Shutting Us Up (re-reprise)

Dennis:          Well, you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ‘cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

Arthur:           Shut up!

Dennis:          I mean, if I went ‘round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away!

Arthur:           Shut up!  Will you shut up!

Dennis:          Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!

Arthur:           Shut up!

        —Michael Palin as Dennis, and Graham Chapman as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

Meet Erika Riemann.

In the Fall of 1945, the pretty teenager went to the first day of school in Mühlhausen, a small town tucked just inside what had recently become the Soviet-occupied zone of post-war Germany.  She and her friends were amused to see that the familiar portrait of Adolf Hitler was gone, only to have been replaced by a portrait of Josef Stalin in exactly the same place.  Thinking the Soviet dictator looked “a bit sad,” the mischievous schoolgirl took her mother’s lipstick and drew a bow on his moustache.

She was 14.

Two weeks later, the security apparatus came to ask her some questions.  When she finally returned home, it was January . . . 1954.

She was 22.

During the intervening seven years, Miss Riemann was beaten and coerced into a bogus confession of being part of a pro-Nazi resistance.  She was crowded into Soviet-repurposed former Nazi concentration camps with other political prisoners, and tortured.  She was stripped naked, herded into a former gas chamber, and told she was about to be exterminated (water, not gas later flowed through the “showerheads”).

She was repeatedly and systematically gang-raped by soldiers.

All because she drew a lipstick bow on a photograph.

Rusty, Stalin is dead, the Berlin Wall has come down, and the Soviet Union is gone.

You say that, but remember that silencing not only dissent but even non-conformity with the Party line is a staple of the totalitarian Left.  And while Eastern-Bloc communism may have more or less dissolved (albeit just in favor of a less overtly malevolent pan-European socialism), the Progressive movement hasn’t forgotten that the surest way to ensure conformity—and thus control—is to prevent the utterance of so much as a syllable out of line.  After all, it is easy to win a debate when the opposition is mute.

With that, consider the following from Campus Reform.  Washington State University students enrolled in Professor Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” course have been informed that they are in jeopardy of failing the class if they say anything that the good Professor in her infinitely superior judgment considers “oppressive and hateful.”  Among the examples of potentially oppressive—and therefore banned—terms listed in the syllabus include the obviously offensive “male” and “female.”

I guess we’re all now just Thing 1 and Thing 2.

And Professor Breikss is not alone at WSU.  Students in Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” are forbidden to use the term “illegal alien” lest they lose points.  In a class explicitly devoted to helping students recognize “how white privilege functions,” Professor Fowler explains that the use of the term “illegal alien” has caused an artificial popular association of all border crossings with countries in Latin America, ignoring that a considerable portion of illegals in the U.S. are from Asia.  Further, according to Professor Fowler, the perpetuation of “migrant illegality works to systematically dehumanize and exploit these brown bodies for their labor.”

Query how you make the leap from using the term “illegal alien” to the conclusion that people therefore assume all illegals are Hispanic.  To the extent that they do, perhaps that has something to do with the fact that more than half of illegals are in fact from Mexico, and 75% are in fact from Latin America.  More to the point, what does it matter whether anyone—whether because of demographic facts or semantics—believes all or most illegals are from Latin America?  If you are here illegally, you are here illegally, whether you speak Spanish or Mandarin.  And banning the use of the term “illegal” won’t make these people any less “exploited”—nobody made them come here and take jobs (if they don’t have jobs, there is no argument that anyone is “exploiting” them at all), and they are free to leave any time they want.

But the real issue is university faculty using threats and intimidation to silence speech that is contrary to their Progressive agenda.

It doesn’t stop there.  WSU Professor John Streamas admonishes white students in his “Introduction to Multicultural Literature” class to “defer” to non-white students (I’m not even sure what that means, but they’d damn well better do it).  Other WSU faculty apparently require students to acknowledge the continuing institutional oppression of racism, or that “we do not live in a post-racial world.”

And this is how it is with Progressives, because this is how it has always been.  I reported last year about students at Penn State—in a designated “free speech zone,” no less—were hindered in their effort to distribute copies of the United States Constitution (the document most antithetical to the Progressive agenda of totalitarian control by a self-appointed intellectual elite), and at College of Coastal Georgia students were threatened with a 15% grade reduction if they said “bless you” in response to someone sneezing (thus implicitly invoking God, contrary to explicitly atheist Progressive/Socialist ideology).  In the Washington State case, it isn’t controlling the narrative by preventing deviation from the cult of personality, it’s controlling the narrative by preventing deviation from the cult of victimhood.

A college campus is supposed to be an intellectual sanctuary where you question authority and established ideas, not sign rote statements “recognizing” some proposition as an unassailable truism.  A university is a place where the free exchange of thought and ideas—which obviously can only occur if one can express those thoughts and ideas—is supposed to lead to vigorous debate and, ultimately, an improved state of knowledge for all of mankind.  Think of it as a sort of Darwinist evolutionary soup where the fittest ideas survive, and weaker ideas are discarded.  Indeed, the very point of tenure—which you know every one of the professors mentioned above would defend to the grave as the most sacrosanct of their [non]God-given rights—is that a professor should not have to fear losing her position simply because of the ideas discussed in her classroom.

But the Progressives have taken over our universities and turned that idea on its head.  You would think that a college professor would be comfortable enough in his/her ability to defend the point to be able to engage a 19 year old kid.  But rather than prevail in the marketplace of ideas, the Progressive prefers to avoid the debate and ensure that the Progressive brand is the only idea on the marketplace shelf.  Universities are no longer great testing grounds of thought, but propaganda factories; and you will toe the line, or pay the price.

We see it time and again from the Left.  Instead of debate ideas on the merits, anything with which they disagree they label it, identify some group (or the planet) as its victim, then marginalize and demonize it.  If you want existing law enforced, the borders defended, and believe that the national motto should remain e pluribus unum—out of many, one—instead of e pluribus pluribus—out of many, many—then you are a racist and have no legitimate right to a voice.  If you believe “climate change” is bullsh#t, then you are a denier and have no legitimate right to a voice.  If you would rather not be forced at gunpoint to participate in a ceremony where Steve marries Bill, then you are a homophobe and have no legitimate right to a voice.  If you believe that Islam’s 1400 year track record of non-stop violence, and the explicitly-stated aims of a present-day rabid minority consisting of at least 160 million Muslims is reason for concern, you are an Islamophobe and have no legitimate right to a voice.  If you believe that innocent human life should be protected, or that at a minimum you shouldn’t be forced to pay the contraception bill for Sandra Fluke’s apparently almost inconceivably—pun intended—voracious sexual appetite, you are engaged in a “war on women,” and have no legitimate right to a voice.

Basically, you have no right to a voice.

God help you if you draw a bow on Obama’s moustache.

Looking Ahead

Abbott:   Let’s see.   On our team we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know’s on third.

Costello:  That’s what I want to know:  the guys’ names.

          —Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Who’s On First?

 

I spent some time last week watching the CPAC appearances by the major likely serious (sorry, Mr. Trump) 2016 GOP Presidential contenders.  In a change of format from prior years, each of the speakers devoted at least some of their allotted time to a Q&A session.  Although that was almost certainly pre-vetted and the speakers had canned responses at the ready, it was refreshing to see them have to move on their feet a bit.

While it’s way too early for endorsements, let me offer some early takeaways.

