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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Unworthy

Chris Stirewalt comments on the current state of American politics with specific emphasis on academia and the Left's insistence that speakers who oppose their views be barred from speaking at many universities.* In fact, in some instances, leftist "anti-fascists" who are actually totalitarian thugs, have threatened violence should an opposing speaker be allowed to present his or her views. From Stirewalt's comments:
Let’s start with that basic stipulation. America is not just better than its politics; its politics is actually unworthy of a republic so magnificent.

This bears mentioning just now because while this concept is perfectly obvious, it is also apparently easily forgotten – as is evidenced by the foolish fashion in which large numbers of our countrymen are conducting themselves.

The very fact that there is a conversation taking place about the rights of people to express even the vilest ideas should be terrifying to people who understand that politics should be subservient to liberty. Our Constitution says that the government may not prohibit you from speaking, but our civilization tells you that being offended may be a necessary component of that larger freedom.

The current controversy surrounds what could charitably be called the failed American higher education system and the unwillingness of students and faculty members to tolerate opposing views.

Mostly the conflict is cast as a left/right issue in which liberal “snowflakes” are refusing to allow putative conservatives from speaking on campus. This simplistic definition favors the interest of both sides in these little dramas. Opponents of free expression can style themselves as anti-fascist and provocateurs on the right can pretend they’re being persecuted for their views rather than their provocations.

But this isn’t about politics. It is about the cancer that is growing within our country: ignorance.
It is undoubtedly about ignorance, but it's also about moral preening and the false certitude that the Leftist ideology is the only acceptable path. Who ordained the leftist members of the media, of academia, of the entertainment industry, and of the arts as the final arbiters of what is just and right? Who made the judgement that opposing views are ignorant, or racist or bigoted or represent any of the many "isms" that the Left likes to hurl at its opponents? The answer is the Left itself, making their selective outrage at opposing views much like a child's tantrum, but far more dangerous.

The ignorance that Stirewalt mentions is about a fundamental lack of historical knowledge, a willful disregard of the failure of the socialist experiment in places like the Soviet Union, in North Korea, in Cuba, and recently in Venezuela. And it represents the victory of fantasy thinking over reality.

Finally, there's a certain viscousness to all of this. The anger that has fueled the Left since the sound defeat of a Democratic candidate is nothing less than astounding. The excuses—"Russian collusion, James Comey, misogyny, "winning the popular vote," blah, blah, and blah" is nothing short of ridiculous. The outrage may be real, but that doesn't mean it's justified.

In fact, this recent behavior is truly "unworthy" of the great country that provides every outraged member of the Left with the freedom of expression that enables them to express their outrage and viciousness.

FOOTNOTE:
----------------

* Jeremy Peters of the decidedly left-wing New York Times writes:
...across the country, conservatives like [Ann Coulter] are eagerly throwing themselves into volatile situations like the one in Berkeley, emboldened by a backlash over what many Americans see as excessive political correctness, a president who has gleefully taken up their fight, and liberals they accuse of trying to censor any idea they disagree with.
A number of Twitter responses highlight the utter hypocrisy of Peters' suggestion that conservative speakers are purposely putting themselves into "volatile situations" with the long outdated and misogynistic notion that women in provocative clothing are inviting rape.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Science is Settled

Last week in major cities across the country, the Left marched in large numbers in support of science. On its face that's a very good thing, but when those same people argue that any discussion of climate change is moot because "the science is settled", their advocacy for the scientific method breaks down rather badly. Anyone who has any knowledge of science understands that science is never "settled." We learn more, we improve understanding, we create better analytical and empirical methods, and sometimes, conventional wisdom is jettisoned as a result.

Jeremy Samuel Faust summarizes the marches nicely when he writes:
... Little of what I observed [at the marches] dissuades me from my baseline belief that, even among the sanctimonious elite who want to own science (and pwn anyone who questions it), most people have no idea how science actually works. The scientific method itself is already under constant attack from within the scientific community itself and is ceaselessly undermined by its so-called supporters, including during marches like those on Saturday. In the long run, such demonstrations will do little to resolve the myriad problems science faces and instead could continue to undermine our efforts to use science accurately and productively.

Using science "accurately and productively" demands that one never utter the phrase, "the science is settled." A case in point:

Bradley Fikes reports on the results of a major medical study:
In another blow against decades of accepted medical wisdom, one of the most prestigious, long-running studies reports that lowering sodium intake doesn’t reduce blood pressure.

The study also implies that most Americans are consuming a perfectly healthy amount of salt, the main source of sodium. But those who are salt-sensitive, about 20 to 25 percent of the population, still need to restrict salt intake.

Consuming less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily is actually associated with higher blood pressure, according to the Framingham Offspring Study report, given today. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, equal to a teaspoon of ordinary iodized table salt.

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hence, lowering salt intake is supposed to lower blood pressure and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. But the study found that supposition to be unfounded.

Moreover, the lowest blood pressure was recorded by those who consumed 4,000 milligrams or more a day — amounts considered dangerously high by medical authorities such as the American Heart Association.


But ... but ... but ... science said that salt was bad for you and many believed that the science was settled, right?

An assessment of the effects of salt on blood pressure is orders of magnitude (I suspect that many of the marchers have no idea what that phrase means) less complex than the effects of dozens of parameters and their quantitiative impact on global climate. If blood pressure's affects were not settled science, I think it's reasonable to assert that the underlying drivers of climate change are also not settled science. To state otherwise is a profound display of ignorance, even if the statement is made by a "scientist."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Over a Cliff

During the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, we watched as appeasement of North Korea and Iran was raised to an art form. After all—goes the conventional wisdom—isn't it better to wait patiently using "diplomacy" to defuse a dangerous state than to confront it as it moves toward weapons of mass destruction. Kicking the can down the road is a perfect political strategy—it avoids immediate problems and hard decisions (for the elites) even as it creates bigger and more dangerous problems for future politicians and peoples.

Victor Davis Hansen discusses this when he writes:
Acting crazy has worked for rogue regimes, but Western appeasement is not a long-term solution.

How can an otherwise failed dictatorship best suppress internal dissent while winning international attention, influence—and money? Apparently, it must openly seek nuclear weapons.

Second, the nut state should sound so crazy and unpredictable that it might just use them, regardless of civilization’s deterrent forces arrayed against it. Third, it must welcome being “reluctantly” pulled into nonproliferation talks to prolong the farce and allow its deep-pocket enemies to brag of their diplomatic “strategic patience” and sophistication.

The accepted logic of the rogue state is that the Westernized world is so affluent and leisured, and life is so good, that it will understandably grant almost any immediate geostrategic or monetary concession to avoid serious disruptions of the international order. The logic of appeasement is always more appeasement — especially in the one-bomb nuclear age.

North Korea sounds as if Pyongyang is an expendable hellhole, but not so Seoul, one of world’s great commercial and industrial powerhouses that exports Hyudais, Kias, Samsung, and LG appliances.

The logic is that of the proverbial crazy country neighbor, whose house and yard are a junkyard mess, whose kids are criminals, and who periodically threatens to “mess you up” unless you put up with his antics, give him attention, and overlook his serial criminality. The renegade neighbor’s logic is that you have lots to lose by descending into his world of violence and insanity, while he has nothing to forfeit by basking in it, and that such asymmetry allows him to have something on you. And it makes him something other than just the ex-con, creep, and failure that he otherwise is.
Iran is no better—suggesting, for example, that it could wipe out Israel with a single nuclear weapon—you know, the weapon that Barack Obama guaranteed Iran would have after a single decade of abiding (ha!) by the "deal" his Team of 2s put together.That would be the same deal that almost all Democrats blessed without so much as a peep.

Enter Donald Trump. To his credit, his administration has signaled that "strategic patience" is over. He has singled this is a variety of symbolic moves that make the usual "diplomacy forever crowd very nervous. To his additional credit, he has enlisted China to assist in defusing North Korea, although even with Chinese efforts, it's unlikely that any real progress will be made—unless Chinese patience truly is over.

We live in perilous times, but to suggest that all of this is somehow the fault of current politicians is dishonest. What we're seeing is the can bouncing toward the very end of the road. One can only wonder whether the end of road goes over a cliff.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Children and Adults

Donald Trump is threatening to cut the subsidies that are a cornerstone of Obamacare. He shouldn't do it.

The Obamacare legislation is among the most poorly conceived and ineffectively implemented major government programs in the history of our country. The Democrats own this debacle, but insist that it's strong and effective legislation. Okay ... let's wait and see.

The reality, despite media spin and the Dem's fantasy assessment, is that Obamacare far more costly than projected, provides "insurance" costs that are escalating rapidly (because policy holders are forced in coverage they may not want or need); has ridiculously high deductibles, and is increasingly hard to get in many parts of the country. Insurance companies are losing money and dropping out. "Exchanges" are failing. The program is collapsing under its own weight. Trump should not throw the Democrats a lifeline by allowing them to use his subsidy cuts as an excuse for the program's failure.

