Roger’s Rules

Roger’s Rules

Today’s funniest news item comes to us courtesy of the Washington Post. Here’s the headline:

As Scott Walker Mulls White House Bid, Questions Linger Over College Exit

Not a side-splitter, I admit, but I did savor the humor. Listen:

MILWAUKEE — Scott Walker was gone. Dropped out. And in the spring of his senior year.
In 1990, that news stunned [stunned!] his friends at Marquette University. Walker, the campus’s suit-wearing, Reagan-loving politico — who enjoyed the place so much that he had run for student body president — had left without graduating.

Gosh. I mean, you don’t say. This, you will have noticed, is the tone that newspapers reserve for Serious Revelations. The short sentences. Staccato. Ernest Hemingway meets Bob Woodward.

It’s the sort of prose that is wheeled out when an 18 ½ minute gap is discovered in the president’s secret tapes of his Oval Office conversations. This is serious, possums, pay attention!

But what did WaPo have for us? That Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin and likely GOP presidential candidate, decided to leave college without graduating.

Wow. And they meant it to sting.

As damaging revelations go, this does not even rise to the non-story that Mitt Romney had transported a family pet on the roof of his car. (By the way, the pooch, as Ann Romney recalled, “loved it.”)

No, the news that Scott Walker concluded that he had better things to do than hang about the ivied halls of Marquette University is about on a par with the revelation that Harry S Truman had no middle name or that he had been a tailor, not a swell.

My own feeling — and I suspect that it is a feeling that will be shared by many Americans (though perhaps not those in places like Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Berkeley, California) — is that, given the corrupt nature of American academia, the less exposed a presidential candidate is to so-called higher education, the better.

Would you like to know why the Washington Post commissioned this flaccid hit job? All is revealed in this sentence:

Since 1993, [Scott Walker] has run 11 races for state legislature, county executive and governor — including a highly unusual recall election in 2012 — and he has won them all.

Yikes. The GOP just might run someone who is not an off-the-rack, ready-to-wear guaranteed loser like John McCain or Jeb Bush. Maybe, just maybe, they have wised up. Maybe they will run someone of demonstrated political savvy who is a genuine but non-scary conservative and is by all accounts a likable chap. What then?

The faint acrid scent you discern rising from this fetid little piece of partisan slobber is the smell of desperation. That, of course, is what makes it funny. Scott Walker left college and got a job. Stop the presses! Maybe the WaPo gumshoes or Hillary’s (or Jeb’s) “opposition research” will discover that he bullied some creep in second grade or that he drank a beer when he was 18. Jeesh.

Though I am morally certain they won’t find that he accompanied a pedophilic billionaire on his private plane to his island getaway where a bevy of tender young ’uns awaited. They won’t find that he lied about a terrorist attack that left four American dead in Benghazi. Nor will they uncover evidence of serious financial hanky-panky involving preferred treatment in the commodities market.

Scott Walker left college and got a job. Is that the best they can do?

I suspect that it is the best they can do for the simple reason that Scott Walker, unlike the vast majority of politicians of either party, is what he appears to be: a hard-working, small “c” conservative who is well liked and is possessed of serious political skills.

Walker, in other words, is the Democrats’ biggest nightmare.

They are right to be worried. Who will they put up against him? A fake Indian whose yuppie “progressivism” is wildly out of touch with America? Or a moth-eaten political hack whose tin ear is almost as serious a liability as her appalling record or her notoriously repellent personality?

Scott Walker is emerging as a formidable candidate. Hysterical melodramas about imaginary torts will make his opponents look craven and downright silly.  They will do nothing to derail his candidacy, which is yet another reason I found the story about him in the Washington Post amusing.

No, I am not suggesting a perverse game of “let me count the ways.” The question is not as easy to answer as you might think.  That he is a bad president I take as given, as a look at the U.S. economy, race relations in the U.S., and the dismal state of the world whose dismalness is due to the fecklessness of U.S. foreign policy inarguably show.

