The Democrats have moved their retreat to the Capitol complex. Which means they’re not moving anywhere over the next few days. Which means that maybe, or even likely, a shutdown will be avoided with full-year defense funding balanced by Community Health Centers and a lifting for 2 years of spending caps. In other words with lots and lots of spending.The House has just passed their version of the spending bill, but the Senate has yet to add their touches, which may be significant, if the leaks about lifting spending caps turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, Christopher Steele – the British former MI6 spy of Dossier fame – apparently also wrote a memo which is now being called the October memo. Apparently because a few things about this memo – which listed Steele’s concerns about Trump’s campaign and alleged connections with Russia – are rather unclear at this point.

  • In The Hill’s piece on the October memo by Jonathan Easly and Katie Bo Williams they write: The memo, dated October 19, was given to Steele by a contact at the State Department and was based on information provided by “a friend of the Clintons” Grassley said. So again, Steele is not the source just like when he was a third or fourth or even fifth-hand transmitter of information from his Russian contacts for the Steele Dossier.
  • The contact at State seems to have been Jonathan Winer, former Special Envoy to Libya and former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
  • The actual sources for the October memo are two Clinton aides from the 90’s: Sydney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, according to unnamed GOP officials.
  • On Sunday Talk, former Obama Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this: Chris had a friend at the State Department and he offered us that reporting free so that we could also benefit from it. … He passed to two to four short pages of notes of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation.
  • In other words, a deputy assistant secretary of state hands Steele some information, perhaps from Clinton confidants. Steele makes notes and hands those notes back to the State Department, who then contact the FBI.

Does this strike you as just a tad circular? And unverified? Just asking.

So now it looks like Nunes and the House intel committee want to turn their sights towards the State Department while Schiff and the Democrats cry breach of House committee rules. And another chapter gets started in the Trump Russia saga.

 

The only way the Fusion GPS story really takes over the mainstream media is if the mainstream media turns on itself. After recycling Fusion GPS’ smear stories, large media organizations and key journalists within those organizations will have to come clean about how the game worked with Glenn Simpson’s dirty tricks squad. About how they could never reveal that their anonymous sources were in fact a paid communications shop that used incredibly sleazy tactics to turn a story in favor of a client. Clients like the Kremlin or corrupt Venezuelan oil industry contractors. Among others who remain, for now, in the shadows.

The Hill has been at the front of some of this latest change in the reporting on Glenn Simpson and GPS. One can’t really say that The Washington Post or CNN have been as equally rigorous in covering this side of the Russia story as they are in obsessively covering how much Russia spent on Facebook ads. But as we segue towards less of a Trump-Russia scandal and towards more of a Russia-on-its-own scandal, most mainstream media are not really coming out and saying that the evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin is not really there, regardless of what Adam Schiff likes to imply. And that the real evidence is in fact pointing exactly the other way:

Towards Hillary’s campaign, and the Obama administration’s knowledge of an FBI investigation into bribes, kickbacks, and money laundering by Kremlin associates; all tied to the sale to Russia of a key stake in Canadian-owned uranium mining company, Uranium One.

The story of Uranium One runs through Kazakhstan and involves Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra a Clintons donor who managed to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help out his operation in Kazakhstan which around 2010 was being squeezed by Putin who wanted control. Giustra had leveraged uranium mining rights he had managed to previously extract from Kazakhstan’s leadership into a 3.5 billion mining company with operations in South Africa, Central Asia and North America. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton had benefited from Giustra’s donations so it was natural they’d come to his aid now.

A deal was worked out needless to say, and much of the background sleaze surrounding the deal would have remained under wraps with Obama’s FBI and DOJ dutifully keeping mum about ongoing FBI investigations into Vadim Mikerin’s racket to bring American companies into the now Russian-owned Uranium One’s fold.

But by 2014, with Putin’s Crimea grab and his slow-burn war with Ukraine in its opening phases, Vadim Mikerin was finally arrested but was able to plea bargain down to one single money laundering charge. Read Andrew McCarthy’s piece on this in the National Review, to get a veteran prosecutor’s view on how ridiculous a travesty of justice this was. The story was reported on, but nothing like the Trump Russia story.

Well now the Uranium One story is back, and it may have assumed too much critical mass to be able to be wished away by ex Obama officials, especially those at State. Of course, if things get too uncomfortable, and if the real Russian collusion turns out to have been with Obama and Hillary Democrats and not Trump’s campaign team, perhaps they can fight back the only way left to them.

They can hire Fusion GPS, assuming Glenn Simpson isn’t too busy defending himself in criminal court.

​Donna Carol Voss makes a good point in The Federalist. Sheriff Arpaio was about to go to be sentenced this coming October for defying a judge’s order that set limits on the Arizona police chiefs practice of sweeping up Latinos in traffic stop and searches. He was judged by most people on both sides of the aisle as having broken the law. Specifically for having ignored a judges ruling on what local police can do with respect to immigration law.

Joe Arpaio disagreed with the law, or the judge’s interpretation of the law (which is the same thing really) and refused to obey it. He was roundly condemned by many on both the left and the right.

Sanctuary City Police Departments in places like San Francisco and New Orleans, and Chicago, mandate clearly and specifically against any local police or other official assisting the enforcement of federal immigration law. Section 1373 of the U.S. Code states that local officials may not prohibit or restrict communication with federal immigration officials.