Let's be very clear. The euphemism "subsidies" means taxpayer money that might otherwise be used for infrastructure development, educational reform, tax reform, economic development, etc. Or ... possibly, money that might remain in the taxpayer's pocket. Specifically, taxpayer money is being use to subsidize insurance payments for those who cannot pay the full cost of insurance. On a humanitarian level, we have done this for decades, using taxpayer money to pay for Medicaid. The Dems have simply expanded the Medicaid entitlement to cover many, many more people. That would be okay, except for one key fact—Medicare/Medicaid are rapidly moving toward bankruptcy.

In their anger and disappointment over their election loss, the Dems refuse to work with the GOP to reform the healthcare program they, and they alone, created. It's as if the children stayed home and started a fire that wrecked their house. The adults return home and decide the only way forward is to tear the house down and rebuild. The children scream that a little paint and a some wallpaper will fix the damage, while at the same time denying that there's any damage at all. The adults note that the walls are collapsing, the floor is buckled, and the roof has holes in it. Looking at the burnt out shell of the house, who are you going to believe?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Revolution

The "revolutionary" spirit seems alive and well among young activists and students as they demand "safe spaces" to protect them from ideas and words that call their leftist ideology into question. At the same time, they congratulate themselves for their bravery as they demonstrate in places like Berkeley, CA or New York City. They regularly scream epithets at police who generally threaten them with nothing more than contempt. When they do become violent and break things (and they sometimes do), the biggest danger they face is tear gas and a ride in the paddy wagon with subsequent release on their own recognizance. Wow ... truth to power and all that.

Yesterday, I noted that the democratic party has lurched hard left, now led by the likes of Bernie Sanders, an 75 year old avowed socialist. Bernie tells cheering crowds that the United States needs a "revolution."

It's worth noting that our South American neighbor, Venezuela, experienced Bernie's socialist revolution less than 20 years ago and is rapidly descending into chaos. Demonstrations by Venezuelan students and activists are escalating throughout the country. But unlike their counterparts in the USA, these students and activists are fighting the very leftist revolution that Sanders espouses. In the process, they have no safe place.

The Venezuelan poor are are literally starving in the slums of Caracas and other cities and tell reporters they don't have enough energy to protest. The slum dwellers were Chavez' and Moduro's base of support at the turn of the century as these corrupt socialist leaders promised a "revolution" leading to a socialist utopia. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar?

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Venezuelans living through their own socialist political revolution appear to have decided they’ve had quite enough of it. Reuters reports today that “Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas as demonstrators staged what they billed as the ‘mother of all marches’ against President Nicolas Maduro.” Reuters adds, “Opposition supporters protested in Caracas and other cities, denouncing Maduro for eroding democracy and plunging the economy into chaos.”

On Tuesday night in Kentucky, the Socialist Mr. Sanders said Democrats need to go beyond their “zone of comfort” to promote their agenda.

Venezuelans have by now learned all about leaving their zone of comfort. On Monday the Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady noted that the Maduro government “is running out of money to buy imports, and since it has crippled domestic production, privation is growing more profound.”

Reuters reports today that “Carlos Moreno, 18, a student, was on his way to play soccer in Caracas and did not plan to take part in the demonstration when government supporters approached an opposition gathering and fired shots, according to witnesses and a family member. Moreno was shot in the head, they said.”

... So far this month pro-government militias or the police have allegedly killed three protesters in and around Barquisimeto, the capital city of Lara state. A demonstrator was fatally shot in Valencia—the third largest city in the country—and the governor of Carabobo state has admitted that the police were responsible. Another young protester was killed in a satellite city of Caracas, and an 87-year-old Caracas woman died when tear gas inundated her home.

Ms. O’Grady added that roving “bands of government-sponsored militias terrorize civil society.”

But protesters seem increasingly unwilling to be intimidated. “It’s time to stop being poor and hungry. I’m going to stay in the streets until we get rid of this government,” 21-year-old graphic designer Rolisber Aguirre told the Associated Press last week.

The news from down south gives American voters an opportunity to consider just how revolutionary they want their leaders to be.
The Dems might be advised to give all of this just a little thought as they flock to listen to Bernie et al push them increasingly leftward.

UPDATE:
----------------

Bernie Sanders' calls for "revolution" and his suggestions that the Dems move beyond their “zone of comfort” is by veiled reference, a call for more government control, more income redistribution, and a more anti-business regulatory environment—sort of the Obama era (and an Obama economy) on steroids.

As if Venezuela's socialist government decided to demonstrate the end game for Sander's philosophy, today it announced the takeover of a GM plant in Valencia. At the beginning of their reign, socialists tout free enterprise, but before long, they must feed their ravenous hunger to control every aspect of society, including free enterprise. After all, capitalistas don't deserve to keep what they built, right? NBC News reports:
General Motors said Wednesday it has been forced to stop operating in Venezuela after one of its plants was illegally seized by local authorities.

The seizure, in the country's industrial hub of Valencia, comes amid a deepening economic and political crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly street protests.

General Motors Venezolana, GM's local subsidiary, did not provide any details about the seizure, other than to say the facility "was unexpectedly taken by authorities, preventing normal operations." It said other assets, "such as vehicles," had also been stripped from the site.
"Unexpectedly?" Not really.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Keep Digging

The Democratic party's national chairman, Tom Perez, along with his co-chair, Keith Ellison, and Bernie Sanders are touring red states with the intent of energizing the base in those states. The Dems obviously believe that after the Obama years, they simply aren't left wing enough. That's why they are now led by a chairman who contends that Donald Trump didn't win the election, a co-chair, who in addition to being far-left, is also anti-Israel and fundamentally an anti-Semite, and a Senator and hard core socialist who never saw a taxation and income redistribution scheme he didn't like.

The Democrats have made a fascinating transition over the Obama years—from a party that was certainly progressive, but had some degree of moderation, to a party that is increasingly hard left. They have become the party of identity politics; a party that criticizes many aspects of government and yet ironically are champions of even bigger, more intrusive government; a party that believes that higher and higher taxes are required to service the siren call for federal spending; a party whose base clearly despises a significant segment of the people who oppose their positions, subscribing, I think, to Hillary Clinton's characterization of them as "deplorables;" a party that sees "racism or misogyny or xenophobia" behind any opinion or action that calls their own world view into question; a party that increasingly believes that open borders are desirable; a party that prefers to ignore the threat of Islamic terrorism to Western institutions; a party that has descending into crazy conspiracy theories in which the Russians worked with Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton, and of course, the party that is so intent on opposing the Trump administration that it sometimes votes against its best interests and long-tern strategy (the opposition to Justice Neil Gorsuch comes to mind).

But Perez, Ellison and Sanders are off on their excellent adventure. They'll say all the right things to energize the base, but the real question is, will they energize anyone else?

John Daniel Davidson comments:
Party leaders have concluded, quite incorrectly, that if they want to be competitive at the state and national levels they must adopt the economic socialism of Sanders and the identity politics of Ellison, an African American and one of only two Muslims in the House.

But Ellison is also a fervent progressive and a radical leftist. Besides being the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an early endorser of Sanders, he has some rather disturbing ideas about Israel and Jewish people, an abiding affection for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and a host of other deeply unsettling views.
Of course, the Democrats' trained hamsters in the mainstream media spend relatively little time discussing the long term impact of the Democrats' lurch to the left, except of course, to praise it without equivocation. They refuse to explore Sanders' and Ellison's "unsettling" views. The trained hamsters are an arm of the Democratic party, and yet, the Dems can't seem to win at the local, state or congressional level. That will change, it always does, but winning should have been a slam dunk with the media solidly in their corner. That might say more about the genral public's acceptance of their current lurch to left than many Democrats want to admit.

Again from Davidson:
... for all the changes afoot in the GOP, the real transformation in American politics is happening on the Left, where progressive zealots have taken over the Democratic Party and all but named Bernie Sanders [and Elizabeth Warren] their quixotic leader.

The irony is that those who lionize Sanders still don’t seem all that concerned about the things he cares about. Asked about the unity tour earlier this month, Sanders said, “It’s absolutely absurd that the Democratic Party has turned its back on working people in literally half the country.”

