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Who’s the JV team, Mr. President?

“The analogy we use around here sometimes and is accurate is if a JV team puts on Laker uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” — President Barack Obama on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in January. (It’s Lakers, by the way, Mr. President, not Laker).

“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else. They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of … military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.” — Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, August 21, 2014.

Beyond. Anything. We’ve. Seen… their words.

My, how things change over a summer. Suddenly, ISIS is a top priority for an administration caught with its pants around its ankles and its golf balls in the drink. There is indeed a JV team, but unfortunately it occupies residency in the White House.

What’s really changed since January? Yes, there’s been a slew of towns falling into the hands of barbarians in Iraq and Syria, and the genocide of entire villages of Christians and Yazidis, complete with putting the heads of children on stakes, and now the beheading of an American journalist. But ISIS is the same threat today that it was eight months ago. They’re the same extremist thugs. The same wacko philosophy. This is a terrorist group (an army really at this point, controlling 35,000 square miles of territory) that is so brutal that even al-Qaeda had distanced itself from them, and that’s saying something! Nothing has changed.

No, the difference is that even to their typical media defenders and lap dogs the Obama camp has been exposed as a group of absolute foreign policy clowns. They are naive and inexperienced. Their actions, or rather lack thereof, have been indefensible. All the previous criticism regarding their childishly utopian foreign policy ideals, complete with nonsensical “reset” buttons, has come true. Did that “reset” button help the Ukraine? Has the past Obama Middle East apology tours paid any dividends in Libya, Syria, Iraq, or Gaza? Even his once Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, criticized the president, saying, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Yes, yes, Mrs. Clinton is clearly doubling back on principle in a way that would make even Charlie Crist blush, and she’s obviously doing this for a run at the presidency. But that doesn’t make her statement inaccurate. She’s right (too bad she didn’t actually mean it).

This cartoon says it all:

The difference between Israel and Hamas.

An awesome piece on moral clarity in the Middle East, by Charles Krauthammer.

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.

This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.

This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.

To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.

It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.

The best propagandist for Hamas? The NYT. (Part 2)

Bret Stephens, WSJ:

Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Times, as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses “Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.

When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there’s something wrong there, too.

But let’s assume for argument’s sake that the numbers are accurate. Does this mean the Palestinians are the chief victims, and Israelis the main victimizers, in the conflict? By this dull logic we might want to rethink the moral equities of World War II, in which over one million German civilians perished at Allied hands compared with just 67,000 British and 12,000 American civilians.

The real utility of the body count is that it offers reporters and commentators who cite it the chance to ascribe implicit blame to Israel while evading questions about ultimate responsibility for the killing. Questions such as: Why is Hamas hiding rockets in U.N.-run schools, as acknowledged by the U.N. itself? What does it mean that Hamas has turned Gaza’s central hospital into “a de facto headquarters,” as reported by the Washington Post? And why does Hamas keep rejecting, or violating, cease-fires agreed to by Israel?

A reasonable person might conclude from this that Hamas, which started the war, wants it to continue, and that it relies on Israel’s moral scruples not to destroy civilian sites that it cynically uses for military purposes. But then there is the Palestine Effect. By this reasoning, Hamas only initiated the fighting because Israel refused to countenance the creation of a Palestinian coalition that included Hamas, and because Israel further objected to helping pay the salaries of Hamas’s civil servants in Gaza.

Let’s get this one straight. Israel is culpable because (a) it won’t accept a Palestinian government that includes a terrorist organization sworn to the Jewish state’s destruction; (b) it won’t help that organization out of its financial jam; and (c) it won’t ease a quasi-blockade—jointly imposed with Egypt—on a territory whose central economic activity appears to be building rocket factories and pouring imported concrete into terrorist tunnels.

This is either bald moral idiocy or thinly veiled bigotry. It mistakes effect for cause, treats self-respect as arrogance and self-defense as aggression, and makes demands of the Jewish state that would be dismissed out of hand anywhere else. To argue the Palestinian side, in this war, is to make the case for barbarism. It is to erase, in the name of humanitarianism, the moral distinctions from which the concept of humanity arises.

The best propagandist for Hamas? The NYT. (Part 1)

Weekly Standard:

Today’s Times photo essay contains seven images: three of Gaza civilians in distress; one of a smoke plume rising over Gaza; and three of the IDF, including tanks and attack helicopters. The message is simple and clear: the IDF is attacking Gaza and harming Palestinian civilians. There are no images of Israelis under rocket attack, no images of grieving Israeli families and damaged Israeli buildings, no images of Hamas fighters or rocket attacks on Israel, no images of the RPG’s and machine guns recovered from attempted Hamas tunnel infiltrations into Israel.