Sanctuary city officials disagree with the law, and they refuse to obey it.

Has anyone charged San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee?

Hardly, but there is talk in Washington DC – especially by AG Sessions – of trying to cut funding for policing for some sanctuary cities. But not even President Trump has as of yet (I think) openly spoken of trying to have, say, Rahm Emanuel charged. Or any of his staff or local police chiefs.

And if one uses the idea of devolving power back to the local and state level as a justification for sanctuary cities’ rejection of parts of the federal law they don’t like, then logically you could use that same reasoning to justify Joe Arpaio’s behavior.

Yes, some matters definitely should be moved closer to home, as it were. Taxation (high, low, any way a state sees fit) and healthcare seem to be candidates for devolution. But immigration?

Let workers and voters decide what state they want to live and work in based on that state’s taxes and healthcare system. But have them decide based on a state’s immigration system? Based on a city’s immigration system? That’s the de facto result of sanctuary cities. And the problem of how to move around inside America becomes a nightmare in an America where immigration policy is decided locally.

So while the left sees sanctuary cities as heroic, they are really just beneficiaries of unstated, rolling pardons. Whether by a President (Obama) or not (Trump).

It’s still here. The Affordable Care Act has been taken off the operating table; Doctor Price and Doctor Ryan (yes only one of them is a real doctor) have taken off their scrubs and headed home after a presser or two. And The President did not look nearly as disappointed as the Speaker of the House, after the vote was called off this Friday afternoon. By the President on advice of the Speaker. Or by the Speaker on advice of the President. Or something like that.

So as the patient with ACA on its hospital wrist band is suddenly given leave to head out the sliding doors pf the hospital and wander through the cities and towns of America, the question becomes: is it a zombie just waiting until its head explodes? And until it scatter its broken pieces around every state of the union? Or is it really kinda healthy and therefore there are many people glad that Obamacare is … still alive!!

President Trump did indeed state at various points during the electoral campaign that he thought perhaps the best thing would have been to let Obamacare collapse until there was no option left but to have a bipartisan bill that was able to clean up the mess of exiting insurance companies, skyrocketing premiums, and high deductibles. Now the president has had his wish come true.

Did President Trump invest political capital in Ryan’s AHCA? Of course he did. Quite a lot. We’ll see exactly how much as the weeks and months pass and Congress and the White House move on to attempt tax reform and infrastructure spending. But the tax savings that would have, theoretically at least, been achieved with the AHCA will now not be there to fund a program of tax cuts.

Plus the wounds and scars of a failed attempt at passing a major piece of legistlation – how about just getting it out of one of the houses of Congress, never mind actually passing it – will also make cooperation between GOP members of Congress a lot more prickly as they try to pivot and “roll forward” in the optimistically steely words of Texas’ Kevin Brady.

But the really noteworthy aspect of this first major failure for the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress is that the president seems more than willing to work with Democrats. Once Obamacare becomes manifestly unsustainable, that is. He said as much in his brief press conference in the Oval Office, shortly after Speaker Ryan had given his.

Would Senator Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi, be interested in sitting down with President Trump? Right now, one doubts that very much. But it could happen. It depends on how much salt they decide to rub into the wounds. And how any attempt at a bipartisan reform of healthcare in America gets framed. Would it be fixing the flaws in Obamacare? A little nip and tuck here and there so the zombie looks nicer?

Or would it be a case of digging in that scalpel and going for the bone? Maybe some amputations. Artificial limbs. A new head. For example. Or how about burying the zombie once and for all? Sorry, Chuck and Nancy can’t do that. Can they? Neither can Colins and Murkowski. And it may be that a clear majority of voters want some sort of a healthcare entitlement zombie alive and walking the streets of America. As of now, they have their wish.

By Tuesday, January 3, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi had already introduced a budget resolution aimed at resurrecting Congress’ previous attempt at repealing Obamacare. An attempt vetoed by Obama, of course, last year. A repeal bill is scheduled to be presented by January 27. That’s in a little over 3 weeks, which is at the speed of light, as far as Congressional bill-making is concerned.

On January 15, right in the middle of those two dates, Congressional Democrats are planning rallies against the repeal, to take place around the country apparently. And Wednesday, January 4th, Obama and Pence held dueling meetings in Congress to rally their respective teams around what will be the first big showdown of the 115th Congress, and President Trump’s new administration.

Wedged in between these key dates, is a dusty little ceremony that will take place at the Western Side of the U.S. Capitol. One wonders whether angry protesters dressed as zombie patients will try to disrupt the proceedings along with all the other angry identity-politics groups that feel so offended that America did not vote as they saw fit.

In other words, things are moving very fast with this new Congress and new administration. At least as far as repeal is concerned. Replacing Obamacare, however, is something that will likely be delayed by at least two years, if the rumblings coming from various legislators are any indication. Trump has made this issue his, but the GOP Congress has pushed repeal and replace for much longer.

At the American Enterprise Institute, two healthcare policy wonks, Joseph Antros and James Capretta, have suggested slowing down. Both have been part of the federal healthcare bureaucracy, and their complaint seems to center around how ACA enrollees could be harmed by destabilizing Obamacare, through repeal and a delayed replacement of the ACA. They want to keep the exchanges viable by ensuring funding keeps flowing, and worry that absent the tax penalties meant to enforce compliance, the downward spiral of insurance companies withdrawing from the unprofitable plans, and healthy people staying away in greater numbers with no penalty for doing so, will mean less coverage, more expensive coverage, all for less people.