Sanders is right on that count. Working-class Democrats voted for Trump last year in all the places Clinton needed them to vote for her. Sanders’ concern about his party’s alienation of these voters is justified. The problem is, he’s now the de facto leader of a party that has embraced his socialism but written off the white working class, which it needs to win national elections.
Every time the Dems smile and arrogantly use the term "while privilege" or refer to our leaders as "old white men," they sink ever-deeper into a hole they just keep on digging. Every time they suggest that Hillary lost because of misogyny, they keep on digging. Every time they blame the Russians, they keep digging. Every time they allow anger and disappointment about the past election to shape their party's positions, attitudes, and strategy, they keep digging. I just hope as they dig deeper, the walls of the hole don't collapse around them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Eurabia

Turkey, once a secular democracy with a distinctly Middle Eastern feel has turned. And the reason is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The recent contested election that give Ergodan unprecedented authoritarian powers indicates that a majority of Turks believe that a turn toward an Islamist country with authoritarian leadership is a move in the right direction.

Mark Steyn writes:
As they used to say way back when in the long Ottoman twilight, the Turk is the sick man of Europe. Following this weekend's Caliph-for-Life referendum, the Turk is sicker than ever. But he's no longer of Europe, and instead is exiting for a destination dark and catastrophic for almost all his neighbors.

Sultan Erdoğan - who, a mere 15 years ago, was banned from holding political office - has now succeeded in dismantling almost every defining element of the Kemalist republic. What replaces it will be a crude strongman state in service of Islamic imperialism ...

In fairness to the new Caliph, ever since he emerged from his semi-pro footballing career to run for Mayor of Istanbul, he's played a more cunning game than the stan-of-the-month loons. As he said in one of his most famous soundbites, democracy is a bus you ride to the stop you want - and then you get off. And he was quite happy to take the scenic route, stop by stop by stop. In the two or three years after he came to power, I was assured that he was a "moderate Islamist" not merely by the all the foreign-policy think-tank "experts" but even by his political rivals in the previous Kemalist government.
How many times have most Democrats, a few Republicans, and every trained hamster in the media tell us that some Muslim leader was a "moderate Islamist." The term itself is an oxymoron, and when applied to leaders in Iran, or Hezballah, or the palestinian authority, it's a sad joke. There is no such thing as a "moderate" Islamist—an absolutist strain of Islam that believes that the dictates of the 7th century can be applied to the 21st. Don't believe me? Ask a "moderate" like Ergodan what he thinks about gay people, or the Holocaust, or the proper role of women, or Sharia law. Go ahead, ask.

But there are bigger issues at play here. Ergodan is a true believer, but he's also a politician. He recognized that in Turkish demographic trends saw areas of the country with strong Islamist support overwhelming the populations of more secular areas. He played to the right demographics and the result was "the new Caliph." Steyn offers a warning:
What lessons does Turkey offer for France or Germany, Sweden or Britain? Look at, say, French natives as Rumelian Turks and French Muslims as Anatolians. In 2012, the Muslim vote for M Hollande [the left-wing French President] was larger than his margin of victory over Sarkozy. On those numbers, it's asking a lot of a candidate to forego identity-group pandering. Ultimately, in Turkey as elsewhere, demography trumps democracy.
Welcome to the beginnings of Eurabia.

UPDATE:
-----------------

Germany has been on the forefront of encouraging mass Muslim migration into the EU and has worked hard to downplay any ill-effects that new immigrants have caused. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that The Daily Mail reports:
The State Secretary for the Berlin Government, Sawsan Chebli, defended Islamic law saying it can exist alongside Germany's Basic Law because it 'largely regulates the relationship between God and man'.
Actually, that's not quite accurate. Sharia law regulates virtually every aspect of a religious Muslim's life, defining not only the religious aspects of that life, but also everything from how to treat criminality, to how to dress, and to how to regulate banking transactions. It can be argued that as long as it applies only to Muslims, that's okay, but here's the thing—political Islam view non-Muslims as apostates and wants Sharia to apply to everyone, everywhere.

That hasn't happened yet, but as they say, "give 'em an inch." It looks like Sawsan Chebli wants to take a mile in Germany.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dark Future

It appears that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won a close election. Unfortunately, that moves Turkey ever closer to an Islamist, totalitarian regime at the edge of Europe. His victory is a major win for Islamists, a very bad sign for Europe, and a harbinger of the increasing influence of dawa. In a recent post, I discussed the impact of dawa—an ideological warfare strategy adopted by political Islam. In discussing dawa, I quote Ayaan Hersi Ali who writes:
Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within—the abuse of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. Another analogy is also possible. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what Gleichschaltung (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the National Socialists.

There are of course differences. The biggest difference is that dawa is rooted in the Islamic practice of attempting to convert non-Muslims to accept the message of Islam. As it is an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.
It's interesting that the Left, in light of Hillary Clinton's upset loss in November, has become very concerned about Russia and it's influence on the election. Few would argue that today's Russia has adopted communist Russian penchant for ideological warfare. Craziness enters into the discussion when specious claims of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump are proposed. But then again, those claims are a form of ideological warfare, aren't they?

Just today, I came across a rather dark post by Eric Raymond who writes:
Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
If you pay even a little attention to trends, progressives, who generally find religion to be declasse´, have adopted Islam as their pet religion, shielding it from criticism by attacking its critics. Progressives honestly believe that there is no connection between transnational Islamic terrorism and Islam and that dawa doesn't exist.

Progressives also believe that those of us who have been critical of Islam are either Islamophobes or bigots. Is it possible that instead of phobia or bigotry, our criticism is based on a genuine concern for the hundreds of millions of Muslims who do, in fact, want to live in peace? If they do not rid their religion of their Islamist brothers and sisters, and relegate Islamist ideology to the garbage bin of history, there may come a point when the West is forced to rid itself of them. That's dark, but it is not inconceivable.

Raymond continues:
The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050. But if the Islamists achieve their dream of nuking “crusader” cities, they’ll make crusaders out of the U.S., too. And this time, a West with a chauvinized America at its head would smite the Saracen with weapons that would destroy entire populations and fuse Mecca into glass. The horror of our victory would echo for a thousand years ...*

I don’t want to live in that future, and I don’t think any of my readers do, either. If we want to save a liberal, tolerant civilization for our children, we’d better get to work.
But the work to be done cannot be sidetracked by the usual accusations coming from the usual suspects. We must speak honestly, we must make demands, we must insist that Islam reform. If we don't, if progressives shut down the "conversation" (as they like to say), my children and grandchildren may be doomed to live in a dark future.

FOOTNOTE
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* For those who want to follow this dark vision a bit further, I recommend Richard Fernandez' classic treatise, The Three Conjectures. A lot has happened since Fernandez described the conjectures in 2003, but his words remain as true today as they were 14 years ago.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The "Deal"—Revisited

The disastrous foreign policy legacy of the past administration is best exemplified by it's "Iran deal." The Obama administration negotiated with hard men who knew it wouldn't walk away from a bad deal because—legacy. Lead by an incompetent (John Kerry), crafted in language that is loose and easily violated, it resulted in the transfer of billions to the largest state sponsor of Islamic terror. The deal accomplished virtually nothing while setting the stage for a nuclear Iran, and therefore, regional war (or worse) within the next decade.

I have consistently opposed the "Iran Deal" (e.g., here, here, and here) and have castigated Democrats for their inability at controlling their president as he entered into a catastrophically bad arrangement. But today, that's water under the bridge.

As we watch the outcome of other bad "deals" with rouge regimes (e.g., deals with Syria and North Korea that supposedly had them walk away from WMDs only to have them build and use them) developed with the best intentions but naive to their core, the Iran deal should again enter public consciousness. Michael Oren, a past Israeli ambassador to the United States, comments:
The U.S. has signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities. Two of those regimes—Syria and North Korea—brazenly violated the agreements, provoking game-changing responses from President Trump. But the third agreement—with Iran—is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn’t even have to break it. Honoring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.

The framework agreements with North Korea and Syria, concluded respectively in 1994 and 2013, were similar in many ways. Both recognized that the regimes already possessed weapons of mass destruction or at least the means to produce them. Both assumed that the regimes would surrender their arsenals under an international treaty and open their facilities to inspectors. And both believed that these repressive states, if properly engaged, could be brought into the community of nations.

All those assumptions were wrong. After withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pyongyang tested five atomic weapons and developed intercontinental missiles capable of carrying them. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, less than a year after signing the framework, reverted to gassing his own people. Bolstered by the inaction of the U.S. and backed by other powers, North Korea and Syria broke their commitments with impunity ...

A nuclear-armed Iran would be as dangerous as “50 North Koreas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. in 2013, and Iran is certainly many times more dangerous than Syria. Yet Iran alone has been granted immunity for butchering civilians and threatening genocide. Iran alone has been guaranteed a future nuclear capability. And the Iranian regime—which brutally crushed a popular uprising in 2009—has amassed a million-man force to suppress any future opposition. Rather than moderating, the current regime promises to be more radical yet in another 10 years.
It may be too late for the current administration to correct the errors of the previous president. But Iran should be kept on a very short leash. Should they violate even a semi-colon in the written agreements they signed, should they act aggressively against our navel vessels in the Persian gulf, should they be directly tied to the deaths of our military in Middle East hot spots, should they capture and humiliate our sailors, there should be serious consequences.

