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Ed Driscoll

War And Anti-War

“Engel told Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press that the growth of ISIL in Iraq and Syria was ‘incredibly predictable,’” the Washington Free Beacon noted yesterday, watching NBC’s Meet the Press so the rest of us don’t have to:

“We reported about it. Reporters risked their lives going into Syria to talk about this buildup of extremists in the country, yet nothing seems to have been done. And now we have a very serious situation,” said Engel.

Engel also reported that military commanders are “apoplectic” over the president’s inaction in Syria: “I speak to military commanders, I speak to former officials, and they are apoplectic. They think that this is a clear and present danger. They think something needs to be done.”

“One official said that this was a Freudian slip,” Engel continued, referring to Obama’s admission last week that he does not have a strategy yet for Syria. “That it shows how the United States does not have a policy to deal with Syria, even when you have ISIS, which has effectively become a terrorist army, roughly 20,000 strong.”

As Engel told Andrea Mitchell, his fellow Democrat operative with a byline, The rise of ISIS was entirely predictable. Particularly when you have a president who, as Sen. Blutarsky might say, f***ed up and trusted the advice that Richard Engel proffered to Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show in 2011:

LENO: Well, I mean, our goal initially was to hunt down bin laden and kill him. It took us ten years. We killed him. Over? Time to get out?

ENGEL: It’s time to have a withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that’s what the speech was talking about tonight. And it’s probably time to end the global war on terrorism. Think of it this way. Osama bin laden organized an attack that was carried out against the United States, New York, Pentagon, and the other aircraft, with 19 attackers, 19 guys with box cutters. An attack that’s probably cost almost nothing. And in the end, Osama bin ladin was killed by 24 Americans in helicopters. So what did we do in between? And all of the ground wars, the Iraq war, which had nothing to do with al qaeda. Afghanistan, which is going on now. Still going on. And I think that’s what I think needs to end. This chapter in our history.

Recently retired President Obama evidently agreed, as it was during that same year that he exited virtually all US troops from Iraq. The entirely predictable result had multifaceted consequences. A year ago, Boston talk radio host Michael Graham noted how having those troops there would have influenced the administration’s actions in Syria.  As Graham wrote, “Obama’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will be viewed by history as one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time.” Or as Richard Fernandez posited last month, “The Obama administration has reached what one might call the ‘Pol Pot Aftermath’ of its Middle Eastern policy.”

But hey, aren’t those all acceptable results from Engel’s perspective? In 2006, Engel was quoted by Howard Kurtz, then still with the Washington Post, as saying, “I think war should be illegal. I’m basically a pacifist.”

George Orwell, call your office. In  1942, Orwell wrote, “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other:”

Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me’. The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security. Mr Savage remarks that ‘according to this type of reasoning, a German or Japanese pacifist would be “objectively pro-British”.’ But of course he would be! That is why pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both of them the penalty is, or can be, beheading) while both the Germans and the Japanese do all they can to encourage the spread of pacifism in British and American territories. The Germans even run a spurious ‘freedom’ station which serves out pacifist propaganda indistinguishable from that of the P.P.U. They would stimulate pacifism in Russia as well if they could, but in that case they have tougher babies to deal with. In so far as it takes effect at all, pacifist propaganda can only be effective against those countries where a certain amount of freedom of speech is still permitted; in other words it is helpful to totalitarianism.

It’s certainly helpful to ISIS, both in their formation to capitalize on America’s withdrawal from the region, and now, as they spread death everywhere they go. Or as Mark Steyn noted last month, “ISIS are fast-track Nazis” with a penchant for YouTube-friendly snuff films of their many victims.

But then, Engel isn’t the only Democrat operative at NBC to have a change of heart on the issue. As I quipped last month, Rachel Maddow transformed herself into a neocon so slowly, only Moe Lane happened to notice; the Red State blogger wrote:

Mind you, I agree that ISIS needs to be squashed like an absolute bug.  I just wish that I had a time machine.  It would be priceless to see the reaction on 2004-Rachel Maddow’s face when she saw video evidence that 2014-Maddow was now committing herself to a morals-based, easy-to-escalate campaign in Iraq and Syria.  Or, shoot, the look on June-2014 ‘Iraq is the new South Vietnam**!’ Maddow’s face.  Because I’m pretty sure that Maddow was kind of arguing back then that, hey, the Communist takeover worked out all right over there, hey? She certainly didn’t want to go back into Iraq then.

Seriously, this is why you pick your principles first, and then let your policy positions be informed by them.  Because when you don’t – when you pick what you want to do, and don’t bother working out why you would want to do it – then you end up like Rachel Maddow.  Because she’s not really a neoconservative, you see.  If Maddow was, she’d have a moral center to her universe that was simply better than Barack Obama wants to do this, and I trust him implicitly. And she wouldn’t be required to change her opinions every three months, because the problem here is that Barack Obama here has no moral center that’s better than I want to do this, and I trust myself implicitly.

And the mother of MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow is also vacillating wildly on the issue:

mia_farrow_then_and_now_8-30-13-2

Don’t worry though, Maddow, Engel, and others at 30 Rock have plenty of time to reassess things, depending upon who wins in 2016:

Related: Left-leaning Business Insider.com had the following headline on Friday: “White House: We’re Not At ‘War’ With ISIS.”