So, this is different from what is already happening to Obamacare because … ? They make no mention of allowing competition across state lines for example. The view of Antos and Capretta is firmly from within the federally administered world of regulated healthcare. This is hardly out-of-the-box thinking.

But they do make an interesting point. Because repeal will be done through the reconciliation process, it can only affect those parts of Obamacare that have to do with taxes and subsidies or credits. Not the regulations – the detailed requirements that will still be part of what remains of the ACA after repeal. So we will be left with rules that presume – as they put it – the subsidies and mandates (that the tax penalty enforces) without the money to back it up. That means insurance companies will find it even more expensive to remain within the ACA exchanges and will drop out at a faster rate.

And what did Obama have to say to Congress on Wednesday? Avoid talking too much about policy. Talk about the impact on people’s lives. Healthcare is a minefield, it’s true. To score political points, you have to hide the true cost of any subsidized healthcare system – like ACA – and focus on the individual stories of those who gained coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare is collapsing – whether the GOP repeals it or not – and the costs of Obama’s grand scheme can not be reduced to scare stories. Whatever plan replaces it, that new plan will have to justify its costs to a public that has seen the Affordable Care Act become far less affordable and offer less care than it promised 6 years ago.

You avoid policy, explaining it and showing how it will be paid for, in terms of healthcare at your own peril as Obama is finally realizing. The voting public will have to realize it as well.

From CNN to FoxNews. From the New York Times to BBC World. Putin is everywhere. Yeltsin, no stranger to the world press, would have killed for this sort of publicity. And Gorbachev was on the front pages – if not the web pages; it was the late 80’s and early 90’s after all – usually for all the wrong reasons, from Putin’s perspective at least. Negotiating arms deals and presiding over the collapse of the Soviet Union, for example.

But this sort of thing – expelling spies – used to happen all the time. The differences between now and the Soviet-era spy expulsions seem to be twofold. First, the numbers of spies were usually far less than the football team’s worth of expulsions that Obama’s administration has enacted. And, more importantly, the rules of the game are unknown at this point. We don’t know how this will play out, because one fears that Putin will react in unpredictable ways, because he is not playing quite the same game as the Soviets used to.

And of course, we don’t know how Trump will react to the sanctions imposed by Obama in the final weeks of his presidency. Trump would like the Russian hacking of the elections to quietly fade away, but Obama has clearly been determined not to let that happen. What was an intelligence matter, and primarily a domestic and partisan electoral matter – seeing that the DNC and Hillary’s campaign chief were the main victims of the hacks – is now an international incident. For some the sanctions are too little too late. For others they are too loud and too public.

Jim Woolsey ex CIA, for example, on FoxNews complained that Obama should have retaliated quietly and forcefully – essentially keeping the matter an intelligence matter. He also complained that the United States of America did not send public condolences to Russia after the crash of it’s Tupolev airliner last week carrying the Red Army Choir on a mission to Syria. Which seems a little fussy and formal for 21st century politics. As if Woolsey really would like a return to the Soviet American spy game of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Right now that does not seem possible. This is a new game that Putin is defining, and America’s President-Elect will have to get up to speed very quickly on possible tactical and strategic responses available to the White House. Because a Russian reaction to Obama’s expulsions is coming, likely within a fairly short time frame. And it may not be tit-for-tat. This is just getting started. Putin is ruthless and unapologetic with his tactics, as the last 16 years of his running Russia prove. And this cyber/spy war will run both hot and cold, often at the same time. Time for a regular intel briefing, Mr. President-Elect. You have no choice now.

Of course Trump and Obama have had nice phone calls. Obama is the master needler: gracious in private, but in public his eyes glowing with a subtle malice, as his voice, oh-so-reasonable, explains to his uncomprehending students/media/opponents why they shouldn’t be enraged by his acts. Remember this past summer, when he strolled through the courtyard of the White House with an earnestly confused Bernie Sanders who had just had his rebellion diffused by Obama, and still didn’t quite realize it? The smile on Obama’s face as he tried hard not to smirk?

Trump has to realize this, and surely does. Obama, gracious in private; disruptive, antagonistic and resentful in his public acts, is doing everything he can to hold on to the illusion that the changes he wrought by executive order can somehow be maintained in place by the right bureaucratic fiddling with the rules. You can’t change this. There’s no precedent, and no Supreme Court Challenge. It’ll take you years. Ha ha. Ha ha.

So yes, this transition is getting ugly and it has nothing to do with Trump’s brisk assembling of talented men and women for his cabinet. The contrast in style between the incoming administration and the outgoing one is as striking as the likely contrast with the substance of the incoming administration. Obama rules by fiat but lets others do the dirty work. Like Secretary Kerry who leaves behind a disastrous legacy, one that has Obama’s fingerprints all over it. If not his overt presence in these waning days.

Trump, on the other hand, seeks experience and pragmatism and does not shy away from possible controversy but rather takes a certain pleasure in diving head first into any controversy. And doing battle with it in a very public fashion. And usually winning. At least, so far.

