either the scriptures or the history of Islam in order to gain a more acute and comprehensive knowledge of the enemy who plots their destruction. Others, of course, have been bought, suborned by donations or bribes and subsidized by petrodollars, or they are trimmers who have capitalized on business interests and opportunities.

Even those who have grasped the pitiless and bellicose quality of Islamic law and normative doctrine, and, moreover, have suffered terrible losses at the hands of “the believers” will, often from the noblest of motives, insist on distinguishing between the unoffending and the barbarous members of the faith. George Reisman, whose son was among the 2,296 innocents massacred on 9/11, delivered a lambent and courageous tenth anniversary speech [8] in which he proudly declared himself an Islamophobe and excoriated the “medieval” savagery of his son’s murderers. Yet he assures us that his “hatred of Radical Islam does not extend to every Muslim as an individual. It does extend, however, to Islam as an institution.” Nor does his condemnation extend “to those brave souls who are struggling to bring Islam into the 21rst Century sensibilities.” These exceptions aside, he is clear about his “abhorrence of the 7th Century brand of Islam that the Radicals want to impose upon us and the rest of the world.”


/It is still unclear what happened on Sunday night at Iran’s illicit nuclear installation at Parchin. According to Iranian sources, there was a large explosion that rocked the area within a 15-km. radius of the facility. Two people were reportedly injured.
According to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and Israel, the Parchin facility is a key component of Iran’s suspected military nuclear program. It is at Parchin that Iran is allegedly building a nuclear explosive device – that is, a nuclear warhead.

The timing of the blast is notable. On Monday night, a delegation from the IAEA landed in Tehran for a new round of talks scheduled for that Tuesday. The UN’s demand to inspect Parchin was set to be one of the top agenda items at the talks.

Given the timing, it is certainly possible that the Iranians carried out the explosion themselves as a means of preventing the IAEA from demanding access.

But let us assume that the widely held automatic assumption – that Israel was behind the blast at Parchin – is accurate. The fact is that in order to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, or seriously setback its completion, dozens, if not hundreds of additional targets need to be hit and destroyed.

Iran has secured its illicit nuclear program by dispersing and replicating its nuclear installations throughout the country. If the Parchin bombing was carried out by Israel, it must be seen as but another strike in Israel’s purported – and if it exists, meandering – campaign to destroy Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

At the desultory rate Israel’s assumed campaign is progressing, we can have little confidence that through bombing alone, Israel will be able to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the near future.

One of the main reasons that Israel’s purported strikes in Iran have been so lethargic is because the US opposes them. As we have seen in recent years, the Obama administration has been a sieve of information to the media about Israel’s alleged covert strikes in Iran. To successfully neutralize Iran’s nuclear facilities through acts of sabotage, Israel needs to hide its effort from the US as well as Iran.


It would be farfetched to expect most political leaders to be thoroughly knowledgeable of the issues they deal with, especially when it comes to international affairs; or to expect them to be particularly rational and ethical. Still, the new Swedish cabinet’s decision to recognize “Palestine” as a state must be singled out for its nastiness and nuttiness.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who leads a minority “Red-Green” coalition of social democrats and greens, explained the move in the following terms:

The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.

Sweden is a member of the European Union, and members are supposed to coordinate their diplomatic moves, especially on such touchy matters as the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. So far, the EU has not made any common decision about recognizing Palestine as a state. Sweden’s Red-Greens do not seem to be aware of such niceties.

One wonders whether the Red-Greens are aware that a state, to be recognized, needs a clearly defined population, a clearly defined territory, and an effective government that can maintain law and order. None of the above is true of “Palestine,” whatever the current meaning of that word.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) — an autonomous authority established in 1993 according to a Declaration of Principles between the state of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (the Oslo Accords), and the closest thing to a “state of Palestine” – does not effectively rule the West Bank and Gaza, the two distinct territories that pass as “Palestinian territory.” As an effective government, the PA should be able to maintain law and order there. Everybody knows this is not the case in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad since 2007. Yet this is hardly the case in the West Bank, either. Parts of it are still administered by Israel and enjoy Israel’s Supreme Court-monitored law and order. In other parts of the West Bank, PA rule — reduced, for all practical matters, to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party rule — survives only thanks to a modicum of security cooperation with Israel.

