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.

Saving Us From Nothing

“What are you doing, Dave?”

        —Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

I suppose nothing should surprise me anymore.

I read last week that the Department of Homeland Security is getting into the business of fighting “climate change.”  Not EPA. Not NOAA.  Homeland Security.  You know, the federal agency created in response to terrorism that has all the guns and armored vehicles, and whose stated “vital mission” is “to secure the nation from the many threats we face.”

Under the guise of ensuring “disaster resiliency,” DHS has started conducting studies on the resilience of infrastructure such as roads and the electrical grid, and how to protect against what it claims are rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion.  Apparently, all of this stems from a heightened awareness in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as though Sandy was in fact caused by “climate change.”  I can only assume from that chain of logic that there were no major hurricanes prior to the 1930s when evil mankind started to bake the planet.

Tell that to the 8,000 or so people killed by the Category 4 hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900 (Sandy, by contrast, was a Category 2 storm when it made landfall in the northeastern U.S.).

I’ll get to the “climate change” thing in a bit.  Let’s first just think for a minute about this.  DHS is worrying about polar ice caps and sea levels at a time when the border is so porous that investigative reporter James O’Keefe—the guy who brought down the ACORN scam—was able to wade across from Mexico, unmolested, while dressed as Osama bin Laden.  And if you think that’s not a significant issue, consider that the government is in the process of putting up a massive residence hall to house thousands of illegals on a 50 acre tract outside of San Antonio.  Or if strain on infrastructure is a concern, how about the 85,000 students speaking 85 languages other than English now crowding Las Vegas schools?  Or the fact that in Nashville—not exactly right on the border—the school population is now 20% Hispanic.  And because we’re not deporting the few people who do get caught and some 70% of them don’t show up for their immigration hearing, 40,000+ people a year are disappearing into this country even after DHS had them in custody. That, of course, is on top of the nearly a million a year we don’t catch.

The fact is that the immigrant population, legal and illegal, is at an all-time high, and DHS is doing essentially nothing to control it.  And before you start on me with the predictably ridiculous cry of racism, or the we’re a nation of immigrants tripe, I’m not against immigration or immigrants. What I’m against is uncontrolled immigration.  We have no idea who is coming into this country.  300,000 people in the last 3 years have come here from predominantly Muslim countries.  If even 10% of them accept some or all of the violent tendencies of the militant Islamists and sharia law—and as I’ve demonstrated before, that percentage has the potential, if not likelihood, to be considerably higher—we’re talking a group roughly the same size as the entire ISIS fighting force that’s sympathetic to a worldview that wants to impose sharia law and kill—literally—everyone who disagrees, and they’re already here inside the U.S.

And DHS does nothing, choosing instead to play around with barometers and weathervanes.

Not only is DHS essentially ignoring its most basic security function, but it’s diverting its attention and resources to a man-made climate change fantasy that is so politicized and bogus that even the founder of Greenpeace had to resign and distance himself from it.  Aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan does an excellent deconstruction of the data (to get all his slides and then some, look here), and it is interesting because he focuses less on cause/effect and the fraud and conflicts of interest (although he gets into those), and more on the magnitude of the observations in a historical context, even if you accept the alarmists’ data at face value (for detail on why you shouldn’t, watch here).  Among his points are these nuggets:

  1. Recent CO2 increases are insignificant, and not necessarily bad.

The “climate change” panic focuses on CO2 emissions.  Why?  Because if CO2 emissions are endangering the planet, then Government can regulate and tax all human activity, including breathing.  Rutan points out, however, that if you take a longer view of history than the 100 – 200 years typical of alarmists’ “analysis,” we are in fact in a period of relatively low CO2 levels.  During the age of dinosaurs, atmospheric CO2 levels were 6 – 8 times what they are today, and not only was the planet not catastrophically overheating, but it was immensely more fertile and covered in foliage than it is now.  Higher CO2 is better for plant growth and life in general.

Furthermore, the levels that have the alarmists all in a tizzy are miniscule.  The CO2 limit for confined spaces according to OSHA is 0.5%.  The average CO2 level over the time life has evolved on this planet has been about 0.3%. The level of increase the alarmists want you to be afraid of is something like 0.04%.

And because it’s only man-made CO2 that we can control, it’s worth noting that greenhouse gases make up only 2% of the atmosphere, and only 3.6% of that 2%  is CO2; 96.4% of greenhouse gases are something other than CO2 (mostly water vapor—you know, the stuff that turns into rain).  Of that 3.6% that is CO2, only 3.4% is caused by humans.  So man-made CO2 comprises a grand total of 0.12% of all greenhouse gas; 99.88% of all greenhouse gas is something other than human-emitted CO2, despite Al Gore’s mansions, private jet, and SUV.

  1. Any recent warming is neither unusual, nor a significant threat.

Rutan takes a similar tack when he looks at the data for temperature.  Alarmists focus on the last 100 – 200 years to argue that there’s a sudden and dangerous spike over the last century after what they suggest was an otherwise stable global thermometer since the dawn of time.  But as Rutan points out, even if you accept the alarmists’ data, that claim needs some broader context.

First, consider that the seasonal temperature fluctuation on earth (hottest summer day vs. coldest winter night) is about 200 degrees.  The average U.S. city experiences temperature changes of over 100 degrees over the course of a given year, and 25 – 30 degrees or more on any given day. In other words, the temperature changes fairly dramatically all the time.  The alarmists are all worried over temperatures that they “project” will rise about 3 degrees globally over the next 100 years.

Even if we assume that’s going to happen, this is not unusual behavior for the planet, and it long predates Man, much less planes, trains, and automobiles.  The fact is we are in a temperature trough relative to the last 2 million years.  But even focusing just on that trough over the last half-million years, according to Rutan we find that every 85,000 years or so we get a temperature spike; the rest of that time was ice age.  Over the last 11,000 years—pre-dating civilization, so you can’t blame it on Man—the earth has been in one of those ice age recoveries, but it is the longest, most stable, and coolest of those non-ice age periods.  And even within that “spike,” we are nowhere near the hottest time in history, the history of Man, or even in recorded history.  The earth was significantly hotter during the time of Moses, the time of the Egyptians, and the time of the Romans than it is today.  Yet it, and we, are still here.

This is what your Department of Homeland Security is spending its time and your money on.  It’s not securing the border, and it’s not deporting people who cross it illegally, even as ISIS is actively saying it plans to initiate attacks within the U.S.  Instead, it’s chasing rainbows in an attempt to protect you against nothing.

So I have two questions for you to ask yourself:

One, what do you think they’re really doing?