What the President-Elect hopefully realizes is that the obnoxious Democrat resistance – call it an unwillingness to accept that Hillary and Obama’s party lost – will not start on January 20th. It has already started. In the White House in the latter half of November. Obama is leading the Democrat resistance. He just happens to be doing it from the White House. And one suspects he will continue to lead it on January 21st.

Obamacare – ok the Affordable Care Act, is that better? – is collapsing, state by state. Younger healthier potential enrollees are not enrolling. The incentives – how much premiums you pay and what kind of deductible you face and what kind of coverage you get – are making them choose to stay away and defer their choices. Perhaps you can construct a longer term economic model based on the expected costs of a health crisis with the likely percentages and the expected cost. And decide that they should enroll, just in case. But by many metrics, younger and healthier people are making a reasonably rational choice.

As are sicker, older people who have rationally decided that Obamacare is a good deal for them. Those two subsets of health care consumers means that Obamacare is currently unsustainable without several things:

  • Higher premiums
  • Higher deductibles
  • More bailouts/subsidies courtesy of you the taxpayer

And even with all three of these responses factored in, many insurance companies are finding Obamacare unprofitable to say the least. That means that the next president will have to clean up the mess and either reform Obamacare or create a new health care plan. Hillary Clinton likely has plans all set up to effectively dump Obamacare through a vigorous reform program that preserves it only in name and broad outlines, all the while praising her former boss’s flawed plan.

Of course Hillary’s reforms will certainly involve lots more regulations. But different regulations. By new agencies or renamed agencies, or re-configured government departments working for you, the health care consumer. Regardless of what state or county you live in. That will work out wonderfully won’t it?

Thank goodness we have an alternative with Paul Ryan’s Patient Choice Act. Right??

Uhm. Have you actually looked into the PCA? Have you scanned the long-form summary, for example? Found at Ryan’s house.gov site? Here’s a few gems:

If you are on SNAP (what used to be called Food Stamps) then forget about buying junk food with your SNAP card. That means you might have to fork over hard cash for that bag of Nachos that gets you through the weekend. You will be told what to buy with your SNAP card. Or the clerk will be told what you CAN’T buy. How? Who knows? Will there be brawls at convenience stores between clerks and SNAP card people?

Seniors who adopt “healthier behaviors” will be rewarded with lower Medicare premiums. Makes sense, in terms of improving health outcomes. But it also adds another layer of paperwork for retired people and means the government is even more involved in your daily life, telling you in minute detail how to live. Of course you could live free … without Medicare. Not an option for many.

The CDC would create a web-base prevention tool based on your private data: your health records, how fat you are (sorry! body mass index), your sordid family details (sorry! your family history) which will all go into an Orwellian little app-thingy that will tell you exactly how to eat, drink, sleep, have sex, exercise, and any other part of your personal life the CDC feels is relevant.

There are some less invasive ideas in the PCA to be fair. Like reworking the tax code to incentivize health outcomes instead of health insurance outcomes. Like the HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) combined with HSA, the Health Savings Account. This bundled option offers affordable catastrophe insurance with a tax-free way to save towards your health care costs.

But the point is that there is no perfect optimal solution. There are only tough trade-offs. The best you can do with health care is to offer smarter trade offs. And Ryan’s PCA does do that. But it also promises care for everyone AND affordable premiums. Sorry, but somebody somewhere is going to have to pay for that. The bills always come due. Just like with Obamacare.

You’re nearly as dumb as Gary Johnson, who apparently doesn’t need cannabis to go from affable to really weird at the drop of a hat. You know why you are? Because you don’t get Aleppo. Just like Gary, despite his protestations of: oh, yeah, got it. You don’t get it however. Here’s why.

Aleppo is hot, dry and in the middle of a hot, dry country. This what those who know tell us. And that is one of the main reasons why people are killing each other and why refugees have been streaming out of Syria and through Turkey and the Balkans and into the EU. There are other minor factors like a ruthless second-generation autocrat killing as many of his fellow Syrians as necessary to cling to power, but you have to keep the weather in mind, don’t you see?

Praise be to Obama then for stroking his pen underneath yet another executive order – who needs Congress? – and pulling together 20 federal agencies of all sorts to ensure that climate change will be placed firmly at the table when the Chiefs of Staff and intelligence agencies analyze the world’s hot spots. A fortunate turn of phrase if you believe the EPA needs to be part of the provisioning of the men and women who risk their lives around the world for the sake of their country.

So there it is: the Presidential Memorandum on Climate Change and National Security. Signed, sealed, but not really delivered. Not yet at least. But here’s the thing. Obama is not crazy. He is not a lone wolf acting on his peculiar vision that makes him hear voices in his head. Would that it would be so simple. But no. He is putting into action what an increasing percentage of the academic and even, yes, the intelligence communities actually believe. It’s a brave, dangerous and exciting new world. You can be a lover of emissions-trading, vegan, environmental analyst. And guess what? There’s a job opening for you at the NSA. Not just the EPA.

And that’s why Congress should have no place in this matter. They would actually strike committees and hold hearings and listen to evidence and debate loudly and publicly amongst themselves. With representatives of industry and science and environmental groups and other stakeholders having their say in front of the media’s prying presence. Both about the actual data on global warming, and on whether an added layer of bureaucracy with it’s own vested interests is the best way to forge national security. For America and for it’s allies. You don’t imagine China striking those sorts of committees, somehow. Or Russia.

