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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poisonous Tree

It's an interesting coincidence that on the day I posted the last of my three-part discussion of the Islamist threat, entitled A Time for Clarity, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, presented a landmark speech at the UN that is one of the few honest discussions of the threat of Islamic militancy. Here's a small snippet:
It's not militants. It's not Islam. It's militant Islam. Typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one. Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds – no creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it's rapidly spreading in every part of the world. You know the famous American saying: "All politics is local"? For the militant Islamists, "All politics is global." Because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world.

Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some, since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it's too late. Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.

Listen to ISIS’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master… The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism… and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West… By Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.

As Hamas's charter makes clear, Hamas’s immediate goal is to destroy Israel. But Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists. That’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11. And that's why its leaders condemned the United States for killing Osama Bin Laden, whom they praised as a holy warrior.

So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.
The phrase "poisonous tree" is a perfect description of the challenges that Islam (and the West) faces. The roots of the tree are spreading, infecting the earth in wider and wider geographical areas. The branches are growing, casting a dark shadow that will suffocate freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and freedom of choice. If the tree isn't pruned, or better, destroyed, the roots and branches will become so toxic that they could plunge the world into another dark age.

And yet, the false narrative about Islam's role in all of this continues. That's still another branch of the "poisonous tree" and if it isn't cut off, its toxic effects will sicken us all.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Time for Clarity, Part 3

In Part 1 of A Time for Clarity, I discussed the scope of Islamic terror, the groups that it has spawned, and some of the questions that might be reasonably posed by those of us who are concerned about it. In Part 2, I presented our nation's response over the past 3 decades, and our seeming inability to stem the tide of Islamic terror. At the end of Part 2, I suggested that our current strategy has not worked, and posed the following question: "What do we change, and how do we change it?"

To be honest, I don't feel we're ready to change anything at the moment. A combination of an entrenched false narrative about the origins of Islamic terror, the people who perpetrate it, and the scope of the threat suggest that we'll continue with the bucket and the pool metaphor I mentioned in Part 2. The strength of the false narrative is augmented by a pervading sense of political correctness—a fear of being labeled "Islamophobic," and our propensity to regard religious freedom as sacrosanct. In addition, our general acceptance of diversity and our tolerance for those who are different than us will all mitigate to encourage the status quo.

But the clock is ticking and things will change. Possibly current narrative will disintegrate when a courageous leader in the West decides that it's time to address the real problem, not a politically correct abstraction that leads us further from anything that might mitigate the problem. Tragically, it might occur after a major mass casualty attack where tens or hundreds of thousands of citizens are killed, and the West is traumatized and angry. Or maybe it will never happen and we'll spend the next century continuing in a futile effort to empty a pool with a small bucket as rain pours in.

So ... when the change happens what will it look like?

To be blunt, the prevailing narrative will fall and our leaders will opt for honesty.

There is a recent precedent for the honest appraisal of a mainstream religion's failings. It has occurred over the last few decades and has been adopted by political leaders, enthusiastically embraced by the mainstream media, and generally accepted as appropriate by the public at large. When evidence of sexual abuse and pedophilia within the Catholic church became irrefutable, the church was roundly and widely criticized. More important, politicians, the media, and the general public demanded that the church fix the problem, show evidence that the fix was working, and make restitution to those harmed. No one suggested that "catholiphobia" was behind these demands. When the Catholic Church moved too slowly or tried to stonewall, it was severely criticized. When some suggested that the church was being victimized by the criticism, there was little sympathy.

So it appears that honest confrontation with a mainstream religion and resultant correction of unacceptable practices by a small minority of adherents is possible and is certainly culturally acceptable in the West.

But what about Islam? It is hard to argue that the atrocities perpetrated by adherents to Islam are any less serious than those perpetrated by Catholic church leaders. It's even harder to argue that an honest confrontation about those atrocities is unwarranted. And yet, we have danced around the problem for more than three decades.

To begin, we have to stop lying about the role of mainstream Islam in he viral growth of Islamic terror. We have to tell Muslims the unvarnished truth about their religion as we see it and about the way in which some of their co-religionists interpret their holy book. We have to do this without rancor but also without apology.

First, we tell Muslims directly what we have seen, what the events of the past three decades and the irrefutable facts on the ground indicate—that they and their co-religionists are complicit in the terror that is committed in the name of Islam. In some cases the complicity is overt; sympathizers around the world travel for thousands of miles to join Jihadists and terrorize the 'infidel.' In other cases the complicity is covert; Muslim sympathizers fund Islamist mosques, Islamist education and the Islamic terror groups themselves. But in the main, the complicity is inadvertent; mainstream Muslims who do not agree with Islamist ideology do little or nothing to rid their religion of the cancer that threatens it.

Second, we tell Muslims directly that our attempts to eliminate Islamists have failed because we have tried too hard not to confront the whole of Islam with the truth. We made the Islamists our problem, when in fact, they are Islam's problem. We tell them that the fight is no longer ours alone—it is theirs as well. And if they refuse to join the fight vigorously and without reservation or equivocation, we will view that as an admission that we are their enemy ... and we will then act accordingly.

Third, we tell Muslims that until they have joined the fight against radical Islam, we must view them not with fear, but with a modicum of suspicion. That means that mosques and Islamic schools in the West that encourage Islamist thought and/or act as funding/recruiting arms for terrorist groups will be investigated without apology, prosecuted without reservation, and summarily closed down. Religious freedom does not support efforts to destroy our culture, our freedoms, and our open society.

Fourth, we tell them that we will no longer be cowed by accusations of "Islamophobia" or cries of "victimization" on their part. In Western countries Muslims have been treated with remarkable respect and restraint even as their co-religionists murder Westerners. We will tell them that respect and restraint are not without limit and will be strained if the whole of Islam does not join the fight.

Fifth, we will give Islam time to rid itself of this cancer, but time is not unlimited. We will watch closely the actions of Islamic countries, Islamic leaders, Islamic media, and main stream Islam to determine whether the fight for their religion has been joined. If no progress is made, we will slowly put into motion a series of actions that will separate the West from Islam.

Despite what some Muslims believe, Islam needs the West much more than the West needs Islam. If we in the West are forced to separate ourselves from Islam, it will be Islam that loses—and it will lose big. Islam will lose access to technology, it will lose medical advances, education, innovation and a road map for a better life.

And if over time Islam fails to curb the violence directed at the West, the benign actions of separation will morph into more active modes. We will invest trillions in energy independence for the West with the explicit intent of crippling the major financial source that funds terrorists. In the process we will cripple the economies of many Islamic countries. We will refuse or severely limit Western visas offered to those from Islamic countries. We will terminate all aid to those countries, all exchange programs, all military assistance, and all governmental interaction.

Everyone speaks of the "long war." Each of the actions noted above will phase in only if Muslims demonstrate that they cannot or will not control their co-religionists who practice terror. There are approimately 1.6 billion Muslims. Surely there are enough moderates in that group to permanently defeat those who have hijacked the religion of peace.

And if there aren't? If violence and brutality, aggression and terror continue to accelerate, there will come a time when an attack by Islamic terror does massive damage. When that happens, Islam will reap a whirlwind in which violence and brutality, aggression and terror are reflected back in its direction. We in the West don't want that, but we cannot and will not be defeated by dark forces that would return the world to another dark age.

Let's hope that the truth jolts Islam out of it stupor, and that Muslims act now to excise the cancer in their religion.

One thing is absolutely certain—the false narrative and lack of candor haven't done a thing to resolve the problem. Let's give truth a chance.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Time for Clarity, Part 2

In the first of a 3-part post entitled A Time for Clarity, I discussed the scope of Islamic terror, the groups that it has spawned, and some of the questions that might be reasonably posed by those of us who are concerned about it.

Now it's time to consider our response to date.

Five administrations have had to deal directly with Islamic terror. In 1983, Ronald Reagan suffered a terrorist bombing that killed over 200 US military personnel in Lebanon. He retreated from the region and did little to strike back. In 1990, George H.W. Bush was very assertive in expelling Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War. In fact he was the only US president who responded with overwhelming and brutal force, but his fight was with Saddam Hussein, not Islamic terror. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton tried to avoid the issue, even after the first world trade center attack in the early 1993. He struck at the newly formed al Qaeda in a half-hearted manner and did nothing after the atrocities in Somalia (exemplified by "Black Hawk Down" in 1993). In 2001, George W. Bush responded forcefully (but not forcefully enough) after the 9-11 attacks in which over 3,000 American civilians died, but at the same time, he worked hard to support the narrative that the attacks had little to do with Islam and that the religion/ideology was one of "peace." In 2012, Barack Obama told us that al Qaeda has been decimated (a lie), banned the phrase "war on terror" from the White House lexicon (mendaciously suggesting that our fight against Islamic terror was over). He pulled all combat troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan against the advice of the military, opening the door for a Islamic terror takeover of both countries. Today, he reluctantly reenters the fray with an unnamed action against ISIS (the Islamic State), telling us that this fight will be long, but will not involve our "boots on the ground."  Within the past few weeks, the Obama administration has created the euphemism for al Qaeda, Khorasan, as the reality of al Qaeda's growing resurgence and virulence makes a mockery of Barack Obama's implied claim that he had defeated them.