To paraphrase the famous aphorism often attributed to Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in war with ISIS, but ISIS is very interested in war with you.

Quote of the Day

August 30th, 2014 - 3:26 pm

In essence, the entire establishment of a South Yorkshire town accepted that the cultural mores of Islam superseded whatever squeamishness they might otherwise have about child rape.

So now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity – along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn. The solutions to the internal contradictions of multiculturalism are (a) David Cameron’s expanded security state; (b) Afsun Qureshi’s universal prostration before Islam; or (c) an end to mass Muslim immigration. The last is too obvious for any viable western politician ever to propose it.

“The Reformation of Manners,” Mark Steyn, who adds, “Not every Muslim wants to chop your head off. Not every Muslim wants to ‘groom’ your 11-year-old daughter. But these pathologies nest within Islam, and thrive at the intersection of Islam and the west.”

And as Brigitte Gabriel noted this summer, the peaceful majority of moderate Muslims are sadly irrelevant compared to the millions who are neither peaceful nor moderate:

Say what you will about the man, but at least until today, the one thing Obama could do reasonably well was look sharp in a suit — hence all of the “clothes have no emperor” gags, dating back to 2008 when conservative blogs attempted to warn voters, Cassandra-like in retrospect, to think twice about the national purgatory they were about to inflict upon America. (And it’s actually not a bad suit; but it is such a dreadful choice when you’re trying to project power on the world stage that you have to wonder if he chose it deliberately for that purpose. But to paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor, never attribute to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by incompetence.)

Of course, today’s tweet was only a matter of time from Esquire — after all, this is the far left magazine which declared “John Kerry: Political Badass” on its cover in June of 2004, and was so in the tank to the Democrat party, it was publishing throne-sniffing “Summer of Obama” pieces around this time in 2011:

Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.

No really, Esquire honestly allowed that to be printed, and I don’t even think they meant it at all ironically. Twenty years from now, we’re going to look back at this time in which a nation’s pundit class went absolutely insane — and no matter how badly they disclaim knowledge of their past writings, it’s up to the rest of us to preserve their glorious nonsense as a warning to future generations.

Of course, in his defense, Obama could just claim that hey, at least I wasn’t stupid enough to trust Esquire’s latest fashion advice

(That last link via Kathy Shaidle. I for one, prefer to remember a much more elegant Esquire, from a relatively more civilized time.)

Update: Also in the president’s defense, he can claim that he wasn’t stupid enough to take Vox’s sartorial advice:

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds goes all contrarian on his readers.

By the way, Esquire speaks about being the president of Sears as if it was a bad thing.

Quote of the Day

August 28th, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Update:

 

More: Legacy really is a fickle bitch:

With Obama publicly declaring that his administration has yet to formulate a plan to combat ISIS — hey those golf courses don’t play themselves when you’re on summer vacation, you know — Tony Lee of Big Government offers up a pair of nice callbacks:

After Obama accepted the nomination in front of Greek columns on August 28, 2008, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin asked, “But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot, when that happens, what exactly is our opponent’s plan?”

Palin also predicted in 2008 that Russia could invade Ukraine if Obama became president. She was mocked for these prophetic remarks:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

When Mitt Romney recently declared that Obama was even worse then he expected, Glenn Reynolds quipped, “Really? Because he’s pretty much exactly like Sarah Palin predicted.” Which makes the unexpected shot at Palin in an otherwise solid piece in the new issue of Commentary by the Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens on “The Meltdown” of the Obama administration rankle so much:

Should any of this have come as a surprise? Probably not: With Obama, there was always more than a whiff of the overconfident dilettante, so sure of his powers that he could remain supremely comfortable with his own ignorance. His express-elevator ascent from Illinois state senator to U.S. president in the space of just four years didn’t allow much time for maturation or reflection, either. Obama really is, as Bill Clinton is supposed to have said of him, “an amateur.” When it comes to the execution of policy, it shows.

And yet this view also sells Obama short. It should be obvious, but bears repeating, that it is no mean feat to be elected, and reelected, president, whatever other advantages Obama might have enjoyed in his races. In interviews and press conferences, Obama is often verbose and generally self-serving, but he’s also, for the most part, conversant with the issues. He may not be the second coming of Lincoln that groupies like historians Michael Beschloss (who called Obama “probably the smartest guy ever to become president”) or Robert Dallek (who said Obama’s “political mastery is on par with FDR and LBJ”) made him out to be. But neither is he a Sarah Palin, mouthing artless banalities about this great nation of ours, or a Rick Perry, trying, like Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, to remember the middle part. The myth of Obama’s brilliance paradoxically obscures the fact that he’s no fool. The point is especially important to note because the failure of Obama’s foreign policy is not, ultimately, a reflection of his character or IQ. It is the consequence of an ideology.

“Artless banalities.” Shades of how JFK’s elitist liberal inner circle turned on his successor, despite Lyndon Johnson taking all of JFK’s policies and with the Great Society, super-sizing them, Texas-style. Which was the problem: Johnson’s Texas mannerisms, southern drawl, and lack of Ivy League hauteur trumped his actual politics — which the Beltway crowd adored, but couldn’t reconcile with the artless banalities of the person advancing them, as Jeffery Lord noted a couple of years ago at the American Spectator in a piece titled, “JFK and the Death of Liberalism:”

The attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy’s liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists — slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself.