Governor Scott Walker

If there was star among the not-yet-announced would-bes, it was Governor Walker.  Taking a folksy approach with his sleeves rolled up while working in front of—not behind—the podium and teleprompters, the Wisconsin Governor turned in a much better performance than his lukewarm showing at the 2012 convention.  And he’s got some good things to say about what he has been doing in Wisconsin, which is why his stock is surging.  He has successfully taken on the public sector unions in a union-heavy state.  He survived a recall vote against the full weight of the DNC.  He is much younger than the GOP establishment, and presents an energy and vigor that eluded Mitt Romney in 2012.  He’ll also carry what I think will be the advantage of truly being a District outsider.  There is a long way to go, but Governor Walker established himself as one to watch.

Senator Rand Paul

Senator Paul also had a strong showing, and ultimately won the straw poll.  But you have to take that with a grain of salt: his dad (former Texas Rep. Ron Paul) won a bunch of them in his time.  I was struck by a couple of things.   One, while confronting ISIS was a constant theme of the convention speakers, he was the only American (UKIP leader Nigel Farage also took this position) to argue—correctly, in my view—that it needed to be done with American support behind the proper local combatants.  The other was I thought blue jeans plus his inability/unwillingness to get his hair under control showed a certain lack of seriousness for what is essentially a debutante ball for presumptive GOP Presidential candidates.  I like a lot of what Senator Paul has to say, but he’s going to have to polish his appearance and more consistently get beyond the hyper-libertarian staples of auditing the Fed and gutting the Patriot Act if he wants to fare better on the national stage than his father.

Governor J.E.B. Bush

I cannot tell you how much it pains me to admit this:

I thought Governor Bush had a good showing.

His name was resoundingly booed earlier in the day, but he waded into the lion’s den and I think really helped himself.  He did straight Q&A with Sean Hannity, and was articulate, funny, and appropriately self-depricating.  More to the point, he had answers to questions about his position on amnesty (frankly, it is a little hard to argue with the point there is no way to deport 11 million people), anchoring himself firmly to the proposition that border security comes first.  He did more evading than answering on the issue of Common Core, but I think we’ll see over time that he will have a way to answer that as well.  He comes across as much more intelligent and Presidential than his brother.  Unfortunately, he’s still his brother’s brother and—maybe you can skip this, but I can’t—he can’t say “noo-klee-uhr” either.

He can fundraise all he wants, I think if the electorate gets a voice, anyone named Bush is going to have tough sledding.  We just don’t do royal dynasties in this country.  And if that doesn’t bother you about yet another Bush in the White House, I have five words for you:

David Souter and John Roberts

Governor Chris Christie

Like Bush, Governor Christie came in as something less than a crowd favorite.  He also opted for straight Q&A (this time with Laura Ingraham), and that is where he is really at his best.  That said, I thought sitting down was a poor choice, and if he’s going to run he’s going to have to get some better-fitting suits.

Memo to Governor Christie:  Yes, a little shirt cuff should show, but your suit jacket sleeves really should extend past your elbows.

Christie was entertaining, and did the best he could to point to his “conservative” accomplishments.  But even when chumming the waters, he generated at best a tepid crowd reaction.  He’s backpedaling on Common Core, where he has to admit he wanted the federal money when he signed New Jersey up for the Race-to-the-Top program, but now says he regrets the degree of federal control that came with it.  This is the same Governor who was getting all touchy-feely with Obama a week before the 2012 election, in his effort to—you guessed it—collect as much federal money as possible in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  It is hard to take his smaller-government pitch seriously with this record.  I suspect he will never win over the conservative base, and his bull-in-a-china-closet act—he referred to it as “passion,” racistly blamed it on his Sicilian and Irish parents, and made clear he has no intention of dialing it down—will ultimately turn off enough of the rest that his candidacy will not last long.

Dr. Ben Carson

I really want to like this man.  And as a man, I do.  But this CPAC appearance demonstrated that as a candidate he has weaknesses that just aren’t getting fixed.  You could excuse a certain lack of polish a couple of years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast; call it refreshing amateur outsider’s plain talk, or layman’s charm.  But running for President is no place for amateurs.  He’s now been on the major national speaking/talk show circuit for several years, and this was at least his third CPAC appearance.  Yet while he says a lot of the right things, he still says them in a way that reeks of not-ready-for-prime-time.  In a world where all that matters is now you come across on television, I’m afraid his presenting skills are not going to be up to the task.

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Cruz is nothing if not consistent.  What you got from him at CPAC was what you always do: pure red meat.  The junior Senator from Texas was playing in his element, and with the possible exception of being a little too aggressively hawkish on ISIS, he was spot-on.  I’d like to see him spend more time on substance and less on snarky one-liners, and he’s got to learn to stop the sheepish little giggle every time he thinks he’s said something clever.

But that’s nit-picking.

The real problem is he can’t win.  He’s too polarizing, even within the GOP . . . which is why we need him to stay in the Senate.

Governor Rick Perry

If you liked your portion of red meat from Senator Cruz, you loved it with the side order of fire and brimstone served up by Governor Perry.  Someone seems to have told him that the way to out-conservative the field is to say the same things everyone else is, but louder and with more fist-waving.  Watch Lane Smith’s trial performance as District Attorney Jim Trotter III in My Cousin Vinny, and you’ll get the basic idea.

I don’t know that Governor Perry had much realistic prospect after his 2012 debate meltdown, but he didn’t help himself at CPAC by appearing at one point to get lost in his teleprompter mid-sentence.  Worse, in his effort to filter his conservative message through his inner Baptist preacher, he just came across as sort of an extremist bomb-chucker, which isn’t necessary.  And when he demonstrated that, like the Bushes, he also can’t say “noo-klee-uhr,” I suspect in many minds he disqualified himself for access to the buttons for activating same.

And, as an aside, his Drew Carey glasses look goofy.

Governor Bobby Jindal

I thought Governor Jindal had a good showing.  Once you get past the disconnect of him looking pure Mumbai yet sounding pure Baton Rouge, he had some good things to say.  Repeal Obamacare, get rid of Common Core, win the war against radical Islamic terrorism.  Good stuff, that.  Better was his willingness to call a spade a spade and say publicly that Islam has a problem within itself, and it is incumbent upon Muslim leaders to work within the Muslim community to identify, neuter, and eliminate violent radical extremists.  I suspect telling, however, was Governor Jindal’s avoidance of specifics on his conservative record in Louisiana.  Maybe he’s saving that for the campaign trail, but one wonders if it has more to do with the fact that for all his conservative rhetoric, he’s done virtually nothing to control spending and get Louisiana’s fiscal house in order.

The next 20 months are going to be interesting.  As we go through this, hopefully someone within one of the campaigns finally figures out what the Dems have known for some time: how to communicate message in the 21st Century.

Our AWOL President

“Listen, doctor.  I’ve got a boy here in cardiac crisis.  You can’t treat that with Coca-Cola or Bisquick.  We’re going to have to use real medicine this time.  Now I’m sending him to Athens General.  You’re his regular f*cking doctor, you get your fat ass out of bed, get down here and go with him!”

          —Michael J. Fox as Dr. Benjamin Stone in Doc Hollywood

 

This is unforgivable.

As reported in the last post, last Wednesday Paris went into almost total lockdown mode after Islamist terrorists went on a bloody rampage at the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve, including an unarmed police officer.  They killed another cop on Thursday, and later engaged in a fiery hostage standoff with French police.  Ultimately, seventeen people died in the biggest terrorist assault on French soil in memory.