It appears that our current president recognizes that actions, not words, get the attention of the hard men who control rogue nations. That, in itself, is a beginning. We can only hope that Trump's team applies actions that will be in the best interests of the United States and its allies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Strategic Patience Ends

The 'hermit nation' that is North Korea is yet another example of the abject failure of a totalitarian, socialist regime. It's people are literally starving while its ruling class spends almost all of the country's meager resources supporting itself in luxury, building an aggressive military, and developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. It threatens it's immediate neighbors and the West as it goes.

Because the NoKos are an economic basket case, they use their military actions as a lever to force aid concessions out of the West. After billions of dollars in "aid" provided by both Democrat and Republican administrations, the Euros, and others, the NoKos have neither modified their aggressive stance nor improved the lot of their starving and beleaguered population. But the elites in the West counsel patience—surely, over time the NoKos will come around. No matter that they get stronger and more dangerous with every passing year. The hope has always been that China will control NoKo. Yet, that didn't happen during the Clinton, Bush, or Obama presidencies. Since the November election, the elites have told us that Donald Trump—the proverbial bull in a china shop— wouldn't make any progress either. After all, we're constantly told that he has no feel for foreign policy and that he's quixotic and unpredictable.

Yet, Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, commenting on North Korea, recently stated that the policy of "strategic patience" is now over.

The Washington Post (certainly no friend of Trump) comments:
Something interesting is happening in China and perhaps President Trump deserves some credit.

For the first time, the Chinese government appears to have laid down a bottom-line with North Korea and is threatening Pyongyang with a response of “unprecedented ferocity” if the government of Kim Jong Un goes ahead with a test of either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear device. North Korea will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, and some type of military show of force is expected.

In an editorial in the semi-official Global Times on Wednesday, Pyongyang was put on notice that it must rein in its nuclear ambitions, or else China’s oil shipments to North Korea could be “severely limited.” It is extraordinary for China to make this kind of threat. For more than a decade, as part of its strategy to prop up one of its only allies, China refused to allow the U.N. Security Council to even consider cutting oil shipments to North Korea. Beijing’s calculus was that the maintenance of the North Korean regime took precedence over everything. Now Beijing seems to be reconsidering its position.
Hmmm. I wonder why the past administration with all of its brilliant minds and nuanced foreign policy could not have achieved this result. It might be because it wasn't perceived as being serious. Or possibly, it was because it didn't have the will to send the appropriate message to the Chinese (the lynchpin in any attempt to control NoKo).

Trump does in fact deserve credit for China's turnaround. The not-so-subtle message delivered through his recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan and the apparent success of his meeting with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, are pivotal in China's policy shift.

Still, Chinese efforts may not work, and if the Chinese can't control the NoKos, bad things may have to happen. It looks like the era of kicking the can down the road (a.k.a., "patience") has come to an end.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Unsafe

Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, is giving a commencement speech at Notre Dame University. Some of its left-wing students have decided that Pence's presence at the university makes them "unsafe." Seriously? In yet another meaningless gesture of their concern, the students have created a hashtag, #NotMyCommencementSpeaker, to, I suppose,  speak truth to power.

We'll briefly explore the irony and the idiocy of their position. But before we do, a comment: It's reasonable to cut young people a lot of slack. They have almost no experience in the world. Often have never held a real job of any consequence. Have been propagandized to accept a specific worldview through most of their schooling. Have never been trained in critical thinking. And are by their nature, idealists who are not grounded in reality. But still. Unsafe?!

Let's consider four short examples of what it is to be unsafe.

Young people in Chicago have every right to feel unsafe. The murder rate is horrendous and the police, try as they might, cannot adequately protect them from the thugs and gang members who murder innocents. It's worth mentioning that the snowfakes who tell us they feel unsafe because of a Pence visit are the same left-wing ideologues who tell us that the police are racist. So the police, who try to protect people who legitimately feel unsafe, are to be condemned and the young people of Chicago ... well ... its all about a racist society, right?

Young people who live in Israel have every right to feel unsafe. The Islamic terror group, Hamas, regularly launches rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, targeting hospitals and schools and forcing children into bomb shelters. It's worth mentioning that the snowflakes who tell us they feel unsafe because of a Pence visit are the same left-wing ideologues who wear Kaffeyahs to express solidarity with the oppressed "palestinian people." So the young people of Israel who legitimately feel unsafe are to be condemned as "oppressors" and a terrorist group is given a pass, because —"oppression."

Citizens on our southern borders have a right to feel unsafe. Although most illegal immigrants mean us no harm, there is a small percentage that come across the border for criminal activities. Mexican gang violence has spread across the border and occasionally results in unsafe situations for American citizen in border cities. It's worth mentioning that the snowflakes who tell us they feel unsafe because of a Pence visit are the same left-wing ideologues who suggest that any attempt to remove criminal illegal aliens is inhumane and must be resisted. So American citizens of all races who legitimately feel unsafe because they might get caught in a gang war between M-13 and another Mexican cartel gang on the streets of Laredo are forgotten because criminal aliens must be given 'sanctuary.'

Gay people and women in many Muslim countries live under the oppressive dictates of sharia law and have every right to feel unsafe. Gay people are often murdered, tortured, or imprisoned for being gay and many Muslim women suffer from a level of oppression that is closer to the 7th century than the 21st. It's worth mentioning that the snowflakes who tell us they feel unsafe because of a Pence visit are the same left-wing ideologues who never seem to criticize Islam for its oppressive attitudes toward gay people and women because—multiculturalism. So Muslim gay people and women are condemned to life of oppression while the snowflakes express ambivalence or worse, solidarity, with a religion (actually, an ideology) that oppresses them.

The snowflakes at Notre Dame and other institutions of higher learning appear to be intellectually incapable of recognizing the irony of their position. A speech by Mike Pence might delve into topics they disagree with; it might even challenge their established wisdom, but the mere suggestion that a speech might make them feel "unsafe" is idiotic. They beclown themselves and the University that they attend.

UPDATE:
----------------------
Snowflakes at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh are upset about an "unsafe" environment caused by Chick-fil-A, which is coming to the food court at the University. They want the fast food purveyor banned. I personally disagree with a number of social positions taken by the owners of Chick-fil-A, but banning them from the University seems a bit extreme.

There's an easy way for snowflakes and others to indicate that they find the fast food chain's social positions objectionable. Don't patronize Chick-fil-A. If enough of their fellow students agree, Chick-fil-A will decide that Duquesne University is not the place for them.

Because snowflakes have been indoctrinated into left-wing thinking, it may not have occurred to them that free market capitalism provides consumers with the inalienable right to protest any business. You do it with your patronage and with your wallet.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Slaves to the Narrative

The trained hamsters in the main stream media don't want to write about, think about, or otherwise investigate anything associated with Libya. Sure, every so often they're forced into it, but it seems they're being dragged kicking and screaming. After all, Libya's the country that hosted the debacle that we now know as Benghazi; it became a haven for Islamic terror groups, and it's now the home of a 21st century slave trade. All of this was precipitated by decisions and actions taken by the past sainted president, you know, the one who is so smart, who had a nuanced grasp of geopolitics, whose foreign policy was flawless, and who was much, much, much better for the world than the current GOP president. Therefore, Libya isn't worthy of much mention because its descent into chaos demonstrates the flaws in that prevailing narrative.

The conservative blog, The American Interest, comments:
If a Republican President had invaded Libya and overthrown its government, then left bloody chaos, terrorism and rampant arms smuggling behind, our courageous press corps would be all over the story like a chicken on a June bug.

But fortunately all this happened under President Obama, so we don’t hear all that much about it. And when we do, nobody tries to assign blame to the arrogant ignoramuses who “organized” this disaster. [think: Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State]

But the latest news, that slave markets are now operating in Libya, where desperate black Africans are being bought and sold as slaves, ought to trigger some kind of response ...

Again, if Republicans were responsible for this it would be the Biggest. Disaster. Ever.
The trained hamsters in the media are oh-so concerned about racism in all of it many forms. You'd think that an outright slave trade might qualify as something that would catch their attention. In fact, you'd think that they'd demand that the current president do something about it, but nope ... better to let the story die. After all, viewers, readers, and listeners might actually be forced to ask a painful question—Whose actions are responsible for all of this?

That makes our intrepid cadre of "journalists" slaves to the narrative even as human beings are being bought and sold as actual slaves in Libya.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Never Mind

Have you noticed that the fire storm of accusations by Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media about "Russian collusion" involving Trump operatives have largely evaporated. Could it be that all of this focus on the Russian might lead investigators to places that might be embarrassing for the Dems and their hamsters.