Recall Caro’s descriptions of people who were “in love with their own sophistication,” who were “such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not.” Think of the snotty arrogance displayed as these people laughed at LBJ’s accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife (“Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop“).

Slowly, and then not so slowly, these elitist, arrogant and if not outright snotty attitudes sought out a new target during the years when LBJ was sitting in the White House — when, in the view of these people, “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop” had replaced the King and Queen of Camelot.

That new target?

The American people themselves. They had, after all, elected LBJ in a landslide in 1964. Now Uncle Cornpone was the elected President of the United States. To make matters more unbearable, LBJ was using his newfound power and popularity to actually pass the liberal agenda of the day, which Johnson labeled “The Great Society.” Uncle Cornpone, it seemed, wasn’t such a ridiculous figure after all when it came to getting the liberal wish list through the Congress.

No one better than JFK would have known instantly what a huge mistake this elitist attitude would be. Discussing the relationship of a presidential candidate with the American people, JFK had told historian and friend Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series, that, in White’s re-telling, “a man running for the Presidency must talk up, way up there.” It was a principle Kennedy surely would have applied to his own party — and did so while he was president. Not from JFK was there a drop of elitist contempt — from a man who unarguably could claim the title in a blink — for his fellow countrymen.

But in a horrifying flash, JFK was gone. And the elitist tide spread.

To both sides of the aisle in the Beltway media, it seems.

Update: Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell in 2008: “Palin’s Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘extremely far-fetched scenario.’” He had plenty of company to share that bit of conventional wisdom with, including Time, Foreign Affairs, and other establishment leftist publications, as recently as earlier this year.

More Mush from the Wimp

August 28th, 2014 - 2:49 pm

“Obama REFUSES to call 1,000 Russian troops and tanks in Ukraine an ‘invasion’ and sticks to sanctions but McCain says he’s living in ‘Putin’s Orwellian universe,’” the London Daily Mail notes, reporting on the former president’s speech today. I’m not sure why the “But” is included in their headline though:

President Barack Obama refused to label Russia’s military action inside eastern Ukraine as an ‘invasion’ on Thursday, calling it an ‘incursion’ despite facing a reporter’s specific action [sic] about his choice of words.

Following a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama told reporters that the two leaders agree ‘that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine. … Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.’

‘And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see.’

He insisted that the Russian tanks filmed rumbling through Ukraine on Thursday are merely ‘a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.’

* * * * * * *

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republicans’ top dog on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reacted angrily before Obama’s brief press conference.

‘Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine can only be called one thing: a cross-border military invasion,’ he said. ‘To claim it is anything other than that is to inhabit President Putin’s Orwellian universe.’

‘A sovereign nation in the heart of Europe is being invaded by its larger neighbor,’ McCain declared. ‘This runs completely contrary to the civilized world that America and our partners have sought to build since World War II.’

Of course, as Victor Davis Hanson writes today in “Obama’s Hazy Sense of History,” the recently retired president apparently believes that postwar world was something that merely happened organically:

Obama often parrots Martin Luther King Jr.’s phrase about the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. But King used that metaphor as an incentive to act, not as reassurance that matters will follow an inevitably positive course.

* * * * * * *

A Pollyannaish belief in historical predetermination seems to substitute for action. If Obama believes that evil should be absent in the 21st century, or that the arc of the moral universe must always bend toward justice, or that being on the wrong side of history has consequences, then he may think inanimate forces can take care of things as we need merely watch.

In truth, history is messier. Unfortunately, only force will stop seventh-century monsters like the Islamic State from killing thousands more innocents. Obama may think that reminding Putin that he is now in the 21st century will so embarrass the dictator that he will back off from Ukraine. But the brutish Putin may think that not being labeled a 21st-century civilized sophisticate is a compliment.

As VDH concludes, “Obama’s naive belief in predetermined history — especially when his facts are often wrong — is a poor substitute for concrete moral action.”

And speaking of a lack of concrete moral action, “President Obama said Thursday he doesn’t have a strategy yet for defeating Islamist militants in Syria,” the Washington Times adds:

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Mr. Obama said in a news conference at the White House. “We don’t have a strategy yet. As our strategy develops, we will consult with Congress.”

Really, Mr. Obama will consult with Congress? Well, there’s a first time for everything I guess. (Not the least of which is the former president’s tan gaberdine suit. It’s a nice choice — if you’re hoping to project an image that says, “Hey, I’m a friendly laid-back toff enjoying this fine summer day. Say, who’s up for a few Mojitos at the bar!” And Putin, if not ISIS, will very likely understand the semiotics of the president’s rather blasé image.)

Speaking of which, if the former president does sound rather blasé about Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, or ISIS slaughtering troops and journalists and uploading videos of the carnage to YouTube, there is one foreign affairs issue that fires him up and finds him “enraged” and ready to punch back twice as hard:

In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).

Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.

As Peter Wehner of Commentary writes, “It’s clear to me, and by now it should be to others, that there is something sinister in Barack Obama’s constant anger aimed at Israel.”

