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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


In the aftermath of the latest Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando, it appears that Donald Trump's subsequent pronouncements about the attack and Barack Obama's response to it are generating a considerable uproar in the Left-wing commentariat. I submit that the Left's analysis of those pronouncements is a not-very-subtle Rorschach test. But first, a little background.

Let's begin with Obama's comments after meeting with his national security team. I'm going to take the liberty of fisking Obama's words—my comments are italicized:
First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed. Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, but I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in this country, and we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected.

Well said, presidential and concerned. Wholly appropriate.

The fact that it took place at a club frequented by the LGBT community, I think, is also relevant. We're still looking at all the motivations of the killer, but it's a reminder that regardless of race, religion, faith, or sexual orientation, we're all Americans, and we need to be looking after each other and protecting each other at all times in the face of this kind of terrible act.

Agreed, but why refer to Omar Mateen as a "killer" as opposed to a terrorist? In some odd way, it deflects from the problem we face. Why suggest the "motivations" are unknown—Mateen's stated his motivation as the attack was on-going.

With respect to the killer, there's been a lot of reporting that has been done. It's important to emphasize that we're still at the preliminary stages of the investigation, and there's a lot more that we have to learn.

True, but we know enough to draw meaningful conclusions right now.

The one thing that we can say is that this is being treated as a terrorist investigation. It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet. All those materials are currently being searched, exploited, so we will have a better sense of the pathway that the killer took in making a decision to launch this attack.

"Various extremist information"??? Would that be, say "information" from Basque separatists or a Cashmiri separatist group in India? Nope. Why is Obama being vague? Why is he unable to use appropriate adjectives to describe exactly what the "extremist information" is, what ideology it comes from, and who produced it?

As Director Comey, I think, will indicate, at this stage, we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally. It does appear that at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL, but there's no evidence so far that he was, in fact, directed by ISIL.

And there also, at this stage, there's no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot. In that sense, it is -- it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don't yet know. And this is part of what is going to be important in terms of the investigation.

Does this make any difference whatsoever. Whether the Islamic terrorist was directed externally or inspired by Islamist barbarians make not a whit of difference. In fact, this comment shows a relatively significant level of ignorance. The ISIS model is decentralized and networked. Their model is to radicalize Muslim citizens in Western countries, give them motivation to attack, broadly suggest targets and even time frames, and then sit back and wait. It seems to be working.

As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of home-grown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time.

Home grown extremism??? Somehow this implies that we have some culpability for the actions of Mateen. This is NOT "homegrown" in any meaningful sense. It is a Muslim male who has become radicalized by virulent propaganda from an Islamist group that uses a literal and perverse interpretation of Islam's holy books to inspire the radicalized Muslim to extreme violence.
Now ... on the Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports:
"Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind," Trump said in a lengthy interview on Fox News early Monday morning. "And the something else in mind — you know, people can't believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on."

In that same interview, Trump was asked to explain why he called for Obama to resign in light of the shooting and he answered, in part: "He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it's one or the other, and either one is unacceptable."
Later in his typically overheated and fractured speaking style, Trump expanded on his initial comments. Again from WaPo:
During an appearance on the "Today" show later Monday morning, Savannah Guthrie pushed Trump to explain what he meant in the earlier interview.

"Well there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn't want to get it," Trump said. "A lot of people think maybe he doesn't want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn't know what he's doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn't want to get it. He doesn't want to see what's really happening. And that could be."
When taken literally, Trumps comments raise questions but provide no answers. He states "People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' There's something going on.". He doesn't say what is "going on," leaving that for the listener to intuit. I find it interesting that the the left-leaning commentariat feels certain that they have the singular answer—that Trump is suggesting that Obama is a Manchurian candidate, somehow in sympathy with the Islamists. Obviously, there are many, many other more benign interpretations, but the commentariat chooses the most extreme. That might be as much of a Rorschach test on them as it is on Trump.