By the way, Aleppo has a cool steppe climate and sits on a plateau about twelve hundred feet above sea level. And yes, it’s relatively dry with winters having rare snowfalls. Snow. Falling. But only rarely of course. On Friday it had a high of 77 F and a low of 59.

The bombs being dropped by Syrian and/or Russian jets, however, produce a great deal more heat for the unfortunate souls who have to try and survive them.

Terrorism has been a defining force in American politics for nearly two decades now. Like it or not. Bush 43 was going to be the education president. He is now remembered as the president who had to take on the war on terror, like no other president before him. And since, unfortunately.

One can argue over what tactics and strategies are best. The Iraq invasion looks less wise with each passing year. But one cannot argue over George W. Bush’s commitment to fight terrorism. The same cannot be said of President Obama. Because he has willfully refused to define it as a war against terrorism. As if somehow he could negotiate his way around the brutal reality of radical jihadist terrorism.

He’s still trying.

After the weekend of terrorist attacks in NYC, New Jersey, and Minnesota, Obama lectured the media not to jump to conclusions and “get ahead” of the story. Like a mildly annoyed college professor dressing down his pupils for not turning in well written essays.

At every stage of his presidency, Obama has tried to downplay and qualify and relativize islamic terrorism. And as part of his now near-delirious insistence on his view that jihadism is not as great a threat as people think, the West must appease Islam. Or risk angry retaliation on the part of islamic peace-loving faithful who shall be pushed to take up workshops in IED’s because the West, and America, dare to defend themselves. Jihadims is always the West’s fault by his progressively perverse logic.

And of course, as Josh Earnest whined in an interview, we can’t let ISIL control the narrative by allowing them to turn their terrorism into a battle of the West versus Islam. Because that’s what will happen if we use phrases like: radical islamic terrorism. Does Earnest really believe what he’s made to say anymore? Maybe he does. Or maybe as a good spokesperson, he does his best to transmit his leader’s will to the public at large.

It’s getting to the point where comparing Obama’s foreign policy to Jimmy Carter’s is a bit of an insult to the former governor of Georgia. But Obama is, tragically, not at all alone in this matter. From Merkel opening up the borders of Germany and allowing terrorists in with the refugees, to British police who refuse to take action when they fear it will stir up complaints of islamophobia, even if it involves the abuse of adolescents, leaders in the West are paralyzed by the fear of being branded racist.

But that’s what aggressive activists on the left have done to speech in North America and Europe and around the world. Naming and Shaming, in everything from transgender bathrooms to micro-aggressions, has wrought a deadly silence on those who need to muster the strength and courage, but also the intellectual flexibility, to deal with what is a serious problem. And not one that merely affects the West. Terrorism has caused far more deaths in the Middle East and Asia, as well as Africa. But freedom of expression is not always a right in many of these countries. Nor is it expected to be. It is a right in much of the West. At least in theory. Because right now, fear in of being shamed seems greater than the courage to deal with terrorism.

Obama, however, is not someone fearful of being shamed. He actually and whole heartedly believes the progressive ideology. Rubio was right. America elected a charming smooth talking radical. And is now paying the price by a lack of vision on how to fight jihadism. Yes, the men and women who defend America – like the police forces and the FBI that were able to apprehend Rhahami in less than 50 hours – are doing admirable work day after day. They just need a leader who is willing to take up the challenge, instead of constantly belittling it.

George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, handles lots of money, dispensing it around the world. Billions and billions of dollars. Maybe that’s small change when you’re working up a continuing resolution on Capitol Hill, but in many of the places where the money is apparently spent, it has made a difference.

But one has to remember that the Open Society Foundations did not merely spring from Soros’ ambitious brow, and his enormous bank balances. It has a history that goes back to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, or CCF, founded in 1950 in the early years of the Cold War, and used by the CIA and State – thank God – as a platform to influence and discredit the alarmingly widespread cultural nods of approval towards marxism and socialism in places like Western and Eastern Europe, and right around the world.

The CCF was renamed the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) in the mid-60’s and one of its affiliates was merged with Soros’ Open Society around 1990. Just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. Soros had already been present in his native Hungary since the mid-80’s, presumably working to prepare for the day that the iron curtain would finally be torn away. And the Open Society was very much present in Eastern Europe throughout the turbulent 90’s.

One wonders whether the UK deliberately avoided charging Soros with currency speculation when he shorted the pound sterling to the tune of 10 billion in 1992, making off with a cool billion for himself, because it was understood that he would be spending at least some of those funds helping Eastern Europe rid itself of the legacy of decades of totalitarian, socialist rule.

Big money, big history, big politics, big ideas. Like Karl Popper. Like the Mount Pelerin Society. Soros would love to be called professor Soros no doubt, and he is indeed a billionaire yearning to unleash his inner think-tank wonk-beast on the world. And he has. For decades now.

But what worked in places like Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia was due in large part to the iron will of Thatcher and the steely optimism of Reagan and their impressive coalition with Pope John Paul II. It was under the umbrella of their focused and relentless foreign policy, one that was also willing to negotiate, that the Open Society Foundations’ cultural work was made possible. Even in the years after they were out of office. Soros is not the secret operating code that brought an end to the Cold War. He’s an app, an important one, but one that fails when the operating system is not robust.

Like with the Obama administration and the Iran deal. Iran is not analogous to countries like Poland or Hungary. It is more like Russia, caught in a totalitarian theocracy, with bubbling ethnic tensions ready to erupt when the ayatollah’s lose their grip on power.