Great priorities there, Barry. By the way, if you’ve lost CNN…

Update: At Strategy Page, Austin Bay notices the timing of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:

In August 1939  — 75 years ago this week — Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin signed the Hitler-Stalin Pact. In the wake of the Russo-German alliance, newspaper wits coined the term “ComunNazi.” Communist-Nazi. Yes, “red” and “brown” entwined as the dictatorships they are.

The two dictators’ legions of liars hailed the deal as a peace treaty. Peace? Eastern Europeans in the dictators’ gun sights scorned the falsehood.

“Peace in our time, ” Neville Chamberlain had proclaimed after the wretched Munich deal of 1938, which gave Hitler permission to annex slices of Czechoslovakia. Of course, when given a slice, Hitler annexed the whole.

Expansionist dictators take until stopped by superior power.

Or until blinded by really sharp lightweight bespoke summer suits, and/or the power of the #hashtag:

More: “Wish he was as angry with ISIL as he is with the GOP.”

Oceania Has Never Been At War With Eastasia

August 26th, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Past performance in no guarantee of future results:

We spoke of 9/11 as though it were somehow equivalent to Pearl Harbor, the beginning of a global war against enemies bent on, and at least theoretically capable of, destroying the American way of life (unlike al Qaeda, a ragtag band of extremists with limited punch). We spoke of cultural wars and a divided world. We reorganized our entire security establishment to go after a few thousand bad guys. We went mad.

And now, as we are recovering our senses, withdrawing from Iraq, and soon starting to exit Afghanistan, having buried bin Laden and hosts of his henchmen, we are beginning to be able to see this. At least in theory we can. For the next couple of weeks, we will witness documentary after editorial mega-feature, interviews with victims and heroes, the American legend machine producing historical bumpf at full blast. That is not, by the way, to diminish the brutal blows struck 10 years ago or the deeply felt human experiences associated with it and its aftermath. Rather it is to say that once again we will seek to frame 9/11 as a great event, the definer of an era, when in fact, its greatest defining characteristic was that of a distraction — The Great Distraction — that drew America’s focus and that of many in the world from the greater issues of our time. That distraction and the opportunity costs associated with it were bin Laden’s triumph and our loss — and our ultimate victory will come as we get a grip back on reality.

“The Black Hole of 9/11: As we assess the legacy of the 10th anniversary of America’s seminal terrorist attack, it’s worth looking at 10 events from the past decade that have actually been more important,” Foreign Policy, August 29th, 2011.

According to a report in the Washington Post on Friday, the administration has prepared options for legal authority to use force against IS across both Iraq and Syria. They include temporary justification under the War Powers Resolution, constitutional authority for emergency action to protect U.S. citizens, and consulting with the Congress for open-ended authorization to fight IS. But the same article states that the president has not requested to see contingency plans for broader airstrikes in Syria. If the administration goes the open-ended consultation route with Capitol Hill and the president ignores the contingency plans, it might be a signal that he is not serious about defeating IS.

But if the president does adopt a strategy to include Syria, the American people can be persuaded with an Obama-like 2008 address — such a midcourse correction is optimally-timed to save his presidency from further ignominy. As Daniel Pipes wrote, however, “I do not customarily offer advice to a president whose election I opposed,” I also hesitate to make suggestions that might save the Obama presidency. But the national interest in preventing IS from using Iraq and Syria as launching pads to execute attacks overrides political concerns.

According to Real Clear Politics, the president’s overall popularity is quite low: Between July 29 and Aug. 20, 42 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved of the overall job he was doing across nine different polls. The numbers were worse for his handling of foreign affairs, which, between July 29 and Aug. 12, only 35.8 percent of those polled approved versus 53.8 percent who disapproved over six polls.

“Stopping the Islamic State Might Be Obama’s Chance to Salvage His Middle East Policy,” Foreign Policy, yesterday. (As the first commenter at Hot Air’s link notes, for the MSM, “Once again, it’s all about the ’0.’”)

And then there’s the Washington Post:

Time is indeed a flat circle:

There’s no doubt that anybody given the name Douglas McAuthur McCain by his parents would have a strong urge to consider enlisting in the military, if only to live up to all of the history implicit in your name (even if the spelling of your middle name isn’t quite spot-on, and your last name was purely a coincidence).

It helps, though, to carefully choose the correct fighting force when volunteering, as NBC reports (yes, I know, but presumably, some of these details might be correct). As Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis sang while marching in Stripes, goofing on TV recruitment ads, “Pick a service, pick a challenge, set yourself apart: Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines!” Err, ISIS?

The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash — and an American passport.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain’s passport and of his body — which feature a distinctive neck tattoo — have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.

NBC goes on to note that McCain was “a goofball in high school”:

Douglas McAuthur McCain was born in Illinois on Jan. 29, 1981. His family later moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities area where he attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope as part of the class of 1999.

Classmates at the school – which was described to NBC News as around 75 percent white and 10 percent African American – recalled an “always smiling” joker who liked to laugh and play basketball. McCain wasn’t on the high school team and didn’t come across as religious, according to one basketball buddy.

“He was a goofball in high school,” that classmate told NBC News. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn’t the best athlete, but liked to play.”