Two, do you feel safe?

**************************************

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This marks the 250th installment of Chasing Jefferson.  In my wildest dreams I never thought we’d get this far.  Thank you so much to all of you who have stuck with me and given me so much encouragement.

Size Matters

 

Agent:     Stop, Ma’am, or I will be forced to treat you as a threat.

Victoria: Where, exactly, is the threat?

        —Thomas Mitchell as the Lone Agent and Helen Mirren as Victoria in RED

 

I hate to have to keep talking about the Islamists, and you may be wondering why I’ve been devoting so much time in this space to a handful of crackpots severing the occasional head in a desert on the other side of the planet.  If that were it, I wouldn’t.  But when you examine the thing you begin to see that there’s lot more to it, and it is in fact a serious threat not just to Western journalists, but to Western existence.

We are told that the issue isn’t with Muslims in general, and that violent extremism is confined to a very tiny minority.  We are told that this is a regional problem, something to be contained and managed.  But, as Andrew McCarthy pointed out in an excellent piece in National Review Online, we have to come to grips with the fact that this is not a matter of small separate clashes with ISIS in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Sudan, or al Qaeda wherever the hell they are.  There is no meaningful distinction between these groups, and we have to understand that rather than discrete, isolated conflicts, these are in fact multiple fronts in a single war being waged by a group that, whatever their internal differences, is united in ideological purpose: eradication of Western civilization and the establishment of a unified global caliphate.

To understand why this is so serious, let’s explore some numbers.

I have previously discussed data on global Muslim attitudes collected by the Pew Research Center.  In a report published last year, we saw that in most places surveyed, substantial-to-overwhelming majorities of Muslims favor making sharia the law of the land.  In many places, more than half not only want sharia, but they want it applied to non-Muslims as well as Muslims.  Some places surveyed showed majorities approaching a staggering 90% favor extreme penalties like beating and amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and death for apostasy.  Significant numbers view suicide bombing and other violence as at least sometimes OK to defend Islam: Palestinian Territories 40%; Afghanistan 39%; Egypt 29%; Bangladesh 26%; Malaysia 18%; Jordan & Turkey 15%; Pakistan 13%.  Even in the U.S., that number is 20%.

Although perhaps not the majority viewpoint, this data suggests there is a large chunk of the global Muslim population that holds attitudes consistent with, if not sympathetic to, the ideology of the “extreme” Islamists.  And that’s even before we realize that Pew excluded many of the, let’s say, more enthusiastically Islamic countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Algeria, and Yemen.  I wonder why?  Of course it’s only conjecture on my part, but my guess is a survey including those countries would tilt the scales just a bit further towards a more ISIS-like set of beliefs.

What does this mean for an ideologically-based war against Western civilization?

Of the 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet today, there is some subset that to some degree or another supports the ideology and even the tactics of Islamist groups like ISIS.  It is difficult to quantify that number, in no small part because fear of persecution or adherence to the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya (which permits a Muslim to lie in order to protect Islam or other Muslims) may skew the results away from what might be called “extremism.”   I think the Pew data suggest a considerably higher number, but let’s say for discussion purposes it’s 10%.  That means the Islamist “population,” if you will, numbers 160 million people and growing.

Let me put that number in perspective.

The population of Nazi Germany in 1939 was about 70 million, or less than half the size of our discussion assumption of today’s Islamist population.  The combined population of Germany, Italy, and Japan at the outbreak of World War II was 186 million, or just a little bigger than the Islamist population today.  In more modern terms, according to The Economist 2013 Pocket World in Figures, an Islamist population of 160 million is larger than Russia (140 million) and just a little smaller than the combined present populations of Germany, France, and the U.K. (about 207 million), and large and growing chunks of all four are Muslim in their own right.

This is not something we can just dismiss.  Now, you might argue that the comparison to the Axis powers is inappropriate because the Islamists do not hold the same technological parity with the West that the Axis did, and you’d have a bit of a point.  I would counter, however, that the decisive difference any technology gap might make against the Islamists is rapidly shrinking as Iran moves ever closer to going nuclear, and as we continue to supply the Islamists with sophisticated weaponry, whether by giving F-16s to an Egypt that may or may not be able to shake off the Muslim Brotherhood, giving armored personnel carriers and RPGs to an Iraqi army that abandons them as they flee before advancing ISIS forces, or by abandoning materiel ourselves because we deem it too expensive to ship back as we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there are also a pair of practical differences that to a large extent render the technology issue irrelevant in assessing the Islamist threat.  One is a matter of geography, or more to the point, lack thereof.  In World War II, you knew where—in an existential sense—the enemy was.  To fight the Germans, you had to go to Europe and push them back to Germany.  But the Islamists—and I think this is a lot of why we find it so hard to perceive this as a single war with multiple fronts instead of several isolated and unrelated skirmishes—know no geopolitical identity.  They are not bound by nationality, but by ideology, which means it is impossible to know where they are—again, in an existential sense—in order to fight them.  They are both everywhere and nowhere, and the ramifications of that are frightening, because it means they are not just in Gaza and Raqqa, but they’re also in our own backyard.

The second is a matter of psychology (or psychosis).  War is always brutal; there are always atrocities, and innocents are always killed.  But your basic German soldier in World War II did not want to die, and he didn’t really want to kill you.  Chances are he had no interest in whether Hitler conquered Europe or the world, and what he wanted most was just to go home to his farm.  The Islamists, however, are an essentially all-volunteer force of true believers.  If they’re fighting, it’s likely because they want to be there, and they want to advance the agenda of jihad towards a global caliphate that swallows Western civilization.  More importantly, they really, honestly, in-their-heart-of-hearts-down-to-their-DNA don’t care who gets killed in the process.  If it kills you, that’s fine.  If it kills them, that’s equally fine; what’s even better is if they can get themselves killed while in the process of killing you.  They don’t even care if their own children get killed—the internet is filled with videos of elementary age kids extolling the virtues of martydom.

Repeat after me, class: They.  Do.  Not.  Care.

This is the nature of the threat we face; it’s real, and it’s bigger than we imagine.  Whether we like it or not, this is an enemy that wants to destroy us, whether by conversion or the sword.  It is an enemy you cannot identify on a map; you can’t march into its capital city and claim victory.  It is an enemy that wears no uniforms; it draws no distinction on our side or its own between soldiers and civilians.  And it is an enemy that places no value on human life, not even their own; this means there is no compromise to be reached, because we have nothing they want except our submission or death.

You cannot negotiate with such an enemy.  Nor can you contain it.  Nor is it enough to (temporarily) “degrade” it, whatever that means.