The change in focus began, I think, with Trump's now infamous tweet in which he accused Barack Obama of "wire tapping" his administration. The media frenzy that followed the tweet was remarkable in its viciousness, it vacuity, and the remarkable lack of interest in determining whether there was any truth to the accusation. Trump's tweet was dismissed out-of-hand and condemned by elites of both parties.

There's only one problem. It looks like the substance of the tweet is true. Last night the Democrat-friendly Washington Post published an exclusive that indicated that the Obama administration did, in fact, get a FISA court warrant to investigate Carter Page, an informal advisor to Trump. They write:
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
To say that WaPo is anti-Trump is a understatement, so it's no surprise that they conclude that their exclusive indicates coordination between Trump and the Russians.

The progressive worldview espoused by media outlets like WaPo is often flawed by a lack of critical thinking. That's exemplified in the conclusion that the Russians wanted to help elect Donald Trump. John Hinderaker considers this when he writes:
I find it hard to believe that Russia’s rulers, from Vladimir Putin on down, wanted to help elect a president who vowed to rebuild America’s dwindling military strength, and to put America first, in place of an administration that was consistently supine in the face of Russian aggression and was borderline anti-American. Possibly Putin and his advisers are that dumb, but I doubt it.
Recall that everyone, including Hillary Clinton herself, indicated that her administration would generally continue the "successes" of the Obama administration. Wouldn't those "successes" include the acquiescence to the Russian invasion of Crimea, Russian support of Bashar Assad in Syria, Russian coordination with Iran in the Middle East (all, BTW, counter to the national interests of the U.S.) mitigate against Russian support for Trump? Oh well, never mind.

Hinderaker doesn't pull any punches when he writes:
We are now starting to get a picture of how sinister this whole Democratic Party misinformation campaign is. Through the last half of 2016, the Obama administration was desperately searching for evidence of some link between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. They went to the length of seeking (twice, reportedly) and finally obtaining a FISA order that allowed them to spy on at least one insignificant Trump associate.

In addition, we now know that Susan Rice headed up an operation whereby raw NSA intelligence was sifted for names of Trump associates, no doubt in hopes of uncovering dirt of some sort. And we also know that these efforts came up dry. The Obama administration found no compromising information about Trump or any of his associates.

Nevertheless, ever since the Inauguration the Democratic Party, especially its press wing in Washington and New York, has relentlessly pushed the Trump/Russia story. What story? There isn’t one. But that hasn’t stopped Democrats in the press from talking about little else for the last three months.
The Trump/Russia story beginning to change, and not in a direction that will make Democrats and their trained media hamsters happy.

A Mess

For years, many of us who believe is fiscal responsibility have condemned the Democrats for promoting profligate spending and the GOP for quietly acquiescing to it. The Dems have no problem with debt, thinking that kicking the can down the road is a viable policy. They also have become experts at demogoguing any attempt at spending cuts—wailing about starving children, sick seniors, and uneducated inner city students, while never considering that it just might be possible to feed, treat, and educate those constituencies for far less money that we currently spend. Their trained hamsters in the media like nothing more than to reinforce the Dem meme.

The GOP, for its part, doesn't want to get into a budgetary fight where it will surely be characterized as the party that wants to starve children, allow oldsters to wither away from sickness, and produce inner city kids who can't read or write. So they do little to control debt.

The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment on the debt bomb that is ticking:
While Mr. Obama was doubling the national debt over eight years, the Fed’s monetary policies spared him from the fiscal consequences. The Fed’s near-zero policy kept interest rates at historic lows that reduced net interest payments even as the overall debt increased. The Fed’s bond-buying programs also earned money that the Fed turned over to Treasury each year, reducing the size of the federal budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars.

This not-so-free Fed lunch is starting to end. CBO estimates that $160 billion more spending will be required each year over the next decade if interest rates are merely one percentage point higher than in its current projections. As interest rates rise, the Fed will also have to pay banks more to keep excess reserves parked at the central bank. After its latest rate increase in March, the Fed now pays banks 1% on reserve balances or about $20 billion a year, and that will go up.

Fed officials are also now hinting that this year they may finally stop buying new securities when the current bonds on its balance sheet come due. This is necessary and long overdue, but it will mean smaller Fed contributions to the federal budget than the more than $90 billion the Fed has turned over in recent years. (See the nearby chart.)

All of this is set to explode on President Trump’s watch, and it will complicate the task for Republicans as they try to reform the tax code within tighter budget constraints.

Mr. Obama didn’t expect a Republican to succeed him but we doubt he regrets this result. He was able to live off the eight years of accommodative Fed policy while seeding the federal fisc with ever-higher spending from interest payments and the Affordable Care Act after he leaves office. Mr. Trump is stuck with the bar tab. It’s one more mess Mr. Obama left others to clean up.
And what a mess it is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Only the Left

It's a story that is no longer a surprising. Heather McDonald, a respected researcher and columnist who focuses on the police and their interaction with upban communities, was shouted down in a near riot at Claremont College and the previous night a lesser incident at UCLA. McDonald had the temerity to present facts about black on black violence and ask why black-lives-matter protesters seems far less concerned about the fact that an order of magnitude more blacks are killed by gang and criminal violence in inner cities than would ever be killed by the police.

The details of this attack on free speech are all too familiar, but it's McDonald's concluding comment that deserved consideration:
Last week’s events should be the final wakeup call to the professoriate, coming on the heels of the more dangerous attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury College and the riots in Berkeley, California, against Milo Yiannapoulos. When speakers need police escort on and off college campuses, an alarm bell should be going off that something has gone seriously awry. Of course, an ever-growing part of the faculty is the reason that police protection is needed in the first place. Professors in all but the hardest of hard sciences increasingly indoctrinate students in the belief that to be a non-Asian minority or a female in America today is to be the target of nonstop oppression, even, uproariously, if you are among the privileged few to attend a fantastically well-endowed, resource-rich American college. Those professors also maintain that to challenge that claim of ubiquitous bigotry is to engage in “hate speech,” and that such speech is tantamount to a physical assault on minorities and females. As such, it can rightly be suppressed and punished. To those faculty, I am indeed a fascist, and a white supremacist.

Hyperbole is part and parcel of political speech. But I would hope that there are some remaining faculty with enough of a lingering connection to reality who would realize that I and other conservatives are not a literal threat to minority students. To try to prevent me or other dissenting intellectuals from connecting with students is simply an effort to maintain the Left’s monopoly of thought. The fact that this suppression goes under the title of “anti-fascism” is particularly rich. I am reluctant to wield the epithet “fascist” as promiscuously as my declared opponents do. But it must be observed that if campus conservatives tried to use physical force to block Senator Elizabeth Warren, say, from giving a speech, the New York Times would likely put the obstruction on the front page and the phrase “fascist” would be flying around like a swarm of hornets, followed immediately by the epithet “misogynist.”
Ahh, but it's only the Left that can use those terms against those who disagree, only the Left that can decide what speech is protected, and only the Left that has a monopoly on what is just and moral. Only the Left.

UPDATE:
--------------

William McGurn comments on the treatment of heather McDonald and the far more important free speech crisis that has enveloped colleges and university across the country:
Today it’s common to lament the cheap and polarized politics in Washington. But no one asks whether this might have something to do with a generation of students indulged in the view that they should never have to hear an opinion different from their own. How much easier it is to bang on windows, block an entryway and drop your F-bombs than, say, engage the formidable Ms. Mac Donald in genuine argument.

In his autobiography “Out of Step,” Sidney Hook spoke about his own academic trajectory. When he started out, he said, he believed that “intelligence was the supreme virtue.” But in the Vietnam era, when he watched faculty and administrators who knew better surrender to student radicals, Hook realized his mistake: He had, he said, taken “for granted the operation of moral courage.”

Only a few months ago, Claremont McKenna signed on to the University of Chicago statement emphasizing an “institutional commitment to freedom of speech.” But Thursday night, it failed Ms. Mac Donald, the members of its community who were prevented from asking her questions, and its own principles. The college will fail again if it does not enforce the ground rules of university life against those who maraud across its campus with an intolerance fed by an overweening sense of righteousness.

What these kids need—their behavior makes it hard to call them students—are college presidents and faculty with enough confidence to say: Check your privilege, or we’ll check it for you.
Not when many in the school's administration and most of the faculty are as far left as the student agitators who believe that only speech they approve can be presented.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What if ... ?

Those who continue to tell us that we must not call upon all Muslims to rid their religion of political Islam (a.k.a., Islamism, Radical Islam, Jihadism) because the last thing we want is a religious war. Really? What we already have is a religious war, it's just that only political Islam is waging it. The events of this weekend reinforce that contention. Damian Thomson comments:
At 9.30 this morning, during Mass at St George’s Church in Tanto, north of Cairo, Coptic Christians were celebrating the joyful entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And then, in the twinkling of an eye, He was welcoming at least 25 of them into His kingdom, as a bomb went off inside the church.