Much more after the page break.

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New York, Paris, London, Munich

August 26th, 2014 - 11:47 am

It is indeed like 1938 all over again, alas.

Update: I had forgotten about this recent bit of (literally) blood libel, though to be fair, the grim news in recent weeks has been emerging in firehose-quantities:

The Irrelevant Majority

August 25th, 2014 - 3:14 pm

“NBC Reporter to Islamic Extremists: ‘You Do Not Even Represent A Fraction of Muslims Around the World,’”  Kyle Drennen writes at Newsbusters, watching NBC so that the rest of us don’t have to:

In a report aired on Monday’s NBC Today, correspondent Keir Simmons spoke with Islamic extremists in Britain acting as apologists for the ISIS terrorists who brutally murdered journalist James Foley. A soundbite played of one man ranting: “The question to ask is, who’s really to blame for the death of James Foley? I believe it is the foreign policy of Obama.”

Following the taped story, Simmons added: “It is so sickening, so disturbing to hear a group like that exercise their First Amendment rights…by saying things like that. But I said to them directly, ‘You do not even represent a fraction of Muslims around the world.’”

As Drennen notes, “In reality, millions of Muslims in the Middle East do subscribe to the notion that American foreign policy is the true cause of terrorist attacks against the United States and even justifies such acts.”

But in any case, the peaceful majority are irrelevant, as Brigitte Gabriel brilliantly noted earlier this summer:

Oh, and speaking of the peaceful majority, “What Happens to Palestinian Moderates? Shot in the streets with a pistol to the head after midday prayers.”

Related: “Jimmy Carter To Give Keynote Speech At Muslim Convention In Detroit,” Paul Bois notes at Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt Website today. As Jay Nordlinger noted in his classic “Carterpalooza” article in 2002, “No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. William Safire has reported that Cyrus Vance acknowledged that, if he had had a second term, Carter would have sold Israel down the river.”

Former President Carter must be very pleased with the progress of former President Obama’s administration in that department.

Music as the healing universal language that unites us all, you’re doing it wrong:

(This seems to happen on a regular basis to the “gangsta” rap impresario.) And again:

When pre-Carson Tonight Show host Jack Paar died in 2004, Mark Steyn wrote that in sharp — and depressing — contrast to Paar’s sophisticated early 1960s middlebrow show, “Today’s pop culture is not Marshall McLuhan’s global village but a global housing project of warring ghettos. On the 21st century ‘Tonight Show’ the musical guests are relegated to twenty-seven minutes past midnight, because the country fans hate the hip-hop, and the hip-hoppers hate the Lite FM stuff, and if you put ’em on any earlier, the audience tunes out.”

Very early in the career of The Who, Kit Lambert, the band’s exceedingly bourgeois early manager, hyped the group by declaring, tongue firmly in cheek, “The Who are really a new form of crime. They are anti-social, armed against the bourgeoisie.” Similarly, it’s certainly a legitimate argument that the musicians who played Woodstock did much to cause the fall of South Vietnam to the totalitarian communist North — as Orwell said, the quickest way to end a war is to lose it. But again, at least they did so metaphorically, with guitars and amplifiers. When did pop culture decide to take the metaphor of “a global housing project of warring ghettos” far too literally?

Britain’s anti-Semitic Whiff of Weimar

August 21st, 2014 - 12:46 pm

“There is a whiff of Weimar in the air in Britain,” Douglas Murray writes in the UK Spectator:

There is a whiff of Weimar in the air in Britain. Barely a week now passes without some further denigration caused by anti-Semitic, sorry, pro-Palestine demonstrators targeting businesses run by Jews/stores selling products produced by the Jewish state. You know, like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Starbucks and so on. Most of this fairly random targeting of whatever business sounds a bit Jewish goes unnoticed. Sometimes protestors manage to get the business closed – as with the Ahava store in liberal, enlightened Brighton. Generally they just succeed in intimidating shoppers and making it easier for people to shop elsewhere in some non-Semitic store.

Sometimes the protestors, like this young man in Manchester, are open about their feelings and taunt any nearby Jews by telling them, for instance, how highly they think of Hitler (‘I love Hitler. I’m big on my boy Hitler’ says this nicely integrated young man):

It’s quite a disgusting video, but actually Britain went Weimar almost three quarters of a century ago when in the immediate aftermath of vanquishing National Socialism in Germany, English elites decided to inflict a nationalizing socialism all their own upon the nation.

The bill is both literally and figuratively coming due, both home and abroad — such as Iraq — where, as Mark Steyn writes, “American Decapitated by Englishman,” given the accent of the terrorist who decapitated American journalist James Foley:

His executioner — the man standing next to him in the picture at right — was speaking with a British accent. That’s to say, he’s one of thousands of citizens of western nations — British, American, European, Canadian and Australian — who’ve flocked to join the planet’s coolest new gang and saw the heads off anyone who gets in their way: Christian, Yazedi, Kurd, Shia, Alawite, and, indeed, plenty of little schoolgirls in pretty pink dresses.

See also: the aftermath of those who became jaded and bored by the decadence of the original Weimar.