Last Friday Obama paid lip service to U.S. support of the French in the wake of the hostage standoff:

“It’s important for us to understand—France is our oldest ally.  I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow.”

Apparently Friday’s promise of tomorrow didn’t extend to the day-after-tomorrow.

On Sunday millions—literally millions—took to the streets of Paris in peaceful demonstration of solidarity against the barbarism of militant Islam.  Some 40 presidents and other world dignitaries were there at the head of the march.  Among those joining French President Francois Hollande were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.  Hell, even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas managed to be civil enough to show up at the same event together. 

So, where was U.S. President Obama?  I don’t know for sure—it’s a little early to be working on a March Madness bracket, even for him—but I can tell you where he wasn’t:  he was not in Paris to join the other leaders of the free world in demonstrating for free speech and against Islamist terrorism.

He didn’t even bother to vote “present” this time.

Rusty, surely he sent Vice President Joe Biden to represent the U.S., didn’t he?

Um, nope.

Well, of course he sent John Kerry then, right?  I mean, that is kind of right down the middle of the job description for the Secretary of State, isn’t it?

It is, but sorry, Mr. Kerry couldn’t be troubled to reschedule his appointments in India.

The highest level U.S. official anywhere near the scene was lame-duck Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for a previously-scheduled anti-terrorism conference, but skipped out prior to the rally so he could tape a softball interview for Meet The Press.  [As an aside, query why an anti-terrorism conference is a task for the Attorney General as opposed to, say, the Secretary of Homeland Security, except that I guess it presents one last opportunity for a European vacation boondoggle on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime.]  Thus, the U.S. delegation at the demonstration consisted of Obama bundler-turned-ambassador Jane Hartley.

Um, who?

In other words, when the whole of the civilized world finally stood up and stood together against the barbarism of radical Islam, the United States was effectively nowhere to be seen.

This is embarrassing beyond description.

Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush—correctly, by the way—made the case that the struggle against the Islamists—he was more politically-correct than he should have been and labeled it a “war on terror”—was not just an American cause, but it was a cause for the entire free world.  And on that theme he went to our allies around the world and persuaded them to join us in a campaign to root out and destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan as a message to all who would slaughter innocents in the name of Allah.  France joined in that struggle, and 88 Frenchmen have made the ultimate sacrifice in that effort.

In short, when we sounded the clarion call for volunteers to man the ramparts against radical Islam, the French answered, “Oui!”.

Yet when it was France’s turn to be on the wrong end of a bloody scimitar, where was the U.S.?

It’s not about offering assistance, contrary to the flaccid excuses offered by Secretary Kerry.  The French never needed our help tracking down and destroying the perpetrators of the immediate crisis at hand.   It’s about leadership and solidarity against the greater global threat.  Say what you will about the Al Sharpton, Quanell X, Jesse Jackson, and the like; at least these would-be black leaders know when to show up.  When it comes to uniting the civilized West against the Islamists, the great superpower of the West simply cannot just post “#JeSuisCharlie” on Twitter and call it a day.

Of course, the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem, and this is where the rubber meets the road for this Administration.  This President and his lackeys have a long and well-documented aversion to recognizing that the world faces a real and serious threat from the Islamists.  Attending a global-scale rally would have been a tacit admission that last week’s events in Paris go beyond an isolated one-off incident, and are instead part of a much broader and much more serious problem.  And that’s simply too much for an Administration that has the hardest time even pronouncing the word “terrorism,” much less using it in the same sentence with any form on the word “Islam.”

So what does it tell our allies that, when they gather to mourn their dead and cry out in defense of freedom in the face of Islamist violence, the U.S. essentially R.S.V.P.s “Non”?

What does it tell the Islamists that, when the Western world rallies in defiance against their acts of terror, ostensibly the most powerful nation on the planet can’t or won’t show its face?

Like it or not, the U.S.—at least until the Chinese call in our debt—occupies a unique position in the world, particularly the West.  We cannot play ostrich and hope that by ignoring it or just not speaking its name the Islamist threat will just go away.  The U.S. must be the tip of the spear at the vanguard of this fight, not hiding on the back bench behind the cheerleaders.  We must lead.

This is a serious fight with serious stakes.

And we must be present to win.

Religion of Intolerance III

“He reminds me a lot of Donna Reed, especially around the eyes.”

          —Robin Williams as Airman Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam

 

The so-called Religion of Peace has struck again.

Three masked gunmen carrying AK-47s shot up the Paris offices of the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing at least twelve.  For good measure, as they made their escape they took time to get out of the getaway car and shoot dead an unarmed policeman who was on his knees begging for his life.  Lest there be any doubt about the identity and motivation of the killers, let’s note that they punctuated their rampage with shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great,” not only a staple chant of Muslim prayer, but also a common cry after victory in battle for Islamist fighters).  That was never good enough for the Obama administration to recognize the Fort Hood shooting as an act of Islamist terrorism (or an act of war), but I am willing to take them at their word when they—according to one witness—claimed to be al-Qaeda.

Why Charlie Hebdo?  It seems the magazine had a penchant for publishing material, in particular cartoons, satirically critical of Islam, including a recent tweet of a cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  And it is no doubt instructive that the killers did not appear to act at random, but asked for names and sought out specific people to murder.  Among the dead are four satirical cartoonists, including Stephane Charbonnier, who had a fatwa on his head over a 2011 cover caricature of Muhammed.   And one of the killers proclaimed, “We have avenged the honor of the prophet!”  So what we have appears to be some Islamists going on a murderous tirade because of a perceived insult based on a cartoon.

A cartoon.

I repeat: a cartoon.

Nobody else on the planet behaves like this.  No one.  The Islamists routinely proclaim their free speech right to gather in public and scream over bullhorns about death to Western society, death to those who “insult” the Prophet, and warning that 9/11 or 7/7 is coming again (run a YouTube search).  But anyone remotely critical of Islam is immediately branded a racist and accused of criminal hate speech.  Worse, every slight, however minor or innocent, is cause for worldwide protests, destructive and violent rioting, and murder.

Consider a few examples from just the last ten years:

November 2004: Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh is shot to death in streets of Amsterdam after releasing Submission, a film critical of the treatment of women under Sharia.

September 2005:  Burger King stops selling ice cream cones in Britain after a Muslim offended by the swirly lid design he said resembled the Arabic script for “Allah” threatened jihad.

February 2006:  Rioters kill at least five in protests over Danish cartoons mocking Muhammed.

August 2007:  Muslims take to the streets to protest the U.S. military giving soccer balls to Afghan children because among the number of countries whose flag was depicted on the ball was Saudi Arabia’s, which happens to bear the name of Allah (in a side note, Pentagon falls all over itself to apologize).

November 2007:  British school teacher in Sudan arrested and faced 40 lashes for allowing her class to name a classroom teddy bear “Muhammed.”

June 2008:  Suicide bomber kills at least six at Danish embassy in Islamabad in yet another attack in protest of the Danish cartoons.

July 2010:  Outraged Muslims riot in Kashmir over street vendors selling underwear with what rioters took to be a depiction of a mosque.

December 2010:  Bombers kill one and injure 2 in Stockholm in attacks still complaining about the Danish cartoons from four years earlier.

June 2011:  Thousands take to the Internet to condemn a Christian Egyptian businessman’s re-posting of long-existing images of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in traditional Muslim attire.

February 2012:  Thousands riot, killing at least 5, after U.S. forces in Afghanistan mistakenly burn a number of Qu’rans.

September 2012: Thousands riot across the Middle East over an internet video so imbecilic that no sane person would give it the dignity of considering it an insult.

