The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Furious, Furious

Haaretz reports that Jeremy Bird, a top political strategist for Barack Obama's successful 2012 presidential campaign, and four other political consultants are now in Israel assisting Bibi Netayahu's opponents in the upcoming elections. This, after the White House indicated that they didn't want to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister in order not to influence Israeli elections. Wow, Chicago thug politics at its best!

As the fallout continues as a consequence of John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to visit Congress and argue in favor of sanctions on Iran should current nuclear talks fail. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell (a de facto mouthpiece for the Obama White House) said this on air:
The White House is furious, furious at Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and also a little bit angry at Speaker Boehner for inviting Netanyahu to speak before Congress, to a joint meeting of Congress without even consulting the administration – protocol would dictate that. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi even called Netanyahu to pass him the message that this is a really bad idea.
Yeah ... it's always a "bad idea" when substantive arguments might upset the fantasy narrative created by this president.

Meanwhile, another Obama advocate, The New York Times reports:
The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.

The official who made the comments to The New York Times would not be named, and the White House declined to comment. The remarks were the latest fallout after Mr. Dermer, without the White House’s knowledge, worked with House Speaker John A. Boehner to arrange the speech, which is scheduled for March.

The remarks are likely to escalate a feud between the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill and Mr. Netanyahu over the invitation, which has led to a new low in American-Israeli relations and threatened to mar the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.
So, I guess we can add "cowardly" to a long list of pejorative descriptors (e.g., hyper-partisan, mendacious, incompetent, ineffective, corrupt) for this White House. Why is it that the White House official "would not be named?" If justice and virtue are on the side of Obama, why not make his comments publicly? Why doesn't this president, who is loath to criticize the Taliban or Iran, or (heaven forbid) identify the religion of Middle Eastern "extremists," seem so at ease with vicious criticism of the leader of our only true Middle Eastern ally. Big money donors to the Democratic party should ask that simple question.

Jennifer Rubin has an interesting take:
... Israel watchers speculate that this [The White House's temper tantrum] is really a ham-handed way of interfering with Israel’s elections by giving fuel to Netanyahu’s opponents, who argue that he cannot get along with the United States. This would be par for the course for an administration that has strained to topple the Israeli government. Its offense? It simply refuses to knuckle under to administration bullying or go quietly as the United States appeases Iran, an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Ironically, the scuffle comes just after Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists killed two Israeli soldiers, reminding us that Iran is on the march throughout the region and that the Iranian government with which Obama hopes to achieve a grand reconciliation is committed to Israel’s destruction.

To sum up, the administration uses Tehran’s talking points to decry passage of a sanctions bill that would go into effect only if Iran refused to make a deal by June along the lines the administration itself outlined. It attacks the leadership of our democratic ally Israel (which it tried to undermine in cease-fire talks at the end of the Gaza war by adopting the plan of Hamas’s patron Qatar) and refuses to meet with its elected leader when he visits. To boot, the administration throws a fit that Congress invited him to speak — all to give Netanyahu’s opponents back home fodder for their election campaign. At least there is no doubt this is the most anti-Israel and immature White House in history.
Way back in 2008, some of us who were not smitten by the fantasy image of Barack Obama argued (mostly to deaf ears) that his past statements and associations indicated that he would, in fact, lead the "most anti-Israel and immature White House in history." The past six years have done nothing—absolutely nothing—to counter that perception, which is now a harsh reality.


And this rather cogent comment from conservative Bill Kristol:
The Obama White House usually prides itself on not getting angry. Its self-image is that it's cool, calm, and collected. And it doesn't get angry at, for example, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Obama White House understands and appreciates the complexities of the Islamic Republic's politics and history. It is only with respect to the Jewish state that the Obama White House is impatient, peremptory, and angry.
Curious, isn't it? Until you realize that the hard left has far more animus toward Israel than it does toward Iran. Barack Obama is a creature of the hard left, so his reaction is actually not at all surprising. And besides, Barack Obama and his Team of 2s haven't made a good foreign policy decision in six years ... there's no reason to start now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Battle

The mainstream media generally disregarded the congressional testimony of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, past head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Daily Beast reports:
The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency slammed the Obama administration on Monday as “well intentioned” but paralyzed and playing defense in its the fight against Islamic militancy.

Recently retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn called for the U.S. to lead the charge in a sweeping, decades-long campaign against the Islamic State group, al Qaeda, and its ilk—a fight like the one against the former Soviet Union—against a new enemy he said is “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life.”

“There is no substitute, none, for American power,” the general said, to occasional cheers and ultimately a standing ovation from a crowd of special operators and intelligence officers at a Washington industry conference.

He also slammed the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic militants” in its description of ISIS and al Qaeda.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” Flynn said.
It is no longer a surprise to listen as Barack Obama or any of his Team of 2s eschew descriptive adjectives of any kind when describing the barbaric and murderous deeds of "extremists" or "radicals" or "militants." These extremists/radicals/militants are never identified with the descriptive adjective "Islamic" or "Muslim" because Barack Obama and his people refuse—absolutely refuse—to consider the notion that they are part of Islam.

Recently members of his Team of 2s, but not the president himself, have begun to suggest that we're at war with "manifestations" of al Qaeda—considering the group antiseptically along with ISIS. Al Qaeda is to be considered in a vacuum— "extremists" with no identifiable ideology that can be attached to a major religion. The dozens of other radical Islamic terror groups, oh, never mind. And besides, this president tells us that the country's war footing is over. Uh huh.

Laure Mandeville considers all of this when she writes:
In French, we have an expression: “Call a cat a cat.” Appeler un chat un chat. That is exactly what French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did after the horrific terrorist attacks that hit my country on Jan. 7, when he identified “radical Islam” as our enemy. In France, most rallied to this clear acknowledgment of the threat we are dealing with, because it is simply impossible to deny.

That is why it has sounded almost surreal when the Obama administration and many observers in the U.S., despite their heartening support for the French, go to great lengths to insist that the terrorist attack had nothing to do with Islam.
Mandeville goes on the quote Fleming Rose, "now the foreign editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, was its cultural editor in 2005 when he had an idea for a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. "
“If we say that the terrorists are not radical Islamists, we might as well say that truth is lie, that right is wrong, that black is white.”
But in the fantasy world of the Left, a world that this president inhabits, 'truth is lie, right is wrong, and black is white.'

Mandeville continues:
To put a fig leaf over the threat doesn’t make the problem go away, and doesn’t help us understand that the radical Islamist attacks are precisely about the House of Islam and who can speak for it.

Joshua Mitchell, a professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, says: “This is a battle about who is going to define Islam: the radical Islamists, who try to convince the world that someone can be assassinated if he dares draw a mocking cartoon representing the Prophet, or who ridicules fanatics of all sorts; or the democratically inclined Muslims who accept that religion cannot be an encompassing whole that dictates all the rules of everyday life in the earthly realm.”

By denying that this is about Islam, “President Obama does us a disservice, because doing so deprives the Muslim community of its responsibility to fight this radical monster,” says Muslim democrat Naser Khader, a former member of the Danish Parliament, now at the Hudson Institute in Washington. “By doing that, the West fails to understand that the Muslims will be the most crucial soldiers to fight this Islamic terrorism.” Mr. Khader calls for a revolution in Islam that would reinterpret the sacred texts in a way that is “compatible with modernity.”
The position of this president and his politically correct supporters is akin to the soft racism of low expectations. We dare not ask Islam to police itself—to fight to save its religion from barbarism. As a consequence of remaining mute, afraid of the label "Islamophobic," the West is left to be reactive rather than proactive. We need Islam to be proactive, rather than remaining largely silent and paralyzed. If we do not push Islam to act, the "battle about who is going to define Islam" will be lost. Ironically, the group that will suffer the most as a consequence of losing that battle will be the Muslims themselves.

There will come a time, long after Barack Obama and his Team of 2s are consigned to history's waste-heap, when the Battle will become real, when atrocities will grow in number and magnitude because "an enemy you do not admit exists" will grow in power, in reach, and in audacity because we refuse to confront him.

There will come a time when a leader emerges and recalls the words of one of the 20th century's greatest leaders, Winston Churchill, who confronted Nazism—a barbaric ideology that is in many ways analogous to radical Islam. Churchill saw the danger clearly, but far more important, he spoke and acted accordingly. I leave you with his words:
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

The Devil and the Details

There's a old saying—"The Devil is in the Details."

The problem is that if you don't know the details, it's sometimes difficult to understand whether you're looking at an angelic situation or a devilish one. Barack Obama relies on that simple fact when he discusses Iran. He understands, better than most, that the details are what matters. But rather than helping U.S citizens better understand those details, he relies on the media's reluctance to "get into the weeds," and his low information supporter's predilection to have their eyes glaze over whenever dry percentages, complex technology, or projections based on the latter are discussed. This enables Obama to make dishonest claims about the success of his negotiations with Iran and about Iran's potential as a major threat—not just to Israel, but the Europe, and soon, the United States.