Obama’s Golf War

August 20th, 2014 - 8:55 pm


Kudos to the New York Daily News, a center-left newspaper, for having a rare moment of clarity, even as its crosstown rival pulls its punches and retracts its own golf-related punch at their boss, and unlike the Daily News a likely accidental one, to boot.

But then, as John Hinderaker writes at Power Line, “In recent months, Barack Obama has crossed an important threshold. He has always shown contempt for his opponents; now he shows contempt for his supporters. He has quit pretending to be a leader, and more or less quit pretending to be a president. On the right and the center, he has become a joke,” as demonstrated by the Michael Ramirez cartoon that Hinderaker links to in his post.

Ace compares Mr. Obama’s contempt for — at this point, well, pretty much the entire world — as something akin to the mammoth level of OCD displayed by the Sheldon Cooper character on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory sitcom. But the subtext of the show is that Sheldon really is genius-level smart — and as a side-effect of his enormous intellect, clueless about how to deal with the rest of the world.

Setting aside the inherent limitations of the modern PC Ivy League education (I’m looking at you, Fareed and Matt), Barack Obama is no dummy — nobody who gets to the White House is — but he’s clearly not the Nietzschian uber-intelligence that he thinks he is. His hauteur isn’t a byproduct of OCD, it’s just leftwing arrogance and contempt for the entire world. Also, Sheldon is a comparatively lowly theoretical physicist at Caltech, with few people to remind him when he’s screwing up. Mr. Obama merely has his entire staff, both houses of Congress, and the entire American media as a performance gauge. And as Hinderaker writes, he’s increasingly flipping the bird to them all and hiding out from the rest of the world in the bunker — and the sandtrap.

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And the bad 1979-era flashbacks just keep on coming: “U.S. military attempted secret rescue operation for James Foley this summer,” claims a report from ABC, the House of Stephanopoulos (link safe, goes to Hot Air):

U.S. special operations forces early this summer launched a secret, major rescue operation in Syria to save James Foley and a number of Americans held by the extremist group ISIS, but the mission failed because the hostages weren’t there, senior administration officials told ABC News today.

President Obama authorized the “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the officials said a “broad collection of intelligence” led the U.S. to believe the hostages were being held in a specific location in the embattled Middle Eastern nation.

When “several dozen” U.S. special operation members landed in Syria, however, they were met with gunfire and “while on site, it became apparent the hostages were not there,” one of the officials said. The special operators engaged in a firefight in which ISIS suffered “a good number” casualties, the official said, while the American forces suffered only a single minor injury.

The American forces were able to get back on helicopters and escape.

Gee, that story rings a bell, doesn’t it? (Not to mention its source at ABC, which turned the Iranian Hostage Crisis into a relentless drumbeat against their fellow Democrat in the White House, via the innovative late night news program, Nightline.)

We already noted earlier today the New York Times‘ “Mush from the Wimp”-styled headline — “Obama, Outraged Over Beheading, Vows to Stay on Course” — right to the 18th hole of the country club. It’s deja Jimmy all over again; somewhere, a Killer Rabbit licks his chops in glee.

Update: A blog commenter at Hot Air wonders if the Underwear Gnomes at the White House are hard at work:

Loving the progression here…

1. Foley murdered.

2. White House knew it was going to happen.

3. Report comes out..”We really tried to save him!!”

4. ???

Meanwhile, the headline writers at the otherwise reliably supine-left Associated Press are also feeling a little salty this week.

Related: Of course: Obama’s fellow Democrat operatives at the New York Times fix embarrassing golf-related headline. More mush from the wimp’s wusses.

More Mush From the Wimp

August 20th, 2014 - 12:25 pm

As Wikipedia notes, “‘Mush from the Wimp’ was a joke headline accidentally passed through to publication at the top of a Boston Globe editorial in 1980:”

On Saturday, March 15, 1980, the Boston Globe ran an editorial that began:

Certainly it is in the self-interest of all Americans to impose upon themselves the kind of economic self-discipline that President Carter urged repeatedly yesterday in his sober speech to the nation. As the President said, inflation, now running at record rates, is a cruel tax, one that falls most harshly upon those least able to bear the burden.

There was nothing exceptional about it except the headline: “Mush from the Wimp”. The headline — which was supposed to have read “All Must Share The Burden” — was corrected during the press run after 161,000 copies had already gone to circulation.

In November 1982, Globe editorial page editor Kirk Scharfenberg wrote an op-ed piece discussing his creation of the phrase and the use of “wimp” as a popular political insult afterwards. “I meant it as an in-house joke and thought it would be removed before publication,” he explained. “It appeared in 161,000 copies of the Globe the next day.”

In the meantime, Theo Lippman Jr. of the Baltimore Sun declared “Mush from the Wimp” the second most famous newspaper headline of the 20th century, behind “Wall St. Lays an Egg” and ahead of “Ford to City: Drop Dead”.

The New York Times inadvertently had its own “Mush from The Wimp” headline today, which manages to combine Obama’s feckless Middle East policy, his monolithic lack of introspection, which prevents him from admitting mistakes and reassessing his administration’s goals, with his penchant for long hours out on the links into one inadvertent brilliant headline.