Another report yesterday was accompanied by a single image: that of a dead child in a Gaza hospital.

A second report yesterday, ostensibly about Hamas tunnel attacks on Israel, bizarrely contained not a single picture related to those attacks. The three pictures it contained presented the same one-sided narrative of Israelis as attackers, Palestinians as victims. One picture showed an IDF artillery gun firing into Gaza; a second showed Palestinian mourners at a funeral; a third showed Palestinians waiting in line for food rations.

Indeed, a check of the Twitter feed of the Times’s photographer in Gaza shows not a single image that portrays Hamas in a negative light. It’s nothing but civilian victims of the IDF.

Likewise, the Twitter feed of Anne Barnard, the Beirut bureau chief for the Times currently “reporting” from Gaza, is almost entirely devoted to one thing: anecdotes, pictures, and stories about civilian casualties. Perusing her feed, one would think there are simply no terrorists in Gaza who started this war, who are perpetuating it, who are intentionally attacking Israel from neighborhoods and apartment buildings and thereby guaranteeing the very civilian casualties Barnard appears so heartbroken over.

Maybe all of this is an illustration of just how biased against Israel the Times has become—so biased that Times photographers and editors are simply blind to any image that doesn’t conform to their view of the war.

Or maybe, in the interest of the safety and access of their journalists, the Times is complying with Hamas instructions. As reported by MEMRI, Hamas published media guidelines instructing Gazans to always refer to the dead as “innocent civilians” and to never post pictures of terrorists on social media. Hamas is currently preventing foreign journalists from leaving the Strip, in effect holding them hostage. These journalists must be terrified—and they also must know that the best way to ensure their safety is to never run afoul of the terrorists in whose hands their fates lie.

 

 

On Iraq, Obama suddenly shy with his drone attacks.

A play on words, Jonah Goldberg calls the meltdowns in Iraq and Syria the Jihadi Spring. This is the antithesis of the Arab Spring, and the Sunni Islamic extremist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have wrought havoc in Syria and have now taken Mosul in Iraq, and setting their ultimate sights on Baghdad.

Yesterday the city of Tal Afar was held by a U.S.-backed and trained Iraqi general. Today, it fell to ISIS. Our president, all but useless in foreign policy matters, spends his days — outside of golfing, that is — lecturing us on important matters like racist NBA franchise owners, the term “Redskins,” and why the NRA is evil. Those seldom times when foreign policy is discussed it quickly becomes confusing and contradictory. On the same day that Sec. of State John Kerry claimed that military cooperation with Iran was on the table for dealing with ISIS, the White House ruled it out.

A flabbergasted Iraq, meanwhile, is asking Iran for help. How desperate is that?

Despite what one feels about the origins of U.S. involvement in Iraq it changes nothing about our situation or responsibility today. It’s a problem now, and it requires a serious president with a serious staff. Not a band of permanent campaigners, or what Kimberley Strassel called “political Svengalis,” who are caught in an “endless loop of foreign-policy fiascoes.”

“They gave us resets, pivots and leading from behind, and in recent weeks have explained that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is best described as “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” This is what happens when you give hacks control: Your foreign-policy “vision” gets reduced to a public-safety commercial from a vodka company.”

“Don’t do stupid [stuff]” is itself stupid [stuff] as far as foreign policy goes. Besides, it’s not even a foreign policy, it’s decision paralysis disguised as nuanced thinking. Eventually it gets boiled down to only “Don’t do.” As in nothing. Perhaps if the ISIS terrorists were advocating lower taxes, less government control and attended Tea Party rallies the president could at least sic his IRS on them.

Here’s a thought. Everyone gets that the American people might not welcome “boots on the ground.” In fact, let’s scratch that off the table right now. But we’re talking about a president who by 2012, or in his first four years in office, had already used drone strikes to kill terrorists at a rate of six times what George W. Bush had authorized in eight years! At the beginning of 2014, under five years of the Obama drone program, more than 2,400 people had been killed. So this is hardly a president who is shy about using unmanned planes and Hellfire missiles to solve problems.