Caroline Glick presents the details that Obama refuses to share. She begins by noting that a pivotal element of a nuclear program is the development of ICBM's capable of reaching Europe and the U.S. While Obama and his Team of 2s have negotiated, Iran has developed a viable ICBM. Glick writes:
Iran has apparently produced an intercontinental ballistic missile whose range far exceeds the distance between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and Europe.

On Wednesday night, Channel 2 showed satellite imagery taken by Israel’s Eros-B satellite that was launched last April. The imagery showed new missile-related sites that Iran recently constructed just outside Tehran. One facility is a missile launch site, capable of sending a rocket into space or of firing an ICBM.

On the launch pad was a new 27-meter long missile, never seen before.

The missile and the launch pad indicate that Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is an integral part of its nuclear weapons program, is moving forward at full throttle. The expanded range of Iran’s ballistic missile program as indicated by the satellite imagery makes clear that its nuclear weapons program is not merely a threat to Israel, or to Israel and Europe. It is a direct threat to the United States as well.
But no worries, the radical Islamists in Tehran would never, ever threaten Western infidels, would they?

Of course, Obama didn't mention the missiles in his SOTU, but no matter. It gets worse.

In 2013, Obama and his Team of 2s, along with Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia (the P5+1) signed a Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) with Tehran.The JPoA covers Iran's nuclear program but doesn't address ICBM development—that is, the mechanism for delivering nuclear weapons. Hmmm.

Glick continues:
When it signed the JPOA, Obama administration officials dismissed concerns that by permitting Iran to enrich uranium to 3.5% – in breach of binding UN Security Council Resolution 1929 from 2010 – the US was enabling Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Enrichment to 3.5%, they said, is a far cry from the 90% enrichment level needed for uranium to be bomb grade.

But it works out that the distance isn’t all that great. Sixty percent of the work required to enrich uranium to bomb grade levels of purity is done by enriching it to 3.5%. Since it signed the JPOA, Iran has enriched sufficient quantities of uranium to produce two nuclear bombs.

As for plutonium development work, as [Omri Ceren of the Israel Project} pointed out, the White House’s fact sheet on the JPOA said that Iran committed itself “to halt progress on its plutonium track.”

Last October, Foreign Policy magazine reported that Iran was violating that commitment by seeking to procure parts for its heavy water plutonium reactor at Arak. And yet, astoundingly, rather than acknowledge the simple fact that Iran was violating its commitment, the State Department excused Iran’s behavior and insisted that it was not in clear violation of its commitment.

More distressingly, since the JPOA was signed, Iran has repeatedly refused to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to access Iran’s nuclear installations or to inform the IAEA about the nuclear activities that its military have carried out in the past. As a consequence, the US and its partners still do not know what nuclear installations Iran has or what nuclear development work it has undertaken.
And yet, Barack Obama threatens to veto a proposed bi-partisan sanctions regime and impunes the integrity of both Democrats and Republicans who support it. He throws a tantrum when Bibi Netanyahu is invited to Congress to argue the other side, and thuggishly threatens "consequences" for Israel, not Tehran. Unbelievable!

The reason that many Democrats and virtually all Republicans have supported follow-on sanctions is because they have little faith that Obama will push for the details—the things that will keep Iran from going nuclear. Iran knows this and believes, correctly, that Obama will never be tough enough to force meaningful concessions. They understand that this president relies on his support from low information supporters who do not have the inclination to understand the details, and therefore, are perfectly willing to believe that all is well ... until a mushroom cloud rises over a Western city in a decade or two.


Barack Obama and his Team of 2s can negotiate, and negotiate, and negotiate, but they won't solve the central problem—it's far past the time when the Mullahs that rule Iran must be overthrown, the people who support them must be marginalized, and a new Iran must emerge, devoid of its radical Islamic influence. Until then, Iran will remain a terror master. The only question in the short term is whether the terror master will have nuclear weapons.

Michael Ledeen comments:
Three duly respected policy professionals, Denis Ross (Obama’s — and plenty of others’ — Middle East guru for a few years early on), Eric Edelman (Bush’s under secretary of defense and earlier ambassador to Turkey), and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations (who recently published a very important story detailing the background of the Iranian occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran in ’79), tell us it’s time to get tougher with Iran:
[It's] time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens what the Islamic Republic values the most—its influence in the Middle East and its standing at home.
In other words, threaten the regime itself and its foreign legions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. But just when you say to yourself, “Finally! They’re going to call for regime change,” they tiptoe delicately into dipspeak: “Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations.”
Further down, they return to the “we’re almost, kinda for regime change” theme:
... the United States should consider a political warfare campaign against Tehran to complement its economic sanctions policy. The administration officials and its broadcast services should draw attention to the unsavory nature of the theocratic regime and repressive behavior. Such language will not just showcase our values but potentially inspire political dissent.
As if the Iranian people needed the State Department and the appeasers at the feckless Persian service of the Voice of America to tear the blinders from their eyes and enable them to see that they are living in misery under a hateful regime! If you really want to “inspire political dissent,” just do it. Call for the release of the opposition leaders, support the students’ and workers’ and women’s movements, and call for a national referendum on the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic.
Early in his presidency (June, 2009), Barack Obama had a chance to support the overthrow of Mullahs during the "Green revolution." He passed, providing no support to the students and other secular elements of the Green Movement who had an outside chance to fundamentally change Iran. At the time, many expressed surprise that he was so ... well ... unsupportive. Looking back, it was right in character.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


As those of us who own and pay monthly bills for our mobile phones know, there are a variety of "taxes" and "fees" that are tacked onto the bill. One of them is the "Universal Service Charge." That's actually a tax that is used to provide mobile phones for those who need them and can't afford them, that is, folks on food stamps (47 million people), medicaid (62 million people), housing assistance, and a variety of other government social programs. Called "Lifeline," the program was started under George W. Bush in 2005 and grew dramatically under Barack Obama. In the first six months of 2014, 13 million "free" cell phones where handed out under the program.

Here's the problem. The program is rife with fraud and abuse, but no one really seems to care. The vendors who distribute the phones get government subsidies and incentives based on the number of phone distributed. And as a consequence ... you can finish this story. Millions of phones are given to people who don't qualify under federal rules.

The CBS affiliate in Denver is one of the few media outlets who have investigated this (it's reasonable to ask why this story hasn't been elevated to a national level, but you already know the answer to that). They write:
... on multiple trips to Colfax Avenue and Broadway in Denver, where multiple distributors set up their tents to hand out free cellphones, a CBS4 producer and reporter found the phone agents willing to circumvent strict government rules designed to ensure that only the truly needy get the free phones. The vendors receive massive government subsidies to hand out the phones and the accompanying monthly plans.

“Want to sign up for a free phone?” an agent representing Total Call mobile asked a CBS4 producer. The representative then asked if the undercover producer had a food stamp card, a Medicaid card or any other evidence that he qualified for a phone.

“No,” replied the CBS4 employee. But one of the cellphone agents then ordered his colleague to “push it through,” by using someone else’s food stamp card to provide eligibility for the CBS4 employee.

“Did you just use that guy’s food stamp card for me?” questioned the CBS4 employee.

“Yeah,” responded the Total Call representative. “It’s verification that you are on some kind of assistance program. It’s to get you through.”

He promptly gave the CBS4 worker a free phone. The Total Call agent said he received $3 for every phone he is able to give away.

Mark Wigfield, Deputy Director of media relations for the FCC, which oversees the Lifeline program, said using someone else’s food stamp card to get a phone is a clear violation of program guidelines
I see. And what's being done beside tsk, tsk? Nada.

But let's back up just a bit.

The real question is whether this program is necessary in the first place. What did people do before mobile phones existed? What do people who don't own mobile phones do today? How many emergency calls are made using these phone—after all, they're supposed to be a "lifeline" aren't they?

I know, I know ... it seems heartless to question a program that was started with good intentions, but that's how all big government programs begin. And then, they grow and become wasteful, or worse, outright fraudulent. The Lifeline program is small potatoes, I admit, but it's representative of the waste and abuse that is endemic in B.I.G. (big intrusive government) and the Lifeline program, for all its good intentions, is a typical example.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"There Will be a Price"

In a recent interview in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, (as reported by Noah Rothman of Hotair) a conveniently unnamed "senior White House official" made the following statement:
“We thought we’ve seen everything,” a senior American official said. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
Heh, "there will be a price?"