You have to kill it.  It’s the only thing they understand.

 

Hither, Dither, and Yon

Borodin:    Captain, I would never disagree with you in front of the men, you know that.  But in this case, Viktor is right: it would have been better if you had *not* informed Moscow.

Ramius:     Oh, Vasili, Moscow is not the worry, nor the entire Soviet Navy.  I know their tactics.  I have the advantage.  No, the worry is the Americans.  We meet the right sort, this will work.  We meet some “buckaroo”. . .

        —Sam Neill as First Officer Vasili Borodin, and Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius in The Hunt For Red October

 

I have complained many times in this space about this President’s lack of visibility and more-than-curious refusal to address the nation on serious crises.  I’m beginning to re-think that, and maybe it’s better sometimes if he’d just keep his mouth shut.

On Thursday Obama broke from his usual pattern and actually gave a press conference to address the situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  During those remarks, the President said, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

What?

This is troubling on a number of different levels.  First, if you don’t yet have a strategy, why on earth are you holding a presser to announce that fact to the world, including ISIS?  As we’ll discuss in a moment, this is not an isolated incident for this, er, Commander-in-Chief.

Second, how is it that the President has no strategy for dealing with ISIS?  The group has been part of the anti-Assad uprising in Syria for years.  Although he cavalierly dismissed them as the “JV” back in January of this year, the intelligence community has been warning about them since about that same time.  And it’s been all over mainstream Western news for months that ISIS was taking vast territories from a badly overmatched Iraqi army.  On June 9, ISIS captured the key Iraqi city of Mosul.  Yet nearly three months later, the Obama administration still doesn’t have a plan for dealing with them?

This comes on the heels of Obama in effect announcing that he doesn’t yet have a plan for dealing with increased Russian aggression in Ukraine.  There he went a step further by announcing what his plans would not be, explicitly taking any military response off the table.  I am not suggesting that military intervention necessarily is the appropriate response to the situation in Ukraine, but why on earth would you say out loud that it’s not an option?  By doing that, Vladimir Putin now knows the worst risk he faces is economic sanctions, and with winter approaching a Europe that depends on Russian gas he knows the U.S. is not likely to get significant European support for much beyond what is already in place.

And this is not new for the Obama administration.

Recall March 2012, when Obama—thinking he was off-mic—told then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after the election he would have “more flexibility” regarding U.S. missile defense systems in Europe.  Translation: he told the Russians that if they would just be patient, he would be able and willing to give them what they want.

If publicly telling your adversaries that you’re taking options off the table is bad, the reverse—publicly making threats you are not willing to carry out—may be worse.  Rewind to August 2012, when the President told the world that the use of chemical or biological weapons in the Syrian conflict would be a “red line” for the U.S. as far as military intervention.  Fast-forward to August 2013, when alleged evidence that the Assad regime was using such weapons against civilians prompted calls for action, and Obama denied he said what he said, and then he did nothing.

As not quite an aside, this is essentially the same thing he did with respect to Benghazi, when he promised to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice, and has done basically nothing since. He is now in the process of doing precisely the same thing with respect to the murder of journalist James Foley.  Yet while on his recent vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, he found time to work in eight rounds of golf, raising his total to 35 rounds this year, and 192 rounds since he took office.  It is also worth noting that while ISIS and the Russians have been on the march and the administration did not have a plan, the Commander-in-Chief had time to attend over 40 fundraisers this year; that’s over eighty in his second term, nearly three times Bush 43’s second term tally.  Obama’s total of nearly 400 is second only to Bill Clinton.

Time and again, the President has publicly shot off his mouth about strategies and plans—or the lack thereof—with respect to foreign policy matters.  He has absolutely no grasp of the concept of playing it close to the vest when dealing with adversaries.  Sun Tzu, writing some 2,500 years ago, emphasized the importance of information, particularly about the capabilities and intentions of your opponent, in deciding conflicts; Obama seems to have missed that one.

This administration lives in a state of total denial regarding the threat from our enemies. In point of fact, the administration has expressly denied that ISIS is at war with the U.S., despite the fact that ISIS has expressly and repeatedly said that it is.  Instead of acknowledging the reality and dealing with it for what it is, the Obama administration steadfastly refuses to take them at their word, and has consistently attempted to deal with ISIS and other Islamists as civilian criminals, rather than soldiers at war.  Further, FreeBeacon.com reports that the latest FBI domestic threat assessment refuses to include Islamist jihadis among those threats, focusing instead on things like anti-government militia groups, black separatists, and both sides of the abortion debate.  The FreeBeacon piece notes that the FBI is advised on domestic terror threats by operatives of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

This childish game of insisting it won’t be so as long as we refuse to name it is dangerous.  You may choose not to defend yourself, but you have no choice about being in a fight if the other guy wants to fight.  When you broadcast your every move to the world, ignore what your adversaries tell you are their intentions, and on top of that allow those same adversaries to advise you on how to respond to threats, your ability to defend yourself even if you wanted to is reduced to nil.

Perhaps we could do with a little less talking, and a little more doing.

No Laughing Matter

“You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

        —Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

 

Robin Williams was funny.

Say what you will about some of his politics, but the guy was funny.  Yes, Jumanji was pretty much a stinker, and yes, his manic tendency to race off-script down random rabbit trails could make him hard to watch in an interview sometimes.  But that simply showed us that for all his comic genius, he was all-too-human.  His was a rare entertaining talent, and he will be sorely missed.

One thing I’ve never heard him accused of, however, is being a racist.

Until now.

Apparently—I had to read this in a news report, because I don’t watch narcissistic award shows—Billy Crystal did a tribute piece at the Emmys in which he featured some clips of Williams doing stand-up.  In one of the clips, Williams—in his trademark ad-lib style—borrowed a scarf from an audience member, wrapped it around his head like a niqab (the article refers to it as a hijab, but Williams uses it to cover his whole face, which I understand is a niqab) and said in falsetto, “Welcome to Iran.  Please help me.”

And the Twittersphere went nuts, complaining that the bit was racist, that the show was racist for using it, or that it was insulting to Williams’ memory to make him look like a racist.

Basically, it was racist.

Huh?

I suppose I should expect this kind of lack of thought from people who not only sit down to watch the Emmys, but then feel compelled to get on Twitter to comment about the show.  But let’s take a look at this.

First, the bit had nothing to do with race.  Nothing.  “Racism” is the practice of racial discrimination; that is, drawing distinctions or being demeaning towards a group of people based on their race.  Williams was doing neither.