Really?  You’re going to have thousands of people take to the streets to burn cars and bash in storefronts because someone is selling what looks like the outline of a mosque on some tighty-whiteys?  Movies, cartoons, ice cream, and soccer balls.  Oh, yeah, and teddy bears.  These are excuses for endless episodes of mayhem, destruction, and outright murder?

No, really, they’re charming people once you get to know them . . . and if you can get past their fetish for beheading people they don’t like.

As I said, no one else in the world acts like this, and they are doing it on almost every continent on Earth.  Even the North Koreans confine themselves to surgical cyber-attacks, and only when someone releases a movie about a plot to assassinate their sitting head of state (can you imagine what would happen if Americans burned down a mosque every time a U.S. President (or flag) was burned in effigy?).  But for the Islamists it’s simply a way of life:  Don’t like something?  Burn a car, throw some molotov cocktails at cops, or kill someone.

Then there’s the outright terrorism:

December 2014:  ISIS executes 150 women for refusing arranged marriages—read: refusing to become sex slaves—to ISIS soldiers.

December 2014:  Gunman sporting the black flag of jihad takes hostages at a Sydney café, ultimately killing two before being shot by police.

October 2014:  Jihadist attacks four NYPD officers with a hatchet.

October 2014:  Jihadist shoots up a monument and Parliament building in Ottawa, killing one.

July 2014:  Thousands of Jews flee Paris as Muslims engage in weeks of violent riots in support of Palestine.

September 2013:  Islamist militants storm a shopping mall in Kenya, killing 22.

May 2013:  Radicalized Islamists hack British soldier to death with meat cleavers in broad daylight outside Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

April 2013:  Radicalized Islamists (allegedly) detonate homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three (including an 8-year old), and injuring dozens.  They later (allegedly) murder a police officer during their escape.

These are just selected examples from the last couple of years, and bear in mind that even if you give the benefit of the doubt (and that doubt grows with each passing incident) to those who naively claim that it’s only a relatively small minority of Muslims who support this stuff, as I covered a while back you’re still talking about a population of maybe 160 million or more.

And it’s not just rioting and terrorism. There’s also outright war. As we discussed a couple of months ago, although Muslims make up less than 25% of the world’s population, 67% of all the war on the planet today involves Muslims, and almost all of that is some form of Muslims trying to impose their version of Islam on other people by force.

And they’ve been doing it—continuously—for 1,400 years.

Let’s understand something,and make no mistake: it may take two to have a fight, but even if only one of you thinks it’s a fight, it’s a fight.  And if you can’t get your mind around that, you lose, brother.

We in the civilized world have to stop with the politically-correct multiculturalist “tolerance” crap and not only call these people out for the violent, cold-blooded savages that they are, but we then have to treat them accordingly.  You cannot appease them, you cannot apologize to them, and you cannot negotiate with them.  You have nothing they want except for you to bow to Mecca, cover your women, and say and do absolutely nothing that the most zealous among them might twist into the slightest insult against Allah, Islam, or Muhammed.  And they’ll kill you if you don’t.

Peace, my ass.

No Evidence Required

Sir Bedevere:             What makes you think she’s a witch?

Peasant:                      Well, she turned me into a newt!

Sir Bedevere:             A newt?

Peasant:                     I got better.

Crowd:                       Burn her anyway!

        —Terry Jones as Sir Bedevere, and John Cleese as the Peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

Let me start by saying this up front: if you do things like commit rape and murder, you should have to face the consequences, including going to jail (or, in appropriate cases, facing the death penalty).

But you really should have to be convicted of that crime first.

Over the last few weeks a number of women have been coming out of the woodwork to accuse actor/comedian Bill Cosby of committing various forms of sexual assault at various points in the increasingly distant past.  The most recent is a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles telling an at least somewhat implausible tale of a 15 year old meeting Cosby on a movie set in 1974 along with her 16 year old friend.  According to the lawsuit, Cosby invited the girls to his tennis club where he got them liquored up, then took them to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion and had the accuser perform sex acts on him.

The rather fanciful nature of the story raises obvious questions as to its veracity.  And wealthy celebrities like Cosby make easy targets for those who might want to extort a settlement check, particularly 40 years after the fact when there is little evidence left except her word vs. his (there is a reason we have statutes of limitations).  I note that the lawsuit comes not only 40 years after the alleged incident, but only after several others have made rape allegations against Cosby, giving this latest claim (and its accompanying demand to get paid) a certain “me too” piling-on quality.  But giving this accuser and the others the benefit of the doubt, the most we can say at this point is that we don’t know whether the allegations are true.

And that’s the point, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the punishment train from rolling out of the station.  On Thursday the Navy announced that it was revoking the honorary title of Chief Petty Officer it bestowed on Cosby in 2011.  This follows NBC’s and Netflix’s cancellation of projects with Cosby, cable’s TV Land yanking reruns of The Cosby Show, and Temple University pressuring Cosby to resign from its board of directors.

All because of allegations.

As of this writing, William H. Cosby, Jr. hasn’t been convicted of anything.  He hasn’t been tried.  He hasn’t even been charged.  In point of fact, of the dozen or so women currently accusing Cosby, only one has even filed a civil lawsuit (it is worth noting that Cosby settled a lawsuit in 2006 brought by another woman making similar allegations).  I admit the number of accusers suggests there may be something to the allegations, but that in itself is not evidence that any one of the allegations is true.  Yet our modern politically-correct court of public opinion has already proceeded to the punishment phase.

And this is the disturbing trend in today’s world of instant internet news, where any accusation, innuendo, or rumor can go viral and become publicly entrenched as the “truth” before the actual evidence has a chance to emerge.  Worse, even when that evidence does emerge, too many allow their emotions to be manipulated to the point that they are unwilling or unable to look at it and distinguish reality from the false narrative pushed by those with other agendas.

Witness the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

By now you know the meme: racist white cop guns down an unarmed black teen affectionately known as the “gentle giant” in cold blood (and possibly in the back) while the child had his hands up in an effort to surrender.  This was the story initially and continually pushed by the media, and egged on by the usual professional race-baiting, grievance-mongering crowd.  It quickly became the public truth, and thus Officer Darren Wilson was convicted of murder in the court of public opinion within hours of the shooting.

But as John Adams once observed, facts are stubborn things.

The grand jury—which actually had and looked at the evidence—saw things differently.  Michael Brown, the so-called “gentle giant,” was videotaped physically assaulting a shop owner while in the course of robbing the store minutes before the shooting.  Brown’s blood and DNA were on Wilson’s squadcar door handle, inside the car, and on Wilson’s gun, all of which supports Wilson’s story that Brown initially attacked him in the car and attempted to get Wilson’s gun when Wilson shot him the first time.  Three reviews of the autopsy—including one highly-publicized third review by a medical examiner hired by Brown’s family that, once conducted, quietly went away—all found wounds indicating that Brown was neither shot in the back (as first reported), nor with his hands up; they showed wounds consistent with charging forward, head down, as if to tackle.  Significantly, the autopsy results were not only consistent with Officer Wilson’s story, but also with the testimony of several black eyewitnesses who said Brown was charging at Wilson.  Based on this evidence, the grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson.  But because the “truth” of what happened had already been established, the evidence didn’t matter.