As Orrin Judd noted recently, it’s only a matter of time before the killer rabbit emerges onto the back fairway as well. But Glenn Reynolds warned us very early into former President Obama’s administration, “A Carter-rerun is now looking like a best-case scenario. . . .”

Related:

Update: The president vows to stay relentlessly on course:

Inversion

August 18th, 2014 - 2:59 pm

The left confuses cause and effect, Fred Siegel writes at City Journal:

Time and again in recent months, I’ve heard inverted arguments on a range of topics. A devout anti-fracking activist, fighting to keep the southern tier of New York in Appalachian penury, assured me that the poverty of northern Pennsylvania was the result of the extraction of wealth-producing natural gas. But the evidence is to the contrary. While fracking has brought in some “roughnecks” and torn up some roads, it’s also brought rising incomes on the southern side of the New York-Pennsylvania border. On the non-fracking New York side, employment in metro Binghamton and Elmira has declined 12 percent since 2001.

In Gotham, Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College professor, and MSNBC host Al Sharpton both claim that Broken Windows policing produces criminality by labeling otherwise law-abiding black youths as criminals. But if Vitale and Sharpton were correct, then New York’s prison population should have increased as a result. That has not been the case. While the prison population of most states rose rapidly over the last two decades, New York’s, thanks to Broken Windows, declined.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper offers up another perverse argument, this one to explain the violence in Gaza. Tapper suggests that it is “hopelessness” in Gaza that’s produced the imperative to fire missiles and build tunnels into Israel. As Tapper and others who spout the Hamas line see it, Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza has engendered the poverty that leaves no choice but war. This is a bizarre argument, since Hamas needed massive quantities of imported concrete to construct the electricity-laden tunnels it used to attack Israel. Here, too, as with Broken Windows policing, an empirical record is available if Tapper had the inclination to consult it. When Israel, led by Ariel Sharon, withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it left behind a system of greenhouses which could have been used to employ and feed thousands of Gazans. But in an act of savagery, Hamas leveled those greenhouses. In the years since Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza, Hamas has started three wars with Israel, each time claiming that it had no choice but to initiate hostilities—often seconded by a suborned press that, whether by ideology, intimidation, or a mixture of both, has toed the Hamas line. Even if you take Tapper’s argument seriously, the three wars have done nothing to alleviate Gaza’s hopelessness.

All of which may explain the “reasoning” the leads to former President Obama’s zero-sum worldview, Star Parker writes today at Townhall:

What a zero sum worldview will produce more of is political, class, and ethnic resentment and strife.

It so happens we have a leader today that has this worldview and his name is Barack Obama. It is not surprising that today’s world over which he is presiding, at home and abroad, increasing shows these characteristics.

President Obama was very candid in a recent interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in which he stated his zero sum view of the world.

“Obama made clear,” Friedman writes, “that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.”

There you have it. No suggestion that there is right and wrong, or better answers that make everyone better off and worse answers that don’t. No, in our president’s take on the world, if there is a winner who winds up better off there must be a loser who winds up equally worse off.

The president then made clear that he views the world through this zero sum lens at home as well as abroad.

The zero-sum worldview may also explain Mr. Obama’s Manichean “Republicans = evil / Democrats unalloyed good” worldview as well. But then, Charles Krauthammer covered that one well over a decade ago.

For my interview with Fred Siegel on his 2014 book, a history of the American left and “Progressivism,” The Revolt Against the Masses, click here.

Related: Forget Zero Sum. I just wish the former president would avoid a zero necktie worldview.

Dispatches From the European Civil War

August 18th, 2014 - 1:01 pm

The more things change…


The more they stay the same…


When exactly did the ceasefire in the “European Civil War” conclude?

Our Recently Retired President

August 15th, 2014 - 8:19 pm

The Presidency is Breaking Obama Even As Obama Has Broken the Nation,” Peter Wehner writes at Commentary, quoting Hugh Hewitt’s recent interview with Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, who tells Hugh:

Well, you know, we had Dana Milbank on who, again, not the most right wing columnist for the Washington Post, but Dana said it’s one thing for presidents going on vacation. We’re all big supporters of presidents going on vacation. It’s another thing to be in Martha’s Vineyard while you’ve got tanks rolling in Middle America, and all the Middle East melts down. This is a president that does go out of his way to show that he’s not paying attention to what anybody says. He’s going to do exactly what he wants to do, and he’s going to be stubborn about it. He is politically, he is either politically tone deaf or he just doesn’t give a damn. And I tend to believe based on everything I’ve heard from people who work inside the White House, and we’ve got a lot of friends there, and based on my friends who are senior Democratic senators, this president has checked out.

Wehner adds:

What could possibility explain this attitude? It may be that Mr. Obama was drawn to the job not for the right reasons but because he viewed the presidency as a new mountain to climb, a prize to win, as a way to feed his unusually large ego (even for a politician). It may also be that Mr. Obama, with his presidency crumbling, is like a petulant child who wants to pick up his marbles and leave. He was fine serving as president when he was adored and well liked; now that things are going south he appears to have emotionally “checked out,” to use Scarborough’s phrase.

The problem with this is that Mr. Obama is disengaging (a) after having done extraordinary damage to America and (b) at a moment when the world is convulsing because of the void left by Obama’s (and therefore America’s) diffidence and passivity. An increasingly insouciant commander-in-chief is not what’s needed at this particular time, given the multiplying threats and increasing disorder in the world.