That language is both thuggish and oddly juvenile. But then again, the entire history of the Obama administration has been thuggish and oddly juvenile.

Exactly what "price" will Barack Obama extract from our long time ally and only true friend in the Middle East? Will he allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapon? Will he somehow put Israel in jeopardy? Or will he wall himself up in the White House and throw a tantrum, using "unnamed" officials to make threats and talk tough? Or is this just another meaningless "red line"—an empty threat that has become the signature of this administration. Oh wait, he has already done all of those things in a variety of different contexts.

I have to wonder whether the unnamed "senior White House official" was the same one who called Netanyahu "chickenshit" in a interview during 2014. The White House, not surprisingly, refused to investigate who said this and made lame apologies about it. They have made only insincere apologies for the recently published comments.

If, as the White House claims, Barack Obama has been egregiously dissed by the GOP congress and Bibi Netanyahu, it might make more sense to enter into the debate and tell us why this president's position on the world's greatest state sponsor of radical Islam and terror, Iran, is a strong one. They might also explain why the president lied about the current state of nuclear development in Iran, dishonestly claiming that their "negotiations" have miraculously stopped the Iranians in their tracks, during the SOTU.

Let the American public decide if Bibi or Barack has a more realistic point of view with respect to the Iranians.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Goes Around, Comes Around

For the past six years, Barack Obama has repeated shown his contempt for his congressional opposition. He has questioned their motives, derided their morality, and joked about their intentions—all  because they had the temerity not to agree with his grand vision of big government and a soft and feckless foreign policy.

Six years later, his grand vision has lead to a weak economic recovery, frightening debt, and a disastrous foreign policy. But no matter, the president is very good at dishonesty, at suggesting that all is well, that his efforts have led to great successes. His recent SOTU is a prime example.

In 2014, this president suffered a political drubbing at the hands of the GOP (one that he, unlike other presdients, refuses to acknowledge). Of late, Barack Obama had publicly and repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that he doesn't like, including bi-partisan bills that have wide public support.

Among his many veto threats is his demand that the Congress not pass a bi-partisan bill that would sanction Iran if nuclear talks fail to result in a meaningful outcome. For the past few years, Obama and his Team of 2s have "negotiated" with the Iranians. Time after time, these "talks" have been extended as the Iranians—the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism—play out the clock in their effort obtain enough nuclear fuel for a weapon. They're getting closer every month.

Obama tells us that Iran's enrichment efforts have stopped or slowed down due to the Team of 2s negotiating efforts. That's a bald-faced lie, but nothing new for a president who regularly plays fast and loose with the truth.

But back to the acrimony between Barack Obama and the now GOP lead congress. Last week Obama had the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, lobby congressman and senators to try to convince them not to impose sanctions on Iran. This week the GOP struck back, invited Israel's Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, to address a joint session of congress to present the other side of the arguement. The White House and its supporters are incensed at this "breach of protocol" and have announced that Obama (like a small child throwing a tantrum) will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits.

Peggy Noonan comments:
Mr. Netanyahu is welcome to visit and speak to Americans anytime he wants, but Congress’s invitation, like Mr. Cameron’s lobbying, is a violation of diplomatic form, tradition and expectation. The United States has an elected president who serves a four-year term, and in that time he gets to conduct the nation’s formal diplomatic efforts and policy and to oversee its foreign-affairs apparatus and agencies.

Does Mr. Obama deserve to be embarrassed in this way? Of course he does! In his long years in the presidency he has demonstrated no regard for the Republicans of Congress, and now they are showing no regard for him.

But it is still a bad move, a damaging snub that makes divisions more dramatic, and not only between Congress and the president. Mr. Obama is forced to decide whether to invite Mr. Netanyahu to visit the White House while he is in Washington. The White House announced it will not, pointedly attributing the decision to “the proximity to the Israeli election.” This too is a snub, and it is hard to see how it does anything to fortify U.S.-Israeli relations.
Noonan does have a point, but a commenter (identified as "Kirk Finchem") on the WSJ website has a better point. He writes:
Ms. Noonan misses a few connections:

- Congress has a higher responsibility than respect of the Presidency--respect of the American people. On the one hand she argues the administration is disconnected from reality. And then she faults Congress for its novel presentation of reality--the prime minister's address to Congress.

- Don't ask permission if you don't want a 'No'. Ask forgiveness.

- Don't assume that your current (respectful) behavior will have ANY impact on the future behavior of the others; it may inspire audacity. The president, Reid, and Pelosi have demonstrated that they answer to a call higher than comity.

- The president treats Congress as he does because he thinks he can without important consequence. Congress can go with that, or clearly demonstrate consequence. He has a Veto Pen; they have invitations. The day after the announcement of the prime minister's address should have been "We welcome the President's NEW interest in working with Congress on the people's agenda."
In this case, after six years of derision by the president, Barack Obama has been disrespected by the Congress. What goes around, come around.

UPDATE (1/24/15):

Steve Hayes comments on the White House's dismay about the Netanyahu invitation:
When House speaker John Boehner invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in the coming weeks, the reaction from the White House was swift. In background interviews with reporters, top Obama administration officials made clear that they considered the invitation itself an affront and the acceptance of it a breach of protocol.


This is the same White House that last week had British prime minister David Cameron making calls to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers against more sanctions on Iran. It’s the same administration that had to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio and others for violating its pledge to “consult Congress” before making any unilateral changes to U.S. policy on Cuba. This is the same president who has boasted repeatedly of his ability and willingness to ignore the legislative branch and use his “pen and phone” to do what he wants. And this is the same administration that used the cover of anonymity to call Netanyahu “chickenshit” in a recent interview.

So spare us the whining about prerogatives and propriety and protocol. In a functioning capital—with a White House that understands the enemy is Iran and not the Republican Congress—it’d be better for Congress and the White House to coordinate efforts. But that’s not Washington today.
Exactly what is it that Obama White House afraid of? Is it possible that a cogent argument can be made for imposing future sanctions now if current "negotiations" fail in June? Is it possible that a respected and strong world leader will question Obama's mendacious claim that Iran's nuclear work has been largely curtailed? Is it possible the public will be reminded that there is is a vanishingly small chance of negotiating success with a regime that has been our avowed enemy for well over 30 years? Is it possible that the administration weakness in negotiation will be outed indirectly by Bibi Netanyahu? Yes. Yes. Yes. And Yes.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What if?

Liberal-left commentator, Dana Milbank, noticed something fairly obvious about Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday (here's my take). Milbank writes:
In 1938, Winston Churchill published “While England Slept,” about Britain’s failure to prepare for the Nazi threat.

Let’s hope that, when the history of this moment is written, the 2015 State of the Union address will not be retold under the title “While America Slept.”

Not since before the 2001 terrorist attacks has there been such a disconnect between the nation’s focus and the condition of the world. As threats multiply in the Middle East and Europe, President Obama delivered on Tuesday night an annual message to Congress that was determinedly domestic. And his inward-looking gaze is shared by lawmakers and the public.

Thousands of foreign fighters have joined with Muslim extremists in Syria and Iraq, and their fanatical cause has inspired sympathizers across the globe: 17 killed by terrorists in Paris; terrorism raids and a shootout in Belgium; a hunt for sleeper cells across Europe; a gunman attacking the Canadian Parliament; an Ohio man arrested after buying guns and ammunition, allegedly with plans to attack the Capitol. Even Australia has raised its terrorist threat level.

And yet, when it comes to countering the terror threat in America, the State of the Union is nonchalant. “We are 15 years into this new century, 15 years that dawned with terror touching our shores,” Obama said at the start of his speech. “It has been, and still is, a hard time for many. But tonight, we turn the page.”

Obama, full of swagger, turned the page — several pages — from the start of his address, when he assured Americans that “the shadow of crisis has passed,” before arriving at his discussion of national security.
I'm not a big fan of Dana Milbank, but in this case, he's right on target.

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I, more than most, do not take the term "Nazi" lightly, nor do I use it to describe political opponents or others with whom I disagree—no matter how noxious they are. The Nazis of the 20th century were a special breed of "extremists"—true believers led by demagogues who started with Kristallnacht and ended with Auschvitz and the deaths of millions. They epitomized pure evil, and yet, millions of their German countrymen sat quietly while their barbarism spread. And millions in the West, including some of our most influential media outlets, remained silent when evidence of their murderous ways came to light. In 1938, few demanded that Germans act to stop the extremism in their midst.

On numerous occasions over the past few years, I have used the phrase "21st century Nazis" in describing a vein of Islam that is growing in strength as well as influence. Radical Islam, as evidenced by groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram (and actively supported by groups like Hamas, Hezballah, Ansar-al-Islam, al-Nusra and many others) are a growing threat to a civilized, free, and peaceful world. Today, relatively few in the West demand that Muslims act to stop the "extremism" in their midst.