The court of politically-correct public opinion had once again already moved on to sentencing.  Hence we now have protestors and even members of Congress running around blindly (ignorantly?) holding their hands in the air chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” even though the testimony of black eyewitnesses and the physical evidence have fully discredited that version of events; in other words, the incontrovertible fact is that Michael Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot, but that fact is irrelevant to the protesters’ perception of the truth.

Other geniuses claim they just want “justice,” and to that end we needed to have a trial so all the facts could come to light.  To one who says that I say fine, let’s start by putting you on trial for murder.  You will undoubtedly react with righteous indignation and say there’s no reason to put you on trial, because there is no reason to suspect you committed murder.  To which I say:

ExactlyThere is no reason to put a man on trial when there is no reason to suspect he has committed a crime.

A grand jury doesn’t operate on the familiar “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for conviction in a criminal trial.  It operates on a standard of “probable cause.”  And it’s a one-sided affair in favor of the prosection; the accused has no lawyer there to cross-examine witnesses, and does not get to put on a defense (yes, I know Officer Wilson got to testify, and that that’s unusual, but that’s neither totally unheard of (defendants generally don’t testify because they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, not because they can’t) nor is it the same thing as presenting a defense case).  Yet despite a low threshold and a tilted playing field, the grand jury refused to indict; in other words, it wasn’t even close.

Under those circumstances, there is no more reason to put Wilson to the expense and anguish of a trial than there is anyone else.  But the myopic “justice seeker,” just like the race-baited protestor, isn’t interested in facts, because he has already established the truth in his own mind, evidence be damned.

It is a dangerous place where allegations alone warrant skipping past trial and conviction and moving straight to sentencing.  It is more dangerous still when allegations and rumor trump undeniable facts.

I have no idea whether Bill Cosby committed rape.  But rather than send him directly to be flogged at the pillory in the town square, perhaps we should take a deep breath and see what the evidence of the facts is first.

Defanging

Put away that gun, this part is simple

Try to recognize what is in your mind

God help us, help us lose our minds

These slippery people help us understand

What’s the matter with him? (He’s all right)

How do you know? (The Lord won’t mind)

        —Talking Heads, Slippery People

 

Just a little food for thought today.

Having successfully stalled on immigration so his party didn’t have to face the voters on the issue, President Obama is now locked and loaded to move forward with unilateral executive action on amnesty, bypassing a Congress that come January will be controlled by the largest Republican majority in some 60+ years.  It used to be that “elections have consequences,” but I guess that’s only true if you still believe the Constitution and its concepts of separation of powers and enumerated (read: expressly limited) powers still mean anything.

Article I is really pretty clear on this:

“The Congress shall have the Power . . . To establish an [sic] uniform Rule of Naturalization[.]”

To the extent that the authority to regulate the border is exclusively the province of the Federal government, that power is vested solely in Congress.  It appears nowhere in Article II, and thus is not among the powers granted to the President.  In the land of the New Imperial Presidency, where a Republican landslide gets spun as simply an electoral mandate to give Obama whatever he wants, however, it appears that things are going to work a little differently.

But an added development is a little chilling.

NBC’s Tuscon affiliate is reporting that the Office of Border Patrol Training and Development has been inspecting border agents’ M4 carbines (the modern version of the old M-16, the military version of what we civilians carry as the AR-15).  I’m all for training, and periodically inspecting the weapons deployed in the field to ensure they are in good working order seems like a reasonable practice, except there’s just one minor problem:

The agents aren’t getting their rifles back.

That’s right, when the DC boys come to inspect, many of these rifles are not being returned, nor are they being replaced.  Agents are left with so few rifles that they are forced to share from a common pool, meaning no one has a rifle with sights adjusted to their particulars.  And many of the rifles removed from service have only routine minor maintenance issues that frankly any competent armory ought to have sufficient parts in stock to accomplish the repair on site.  Yet the men and women charged with securing the border are being left without adequate firepower to do it effectively, let alone safely.

We face an unprecedented wave of illegals, encouraged by the Imperial President’s promises of amnesty.  Reports that nearly a half million were caught last year—begging the question how many weren’t—were cleverly suppressed until after the election.  Now the Emperor’s minions are systematically disarming your Border Patrol.  But let’s look at this in its broader context.

This is the same administration that deliberately furnished thousands of military grade weapons to Mexican drug gangs, then lied about it, and is now hiding from it.  This is the same administration that is militarizing non-security-related government branches such as the Department of Education, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, purchasing thousands upon thousands of weapons and billions of rounds of ammunition.  And they can’t manage to find spare parts to get Border Patrol rifles back in service?

Obama and his Progressive hoardes have been trying to disarm you, the American Citizen, for years.  You no longer need guns for self-defense—not that that’s the valid Constitutional inquiry—they argue, because you have government security in the form of, among other things, the Border Patrol and Police.  Now they’re actually disarming the Border Patrol.  Meanwhile the likes of Eric Holder are stoking the embers of what will inevitably become an anti-police inferno in Ferguson, Missouri, thus effectively disarming the police nationwide, as they now face the Hobson’s choice of either not defending themselves, or being subject to politically-driven automatic murder indictments regardless of how legitimate the evidence shows their actions to have been.

Obama’s already gutted the military.  Now he’s rendering the Border Patrol and local police operationally impotent.  Which begs the question:

Who’s minding the gates to the castle?

Hollow Victories

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

          —Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain

 

So the Republicans gained enough seats to flip control of the Senate.  Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won re-election in a race that shouldn’t have been as close as it was, and likely gets to become the Senate Majority leader, replacing Harry Reid (D-NV).

You’ll excuse me if I’m not dancing in the streets.

For one thing, it may well be a very short party.  2016 presents the reverse of this year’s lopsided slate of at-risk seats, with incumbent Republicans up in 24 of 34 races, including purple-to-blue states such as Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, so the Democrats have much more to gain than to lose.  Of the Democratic seats up in 2016, only Nevada and Colorado are remotely in play—you think Republicans are going to pick up a Senate seat in Oregon, where they just legalized pot?—for Republicans.  The potential, if not likelihood, is that the Democrats to pick up a net of at least six or seven seats, enough to regain the majority.

But my concern runs deeper than that.

Yes, pulling Harry Reid’s cryptkeeper fingers off the levers of control over the Senate’s agenda, even temporarily, is a good thing.  Yes, having a Senate that’s a little more likely to resist Obama appointments is a good thing.  You could argue that having a Senate majority that will at least speak to the House majority is a good thing (although I see merit in a status quo that leaves Congress unable to screw anything up further).

But all of that is only true if you’re going to get something from a Republican-controlled Congress that’s appreciably different from what you got under a Democrat-controlled Congress.  If I thought you were going to get a return to Constitutional moorings and a serious reduction of the bloated federal Beast, if I thought you were going to get a real adult move towards fiscal sanity, I’d be there with you.  But if it’s just about being able to say our team won, I don’t see the point.

Unfortunately, the writing is already on the wall that there is likely to be little that changes in the District with Mitch McConnell holding the Senate gavel.  The post-election party dance floor wasn’t even cold before McConnell was giving up his bargaining position on two major issues, saying that there would be no government shutdown—meaning he will not force the President to compromise on spending—and no attempt to repeal FUBARCare.  In other words, he’s more interested in the political optics of avoiding a veto or a shutdown (by the way, does anyone even remember we had a government shutdown last year?) than he is about standing up for some kind of conservative principles.

And this illustrates the fundamental problem.  The establishment Republican leadership is not interested in advancing the principles of its conservative base; it’s interested in Republicans winning for the sake of Republicans being in office.  They’re more concerned about their personal vested stake in the system than about ideals.

