Democrats sure have been enjoying their new powers to control the choices and freedoms of individuals during this Chinese virus pandemic. And it turns out that they’ve been making it worse with some very poor – or deliberately evil – decision-making.
Of all the missteps in the early days of the coronavirus crisis, New York state’s Health Department may have committed the worst: ordering nursing homes to accept residents who tested positive for COVID-19.
Instead of quarantining the folks most vulnerable to the disease, the state encouraged its spread: 85 percent of the state’s confirmed deaths from the bug are people over 60, with nearly a quarter of all corona fatalities coming in nursing or adult-care facilities — and at least 2,210 such deaths tallied in the city.
And when asked why these residents and workers weren’t better protected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo answered Wednesday, it “wasn’t our job.”
[…][T]he state has allowed casualties to mount, with some homes even having to leave the dead in their rooms for lack of a place to store them.
[…]Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, has been sending coronavirus patients to the city’s public nursing home on Roosevelt Island — where staff and local officials say the virus is spreading to its vulnerable, high-risk residents. Many are wheelchair-bound and/or chronically ill. Wrong place to be in tune with the governor, Mr. Mayor.
I was having a conversation with a millennial evangelical Christian recently who thought that people cities were smart, and that rural people won’t take the virus seriously. I asked him how well things were going for New York City. He didn’t have an answer to that. (He hasn’t read a book in years, and just gets his opinions from TV and movies).
He’s all in favor of a continued shutdown, but I happen to know that his employer is in dire straits financially. He hasn’t put two and two together yet to see how the shutdown (and the trillions of dollars of spending to prop up businesses and workers) is affecting him. The TV says the shutdown needs to continue, and he believes it.
Reuters reports on it with the headline “Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports”.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama’s plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
“And the opposition is getting stronger by the day,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.
While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.
Kerry’s remarks represented a change in tone by the Obama administration, which for more than two years has been wary of sending U.S. arms to the rebels, citing fears they could fall into radical Islamists’ hands.
As recently as late July, at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd, estimated that there were at least 1,200 different Syrian rebel groups and that Islamic extremists, notably the Nusra Front, were well-placed to expand their influence.
“Left unchecked, I’m very concerned that the most radical elements will take over larger segments” of the opposition groups, Shedd said. He added that the conflict could drag on anywhere “from many, many months to multiple years” and that a prolonged stalemate could leave open parts of Syria to potential control by radical fighters.
U.S. and allied intelligence sources said that such assessments have not changed.
A new survey of the coverage of the Syrian civil war and the U.S. response to it by the big three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, shows that 94 percent of their stories have not mentioned that some of the rebel forces include America’s enemy, al Qaeda.
The survey, reported by the Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor, finds that since August 21, 171 stories about the conflict have aired on the networks. Of those, only 11 stories mentioned the al Qaeda element of the war.
ABC, for instance, has aired 51 stories about the Syrian conflagration but only mentioned al Qaeda in 3 of those reports. NBC was worse: out of its 64 stories, only 3 mentioned the notorious terrorist group. NBC was a little better, mentioning al Qaeda 5 times in its 56 stories.
Al Qaeda is not yet ubiquitous among the rebel forces, but its presence is growing, something the networks should be warning their viewers about.
Now, I was initially in favor of a targeted strike aimed at the leadership of the Syrian regime, assuming two things were cleared up first. 1) We had to be sure that Assad was responsible for the use of the chemical weapons. Despite what the Obama administration says, we are still not sure who used the chemical weapons. 2) We had to be sure that there were moderate elements in the leadership of the Syrian opposition. Well, we now know that this is not the case. So, my position has changed, and now I am in favor of not launching a strike at the leaders of the Assad regime. (Note: this option was not what Obama was suggesting, anyway – his strike was not targeted at the leaders).
I do think that it is important to deter the use of chemical weapons. That is a valid concern, and a strike at leaders who use chemical weapons is a valid way of achieving that goal of saving civilians from future attacks. But we have to be sure that we don’t do more harm, and right now it doesn’t look like that will happen.
I posted earlier in the week about how our best option was a targeted strike (SSM or standoff) to the top level of the Assad regime, but it looks like there is another viable conservative view on what to do about Syria.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine is not adequate justification for direct military intervention.
A vital U.S. interest is not at stake.
It would not be a wise use of military force.
Missile attacks would only make President Obama look weaker.
It would distract from what the U.S. should be doing.
Here’s the detail on Number 4:
4. Missile attacks would only make President Obama look weaker. Much like President Clinton’s ineffective cruise missile strikes on Osama bin Laden’s terrorist camps, strikes would only be seen as a sign that the U.S. is lacking a clear, decisive course of action. The Middle East would see this as another effort from the Obama Administration to look for an “easy button” and lead from behind rather than exercise real, constructive leadership.
The other concern that people have is the opposition is even more penetrated by Al Qaeda than I first thought.
Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups have been the principal beneficiaries of Obama’s passive, “hands-off” approach to the worsening Syria crisis. The Obama Administration urgently needs to develop a strategy not only to counter Assad’s use of chemical weapons but prevent those weapons from falling into the hands of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, or other Islamist terrorist groups that have flocked to Syria.
Rather than attempting to intervene directly in the conflict, the U.S. should be working with other countries in the region to hasten the end of the Assad regime and deal with the refugee crisis and terrorist strongholds.
I don’t think that Heritage is responding to the idea of a targeted strike against the key people in the Assad regime as much as they are opposed to a general military strike against military targets. Everyone agrees on that, though. The strike option I presented (from Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal) was aimed at Assad and his henchmen.
The other concern that’s emerged (in the Associated Press, no less) is that it’s not 100% certain that the Assad regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons. (H/T ECM)
The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack is no “slam dunk,” with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.
[…]A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria includes a few key caveats — including acknowledging that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime’s chemical weapons are stored, nor does it have proof Assad ordered chemical weapons use, according to two intelligence officials and two more U.S. officials.
[…]A three-page report released Thursday by the British government said there was “a limited but growing body of intelligence” blaming the Syrian government for the attacks. And though the British were not sure why Assad would have carried out such an attack, the report said there was “no credible intelligence” that the rebels had obtained or used chemical weapons.
Like the British report, the yet-to-be-released U.S. report assesses with “high confidence” that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks that hit suburbs east and west of Damascus, filled with a chemical weapon, according to a senior U.S. official who read the report.
The official conceded there are caveats in the report and there is no proof saying Assad personally ordered the attack. There was no mention in the report of the possibility that a rogue element inside Assad’s government or military could have been responsible, the senior official said.
ECM wonders why the Assad regime would try to hasten their own demise by using chemical weapons, especially when they are winning. Still, I think it’s more likely than not right now that Assad is responsible for using the chemical weapons.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notes that Obama has not presented a comprehensive case for intervention in Syria. Who says? Donald Rumsfeld! Morrissey says that Bush administration’s case for war was much more thorough and had more support than Obama’s case against Syria.
My reasons for initially supporting the strike at the top level of the regime was to deter the future use of chemical weapons. I still favor that course of action, but on the condition that we clear up these uncertainties *first* and get Congressional approval *first*. You can’t just do these things willy-nilly, especially when there are uncertainties.