Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 30, 2015

History strikes back: Turkey, Iran inevitably jockey over Syria

Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times.  (Image via Aydanlik Daily)

Erdogan and Rouhani meet in modern times. (Image via Aydanlik Daily)

The beginnings of a dynamic are emerging, one as predictable as anything ever was.  “Turkey” and “Iran” (in their earlier as well as contemporary incarnations) have jockeyed over the disposition of Syria (and Mesopotamia) for many centuries, and now that the clamps of the post-World War I order have been released, they are going to do so again.

Michael Ledeen initiated a fresh focus on this with a short post late last week, in which he predicted that Iran would soon form a federation with Syria and Iraq, or at least with the nominal central governments that remain to them: an arrangement that would formalize the Iranian military presence for which the mullahs have big plans.  Says Ledeen: Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 30, 2015

Nuke talks: Iran keeps holding out for a more complete surrender from the West

Iran talksYou may have heard that the Iran nuclear talks will continue past the 30 June deadline.  It just won’t be possible to negotiate a “deal” on this charged topic by tomorrow.  That’s not really because no matter how much the Obama-Kerry negotiating team gives in, the Iranians keep reiterating terms for our surrender.  The Iranians have been quite consistent all along.  It’s because Team Obama is dragging its heels on the surrender, making our concessions piecemeal.

The latest concession by the Obama-Kerry team involves the earlier demand, by the U.S. and EU-3, that Iran allow international inspection of the military sites potentially connected with a nuclear weapons program.  Like the other demands once outlined by Team Obama as indispensable (e.g., the “freeze” on new enrichment-related activities, the long-sought disclosures on earlier weaponization work, or “possible military dimensions”), this one was categorically rejected last week by Ayatollah Khamenei in a major policy speech. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 27, 2015

Same-sex marriage: Supreme Court cries ‘Havoc!’

The law, as she is practiced in America.

The law, as she is practiced in America.

It’s been a banner week for the opponents of reason and the rule of law.

It will also turn out to have been a banner week for the opponents of tolerance, which includes most of today’s political left.

The left has never been about tolerance.  It has always been about opposing what other people believe, as the left defines it – which may or may not even be what those other people actually believe.  The left is about opposing things: about setting up definitions that require either affirmation or enmity.

And it’s the tide of the left’s “affirmation or enmity” proposition that will quickly rise around us, now that the Supreme Court has declared that people have a “right” to have their specialized definition of marriage recognized by the state. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 13, 2015

What Rachel Dolezal should have done to be successfully transracial

Rachel Dolezal, prematurely transracial. (Image: KHQ)

Rachel Dolezal, prematurely transracial. (Image: KHQ)

From here, it looks to me like Rachel Dolezal, the white Washington woman who calls herself black, has some problems.  She seems to have been making up falsehoods about herself and her life for years, and passing them off as the truth.

The need to present herself through a series of falsehoods may well come from genuine and powerful urges.  Reportedly, she is the adoptive sister of black siblings, added to the family by her white parents, and that probably has something to do with why she wants to be seen as black.  I’ve read and heard variously today that she claims to have suffered abuse as a child – some of it involving a “baboon whip” acquired by her parents in South Africa (who never went to South Africa until after she was grown up and married) – and that she has filed police complaints about racist “hate crimes” committed against her, and told people that an unrelated black man was her father. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 13, 2015

Corrupt mistreatment of federal whistleblowers, including threat to gun rights

Taylor Johnson.

Taylor Johnson.

While there’s no connection alleged between this DHS whistleblower’s case and the Clinton corruption machine, it should be no surprise that the topic of concern for whistleblower Taylor Johnson – the EB-5 visa program – is one in which there’s a Clinton angle.

The whole situation reeks of the corruption that inevitably ensues when government gets too big.  It isn’t possible for government to have as much power as it has in America today, without corruption becoming entrenched, and starting to have very particular effects for individuals, along with the general effects for taxpayers and the people’s relationship with government.

One individual who felt such very particular effects is Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent in the Investigations division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Her troubles began when she investigated the EB-5 visa program, a special immigration program that effectively allows the purchase of a green card for a $500,000 investment in commercial activities in the U.S. … Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 10, 2015

Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles

St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.

St. Nicholas presides over the Russian military base at Nargurskoye, on Alexandra Island, Franz Josef Land, which is undergoing a major expansion by Russia.