Daniel Greenfield discusses the recent slaughter of 2,000 Nigerian civilians by Boko Haram and then states a very unpleasant truth:
Two Islamic States, one in Nigeria and another in Iraq/Syria, are engaged in genocide. [Barack] Obama delayed responding to ISIS until it was already engaged in genocide and was moving on Baghdad. His people have done everything possible to avoid responding to the Boko Haram genocide in Nigeria.

The usual excuses are there. The central governments are compromised, incompetent and corrupt. The only possible solution is political. The real issue is poverty. Meanwhile the killing and the denial go on.

The foreign policy infrastructure, the human rights NGOs and the self-important scribblers who presume to tell the world what is important in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post have fought hard to avoid connecting the killings by the Islamic State in Nigeria to the killings by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. And they have fought hardest of all to avoid connecting these killings to the thousands murdered in the streets of New York and the latest bodies strewn about Paris. The killings can be connected with three simple words: global Islamic genocide.

The European intellectuals of the last century were too fixated on their vision of a better world to understand what was happening in Germany and Japan [in the 1930s and 40s]. And what had to be done about it. While they dreamed of a world government that would do away with war, the killing had already begun.

The intellectuals of this century are equally unwilling to take their attention away from microfinance, climate change and world government to see the beginnings of a worldwide Holocaust underway.

Genocide isn’t new to Africa or the Middle East so they put it down to local tribal conflicts. Terrorism isn’t new to America or Europe, so they blame political extremism. Like the elephant and the blind men who touched its trunk and thought it was a snake, they respond to the local manifestation of Islamic genocide by seeing a familiar local phenomenon; tribal war, political extremism or minority problems.

And anyone who sees the big picture is instantly denounced as an Islamophobe. But what if the Muslim genocide of Hindus and Buddhists in Asia and the Muslim genocide of Christians and Jews in the Middle East are part of the same phenomenon?

What if the Islamic State killers in Nigeria who shout “Allahu Akbar” during their massacres share a motive with the 9/11 hijackers who were told to “shout 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers”?

What if a common bloody thread of Koran verses runs through the massacres of non-Muslims in the Philippines and Kenya, in Israel and Australia, in France and China, in Thailand and Syria?

What if the acts of terror on the evening news are not random events, workplace violence, mental illness and political extremism, but the beginning of another global Islamic genocide?
And what if we're at the beginning of another Nazi era, one that will, frighteningly, lead to the same end result—mass murder of millions and global war?

What if the weak leaders of the West reflexively follow their counterparts of 80 years ago? What if they refuse to act, refuse to resist, refuse to even name our enemy?

What if the denials, the obfuscation, the accusations of Islamophobia or racism (or whatever the proponents of political correctness think will silence those who have begun to ask questions) lead to blindness, to complacency, to madness?

What if nothing is done, and the 21st century's Nazis grow in power, in reach, in virulence?

What if?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SOTU: "Turning the Page"

One of the amusing things about Barack Obama is just how predictable he is. In my comment on the upcoming State of the Union yesterday, it wasn't hard to provide a preview of his well-delivered speech. In fact, I pretty much nailed it.

As an orator, Barack Obama is unmatched. As a leader, a strategist, a president—he seems to live in a fantasy world in which everything he touches turns out well. In Obama's fantasy world—failure is success, liabilities are assets, everything is "free" to everyone who needs or wants it, those who have succeeded should feel guilt and carry even more of the burden of big government, "smart power" has succeeded in damping the surge of radical Islam, and there is no foreign threat that can't be mitigated through negotiation and understanding.

John Podhoretz comments:
The president is right to remind us of the unique good fortune Americans enjoy in the world, and you can’t blame him for trying to get the public to give him some of the credit for it.

But as for “turning the page” away from a time of “austerity” into a glorious left-liberal future filled with free college and child care and tax increases and the like, it seems like the book he’s reading can only be found in the section Amazon dedicates to fantasy fiction for tweens.

Politically, the page that turned in November 2014 was the page in which Democrats held majorities in legislatures. The page didn’t just turn — it was torn out of the book, crumpled up and tossed in the garbage bin.

The GOP took control of the Senate with a nine-seat gain, an outright slaughter. Republicans increased their margin in the House with the largest majority the party has held in more than 80 years. Of the 99 state legislatures, Republicans are now in charge of 68.

It’s interesting, to put it mildly, that the president should so resolutely ignore these results.

Interesting because, in the most substantive speech he’s given in a long time, he has committed his presidency toward policies that have no hope of a serious hearing from the legislatures whose job it is to turn policies into law.

And as for “turning the page,” what about American involvement in Iraq?

The centerpiece of his State of the Union last year was extensive back-patting about pulling all our forces out of Iraq.

And last night? He called on Congress to give him a new authorization for the war against the Islamic State — a war that is being fought in . . . Iraq.

As he put it: “In Iraq and Syria, American leadership  —  including our military power  —  is stopping ISIL’s advance.”

In order to preserve his back-patting, he followed that up with: “Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.”

That’s a transparent absurdity; there are thousands of Americans on the ground in Iraq right now. So the page turned, and then it turned right back.
In fact, most of the claims this president made in his speech were tenuous at best and "transparent absurdities" in the main.

Toward the end of the speech, in an attempt to appear statesmanlike, Barack Obama told the audience that he has no more campaigns to run, implying that his motives were pure. Derisive applause emanated from the GOP side of the chamber, and Obama, always combative, showed us his true statesmanlike qualities when he responded "I won them both."

That's true. Barack Obama did win both of his presidential campaigns. Sadly, it's the country that lost.

The inimitable Richard Fernandez comments on the speech from a foreign policy front:
The Greeks had a word for it: hubris. Just as president Obama claimed in his state of the union that “the shadow of crisis has passed” and proclaimed that American firepower had stopped the advance of “militants” in the Middle East, the Washington Post is reporting a possible coup in Yemen. “Shiite insurgents from the rebel Houthi faction stormed Yemen’s presidential palace and attacked the residence of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Sanaa on Tuesday.”

The Wall Street Journal says the development is “sparking fresh concerns about a country that has become a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.” CNN reported that it threw “a wrench into Obama’s terror message.”
Fernandez goes on the write:
There is something faintly ridiculous, not to mention tragic, about a leader who vaunts his success over the fates even as the platform gives way underfoot. He must be thinking, as the Iranian proxies cavort in the presidential palace of his ally, the words of David Beatty at Jutland as he watched his battlecruisers blow up one after the other, “Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.”
The Greeks believed there was something about Hubris that inevitably attracted the arrival of Nemesis, “the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods)”. It is like those scenes in Hollywood movies where the protagonist turns his back on the jungle and assures everyone that the dinosaur is finally dead, only for the beast to charge out that very moment from the foliage.
Don’t turn your back to the monster in the movies. And never proclaim it is dead in the SOTU — not unless you want it to spring back to life. Of course there are those who would dismiss such embarassments as “bad luck”. But as Glenn Reynolds recently observed “bad luck” is often just the name we give to the consequences of our stupidity and arrogance.
The monster in the jungle lies just behind the tree line. Barack Obama and his ideological supporters refuse to see it or even acknowledge that it exists. More on that in tomorrow's post.

UPDATE (1/22/15):
The Associated Press, certainly not a news organization that has been unkind to Barack Obama over the years, has published a fact check of his SOTU speech. To their credit, they find its veracity to be ... well ... read the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Today, Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union (SOTU) address. He will talk in broad abstractions and half-truths. He will say he wants to find common ground with his opponents, but will propose legislation (which has exactly zero chance of becoming law) that does exactly the opposite.

He will tell us how the economy has recovered, even though tens of millions remain underemployed and multiples of tens of millions remain on various forms of government assistance. He will tell us that more people today have health insurance than ever before, without mentioning that most of those who now have gained insurance for the first time are not paying for it and can't get adequate coverage even as they carry their Obamacare cards from provider to provider.

He will tell us that he cares about the middle class, abhors income inequality, and believes that additional taxes and spending are the road to his vision of a big-government leftist utopia, without recognizing that taxes and over-regulation suffocate initiative and the growth of small businesses—the life blood of our economy. He will make subtle references to class warfare, suggesting indirectly that successful ("rich") Americans don't pay their "fair share," although never telling us quantitatively what that fair share should be. He will not mention the national debt, except to tell us dishonestly that he is working hard to reduce it.

He will talk tough on "climate change" arguing that his unilateral executive actions will save the world from disaster, without mentioning the growing evidence that much of what has been claimed about the climate, CO2, and warming is demonstrably false.