I know that there are those who dissent from my assessment, but then there are people who dissent from the judgment that the Great Society welfare policies of the Johnson administration were and (to the extent that they persist) are an utter disaster. People really can be, as Wittgenstein said, “captivated by a picture” of the world, blinded by their attachment to what we have come to call “the Narrative.” According to the narrative, Great Society welfare programs are a good thing. They are framed (weren’t they?) to help poor people (and, not incidentally, to make the people framing them feel better about themselves) ergo they cannot be a failure, not really. Do they, as a matter of fact, institutionalize rather than abolish poverty? Do they make an entire class of people more and more dependent on government? Do they encourage a range of social pathology, from teen pregnancy and single-mother households?  Do they nurture a Janus-faced culture of dependency that involves a huge government bureaucracy, captive politicians, as well as official “clients”?  None of that matters to The Narrative, which persists through it all partly by demonizing its critics, partly by dispensing public largess to said politicians, managers of the bureaucracy, as well as (of course) to the officially designated objects of government benevolence.

If you can’t dislodge people from their attachment to so ostentatious a failure as the Great Society welfare project, how do you suppose you can dislodge them from their allegiance to a half-black international man of mystery with no visible qualifications to be president but who is the very incarnation of every leftist aspiration from the gospel of environmental economic suicide and hatred of the United States to an “evolving” metrosexual affirmation of polymorphous eroticism (has any other president dilated on “transsexuals” in his State of the Union speech?) to his embrace of an ideology—I mean Islam—diametrically opposed to America’s traditional commitment to limited government and individual liberty?

That’s a long-winded way of saying “good luck, it can’t be done.” Partisans of Obama will be with him to the bitter end no matter how ostentatious his lawlessness, how flagrant his incompetence, how surreal his proclamations, how disastrous his policies.

Consider, for example, his  recent interview with Mr. Plagiarism, Fareed Zakaria. The interview turned largely on Obama’s attitude towards terrorism and Islam, two words—“terrorism” and “Islam”—he is loath to see in the same sentence.  (Why? Perhaps Obama’s early tutelage in the Muslim religion in Indonesia has something to do with it.) It was a remarkable exchange. After saying that, of course, he has oodles of sympathy for the families whose loved ones were slaughtered by those whom he elsewhere has called “violent extremists” (i.e. Muslims), he goes on to  insist that we maintain a “proper perspective” by not “over-inflating” the importance of those terror networks. Above all, said Obama, we wouldn’t want to give them the satisfaction of thinking that we regard them—i.e. Islamic terrorism—as an “existential threat to the United States or the world order.” Sure, “they can do harm,” Obama acknowledged, but—pay attention now: semantic slippage ahead!—“but we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what’s the — you know, what’s essence of who we are.”

Eh? Has the air gotten foggy all of a sudden? The leader of the free world continues:

That means that we don’t torture, for example, and thereby undermine our values and credibility around the world. It means that we don’t approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing Whack-A-Mole wherever a terrorist group appears because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military.

Feeling better? Then this will really set your mind at ease:

Ultimately these terrorist organizations will be defeated because they don’t have a vision that appeals to ordinary people. It is — it really is, as has been described in some cases, a death cult, or an entirely backward looking fantasy that can’t function in the world.

When you look at ISIL, it has no governing strategy. It can talk about sitting up the new caliphate but nobody is under any illusions that they can actually, you know, sustain or feed people or educate people or organize a society that would work. And so we can’t give them the victory of over-inflating what they do, and we can’t make the mistake of being reactive to them. We have to have a precise strategy in terms of how to defeat them.

By doing what?  By releasing 5 terrorists in order to secure the release of one Army deserter (here’s looking at you, Mr. Bergdahl)? By describing ISIS as a “jay-vee” operation right before it started (speaking of Whack-a-Mole) beheading people in earnest?  By insisting that Major Hasan’s murderous “Allahu Akbar” rampage at Ft. Hood was an instance not of Islamic terrorism but of “workplace violence”?  And on and on and on.

In that remarkable interview Obama also said that “it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for. Order, peace, prosperity.” Do you wonder where he got that statistic?  Leave aside al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the assorted wackos who murdered Theo van Gogh, who slaughtered innocents at the Boston Marathon, who just murdered 16 people in Paris, some for drawing cartoons, some for being Jewish.  Forget about them, and forget about the madmen who did for Daniel Pearl, who blew people in London to bits, who incinerated a Bali nightclub, or a train in Madrid.  How about the millions—millions— in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Iran or Syrian who agree with what Obama lightly dismisses as a “medieval” interpretation of Islam? What about them?  Why should we believe that a dozen secularized Muslims living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Washington, D.C., speak more authentically for what Islam is and aspires to than those millions? Why?