The niqab or hijab is not associated with any particular race, but with the religious/political doctrine called “Islam.”  In particular it is associated with the fundamentalist variety of Islam focused on sharia law.  That has nothing to do with race.  The Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are largely Arab, but those in Iran—the subject of Williams’ ad-lib—are not.  They’re Persian.  Women in all three places can be found behind head/face covering.  Ditto Turkey, where the Muslims are neither Arab nor Persian, but, well Turks.  In the Sudan, they’re black.  In the Russian Caucasus, it comes as no surprise that the Caucasians are white.  In Thailand they’re Thai, and in Indonesia they’re Indonesian.  In all of these places the sort of head covering Williams was mimicking ranges from common to required by law (as in Iran), and it’s all due to the ideas of Islam, which is not a race.

Repeat after me, class: It’s not about race.

Second, Williams was not mocking or demeaning the niqab/hijab or Muslims.  He was drawing attention to serious human rights issues that plague women under Islamic rule.  Now, apologists will tell you that the head cover is a symbol of chastity and modesty, but particularly in those places where its use is mandatory—as in required not by religious observance, but by national law, and enforced by modesty police (I kid you not)—it is also symbolic of the oppression that in many ways treats women as second-class, if not semi-slaves, and this was Williams’ point.

I touched on this in the last post, but consider that in fundamentalist Islamic societies, women cannot serve as witnesses in the prosecution of a man (or men) she accuses of raping her; only men are competent to testify, and she’d better come up with four of them who agree with her.  Otherwise, not only does the accused go free, but her accusation is now an admission of adultery, for which she may be executed, sometimes by stoning or beating.

Speaking of beating, under sharia, wife-beating is expressly condoned, the rationale being that the woman is to be subservient and obedient to her husband, who is her master.   Further on marital relations, the husband is allowed to take up to four wives, any of whom he may divorce—leaving her penniless and un-marryable—simply by saying “I divorce you” three times; vice-versa is not true for the wife in either case.  By the way, Islam also condones pedophilia; Mohammed—who is to be imitated in every way as the perfect model of human behavior—married one of his wives, Aisha, when she was six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine.  More recently, a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa in 2011 permitting marriage to girls as young as one.

If you’re a woman, not only must you wear that head cover, but many places you can’t go outside, even in broad daylight, without a male relative as an escort.  Nor are you permitted to drive a car.  Some places you can’t even go to school; that’s what the charming gentlemen of Boko Haram have been trying to enforce by kidnapping hundreds of girls in Nigeria.  And while we’re at it, although not really part of Islamic doctrine as such, we ought to take brief notice of the practice of “honor killings” and acid attacks prevalent in Islamic societies—usually committed by a close male relative—when Muslim girls refuse arranged marriages or simply become too Westernized.

This is what Robin Williams was trying to highlight when he donned the niqab, took on the character of an Iranian woman, and pled “Help me.”

Is that what you call “racism”?

That question highlights a much broader issue in that this loaded pejorative “racism” is thrown around so lightly these days it has ceased to have any meaning beyond “I don’t like what you did/said/thought.”  Particularly for the Progressive Left—and I’ll bet you dollars-to-donuts 100% of those who took the trouble to Tweet about an Emmys piece are big-time Leftys—“racism” has become the automatic charge for everything with which they disagree.

Don’t want U.S. judges applying foreign law to Americans in American courts?  You’re a racist.

Support requiring voters have sufficient I.D. to prove they are who they say they are (you know, the same thing most states require for you to collect welfare)?  You’re a racist.

Support tighter border security to prevent ISIS—or whatever they call themselves this week—from slipping in to start bombing American cities or spreading Ebola?  Guess what: you’re a big, fat racist.

Advocate eliminating the welfare regime that has destroyed the black family and trapped millions in an endless cycle of dependency and poverty?  Well, that’s because you’re a racist.

Think it’s a good idea to have school vouchers that not only force competition, but give impoverished black parents a means to send their kids somewhere other than the rat/gang/drug-infested hell-hole that is their local public school?  That makes you not only a racist, but anti-teacher, to boot.

Think affirmative action, alternative ethnic curricula, reduced admission standards, and modified grading scales treat minorities as inherently inferior and incapable, and set them up for failure by artificially inserting them into schools and jobs for which they would not otherwise qualify?  Then your name is Dr. Thomas Sowell, and you’re a racist even though you’re black.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King fought against real racism: fire hoses and police dogs, separate lunch counters, back-of-the-bus, and lynching.  He dreamed of a day when people would be judged not by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.  Today’s Progressive Left has hijacked and weaponized that movement, and perverted Dr. King’s dream into a world where people are judged not by the content of their ideas, but by how their ideas can be misrepresented and then demonized as “racism” without further debate.

And that’s not funny.

Actions Speak

What are words for?

When no one listens, what are words for?

When no one listens, there’s no use talking at all

        —Missing Persons, What Are Words For?

 

I see that once again we have a cease-fire in Gaza that will ultimately prove temporary, and with crises burning there, in Iraq, in Syria, and in Ukraine, the President who as candidate pledged to forego vacations as part of the sacrifice inherent in the office is heading back for his annual half-month respite on Martha’s Vineyard.

Some things never change.

Quite so, actually.  Much of my recent delay in posting is I’ve been trying to work through some thoughts on the Gaza situation, and I keep coming back to the idea that in fact in that context some things don’t change, and there is a broader lesson to be learned.

And it has everything to do with Islam.

Rusty, you know that Hamas and other groups like it are just an extremist minority, and that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful.

So I keep hearing from the PC-crowd.  Indeed, every U.S. President since George H.W. Bush (as well as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) has told us that Islam is a “religion of peace.”  But if the radical jihadists are a tiny extremist minority, and there hundreds of millions in the vast peace-loving majority, I have one question:

Where are they?

Let’s consider some facts.

Wikipedia lists 45 armed conflicts currently ongoing around the world.  Islamists are involved on at least one side (sometimes both) in 28 of those conflicts (most of the rest involve communist revolutions).  In other words, although Muslims make up less than a quarter of the global population, roughly two-thirds of all the war on the planet today consists of Islamists either (a) trying to establish an Islamist state by force (e.g., Afghanistan, Gaza), (b) trying to enforce Islamic law against non-Muslims (e.g., anti-Christian violence in Egypt), or (c) fighting with each other over who has the “correct” version of Islam (e.g., Syria, Iraq).

This is not new.

After moving from Mecca to Medina—prior to which time he had gained fewer than 100 converts to his new religion—Muhammad was essentially a pirate and warlord.  In 630 A.D. he attacked and conquered Mecca, and went on to force almost the entire Arabian Peninsula to convert to Islam or at least submit to Islamic law.