The left-leaning commentariat despises Trump, tells us on the one hand that he is a fool, a liar, a buffoon, a bigot, a racist, a mini-Hitler. But on the other hand Trump frightens them because despite his crude constructions, there's a element of truth in his words. Millions of people believe that Obama's handling of this and other terrorist incidents is odd and troubling. Millions more believe that the 'religion of peace' meme is ... well ... open to discussion. And tens of millions believe the country is on the wrong path. Maybe that's why a Donald Trump has become a presidential contender and why the commentariat is uneasy.


In a follow-up speech today summarizing a meeting with high government officials concerning the Orlando terror attack, Barack Obama seemed to break from script and showed genuine anger and passion. But the anger and passion (which were palpable) wasn't directed at the Islamic terrorist who killed 49 people or Islamist groups that inspired him. Noooo. It was directed at his political opponents (and notably The Donald) for suggesting that his refusal to use the phrase "radical Islam" or describing what he calls "violent extremism" by the more precise phrase "radical Islamic terror" is somehow a lack of leadership on his part. This president was pissed! It looks like the Donald's comments got to him at a personal level. Can anyone say—thin skin?

Obama's logically challenged presentation conflated a phrase with a strategy, suggesting (with his typical strawman arguments) that calling Islamic terror by its proper name wouldn't eliminate Islamic terror. No one ever said that it would. He also stated repeatedly that using the phrase "Islamic terror" would work to the advantage of the terrorists but never provided a shred of evidence to demonstrate that his wild claim was true (Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like The Donald). Finally he argued that by using the phrase Islamic terror we would therefore signal that "We are at war with Islam." Abject. Nonsense. And then the coup de grace for his progressive admirers—that connecting Islam to Islamic terror is "against our values." Phew!

Let's jump in a time machine. It's 1942 and FDR refuses to call Nazis by that name. Instead, he calls them "violent extremists". He argues that calling them Nazis will rally the German people and all of Europe behind them and that's "what the Nazis want." I suspect that more than a few members of the greatest generation might have said, "Who gives a Sh## what the Nazis want, let's give them what they deserve.

Obama had the gall to suggest that his inability to say "radical Islam" had nothing to do with PC. That's like saying that the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with a private email server.

It looks like Obama finally realizes that his inability to name our enemy is an emperor's cloths problem. It illuminates that simple fact that he has long adopted a fantasy view of the threats we face, using vague abstractions like "violent extremist" to soften the threat. The big question is why?

UPDATE (06/15/16):
The Wall Street Journal comments further on Obama's rant:
Sunday’s massacre in Orlando contradicts President Obama’s many attempts to downplay the risks that Islamic State poses to the U.S. homeland, so it’s no wonder he wants to change the subject to something more congenial. To wit, his disdain for Donald Trump and Republicans.

“For a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. “That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

Since the President asked, allow us to answer. We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of “international Communism” as an enemy. FDR said “Japan” or “Japanese” 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.

Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere. A small but significant fraction of Muslims agree with that interpretation, which is why Western law enforcement agencies must pay more attention to what goes on inside mosques than in Christian Science reading rooms.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” leads to other analytical failures, such as his description of the Orlando terrorist as “homegrown.” The Islamic State threat is less a matter of geography than of belief, which is why it doesn’t matter whether Islamic State directly ordered or coordinated Sunday’s attack so long as it inspired it. This, too, is a reminder of the centrality of religion to Islamic State’s effectiveness.
It's as if Barack Obama, his progressive supporters, and his trained hamsters in the media are playing make believe. If they refuse to say "Radical Islam" then somehow the threat from some vague group of "violent extremists" is less severe.

As I have said many, many times, I am no fan of Donald Trump, but I will say that his ability to topple the walls of PC thought is refreshing. Trump's latest tirade got to Obama, that's obvious, because it peels away this president's moral preening and shows him for what he is—a man who has done little to stem the tide of radical Islam and absolutely nothing to call out all of Islam to do something about the radicals in their midst.