The Council Has Spoken!! Our Watcher’s Council Results

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The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match up.

“So we want an Islamic state where Islamic law is not just in the books but enforced, and enforced with determination. There is no space and no room for democratic consultation. The Shariah is set and fixed, so why do we need to discuss it anymore? Just implement it! – ISIS Leader Abu Bakar Bashir

“We’re definitely not losing in Iraq” – Barack Obama

“In a very short time the Islamic State has become the most compelling and attractive organisation for Muslim fighters around the world, more so than al-Qaeda ever was” – Sunny Hundal, Al Jazeera

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This week’s winning essay,Joshuapundit’s Ramadi Falls To ISIS In A Major Victory – And Why It’s Important is pretty much about what the title implies it is…an analysis of how and why ISIS won a huge victory in Ramadi, Iraq and what it means. Here’s a slice:

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On Sunday, Islamic State forces captured Ramadi, routing the Iraqi army, many of whom literally fled from the scene, those that could. Over 500 Iraqi soldiers died in the assault, and the debacle came so quickly that substantial pockets of Iraqi troops were trapped there after taking heavy casualties. They aren’t expected to hold out very long and I’ve already received reports that some of them have already been captured and executed by ISIS.

Hundreds of civilians fled along with the Iraqi troops.

ISIS is using some fairly innovative tactics against fixed defensive points like Ramadi. First they seek to control the ingress and egress via outlying areas, to prevent or delay reinforcement and resupply. The next step in Ramadi was to break the defensive line using car and truck bombs, after which ISIS fighters stormed into the breach.

Many Americans may recall hearing the name Ramadi before, and some might recall that quite a few American lives were spent in securing it. Here’s why Ramadi matters.

Look at the map above. Ramadi controls all of the traffic on the Euphrates River. It is only 68 miles (110 Kilometers) from Baghdad and opens the road to that city from the west, just as Fallujah, which ISIS also holds does from the east paving the way for a two-pronged assault. Also, ISIS captured the town of Jubbah in this new offensive, next door to Iraq’s biggest air base at Al-Ansar. That’s where US soldiers, AKA advisers are trying to train Iraqi troops to fight ISIS, which so far hasn’t been particularly successful.

ISIS has also surrounded the oil-producing town of Baiji near Ramadi, where a small Iraqi army force of a few hundred soldiers is trying to hold out. It’s probably only a matter of tie until they’re forced to surrender or are wiped out.

Our Secretary of State John Kerry announced from a news conference in Seoul, South Korea that as far as he was concerned Ramadi was ” a target of opportunity” for ISIS rather than a carefully planed strategic offensive.

“I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead that’s going to change, as overall (they) have been driven back … I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed.”

Let’s examine that.

Exactly what forces is Secretary Kerry talking about? True, the Iraqi government announced that “major military reinforcements” were being deployed to halt the advance of ISIS. The problem is that between Ramadi, the recent ‘victory’ in Tikrit (about which more later) and an attempted counterattack on Fallujah that went horribly wrong, the Iraqi army has very little strength to ‘deploy’ between ISIS and Baghdad right now. They’re a badly defeated army that is incapable of an offensive against Islamic State right now. The only thing keeping ISIS away from Baghdad is a series of 19 U.S, airstrikes near Ramadi over the past 48 hours.

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Sultan Knishwith De-Islamization Is The Only Way To Fight ISIS submitted by Joshuapundit

Here are this week’s full results. only the Right Planet was unable to vote this week,but was not subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty :

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. and every  Tuesday morning, when we reveal the weeks’ nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it...or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Strange Days Edition

Strange days, indeed..prescient, or just a reverberation?

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

This week, The Pirate’s Cove, Wolf Howling, Simply Jews and Seraphic Secret earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (mandatory, but of course it won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out on Wednesday morning

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that!And don’t forget to tune in Friday for the results!

Forum: Do you think the Patriot Act should be renewed?

Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Do you think the Patriot Act should be renewed? Why?

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Really in favor of Amitai Etzioni’s bit in Nat’l Interest:

In Defense of the Patriot Act

Many of the commentaries elicited by the tenth anniversary of the Patriot Act are as polarized as other elements of our public discourse. On the one hand, there are those who argue that the threat of terrorism is vastly exaggerated, that fear-mongering is used to deprive Americans of their basic rights, and that terrorists could be dealt with as just another kind of criminal—by the police and civilian courts. Then there are those who maintain that anyone who opposes reasonable security measures is aiding and abetting the enemy and that torture and extraordinary renditions have shown themselves to be vital to aborting major additional attacks on our homeland.

If one moves away from such one-sided, overarching positions, one realizes that we face two major legitimate goals—protecting national security and respecting individual rights—and that neither should trump the other. The tension between them can be worked out. Indeed, this key thesis is reflected in the Fourth Amendment, which holds that there be no unreasonable searches and seizures. That is, the Constitution recognizes that some searches do not violate rights and are fully legitimate. And it provides a criterion for determining which are acceptable: those that a reasonable person will recognize as proper. Needless to say, such recognition changes over time—for instance, after events such as 9/11.

One next examines various new security measures included in the Patriot Act on the basis of their reasonableness rather than condemning or embracing the act wholesale. It contains 161 provisions, only about ten of which have been seriously contested by anybody. Moreover, many of the security measures that have troubled many Americans—including the use of torture, indeterminate detention and extraordinary renditions—are not part of the Patriot Act. True, it was originally enacted in great haste. However, it has since been reviewed and extended several times.
The most important provisions of the Patriot Act seem to meet the criterion of reasonableness.

Phones: Before the Patriot Act was passed, authorities had to obtain a court’s permission to tap a phone, but the warrant had to be “particularized” to a given instrument, reflecting the days when most people had just one phone. Cell phones made this narrow rule obsolete. The Patriot Act changed this requirement to attach warrants to a suspect, rather than to one of his instruments in particular. It merely allowed the law to catch up with technological development.

Libraries: Critics have been outraged by the right of the government to search the computers of public libraries. Actually, the term “library” is not mentioned in the act. The bill authorizes searches of “books, records, papers, documents and other items… to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” Critics singled out libraries because such searches evoked more public outrage than if one referred to the actual wording of the bill. While critics argued that this measure would or could have a chilling effect, this observer, at least, is unaware of credible evidence to support this claim.

Homes: The “sneak and peek” clause has been particularly vilified. The act grants authorities the right to search a home without notifying the owner for a period of days. But how long is enough? Russ Feingold favored seven days; Republicans in the House wanted 180 days. But there was little discussion of the grubby details of conducting such a search. How long does it take to de-encrypt a PC? To translate messages? To find collaborators? Clearly, some delay seems reasonable. This provision was amended in 2005 to detail that notification must be provided within 30 days (unless the facts of the case justify a longer delay, which must be overseen by a court and consists of periods of 90 days).

E-mail: Another reasonable new measure changed search warrants from local to national when dealing with the Internet. E-mail often is stored remotely on the servers of Internet service providers (ISPs). Under old laws, search warrants applied only to the jurisdiction in which the search would take place. This meant that if a suspect in, say, New Jersey had e-mail stored on a server located in, say, Silicon Valley, an agent would have to travel across the country to obtain a warrant to seize the e-mail in the jurisdiction in which the server was located. Under the Patriot Act, judges in districts with jurisdiction over particular crimes are allowed to grant search warrants to seize electronic communications stored outside that judge’s jurisdiction.

There is room for debate about how far we need to go to protect ourselves. However, the fact that there has been no successful attack for ten years—and that those that were attempted in the U.S. (that we know about) were particularly inept—should not lull us into letting our guard down. One cannot ignore that survey after survey shows that there are many millions of people throughout the world (and some right here, at home) who hate our guts and wish us harm.