After his death, Muhammad’s armies continued to spread Islamic rule—not by evangelism and thoughtful conversion, but by the sword—throughout the Fertile Crescent, across North Africa, and around the Mediterranean.  Islamists conquered all of the Spanish peninsula and penetrated into southern France by the end of 8th Century, where they remained for 700 years.  They pushed eastward into what are today Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In 1453 they took Christian Constantinople (today Istanbul), and conquered all of what is now Turkey.  In 1529 and again in 1683 Islamist armies nearly captured Vienna, in the heart of Europe. They pushed across India during the 12th to 18th Centuries.  The late 19th and entire 20th Centuries saw Islamists slaughter millions of non-Muslim Armenians, constant bloodshed between Sunnis and Shiites fighting over the “truest” version of Islam, and the never-ending quest to drive the Jews of Israel into the Mediterranean.  Even today, Islamists are fighting not only in the Middle East, but across much of Africa, Indonesia, and the Caucasus.

The so-called “religion of peace” has been engaged in wars of religious conquest literally from its very beginning; wars that have continued non-stop for 1,400 years.  They have fought and killed Christians.  Jews.  Buddhists.  Hindus.  Zoro-Astrians.  African tribesmen.  At some point, the apologists claiming that those waging jihad are only an extremist fringe have to answer some questions:

How do you explain a 1,400 year track record of non-stop violence if they are only a tiny minority?

How is it that these are extremists who are perverting the true religion, when these wars of religious conquest trace all the way back to Muhammad himself, and were continued by his original direct followers?

These questions become extremely important once we are willing to acknowledge the motivation driving the jihadists.  This is not about American “imperialism” and decadence; Islamist violence and conquest was going on for 1,000 years before this country was founded, and the majority of it today is taking place against people other than the West.  No, what this is all about for the Islamist—and has been since the days of Muhammad himself—is forced conquest of the entire planet for Allah, or more specifically, for Islam.

This goal continues today.  A 1982 Muslim Brotherhood manifesto on a “worldwide strategy for Islamic policy” states among its objectives “to establish an Islamic State,” by infiltrating and influencing media and the government to push the Islamic agenda both informationally and legally.  Following up on this, a 1988 Muslim Brotherhood document applying this manifesto to North America in the same manner said:

“The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house . . . so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Understand that Islam is not just a religion, and thus Islamist conquest does not mean religious conversion to the worship of Allah (or at least does not mean that exclusively).  Placards at Islamist protests proclaim “Islam is a Perfect System for All Mankind,” “Death to Those Who Insult Islam,” or “Islam Will Dominate the World”—it’s always about Islam (or Muhammad), never about Allah.  Islam does not distinguish between matters of worship and matters of civil politics and legal governance.  Religion and law are one and the same, and you see this in the full imposition of sharia law in a number of heavy Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, just to name a few.  This alone begs the question just how “extremist” the Islamists really are within the broader Muslim community.

Rusty, it’s not like anyone is going to invade and conquer the U.S. to impose sharia law here.  And besides, we have the Constitution.

Oh, really?

It doesn’t always take a violent conquest.  Consider the situation in Europe.  We’ve discussed this before, but the overall population of Europe, exclusive of immigration, is in decline. Non-Muslim fertility rates in Europe are almost uniformly below the 2.1 per female necessary for a culture to sustain itself.  In places like the U.K., France, Norway, and Finland, the non-Muslim fertility rate hovers at about 1.8, while the Muslim fertility rate is north of 3; in other words, Muslims in those countries are having 60% more babies than non-Muslims.  Some researchers believe the U.K. will become a Muslim-majority nation within 35 years.

The situation isn’t much better here.  The fertility rate for Muslims is between 2.6 and 2.8, while the overall U.S. fertility rate (including Muslims, meaning that the non-Muslim rate is actually even lower) is about 1.9.  This disparity and its implications for our demographics raises serious questions about just how extreme the Islamists’ attitudes and drivers really are.

We’ve covered this before.  In 2011 the Pew Research Center found that roughly 1 in 5 U.S. Muslims believe that violence in defense of Islam could be justifiable in some circumstances, and agree that there is at least a fair amount of support for “extremism”; 20% is no mere fringe minority.  Half identify themselves as “Muslim-first.”

Globally, the vast majority of Muslims believe that sharia should be the law of the land.  A 2012 study—commissioned by WND, so take it with a bit of a grain of salt—suggests that as many as 40% of U.S. Muslims share that belief, even to the point of trumping the Constitution.  Muslim groups have virulently opposed proposed legislation in states such as Michigan and Oklahoma aimed at precluding the application of foreign law over U.S. and state law, arguing that it is racist and “anti-sharia,” even though the proposed measures never mention sharia by name.  Why would these Muslims care enough to oppose these laws as “anti-sharia” unless they were in fact intending to apply sharia law?

Rusty, sharia is just a code of conduct, no different than a WWJD bracelet.  It’s just a cultural difference, and you’re being a racist Islamophobe.

Oh, OK.

Under sharia, non-Muslims are not technically required to convert (although this allowance is often more honored in the breach than the observance), but must accept second-class dhimmi status that denies them many rights and privileges reserved for Muslims, and must pay a special tax called the jizyah.  I will not attempt to catalogue all the evils of sharia, but just to give you a flavor, under sharia law:

  • A woman who is raped must produce four male witnesses (and if she cannot,her accusation is an admission that she is guilty of adultery, which subjects her to death by stoning);
  • Amputation remains a viable form of punishment for crimes such as theft;
  • Merely insulting Islam, the Qu’ran, or Muhammed is a capital offense;
  • A man is entitled to beat any of his up to four wives.

In sharia countries, women cannot drive, and often cannot even attend school.  Nor may they appear in public without a male relative.  Homosexuals . . . well, they are commonly hanged on construction cranes.  And if you can stomach it, go see how many internet videos you can find showing the beheadings of non-believers, then get back to me on the “cultural difference” debate.

The first steps are already here, consistent with the strategies of infiltration, influence, and propaganda set forth in the Muslim Brotherood’s 1982 and 1988 strategic memoranda.  The UN is considering resolutions that would effectively criminalize criticism of Islam. Similar measures are being proposed in the U.S. that would categorize such behavior as a “hate crime.”

It may not be by the scimitar—although 1,400 years of history suggests that if it is, that’s fine with the Islamists—but make no mistake: Islam, and more to the point, sharia, is coming to a statehouse near you.

And you’re not going to like it.