If it wasn’t clear before that Russia intends to be prepared to “fight the Arctic,” it should be now.  A report from last week indicates that the Russians plan to put “Bastion” anti-ship missile systems at their Arctic bases in 2015, to go along with airfield improvements, aircraft deployments, and installation of mobile anti-air missile systems and early warning radars for a network of bases that extends from one end of Russia’s Arctic coast to the other, and well into the Arctic Ocean.

There is certainly a question as to what “threat” Russia imagines herself to be countering with the deployment of the cruise missile systems.

But that’s really asking the wrong question.  Given the dearth of non-Russian surface ship traffic through the area in question (maps 1 and 2), and the certainty that other nations with Arctic claims have no motive to put ships in that area against Russia’s will, a more accurate interpretation of this move is that Russia seeks to hold a geomilitary veto over the sea-lanes, in a manner similar to the veto sought by China over the South China Sea. Read More…

dont-mess-with-internet-404Rusty Weiss called to our attention Monday morning an update to “arms trafficking” regulations posted to the Federal Register last week by the State Department.  The National Rifle Association has sounded the alarm, having recognized quickly how these new regs would effectively shut down the exchange of information among gun enthusiasts on the web.

But the chokehold effect would be felt in other quarters as well.  This move by the State Department is an absolutely terrible idea across the board.  Even if it dealt with international trade in pork bellies or chicken parts, rather than arms, it should still be opposed strenuously on principle.

Its effect will be to make a tremendous chunk of what people talk about on the web every day subject to prior restraint, by, of all agencies, the State Department – or, potentially, other federal agencies, depending on topic. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 6, 2015

Bruce/‘Caitlyn’ Jenner and the collapse of the Western mind

Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker." (Image via bigthink.com)

Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.” (Image via bigthink.com)

There is no way to write comprehensively about a subject this big in one post, and I won’t try here.  I want to just highlight a few points that have struck me forcefully this week, as the spectacle of media fawning over Jenner – whom I will call XY Jenner – unfolds before us.

The first and most basic point is that we have a body of empirical knowledge that tells us XY Jenner is a human male, and that he cannot be made female.  If one day we will have the ability to manipulate DNA in such a way that that is possible, we don’t have it today.

The concepts of “gender,” and nature-vs.-nurture, are meaningful ones.  But the evidence of our eyes, and the sum total of our shared knowledge, tell us that male (XY) and female (XX) correlate powerfully with “man” and “woman,” to such a pervasive extent that there is no value for our lives in tossing that assumption aside. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 3, 2015

Tweets of the Day: Marie Harf slam-dunks critics of Obama’s Iran policy

Gravitas.

Gravitas.

One of the joys of the Obama administration is its hip, savvy web and social media presence.  The president has used Twitter a number of times to bestow on others – people, national monuments – the honor of being commemorated with images of him.  (See here and here, among others.)  He also performed in a social-media video – of himself, snapping selfies in the White House – as a way of encouraging social-media mavens to visit the Obamacare website, something no other high public official has done, as far as we’re aware.

Then there was Michelle Obama’s unforgettable tweet in May 2014, urging the Nigerian terrorist gang Boko Haram to #BringBackOurGirls.

As a foreign policy measure, that worked about as well as former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki posing in March 2014 for a Twitter selfie, with a sign reading #UnitedForUkraine.  Her alternate, Marie Harf, posed with a similar sign at the time. Read More…

Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 31, 2015

Low-flying federal surveillance planes popping up over more cities

Cessna 182 N859JA over McLean, VA in July 2014. (Image: liveandietpie via imgur!, Reddit)

Cessna 182 N859JA over McLean, VA in July 2014. (Image: liveandietpie via imgur!, Reddit)

Just a few weeks after similar activity was reported during the Baltimore riots, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune has a story about unmarked small planes flying low-altitude surveillance patterns, in the middle of the night, over downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America.

Aviation buff John Zimmerman was at a weekly gathering of neighbors Friday night when he noticed something peculiar: a small plane circling a route overhead that didn’t make sense to him.

It was dark, so a sightseeing flight didn’t make sense, and when Zimmerman pulled up more information on an aviation phone app he routinely checks, he had immediate concerns.

The plane’s flight path, recorded by the website flightradar24.com, would eventually show that it circled downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and Southdale Center at low altitude for hours starting at 10:30 p.m., slipping off radar just after 3 a.m.

“I thought, ‘Holy crap,’ ” said Zimmerman.

Bearing the call sign N361DB, the plane is one of three Cessna 182T Skylanes registered to LCB Leasing of Bristow, Va., according to FAA records. The Virginia secretary of state has no record of an LCB Leasing. Virtually no other information could be learned about the company.

Read More…

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