For five presidential administrations, spanning almost 35 years, we have fought a "war" against an abstraction—terror. Each administration has chosen a single entity, for example, al Qaeda or more recently ISIS and implied that by defeating it, the "war" will be won.

That's a bit like trying to empty an Olympic-size swimming pool using a child's small plastic bucket while it's raining hard . With every bucket-full we take out of the pool, rainwater floods in. The net result is—no progress, or worse, rising water levels.

Barack Obama's "strategy" against ISIS is rife with problems, but even if it were to succeed, history and reality indicate that another more barbaric Islamic terror group would form to take the place of ISIS. We bail water out of the pool, but accomplish little or nothing—except the expenditure of blood and money.

In tennis, there's an old aphorism—"change a losing game." When what you're doing against an opponent isn't working, it's time to change your strategy, if you have any chance at winning at all. I think the same advice applies to our current "war on terror."

But what do we change, and how do we change it?

We'll examine that in Part 3.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Time for Clarity, Part 1

This is the first of a 3-part series of posts.

First, it was the Wahabbi sect of Islam, originating in what is now Saudi Arabia in the 18th century, and today, providing money, education, and influence to grow Islamist doctrine worldwide. From Wikipedia:
Wahhabism (Arabic: وهابية‎, Wahhābiyyah) or Wahhabi mission[1] (Arabic: ألدعوة ألوهابية‎, al-Da'wa al-Wahhābiyyah ) is a religious movement or sect or form[2] of Sunni Islam[3][4][5] variously described as "orthodox", "ultraconservative",[6] "austere",[2] "fundamentalist",[7] "puritanical"[8] (or "puritan"),[9] an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship",[10] or an "extremist pseudo-Sunni movement".[11] Adherents often object to the term Wahhabi or Wahhabism as derogatory, and prefer to be called Salafi or muwahhid.[12][13][14]

... The movement is centered on the principle of Tawhid,[19] or the "uniqueness" and "unity" of God.[17] The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud's successors (the House of Saud) created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—where Mohammed bin Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are state-sponsored and the dominant form of Islam[2][20]—and continues to this day.

The majority of the Gulf Cooperation Council's Wahhabis are from Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.[21] 46.87% of Qataris[21] and 44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis.[21] 5.7% of Bahrainis are Wahhabis and 2.17% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis.[21] Wahhabis are the "dominant minority" in Saudi Arabia.[22] There are 4 million Saudi Wahhabis since 22.9% of Saudis are Wahhabis (concentrated in Najd).[21]
Western intelligence and media sources repeatedly report that Wahhabi petrodollars are used to fund terror groups, including al Qaeda. Note that Barack Obama (and his predecessors) name Qatar and Saudi Arabia as "allies" and "friends." Today, our leadership claims that countries with the significant Wahabbi populations will help in the fight against ISIS (The Islamic State).

But the Wahabbis are not alone. During the past century, it was the Muslim Brotherhood who spread Islamist doctrine. Again from Wikipedia:
The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Arabic: جماعة الإخوان المسلمين‎), shortened to the Muslim Brotherhood (الإخوان المسلمون al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn), is a transnational Islamist organization which was founded in Egypt in 1928 by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna.[1][2][3][4] The motto of the Brotherhood was traditionally, "Believers are but Brothers". That was expanded into a five-part slogan: "Allah is our objective; the Qur'an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish." [5] It began as a Pan-Islamic, religious, and social movement. The Muslim Brotherhood had an estimated two million members by the end of World War II.[6][7] Evidence of its vast influence was clear, with more than 2,000 branches all over the country and 2,000 societies for charity and social services. It ran health clinics, sports clubs, schools and other educational institutes, mosques and Islamic centres, and had a presence of 10,000 army volunteers in Palestine.[8] Its ideas had gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups with its "model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work".[9] In 2012, it became the first democratically elected political party in Egypt, but it is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain,[10][11] Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.[12][13][14][15] However, the Brotherhood insists it is a peaceful organisation, pointing to its democratic elections, and has consistently renounced violence.[16][17] Its top leader is on record as saying that the group "condemns violence and violent acts".[18]
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) may insist whatever it likes, but Takkiya (dishonesty toward infidels to further a Muslim's goals) is a tenet of Islam, and the claim of non-violence is belied by the many radical groups the MB has spawned. Of course, many on the Left (including Barack Obama), grasping for any reason not to see reality, argue that the MB is a force for "moderation" in the Muslim World. This is wishful thinking at best, and might more appropriately be labeled delusional thinking when one considers the trajectory of the MB and its spawn.

Out of the Muslim Brotherhood grew three Islamic terror organizations—Hamas, Hezballah and, of course, their cousin, al Qaeda, all virulently anti-Western, all thoroughly Islamist, and all bent on violence, terrorism, and conquest of the "infidel."

But that's just the beginning. In Afghanistan, we've seen the rise and fall and rise yet again of the Taliban, an Islamist army that uses 7th century Quranic rules (Sharia Law) to terrorize the populace in general and woman and Christians in particular—anyone who won't bow to their will. As Barack Obama exited Afghanistan, the Taliban returned, and so did its terror methods.

But wait. As Obama left Iraq with no status of forces agreement, another Islamist army, ISIS, began its reign of terror. Christians were targets for extinction, woman were brutally subjugated, beheading became commonplace. The "Islamic State" was born.

As a toxic side show, we also see the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram, in northeast Nigeria, Darul Islam and Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, al-Shabaab in North Africa, the Uyghur ethnic group in China, and literally dozens of other Islamist clone groups worldwide. And now we learn about the Shadow Group, Khorasan, that targets the west specifically (as if that's something new).

Robert Spencer, one of the Western World's leading authorities on Jihadi groups and doctrine, reports that there have been well over 23,000 Islamist terror attacks worldwide since 9/11/2001. With each passing decade, Islamist groups have grown in size and reach within the broader population of Islamic countries.

Our bumbling Secretary of State, John Kerry, pushes the prevailing narrative that “Muslim scholars are outraged about the Islamic State’s brutality and perversion of Islam.” Okay then, scholars are "outraged." Islam is perverted by a literal reading of the Quran. Sharia Law is, what? Anti-Islamic?

But back to the scholars. I haven't seen many "scholars" speaking out in the main stream media, very few op-eds, almost no meaningful interviews, even fewer opinion pieces or speeches that express "outrage," but I'll take Kerry at his word. Problem is, there are an awful lot of Muslims (1.6 billion according to Pew Research) who aren't "scholars." Exactly what are they doing to combat Islamist thought and actions? In fact, would a non-trivial percentage of the 1.6 billion prefer not to combat Islamist thought and actions? What are Muslim leaders doing to show that they disapprove of Islamist terrorism, what are Islamic armies doing to combat it? What are Imam's doing to condemn Islamist thought in their Mosques. What information are Islamic intelligence agencies sharing with the West? What are everyday Muslims doing to excise this "cancer" (Barack Obama's phrase) from their community?

If we are to believe that Islam is benign—the religion of peace—the West can reasonably expect detailed answers to these questions.

Part 2 can be found here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


As Barack Obama's "coalition" begins its bombing runs in Syria, its worth lightening things up with a retrospective. James Taranto writes:
Sometimes history seems to have a sense of humor. In September 2013 BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski unearthed an old video and reported: "During the presidential election last year Vice President Joe Biden attacked Mitt Romney for being 'ready to go to war' in Syria." Specifically:

"[Romney] said it was a mistake to set an end date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home. He implies by the speech that he's ready to go to war in Syria and Iran," Biden said Sept. 2, 2012 speaking in York, Pennsylvania.

"He wants to move from cooperation to confrontation with Putin's Russia. And these guys say the president's out of touch? Out of touch? Swiss bank account, untold millions in the Cayman Islands. Who's out of touch, man?"