Just about the first thing he did when he took office in 2009 was embark on a world’s tyrants tour. He bowed to despots the world over. He apologized for the United States. And in Cairo, he gave a speech in which he outlined his hope for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” “one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam . . .  overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

“Progress,” “tolerance,” the “dignity of all human beings.”  Progress like subjecting a blogger in Saudi Arabia to 1000 lashes because he “insulted” Islam. “Tolerance” like that extended to the women who were just beheaded in Iran. Or the “dignity” extended to Jews by, to take just one example, the Egyptian cleric who said that it doesn’t matter what the Jews do or refrain from doing. “The Prophet” commands us  to “fight the Jews and kill them.”

So to return to my original question: What makes Barack Obama such a bad president? In brief, his unwillingness to face up to reality, his insistence on his beneficent-sounding (but ultimately poisonous) narrative in the face of an avalanche of contradictory facts.  Obama, like some other infamous political leaders in history, is a fantasist.  Some people share his fantasies. But it’s the rest of us who will have to bear the brunt of his blinkered and ideologically motivated stumblings.

Who Speaks for Islam?

January 11th, 2015 - 11:28 am

During these long winter nights, my son and I are reading aloud Greenmantle, John Buchan’s World War I thriller. Early in the novel Sir Walter Bullivant of the Foreign Office puts our hero, the dashing Richard Hannay, into the picture about a German plot to enlist a nascent Islamic uprising to the side of the Kaiser. “The ordinary man,” Sir Walter mused, believes that Islam is succumbing to “Krupp guns,” to modernity. “Yet—I don’t know.  I do not quite believe in Islam becoming a back number.” Hannay agrees: “It looks as if Islam had a bigger hand in the thing than we thought. . . . Islam is a fighting creed, and the mullah still stands in the pulpit with the Koran in one hand and a drawn sword in the other.”

It was passages like that, no doubt, which caused the BBC to cancel a dramatization of Greenmantle in the aftermath of the London Tube and bus bombings in 2005. That event demonstrated pretty vividly, as had 9/11 before it, that Hannay was right. And yet we weren’t supposed to say so.

It wasn’t Islam, we were told, but rather a twisted perversion of Islam. The religion itself, as President Bush publicly insisted within days of 9/11, was a religion of peace. It would be tedious to multiply examples of this trope. They are as common as dirt. So I’ll just mention what is perhaps my favorite example. It’s from Jacqui Smith, the former British home secretary.  Henceforth, she told ministers in 2008, terrorist acts that happened to be committed by Muslims were to be described as “anti-Islamic activity.” Why? Because the “extremists” involved “were behaving contrary to their faith, rather than acting in the name of Islam.”

Taken in isolation, that statement is not absurd.  I mean, it is conceivable that a crazed Muslim (or Christian, or Jew, or Buddhist) should go on a murderous rampage, massacre some number of people, say that it was in the name of their religion, but that the claim should turn out to be false. That is possible. But here’s the question: does it speak to the reality of our situation with respect to Islam?

We were told that the 9/11 terrorists, though Muslim, did not speak for Islam. OK, maybe they didn’t.  But how about the London subway bombers? They claimed to be murdering people in the name of Allah or Mohammed. But maybe they were wrong. Maybe they read the wrong parts of the Koran or Hadith, or interpreted those eyebrow-raising passages too literally or something. Maybe.

Yet here’s my puzzlement. Let’s agree, for the sake of the discussion, that the 9/11 bombers did not speak for Islam. Ditto the London murders. Indeed, let’s say that neither the Boston marathon bombers nor the people who murdered a total of 16 people in Paris last week (the 12 at Charlie Hebdo and four at the kosher market), let’s say that they did not speak for Islam either. Like Major Hasan, who murdered 13 people at Ft Hood in 2009 while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” they were just “lone extremists” who carry out murder and mayhem while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” But that has nothing to do with Islam. OK. Got it.

But here’s my question: Who does speak for Islam? We are assured that it’s not the group that now calls itself Islamic State, but which, following Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, I am considering calling Daesh, a name they apparently dislike. Anyway, we know that they don’t speak for Islam because our political leaders and our media have told us so. It’s the same with Boko Haram, the Nigerian Muslim group.  This morning, quoting the Australian journalist Andrew Bolt, I noted that they had kidnapped and sold into sex slavery 300 Nigerian school girls. That was before I saw the story that Boko Haram had just invaded another town killing as many as 2000. Boko Haram appears to believe that they represent Islamic teaching, but no: our leaders have assured us that that is not the case. Ditto about Syria: this summer an adulteress or two were stoned to death, but that, of course, was the work not of Islam but of “extremists,” if not quite “lone extremists.”