In response to Prime Minister Löfven’s statement, one must ask how the two-state solution can work if one of the considered states – the Palestinian state-to-be — is openly opposed to it. Hamas and Islamic Jihad clearly say they will never recognize Israel. The nominal PA government and Fatah say they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state – implying their strategy is to turn Israel into a binational state. This implication is coherent with their insistence that the so-called 1948 Palestinian refugees (a population they estimate as six million people) must be granted the right to return to Israel proper. When combined with the 1.7 million Israeli Arabs, this number would overwhelm the 6.6 million Israeli Jews.

America Is ‘War on Women’ Weary : A Favorite Democratic Tactic Loses Traction with Voters. Kim Strassel

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has been called a lot of things, but the nickname highlighted during his Tuesday debate with Republican Cory Gardner deserves some meditation. “Mr. Udall,” said the female debate moderator, “your campaign has been so focused on women’s issues that you’ve been dubbed ‘Mark Uterus’ . . . Have you gone too far?”

Don’t tell Harry Reid , but the “war on women” theme is losing political altitude. Don’t tell the entire Democratic Party, in fact, which this year chose to elevate this attack—that Republicans are hostile to women—to the top of its political strategy. Mr. Reid spent most of the past year holding Senate show votes (on “equal” pay or the Violence Against Women Act) designed to give his candidates further political ammunition. Democrats by some estimates have already devoted as much as 60% of their $120 million in midterm TV advertising to the “war on women”—claiming Republican candidates are anti-birth-control, anti-women’s-health, anti-reproductive rights, anti-equal pay. Even Republicans at the height of anti-ObamaCare fervor were never so monomaniacal.

When a party throws $70 million at an issue, it will move the voter dial. Yet what’s remarkable is how little that dial is moving for Democrats compared with past elections. In Colorado, where Mr. Udall and his allies have beaten the “war on women” drum harder than any campaign, the most recent poll, from Quinnipiac, shows Mr. Gardner down by only three points among women. Colorado Republican Ken Buck, who failed in a Senate bid in 2010, lost women by 17 points.

New Fox News state polls show the same everywhere. Alaska Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is losing women by five points. In Kentucky, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell is down among women voters by two points—and he’s running against a Democratic woman. Republican Tom Cotton in Arkansas is outright tied among women against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

Credit for these tight margins goes partly to the GOP, which after too many thrashings finally came into an election with a counter-strategy. The National Republican Senatorial Committee put a new premium on picking nominees talented enough to avoid saying stupid stuff. This was no small task, given the media’s obsessive focus in interviews and debates on social issues, and thus the endless potential for Republican error. Less than a month from Election Day, the GOP has yet to suffer a Todd Akin moment.

Republican candidates have also gone on offense. Mr. Gardner (as well as a half-dozen other GOP Senate candidates) flummoxed the left with his support for over-the-counter birth control. The position has helped inoculate him from Democratic assaults. Republicans still could—and should—do more to highlight Democratic extremism on social issues. Mr. Udall, for instance, recently refused to say he was opposed to sex-selective abortions, meaning he’s apparently not against terminating girl babies solely because they are girls. War on women?


Karl Rove recently tried to advise Republicans on how the party can more effectively take back the Senate in November. He made two main suggestions.

One was that Republican candidates must “make the case for electing someone new who will be a check and balance in the Senate on Mr. Obama and his agenda, rather than returning a Democratic loyalist who toes his line.” Rove’s second suggestion was that the party should “offer a positive, optimistic conservative agenda to make independents who disapprove of Mr. Obama comfortable voting Republican.”