He will criticize Washington, even as he sits at the top of the Washington pyramid. He will subtly (or maybe, not so subtly) attack his political opponents, suggesting that their opposition is somehow unusual or mean-spirited.

He will talk tough on "extremism" but never identify who the "extremists" are. He will tell us that he has extracted the United States from war, without mentioning that our enemy, radical Islam, has an entirely different view about whether the war is over or not.

He will tell us that his foreign policy has succeeded, and use the new detente with Cuba as prima facie evidence. He will not, however, mention his abject failures in the Middle East (e.g., Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) , the Korean peninsula, in Africa, and Russia (the Ukraine). He will suggest that his negotiations with Iran will bear fruit, if only bi-partisan proposals to impose sanctions if those negotiations fail are aborted.

We have had six plus years to assess Barack Obama as a man, as a leader, as a strategist, and as a president. We have had six years to assess his actions and the outcome of those actions. Nothing he says tonight can remedy the incompetence, the poor decision-making, the hyper-partisan rancor, the dishonesty, and the myriad scandals that have occurred on his watch. He will speak for about an hour, but for the most part, what he says no longer matters.

As if to reinforce my last comment, The Washington Times reports:
Judging by his recent history, it doesn’t really matter what President Obama says in Tuesday’s State of the Union address — Congress is going to ignore him anyway.

Mr. Obama has the second-worst record of getting his State of the Union policy requests enacted into law of any president in the last five decades, according to an analysis by two scholars that puts him only above the unelected two-year presidency of Gerald Ford.

From 2009 through 2014, Mr. Obama issued 209 different calls for action from Congress in his speeches, but only saw lawmakers follow through on 64 of them — good for just 30 percent. That’s only slightly better than Mr. Ford’s 28 percent success rate, and is well below the likes of President Clinton, the previous Democratic president, who won 44 percent of his policies even though he faced a Congress more Republican than Mr. Obama has.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mad Max

In this last in a sequence of six posts on Islamic terrorism, it's worth answering a fundamental question. Now what?

Sure, millions marched in Paris showing solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Sure, the main stream media gushed over the trending twitter support. Sure, Western leaders said a few of the right things, but not the most important things.

Daniel Henninger summarizes nicely:
What will happen is this: François Hollande, David Cameron and Angela Merkel will convene meetings at large mahogany tables with their ministers and secretaries, and each of them will say out loud that more must be done.

These senior officials will go back to their departments, and they will hold the same meeting with another set of officials. This process—meet, announce, commit—will be repeated until the thousands of occupants in each office in every hallway in all the world’s relevant agencies have heard that something must be done.

It won’t be enough.

No amount of meetings, speeches or white papers on the terrorist threat, no matter how sincere, will change the fact that all these governments will hand responsibility for the execution of any antiterror strategies to their bureaucracies.
And what about Barack Obama, a president who has been notably absent from any substantive discussion of Islamic terror. In fact, he never uses the words Islamic" and "terrorism" in the same sentence, nor do his spokespeople. But no worries, he plans to conduct a conference on "extremism"—no adjective, just "extremism."

In reality, western leaders will dither and things will get progressively worse. Emboldened by our collective weakness, groups like al Qaeda (you remember, the group Obama told us had been decimated) and ISIS will vie for supporters by conducting and publicizing mass murder, rape and mayhem. The Middle East is rapidly become the land of Mad Max, while Western leaders ring their hands and cluck their tongues.

The problem is that the gangs of Mad Max have decided to emigrate to the West, import their religion/ideology as they settle in, and ultimately bring mass murder, rape and mayhem to our streets. It's already happening in France. As we hold a conference on "extremism" (no adjective), the gangs of Mad Max smile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I have, for some time now, suggested that it's the responsibility of the broader Muslim community and Muslim leaders to unequivocably reject the Islamists in their midst. To do this, Muslims must reform their religion (as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested) so that violence and intolerance are banished from it, and recognize that if they refuse to do this, they will, over time, become enemies of the West.

Now, another Muslim leader is speaking out in terms that are considerably less than delicate. The U.K. Daily Mail reports:
Labour politician Ahmed Aboutaleb, a former journalist who was appointed mayor of the Dutch city [of Rotterdam] in 2008, is known for his straightforward stance on integration.

The 53-year-old won the praise of London-mayor Boris Johnson over his comments last week attacking fellow Muslims who move to Western nations but refuse to accept the Western way of life.

'It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom,' Mayor Aboutaleb told Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur (Newshour).

'But if you don't like freedom, for heaven's sake pack your bags and leave.

'If you do not like it here because some humorists you don't like are making a newspaper, may I then say you can f*** off.

'This is stupid, this so incomprehensible. Vanish from the Netherlands if you cannot find your place here. All those well-meaning Muslims here will now be stared at'.

Mayor Aboutaleb grew up the son of an imam in northern Morocco, but moved to the Netherlands in 1976 ...

This week, London Mayor Boris Johnson hailed Mayor Aboutaleb as his 'hero' and 'straight to the point'.

'That is the voice of the Enlightenment, of Voltaire,' Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

'If we are going to win the struggle for the minds of these young people, then that is the kind of voice we need to hear - and it needs above all to be a Muslim voice.'

It's time for Western leaders to state the same thing. It's time to stop hiding behind the cloak of multi-culturalism and diversity. Both are commendable concepts in the abstract, but exceptionally destructive when they are used to protect violent Islamists in our midst. Our leaders must state, honestly and forcefully, exactly what Ahmed Aboutaleb said. It's time to demand—not ask—that the Muslim community in Western countries do more to help eradicate radical Islam in the West and the violence, murder, and terror it foments.

In a metaphorical sense, its 1934. The Nazis have begun their March. Their apologists have circled the wagons, telling us that the 'Nazi's will stop if we give them what they want, or that they will change, or moderate, or disappear. They didn't.

Radical Islam is the 21st century version of Nazism. With it's rabid intolerance, its demands for submission, it virulent anti-Semitism,—the comparison is frighteningly similar. Appeasement didn't work in 1934 and it will not work today.

If Radical Islam is not stopped soon, millions will die. Just like they did in the 1940s.

To stop radical Islam, the broader Islamic community itself must take the lead. If it refuses, it will be recognized as antithetical to every value that defines the West, and the West must act accordingly.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sun Rising

In a seminal piece (read the whole thing) written in London, Milo Yiannopoulos discusses the current "brand" that is Islam. He writes:
It sometimes feels as though it might be too late to save Islam’s reputation in the west. If that sounds like an alarmist or absurd thing to say, consider the facts. For decades, Muslim communities turned a blind eye to what was going on in their mosques and schools, with the result that thousands of young western boys have flown to Syria to join ISIS to commit barbaric acts in the name of Allah.

They also failed to denounce terror where it happened, allowing hate-mongers to blur the distinctions between Islam and Islamism to such a degree that the subtleties are now lost on non-Muslims. Myself included, at times, if I am completely honest. Non-Muslims like us were left to conclude that they must, on some level, secretly sympathise with the acts of their radicalised cousins. Who could really blame us?
The answer to the last question is easy. Perched on a moral plateau far above the rest of us, progressive writers (and many leftist and a few moderate politicians) tell us that any suggestion that Islam must reform or that Muslims must universally condemn Islamist thinking and actively work to irradicate it is "Islamophobia" or flat out "bigotry."

The charge of Islamophobia is so ridiculous, it's actually laughable. The West has shown commendable (actually incredible) restraint in the manner in which it has treated Muslims—after 9/11, after London, after Madrid, after Ft. Hood, after Boston, after Nigeria, after Sydney, after dozens of other instances of Islamic terror, and now after Paris. But no matter, our moral betters warn us repeatedly that we're on the edge of a pogrom. Brendan O'Neill comments:
Across Europe, among the right-thinking sections of society, among the political classes, the response to the massacre of the cartoonists and satirists has been the same: to panic about how Them, the native masses, especially the more right-wing sections of the French population, might respond to it. The blood on the floor of the Charlie Hebdo offices was still wet when brow-furrowed observers started saying: “Oh no, the Muslims! Will they be attacked?” It’s the same after every terrorist attack: from 9/11 to 7/7 in London to last year’s Sydney siege to Paris today: Liberals’ instant, almost Pavlovian response to Islamist terror attacks in the West is to worry about a violent uprising of the ill-educated against Muslims. The uprising never comes, but that doesn’t halt their fantasy fears. What’s it all about?