That, at least, is what hundreds of millions of Christians believe; as Holy Week begins. They will be praying for the slaughtered men, women and children of St Mark’s – and also for the victims of a suicide bombing outside St Mark’s Cathedral, Alexandria, soon afterwards. As I write, the death toll from the second attack is reported to have risen to 18. Let us hope that they also remember the 28 people who died in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Alexandria, as recently as last December. And the 21 Coptic worshippers murdered at another Coptic Church in Alexandra at the New Year’s Mass on the first day of 2011.

Today a spokesman for the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted that the Palm Sunday massacres were ‘another obnoxious but failed attempts against all Egyptians’. Really? It looks to me like an attack on Christians simply because they are Christians. It would be equally fatuous to claim that Boko Haram’s unrelenting slaughter of Christians is directed ‘against all Nigerians’.
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These were, of course, attacks by ‘Islamists‘ – a word I’m beginning to put into inverted commas, not because I think most ordinary Muslims support such tactics but because there is no single strand of ‘Islamist’ ideology that can be neatly cordoned off from Islamic extremism.
Imagine for just a moment that an Israeli terrorist bombed a mosque in Jerusalem (yes, there are mosques in Jerusalem) and killed, oh, let's say just one person, injuring a few more. The international media would be in an uproar; no news entity would move on to other matters; the story would last for days or weeks; Israel would be condemned for "crimes against humanity." But most importantly, Jews around the world would roundly and unequivocably condemn the attack and demand that the perpetrators be found and killed/imprisoned.

It's the last sentence that really matters. After the attacks in Cairo, condemnation across the Arab world was muted. Outside Egypt, few prominent Imams publicly condemned the attack; to my knowledge, no fatwahs were delivered against the perpetrators. Rather than public outrage at the vicious murder of his co-religionists, a left-wing Pope effectively shrugs his shoulders and tells us that we must all reason together.

John Lennon once asked, "What if they held a war and no one came?" As we watch elements of the Muslim world decimate elements of the Christian world (not to mention other "heretics"), it might be worth paraphrasing Lennon's question: "What if one side declared war and began its attack, and the other side covered its eyes, plugged its ears, and sealed its lips shut.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is a German term generally understood to mean "the pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune."

Many years ago a holy roller preacher was discovered to have had an affair with a down-and-out prostitute, spending church money to shower her with gifts. The story was trumpeted on every national news broadcast—after all, this man often criticized the rest of us for not leading exemplary lives and for not following "God's word." He collected millions in contributions with the stated intent of helping the downtrodden. In fact, he pocketed a significant share of that money. When he was found to be flawed himself, his disgrace was trumpeting widely. Why? Schadenfreude. After all, there's nothing better than seeing a sanctimonious hypocrite taken down a few notches.

In Washington, a town that is populated by more than a few sanctimonious hypocrites on both sides of the aisle, there's one senator who stands above the rest—Elizabeth Warren. A leader of the ascending left-wing of the Democratic party, Warren regularly rails against income inequality, large corporations, misogyny (both real and imagined), and of course, all of the "-isms" that are the core of identity politics.

But back to Schadenfreude.

National Equal Pay Day was celebrated this week. The intent of the Day is to emphasize the disparity between the wages of women and men, even though that disparity is very tenuous and is based on assumptions about work and pay that are open to broad interpretation. But no matter. The Day allows Democrats to preach to the rest of us. The editors of the Boston Herald write:
... last year Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren marked [National Equal Pay Day] with an impassioned statement calling it a “national day of embarrassment.”

“By the sound of it, you would think it’s some sort of historic holiday commemorating the anniversary of a landmark day that our country guaranteed equal pay for women,” Warren said. “But that’s not what this is about. Not even close.

“The game is rigged against women and families, and it has to stop,” she added.

So this year the Washington Free Beacon had a special Equal Pay Day surprise for Warren in an article documenting that the pay gap in Warren’s Senate office is nearly 10 percent higher than the national average. By their calculation, women working for Warren earned 71 cents for every dollar paid to men during the 2016 fiscal year.
One can't help but smile. Why? Schadenfreude!
Oh ... BTW, the Warren story was never mentioned by the majority of major media outlets. Guess they're immune to schedenfreude when the target is a sanctimonious hypocrite who just happens to be a Democrat.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Dawa—II

A few days ago there was yet another Islamic terror attack in Stockholm, Sweden. An Islamist drove a stolen truck into a department store killing four and injuring dozens. This Islamic terror attack is ironic because Sweden has become a symbol of "tolerance" for those on the Left who have themselves become self-appointed protectors of Muslims. So it's a bit awkward when the very Muslim "immigrants" that progressives celebrate become jihadists that kill their hosts.

Progressives in the United States are the very first to shout down those who are critical of Islam, using their tiresome epithets to stop any meaningful and necessary debate about Islam, about its objectives, and about our response to Muslims who might want to immigrate to our country. After all, any questions that are unpleasant to leftists are by their definition "Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, and misogynist." There's only one problem with their moral preening and their accusations—they evoke a level of ignorance and a lack of critical thinking that is dangerous when it is transformed into public policy.

One of the most eloquent and thoughtful critics of political Islam is Ayaan Hirsi-Ali. Just a few days ago I wrote the following about her:
Progressives have gravitated toward identity politics coupled with multiculturalism and diversity as primary ideological tenets for their worldview. Consider for just a moment an accomplished woman of color, African and Muslim by birth, born poor, an immigrant to the West, an accomplished writer, an elected politician, a fellow at a prestigious think-tank, an icon for many. Gosh, she would be elevated to the heights of the progressive pantheon, except ... she's Ayaan Hirsi-Ali.

Ms. Hirsi-Ali, a person whom I greatly admire, has a fatal flaw that causes her to be damned by progressives—she freely, eloquently, and convincingly condemns "political Islam," suggesting that the only way to defeat Islamist thought and Islamist groups who espouse that thought is for Islam itself to have a full-blown reformation.
Ms. Ali emphasizes the unthinkable (for those on the Left) when she suggests that Islam should be viewed "... “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” In writing about her, Tunku Varadarajan explains her position:
To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.”

Dawa, Ms. Hirsi Ali explains, is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says, and then checks herself: “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”

Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with “terror” in the years since 9/11. “In focusing only on acts of violence,” she says, “we’ve ignored the Islamist ideology underlying those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam—or ‘Islamism’—and against those who spread that ideology in our midst, we’ve committed a blunder.”
We cannot stop a radicalized Muslim from driving a stolen truck into a crowd of shoppers in the West. But we can stop Islamist institutions (CAIR and their allies on the Left come to mind) from using dawa to slowly and effectively undermine Western institutions and freedoms.

Varadarajan continues:
Islam the religion, in Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view, is a Trojan horse that conceals Islamism the political movement. Since dawa is, ostensibly, a religious missionary activity, its proponents “enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.” Ms. Hirsi Ali is not afraid to call these groups out. Her book names five including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asserts—and in turn receives in the mainstream media—the status of a moderate Muslim organization. But groups like CAIR, Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “take advantage of the focus on ‘inclusiveness’ by progressive political bodies in democratic societies, and then force these societies to bow to Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.”

Her strategy to fight dawa evokes several parallels with the Western historical experience of radical Marxism and the Cold War. Islamism has the help of “useful idiots”—Lenin’s phrase—such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has denounced Ms. Hirsi Ali as an “extremist.” She sees that smear as a success for dawa: “They go to people like the SPLC and say, ‘Can we partner with you, because we also want to talk about what you guys talk about, which is civil rights. And Muslims are a minority, just like you.’ So, they play this victim card, and the SPLC swallows it. And it’s not just them, it’s also the ACLU. The Islamists are infiltrating all these institutions that were historic and fought for rights. It’s a liberal blind spot.”

Western liberals, she says, are also complicit in an Islamist cultural segregation. She recalls a multiculturalist catchphrase from her years as a Somali refugee in Amsterdam in the early 1990s: “ ‘Integrate with your own identity,’ they used to tell us—Integratie met eigen identiteit. Of course, that resulted in no integration at all.”
So progressives turn a blind eye to the atrocities visited on gay Muslims, on Muslim women, and on those Muslims who truly do want a moderate future. Progressives see moderation where there is none; they see "victims" -- but victims of what? The answer is unpleasant, so the Left looks the other way. Muslim victims are victims of other Muslims, of a worldwide dawa strategy. They are victims of an aggressive strain of political Islam that wants to eliminate Western freedoms and conquer Western institutions, using the West's embrace of political correctness as a protective sheild.