You’ve all seen the pictures of ISIS trucks lined up in large convoys, driving to and fro while the black-uniformed, black-flag waiving extremists perform acts of atrocities so vulgar that even Al Qaeda has distanced itself. ISIS proudly posts pictures of their executions and beheadings of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians — Another 1,700 dead recently. 1,700, and that’s a walk in the park for these guys. It begs the question, could President Obama not spare a few more drone missiles for such an easy target as a column of pickup trucks?

Even if you don’t agree with the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, it cannot be denied that the government of Iraq is if nothing else an ally, and certainly more so than Libya ever was. A little support from the U.S. military drone program, one that poses zero risks to American soldiers, seems like a no brainer and a quick way to give the Iraqi government support while giving Islamic extremists something to fear and consider.

The Daily Beast reported a top Kurdistan official recently saying, “Practically speaking, the country has broken apart.” At a certain point one must ask, is that the very design of the Obama Administration? He didn’t like it, didn’t agree with it, voted against it, so he’s going to do his part destroy what might have been, headless Iraqis be damned.

Obama’s Bergdahl Defeat.

Wow. Charles Krauthammer sums up the Bergdahl prisoner swap perfectly. He’s right, complaints about negotiating with terrorists are non-starters and off the mark from the get go, while accusations that the president broke law are ridiculous assuming you’ve ever read Article II — he’s the president, commander-in-chief, and gets a wide latitude of control regarding all things military, particularly when at war. But that’s where the defense ends and the fiasco begins. This was a giant crap sandwich, but the clowns in the White House –  complete with that parroting Pamela Doll known as Susan Rice, reenacting her Benghazi embarrassment — tried to turn it into the second coming of bringing home John McCain or Scott O’Grady.

One more thing before we get to Krauthammer. Have you seen the pro-Taliban tweet by Robert Bergdahl? He tweeted [since deleted], “I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.” Not only is it insulting of those who died trying to find his son, but it stinks of moral equivalency. Mr. Bergdahl must not have heard that common Afghans are lamenting the return of former Taliban warlords (“Release of Taliban Detainees Alarms Afghan Villagers“). Even Human Rights Watch, hardly a right-wing or pro-Gitmo group, are troubled by what they call the release of Taliban war criminals. So does Mr. Bergdahl’s tweet go for avenging the death of Afghan children at the hands of these five released detainees? Can anyone in our useless lapdog media ask that question? They should, considering that almost one in every three (29%) released detainees has returned to terrorism and violence. It’s what they know.

Here’s Krauthammer:

The five released detainees are unrepentant, militant and dangerous. They’re likely to go back into the field and resume their war against local and foreign infidels, especially us.

The administration pretense that we and the Qataris will monitor them is a joke. They can start planning against us tonight. And if they decide to leave Qatar tomorrow, who’s going to stop them?

The administration might have tried honesty here and said: Yes, we gave away five important combatants. But that’s what you do to redeem hostages. In such exchanges, the West always gives more than it gets for the simple reason that we value individual human life more than do the barbarians with whom we deal.

No shame here, merely a lamentable reality. So why does the Bergdahl deal rankle? Because of how he became captive in the first place. That’s the real issue. He appears to have deserted, perhaps even defected.

The distinction is important. If he’s a defector — joined the enemy to fight against his country — then he deserves no freeing. Indeed, he deserves killing, the way we kill other enemies in the field, the way we killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who had openly joined al-Qaeda. A U.S. passport does not entitle a traitor to any special protection. (Caveat: If a POW is turned, Stockholm-syndrome-like, after falling captive, these condemnatory considerations don’t apply.)

Assume, however — and we will find out soon enough — that Bergdahl was not a defector. Simply wanted out — a deserter who walked or wandered away from his duty and his comrades for reasons as yet unknown. Do you bargain for a deserter?

Two imperatives should guide the answer. Bergdahl remains a member of the U.S. military and therefore is (a) subject to military justice and (b) subject to the soldiers’ creed that we don’t leave anyone behind.

What to do? Free him, then try him. Make the swap and then, if the evidence is as strong as it now seems, court-martial him for desertion.

The swap itself remains, nonetheless, a very close call. I would fully respect a president who rejected the deal as simply too unbalanced. What is impossible to respect is a president who makes this heart-wrenching deal and then does a victory lap in the Rose Garden and has his senior officials declare it a cause for celebration. The ever dutiful, ever clueless Susan Rice hailed it as “an extraordinary day for America.”