Consider some of the key Republican Senate leaders who were re-elected this week:

Mitch McConnell has been in the Senate 30 years.  Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been there a whopping 36 years (41 total in Congress).   Susan Collins (R-ME) has 18 years in the Senate.  John Cornyn (R-TX), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been there 12 years each.  Their longevity alone is a problem—I believe term limits in Congress and the federal courts may be the single most important issue in saving the Republic—but take a look at their voting records as scored by the Heritage Action for America Scorecard.  With a less-than-impressive score of 79, Cornyn comes in as the most conservative of the bunch.  From there it drops off dramatically:  McConnell 68 (last I checked, that’s an F), Cochran 53, Graham 49, Alexander 48, and Collins an abysmal 22.

And these are some of the most senior Republicans in the Senate.  Add to them other core senior Republicans who weren’t up this time, and you get the likes of Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 36 years in the Senate, Heritage score of 54; John McCain (R-AZ), 27 years, Heritage score of 51; Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) 11 years, Heritage score of 50; and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 12 years, Heritage score of 23.

These are the people who will now be running the Senate (likely the same people who excoriated Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) (Heritage scores of 93, 92, and 96, respectively) for their filibuster efforts last year), and they are not conservatives, despite what Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC tries to tell you.  They are anti-Constitution, big-government spenders—in other words, Democrats with different colored ties.

I recognize what I’m about to say is political heresy, and likely ends what little prospect I had of ever running for office.  But this is what you get as a conservative when you steadfastly adhere to William F. Buckley, Jr.’s admonition to “vote for the most conservative candidate electable.”  You get people who will talk just enough conservative talk to pacify the conservative base, but when they get to the District it’s business as usual because they know at the end of the day they’ll never be held accountable to walk the conservative walk.  Come re-election time, they count on conservatives ultimately holding their noses and voting for them because we see them as the lesser of two evils.

And they have good reason to think that way:  because that’s what we do.  Every time.

If, as many say, the solution for the conservative movement is reform within the existing Republican Party—and I’m not convinced it is—I fear we have an extremely painful process ahead of us.  For the Republican Party to change course, it has to be taught that the conservative base will hold its candidates accountable.  It is not enough for us to scream about fiscal responsibility and the Constitution.  It is not even enough for us to push conservative candidates in the primaries.  Unless and until Republicans face negative consequences come election time when they field non-conservative candidates, the party has no reason to change its behavior.

In other words, the party won’t change until it sees its non-conservative candidates lose not only in primaries (see ya, Eric Cantor (R-CA)), but also in general elections, and lose because the conservative base stayed home or cast protest votes.

I know I have argued to the contrary in the past, in particular with respect to the Ron Paul libertarian devotees.  But as I’ve watched the GOP in large part fail in its function as the opposition, and as I’ve watched the establishment repeatedly torpedo conservatives within its own ranks, I’ve become of a mind that more drastic action is necessary, or we’re forever going to face a choice between the Left and the near-Left.

As long as conservatives continue to settle, as long as we continue to be good soldiers every other November and show up to vote for bad RINO candidates, that’s what the GOP is going to give us.  The Reince Priebus/Karl Rove machine will continue to give us Mitch McConnells and Thad Cochrans in the Senate, and will continue to serve up the likes of Chris Christie and Jeb Bush for President, promoting the Republican brand, but with no substantive difference.

I have no interest in having a Republican President or Republican representatives in Congress for the sake of having Republicans.  If you don’t stand for conservative principles of limited government and adherence to the Constitution, I don’t care what letter you have next to your name on the ballot.

We’ll see what Mitch and the GOP do now that they’ve been handed the keys to the Capitol.  I’d like to hope that they do something to change my mind over the next two years (they’ve warned Obama not to take executive action on amnesty, although I suspect that’s only so he doesn’t steal their thunder).  But I doubt they will, and if they don’t, it’s going to take some real housecleaning to return the party to its conservative roots.

And that means 2016 (and beyond) may be even more painful than we think.

Dehumanizing

“If you ladies leave my island, if you survive basic training, you will be a weapon.  You will be a minister of death, praying for war.  But until that day, you are pukes.  You are the lowest form of life on Earth.  You are not even human f*cking beings.  You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian sh#t!”

        —R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket

 

Imagine, if you will, a 24-year-old single mom, with her five-year-old in the car, being assaulted by a man who repeatedly shoves her to the ground.  Imagine she’s berated with a flood of curseword-laden epithets.  Imagine she’s dragged around by her feet until her dress rides up over her head.  Imagine, then, her tearful, angry, frightened, and, yes, f-bomb-laced report to the police officer at the scene gets recorded.

Does this sound funny to you?  Is it even remotely entertaining?

Well, it was to CNN anchor Carol Costello, who last week broadcast the audio with this gleefully grinning introduction (just watch her face in the video embedded in the linked story):

“This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.  Well, come across in a long time . . . Sit back, and enjoy.”

Best.  Audio.  Ever.  Enjoy.

That’s her introto audio about an assault of a single mother (she later repeated the “best minute and a half of audio” remark via Twitter).  Following the audio, Costello returned to the screen, still smugly grinning, and confided that a lengthy expletive bleep was her “favorite part.”  She closed by telling viewers:

“You can thank me later.”

Wow.

Not that it matters, but did I mention that the young single mother in question was Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin?

Actually, it does matter, because it turns out that just three months earlier, Costello posted an op-ed at CNN.com demonstrating that she, in fact, knows better.  Boldly piling onto the Ray Rice assault story that by then was already nearly six months old, Costello—rightly, I might add—got all over Rice and the NFL and condemned the cowardice involved any time a man assaults a woman.  I mean, that’s bad when a man assaults a woman, right?

Unless that woman is the daughter of a much-reviled star of your political enemy, apparently.

After a week of being blasted for her callous display—and it’s worth noting that CNN never even suspended her, much less fire her—Costello finally apologized.

Via Twitter.

She refuses to apologize on the air, and you know she hasn’t had the guts or decency to call Bristol and apologize personally.

Classy.

Ms. Costello herself has been a victim of a violent assault.  She—taking her at her word—knows what that’s about.  When the victim is Janay Rice, or herself, she knows that’s a heinous, despicable act.  Why, then, is it hilarious when the victim is Bristol Palin?

The answer, I’m afraid, says a great deal about the very dark place to which we’ve allowed ourselves to slip: Carol Costello does not view Bristol Palin or anyone else associated with the political Right as a human being.

[As an aside, I don’t think anyone knows what Bristol’s political views are, if she has any, and she’s never run for office or held herself out as a pundit.  In this instance we’re talking pure guilt-by-association]

This is where we are now, kids.  We’ve reached the point where those with whom we disagree—and their children—are no longer human beings, and therefore any mishap, epithet, or mistreatment that may befall them—or that we, ourselves, may cast upon them—is not only OK, it’s the height of entertainment.  And this is what then allows us to take joy in the physical abuse of someone on the other side.  Or publicly equate someone with barnyard excrement just because we disagree with them.  Or mock the fact that a political opponent is confined to a wheelchair.

I’ll confess this is not confined to to the Progressive Left, although I submit you’ll find more examples of it on that side of the discussion.  This is running through our society, and it’s a direct result of us allowing ourselves to slip into a culture of dehumanization and death.

TheCollegeFix.com reports that a growing number of students on college campuses not only support unlimited abortion on demand, they support “post-birth abortion.”  And for those of you who have previously ridiculed the slippery slope argument against abortion, I want you to pay attention:  some of these students favor killing children up to age five.