So it’s no surprise that The Ploushares Fund, would approach the Open Society Foundations in a rather secret way to ask for a little cash (a mere $750,000) to help boost the echo chamber of experts testifying to the feasibility of the Iran deal. Back around 2013. Even Obama’s biggest boosters knew that shaking hands with the ayatollahs or their political representatives on a deal that essentially trusts Iran to be compliant, was a tricky proposition.

But that is being miserly and petty, isn’t it? We just don’t have the sweeping vision of a George Soros who knows money and loves big ideas. But perhaps Soros should recall a quote from his idol and mentor, Karl Popper, whose book The Open Society and it’s Enemies gave the name for his (and various intel agencies) foundation. It goes like this:

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

Is there a better example in all of the Middle East of hate-filled intolerance of America and Western ideals than Iran? But of course, Soros, liberal think tanks, and Obama and Hillary, all think they understand this world better than those who warned of intolerance on the eve of the Cold War.

It’s good to know that ISIL’s leadership is hunkered down because of the Obama Administration’s strategy in combating the terrorist organization. At least that’s what Obama himself assured the world from a press conference in Buenos Aires. So as hundreds of trained killers are waiting throughout Europe to launch their next attack, be calm and know their leadership is hunkered down.

Be calm like Obama himself, as the president digs down in the bunkers of windy and chilly Barlioche’s golf courses. It’s still uncertain as to which course he will play a few rounds at, but you can be sure that on one of the five cargo jets stationed at the Bariloche airport, there was room in the hold for at least one or two sets of the president’s golf clubs. Left-handed of course.

And what better way to respond to the carnage in Brussels than dining out on Argie beef and dancing a little tango? Like any tourist recovering from the long flight down Buenos Aires way.

Let’s be fair to the failed strategy in Syria. Carpet bombing ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, or Daesh (as Kerry was forced to mispronounce at his press conference) may very cause new supporters to blossom again like a desert weed as the result of collateral damage from an intensive bombing campaign. Or it might work, if that collateral damage is accepted as necessary. That’s a horrifying thought to most in the West nowadays. One that many in the Allied countries did not feel as Dresden burned during WW II, for example. Or – at the time at least – when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to rubble.

But the analogy is imperfect. As horrifying as the Nazi regime was, the cultural and political divide between ISIS and the West is deeper. And is rooted in a fanatical version of the Muslim faith. Precisely because it is not tied to so-called blood and soil, at least not in the same way, it is a threat that can materialize almost anywhere. And it’s adherents don’t even have to be Muslim. Like aging English rock chicks who go to Syria to cut heads off. Any raging sociopath is welcome with open arms and encrypted instructions on how to maim and kill.

But you have to call the enemy what it is – islamic fanatical terrorism – to be able to devise and try out strategies to both contain and defeat it. And Obama will not let the ugly truths of this particular breed of terrorism cast doubt on his world view. That, is some handicap Mr. President.

This Sunday, President Obama posed in Havana, with an enormous mural of Ernesto Che Guevara looming behind his smiling presence. Guevara gave a speech in Algeria in the mid-60’s demanding the north – i.e. Europe and North America – fund the south – the developing world. Not a good move Ernesto. The fiercely smiling Cuban colleagues at the airport to greet El Che were furious. So was Fidel. Why? The apparatchiks in Moscow who were funding the new communist regime, were not pleased and took Che’s demand as precisely the self-righteous ransom it indeed was.

So Che was shipped off to Africa to organize, aid, and abet revolutions in places like the Congo. And was left dangling on his own, a couple of years later, in Bolivia where the soviet-backed local communist rebels were not interested in his motley crew. And for the great convenience of all, his martyrdom silenced a voice filled with hatred and rage. Who was willing to kill even more than he was willing to die. A real revolutionary who wrote guides on how to use terror – sorry liberating, armed violence – to achieve political ends.

His eternal image has waxed and waned over the years, but has always been present. At late 90’s radical anarchist gatherings, and in Middle Eastern islamic protests, for example. And his memory is fetishized by Hollywood, as is to be expected. How romantic.

So as Belgium reels from this latest ISIL attack, it seems Europe – in whose bedrooms more than a few now fully grown politicians had Che’s image taped to their walls – is getting a little tired of the sacred altar of diversity. Diversity at all costs. Diversity as an absolute good. Diversity as atonement even, for the sins of the greedy first world. Diversity as the entitled, spoiled, love child of the marxist liberation movement Ernesto Guevara personified.

Surely, President Obama feels every epic footstep of his sacred yet secular journey, in all it’s hard-fought bittersweetness. So with his worldly wisdom – he’s one of them as he said in Egypt, and he’s just a Hawaiian/mid-western kid who settled in Chicago – the president understands how to place this act of violent terror into perspective. We come together, we embrace, we fight climate change; and bit by bit the crazed murderers in Syria, North Africa, Europe, America, and elsewhere, unstrap their explosive-laden belts and begin to work for ngo’s. No more bodies in Belgium. Or France. Or California. Magically, mystically, yet with that grounded common sense with which Obama graces each of his projects.