Good God. This is no victory. This is a defeat, a concession to a miserable reality, a dirty deal, perhaps necessary as a matter of principle but to be carried out with regret, resignation, even revulsion.

The Rose Garden stunt wasn’t a messaging failure. It’s a category error. The president seems oblivious to the gravity, indeed the very nature, of what he has just done. Which is why a stunned and troubled people are asking themselves what kind of man they have twice chosen to lead them.

Boko Haram, Michelle O, and #bringbackourballs

Below is a funny but sad commentary by Mark Steyn regarding a recent Michelle Obama tweeted pic of the #bringbackourgirls Internet meme. Internet hash-tag petitions — which is what they are, really, instant mass petitions — are fine for the masses. But as a foreign policy tool it’s pure impotence.

But before you read that, it should be noted that Brandeis College shamefully cancelled their plan to bestow an honorary degree on women’s rights activist and outspoken anti-Jihadist critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the same week that Ali issued a straight-talk condemnation over the West’s impotence in dealing with groups like Boko Haram:

“How to explain this phenomenon [kidnapping 300 school girls] to baffled Westerners, who these days seem more eager to smear the critics of jihadism as “Islamophobes” than to stand up for women’s most basic rights? Where are the Muslim college-student organizations denouncing Boko Haram? Where is the outrage during Friday prayers? These girls’ lives deserve more than a Twitter hashtag protest… It is also time for Western liberals to wake up. If they choose to regard Boko Haram as an aberration, they do so at their peril. The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls. If my pointing this out offends some people more than the odious acts of Boko Haram, then so be it.”

Similarly, Charles Krauthammer sees the selective outrage, adding better late than never.

Two months earlier, Boko Haram had raided a Christian school and, after segregating the boys, brutally murdered 59 of them. That elicited no hashtag campaign against Boko Haram. Nor was there any through the previous years of Boko Haram depredations — razing Christian churches, burning schools, killing infidels of all ages.

Anyway, here’s Steyn:

It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right [above] is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week’s Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared – on social media! – and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Just as the last floppo hashtag, #WeStandWithUkraine, didn’t actually involve standing with Ukraine, so #BringBackOurGirls doesn’t require bringing back our girls. There are only a half-dozen special forces around the planet capable of doing that without getting most or all of the hostages killed: the British, the French, the Americans, Israelis, Germans, Aussies, maybe a couple of others. So, unless something of that nature is being lined up, those schoolgirls are headed into slavery, and the wretched pleading passivity of Mrs Obama’s hashtag is just a form of moral preening.

But then what isn’t? The blogger Daniel Payne wrote this week that “modern liberalism, at its core, is an ideology of talking, not doing“. He was musing on a press release for some or other “Day of Action” that is, as usual, a day of inaction:

Diverse grassroots groups are organizing and participating in events such as walks, rallies and concerts and calling on government to reduce climate pollution, transition off fossil fuels and commit to a clean energy future.

It’s that easy! You go to a concert and someone “calls on government” to do something, and the world gets fixed.

There’s something slightly weird about taking a hashtag – which on the Internet at least has a functional purpose – and getting a big black felt marker and writing it on a piece of cardboard and holding it up, as if somehow the comforting props of social media can be extended beyond the computer and out into the real world. Maybe the talismanic hashtag never required a computer in the first place. Maybe way back during the Don Pacifico showdown all Lord Palmerston had to do was tell the Greeks #BringBackOurJew.

As Mr Payne notes, these days progressive “action” just requires “calling on government” to act. But it’s sobering to reflect that the urge to call on someone else to do something is now so reflexive and ingrained that even “the government” – or in this case the wife of “the government” – is now calling on someone else to do something.

Boko Haram, the girls’ kidnappers, don’t strike me as social media types.

Oh, now Warren Buffett is for avoiding taxes.

Don’t you just get so sick of these phoneys. Warren Buffett’s hypocrisy speaks for itself

Readers may recall the original Buffett Rule that President Obama offered as part of his re-election campaign that essentially posited a minimum tax rate for the rich of about 30%. Mr. Buffett heartily endorsed the idea and Mr. Obama hauled out St. Warren as a soak-the-rich cudgel to beat up Mitt Romney in countless speeches.