Modern progressives who rally to protect Islam from scrutiny are like the "useful idiots" who were complicit in the slaughter of millions by Joseph Stalin's brand of communism in Russia or Pol Pot's re-education camps in Cambodia. Their worship at the alter of multiculturalism works perfectly with dawa—encouraging Muslims to avoid assimilation, to demand separation from Western culture, and to promote victimhood when there is none.

Because progressive thought has such sway over the media, the entertainment industry, and academia, we face a very dangerous cross roads. Varadarajan quotes Hirsi Ali:
“We’re dealing here with a lethal ideological movement and all we are using is surveillance and military means? We have to grasp the gravity of dawa. Jihad is an extension of dawa. For some, in fact, it is dawa by other means.”
The Left chooses not to recognize dawa and demonizes anyone who brings up the subject. That means that the public is generally unaware of the threat dawa poses. But the fact that progressives choose not to recognize dawa, doesn't make it go away.

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Message

Syria is a nightmare landscape of uncontrolled violence. Violence has been precipitated by a dictator, Bashar Assad, who has decided to hold onto power at any cost (including gassing his own people), catalyzed by multiple, equally violent Islamist factions, none of which can be trusted and all of which hate the West, stirred by the barbaric group, ISIS, nudged by al Qaeda, and confused by Russian involvement and Iranian support. The end result is a continuing catastrophe—a never-ending flow of refugees to the West, a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, and a conflict that will end only when the principals exhaust themselves with violence.

Six years ago, things were bad, but not nearly as bad as they are now. The previous administration, defined "red lines," but then walked away. It ceded any influence in Syria to Russia and Iran and allowed ISIS and other Islamic groups to spread a reign of terror. Now, this toxic brew has bubbled over. Last week, Bashar Assad used Sarin nerve gas, a WMD, on his people. He again crossed a red line, but this time, the new administration in Washington didn't hesitate to send him a message.

Last night, the U.S military launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles and destroyed the airfield in Syria from which the gas attacks were launched. The message that the attack delivered said this: (1) the use of WMDs will not stand and those who do so will reap a swift and violent reaction; (2) the United States is no longer on the sideline—it will react when egregious actions threaten the stability of a region; (3) the Russians and the Iranians, both bad actors in a region ceded to them by the previous administration, can no longer expect the feckless actions of the previous administration, (4) the North Koreans can expect consequences when they act badly, and finally, (4) our allies can trust that the United States will act rather than talk, will clearly delineate friends from foes, and will lean forward when necessary.

But there should be another message—this one for the Trump Administration.

With the exception of a tiny liberal democracy in its midst, a significant percentage of the Arab Middle East is a cesspool. There are no clean solutions that can fix broken countries, there is no possibility of democratic rule, there is no magic bullet that will rebuild moribund economies or fix broken social structures. Much of this is a result of Islamic fundamentalism that encourages Muslims to perceive themselves as victims and look outward for scapegoats (i.e., Israel and the West), rather than inward for solutions.

Donald Trump was justified in sending a violent military message, but he should otherwise stay out of Syria. After our feckless approach to that broken country over the past eight years, there is nothing that can be done to save it. Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan offer the Trump administration a warning. They should heed it.

Shaun Davis suggests a number of questions that should be answered before making any move into Syria:
1) What national security interest, rather than pure humanitarian interest, is served by the use of American military power to depose Assad’s regime?

2) How will deposing Assad make America safer?

3) What does final political victory in Syria look like (be specific), and how long will it take for that political victory to be achieved? Do you consider victory to be destabilization of Assad, the removal of Assad, the creation of a stable government that can protect itself and its people without additional assistance from the United States, etc.?

4) What military resources (e.g., ground troops), diplomatic resources, and financial resources will be required to achieve this political victory?

5) How long will it take to achieve political victory?

6) What costs, in terms of lives (both military and civilian), dollars, and forgone options elsewhere as a result of resource deployment in Syria, will be required to achieve political victory?

7) What other countries will join the United States in deposing Assad, in terms of military, monetary, or diplomatic resources?

8) Should explicit congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria be required, or should the president take action without congressional approval?

9) What is the risk of wider conflict with Russia, given that nation’s presence and stake in Syria, if the United States chooses to invade and depose Assad, a key Russian ally in the Middle East?

10) If U.S. intervention in Syria does spark a larger war with Russia, what does political victory in that scenario look like, and what costs will it entail?

11) Given that Assad has already demonstrated a willingness to use chemical weapons, how should the United States respond if the Assad regime deploys chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons against the United States?

12) Assuming the Assad regime is successfully removed from power, what type of government structure will be used to replace Assad, who will select that government, and how will that government establish and maintain stability going forward?

13) Given that a change in political power in the United States radically altered the American position in Iraq in 2009, how will you mitigate or address the risk of a similar political dynamic upending your preferred strategy in Syria, either in 2018, 2020, or beyond?

14) What lessons did you learn from America’s failure to achieve and maintain political victory following the removal of governments in Iraq and Libya, and how will you apply those lessons to a potential war in Syria?

Until these questions are answered with specificity, and until the U.S. government is open and honest with the American people about the potential risks and likely costs of a war to remove Assad from power in Syria, it makes little sense to discuss the idea further.
I agree. In fact, the next time anyone suggests that any additional Syrian intervention is the right thing to do, they should be forced to answer each of the 14 questions posed by Davis.

Intervention in Syria after allowing the problem to fester for so many years is no-win. The message within the message should be—Stay out.

UPDATE:
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There is yet another message in all of this, one well worth considering the next time you listen to a trained hamster in the media talk about Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in a disparaging manner. Sohrab Ahmari wrote this before the missile attack:
Benjamin Netanyahu will never be popular in America’s major newsrooms. Or among most of the think-tankers who set the tone and parameters of foreign-policy debate. His name is a curse on college campuses. So it’s worth asking whose vision of the Middle East has held up better under the press of recent events.

His or theirs?

The question comes to mind as Western governments confront this week’s chemical atrocity in Syria, and as footage of children’s bodies convulsing in agony once more unsettles the world’s conscience. Even President Trump, who generally lacks a moral language, was moved, though whether he will act remains to be seen.

His predecessor had a rich moral vocabulary and a coterie of award-winning moralizers like Samantha Power on staff. But President Obama refused to act when Bashar Assad crossed his chemical red line. He wanted to extricate Washington from the region, and he saw a nuclear deal with Mr. Assad’s Iranian patrons as the exit ramp.

Such a deal came within grasp when Hassan Rouhani launched his presidential campaign in Iran four years ago this month. The smiling, self-proclaimed “moderate” was the Iranian interlocutor the Obamaians had been waiting for. Mr. Netanyahu posed the main obstacle.

The Israeli prime minister warned that Mr. Rouhani didn’t have the power to moderate the regime even if he had the will. He reminded the world of Mr. Rouhani’s role in Iran’s repressive apparatus and his history of anti-American rhetoric. He insisted that Iranian regional aggression wouldn’t relent if sanctions were removed. Iran, he predicted, would pocket the financial concessions, then press ahead in Syria and elsewhere.

The Israeli could be opportunistic, given to hyperbole and not a little vulgar in pressing his case. He was also right.
Yeah, Bibi was right, and as usual, his critics on the Left were dead wrong. Wrong about Syria, wrong about the Iran deal, and wrong about coercing Israel into a bad "peace deal." But what else is new?

Come to think about it, in his first months in office, Donald Trump is too often "given to hyperbole and not a little vulgar in pressing his case." But the odd thing is—he too is often right.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Vicious Is

The Democrats have decided that Neil Gorsuch, one of the most qualified nominees for the Supreme Court in recent memory, is unacceptable because—Trump! They have worked hard to demonize the man, have ginned up false charges of plagiarism, misogyny, favoritism, yadda, yadda. They have threatened to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee for the first time in United States history. In response, the GOP has decided to extend the "Reid Rule" (created by Democrat, Harry Reid, and approved by Democrats in the Senate) eliminating the filibuster for Federal judges to the Supreme court to avoid a Dem filibuster. The Dems are crazed over an extension of their own Reid Rule.

The bottom line is this. In trying to nullify the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, the Dems have raised Trump Derangement Syndrome to high art. Their move is politically stupid (for them) and generally reprehensible (for the rest of us). If they persist, the Reid Rule (a.k.a. the "nuclear option") will be instituted.

Looking back at the history of Supreme Court nominees, the Dems have been vicious in their opposition to nominees they didn't like—Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and even Samuel Alito. All were subjected to vilification and innuendo. Politics is not softball, and the Dems have proven that to be true with unparalleled viciousness. Contrast this to vocal but civil opposition to Obama appointees, Elana Kagan (Senate vote: 63-37, no filibuster) or Sonia Sotomayor (Senate vote: 68-31, no filibuster). In both cases, there was opposition, but it remained well within the bounds of Senate debate.