So don’t expect Che Guevara and the sacred altar of diversity to be deconstructed in the places it was built – North American university campuses in places like Berkley and Chicago – but rather in old Europe. Where they are getting sick and tired of offering refuge to be repaid with violent hatred. The electorate that is. We’ll see how their leaders deal with what is a war in their cities, in their suburbs, and on their borders. And we’ll have to see who the next president on this side of the Atlantic is, to see how America deals with this war.

Blue collar – does anyone really use that term anymore? – or working voters who tend to support the GOP can take heart. They are healing the divisions that are fracturing America. Why, they might be responsible for bringing together President Obama and the Republican Party Business Lobby!

How’s that? H-2B visas of course! Lobbyists representing fishing and agricultural interests managed to slip a rider into the omnibus bill that will allow returning H-2B visa workers to ignore the 66,000 annual cap. In other words, Barack Obama and the pro-business lobby of the GOP love immigrants especially unskilled ones that help ensure workers do their underpaid work with little complaining. Because of likely deportations.

If you drill down a little into that logic however, it is hardly reassuring. Yes, these type of jobs tend to involve hard, unpleasant work that Americans may not want to do. At least not at the going wage. And making a profit running these types of business is harder than, say, running an investment scheme that closes down and leaves investors holding the bag.

But is it really a workable solution to hand over HR functions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Because if H-2B visa workers start to massively underperform, that’s who’s going to have to enforce compliance. Or, owners could fire them all and import more H-2B visa holders. The way things are going, that may be a feasible solution. One wonders, however, if running your business with nothing but untrained, low-skilled immigrant workers is the best way to add value.

And if all those fired, underperforming H-2B’s don’t actually leave the country, it’s no longer the business owners’ problem. Is it?

But that’s business lobbying to defend what it sees as it’s interests. The question of who in the House or the Senate helped pave the way for the backdoor, late-night insertion of the rider is one of guesswork.

If this story does gain legs and make it past the holidays, it’s one more issue that widens the gap between working GOP voters and business inside the GOP.

For how long has Israel been acting discretely – or not – in Syria? Netanyahu admitted that Israeli forces operate from “time to time” in its war-torn neighbor. Netanyahu also met with Putin in Paris, and apparently they co-ordinated the movements of their respective militaries in Syria to avoid a confrontation similar to what happened between Russia and Turkey.

If that isn’t tough pragmatism on the part of the Israeli leader, the term is meaningless. What is happening in Syria matters to Israel greatly, especially when it comes to ISIL. Israel’s response has been focused, ruthless, and discrete. A very impressive trinity.

Then there’s Obama’s strategy in Syria. Inconsistent, self-righteous, and unfocused. A less than holy trinity. Which has left allies and former colleagues like Secretary of Defense Hagel angry and confused. Lines get noisily drawn and then are allowed to be swept away by the swirl of events as the administration carefully does nothing.

Is President Obama like a ghost in the machine? Impelled by the executive power inherent in his job and by his position as a world leader to say something, but do little? Or do the wrong thing?

How about Obama phoning up Netanyahu and asking him for some advice? Admitting things haven’t gone well and then asking “what would actually work in your neighborhood Bibi?”

An unlikely event of course. Though chat by phone they must do from “time to time.”

What did get talked about in those long wandering meetings on Syria when Hagel was still Defense Secretary? Was it filled with politically correct caution over how to allow Syrian rebels find their own destiny as America aided their battle with Assad? Nation-building and political correctness thrown like spinning dice into a deadly civil war. With a leader that refuses to actually place a bet. No one has – or would have had a few years ago – an easy answer to Syria, because there never was one. But the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East have lacked any pragmatic workable answer at all.

When the Soviet Union retreated from Afghanistan in 1988-89, Putin was a local KGB spy-master in East Germany. He was a few short years from entering political life as the final tanks rolled across the bridge, driven out by the muhajideen. Some of these sworn rebels were from the Arab world rather than Afghanis, as in Osama bin Laden himself. And Afghanistan is overwhelmingly Sunni as well. Is Putin – who seems to have a deep-seated drive to resurrect Soviet influence – determined to somehow redeem Russia in Syria? And how will his nacent coalition of Iranian Quds Forces, al-Assad’s regime, and Russian military personnel and weapons influence the current civil war?

ISIL is Sunni. The Putin gang allies are Shia. Assad is an alawite – a Shia minority sect in a majority Sunni nation. This major Sunni-Shia division sits like a fatal fault line under the current bloodshed and displacement in Syria and its neighbors. And America’s role in Syria – made even more excruciatingly difficult by Obama’s indecision – is a choice between untrustworthy partners, ambitious rivals, and fanatical enemies. Russia has displaced America in Syria. Is there any other way to put it? It may be that Syria proves to be a curse upon Putin’s ambitions, but the Russian President does not have to worry about Congressional approval or polling to the extent that any U.S. Chief executive does. Putin is autocratic and astonishingly popular in his home country. They have their czar and he will be as unscrupulous and ruthless as necessary in order to stake his claim to the Middle East, in a way not even the Soviets did.

Yes, there are political, secular goals at work. And what better strategy than to use the Sunni-Shia divide to gain greater control? But to state that Sunni-Shia conflicts are merely geo-political under the guise of conflicting branches of belief is to be nostalgic for the Cold War era. The era of conservative regimes like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan backed by the West against revolutionary Middle Eastern regimes backed by the Soviets has long since given way to atavistic and increasingly primitive sects using atrocity as a strategy as much as a tactic. The Iranian revolution opened the gates of hell for much of the Middle East and they remain wide open, three decades later and counting.