Five years old.

That’s not a sperm or egg.  That’s not a zygote or embryo.  That’s not a fetus. That’s not even an infant or a toddler.  That’s a kindergartener.

The argument these people make is that—supposedly—human beings don’t become “self-aware” until age five, and until they reach that stage of development, they’re not fully human.  Therefore, it is not society’s place to substitute its moral judgment for that of the mother.  Having reduced the child to sub-human status in their minds, they then view it as OK to kill the child as a matter of convenience.

Once this mindset takes hold, there is almost no limit to the depravity it will permit.  The Holocaust was not possible without the Nazis first being able to reduce Jews, in popular thinking, to less-than-human status.  Slavery was not possible—or at least could not have been sustained from as long as it was—on these shores without a prevailing mindset that African blacks were not human beings; indeed, the argument that blacks are human beings was the most powerful intellectual tool in eliminating the practice.  Today’s Islamists would not be beheading unbelievers and apostates without the same kind of thinking.

This is a dangerous place we’re heading.  We’ve become all-too comfortable with casting people into the pit of the sub-human, or watching others do it and being OK with it as long as it’s not us.  We should be profoundly, viscerally, uncomfortable with the abuse of another (whatever our political differences), or with the killing of a four year old child (or any child).

That we’re increasingly not is very, very disturbing.

Chickenshit

Umpire:          You’re pushing it, buddy, you’ll find out.  You want me to run you?  I’ll run you!

Crash:            Oh, you want me to call you a cocksucker?

Umpire:          Go ahead.  Try it! 

Crash:            You want me to call . . . beg me!

Umpire:          Try it! Call me a cocksucker!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg me!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            You’re a cocksucker.  You’re a cocksucker!

Umpire:          You’re *outta* here!

        —Stephen Ware as the Umpire, and Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham

Why does the Obama administration hate Israel?  More specifically, why does this administration, and Obama in particular, hate Benjamin Netanyahu?

Just this week, a piece in The Atlantic quoted multiple unnamed “senior officials” in the Obama administration referring to the Israeli Prime Minister as “chickenshit,” saying the former commando and combat veteran has “no guts.”

Wow.  Really?

That’s a hot one coming from this President and this administration, particularly while hiding behind journalistic anonymity.  But apparently this is just the latest in a running list of derogatory references to Netanyahu that The Atlantic catalogues as including: “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’”

Is this really how we speak about the leader of one of our closest allies?

Meanwhile, last week in response to the killing of a 17 year old Arab-American by the IDF, the Obama administration issued a statement expressing “its deepest condolences to the family.”  That’s fine, so far as it goes, but when State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was informed of reports that the teen was killed while throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli civilians when he was shot (and later buried wearing a Hamas handkerchief), she refused to identify that as an act of terrorism, thus denying the IDF’s action any cloak of legitimacy.  I note this is exactly the same tactic used by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist apologists when they simultaneously denounce “terrorism” yet refuse to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new, and the Obama administration’s mistreatment of Israel and Netanyahu is well documented.  For example:

March 2010:  Obama abruptly leaves a meeting with Netanyahu to have dinner in the White House private residence, leaving Netanyahu to twiddle his thumbs.

May 2011:  Just prior to a UN vote on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Obama publicly calls for a return to the pre-1967 borders, thus undermining Israel’s negotiating position.

November 2011:  Forgetting he has a hot mic, Obama complains to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “You’re fed up with him?  I have to deal with him every day.”

September 2012:  Obama refuses Netanyahu’s request for a meeting, despite Netanyahu’s volunteering to fly to the District to do it.

July 2014:  While Israel is actively engaged in an effort to stop Hamas from firing rockets from Gaza into Israel, the administration announces $47 million in aid for Gaza, where instead of building hospitals and homes, Hamas builds tunnels for smuggling terrorists into Israel.  This is on top of the $400 million a year the U.S. sends to the Palestinian Authority, which under the unity government arrangement, helps fund Hamas.

Why are we being like this?

The Atlantic, for its part, blames the soured relationship on Israel, in particular on the continued building of settlements on the West Bank.  To be sure, the settlements tend to present a stumbling block on the road to peace, as they increase Israel’s hold on buffer zones she views as necessary to her national security.  But The Atlantic—and, apparently, the Obama administration—forget that Israel has a history of giving up land for peace only then to be attacked from the very land she gave up (see, e.g. Israel’s withdrawal from settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005).

And Israel has good reason for concern.  Israel is tiny; with about 8,000 square miles of territory and a population of 8.2 million, she is roughly the same size as New Jersey.  Discounting the West Bank, Israel is barely 8 miles wide at her narrowest point, which makes for a very precarious defensive situation.  She is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and hostile Islamic states to the south (Egypt), east (Jordan), and north (Lebanon and Syria).  She has been invaded or threatened with imminent invasion by those states three times in the last 60 years (1948, 1967, and 1973).  Calls for the destruction of Israel are common in the Islamic world, which is becoming increasingly influential on the international stage; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a permanent delegation to the UN, and its 57 member states typically vote as a bloc together with permanent Security Council members Russia and China, and is a primary driver behind pushes for UN resolutions criminalizing any speech deemed “insulting” to any religion (read: anything that upsets Islam).

And ISIS now controls areas barely 200 miles from the Israeli border.

You’ll forgive the Prime Minister if he’s more than a little frustrated and impatient with a U.S. administration that has little serious time (or regard) for him, even as it inches ever closer to a deal that will ultimately allow Iran to become a nuclear power.  Iran has repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, declared its desire and intention to erase Israel from the map.  There is no reason not to take them at their word; if the Iranians get a nuclear weapon, they will use it on Israel, and they will do so immediately (Iran’s Shahab-3 cruise missile has a range of 1,200 miles, placing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv within easy striking distance from western Iran).

And that’s where the rubber really meets the road, because what it tells us is that in this drama there are, in fact, good guys and bad guys.

In contrast to Iran, or Hamas in Gaza (at least tolerated, if not supported, by the ruling Palestinian Authority in the West Bank), or Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel has never called for the destruction of any nation or group of people.  And what’s telling about that is that Israel could long ago have cleaned Gaza and the West Bank of every living Arab if she wanted to.

But she hasn’t.

To the contrary, Arabs in Israel enjoy full citizenship, the same as Jews or anyone else.  They can and do vote, serve in the Knesset or the courts, and own property.  They pay the same taxes and receive the same government benefits as Jews.  They can freely and openly practice their religion.  Women, homosexuals, and even Muslim Arabs enjoy more freedom in Israel than anywhere else in the Middle East.

That we won’t stand firmly with what is obviously the only open, free, democratic society in the region—and indeed, why we instead are almost openly hostile to it—is flabbergasting.  And it stems directly from this administration’s pathological inability or unwillingness to call a spade a spade.  If we learned nothing from the Harry Potter franchise, it’s that you can’t fight an enemy until you have the courage to call it by its name.  Yet these people are so wrapped up in their hyper-politically-correct worldview that they can’t acknowledge reality.  They can’t accept that there are in fact good guys and bad guys, and identify them.  They can’t call terrorism terrorism.  They can’t call evil evil.