For further information, check out this well-done video by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim anti-Islamist activist.

Who’s Who In Syria?

 

You love me, but you don’t know who I am

I’m torn between this life I lead and where I stand

And you love me, but you don’t know who I am

So let me go, let me go

            —3 Doors Down, Let Me Go

 

Consider this as the Obama administration is preparing to begin military intervention in the civil war in Syria.

Last week the New York Times published a piece telling the story of Matthew Schrier, an American free-lance photojournalist imprisoned for seven months in Syria.  Schrier was attempting to travel to the city of Aleppo when his cab was stopped and he was taken into custody.  He was told he was on trial before an Islamic court, but was not told what the charges against him were.  His prison guards looted his bank accounts and shopped in his name on eBay.  They hacked his email account and sent messages to his mother.  They beat him so badly he could not walk, and he could regularly hear the screams of other prisoners being similarly beaten.

Rusty, isn’t this why we have to go in and get rid of Assad?

The problem is, Schrier was a captive/victim of rebel forces, not the Assad regime.  And his story highlights the basic problem with the administration’s blindfolded and naive policy in the Middle East:  it’s a dangerous game to go picking winners and losers when you don’t really know who the combatants are, because it’s nearly impossible to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  Yet the administration has for some time verbally supported the rebels in Syria, even if it doesn’t know exactly who the rebels are or what (if anything) they represent. 

But the current positioning of naval assets to launch strikes into Syria represents a new escalation of involvement.  Ostensibly, any strikes would be in retaliation for what we’re told is Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Haven’t we heard the whole crusade-against-WMDs tale before?

The administration assures us that it’s virtually certain that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons last week, killing between 300 and 1300 people, depending on who you ask.  Of course, we’ve previously seen dubious and even false claims of this nature before.  Secretary of State John Kerry—he of the “seared—searedin me” memory† of being in Cambodia in Christmas 1968, except that it didn’t happen—tells us it is “undeniable,” but offers no proof other than his say-so.  And, conveniently, we’re already being warned that the actual evidence to support the allegation that (a) chemical weapons were used, and (b) it was Assad’s forces that used them may have been destroyed.  So we’re left to accept on faith this administration’s claim that military intervention in someone else’s civil war in which we do not know who the combatants are is justified because the administration says one side has used WMDs.

At least Bush 43 made some attempt to demonstrate his case for moving into Iraq.

You’ll forgive us if we’re just a wee bit skeptical at this point of anything anyone in this administration says:

  • It has yet to tell the truth about Benghazi, and has gone to some lengths to stonewall, obfuscate, and outright cover it up;
  • It has yet to tell the truth about Fast & Furious, and has gone to some lengths to stonewall, obfuscate, and outright cover it up;
  • It has yet to tell the truth about NSA spying, and has gone to some lengths to stonewall, obfuscate, and outright cover it up;
  • It has yet to tell the truth about the IRS being deployed as a political weapon against conservative groups, and has gone to some lengths to stonewall, obfuscate, and outright cover it up;
  • It lied about the practical and fiscal effects of Obamacare (“if you like your coverage/doctor you can keep it,” “I won’t sign anything that adds one dime to the deficit,” “premiums will go down under Obamacare”).

For those of you true believers, recall that Obama promised you he’d end the war in Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo Bay, neither of which has come to pass.  In fact, I defy you to give me a single example of anything over the last six or seven years on which this administration has told the truth or kept its promise, other than the promise to enact “fundamental change,” (and notice they never told you what that change was going to be).  And now Obama wants us to take him at his word that new military intervention in Syria is justified.

Trust me.

The fact of the matter is this administration has been consistently and spectacularly on the wrong side when it comes to sticking its nose in to pick winners and losers in the rash of civil wars in the Middle East.  The situation is not better, and U.S. interests are not more secure as a result of Obama’s support of rebels in Libya and Egypt; Libya turned a relatively benign but stable regime into a chaotic maelstrom of fundamentalism, ultimately costing the lives of four Americans in the military-style assault on our diplomatic compound in Benghazi, and in Egypt a stable and pro-U.S. regime was replaced with an unstable soup of military control and Islamist extremism.  In both instances, the administration seems to have been woefully ignorant as to just what they would be getting as a result of regime change.  And in the one instance where there was a clear “bad guy” to remove that would have resulted in real and positive change for American interests in the region—Iran 2009—the administration did . . . nothing.

Obama has made no case for intervention in Syria.  He has offered no explanation as to what risk of harm the Assad regime posed or poses to American interests or those of any of our allies;  Assad never threatened the U.S. or Israel.  Indeed, I don’t recall that Obama’s made any effort at all to communicate to his employers—the American public—what’s going on, why it matters, and what he proposes doing.  It is impossible for this administration to make an intelligent choice in taking sides, because when it doesn’t and can’t know who the players are or what they represent, it can’t know on which side U.S. interest—if any—lies.

I hear the human rights argument.  But it is not our business—nor is it a legitimate function of the federal government under our Constitution—to be the world’s policeman, particularly if it’s going to involve the expenditure of vast amounts of taxpayer money or cost so much as a single American life.  Otherwise, why aren’t we also deploying to Sudan, Somalia, Burma, the Philippines, Kashmir, Balochistan, Nigeria, Yemen, and the many other places around the globe where there are ongoing armed domestic conflicts?

And the stakes are much, much higher this time.  Nobody was really all that bent over American involvement in Libya and Egypt.  But Syria’s different.  They are a client state of Iran, and pretty chummy with Russia.  One suspects Vladimir Putin is itching for a chance to assert himself on the global stage, and you know he’s morally certain that when push comes to shove, our Commander-in-Chief is a pussy.  Iran and Syria have both made clear that they will respond to a U.S. attack by retaliating against Israel.  All three of them know perfectly well that the American public does not have the stomach or attention span for a fresh military engagement in the Middle East.  This isn’t the time or place to be provoking either the Russians or the Iranians, especially with so little U.S. upside, if any.

At the end of the day, the conflict in Syria is a civil war.  It’s their fight, and they need to be left to fight it, particularly when we can’t possibly have enough information to take sides.

_______________

† Ironically, when Kerry said this in 1986, he was giving a speech denouncing U.S. military involvement overseas when the White House wasn’t—in his view—telling the American people the truth about it.