Romney, you may recall, was not elected.
Looks like Mitt Romney was about as "out of touch" Obama, who has proven repeatedly that Romney's read of the geopolitical landscape in 2012 was significantly more accurate than Barack Obama's. One can only wonder whether the foreign policy disasters of the past two years would have occurred had Romney been elected president. We'll never know.

Bret Stevens looks at all of this and writes:
Serious people feel an obligation to listen whenever Barack Obama speaks. They furrow their brow and hold their chin and parse every word. They assume that most everything a president says is significant, which is true. They assume that what's significant must also be well-informed. Not necessarily.

I've been thinking about this as it becomes clear that, even at an elementary level, Mr. Obama often doesn't know what he's talking about. It isn't so much his analysis of global events that's wrong, though it is. The deeper problem is the foundation of knowledge on which that analysis is built.

Here, for instance, is Mr. Obama answering a question posed in August by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who wanted the president's thoughts on the new global disorder.

"You can't generalize across the globe," the president replied. "Because there are a bunch of places where good news keeps on coming. Asia continues to grow . . . and not only is it growing but you're starting to see democracies in places like Indonesia solidifying."

"The trend lines in Latin America are good," he added. "Overall, there's still cause for optimism."

Here, now, is reality: In Japan, the economy is contracting. China's real-estate market is a bubble waiting to burst. Indonesia's democracy may be solidifying, but so is Islamism and the persecution of religious minorities. Democracy has been overthrown in Thailand. The march toward freedom in Burma—supposedly one of Mr. Obama's (and Hillary Clinton's ) signature diplomatic victories—has stalled. India may do better than before under its new prime minister, Narendra Modi, but gone are the days when serious people think of India as a future superpower. The government of Pakistan is, as ever, on the verge of collapse.

As for Latin America, Argentina just defaulted for the second time in 13 years. Brazil is in recession. Venezuela is a brutal dictatorship. Ecuador is well on its way to becoming one.
It's true that the President of the United States can't be expected to be an expert on every geopolitical area. He can't be expected to have a firm grasp on detailed intelligence matters across the broad spectrum of threats that face us. But he can be expected to hire outstanding people who do have this knowledge, people who brief him daily or weekly or monthly on the things that matter. He can also be expected to have the humility to understand that he he isn't an expert, that he has to adapt his position based on consensus input from his own experts. He has to listen, then decide, and then act ... and not take weeks or months to do so when days matter.

Stevens is brutal in his assessment of this president. The bottom line, he writes, is this: "Every president gets things wrong. What sets Obama apart is his ideological rigidity and fathomless ignorance."


Monday, September 22, 2014

Climate Justice

Those in favor of "climate justice" marched in New York City this past weekend. It was an almost comical attempt at battle space prep in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Summit that begins on Tuesday. That would be the same summit that is being boycotted by China, Russia, and India, all significant emitters of CO2. The marchers were joined by Al Gore, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Leonardo DeCaprio and other glitterati who worked hard to keep the hysterical narrative of global destruction due to climate change alive.

John Fund explains why the marchers tried hard to ramp up the the rhetoric:
One reason the rhetoric has become so overheated is that the climate-change activists increasingly lack a scientific basis for their most exaggerated claims. As physicist Gordon Fulks of the Cascade Policy Institute puts it: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea-ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.” [emphasis mine] He points out that there has been no net new global-warming increase since 1997 even though the human contribution to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 25 percent since then. This throws into doubt all the climate models that have been predicting massive climate dislocation.

Other scientists caution that climate models must be regarded with great care and skepticism. Steven Koonin, the undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Obama’s first term, wrote a pathbreaking piece in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal in which he concluded:
We often hear that there is a “scientific consensus” about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influence. . . . The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high. . . . Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties, but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.
Even scientists who accept the conventional scientific treatment of the subject by the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change increasingly question just how much it would help to curb emissions or to radically redistribute wealth, as activists like Klein urge us to do. Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, told me that all of the carbon-reduction targets advocated by the U.N. or the European Union would result in imperceptible differences in temperature, at enormous cost. “We would be far better off and richer if we did simple things like painting roofs in hot climates white and investing in new technologies that could help us adapt to any change that is coming,” he says. Even the U.N.’s own climate panel admits that so far, climate change hasn’t included any increase in the frequency or intensity of so-called extreme weather.
Hmmm. But no matter. When you're caught in in a religious experience (and make no mistake—for the Left, climate change hysteria is a religious experience), inconvenient facts, weak models, and skepticism by serious climatologists aren't worthy of consideration. After all, the Left and only the Left care about the planet.

When Al Gore or Leonardo DeCaprio jet into NYC on a personal aircraft, tell us all that we have to make sacrifices, and then jet back to a 20,000 square foot mansion, we have to listen. Don't we?


In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, its editors note:
... China at 358 million metric tons [of CO2] jumped by more than the rest of the world combined and is responsible for 24.8% of emissions over the last five years. Over the same period, developing nations accounted for 57.5%.

What this means is that regardless of what the West does, poorer countries that are reluctant to sign agreements that impede economic progress hold the dominant carbon hand. No matter U.S. exertions to save the planet from atmospheric carbon that may or may not have consequences that may or may not be costly in a century or more, the international result will be more or less the same, though U.S. economic growth will be slower.

Mr. Modi is unlikely to indulge the rich world's anticarbon politics when a quarter of the Indian population still lacks electricity. Mr. Obama might also pause to reflect that 30.6% of the 114.8 million American households qualify for low-income energy subsidies. Thus by the Administration's own reckoning they can't afford current energy costs, much less the higher costs of a zero-carbon future.

In his first speech as White House budget director, Shaun Donovan nonetheless told the Center for American Progress on Friday that "the scale of our ambition at home is going to be the single most important driver" for climate action by China and other nations. In fact, the costly anticarbon regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency is developing will by the EPA's estimate address a mere 0.18% of world-wide carbon emissions. Some effort in persuasion.
But no persuasion is necessary for true believers. The rest of us heretics just have to follow the party line—no justice, no peace ... or something like that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

500 Days

It has been 500 days since the IRS scandal broke. During that time, Barack Obama, his administration, the IRS itself, and the Democratic Party have done everything possible to: (1) stonewall every attempt by congressional investigators to learn who was behind the IRS attacks on groups of American citizens, (2) vilify those who are looking for the truth, (3) destroy evidence that is crucial to finding the perpetrators, (4) lie about those responsible (remember Cincinnati), and (5) mislead the American public about the danger associated with their effort to weaponize a government agency against their political opponents.

A corrupt and highly politicized Justice Department and its Attorney General have refused to do their job, half-heartedly investigating this major scandal. The IRS has the chutza to claim that serial disk crashes have destroyed email evidence—evidence that undoubtedly would have lead to the perpetrators in the Obama administration who coordinated the IRS's scandalous and illegal behavior. Obama's trained hamsters in the media have embarrassed themselves and their supposed profession by ignoring the story, not to mention conducted virtually no investigations of their own.

In a recent editorial, the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch sums up nicely:
The IRS, which can seem to keep track of mortgage interest payments, mileage reimbursement allowances and tractor depreciation schedules for millions of American families and businesses, can’t seem to find its own archives with a flashlight.

First the agency lost whole troves of emails from disgraced former apparatchik Lois Lerner — emails that would have shed light on her role in the ongoing scandal over the targeting of conservative groups by the agency. Then, on a recent Friday afternoon (of course), the agency admitted it also could not find emails from several others connected to the scandal.

The disappearances are extremely convenient — especially because the IRS is being treated under a different standard than the one it uses to treats taxpayers. Lerner and others will face no serious legal consequences without hard evidence of guilt — evidence that has now vanished into the ether. But taxpayers who find themselves in a dispute with the IRS are presumed to be in the wrong until they can produce hard evidence to prove otherwise.

The IRS saga fits a disturbing pattern in which Democratic- and liberal-leaning authorities have abused ostensibly neutral laws and procedures to harass, intimidate and silence conservatives and Republicans. Other recent examples include the trumped-up charges against Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the gross misuse of campaign-finance laws to keep an independent conservative group in Wisconsin from exercising its First Amendment right to speak about politics.

It’s not unusual to see Third World autocrats perverting the machinery of the administrative state to criminalize differences of political viewpoint, then trying lamely to cover their tracks. Over the past six or so years the American public has seen a lot of that nefarious behavior as well. It’s a dismaying trend — and one that has to stop.
This "dismaying trend" would never stand if conservatives had targeted progressives in the same manner. The media would have provided 24-7 outrage, conducted in-depth investigations, and would have hounded the administration mercilessly. Hollywood would have 3 - 5 movies in the works; major publishers would be printing books on the scandal at a prodigious rate. Talk shows would be interviewing the aggrieved on a daily basis.