We need to recall the words of a terrorist who explained: “You need to be lucky all the time; I need to be lucky just once.” And we ought not to confuse the main features of the Patriot Act—which meet the criteria of reasonableness—with other new security measures, measures that have crossed the line that separates what free societies will do to defend themselves and that which they consider repugnant.

We would rather absorb some risk to our security than behave like, well, terrorists.

Don Surber: No. We never needed it nor do we need a Department of Homeland Security. Bush went all liberal kooky after 9-11. Time to roll the laws and the bureaucracy back.

Bookworm Room: I like Don’s pithiness. I’d add only that I prefer a prepared (i.e., armed and educated) citizenry to a dangerously overreaching government.

Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) was passed in reaction to the terrorist attacks in America on 9/11/2001. It was not until 2013, with the leaks to the media by Edward Snowden, that the general populace became aware of the massive amounts of metadata being collected by the National Security Agency on each and every one of us. The PATRIOT Act gave the government too much power and should not be renewed as written.

The USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048) passed the House by a 338-88 vote this month. It restricts the bulk collection of these massive amounts of calling records (metadata) under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It limits collection to instances where there is “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a “specific selection term” used to request call detail records is associated with international terrorism. The government must use a specific selection term, which represents an “individual, account, or personal device.” This should end the bulk collection of everyone’s phone records and is a move in the right direction to targeting a specific person and communication device; someone deemed to be a person of suspicion with intent to commit acts of terrorism. The House bill also requires the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court to have more transparency, and puts much needed restrictions on the activities of the NSA.

The primary duty of our federal government is to protect its citizens. The threats from radical Islam, as well as other enemies intent on committing acts of terrorism, are real. The USA Freedom Act is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. It scales back the powers given to the federal government through the USA PATRIOT Act, protecting our liberty and privacy rights while allowing for specific targeting of true threats to our homeland.

The Independent Sentinel: I do think it should be renewed but not in its present form.

They are giving themselves unlimited power.

We should abolish the Department of Homeland Security. An department within the FBI would have been sufficient.

Well, there you have it!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

The Council Has Spoken!! Our Watcher’s Council Results

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The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast, and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match up.

““I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” -Abraham Lincoln

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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This week’s winning essay, Bookworm Room’sA phenomenal talk about the Constitution and how to make it meaningful to America’s young people is a fascinating account of a presentation she attending on the Constitution, one she feels would be of great value to young citizens who are being indoctrinated by public education rather that educated. Here’s a slice:

I had the great pleasure today of attending a phenomenal talk by Prof. David Bobb, president of the Bill of Rights Institute. BRI uses original source documents to help teachers ans students understand America’s founding document and to see how it’s still relevant today. Its ultimate goal is to bring to an end our nation’s intellectual disengagement from the Constitution and to lead young people to “think the vote,” which is mindful, informed approach to elections, rather than to “rock the vote,” a mindless, drone-like approach to important issues that profoundly affect America’s young people.

Prof. Bobb could not be a better spokesman for his organization. To begin with, his bio is impressive:

David earned his Ph.D. in political science from Boston College, where he was the recipient of fellowships from the Pew, Earhart, and Bradley Foundation, as well as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

[snip]

David joined the Bill of Rights Institute in December 2013. Previously he was the founding director of two national centers for Hillsdale College, the Washington, D.C.-based Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, and the Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence, a civic education program. From 2001 to 2013 he also was lecturer in politics at Hillsdale College, where he taught courses in American politics and public policy.

David is the author of Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue (Thomas Nelson, 2013) and a contributing editor to The U.S. Constitution: A Reader (Hillsdale College Press, 2012). He has written articles and reviews for the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Washington Times, Boston Herald, and the Claremont Review of Books, among other publications. He has spoken widely to audiences in twenty-five states on topics including education reform, civic engagement, and the American Constitution.