I suppose we shouldn’t really be surprised at this point.  This is the same administration that blinked at its own “red line” in Syria; couldn’t pull the trigger on defending the consulate in Benghazi, and then repeatedly tried to blame it on a stupid internet video rather than call it terrorism (and two years later, Obama still has never had enough spine to stand before the American people like an adult leader and discuss that incident); insisted on calling the shootings at Fort Hood “workplace violence” despite convicted killer Nadal Hassan repeatedly shouting “Allahu akbar” as he did it; still hasn’t taken meaningful action to curb the growing threat from ISIS; delayed an attempt to rescue ISIS hostages until the intelligence on their location was stale (two have since been beheaded); and three times canceled the raid to capture/kill Osama bin Laden.  Not coincidentally, this is the same administration that repeatedly gets caught spying on our closest allies (no wonder Obama almost never sits down with any of them one-on-one); has repeatedly hidden from legitimate inquiries behind stalling and bogus claims of executive privilege; never takes live press Q & A; and routinely engages in sophomoric gamesmanship.

And now we know this is the same administration that anonymously badmouths its friends to the press.

We have a word for that:

Chickenshit.

Dropping The Ball On Ebola

If the world is a monster

’bout to swallow you whole

Philomath, they know the lowdown

Throw your troubles out the door

(I’ve been there, I know the way) Can’t get there from here

        —R.E.M., Can’t Get There From Here

 

I’ve been holding off on this, because I hate stating the obvious; but sometimes there’s just no way around it.

On March 25, the Centers for Disease Control reported an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, with 86 suspected cases resulting in 59 deaths.  In less than a week, that had expanded to 112 cases and 70 deaths in Guinea, and reports of infection were spreading to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Reaction from the White House?

Nothing.

Within two weeks the numbers in Guinea had risen to 151 cases and 95 deaths, and cases were further spreading in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  By the end of April the number of cases had passed 200, with 146 dead.  After five weeks, had the Administration blocked travel to/from these places?  Nope.

But it had managed to send a heavily armed team of federal agents to a ranch in Nevada to collect a tax bill.

Through May and June, the virus continued to spread.  By the end of June—90 days after CDC reported the outbreak—there were over 400 cases in Guinea, over 200 in Sierra Leone, and over 100 in Liberia; numbers double or more what they had been a mere eight weeks earlier.  Did the Administration move to block travel to the places battling the infection?  No.

But it did find time to make an illegal swap of five Taliban generals for alleged Army deserter Bo Bergdahl (as an aside, despite the apparently unanimous consensus of his unit as to what happened, we conveniently won’t have the results Army’s investigation until after the midterms).

CDC’s reported cumulative combined case totals continued to explode through the summer, as the virus further spread to parts of Nigeria (I’m only giving samples of the semi-daily updates here for space reasons; you can see them all here):

July 7:                 779 (481 dead)

July 14:               888 (539 dead)

July 21:            1,048 (632 dead)

July 28:            1,201 (672 dead)

August 4:        1,603 (887 dead)

August 12:      1,848 (1,013 dead)

August 19:      2,240 (1,229 dead)

August 28:      3,069 (1,552 dead)

In the five months since CDC first reported the pandemic, the number of cases had risen from 86 to over 3,000, with a fatality rate of over 50%.  By now, at least two Americans were among the medical aid workers infected while trying to care for the sick and dying.  Yet there was essentially no reaction from the Obama administration, and no move whatsoever to curtail traffic to the U.S. from the infected region.

On September 6, CDC reported that the infection had spread to Senegal, and was also being reported in Congo (although somehow CDC had determined that the latter was unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa).  Curiously, CDC for the first time included in its report—almost defensively—that no confirmed cases had been reported in the U.S.  Even more curious, CDC stopped including the cumulative numbers from West Africa in its semi-daily updates.

The following day—and I’ll leave it to you to speculate whether the CDC’s change in reporting the day before was mere coincidence—President Obama was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he told Chuck Todd he was sending the Army to go build isolation units in Africa and that we need not worry about Ebola here:

“Well, Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion herein the United States short term, because this is not an airborne disease.”

Just three weeks later, CDC confirmed infection of a man in Dallas who had flown here from Liberia.  He died October 8, and at least two of his U.S. caretakers have contracted the disease.  Now six-and-a-half months in, there have been nearly 9,000 cases, and nearly 4,500 deaths.  The disease has now been reported in Spain as well as in the U.S.  Although there is now some minimal level of pre-flight screening at some African airports, and post-flight screening at a total of five U.S. airports (beginning only this week), there is still no ban on travel to/from the affected areas.

This is inexplicably inept, or criminally derelict.

Efforts to aid local treatment to contain the disease are commendable, although one can question whether that’s within the U.S. federal government’s constitutional mandate; it’s almost certainly not a proper role for an already over-stretched military.  But if your objective is to protect Americans, the obvious and easiest first step is to ensure that that the disease can’t get here from there. And indeed, the WHO emphasizes the importance of keeping healthy people separated from the sick as critical to preventing spread of the disease.  Duh.  While it may be true that the Ebola virus itself is not airborne, its infected hosts certainly can be.  Airport screening is only as good as your ability to catch infected people; if they’re not yet symptomatic—it can take as long as three weeks after infection to show symptoms—or if they lie, you may well not find them until it’s too late.

Say what you want about the competency of CDC’s protocols, or the Dallas hospital’s initial response to the first case of infection.  None of those things would have been an issue if people from the affected region simply couldn’t come here in the first place.  Although Thomas Duncan would, tragically, almost surely still be dead, the two American nurses who are now fighting the disease wouldn’t be infected, and the dozens or more who have had contact with his caregivers (and so on . . . and so on . . .) would not now be at risk.

Unlike the crazies on the Left who to this day believe George W. Bush deliberately created Hurricane Katrina by executive order because he hates black people, I do not blame the Ebola outbreak on Obama.  Its presence now in the U.S. for the first time, however, rests squarely on the shoulders of his indecisiveness and the incompetence of his response once it came.  This really should have been a no-brainer, maybe not on the day of the first CDC report in March, but certainly by July when the pandemic was clearly exploding and was beginning to affect American aid workers in West Africa.  Yet although Obama told Chuck Todd in September he had made the Ebola issue a priority for his national security team what is now nearly four months ago, the one action item with the best chance of protecting Americans at home still hasn’t been taken.

Why?

That question becomes even more jarring when you compare the delay and non-response on Ebola to the speed with which the Administration acted to ban travel to Israel.  On the morning of July 22, a Hamas rocket landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.  One rocket.  Within 24 hours, the FAA had ordered U.S. domestic carriers to suspend flights to Israel.  Presumably the idea was to protect American lives that might be at risk should the fighting result in a commercial aircraft being hit.  Never mind that in living memory—someone please correct me if I’m wrong—no commercial airliner coming into or out of Ben Gurion has ever been hit by ordnance from the 60 year old Israel/Palestine conflict.

Clearly this Administration knows how ban travel, and to do it quickly, when it so chooses.  Why the inaction on Ebola?

Is the President afraid of damaging our critical diplomatic ties with Liberia?  Does he want to preserve our essential trade relations with Sierra Leone?  Does Guinea have some strategic position that is vital to our national defense?

Is it because the affected region consists almost entirely of heavy Muslim-majority countries (Liberia being the lone outlier)?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given this President’s track record of having no strategy to deal with ISIS in Iraq or with Russia in Ukraine, and complete inaction to secure the Southern border, among some of his more recent failures.  But we really have to ask in this instance how this President has managed to miss something so basic as taking the most concrete measure possible to prevent the virus from getting to the U.S. in the first place.  After all, how did Ebola get into Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria?  An infected person traveled there from Guinea where the initial outbreak began.

Now it may be too late.