It’s very much beginning to look at if Barack Obama saw the presidency as primarily a way to satisfy his narcissism. What’s happened instead is the presidency is breaking him, even as he is breaking the nation.

There’s a very simple option available right now for the former president to make it official, of course:

(And to respond to the obvious rejoinder, at this point, Biden would actually be an improvement — the notion of which sums up how badly this administration has imploded.)

In any case, once the former president does leave the White House, the fun will really begin for the rest of us, Scarborough tells Hugh:

This president wants yes men around him. And again, I hear that from my Democratic friends, I hear that from his own former chiefs of staff. If anybody steps out of line, they’re immediately insulated and pushed out. You know, I said this on set after the cameras were turned off to a couple of people who I knew wouldn’t say it on the air. I said guys, you know as well as I do that the second this administration is over, the books are going to come from former secretaries of state. The books are going to come from former chiefs of staff. The books are going to come, and this president is going to have to deal with 20-30 years of disparagement from his own side, calling him one of the least effective presidents, because he’s one of the most insulated presidents.

Actually, given the amount of damage he’s inflicted on both America and the Middle East, from a punitive leftist point of view, Mr. Obama’s been an incredibly effective president. And it’s only a matter of time before his career is assessed by his fellow leftists, from that perspective.

QED.

Jim Geraghty on the increasing militarization of America’s policemen:

Let’s begin with all the proper stipulations: Of course, we all want the police protected from harm. Yes, they face danger on our behalf. Yes, they need to defend themselves and us with lethal force at times. Yes, in the face of a rioting crowd, they need to be able to apply – and threaten to apply – sufficient force to quell the riot quickly.

But one of the ways we as Americans responded to 9/11 was to throw gobs of money at first responders, to prepare police forces large and small to respond to any imaginable horrific emergency – a Beslan-style attack on a school, an Oklahoma City style bombing, heavily-armed criminals like the North Hollywood shootout. In theory, this was a good idea. It may still be a good idea.

But it had side effects. One is that the Department of Homeland Security started popping out military-grade equipment, weapons, armor and gadgets like a Pez dispenser, resulting in top-grade hardware in almost comically small towns:

* * * * * * * *

One big question is whether this represents a wise use of federal taxpayer money. But another big question is whether a country can outfit its police forces in the weapons, tactics, armor, vehicles, and tools of an army and not see a change in the behavior of its police forces.

One small town in Georgia represents a useful case study, Jesse Walker of Reason writes:

Even some opponents of militarized law enforcement have been startled by the tactics and machinery on display in Ferguson, Missouri, this week. They might not have been surprised to see such a horror show in Boston or Los Angeles, but they didn’t expect it in a suburban or small-town setting. Yet as Samuel Bieler recently told City Lab, “you can definitely see evidence of militarization of the police in the suburbs. You can find examples basically anywhere.”

Illustrating the point, former Reasoner Radley Balko, now at The Washington Post, has posted a SWAT video from Doraville, Georgia, population 8,500. “At least as of this writing,” he notes, “the video was posted on the front page of the Doraville Police Department Web site”:

You might want to turn the volume down on your soundcard before playing, as the heavy metal of the armored personnel carrier in the video is accompanied by equally heavy metal death rock:

Perhaps in response to hits in the four or five digit range coming from a URL with the words www.washingtonpost.com in it, that video is no longer on Doraville PD’s Website — or at least, not on the front page. But it’s in the Wayback Machine. (Clicking on the video takes you to an archived YouTube page that indicates that’s  the version of the video the city’s police department embedded, death metal and all.)

Note the juxtaposition in the sidebar with the “Topic of the month: What to expect if you get pulled over: Our city is recognized through out the metro Atlanta area for the professionalism and dedication of our officers,” from Chief John F. King. And immediately above the video, “The Mission of the Doraville Police Department is to provide quality services, foster growth, and develop a vibrant community for our residents and businesses,” and below tht phrase, the jarring image of an APC that looks far more at home on the set of Full Metal Jacket or in Fallujah, than a sleepy Georgia town.

Chief King may well be a responsible public servant and chief of police. And the Doraville PD may well be living up to their mission statement. But as Jim Geraghty’s quotes Kevin D. Williamson in his post on the transformation of America’s police, “aesthetics matter:”

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Gut-wrenching new Afterburner from Bill Whittle — which uses Monday’s tragic suicide by Robin Williams to remind viewers about an astonishing statistic, which CNN reported last year:

Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher.

The figure, released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in February, is based on the agency’s own data and numbers reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. Those states represent about 40% of the U.S. population. The other states, including the two largest (California and Texas) and the fifth-largest (Illinois), did not make data available.

Oh, and speaking of Robin Williams, his wife “issued a statement Thursday morning, revealing that the Oscar-winning actor and comedian had been battling the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, in addition to depression and anxiety,” according to Entertainment Weekly:

Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

At Big Hollywood, PJM alumnus Mary Claire Kendall asks, “Should Hollywood Do More for Troubled Stars Like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams?”

Yes — and given our dysfunctional VA system, shouldn’t we do more for troubled American servicemen as well?