Dropping Birth Rate Is Trouble

 

Declining numbers at an even rate

At the count of one we both accelerate

My Stingray is light, the slicks are starting to spin

But the 413’s really diggin’ in

            —The Beach Boys, Shut Down

 

Last Thursday I found myself in waiting room hell, pending surgery to repair a ruptured biceps tendon (hazards of starting martial arts training in one’s mid-40’s).  All three TVs (plus the one in pre-op) were mercilessly tuned to ABC’s The View.  As a side note, Thursday’s episode featured guest host Katherine Schwarzenegger, whom ABC billed as an “author and activist”—she in fact has written a book titled Rock What You’ve Got: Secrets to Loving Your Inner and Outer Beauty from Someone Who’s Been There and Back, whatever that has to do with anything—but who in reality is a 23 year old recent college graduate with two famous actor parents.  I am at a complete loss as to what she could bring to the table, although I suppose her level of insight and expertise fit right in with Whoopie Goldberg (actor/comedian), Barbara Walters (faux journalist), Joy Behar (actor/comedian), and Sherri Shepherd (actor/comedian—anyone seeing a pattern here?).

Despite my best efforts to run or hide, I was unable to avoid a segment entitled “The Child-Free Life.”  Goldberg introduced the segment by referring to a recent piece in Time—she gave no specifics as to the date, issue, author, or even the title, which I soon learned is apparently standard procedure on the program, but I think I found it here—that noted the U.S. birth rate has dropped to significantly low levels.  The general premise of the segment, it became immediately apparent, was that this was OK, maybe even a good thing.  And for the next four minutes, the ladies discussed the evils of having children and the virtues of not, all to the intermittent cheering of the studio audience.

I’m not sure when children, as an abstract concept, became such anathema in this country that we cheer their non-existence.

Among the arguments offered by the esteemed panel:

  • It costs $295,000, before college, to raise a child (Walters, spouting a very official-sounding exact figure, but citing nothing);
  • Years ago someone did a poll showing that 100% of parents of adolescents regretted having children (Walters, operating from memory);
  • Child-free is happier and stress-free (Schwarzenegger, citing her own personal observation from her vast 23 years of life experience, with which she expressly disagreed in the very next breath);
  • Not everyone should have children (Schwarzenegger, to spontaneous roars from the audience);
  • Mommy has to be the conflict-resolver whether there’s one child or multiple (Goldberg, never explaining why that’s a problem); and
  • Children nowadays don’t/won’t take care of their parents (Walters, again citing nothing).

The level of analysis and intellectual depth of the discussion was just staggering.  To her credit, Behar—in her lone contribution to the conversation—did argue that you should have one child “in case you need a matching donor.”  I’m not even sure she wasn’t serious; if it was a joke, no one laughed.

Now, I will agree with Miss Schwarzenegger that not everyone should have children, and I won’t argue that we should enforce some kind of mandatory birth quotas.  But the tenor of the discussion on The View, I fear, reflects a growing societal aversion to children.  And that’s troubling indeed.

The Time piece Goldberg apparently used to kick off the segment centered on 2009 data from the National Center For Health Statistics, and took the position based on loose generic anecdotes to Europe and the idea that lost births can simply be replaced with immigration, that a dropping fertility rate was no problem.  But The Washington Times recently did a piece using the same study updated to 2011 data, and the necessary conclusions are problematic.

The general fertility rate fell to 63.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, a historic low.  The total fertility rate fell to 1.89 births per woman.  The reason this is trouble is it’s well below the statistical replacement threshold of 2.1 necessary simply to maintain a population.  In other words, all else being equal, a birth rate that low means population decline.  And in a society dependent upon multiple ponzi-scheme-driven entitlement programs, what that means is the economic engine is running out of gas.

Consider Social Security, which even the Social Security Administration openly admits is dependent upon having perpetually growing numbers of payors paying into the system in order to fund future outlays; in debt parlance this is referred to as an “unfunded liability”—an obligation to pay in the future for which there is no present savings or revenue stream.  With a declining population, there simply aren’t enough future young people paying in to fund the benefits payments to the larger number of retirees.  The system becomes upside-down, and it necessarily collapses on itself.

Medicare is in largely the same situation, with benefits payments to seniors being dependent upon funding from a sufficiently large base of younger taxpayers.  In a different way, Obamacare will eventually also face the same problem, as there are fewer and fewer younger healthy premium contributors to offset the disproportionate benefits payments to the older and sicker cohort.  None of which is sustainable.

That’s assuming all else is equal, which, of course, it’s not.  And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

As noted above, the Time piece assumed that any declines resulting from low fertility rates will be made up through immigration.  Query whether they should.  I have previously noted that the bulk of our immigration does not consist of wealthy skilled people likely to be large net contributors to our entitlement system, but of impoverished low-skilled laborers, mostly from Latin America, likely to be net consumers.  Rather than curing the fiscal imbalance in the system, the immigrant population increases an already unsustainable draw on ever-depleting funding resources.  But there’s another issue.

While the population as a whole is at fertility rates below replacement levels, consider that the Pew Center reports that the fertility rate among U.S. Muslims is around 2.8, meaning that the muslim population is increasing—in addition to immigration—while the general population is decreasing.  And when you add in the fact that the Muslim population is younger, thus further increasing their potential for total births—a 20 year old is more likely to have additional children over her lifetime than a 35 year old—and the potential for dramatic demographic shift is clear.  One need only look to Europe, where the declining birth rate phenomenon has been playing out for decades, to see the consequences.  Much of Europe has already become Islamicized, with many countries expecting to see Muslim populations exceed 10% within the next 15 years.  In Britain, some predict a Muslim majority by 2050.  

Why is that a problem?

Leave aside the fact that in a 2011 Pew Research poll nearly 20% of U.S. Muslims found themselves unable to say that violence in defense of Islam was never justified, and that a similar percentage had either a “favorable” view of Al Qaeda, or did not know.  Never mind that 20% said they did not want to assimilate—then why the hell are you here?—and another 16% said they wanted to both assimilate and remain distinct from larger American society—query how you have it both ways.  And forget that while Pew didn’t publish U.S. results for this question, globally the overwhelming majority of Muslims favor making Sharia the law of the land (it’s impossible to give a figure because Pew deliberately broke the results down by region to mask it, but except for Southern/Eastern Europe, regional majorities in favor ranged from 64% to 84%).

No, don’t worry about that.  Forget how women and homosexuals fare in places where Muslims wield political control.    Pay no mind to the fact that the only tolerance Islam admits is of itself, and they will sue for all things accommodating Islam, while at the same time accommodating no one else.  Leave all that aside, because worrying about such things makes you an Islamophobe, and the ladies of The View simply can’t have that.  Just consider this:

76% of U.S. Muslims approved of Barack Obama’s job performance as of 2011

68% of U.S. Muslims favor even bigger government and more services.