In other words, Prof. Bobb knows his stuff and he is a natural communicator and teacher. His speaking style, something that always matters to me, is the essence of clarity. No fudging, no obfuscation, no blathering. Frankly, it was a challenge to take notes, because Prof. Bobb had no spare words or sentences in his speech. Every sentence was interesting and to the point. Since I don’t do shorthand, of necessity I had to condense some ideas and I know that I missed others. This means that, to the extent there are any errors in this post, they are definitely mine, not Prof. Bobb’s. With that warning, here goes:

If I were a more detail-oriented person, I would undoubtedly have noticed long ago that, on our one dollar bill, under the pyramid, there is a Latin inscription stating “novus ordo seclorum.“

And if I were a more curious person, I would have gone online to translate that phrase. For those who, like me, don’t remember their Latin and or who aren’t too curious about our dollar bill, the phrase means “New Order Of The Ages.” It is the Founders’ announcement to the world and to posterity that they were embarking upon a grand governmental experiment, one that had never been tried before. In the Federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton noted that Americans were about to take a step no other people had taken before:

” It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

Back in the day, then, the Founders, with a great deal of trepidation, were about to embark upon a planned government, one that would vest the maximum amount of power in the people and that, at the governmental level, would guard against the possibility of tyranny. After all, only a few years before, they had declared themselves free to part ways with England because, in their eyes, George III had become a tyrant by taking upon himself the powers of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. They understood that human frailty is such that no one person should ever hold that much power over others.

The unique aspect of the new Constitution was the notion — the product of one hundred years of Enlightenment thinking (powered by an increasingly humanist Christianity) — that each person comes into the world with certain rights vested in him (or her). These are not gifts from the government that the government can then take a way. Instead, when a government infringes on these inherent rights, it’s the people who have the power to destroy the government and initiate a better one — and our Constitution was intended to define that better government.

The most exceptional thing about the Constitution — which is a contract between government and the American people — is the notion of separation of powers. England, of course, led the way with that idea, wresting from the King certain powers reserved for Parliament. This was a notion that was first institutionalized in the Magna Carta; was then tested under Charles I (who lost his head for picking “King power,” rather than “People power” when asked the question “who’s in charge here?”); and was re-tested under George III, who kept his head but lost America because he too thought that he could vest in himself the full powers of government.

The Articles of Confederation, the governing document that preceded the Constitution, did not have a tripartite approach to power. It created an executive office, but had no judiciary or legislature and, significantly, it did not give the executive office the power to tax. The office had, on the one hand, too much power and, on the other hand, no way to put all that power into effect. The Constitution would do better.

At this point in his talk, in light of the upcoming 2016 election, Prof. Bobb narrowed his his focus to the executive office. He noted that, although Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, the intellectual powerhouses behind the Constitution, devoutly believed in diffuse power as a bulwark against tyranny, they also understood that, to the extent they vested power in a specific institution, that power had to be meaningful. To that end, they didn’t try to create a weak executive by splitting that power among different individuals or groups.

It was Hamilton who envisioned as president an individual who, while hedged about with constitutional safeguards, could act with “decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch.” After all, in times of national emergency, one can’t have a committee laboriously working its way to a tame and untimely bureaucratic response.

While the president could be active, decisive, and secretive, he still had to have limitations — and control over these limitations had to be placed in an organization equally invested in protecting and advancing its power. Or, as James Madison said, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” The Constitution decided that three entities, each jealously protecting its power, would ensure that no single part of that trio would be able to aggregate too much power, the inevitable path to tyranny.

More at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was The Baron at Gates of Vienna with a piece that resonates a great deal right now,Playing Nice submitted by Joshuapundit.

The Baron looks at western society’s surprising tendency to whitewash Islamist terrorism, deliberately distancing it from its obvious religious inspiration and even blaming the victims on many occasions for the ensuing atrocities. I think he’s on to something here when he talks about a certain very prevalent mindset as the cause of this dysfunction.