But none of that has happened.

Our government under Barack Obama continually acts like "Third World autocrats [who] pervert the machinery of the administrative state to criminalize differences of political viewpoint." In fact under the Obama administration, every decision, every action, every position is hyper-partisan and unremittingly political. The tragedy is that few have called his government on it.

500 days. And counting.

Called me naive, but I'm still hopeful that the truth will come out, and those responsible will pay a very heavy price.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Nickel

General Martin Dempsey testified before Congress and suggested that there may be situations in which U.S. ground troops will be required to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS). The Obama administration immediately leaped into the fray, helping ISIS understand the limits of their half-baked strategy—"no boots on the ground."

Richard Fernandez describes the situation perfectly:
What is paralyzing the president's domestic political coalition is they want the results of a mission without undertaking the mission. They want to be safe from ISIS without really destroying it. They wish to achieve what only a balanced, overwhelming application of force can accomplish with only the minimum of means.

In short they want the item in the window without paying for it. So they're sending in Dempsey with nickel to buy a diamond ring. Dempsey will be able to do one of two things. Come out with the something chipped from the bottom of a glass or forced to stick the store up.

Obama can't be persuaded to run to a dime. A nickel is all he will spring for. So what Dempsey can do is run out the clock and dicker with the jeweler. Not that he'll get anywhere but it will seem like he's doing something.

It will work for a while until it becomes clear it's not working. Then Obama will give a bigger speech and the whole charade will start over again. But the obstacle will be the same. The Obama coalition expects something for nothing.

Alas, it will get nothing.
By spending only a "nickel," and only after anguishing for months over the best way to put it on the counter, Obama will get nothing of value, except confusing and discouraging our allies while bolstering the confidence of the Islamist army.

In thinking about this for a moment, it's probably best that with the leadership of this feckless president, it would be best to keep U.S troops out of this. Should they be allowed into the fray, they would be constrained in so many ways that their mission would be futile. Better to well-fund and supply the Kurds with the heavy weapons they need right now to fight ISIS and do what this president has done best in recent years—lead from behind.

UPDATE (9/19/14):
Glen Reynolds of Instapundit comments about the stability that had been established in Iraq at the end of George W. Bush's term as president:  "Yeah, well Obama pretty much threw all that away. Now he’s bringing us Iraq War II — halfhearted, on the cheap, and run by committee. And we’ll be very lucky indeed if, at the end of Obama’s presidency, things are as good in the Middle East as they were at the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Basement Operation

In the aftermath of Watergate, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were lionized for their dogged investigative reporting that ultimately lead to the truth about the Watergate coverup and the resignation of a sitting presdident. These two Washington Post reporters undoubtedly were the inspiration for many media people who are now in positions of responsibility (e.g., executive editors) in MSM news organization. Unfortunately, with very few exceptions the current crop of news media "journalists" have learned nothing from Woodward and Bernstein. They have become trained hamsters for this administration, burying important stories, downplaying significant facts, and looking the other way whenever they can, if the news is bad for this president. It is, to be frank, amazing that the media spent hours of coverage of the NFL scandals and not one second covering the breaking news about Barack Obama's many Watergate-level scandals.

One of the reporters who is doing a fine job is Sharyl Attkisson. She refuses to let go of either the Benghazi or IRS scandals and her reporting continues to uncover important facts. This week she reports:
As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.
Maxwell is a 20-year state department veteran who was scapegoated for the Benghazi event.

Atkisson continues:
When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.

“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”

Did Hillary Clinton aides withhold damaging Benghazi documents?

A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.

In an interview Monday morning on Fox News, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, named the two Hillary Clinton confidants who allegedly were present: One was Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff and a former White House counsel who defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. The other, Chaffetz said, was Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, who previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s and then Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Destruction of critical evidence necessary for a thorough investigation by an independent commission? Active participation by top aids of the Secretary of State? Political motives? Suppression of the truth? Criminal activity?

But if you ask Democratic supporters of Barack Obama they'd tell you that Benghazi is but one of many "phony scandals." and besides, "what different does it make?"


And let's not forget about a scandal that is even bigger than Benghazi. Jay Stultz comments:
I have to wonder why there are so many investigations being done by the news media, TV reporters, women’s rights groups, the FBI, politicians, talk show hosts, independent investigators and other groups into the timeline of when the Baltimore Ravens organization, the NFL and Commission Roger Goodell and other parties had seen the newly released tapes of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

It’s being covered around-the-clock by the media.

Meanwhile, a serious matter within the U.S. government concerning the IRS and Lois Lerner has been practically ignored.

Rice is out of football.

Lerner chose to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights and declined to answer questions at a congressional hearing regarding the manner in which she treated perceived members of the tea party and other patriotic groups. Following the hearing, she took a vacation to Canada.
Violence against women is a serious matter. The weaponization of US governmental agencies against the nation's citizens is at least as serious. Interesting that Obama's trained hamsters have chosen to obsess the former and totally ignore that latter. Interesting, indeed.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cracks in the Dam

Cracks have begun to appear in the dam—water has begun to seep through, only a trickle, but there are cracks. As we observe the barberous actions of like ISIS we wonder how it is that Western young men and woman can be drawn to this fanatic ideology.

Many just shake their heads as it is often reported that the kid who became a jihadi was "normal" and "moderate" and "peaceful." But a growing number of thinkers have begun to look deeper—at the underlying cause.

The prevailing narrative, spawned by political correctness, that Islam is "the religion of peace" forms a dam against a river of countervailing evidence.  

Daniel Greenfield writes:
Every week another lad or lass from St. Louis, Toronto or Sydney makes the trip through Turkey to the Islamic State. A reporter dispatched by a local paper to talk to the neighbors scribbles down the same recollections about how nice and normal Jihad Joe or Jihad Jane was.

Classmates remember a loud partier or a shy student. Neighbors mention that everything seemed normal until those last few years when he began wearing a robe and she began wearing a burka.
He goes on to note that nothing in their Western lives provides a hint to their actions and the underlying cause is something that media and politicians studiously avoid. Again, from Greenfield:
The answer lay in the topic that the media carefully avoided. As with the other Muslim terrorists, the meaning of their motives was in the little black book of their religion which commanded them to kill.

The Jihadist isn’t a serial killer. While there are some converts attracted to Islam for its violence, the Muslim convert usually doesn’t convert for the killing, he kills because he converted. Likewise the nice Muslim Jihadist next door might well be moderate by inclination and immoderate by faith.

As the Koran says, “Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” (Quran 2:216)

Allah knows you have to kill. Even if you think you shouldn’t.

The nice Jihadists flocking to rape Yazidi girls in Mosul are convinced that Allah knows best and his Caliph knows best. The worst of them are acting on impulse. The best of them are acting on faith.

Faith is irrational. Believers believe without understanding and act without thinking. The holy men of our religions acted on faith. So do the holy men of Islam. It’s what they have faith in that is the problem.
If Greenfield is correct, and I believe he is, the obvious question is: what to do?

Each week we watch another beheading, we listen to genocidal rhetoric against Christians and Jews and anyone else who will not bow down to Islam. And we keep up the facade of Bush and Obama—that Islam is a "religion of peace."

Were that the case, the vast majority of Islam's holy men would be aghast at what has happened in the last two decades. They would frequently, publicly, and vehemently condemn the Jihadists. They would issue fatwas that commanded any "moderate" Muslim to fight what Barack Obama has called a cancer while at the same time equivocating by suggesting that "ISIS is not Islamic."

But we don't see the "good" Islam react frequently, publicly, and vehemently to condemn the "bad" Jihadists. Why?

And here, Greenfield widens the crack in the dam when he writes:
The problem isn’t “radicalization”. What Western governments call radicalization is the process by which the Muslim becomes aware of the dictates of his faith and their relevance to his life. It’s not the internet preachers with their fatwas. They are just the vectors for that awareness. The problem is Islam.

The current misguided thinking is that we can win a debate between a “good Islam” and a “bad Islam”. The good Islam will tell Muslims to refrain from joining ISIS, to work for social change, to embrace diversity and to champion democracy. But this “good Islam” is just a liberal’s conception of what religion should be. Its only real followers are liberal non-Muslims and it has little to do with what Islam really is.

Within the historical context of Islam and in the words of the Koran, our idea of the good Muslim is actually a very bad Muslim. And our idea of the bad Muslim is the best of all Muslims. When we argue that Islam is a religion of peace, we are pushing against the full weight of over a thousand years of history and religious ideas and counting on Muslims to be too ignorant of them to know any better.