Rove is right on both counts, especially about offering a positive and optimistic conservative agenda.
But there’s one big problem. This advice is coming from Karl Rove.

Rove has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda.

Rove belongs to the same tradition of moderates who fought Barry Goldwater in 1964, who pushed back against Ronald Reagan in 1976 and did everything they could to stop Reagan again in 1980. They said Reagan would be a disaster for the party and even the country.

Today, Reagan is one of the most well-remembered American presidents and remains the standard-bearer for what it means to be a conservative Republican, popularizing a small government message that GOP moderates said was too extreme to resonate with voters. As with Rove’s predictions about Mitt Romney’s chances in 2012, GOP moderates couldn’t have been more wrong about Reagan.

Rove and his ilk have opposed every significant conservative leader who has ever dared to challenge liberal or moderate Republican orthodoxy. A history lesson: Moderates wanted Gerald Ford and then George H.W. Bush over Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. Similarly, Karl Rove and his friends wanted Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2010. They wanted Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in 2010. They wanted David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz in 2012.


Compared with President Barack Obama, even Jimmy Carter is John McCain. The former president practically synonymous with American weakness and retreat thinks Obama was too slow to act against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and gives his current strategy only “a possibility of success,” provided it involves (unspecified) ground troops.

When you are too passive for Jimmy Carter, it’s time for some soul-searching in the Situation Room. The late-1970s are calling and want their foreign policy back.

The war against ISIL so far is desultory and occasional, a campaign of underwhelming force. ISIL has still been on the verge of taking the Syrian town of Khobani abutting the Turkish border and on the offensive in Iraq. The erstwhile JV team is defying all the military might that the world’s lone superpower is willing to muster.

There has been renewed talk of how, as former secretary of defense Leon Panetta put it the other day, the fight against terrorism will be a 30-year war. At this rate, it will be a generational struggle merely to get ISIL out of Mosul.

As with all the president’s recent foreign policy failures, this wasn’t just predictable, it was predicted.

To this point, almost everything has lent credence to the skeptical interpretation of Obama’s war: That in reaction to a spectacular media event, the horrific ISIL beheadings, the president staged his own media event, an inconsequential bombing campaign accompanied by a tough-sounding, prime-time speech.

The experience of the surge in Afghanistan, the red line fiasco and now this, suggest that Obama is a hawk precisely to the extent he feels the politics don’t allow him to wiggle out of it.

His talk of Afghanistan as the good war in the 2008 campaign was too fresh for him to countenance an immediate defeat. So he ordered the surge and tried never to speak of it again and now wants to completely liquidate our military presence, on the failed model of Iraq.

He had seemed determined to strike Syria after Bashar Assad used chemical weapons last year, then found a way to crab-walk away from his own earnest warnings.


If the White House would falsify records about this, it can deceive the public about larger issues.

In news that must have left my friends at the New York Post — never mind the gang at The Daily Show – with a renewed confidence that ours is a just and beneficent God, the White House has been caught covering up a scandal involving a Cartagena hooker.

The phrase “Cartagena hooker” alone is a mellifluous gift to ink-stained wretches everywhere, but the revelation that the White House reassigned the alleged client of the aforementioned Andean call girl to the State Department’s office of “Global Women’s Issues” is the sort of flourish Tom Wolfe or Chris Buckley wouldn’t dare attempt as satire.

Let us back up for a moment. Two years ago, the Secret Service was humiliated in a terrible scandal. Agents sent to prepare for a presidential trip to Colombia availed themselves of the local service industry, as it were. The local cops were called in when one agent refused to compensate a woman for services rendered, contradicting ancient advice about the oldest profession: You don’t pay for the sex; you pay for the hooker to leave. Hats off to the Cartagena constabulary for their diligence in enforcing contract rights. Ten agents lost their jobs.