So it was fascinating to hear Mr. Buffett explain that his real tax rule is to pay as little as possible, both personally and at the corporate level. “I will not pay a dime more of individual taxes than I owe, and I won’t pay a dime more of corporate taxes than we owe. And that’s very simple,” Mr. Buffett told Fortune magazine in an interview last week. “In my own case, I offered one time to match a voluntary payment that any Senators pay, and I offered to triple any voluntary payment that [Republican Senator] Mitch McConnell made, but they never took me up on it.”
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The billionaire was even more explicit about his goal of reducing his company’s tax payments. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” he said. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Think about that one. Mr. Buffett says it makes no economic sense to build wind farms without a tax credit, which he gladly uses to reduce his company’s tax payments to the Treasury. So political favors for the wind industry induce a leading U.S. company to misallocate its scarce investment dollars for an uneconomic purpose. Berkshire and its billionaire shareholder get a tax break and the feds get less revenue, which must be made up by raising tax rates on millions of other Americans who are much less well-heeled than Mr. Buffett.

This is precisely the kind of tax favoritism for the wealthy that Mr. Romney’s tax reform would have reduced, and that other tax reformers want to stop. Too bad Mr. Buffett didn’t share this rule with voters in 2012.

Govt vs. Innovation.

A few years ago author Jonah Goldberg wrote, “The notion that big business and big government are at war with one another is one of the great enduring myths of the 20th century.” It is a frequent theme in his writings. But it’s a difficult message to get across, to get people to unlearn the “trustbusting” fable they’re taught so young in life. When you read the evidence and history of it, and see the real examples of it today, it makes sense: what big industries fear the most isn’t government or regulation, but competition. It’s not universal, of course. Sure the general feel from the insurance industry is opposing Obamacare, but your biggest companies, like a Humana or a United Healthcare, will be able to absorb the costs — in large part by passing them onto you, the consumer — while the smaller companies will either close up shop or seek to be acquired by a bigger company. There’s a reason why General Electric, which owns NBC, which you’re reminded of during the “green logo” week, had for so long injected itself into the politics of global warming — oh, excuse me frozen northeast, climate change — it’s GE that’s manufacturing those ridiculously expensive light bulbs (the ones that can give you horrible mercury poisoning).

Goldberg saw it thus:

“Big Steel actually sought out government regulation because it feared free-market competition. During the New Deal, FDR supposedly carried on his (distant) cousin Teddy’s crusade against the “malefactors of great wealth.” But the truth is that big business often welcomed government regulation. Clarence Darrow, surveying the National Recovery Act’s record, found that the keystone agency of the New Deal had served only to help big business.

What progressives, then and now, always fail to recognize is that the more government meddles in business, the more business meddles in government. The left thinks the rational response to the bear hug that business has around government is to hug back twice as hard. The real answer is to let go, let companies sink or swim. Don’t render them “too big to fail” because they provide health care or other benefits.

All of these people who want to “crack down” on big business are simply inviting companies into the tent, giving them incentives to buy politicians, votes and policies.”

Here’s a more recent example of an entire industry happily getting into bed with the government in order to destroy an up and coming business model that threatens its bottom line (from the WSJ):

“In a recent New York Times NYT opinion article, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman acknowledged that technology moves at a faster pace than laws can keep up. But instead of waiting to see if new rules are needed, he argues: “The only question is how long it will take for these cyber cowboys to realize that working with the sheriffs is both good business and the right thing to do.”

Mr. Schneiderman has targeted Airbnb, an online service that lets users easily rent homes or apartments for short-term stays, giving travelers a new option. The hotel industry, concerned about being disrupted, is lobbying hard to kill the upstart. Mr. Schneiderman went to court demanding the names of people who rent out their homes to see if they violate any laws. Airbnb objects to this fishing expedition. With a valuation in the billions, the Silicon Valley company can afford lawyers to protect its customers, but costly regulatory overreach will inevitably suppress new startups from trying to compete.

Like Airbnb, mobile-phone app Uber creates a marketplace directly linking buyers and sellers—in its case, passengers and drivers—outside the ornate regulations of analog-era municipal taxi commissions. Brussels, Seattle and Miami have banned or strictly limited Uber cars. New York’s Mr. Schneiderman objects to the company’s practice of pricing more when demand is heavy. The alternative is severely restricted supply, as anyone knows who has tried to hail a cab in the rain.

The drone industry in the U.S. has been grounded because the Federal Aviation Administration has banned commercial use of drones pending new regulations. Meanwhile, countries such as Canada and Australia encourage drones. “As American regulators struggle to come up with a rulebook for the fast-moving industry,” Toronto’s Globe and Mail bragged recently, “Canada has emerged as perhaps the center of commercial drone technology—from Ontario farmlands to Alberta’s oil sands.”