Those who genuinely want to change Islam will not do it by lying to Muslims about their religion. Trying to convince the nice Jihadist next door that Mohammed would have rejected his expedition to rape and pillage non-Muslims in Syria is futile. The nice Jihadist may not be a scholar, but he knows his Koran.

If they want to change his mind, they will have to be honest about what Islam is.
And therein is what we have to do. We have to tell Muslims what Islam is. They won't like it, not a bit. But until we voice our view of Islam, we don't even have a place to start.

Greenfield has written an important piece. You should read it in its entirety. He ends this way:
“Deradicalizing” the nice ISIS Jihadist by lying to him will fail in the long run. Telling him the truth and offering him a clear choice is the only way ... If we destroy ISIS without exposing the ideology behind it, then we will have won a Pyrrhic victory because we will still be fighting the nice Jihadist next door for the next thousand years.
Slowly the crack widens and soon it will become increasingly difficult for the West to ignore. But 'leaders' like Barack Obama will try their damnedist to do so.

A thousand years is a very long time.

UPDATE (9/15/2014)

Roger Simon picks up on the thrust of Daniel Greenfield's thesis and on Barack Obama's claim that "ISIS is not Islamic"  when he writes:
The Islamic State is not only Islamic, it is the very paradigm of Islam, Islam distilled to its essence as practiced by Mohammed, massacring local tribes, raping and enslaving their women, and making war against everyone in his way until he had subdued as much of Arabia as possible. Who knows how many beheadings were involved, but can we assume the total significantly outstrips the Islamic State’s, at least for now ? Islam is far from the only violent religion — almost all have had their moments — but it is unquestionably the most unremittingly so. If Islam is said to have been hijacked, it is not by the thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda, al Nusra, Ansar al Islam, Ansar al Sharia, al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiyah, Hamas, Hezbollah and on and on. They are the true practitioners of the faith, following in the footsteps of Mohammed and obeying the prescriptions of the Koran and the Hadith to make the whole world Islamic or else. They don’t need to communicate with each other. They just do their thing, because the playbook has been written for them and they have studied it well. It is they who have been temporarily hijacked by a few whirling pacifistic Sufis or other moderate outliers before getting down to the unfinished business of finally crashing through the Gates of Vienna or defeating Charles Martel at Toulouse and returning Al Andaluz to its rightful owners. As one will recall, that was the stated intention of the al Qaeda maniacs who blew up the train at Madrid’s Atocha station just a few years ago.

But most of us know this. It couldn’t be more evident, even to Barack Obama. But he chose to lie about it at the very moment innocent men were being beheaded in the name of Allah. This can’t be the real Islam that is doing this said our president, our secretary of State, and their loyal claque at the State Department who would be outraged at Israel if it so much as sprained a Palestinian kid’s ankle but could barely pronounce the word Islam if the Islamic Republic of Iran dropped an atom bomb on Philadelphia and killed a quarter of a million people. It would just be another instance of “work place violence,” maybe of a slightly extended sort with a globalist overlay.

So everybody in our administration, and even most of our military, seems to lie these days, but the source of the lies comes from the top, POTUS. He governs our land where the truth dare not be uttered, the enemy never named. We all know we’re in a civilizational war with Islam, have been for quite some time and likely to be for a lot longer, but our officials and our mainstream media will do everything possible not to admit it. They assume, I guess, if we tell the Islamic world they’re peaceful often enough, they will become it. That’s the most optimistic view of it. The pessimistic view is that a number of our leaders and media want us to lose. Either way we’re in a pack of trouble.
And the crack in the dam widens by another fraction.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jumping into a Hole

Since mid-2012, we were told by the White House that the war on terror was over. Unfortunately, the Islamic terrorists didn't get the memo. In order to avoid confronting that simple reality, Barack Obama adopted a policy of delay, trying hard to postpone any meaningful decisions concerning the Middle East and hoping that things would resolve themselves.

Walter Russel Mead comments:
The President is like a man who refused to jump into what he saw as too deep and dangerous of a hole [Syria], and then watched for three years while the hole grew deeper before finally taking the plunge.
The policies of delay and abstention gave ISIS an opportunity that it seized with both hands. Thanks to the policy of delay, we now face a major and strategic setback in the war on radical jihadis. While ISIS’s territorial gains have shocked the world, land isn’t the real problem here. ISIS was never likely to establish a caliphate that would sweep the Middle East; it’s a virtual caliphate that was only able to flourish in the power vacuum created by the intersection of American abstention with imploding states in Syria and Iraq. Killing the ‘caliph’ and breaking up its forces are necessary tasks, but the forces of jihad will be significantly stronger after ISIS’s defeat than they were before it started. Thousands of new fighters have been trained; thousands of jihadi careers are launched.

Moreover, the sheer drama of ISIS’s sweeping victories in Syria and Iraq has given the jihadi cause a much needed shot in the arm. Victory, slave girls, beheadings: the feverish jihadi imagination and its depraved fantasies of orgiastic bloodletting in the name of righteousness have spread across the internet and corrupted the imaginations of alienated and vulnerable kids. Worse even than that, the core cadres of ISIS have developed qualitatively better and more sophisticated organizations. The new wave of terrorists may still have its share of ignorant looney toons, but this wave has more education, better technical skills, more Western passports, and better connections to funders than the wave that bin Laden inspired.

We needed to nip ISIS in the bud, not give it a chance to flower and spread spores across the Middle East. But the President chose to wait, steeling himself to inaction in the face of his chief military and civilian advisers. Now we’ll have the worst of both worlds. We’ll have all the risks and horrors of a war against ISIS, and we’ll have all the risks and horrors of playing Whac-A-Mole with the next iteration of better trained and better organized jihadi nutjobs.
Through inaction, Obama's foreign policy has inadvertently enabled ISIS to expand its reign of terror. And now, this president acts anguished as he crafts a jury-rigged strategy to stop the terror that his acts of indecision and delay helped to unleash.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Trigger Happy

As an independent voter throughout my life I have voted for local, state and federal Democrat candidates more frequently than their GOP counterparts. But the Democratic party has changed, and in recent years my vote has changed as well. Over the past two decades, Democrats have become the party of big government—a party that believes at its core that government can solve all of society's ills and that despite repeated displays of incompetence and corruption, government can somehow provide an unending series of benefits to "those who are the most vulnerable" (a definition, but the way, that has expanding considerably during that same time frame).

In recent years, Democratic majorities have failed the country in their economic policy, their fiscal policy, their healthcare policy and their lack of concern about debt. The Dems didn't blink as they added over $6 trillion to our national debt, and never had a pang of conscience as they witnessed administration scandals that should have given them pause. Their foreign policy is so bad it isn't worth further discussion.

As their polling numbers have plummeted, an air of desperation has crept into Democratic positions. The narrative that they use and their media allies parrot has become increasingly strident. As more and more people begin to push back—to disagree with the big government narrative, the Democrat strategy is to fall back on the two proven linchpins of identity politics—"racism" and the "war on women." It seems that whenever anyone who is not a person of color questions the motives, the competence, the facts surrounding an event, or the motivation of a person of color or a woman, they are either racist or exhibit sexism.

Left-leaning commentator, Kirstin Powers, discusses this when she writes:
In a world exploding in violence, the State Department last week identified an evil closer to home: Bill O'Reilly.

The Fox News host had criticized State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. "With all due respect ... that woman looks way out of her depth. ... It just doesn't look like she has the gravitas for the job," O'Reilly said.

This, according to Obama administration officials, is sexist.

Marie Harf, the department's deputy spokesperson, blasted O'Reilly from her official Twitter account as lacking "intelligence and class" and then justified the juvenile tweet from the State Department podium, telling reporters that O'Reilly used "sexist, personally offensive language that I actually don't think (he) would ever use about a man."
She goes on to defend O'Reilly who she argues is harsh in his criticism of both men and women in government positions. Then she writes:
Democrats have become so trigger happy with the "war on women" charge that they find sexism lurking behind nearly every disagreement. It's a toxic tactic to silence anyone who disagrees. Have we really gotten to the point that any criticism of the competence of the State Department spokeswoman by a man is sexist? Apparently.

Last week, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz borrowed the terminology of domestic abuse to attack Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At a Milwaukee roundtable, she said, "Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker … are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back."

She also claimed that "Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. ... But that is reality."