Well, that, and the billions of petro dollars from certain countries in the Middle East to universities, to various think tanks and lobbyists registered and unregistered, and especially to politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Do read it.

Here are this week’s full results. Only Ask Marion and The Right Planet were unable to vote this week, but neither was subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty for not voting:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. and every  Tuesday morning, when we reveal the weeks’ nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it...or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

Our Weasel Of The Week!!

nce again, It’s time to present this week’s statuette of shame, The Golden Weasel!!

Every Tuesday, the Council nominates some of the slimiest, most despicable characters in public life for some deed of evil, cowardice or corruption they’ve performed. Then we vote to single out one particular Weasel for special mention, to whom we award the statuette of shame, our special, 100% plastic Golden Weasel. This week’s nominees were all disgusting but one of them stood out as an almost unanimous choice. The envelope please….

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The Clintons’ Own Media Meat Puppet George ‘What Donations?’ Stephanopoulos!!

 The Noisy Room :My nomination this week goes to George Stephanopoulos for failing to disclose that he donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation and was obviously biased in his coverage and defense of Hillary Clinton. As the New York Post so astutely put it the bigger they are, the dumber they think we are:

Dan Rather of CBS was toppled by a phony document scam. Lyin’ Brian
Williams at NBC casually mixed fact with self-aggrandizing fiction.
Now George Stephanopoulos is caught in a Clinton web of deceit at ABC.

The hat trick of arrogant anchor scandals helps explain why
Americans don’t trust network news. With apologies to Walter
Cronkite, that’s the way it is, and the way it is stinks.

Stephanopoulos shares with Rather and Williams the rotten
distinction of fessing up only after being exposed by real
journalists. In his case, the Washington Free Beacon
uncovered his secret donations to the
Clinton Foundation and contacted ABC for a response.


Of course, just before the crapola hit the media fan, Stephanopoulos ran
to the Leftist rag, Politico, and vomited a confession. This was after
trying to cover it up. He didn’t tell his bosses about the donations and
he didn’t tell viewers that he had given money to the Foundation even as
he reported on it and the Clintons.

On April 26, Stephanopoulos put Peter Schweizer in the hot seat; he’s
the author of the sensational”Clinton Cash” book that exposes the
Clintons and their graft. Stephanopoulos pressed him to admit the book
contains no ‘smoking gun.’ The implication was that, if it’s not
indictable, it’s not important. He sounded more like a lawyer than a
media hack. Stephanopoulos cleverly used that standard to give the
Clintons the all-clear. The anchor also cited Schweizer’s ‘partisan
interest,’ noting that Schweizer was a speechwriter for President George
W. Bush. Boy, pot meet kettle.

Another media sycophant bites the dust amid lies and scandal. Flip this
media shill – he’s done. Another Progressive weasel gets whacked.

Ah, yes, the Clinton’s own Greek Trojan Horse.Actually even more of interest than the donations to me – after all, $75K is just a step above pocket change for a media talking head with an 8 figure yearly income – is the huge amount of time Stephanopoulos spent working for the Clinton Foundation h0sting events and quite possibly inducing others to donate. Since that foundation appears to be nothing more than a way for the Clintons to park tax free income for selling their offices their influence, and their country.Did George receive some of the swag for his complicity in this? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Nor do I think he’ll be fired. The strategy the Clintons and their ilk pursue is lie, deny and delay, and media whores like Stephanopoulos aid and abet them. Six months later when the truth comes out, the American people are tired of hearing about it and weary of trying to fit all the convoluted pieces together, so it recedes from the public consciousness.

But we honor Weasels here, do we not? And George Stephanopoulos appears to be a weasel second only to his owners, the Clintons. Please come up and get your statue.

  Well, there it is!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. and every  Tuesday morning, when we reveal the weeks’ nominees for Weasel of the Week!

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it...or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?