On April 23, 2012, then–White House press secretary Jay Carney said there were “no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team or the White House staff.”

“Nevertheless,” Carney said, “out of due diligence, the White House Counsel’s office has conducted a review . . . [and] came to the conclusion that there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior.”

If the Washington Post’s exhaustive exclusive this week is to believed, that was what experts would call a lie. Secret Service investigators told the White House that Jonathan Dach also had too good a time in Cartagena. Dach, then a Yale law student, was a volunteer for the White House advance team. The lead investigator for the Department of Homeland Security – which oversees the Secret Service – says he was told “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”


Among the lengthening list of foreign-policy issues that President Obama has botched or ignored, none is more inexcusable than failing to exploit the bursting economic potential of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. and Canada are in the midst of an historic boom of energy discovery and production. Mexico is on the cusp of exploiting its own vast energy resources. Unless the laws of economics have been repealed, the benefits of deepening the integration of these three neighboring economies in new jobs and per-capita wealth would be enormous. What’s missing is the political leadership necessary to start assembling one of the world’s most powerful economic regions.

That’s not entirely fair. There is indeed active political leadership—in Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided he can’t wait for an American President who is still giving speeches about building his new economy around solar panels and windmill farms.

In September Mr. Harper visited London to ballyhoo the trade agreement completed between Canada and the European Union. Most notable, and disconcerting, was a remark Mr. Harper made there about the United States: “We know that the United States is unlikely to be a fast-growing economy for many years to come,” Mr. Harper said. “We’re in a globalized economy,” he added, noting it’s imperative to get Canada’s businesses into the global supply chain.


This isn’t just talk. In recent weeks, news has emerged that the Canadians have found a startling alternative to the Obama Keystone XL pipeline refusal: They are going to build a pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Saint John, New Brunswick, on the Atlantic Ocean.

The Energy East project will allow the Canadians to ship oil to Europe and points east. A Bloomberg News report says the Canadians are already lining up customers in India. Energy East hopes to be finished in 2018.

Good for Canadians. But we never thought we’d see the day that they’d steal a march on America’s entrepreneurs.

The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown: Judith Curry ****

Mounting evidence suggests that basic assumptions about climate change are mistaken: The numbers don’t add up.

At the recent United Nations Climate Summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that “Without significant cuts in emissions by all countries, and in key sectors, the window of opportunity to stay within less than 2 degrees [of warming] will soon close forever.” Actually, this window of opportunity may remain open for quite some time. A growing body of evidence suggests that the climate is less sensitive to increases in carbon-dioxide emissions than policy makers generally assume—and that the need for reductions in such emissions is less urgent.

According to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, preventing “dangerous human interference” with the climate is defined, rather arbitrarily, as limiting warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures. The Earth’s surface temperatures have already warmed about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1850-1900. This leaves 1.2 degrees Celsius (about 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) to go.

In its most optimistic projections, which assume a substantial decline in emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that the “dangerous” level might never be reached. In its most extreme, pessimistic projections, which assume heavy use of coal and rapid population growth, the threshold could be exceeded as early as 2040. But these projections reflect the effects of rising emissions on temperatures simulated by climate models, which are being challenged by recent observations.

Human-caused warming depends not only on increases in greenhouse gases but also on how “sensitive” the climate is to these increases. Climate sensitivity is defined as the global surface warming that occurs when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles. If climate sensitivity is high, then we can expect substantial warming in the coming century as emissions continue to increase. If climate sensitivity is low, then future warming will be substantially lower, and it may be several generations before we reach what the U.N. considers a dangerous level, even with high emissions.

The IPCC’s latest report (published in 2013) concluded that the actual change in 70 years if carbon-dioxide concentrations double, called the transient climate response, is likely in the range of 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius. Most climate models have transient climate response values exceeding 1.8 degrees Celsius. But the IPCC report notes the substantial discrepancy between recent observation-based estimates of climate sensitivity and estimates from climate models.