It's actually the opposite. Walker disagrees with Democrats, which is quite different from hitting a woman or dragging her by her hair, even metaphorically.
Powers notes the false accusations of sexism to make her point, but the same can be said about false accusations of racism. Again, Democrats are "trigger happy," making phony accusations of racism when politicians like Barack Obama or Eric Holder come under justifiable criticism for their policies or comments.

A sure sign of political and intellectual weakness is evidenced when a party, a politician, or a appointed government bureaucrat uses ad hominem attacks instead of a reasoned defense to defeat his or her opponents. It's also a sure sign that the positions that a party, a politician, or a appointed government bureaucrat are trying to defend are deeply flawed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Here We Are

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9-11, Barack Obama gives a major address. He says many of the right things (and a few that are dead wrong). He tells us that he is committed to defeating ISIS and that he will (with some major qualifications) take the fight to the terrorists. He outlines a broad strategy that is intended to "degrade and then destroy" the Islamist army. But as I've said many times before,  pay attention to the actions that follow Barack Obama's words, not the words themselves.

In his address, Barack Obama said something that in my view is a tell. He said, "ISIL is not Islamist, no religion would condone the killing of innocents." So ... the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is not Islamic? The White House argues that he was being figurative, and maybe he was, but if you can't identify the enemy, it's very hard to defeat him.

And therein lies a core aversion to truth that exemplified both George W. Bush and now Barack Obama (who, by the way, has adopted many of the tenets proposed by the past president immediately after 9-11). They both refused to name the enemy. We are dealing with Islamic terrorists, supported by a flow on hundreds of millions of dollars from Muslims in places like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia, and even the United States—money from "average Muslims" who are somehow drawn to the muscular image of al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezballah, al Nusra, or, now, ISIS.

Last night's address would have been the perfect time to enlist the billion or so other "average Muslims" to help us defeat this Islamist "cancer," as this president has put it. It would have been a time to suggest, ever so gently, that until Muslims act aggressively to rid themselves of this "cancer," we are all in trouble. The cancer will devour them (it's already doing exactly that).

It would have been acceptable to suggest that if Muslims cannot or will not combat the cancer, we will begin to look at them with justified concern, even suspicion. That their place in Western societies will be re-examined as the cancer grows, metasticizes and begins to kill the host. Saying that would have been bold, honest, and meaningful, but instead, what we heard was "ISIL is not Islamic."

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes:
Let us note briefly the commanding irony of Barack Obama delivering—hours before 9/11—the anti-terrorism speech that history required of his predecessor after September 11, 2001. There is one thing to say: If we are lucky, President Obama will hand off to his successor a terrorist enemy as diminished as the one George Bush, David Petraeus and many others left him.

If we're lucky.

There is a story about Mr. Obama relevant to the war, battle or whatever he declared Wednesday evening against the Islamic State, aka ISIS. It is found in his former campaign manager David Plouffe's account of the 2008 election, "The Audacity to Win."

Mr. Plouffe writes that during an earlier election race, Mr. Obama had a "hard time allowing his campaign staff to take more responsibility." To which Barack Obama answered: "I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I'll hire to do it." Audacity indeed.

In a 2008 New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, Mr. Obama is quoted telling another aide: "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors." Also, "I think I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters."

And here we are.
One can only wonder whether where we are today will be better or worse that where we'll be as we initiate Obama's new efforts to defeat the terror that he will not name.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sandwich Board Science

The UN is good at very, very little. But that doesn't stop this corrupt and ineffective organization from demanding that the world comply with its hysterical vision of climate disaster.

After discussing how the political class 'never lets a real crisis go to waste,' Daniel Payne presents a devastating commentary on climate alarmists, who have manufactured a fantasy crisis in an effort to control wealth distribution across the globe:
Occasionally, if there’s no crisis to be found, a certain class of political actors will feel the need to make one up. When it comes to manufacturing catastrophes, there is no better practitioner of the art than Big Climate, which for several decades has been lazily issuing a new Extinction Event warning a couple of times a year, breathlessly informing the human race that our own self-inflicted destruction is just a few vapors of greenhouse gas away. Collectively, the die-hard climate change crowd plays the role of the long-bearded, wild-eyed sandwich-board-wearing doomcrier on the street corner, constantly warning us “THE END IS NEAR”—with the notable exception, of course, that nobody demands we take the doomcrier seriously by enacting an economically-devastating set of political policies. Most people just ignore him.

Climate science is the only field in which you’re derisively considered a ‘skeptic’ or a ‘denier’ by forming your judgment based upon the facts.

If you want a perfect encapsulation of the neurotic fearmongering that informs virtually all of popular climate science today, look no further than the United Nation’s latest pronouncement on the matter: the UN World Meteorological Organization recently came out with a series of “imagined weather forecasts” predicting the state of climate in the year 2050. “Miami South Beach is underwater,” announced one forecast; another predicted a mega-fatal “mega-drought in Arizona.” Never mind that the average weatherman can barely predict whether or not it’s going to rain tomorrow: instead, think about the fact that the United Nations is so hard-up for climate-change material that they’ve looked 36 years into the future to create fictional accounts of what the weather may be like. The tsunamis, the blistering drought, the Beginning of the End—all this stuff was supposed to be here years ago. The global climate chaos has never materialized, so the “experts” have set their sights on the future, doing some educated guessing on what the weather’s going to be like four decades hence.

Maybe we should just ignore them.
In fact, when it comes to the hyperbolic predictions of climate change alarmists, ignoring them isn't enough. The reason is that an uncritical media promotes their hysteria, without an examination of the broad array of evidence that refutes what they claim. The media presents the climate change meme without the critical analysis that would be applied if, say, a creationist claimed that evolution is not supported by hard science. In effect, climate change alarmists are no better than creationists, using quasi-religious doctrine to propose scientifically unsupportable claims and then trying to force the doctrine that is precipitated by those bogus claims on those who rightly oppose it. For that reason, many members of the public believe climate change fearmongering. The claims of "Big Climate" alarmists must be refuted. It's not hard to do, as many of my previous posts on the subject have demonstrated.

As Daniel Payne correctly notes, the hysteria promulgated by climate change alarmists is a classic example of sandwich board science. Those who promote it begin with a predetermined result and then message the data and build models that will ensure the result is "proven." The media always loves a story that promotes irrational fear unsupported by hard data and unsubstantiated by context. For that reason, they're all too happy to run with the sandwich board politicians (Miami will be under water in 35 years!). The result is an misinformed public that acquiesces to destructive policies that will do nothing to "save the planet" but everything to support the agenda of the those carrying the sandwich board.

Monday, September 08, 2014


Those of us who have followed the growing cancer that is radical Islam have not been surprised with the atrocities it has initiated over the past six months. Whether it's Boko Haram kidnapping, raping and selling young girls into sexual slavery in Nigeria, or Hamas using woman and children as human shields in Gaza or the "Islamic State (IS)" beheading Americans and slaughtering thousands of Christians and others non-Muslim religious sects in Iraq, their actions are a clear indication of their danger and depravity.

Curiously, the Left has been largely silent when it comes to these atrocities. Sure, some on the Left have expressed outrage in a muted way, but by and large, they seem conflicted about what to say and really, really conflicted about what to do. After all, the greater sin is to be labeled "Islamophobic."

Caroline Glick comments:
It isn’t that the Westerners, led by the leftist elite, lack the ability to feel or express moral outrage. It is just that they refuse to direct it against Islamic jihadists.

And this brings us back to their political alliance with the Islamists.

The only meaningful commonality between Islamist and leftist dogma is hatred for Jews with power, first and foremost for Israel. And the singular creation of this alliance is the sides’ joint determination that it isn’t racist to hate the Jewish state, or Jews who refuse to condemn it.

In this state of affairs, the only outlet that leftists have for their moral outrage is Israel. Because while they fear being called racist, they know that being anti-Semitic will not expose them to charges of racism.

And they know Jews won’t assault them for attacking Israel and its supporters. So they project all the crimes perpetrated by Islamic fanatics on Israel.

For instance, this week Megan Marzec, the president of Ohio University’s Student Senate, posted a video of herself dousing herself in a bucket of “blood.”

Marzec explained, “This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians – atrocities which OU is directly complacent in [sic] through cultural and economic ties with the Israeli state.”

In other words, she accused Israel of the crimes Hamas seeks to inflict on Israel, and of the crimes that Islamist forces, such as al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram, are currently carrying out in their areas of operations.

The growing prevalence of anti-Semitism in leftist circles has placed Jewish leftists in a vulnerable position.