Richard Fernandez assessed this when he writes:
Uncompromising stands are nothing new for the Democratic party. The difference is that this time the Republicans aren't giving way. The strange guy with orange complexion has put the progressives out of reckoning by being just as unreasonable as the conservatives thought the liberals were. The strategy of "by any means necessary", so effective when the Democrats enjoyed a monopoly on its use is now transformed into a pact of mutually assured destruction as the other side adopts similar methods.
As of today, only three Democrats have indicated that they'll vote in favor of Gorsuch, allowing the remaining 44 to enact a filibuster. I'm hopeful more will join in a "yes" vote, but I'm not optimistic. We'll find out later today.

Although I am against the Reid Rule in principle, it's time for the GOP to play hardball. Opposition to Gorsuch is unprincipled and vicious. It is partisan politics at its worst ... and please, spare me the whining about a lack of hearings for Obama appointee, Merrick Garland, who was nominated during Obama's last year in office. Can anyone honestly argue that the Dems would have allowed hearings and a vote if George W. Bush tried to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in his last year in office? Using Garland as a reason to filibuster Grosuch is mindless nonsense, but that didn't stop the New York Times from editorializing: "... Republicans stole the seat after Justice Scalia died by denying Judge Garland a vote for eight months." So ... since the seat has been "stolen," the court will undoubtedly be deemed illegitimate by progressives (see Update that follows).

As the Dems work to destroy collegiality within the senate, the nuclear option looms. More than a few of us who have watched this circus unfold have gotten to a place where "Nuke 'em" is the operative choice. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "Vicious is as vicious does."

UPDATE:
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The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media will be apoplectic if and when the nuclear option is invoked. I suspect they'll tell us that the Supreme Court has been compromised and is no longer an institution to be respected. That's a pathetic and dangerous statement, but it's part and parcel of the sore-loser attitude that has been so prevalent since the Dems lost the election.

Progressives believe that their moral superiority allows them to be vicious in their attacks on a decent man and an exemplary judge, but when viciousness is re-directed at them, they get indignant and unhinged. Nuke 'em and move on.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Egyptian Fake News

The New York Times never ceases to disappoint when it comes to their sanctimonious contention that they are the pinnacle of professional journalism, and never, ever traffic in "fake news." Of course, that's all nonsense, and the NYT proves it almost every day.

Yesterday's NYT headline was: "Trump Shifts Course on Egypt, Praising Its Authoritarian Leader." The implication is painfully obvious: Donald Trump is an authoritarian, so he has affinity to other world leaders who are authoritarian. What the NYT reporters failed to mention is that the previous Egyptian leader, Mohammed Morsi, championed by none other than Barack Obama, was the authoritarian Islamist leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of al Qaeda. The last time I checked, from 2009 to 2016 the NYT never published an article that was headlined, "Obama Shifts Course on Egypt, Praising Its Authoritarian Islamist Leader."

As I've mentioned many times, so-called respected news sites exhibit some of the most egregious examples of the meta characteristics of fake news. One of the many meta-characteristics that I noted occurs when a news organization is guilty of:
Omitting important facts when they conflict with a progressive narrative.
The reporters for the NYT conveniently failed to report Obama's affinity to authoritarian Islamist Morsi. That context might shade a reader's view of Trump's outreach to one of the few possible allies in the Middle East. They conveniently forgot to mention that Obama had a hissy fit when Morsi was overthrown and refused to meet with Abdel Fattah al Sisi, the new Egyptian president who just happens to be a foe of the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, that level of context just might be useful to the reader and just might have them asking questions, not about Trump, but about Barack Obama. Fake news on page 1 of the NYT.

But omission of important parts of a story pales in comparison to omission of the entire story when it threatened the progressive narrative. The rapidly growing spying and unmasking scandal involving Susan Rice and the Obama administration seems to fit. The Hill cites both the NYT and WaPo when they write:
The New York Times, for example, didn't feature the Rice story at all on Monday. And in the piece it did publish buried on page A16 that was hilariously titled, "Trump Tries to Deflect Russia Scrutiny, Citing ‘Crooked Scheme’ by Obama," the paper of record shrugged off the controversy because the story came from “conservative news media outlets."

You know, "conservative" like the impossibly down-the-middle Eli Lake of Bloomberg View or via an objective reporter like Fox's Adam Housley.

The Washington Post also failed to feature the story in any capacity either, instead relegating it to a blog post that referred to the Rice story as a "fake scandal." Democracy dies in darkness, as they say.

These are examples of the fake news meta-characteristic of "omission" along with the following meta-characteristic:
Conducting "in-depth investigations" only when they are likely to reflect poorly on the GOP, but showing a surprising lack of curiosity when possible wrong doing is associated with Democrats.
Fake News thrives, and much of it comes from the Democrats' trained hamsters in media.

Drip, Drip ... Drip

Every day, more and more unpleasant revelations are uncovered about what some are calling Obamagate. There is clear and irrefutable evidence that the Obama administration and one of it's most senior officials, Susan Rice, countenenced the unmasking and broad distribution of incidental intelligence gathered on Donald Trump and his people.

The Democrats' trained hamsters in the media are working overtime to: (1) ignore the story; (2) change the subject;* (3) downplay the significance of a Watergate-level scandal, and (4) demonize those who want to bring the truth to light. That's the media's SOP over the past eight years, the only difference is there's a new proverbial sheriff in town and his justice department couldn't possibly be as corrupt as the Obama DoJ. So,

Drip, drip ... drip.

George Neumayr comments:
In other words, no one is supposed to notice that one government did interfere in the U.S. election — ours. For months and months, the Obama administration was spying on Trump and leaking hints of its investigation to the press in the hopes of helping Hillary, who, by the way, colluded in the effort. Yet even the ruthless partisan Adam Schiff can’t “definitively” cite a single proof of collusion on Trump’s part, as he reluctantly acknowledged on Sunday. Given all the spying and leaking on Trump, wouldn’t we know by now if they had any evidence of collusion?

To say that Trump in this matter is more sinned against than sinning is an understatement. He was the blatant victim of political espionage and criminal leaking by the Obama administration, then when he complained about it, he was smeared anew. Two questions have swirled around this story: Did the Obama administration spy on Trump? Did Trump collude with the Russians? The answers are yes and no. The media wanted the answers to be no and yes. So now their game is to pretend like they didn’t ask the questions or that the “real story” is Trump’s imprecise tweeting. Notice that almost every story on the Rice revelation begins with throat-clearing about how it doesn’t “vindicate Trump’s tweet,” as if grading him on a tweet, in which he was clearly using wire-tapping as a synonym for spying and investigating, is the most pressing concern here.

Notice also that liberal reporters, who used to quote Michael Kinsley’s dictum that the scandal is “what’s legal” in Washington, rush to defend the legality of Rice’s unmasking, as if that should end all discussion.

At the Atlantic, David Graham asks, “Did Susan Rice Do Anything Wrong By Asking to ‘Unmask’ Trump Officials?” Graham informs us that “many experts” say that Rice’s behavior “does not imply anything improper or unusual.” Right. What could possibly be unusual or improper about spying on a political opponent? To paraphrase Richard Nixon, if a liberal president conducts espionage, it can’t be wrong.

In Washington, there's an old axiom, It's not the scandal that will sink you, it's the cover-up.

In this case, it could be both.

UPDATE:
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The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are scrambling in their attempt to try to bury/minimize/confuse the implications of an Obama White House spying on an incoming President elect, not to mention the fact that Trump's "dishonest, ridiculous, insane" wiretapping tweet has now been proven to have merit. There is something big going on because the Democrat protective meme seems to be changing on a daily basis.

This, from Ann Althouse:
"I hope Susan Rice was keeping tabs on Trump’s Russia ties."
by Michelle Goldberg at Slate.

I love the way the messaging turns on a dime.

One minute it's ridiculous to think that the Obama administration was doing surveillance on the Trump campaign. The next minute the Obama administration was doing the right thing if it did surveillance on the Trump campaign.
It's obvious, but just imagine for a moment if a high ranking official in the Bush administration had spied on president-elect Barack Obama and was found out. The media would truly go nuclear, the high ranking official would be pilloried, and almost certainly would be indicted. Let's see whether the DoJ under Jeff Sessions moves on Rice. I hope so, but I doubt they will.

FOOTNOTE:
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* This morning, a chemical attack in Syria and the launch of a NoKo missile lead the news on most media sources. Undoubtedly, these are important stories and should be covered prominently, but it is odd that that stories about Syria and NoKo disappeared when Trump was accused of lying after the "wire-tapping" tweet. At that time, the media seemed to focus on the tweet 24-7 (calling Trump deranged, a liar and worse) to the exclusion of most international news. Now, when the Rice story emerges, the trained hamsters pivot away from it . Heh.  BTW, there's no mention of Obama administration decisions that have led to both Syria and Noko prominence in the news.