Other examples include the Food and Drug Administration’s scrutiny of 23andMe’s marketing, which forced the company to stop offering health data from its at-home $99 genetics-analysis kit, and prohibitions against selling self-driving cars, which have left the U.S. in the dust behind less regulated Europe.”

Note the pompousness of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Anyone who dares not succumb to the will of almighty government and outdated business models are “outlaws.” Amazing. While the Internet was for its first decade the last bastion of a true free market — free from government intrusion prematurely stifling innovation — those days are ending quickly. That’s a bad thing.

Who’s Tom Steyer?

If you don’t know Tom Steyer and his brother are the liberal equivalent of the Koch brothers, but of course since they’re liberal other liberals, including Democrats in office and media lackeys, have no problem with Tom Steyer and his big money, his corporate interests, and his politics, unlike what they have with, say, the Koch brothers. Remember that hypocrisy isn’t hypocrisy if it’s performed by a liberal who’s being a hypocrite for a “good cause,” such as a cause that a champions the values of liberalism. Got that?

Steyer has pledge donations of $100 million in political contributions to candidates who oppose the Keystone XL project. Even though climate change and the environment recently Gallop polled almost dead last in a list of the country’s top 15 priorities (13th and 14th, respectively), it was enough to get Hillary Clinton’s attention, as writer Jim Geraghty pointed out. Suddenly Ms. Clinton is touting the environment and opposing Keystone as one of her most pressing issues. But of course!

Anyway, the context of this post is to share Powerline blog’s research that decimated an attempt by Washington Post writers to directly link the Koch brothers to Keystone. You should read the whole thing for the anatomy of a great retort, but here’s a great excerpt:

Let me offer an alternative explanation of why the Washington Post published their Keystone/Koch smear: 1) The Washington Post in general, and Mufson and Eilperin in particular, are agents of the Left, the environmental movement and the Democratic Party. 2) The Keystone Pipeline is a problem for the Democratic Party because 60% of voters want the pipeline built, while the party’s left-wing base insists that it not be approved. 3) The Keystone Pipeline is popular because it would broadly benefit the American people by creating large numbers of jobs, making gasoline more plentiful and bringing down the cost of energy. 4) Therefore, the Democratic Party tries to distract from the real issues surrounding the pipeline by claiming, falsely, that its proponents are merely tools of the billionaire Koch brothers–who, in fact, have nothing to do with Keystone one way or the other. 5) The Post published its article to assist the Democratic Party with its anti-Keystone talking points.

Which frames a very interesting contrast. The Keystone Pipeline is by no means the only energy-related controversy these days. “Green” energy is also highly controversial. “Green” energy is controversial, in part, because, unlike the Keystone Pipeline, it harms the consumer: solar and wind energy are inefficient, and therefore raise energy costs to consumers. “Green” energy is also controversial because it harms taxpayers: because they are inefficient, solar and wind energy can survive only through taxpayer-funded subsidies. Further, the federal government has invested in numerous “green” energy projects that have gone bankrupt, sticking taxpayers with the tab. Solyndra is only one of a number of such debacles.

“Green” energy is also controversial because it has been used to enrich government cronies. Let’s take, for instance, the billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer has made much of his fortune by using his government connections to secure support for uneconomic “green” energy projects that have profited him, to the detriment of consumers and taxpayers. See, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. As is explained here, Tom Steyer is a bitter opponent of the Keystone Pipeline. His financial interests, in “green” energy and perhaps also in pre-pipeline oil sources like BP, stand to benefit if Keystone is killed.

Haven’t heard much about Tom Steyer, you say? Maybe that’s because he isn’t heavily involved in politics. Heh–just kidding. Steyer, as you probably know, is one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party and its candidates. This year, he has pledged to contribute $100 million to the campaigns of Democratic candidates, as long as they toe the line on environmental issues–which includes, presumably, taxpayer support for “green” energy and opposition to Keystone.

So the Post could have written a very different story about the Keystone Pipeline. The Post could have written that opposition to the pipeline is being funded in large part by a billionaire who has a personal financial interest in the pipeline not being built. And that’s not all! The billionaire is a political crony who has used his connections in Washington to get rich and to fleece consumers and taxpayers. Now, with Keystone, he is doing it again! How is that for a story that would “stir and inflame public debate in this election year”?

The Post, of course, didn’t write that story.