The unreal, unhinged nature of this elite preemption of mass Muslim-bashing has been thrown into sharp relief by the foul events in Paris over the past few days. The massacre of journalists by Islamists was followed today by a violent hostage-taking in a kosher shop in Port de Vincennes by a gunman reported to be part of the same small cell of Islamic extremists from which the Kouachi brothers, who shot up Charlie Hebdo, sprung. Why invade a kosher shop? Well, it’s very likely there will be Jews in there, and if there’s one thing Islamists love more than executing those who insult their prophet, it’s attacking Jews. The kosher-shop siege and hostage situation is now over, and while the information coming out of France is sketchy, Reuters says four of the hostages — who may well have been Jews — are dead. So the gulf between the fears of he multicultural elite and the reality on the ground in France is colossal. “Leave Muslims alone,” they plead as the news wires report that four kosher shoppers have been killed. Many European observers seem far more exercised about the possibility of Islamophobic violence than they are by the reality of anti-Semitic violence.
It's far past the time to "leave the Muslims alone" but that that does not mean a violent reaction. Few would countenance violence against innocent Muslims in Western cities, and that's why there has been virtually none. But if we continue to "leave them alone" in the 'communicational' sense, the rot within their religion/ideology will fester and grow. It's time to ask the questions that I've raised in earlier posts, here, here, and here. It's time to demand reform, as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has done (it's curious how little MSM coverage his remarkable speech received).

Milo Yiannopoulos continues:
[The] extraordinary display of [Western] tolerance [toward Muslims] will not last forever, which is why Muslim leaders may wish to think carefully about their next moves. Simply repeating the mantra “this has nothing to do with Islam” isn’t working. Muslims have been handed out lines to take by these people; pleasant fictions about “tiny fringes” and peace and love and the transcendent virtues of diversity and multiculturalism and how there is no link–none whatsoever, nothing, nada, don’t even think it–between the Islam as practised by supposed moderates and the Islam proclaimed by killers and, finally, by poisonous insinuations about Israel in places like the Guardian and the BBC and the New York Times that make it harder to sympathise with Jewish suffering.

The man in the street knows better, for the most part. He instinctively understands that there is something a little different about Islam, some reason it is not able to reconcile itself with modernity, or integrate itself into modern liberal democracies. He may not know about the structural uniqueness of Islam, which, unlike any other major world religion, makes claims of finality and perfection in regards to its holy text that leave little space for progress in science or society.

He may not be able to articulate what he has read about the Koran in terms of abrogation to explain why bellicose verses are legitimised by clerics over peaceful ones, or know much about Islam’s founder besides incriminating biographical details, such as the age of Mohammed’s youngest wife. He may not know that security services estimate the number of radicalised Muslims to be in the hundreds of millions worldwide. (Perhaps it is best he does not know this.)

But he knows–he feels–he is not being told the whole truth about Islamic terrorism. And he is right. The longer politicians and silly left-wing columnists keep parroting the old lie that there is no relation whatsoever between the faith and the fundamentalists, the longer the honesty gap widens between what is happening in our streets and what our leaders say in press conferences, brand Islam has no future in the west. Dialogue, and compromise, and understanding, cannot begin.
The Leftist elites tell us that they fear for Muslim populations in the West, who, they argue, are somehow "oppressed." To protect Muslims after still another Islamic terror instance, they castigate those who demand an honest conversation about Islam with all Muslims. The Left refuses to ask why Islam has been hijacked, how many Muslims are radicalized, and what mainstream Islam going to do about it. Because they block that conversation with accusations of "Islamophobia," they hurt the very people they want to help. It's as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


As if in response to my recent posts suggesting that Muslims—all Muslims—who have chosen to live in the West have a responsibility to (1) overtly reject radical Islamic theology and (2) begin to implement tangible actions that will uncover and identify radical Islamists in our midst, Max Fisher of ultra-progressive uses predictable name-calling and tenuous arguments to further the politically correct narrative that Muslims aren't really involved. Rather, it's unidentified fanatics who are prone to violence and murder (in the name of Islam) but otherwise disconnected from Islam. Fisher writes:
Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: "As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form."

This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion.

This sort of thinking — blaming an entire group for the actions of a few individuals, assuming the worst about a person just because of their identity — is the very definition of bigotry. It is also, by the way, the very same logic that leads French non-Muslims, outraged by the Charlie Hebdo murders, to attack French mosques in hateful and misguided retaliation. And it's the same logic that led CNN host Don Lemon to ask Muslim-American human rights lawyer Arasalan Iftikhar if he supports ISIS, as if the simple fact of Iftikhar's religion — despite the fact that he is exactly the sort of liberal human rights activist whom ISIS hates most — made him suspect.

It is time for that ritual to end: non-Muslims in all countries, and today especially those in France, should finally take on the correct assumption that Muslims hate terrorism just as much as they do, and cease expecting Muslims to prove their innocence just because of their faith.

Bigoted assumptions are the only plausible reason for this ritual to exist, which means that maintaining the ritual is maintaining bigotry. Otherwise, we wouldn't expect Muslims to condemn the Charlie Hebdo attackers — who, if they spoke the truth in reportedly claiming to be from al-Qaeda's Yemen branch, belong to a group whose primary victims by far are fellow Muslims — any more than we would expect Christians to condemn Timothy McVeigh. Similarly, if someone blames all Jews for the act of, say, extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank, we immediately and correctly reject that position as prejudiced. We understand that such an accusation is hateful and wrong — but not when it is applied to Muslims.
This response is typical. If you raise issues that are certainly justified, given the recent carnage in France and elsewhere, you're at best an "islamophobe" and at worst a "bigot." Not to nit pick, but "a few individuals" murdered almost 3,000 civilians in our country less than 15 years ago, a few more "individuals" killed hundreds or thousand in places as diverse as Nigeria, England, Spain, Thailand, and Indonesian, not to mention the on-going carnage throughout the Arab word.  Again not be be picky, but most of this carnage is NOT conduced by a few lone wolfs but is coordinated, funded, and endorsed by radical Muslim groups worldwide. Mr. Fisher blithely forgets about all of this in his rush to be oh-so politically correct.

And again, not be be picky, but Christians did condemn Timothy McVeigh in very large numbers, and the "extremist settlers" on the West Bank who progressives love to hate are building apartment units, not committing unprovoked mass murder. But then again,  logic has never been the Left's strong suit.

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal brilliantly deconstructs arguments made by Fisher and dozens of other leftists:
Let’s begin by noting a curious contrast between Fisher and his boss, Ezra Klein, who in a piece responding to the Paris massacre urged a know-nothing approach to the attackers’ ideological motivations. The murders, he wrote, “can only be explained by the madness of the perpetrators, who did something horrible and evil that almost no human beings anywhere ever do, and the condemnation doesn’t need to be any more complex than saying unprovoked mass slaughter is wrong.”

How can one square Klein’s claim that there is no explanation save “madness” for the murders in Paris with Fisher’s that attacks on mosques—which are also horrible and evil, if lesser in degree—are the product of an inexorable “logic”? Fairly easily: by noting that both claims serve the same underlying argument, namely a denial that Islam is in any way implicated in the atrocities Muslims commit in its name. It’s like John Cleese in “Fawlty Towers,” albeit without the wit and humor: “Don’t mention Islam!”

We’re fairly certain neither Fisher nor Klein is Muslim, so that one can’t put this down to defensiveness over their own religious identity. But we’d venture that there is some tribal signaling going on here. The Voxen are asserting their antipathy toward the class of Americans and other Westerners—be they Christian, Jewish or neither of the above—who do not share their politically correct worldview.

Their anxiousness to shut down debate by rejecting certain viewpoints a priori may also reflect a fear that there is some truth to those viewpoints. If so, it is they who are displaying symptoms of phobia. Note also that Fisher, in tarring all “Islamophobes” by association with a violent few, is committing exactly the sort of slander of which he accuses them ...
Those-who-cannot-and-will-not-be-named (i.e., Muslim terrorists) are exemplars of "madness." Let's take that claim at face value. Doesn't it behoove everyone threatened by this "madness" and those with the best opportunity to identify "madness" to (1) renounce it and (2) work very hard to eliminate it from our midst.

But no ... the Kleins and Fishers of our world would rather turn their heads and hope it all goes away. Of course, they offer no solutions, only condemnation of those who state that more must be done by those whose religion/ideology has been hijacked.

Taranto goes on to discuss Fisher's claim that a request to condemn radical Islam is "bigoted." He writes:
Perhaps those [like yours truly] who profess [that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and moderate] do so uncertainly, hoping rather than firmly believing it is true. If so, they call on Muslims to speak out against terror because they would like real-world confirmation. That is not bigotry but open-mindedness.

Or maybe they are sure of their belief in the moderate Muslim majority and want confirmation for the benefit of others who may, with every terrorist attack, become more inclined toward rejection. That’s not bigotry either but anxiety over the possibility that anti-Muslim bigotry will become more widespread.