Their ideological movement is denying Jews the right to self-defense and self-determination and siding with Islamists who seek to annihilate them.
Over the past few weeks, IS has demanded that every woman between 15 and 42 in Mosul, Iraq be given a clitorectomy (female genital mutilation)—sexual abuse in the extreme. The feminist Left remains largely silent. The leftist media prefers not to report this atrocity, and the academic Left lobbies for a boycott against ... Israel. The Leftist leadership in our government remains silent on the matter, having bigger things to worry about like "climate change." If it weren't so serious, the idiocy and abject hypocrisy of the Left's position on this would be comical.

The Left is very good at moral outrage, at street demonstrations, boycotts, and other "protest theater." Why is it, then, that none of these things has occurred on a worldwide scale when it comes to Boko Haram, or Hamas, or IS? The Left is also very good at demonizing a country or a group when it doesn't meet their imposed "moral" standards. Why then is there no Leftist demonization of Boko Haram, or Hamas, or IS? One would almost think that there is a bizarre affinity between the Left and the Islamists. Nah, couldn't be. Could it?

Saturday, September 06, 2014


A seemingly minor event occurred a few days ago in Estonia. It went largely unreported in the MSM and when mentioned, was reported without context or background. Immediately after Barack Obama's visit to Estonia in which he promised to defend that small country from Russian aggression, Russia kidnapped an Estonian intelligence officer and spirited him to Russia.

Investor's Business Daily Reports:
Less than 48 hours after President Obama vowed to "defend Estonia," Russian goons kidnapped an Estonian cop to demonstrate just what U.S. red lines are worth. Any questions as to the nature of the threat?

The abduction of Internal Security Service officer Eston Kohver from Estonia was no ordinary criminal act.

The Russians who took him jammed police radios, tossed a smoke grenade, seized Kohver and marched him into Russia at gunpoint. They then falsely claimed that he was caught spying on Russian soil.

It was nonsense. Estonia's leaders have said it was clearly a targeted attack and very serious, coming as it did two days after Obama made his strongest-worded speech ever on U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance.
Richard Fernandez sums up brilliantly:
Russia’s strategy has been malevolently brilliant, psychologically at least. Faced with an occupant of the Oval Office who lives by words, Putin is screening a silent movie. The Ukraine is being invaded by stealth. Estonia is being attacked by subterfuge. Finland is being intimidated in pantomime. Putin is riding dirty without making a sound. The visuals are unambiguous, but since there’s no dialog, no musical score — because there’s no words — the president is unable to respond.

And this is intentional: Obama’s boundaries are all on paper and Putin refuses to cross the lexical frontier.
Actions do speak louder than words, but not in the mindset of the Left. In Obama's worldview, hope and change were words that would somehow transform a country and the world. Too bad they didn't. Not even a little.

Too many times, this president has relied on empty words instead of concrete actions, and as a consequence, he is correctly perceived as empty, dishonest, and weak. That's a very dangerous brew, and one that Vladimir Putin (one of the world's hard men) clearly understands.

Fernandez gets to the core of the problem:
Putin has drawn a Red Line he reckons Obama won’t cross. By speaking pointedly of Russia’s nuclear weapons and boasting his armies could reach Kiev in a couple of weeks, he’s made it clear he wants to mix it up. He’s rolled up his shirt and cut himself a few times across the abs just to demonstrate he doesn’t mind bleeding. He has all but dared Obama to cross the line from words to risky action.

Putin is betting, with the calm calculation of a professional thug, that he’s dealing with a tenderfoot unused to getting hurt and losing teeth, who may squeal as he strips him of his possessions, but who will acquiesce anyway — out of fear, out of civility, out of unfamiliarity with pain and the astonishment of someone actually laughing at him.

Like a tiger who’s tasted blood, Putin has lost his fear of Obama. Unless that caution can be reinstated, and unless that dangerous animal is caged, a very great danger faces the world; for now the tiger, who earlier could have been cowed with but a little effort, must now belatedly be forced back at grave risk and possible injury or death.
But the tiger is not alone. He is but one of many Tigers who are watching silently and plotting their actions with care. They understand that words don't really matter, but actions, that's something else altogether.

The Tigers lie in wait in China, where we are already seeing troubling actions in the South China sea region. In Iran, where the government continues its soon to be successful quest for nuclear weapons, unimpeded by Obama's words. And even in the barbaric "Islamic State, formed because Barack Obama refused to act when the state was an embryo and could have been terminated easily.

With each hint of weakness, the Tigers move imperceptibly into a more aggressive position. Their stare hardens as their senses indicate their prey's weakness and indecision. When the time is right, they will pounce.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Stand Down

The many legitimate scandals that plague the Obama presidency all have a few things in common: (1) stonewalling by the administration and the government agencies involved, submarining any attempt by investigators to get to the truth; (2) complicity by Obama's trained hamsters in the media, keeping the public ill-informed or misinformed; (3) obstruction by the Democrats, who rather that trying to get to the truth, demonize those who would like to find out what really happened, and (4) a lack of interest by the Justice Department who are unashamedly partisan in virtually all their work.

This strategy has worked well for Barack Obama. All of the scandals have faded from view and none of them have been adequately explained. No one has been brought to justice, and likely no one will. And yet, some of the principals involved and/or injured by the scandals and a few intrepid news sources won't let them die.

Yesterday, three CIA operatives present in Benghazi, Libya (you remember Benghazi, don't you?) on the day of the Embassy attack (9-11-2012) granted an interview with FoxNews—the only main stream media source that has the courage to continue to dig on the disgraceful actions that preceded, accompanied and followed an incident in which a U.S Ambassador and three other Americans were murdered by Islamists.

FoxNews reports:
The security contractors -- Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen -- spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?

Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.

“Five minutes, we're ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we're ready to go.”

But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only as “Bob.”

“It had probably been 15 minutes I think, and … I just said, ‘Hey, you know, we gotta-- we need to get over there, we're losing the initiative,’” said Tiegen. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”

“We're starting to get calls from the State Department guys saying, ‘Hey, we're taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,’” said Paronto.

After a delay of nearly 30 minutes, the security team headed to the besieged consulate without orders. They asked their CIA superiors to call for armed air support, which never came.
It was clear from the first day, that the Barack Obama, who had created a false narrative that Libya was a success (it was, in fact, an unmitigated disaster) and that al Qaeda was defeated (it was, in fact, restructuring and growing) in the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections, did everything possible to obscure the Benghazi story—remember the 'bad video' meme espoused by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton?

Is it possible (and more likely probable) that the White House didn't want to engage the Islamic terrorists who were attacking the Benghazi compound? That someone in the administration decided that no help would be offered because an air strike or a significant military action would have to be reported, even by Obama's trained hamsters in the media? That Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were nowhere to be found as the incident unfolded? That someone in the administration co-opted the military and the CIA, who clearly wanted to act, and commanded that they stand down and then commanded that they lie about it and claim that help was unavailable? That politics trumped the need to save Americans under fire?

In the two years since Benghazi, the Obama administration has demonstrated that domestic politics trumps all else and that administration actions are driven solely by political concerns, not the best interests of the United States. We may never know the truth about Benghazi, but "stand down" orders did happen, and American's died as a consequence. The only solace is that Barack Obama's presidency will be remembered not for his meager accomplishments, but his monumental failures. Benghazi is one of those failures.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Suffer Enough

The Democratic party has changed—a lot. The party that gave this country FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, and even Bill Clinton no longer exists. In its place we have a party that has swung wildly to the Left, using dishonest, hyper-partisan rhetoric in an successful effort to distract the American public from the party's domestic and foreign policy failures over the past six years.

After the crash of 2008, which by the way, was aided and abetted by Democratic policies that lead to the loan crisis*, the Democrats had clear majorities in both Houses of Congress. With those majorities, they created Obamacare, partisan legislation that not only did not fulfill its promise to make healthcare affordable and more efficient, but is a mishmash of bad policy, uncontrolled spending, and nightmarish implementation. At the same time, the party participated happily as it added $1 trillion in national debt every year of the Obama presidency. The party has raised taxes, but increased spending more. It seems unconcerned that the labor rate is the lowest it has been in modern history or that taxes are the highest in the past few decades. It professes to care about the middle class, but enacts legislation and regulations that kill jobs, moving the middle class into a part-time economy.

Their president and his administration has been beset with not one or two but six legitimate scandals. The most egregious is the IRS scandal. The Democrats have circled the wagons and done everything possible to assist the administration in stonewalling any effort to understand the frightening weaponization of a major government agency. One can only wonder if they would have been so sanguine if a republican has been president.

And that's only a few of many domestic policy failures. The foreign policy of this president has been so bad, even some Democrats have begun to take notice.