Even the DNC doesn’t get those kinds of numbers.

This is where we’re heading with current birth trends and immigration.  Thought you might want to know.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  I am in a cast following my surgery, making typing difficult.  Will try to post when I can, but traffic is likely to be slow for awhile.

Why Syria?

Jones:             I ought to kill you right now.

Belloq:            Not a very private place for a murder.

Jones:             Well, these Arabs don’t care if we kill each other.  They’re not going to interfere in our business.

            —Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, and Paul Freeman as Rene Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark

I am not a pacifist or an isolationist.  But I’ve been wondering for some time why we are bothering with Syria.

Not that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad makes me all warm and fuzzy, because he doesn’t.  I get it that he’s a dictator, and I agree that to the extent his regime is oppressing or even brutalizing opposition factions among his own people that’s a bad thing.  But there’s a serious question being missed in a lot of the discussion over the civil war currently being waged there, and that is: what business is it of ours?

It’s a mistake we’ve made repeatedly over the last 100 or so years, and we don’t seem to learn.

One could argue that the U.S. had little self-interest in intervening in World War I or in the European theater of World War II.  A German victory in either case was not going to pose a threat to the U.S. or to U.S. interests.  Hitler wasn’t going to invade North America, a German-controlled Europe would still have been open for business, and you could argue that (had Hitler confined his Eastward ambitions) the Nazis would have provided just as good a buffer against the Soviets as did NATO.  To be sure, the Nazis were horrific mass-murderers, but it’s not the United States’ job to police that sort of thing on a global basis.  Nothing in the Constitution gives our federal government a mandate to spend untold amounts of taxpayer money and citizens’ lives trying to protect the citizens of other nations from dictatorial tyranny.

At least the Germans were invading other countries, and there is something to be said for helping to defend your allies when attacked.  But in the latter half of the twentieth century and continuing to the present, we have repeatedly involved ourselves in (and in some instances have instigated) other nations’ civil wars. 

In the 1950s it was Korea.  Ostensibly, that was to prevent the spread of Soviet communist influence, although query what real difference the tiny Asian peninsula would have made to U.S. interests.  I guess we might not have Hyundai and Psy today.  37,000 dead Americans later, we have a 60 year old stalemate, with soldiers permanently monitoring a demilitarized zone established by their great-grandfathers.  We repeated the mistake in Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, with even worse results.  After some 10 years, billions of dollars, and the loss of 58,000 more American lives, we—due to political failings, not military—accomplished none of what we claimed to be trying to achieve.  The communists overran the south, and to this day are the ruling party in Vietnam.  Adding to the disaster, U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese Civil War at least indirectly led to the rise of the charming Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the communist takeover of Laos.

Small-scale U.S. involvement during the 80s and 90s in civil wars in El Salvador, Bosnia, and Somalia yielded ambiguous results at best, but still begged the question what U.S. interest was at issue justifying the expense of blood and treasure?

Fast-forward to the new millennium.  Bush 43 took us into Afghanistan to hunt down al-Qaeda in what was initially an arguably legitimate response after 9/11.  But the manhunt soon became a quest to oust the ruling Taliban from power—something almost wholly unrelated to the 9/11 attacks—essentially creating from whole cloth a civil war to replace a regime that was irrelevant to U.S. interests.  The “democracy” we have installed there hasn’t exactly resulted in a replacement government that is all that U.S.-friendly.  Meanwhile, we’ve lost 2,200 American lives (and counting); ironically that’s almost as many as were killed in the 9/11 attacks the Afghan war was supposed to avenge, and nearly a quarter of those losses have occurred since the death of the very man we were there to hunt down in the first place.

Bush 43 also took us back into Iraq, originally to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.  But as in Afghanistan, the original purpose morphed into a quest for regime change, once again basically creating a civil war in the interest of democracy.  And, as in Afghanistan, the government we set about removing from power was all but irrelevant; Iraq had been militarily neutralized in the first Gulf War, and wasn’t a serious threat to U.S. interests, nor was Saddam Hussein particularly destabilizing.  He was a bad guy, but he was a known quantity.  After another 4,400 American deaths, we have no WMDs, and an unstable democracy highly vulnerable to infiltration by radical Islamists.

Although Obama has gotten U.S. troops out of Iraq, we inexplicably remain deployed in Afghanistan now two full years after the original objective—getting Osama bin Laden—was achieved.  And Obama has given varying degrees of support to opposition forces in civil unrest/wars in Egypt and Libya as part of the continuing “Arab Spring,” ultimately resulting in the ouster of established governments.  All of this was undertaken in the interest of promoting democracy; but what about the interest of the U.S.?  Hosni Mubarek in Egypt was a stabilizing presence in the region; he was a reliable ally, and was at least able to coexist with Israel.  Moammar Gaddafi was no friend, but his regime hadn’t been a serious threat to anybody since the late 1980s; as with Saddam Hussein, at least he was a known quantity.  Now both have been replaced by unstable “democracies” run by Islamist majorities heavily influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The lesson from all of this experience should be that attempting to export democracy by force rarely if ever works to our benefit.  None of these examples present a case where U.S. interests were clearly advanced, and in several cases our efforts have been demonstrably counter-productive, if not outright failures.

Which brings me back to Syria.

Our track record alone counsels against getting involved there.  But more to the point, I don’t see what interest we have in that fight.  Assad wasn’t threatening the U.S.; he wasn’t really even threatening Israel.  Recent experiences with Egypt, Libya, and Afghanistan demonstrate that replacing a known dictator with an unknown “democratic” government doesn’t necessarily result in a new U.S. friend.  And while you might argue that it’s a humanitarian thing and he was brutalizing his own people, that doesn’t answer the question of whether that’s an appropriate business for the U.S. federal government. 

Moreover, one of the problems with these conflicts is it is often very difficult to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.  Witness last week’s story about Assad using chemical weapons against the rebel forces; it turns out it may actually have been the rebels who used them.  And it’s been known for some time that the rebel coalition is infiltrated by elements of al-Qaeda.  

Every time we go trying to make some place safe for democracy and turn people who are not historically or culturally predisposed to self-rule into little Americans, it goes bad.  At the very best, it costs us enormous amounts of money and thousands of lives.  Any meaningful attempt to establish a new government requires a long-term U.S. military presence to prop it up, and even then there’s no guarantee that what you get with the new is any better for U.S. interests than what you had with the old; in some instances—like Syria—the potential downside is actually much worse.

The lesson, as always . . . be careful what you wish for.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  Sorry for the absence, but the truth is I’ve been a little tired and needed a break from the fight.