The charge of “Islamophobia” is no more well-founded. For the sake of argument, let us assume the moderate-majority hypothesis is true. Let’s make it a very large supermajority—say 99% of Muslims have no truck whatever with the violent few.

The world-wide Muslim population is estimated at 1.6 billion. If 99% of them are peaceful and moderate, that leaves a cadre of 16 million potential terrorists and sympathizers. As we saw in Paris—and as we’ve seen again and again over the years, in New York, Jerusalem, Madrid, London, Bombay, Sydney and many majority-Muslim countries—even a handful of violent jihadists are capable of wreaking enormous carnage and disruption.

To view that with trepidation and dread is not in the least phobic. It is entirely rational.
It's interesting that Taranto used exactly the same percentage for "angry" Muslims as I did in my last post, 1.6 Billion. The taxonomy that I identified in "1.6 Billion" should be explored so that we don't have to hope that most Muslims are peaceful and "moderate"—we'll have data to back it up. And we'll also have data to identify the threat that we all face.


As if to staunch the "madness" that has infected Islam, a heroic voice has risen in Egypt. Recall that Barack Obama championed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a seminal source of radical Islamist thought and a major contributor to the "madness." He exhibited either monumental ignorance or crass dishonesty when he claimed that the Brotherhood was "moderate." He later criticized the military coup that overthrew the Brotherhood.

Now, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (the leader of the coup) has spoken out. In a speech in Cairo he said:
We have to think hard about what we are facing . . . It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! . . .

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible! . . .

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move . . . because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.
Late last year I suggested that Western leaders needed the courage to say similar words to 1.6 billion Muslims, but lamented that none, including Barack Obama, have the courage or will to do so.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has done so. As the leader of the largest Arab nation he advocates that Islam must change, that a "religious revolution" must occur. How about that! It's about time.

By the way, I wonder if Max Fisher would characterize Abdel Fattah al-Sisias an Islamophobe and a bigot. Heh.

UPDATE (01/11/2015):

After I watched the media's swooning coverage of "millions" marching in Paris in "solidarity" with the cartoonists of Charlie and the Kosher shop patrons murdered last week by Muslim "extremists," I encountered a few paragraphs written by Richard Fernandez. He wrote about a commenter who indicated that she had 'unfriended' a long time friend who had the temerity to suggest that Islam has some culpability in all of this. She responded that "The answer to terrorism is tolerance." Fernandez writes:
The enlightened author restated the standard liberal canon. Drink your anodyne and above all do nothing rash without instructions from the Great Leaders. From the State Dept’s Marie Harf, who says “we’re not jumping to conclusions” on which group is behind the Paris attack, to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein who says “we need a moment of calm now. We do not need retaliation. Neither Islam nor multiculturalism in Europe is to blame for the bloody attack two mornings ago, as some right-wing political leaders have already begun to say”, the message is the same. Light candles, leave flowers, compose hashtags and march around in approved places but leave the thinking to Obama, Cameron and Hollande.
It's long past the time to stop marching "in solidarity" and start demanding change, much like Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did in Egypt. Change must occur in an religion/ideology that is spawning increasingly barbaric attacks on those who might disagree with its tenets.

Friday, January 09, 2015

1.6 Billion

Nicholas Kristof seems to break from the prevailing politically-correct narrative when he writes:
Is there something about Islam that leads inexorably to violence, terrorism and subjugation of women?
He justifies posing this question (a reasonable one, I think) with the following comment:
The question arises because fanatical Muslims so often seem to murder in the name of God, from the 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people to the murder of hostages at a cafe in Sydney, Australia, last month. I wrote last year of a growing strain of intolerance in the Islamic world after a brave Pakistani lawyer friend of mine, Rashid Rehman, was murdered for defending a university professor falsely accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Some of the most systematic terrorism in the Islamic world has been the daily persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, from the Bahai to the Yazidi to the Ahmadis.

Then there’s the oppression of women. Of the bottom 10 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap report, I count nine as majority Muslim.

So, sure, there’s a strain of Islamic intolerance and extremism that is the backdrop to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The magazine was firebombed in 2011 after a cover depicted Muhammad saying, “100 lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.”
So ... we have Kristof himself delineating cases of murder, mass murder, religious persecution against Christians, misogyny, and firebombing. He leaves out barbarous beheadings, virulent anti-Semitism, kidnapping of female school children, the death penalty for adultery (applied overwhelmingly against women), but no matter. All are very real, all are increasingly common, and all ...

But wait, Kristof then leaps to Islam's defense. He writes:
Terror incidents lead many Westerners to perceive Islam as inherently extremist, but I think that is too glib and simple-minded. Small numbers of terrorists make headlines, but they aren’t representative of a complex and diverse religion of 1.6 billion adherents. My Twitter feed Wednesday brimmed with Muslims denouncing the attack — and noting that fanatical Muslims damage the image of Muhammad far more than the most vituperative cartoonist.
That's true, but in the minds of whom? Not the "fanatics," who rejoice at the carnage. Not mainstream Muslims who have not, as far as I can tell, reformed their religion because it has, in part at least, been hijacked by truly evil men. If in fact, these "fanatics" are damaging Islam, what are the 1.6 billion Muslims going to do about it.

And as much as progressives love to believe that social media somehow leads to substantive social change, comments on Twitter will accomplish exactly nothing. Recall the progressive euphoria over the use a social media during the early stages of the 'arab spring'. Real change was not effected, and the end result was not particularly good. When Twitter faces an AK-47 or an IED, the weapon wins ... every time.

Kristof gets back on the politically correct narrative and warns us: "So let’s avoid religious profiling."

I agree. We need to know more to determine whether concern about Islam is, as Kristof suggests "too glib and simple-minded" or whether there's more to this than he is willing to admit.

No Islamic organization seems willing to conduct or sponsor a scientific poll of the "1.6 billion" Muslims worldwide to determine the broad spectrum of Islamic thought. For example, it would be illuminating to understand the percentage of worldwide Muslims who are:
  • loosely secular, identifying with the Muslin religion, but not fully engaged in daily practice?
  • devout, attending mosque regularly and following basic religious practices?
  • very devote, following all core tenets of the Quran, but rejecting "extremist" thought
  • angry, following the Quran explicitly, expressing sympathy for "extremist" thought, but doing nothing to support it
  • radicalized, following the Quran explicitly, supporting Sharia Law, indirectly supporting "extremists" through donations or other help, but not actively involved in violence
  • dangerous, following the Quran explicitly, supporting Sharia Law, and actively participating in violence and intimidation against any people or religion that threaten Islam as a ideology
The results of such a poll would be very illuminating. They may make the case that extrapolating the work of a few Muslim radicals is, in fact, "too glib and simple-minded." But then again, we won't know until the results are obtained.

One more thing, 1.6 billion is a very big number, meaning that even very small percentages will yield very big absolute values. If one percent of all Muslims is "angry" (see definition above), that yields 16 million co-religionists who have at least some sympathy for extremist thought.  If 1/10th of one percent of all Muslims is "radicalized" (see definition above), that yields 1.6 million co-religionists who have actively supported extremist thought. And if  1/100th of one percent of all Muslims is "dangerous" (see definition above), that yields 160,000 co-religionists who will murder in the name of Islam.

No one knows what the actual numbers are (it might be a good thing for the UN to "investigate") but I suspect they are much higher than my guestimates. Until we know for sure, it is hardly "glib" or "simple minded" to suggest that the behavior of the radicalized and dangerous segments of Islam represents a clear and present danger to the West.

As if to put an exclamation point on the seriousness of France's (and the West's) problem with radical Islam, multiple media outlets are reporting on a hostage situation at a Kosher store in the Jewish section of Paris. Four hostages killed along with the Muslim who was the hostage taker. Another terrorist is said to have escaped, but things are sketchy.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the virulent anti-Semitism espoused by angry, radicalized and dangerous Muslims, is clearly reminiscent of the Nazis in the 1930s. The main stream media attempts to avoid the story (except when forced, as in today's carnage). It's reasonable to ask Islam the questions I've posed above. Those of us who believe the threat is real (and those who are determined to ignore it) would be well-served if we have a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

As if to underline the politically correct nonsense that passes for commentary in the United States, CNN's left-leaning Chris Cuomo first suggested that an "African American Man" was a hostage taker at in the Kosher Shop standoff. He later corrected when he realized the the adjective was wholly inappropriate when describing a Frenchman. But really? Cuomo tried so hard not to say the word "Muslim" he made a fool out of himself. Then again, that's not particularly hard to do.

Thursday, January 08, 2015


There's a aphorism that relates to population and culture: "Demographics is destiny."

The current population of a specific group within a country, coupled with the birthrate of that group, compared to the population and birthrate of other indigenous groups leads to a relatively simple outcome. High birthrate will lead to a larger group that will grow in population geometrically, if that birthrate remains high. And if the birthrate of other groups is low, the high birthrate group inexorably takes over—in population, in voters, in culture.