What, in this hell, can Obama do? To who, in this burning landscape, can he turn to? Not as towards an unwelcome partner whom one cannot trust, but as to an ally? The answer is clear. The tactics will have to be worked out quickly and carefully – an impossible balance. Who knows more about the Middle East than any other first-world democracy? More than America itself? It is time for Obama to repair the relationship with Israel. He may be incapable of doing so. But it must be done.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, gave the commencement speech at Tuskegee University, and the speech centered on race and the obstacles she faced being African American. Tuskegee University is a historically and predominantly African American student body, so she was making an attempt to speak to her listeners.

However, somewhere lost in translation was the final message. She discusses all of the feelings and obstacles she face before becoming the First Lady living in the White House, but never addressed this is how we’ve overcome, corrected injustices, evolved and this can happen to you. The speech just took on a seemingly angry tone about race, the quite frankly is not more fuel we needed added to the critical status of racism in our nation at the moment. It just didn’t seem to connect, and it’s unfortunate. Rather than encouraging and believing in the future and hope of humanity, there was a lack of connecting the dots in that area.

It goes back to the Zimmerman trial when after the verdict President Obama said in his reaction, “Trayvon Martin could have been me.” It’s somewhat of a reverse form of racism because they think they’re relating to African Americans because they’re black. Isn’t that racism? Yet, their lives and circumstances are often very different than most of the people they’re talking to regardless of their race.

Perhaps in the near future historians will compare Obama’s years to Jimmy Carter’s. Both inherited an economy that had been wracked by a crisis, and while the oil embargo of the 70’s may not have been quite as severe a crisis as the financial meltdown of 2008, the effect of the embargo on unemployment and inflation were even worse than the unemployment numbers in this slow grind out of the great recession. And inflation, for now, is very subdued, unlike in the late 70’s. Perhaps, then, Obama has had it easier than Carter in terms of the economy, but there is at least one big difference between these Obama years and the Carter years. It’s called Senator Ted Kennedy.

How badly the malevolently ambitious Massachusetts senator screwed over Carter’s presidency is a matter of debate, but it is not an inconsequential thing. He undermined the president at every opportunity, especially in foreign policy. His secret kissing up to the Soviets – yes it was Carter that planted a wet one on Brezhnev’s cheek – in cloaked communications with Moscow betrayed a posture even more progressive and pacifist than Carter’s. One shudders to think what the 80’s would have been like had Ted Kennedy won the nomination and, God forbid, the elections in 1980. He didn’t and Reagan changed the world in a few years.

Unlike Carter, Obama has no bogeyman lurking in the senate to blame for his foreign policy. But there is something else that separates him from Jimmy Carter. Obama isn’t a dove, he’s an internationalist who wants to reposition America on the world stage. Over there towards the left-hand-side exit a little more please. And his policies come straight from the White House, and his close circle of advisors like Samantha Power. Obama does not hold a naive view of Islamic radicalism. He grew up with Islam, albeit as a Christian, but one with as many Muslim roots as Christian ones. He knows and understands Islam. So his appeasement of Iran, for example, cannot be blamed on a scheming senator or a naive world view. His is a militant view as well, forged in the politically correct halls of progressive academia. And his attempts at a crisp no-nonsense midwest persona when justifying his foreign policy, betray a deep ambivalence on his part regarding not just America’s role in the world; but America’s identity itself. No, Obama is no Jimmy Carter.

It’s not just Ted Kennedy, but the Kennedys just don’t have the best run of luck, or it could also be karma. However, the fact that President Obama is speaking in Ted Kennedy’s honor at Edward M. Kennedy Institute makes for a lot of distasteful humor because of one not-so-tiny, but selectively forgotten by Democrats and that is the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Ted Kennedy was driving the vehicle and Mary Jo was the passenger when it drove over a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island, and controversy has ensued every since then because Ted Kennedy didn’t report it for many hours later and somehow walked away without any responsibility and became a Senator for decades and now our President is singing his praises.

Obama said at the EMK Institute, “What if we carried ourselves more like Ted Kennedy?” Well, I bet a lot of criminals wish they carried themselves more like Ted Kennedy. Vice President Joe Biden said, “He was an anchor for many of us in our personal lives.” Oh the irony… Ted Kennedy’s Oldsmobile was also the anchor to Mary Jo Kopechne’s life.

You have to question the integrity and ethics of a person who praises and applauds a tainted character like Ted Kennedy. In the wise words of Dennis Miller, “If Ted Kennedy is such a gentleman, why does it take him nine hours to open a car door for a lady?” Now that would have been more of a truth for the President to say.

Nothing is a surprise anymore. There should no longer be any question about the celebrity attention President Obama seeks. Last night, the Celebrity in Chief appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and participated in a celebrity segment called “Mean Tweets.” According to ABC, ” It’s important to remember that Presidents are people too.   From time to time, Jimmy Kimmel gives celebrities a chance to read some of the mean things people tweet about them.  And tonight, he extended that same courtesy to our Commander in Chief.  ”

It’s about time liberal media addressed the celebrity that is our President. You can watch the video to see the President preparing for his acting career in Hollywood at the end of his presidency. We have a President that turns America’s gripes into comedy, which is more insulting to viewers than humorous. Enough is enough.