Given that the Democratic party has little to claim as accomplishments over the past six years, it has no choice but to change the subject. It does this by elevating class and gender warfare to new heights, with little concern about the negative effects of demagoguery on the American people. Hence, we hear much about income inequality (which interestingly, has increased in the high-tax regime of this president), the minimum wage (let the loss of entry level jobs be damned), and the "war on women" (an amorphous accusation that has no substance in fact).

On Wednesday, DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz accused GOP Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker of leading the charge again women. Her shrill comments included: "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality." And later, "What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back."

Really? Is that all Debbie's got? Is that the best that the national leader of the Dems can come up with? I guess when you've got nothing good to tout about your own party, the best strategy is to say something blatantly dishonest about your opponents.

Wasserman-Schultz is an adjunct member of Barack Obama Team of 2s**—a group of mediocre ideologues who are out of their depth, whose advice is demonstrably bad, and who contribute to the general feeling that this president is incompetent in all things (except fund-raising).

November is coming, and there are indications that the Democrats will suffer badly at the ballot-box. With the mess they've made of the economy, healthcare, and foreign policy, along with leaders like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, its unlikely that they'll suffer enough. The only thing worse than that is if they don't suffer at all.

* Don't take my word for it. Read Reckless Endangerment by reporters Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner of the Democrat-friendly New York Times.
** For those new to this blog, the phrase "Team of 2s" is derived from an old management consulting aphorism about the quality of senior executives and the people they hire as direct reports: "9s hire 10s and 3s hire 2s."

UPDATE: (9/5/2014):
Glen Reynolds summarizes nicely when he writes: "Watch for as many race-based and war-on-women headlines as the Dems can manage over the next couple of months. With everything imploding, they’ll have to do whatever they can, however sleazy, to boost turnout."

And don't forget the class warfare meme. Do you think that the timing of recent protests demanding $15.00 per hour wages at McDonald's are a mere coincidence?

BTW, a company just announced a robotic hamburger maker that can make custom burgers at a rate of 360 per hour. When the wage goes to $15.00 for the teenagers who work at Micky D's, I suspect that corporate headquarters will give the robotic system a hard look. Bye, bye entry level jobs.

But no worries—the Dems (in full moral preening mode) will tell us all about their great victory for low wage earners as the low wage earners register for unemployment compensation. Then again, maybe that's what the Dems wanted all along—more people dependent on big government. Heh.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Happy Talk

Three days after British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The European Council believes the creation of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the Islamist extremism and export of terrorism on which it is based is a direct threat to every European country,” Dana Milbank tells us that Barack Obama delivered the following message at a Democratic fund-raiser (where else?) in upscale Westchester County, New York:
“Yes, the Middle East is challenging, but the truth is it’s been challenging for quite a while,” he [Obama]said. “I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago. This is not something that is comparable to the challenges we faced during the Cold War.”

Speaking to another group of contributors that same day in Newport, R.I., the president said that the post-9/11 security apparatus “makes us in the here and now pretty safe” and that the threat from ISIS “doesn’t immediately threaten the homeland.”

I hope Obama’s chillax message turns out to be correct, but the happy talk is not reassuring. It’s probably true that the threat of domestic radicalization is greater in Europe than in the United States (hence the British plan to confiscate some passports) but Obama’s sanguinity is jarring compared with the mood of NATO allies Obama is meeting in Europe this week.
Today, Brett Baier of FoxNews reports:
“In Estonia today, President Obama gave his first news conference since Steven Sotloff was beheaded by Islamist militants. It was also the first time the president answered questions since his infamous "we have no strategy" line last week. And the president did something remarkable: He dug deeper. The big news going in was to see how the president ‘cleaned up’ last week's statement. So after a strong opening about the atrocity of the newest beheading, the president said the strategy is to "degrade and destroy" ISIS. But later, he backtracked and said goal was to make ISIS a "manageable problem." So which is it? Destroy or manage? And how exactly do you manage barbarians who are beheading your citizens? What promised to be a clarifying moment instead offered more fuzzy wording. And we're left again with the question - what is out strategy with ISIS?”
Obama's contradictory comments are becoming all too common. The measure of a good leader is to establish clear goals, define an understandable strategy for achieving those goals, and then allow professionals to identify the tactics that will allow the strategy to succeed and the goals to be met. This can be done in days, not weeks or months.

Barack Obama doesn't seem to understand that. In fact, he doesn't seem able to commit to a set of clear goals where Islamic radicalism and ISIS are involved. It's almost as if he's using 'deliberation' as an excuse for not enunciating the threat in clear terms, clearly identifying the underlying cause (radical Islam) and then acting in a meaningful way. Because of this, he projects weakness and indecisiveness, very bad qualities in a dangerous world.

I know I'm not alone in stating that I have a broad-based feeling of unease as as I watch this president respond to events. As Dana Milbank states: "President Obama is not worried. And that is unnerving."


Of course, Barack Obama still has defenders who trust him implicitly and still believe, despite evidence to contrary, that he is the smartest guy in the room. One of Obama's defenders is Peter Beinart who argued in a muddled article in the left-leaning Atlantic that "“the president is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist.”

Richard Fernandez, certainly no admirer of Barack Obama, comments:
Unfortunately Beinart avoids defining what is just enough. Where is the Pole Star in this murk? No answer is attempted except that Obama will point it out and not because Beinart can explain where it is. He ends on a note of touching faith: “Barack Obama didn’t become president by tilting at windmills.”

No, Obama became president because people like Beinart believed he would take them to a different place than where they now stand, with each hour bringing a new humiliation and crisis. Roger Simon wrote on Twitter: “Not a single #liberal friend of mine wants to discuss politics now. They’re humiliated by Obama.” But they still trust him. When the president declared al-Qaeda decimated, the War on Terror over and said ISIS was nothing but a jayvee team, Obama was telling the base what they wanted to hear. What they thought Obama had achieved. People like Beinart believed it. Too bad it wasn’t true.

But they still trust him.
Just like they trusted him when he advocated the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek (result: the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, only to be overthrown (thankfully) by a Military coup). Just like they trusted him when he told us that invading Libya was a necessary "humanitarian" act (result: the Islamist takeover of Libya, the lose of thousands of surface to air missiles and now, 11 missing airliners). Just like they trusted him when he withdrew all troops from Iraq (result: chaos and the ascendency of ISIS). Just like they trusted him when he weaseled out of any action in Syria (result: ignoring his military advisors who warned him about the growing threat of ISIS—18 months ago!) Just like they trusted him to negotiate with Iran, the world leading sponsor of Islamist terror (result: Iran moves ever closer to nuclear weapons).

The only thing "minimalist" about Barack Obama is his understanding of the reality of the Middle East and the quality of decisions relating to that region.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Now that a ceasefire has taken hold in the Israel-Gaza conflict, it's worth one more look at the hysterical, inaccurate, and misleading media coverage that demonized Israel throughout the hostilities.

Matti Friedman, a long time AP reporter who covers Israel, provides an outstanding, in-depth insider's view of the massively biased coverage of this and other Israeli conflicts. First she notes that the sheer number of reporters that AP and other news organizations have in Israel is far greater that the reporters they have just about anywhere of even moderate important. For example, there are 40 times more reporters stationed in Israel that in Syria, even though Syria has an on-going civil war in which over 100,000 people have died. She writes:
The volume of press coverage that results [in Israel], even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.
Freidman goes on to write:
If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
And therein lies the problem. The left lionizes "victims," and the mainstream media is left. It doesn't matter that the definition of victims is self-serving, that the victims are victimized by their own ideology and leaders, and that the facts don't support the left's claims of victimization by the "oppressor," the left believes only what it wants to believe, and far worse, has the media clout to cause others to believe it as well.

When a "victim" is involved in a conflict, the left-wing media (that's a clear majority of all US and European media) never does an analysis of the underlying causes of the victim's plight, never provides a critical discussion of the victim's culture and lack of personal and/or group responsibility for betterment, never produces a story on the victim's tendency toward extreme violence, never analyzes of the ways in which Islam reinforces the drive for violence, never emphasizes the virulent hatreds that are fostered by self-appointed Islamist leaders who benefit from the perception of victimization. All that matters is the "victim."

Israel, a country of 6 million people, is surrounded by a sea of Arab Muslims, numbering in excess of 300 million people. It's land mass is less than 0.2 percent of the Arab world. And yet, Israel is reported by the media as the strongman, the bully, the aggressor. Like almost everything else that the Left believes, it's a fantasy that has no basis in fact. It's also a lie that has no basis in truth.