Of course, this isn't a problem when different groups have shared values, are tolerant of one another, and have no intention of forcing less fecund groups to "submit." But when members of the high birthrate group are intolerant, want to instantiate a set of laws that is closer to the 7th century than the 21st century, and will only tolerate others if they submit—a country has a very serious problem.

That brings us to France—a country that yesterday suffered a mass murder terror attack conducted by Islamic men who were offended by satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed. France's destiny is tied to its demographics, and the outlook for the country is troubling. Muslims are reproducing at a rate that is significantly higher than other French people. They will, in time, take over politics, and slowly install a set of laws that that may be less than ideal for French people who decide they do not want to become Muslims.

The mass murder attack was conducted by three Muslim men who, virtually every left-leaning news outlet assures us, are outliers—not in the least representative of the larger Muslim population that is today about 8 percent of all French people. It is undoubtedly true that the larger French Muslim population are not mass murderers, and it's equally true that a substantial percentage simply want to live their lives peacefully.

But the issue is deeper than that. What percentage of the French Muslims tacitly approve of Muslim domination of the West—the primacy of the Quran? What percent are in favor of Sharia Law? What percentage are generally intolerant of Western values, and what values are they intolerant of? Women's freedom? Gay rights? Religious freedom? Freedom of the press including the freedom to mock Islam in a satirical way? What percentage would actively resist any attempt by Muslim extremists to impose their intolerance on non-Muslims? What percentage are unashamedly anti-Semitic?

The last question is instructive. Looking back at history, it does seem that Jews are the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine.' When the Nazis began their efforts to exterminate the Jews in the 1930s, few became concerned over what seemed like random anti-Semitic acts. It was just a few "radicals" or "extremists," argued outlets like The New York Times. But it wasn't ... and the carnage that resulted left tens of millions dead, most of whom were not Jews. The canary was a warning, and most chose to look the other way

On the matter of anti-Semitism in France, Ryan Girdusky reports:
Attacks on Jews [in France] have risen since the early 2000s, with well-publicized assaults beginning in 2003 when a popular Jewish French DJ was slain by members of a Muslim youth organization. Since then, attacks on French Jews have rapidly increased, including the 2012 murder by a Muslim extremist of a rabbi and three children. Last year, Jews were targets in high-profile hate crimes including when four Arab men beat a Jewish man on at a Paris Metro station. Several other incidents occurred last year, including a pro-Palestinian protest attacking Jewish owned stores in Paris, with chants of “gas the Jews” and “kill the Jews.”
As an aside, French Jews are leaving France in record numbers (20,000 in the last three years), afraid that diversity and political correctness just might get them killed. They're giving up their homeland, their livelihoods, and their friends because they no longer feel safe in a country that insists that "only a few" Muslims are creating all the problems.

The Jews who have fled France are the canaries that have wisely chosen to leave the cage. But their message to all of us is no less important.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Tour de Force

The GOP has taken its leadership position in the Senate, and for the first time in six years, bills will be voted on in meaningful numbers, the opposition (the Dems) will be allowed to add amendments (even though the GOP was barred from this activity under the dictatorial rule of Harry Reid,) and legislation will come to Barack Obama's desk.

The president maintains his combative stance, suggesting that he has a veto pen and he will use it. That fine. It's what the constitution mandates, and it is his right. It will also make him the "obstructionist."

The legislation that is bound to reach the president's desk will include modifications to Obamacare—the Democrat's disastrous attempt to improve health care in the United States. By virtually every measure (including national polling), Obamacare is already an expensive, ineffective failure. But no matter, Obama defends it as if it were a human right to lose your doctor, lose your existing insurance policy, pay more for basic coverage, have your employer cut your working hours (to avoid participation), and be coerced into participation.

As an aside, it was truly amusing to see the Faculty at Harvard—who were staunch defenders of the ACA legislation, complain that the university modified their medical insurance to put it more in line with Obamacare mandates. After all, the mandates are for the little people, not the blue state elites.

George Will (as reported in comments on Barack Obama's signature defense strategy for Obamacare as exemplified in a speech yesterday:
“On one thing, the president said is quite right: The Democrats ought to say the Affordable Care Act is what we are ... Continent-wide imposed from Washington top-down reform that involves a tapestry of taxes, mandates and other coercions.

“[H]is performance today had the four basic Obama rhetorical tropes. First you attack a straw man. Republicans said no one would sign up. Of course no Republican ever said any such thing. Then you declare the debate over. The debate on climate change is over, the debate on universal preschool is over, everyone be quiet ...

“Then he says it’s working ... It’s hard to know what that means because the ethanol program which subtracts from the public good in a variety of ways is working in the sense it’s being implemented in the law. Sugar import quotas, the same thing, it’s working but is not good for everybody.

"And finally, there’s his standard there can be no honorable and intelligent disagreement with me. States that have not expanded Medicaid are doing it out of spite because of him, because he says it will not cost them a dime. It won’t cost them a dime for three years. After that it will cost them a mountain of dimes. So it’s a basic tour de force of Obama rhetoric.”
The structure of this president's mendacious attempt to deflect criticism has become so predictable it is, in its own way, laughable. With all due respect to George Will, I'm not sure tour de force and Barack Obama should be used in the same sentence.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Hopeful, But Not Optimistic

In her inaugural column for 2015, Peggy Noonan writes:
Yuval Levin, founding editor of National Affairs, says, “Maybe you know the old joke that a Jewish optimist is one who says, ‘Surely things can’t get worse than this,’ and a Jewish pessimist is one who answers: ‘Sure they can!’ Those are the two sides of my thinking about 2015. But that said, I’m approaching the new year with hope, which is not the same as optimism. Hope is not the expectation that things will turn around for the better, but the belief that they can. It invites not passive anticipation but active repair and restoration. Our country has shown an amazing capacity to recover from setbacks because we’ve shown an ability to act on hope.”
Like Noonan, I approach 2015 not with optimism, but with hope. After six years of an administration that has done almost everything wrong, I think it's delusional to be optimistic about the country's leadership. And despite the massive GOP electoral victory in 2014, I believe we'll see only a small reduction in the obstructionism that was a senate led by Harry Reid, and if we're lucky, only incremental improvements in governance.

Andrew McCarthy identifies the true problem we all face:
What doesn’t work in Washington is . . . Washington — its officeholders-for-life, its strangling bureaucratic sprawl, its incestuous network of staffers and lobbyists, its naked cronyism, and its invested media.

The gridlock bewailed by Beltway insiders is actually a sign of political health, not dysfunction. Our constitutional system is designed to limit the central government’s influence — not because we don’t have serious problems but because those problems are best addressed locally, where their causes are intimately understood and their impacts acutely felt. However much good-government types despise gridlock, it does not signify an inability to solve problems but the reality that, for most problems, the solution is elsewhere to be found.
How true—the solution does lie "elsewhere." It lies in local control—of education, of healthcare, of entitlements. Local control of all things except clear national priorities—defense, national infrastructure, pure research, homeland security, immigration policy (enacted by the Congress, as the Constitution dictates) NOAA, the CDC, CIA, FBI, and NSA (for all of their failings) and a small list of other agencies that might have benefit on the national level. It lies in a massive reduction in federal regulations that strangle small businesses, a significant reduction in the size of the federal government with the concomittant reduction in federal taxes, freeing money that can be better and more efficiently spent by American citizens themselves. It lies in the elimination of the nanny state with its ineffective and wasteful "programs" that never, ever go away.

It means the realization that "eliminating fraud and abuse" (the montra of every politician) is a lie, told and retold to low information voters who are gullible enough to believe it. Fraud and abuse are, I suspect, a fixed percentage of the federal budget. The way to reduce them in absolute terms is to reduce the size of the federal government.

But will any of that happen. I'm hardly optimistic. One party has based its future success on continually growing the size, the scope and the reach of the federal government. Their clear intent is to grow the population of those who take direct support from the federal government and those who get their paycheck directly from the federal government. In so doing, they increase their base. It's good for the Democrats, but very bad for the country.

So ... 2015?

On the bright side, Americans have remarkable resiliency. The private sector and the people who work within it simply create workarounds for the intrusive roadblocks placed in their way by Washington. When disastrous, ineffective programs are created, the private sector often comes up with alternatives. I hope that that continues, and I'm optimistic it will.

But sadly, I suspect more of the same governance with a few bright spots here and there. Let's hope that the light that shines from the bright spots will illuminate the way for those voters who have bought into the canard that the federal government, and the federal government alone, can solve all of their problems. I'm hopeful, but not optimistic.