So who, according to the establishment gospel, does speak for Islam? The Ayatollah Khomeni was the spiritual leader of Iran, a great Shia Muslim country. Did he speak for Islam?  He didn’t like a novel by Salman Rushdie and told his followers to kill him for insulting Islam. Did the ayatollah speak for Islam?

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‘Our Gutless Surrender’

January 11th, 2015 - 5:49 am

The Melbourne-based journalist and television commentator Andrew Bolt is celebrated and reviled by all the right (i.e., all the left) people throughout his native land.  He’s been threatened, sued, and otherwise harassed by the politically correct establishment that, despite the great Tony Abbott in the prime minister’s seat, holds sway in Oz. Along with the writers associated with Quadrant magazine in Sydney, Bolt is one of only a handful of people who have effectively challenged the sclerotic orthodoxy of establishment opinion on all matter of issues, from the Aborigines and immigration to the virtues of free-market economics to the cesspool of hatred that is the ideology of radical Islam.

There has been an enormous amount of sentimental posturing in the wake of the massacre of 10 journalists and 2 policemen at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week. Even now tearful crowds are parading across France holding up placards reading “Je Suis Charlie.” The whole production is slightly nauseating in its fakeness, its self-aggrandizing narcissism, and its essential mendacity.

In As We Were, his charming memoir about Victorian England, E.F. Benson tells the story of the pompus classics don O.B. Browning presenting himself before Tennyson at a party. “I’m Browning,” said O.B. Tennyson looked him up and down and replied, “No you’re not.”

It’s the same here. Those skirling throngs are not Charlie, not at all.  And that is the point of Andrew Bolt’s superlative column in yesterday’s the Herald Sun. Are we really Charlie?” he asks. “No, and shamefully no.” “They lie,” Bolt writes.

 The Islamist terrorists are winning, and the coordinated attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and kosher shop will be just one more success. One more step to our gutless surrender.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen didn’t attack Charlie Hebdo because we are all Charlie Hebdo.

The opposite. It sent in the brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi because Charlie Hebdo was almost alone.                                     

Yes, that’s right, almost alone, despite the hundreds of thousands marching with their “Je Suis Charlie” placards. The more you think about it, the more you can understand why the surviving journalists at Charlie Hebdo regard all their new “friends” with scorn and contempt. “We vomit on these people who suddenly say they are our friends,” said one of the magazine’s cartoonists.

“Almost alone,” Bolt said. Even the Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that originally published the cartoons that provided Muslims with a pretext for mayhem and murder, even that paper has declined to republish anything that might be “offensive” to Muslims because, they said, “violence works.”

I’ll have more to say about this and related issues in the coming days.  For now, I want to call my readers’ attention to Andrew Bolt’s incisive column. Let me recommend in particular his phrase “our gutless surrender.”

“Our gutless surrender.” Remember that, please, the next time a Muslim goes on a shooting rampage at a U.S. military installation, killing thirteen while shouting “Allabu Akbar.” Islamic terrorism or just, as the Obama administration insisted, mere “workplace violence”? Remember it the next time a mullah in Tehran calls upon the faithful to murder a novelist because said mullah decided that the book “insulted” Islam, Mohammed, or his aunt Nellie. Remember it the next time that a marathon race in Boston is bombed by young Muslims, or a subway in London is bombed by Muslims, or some coffee shop patrons in Sydney are killed, or some skyscrapers in New York are destroyed by Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace, President Bush said after 9/11. A United States consular facility in Benghazi was overrun by al Qaeda-trained terrorists on September 11, 2012, and four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, were murdered. Response? The United States says that regrettable event was a “spontaneous uprising” sparked by a sophomoric internet video making fun of Mohammed. We can’t even acknowledge what really happened. When Boko Haram jihadists kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, Bolt reminds us, “forcing them to convert to Islam and selling them to be raped, Islamist apologist and terrorism lecturer Waleed Aly refused even to acknowledge on Channel 10 that Boko Haram actually had an Islamist agenda, describing it merely as a group of vigilantes.”

“Our gutless surrender.” It’s not merely capitulation to external intimidation.  Self-surrender, self-censorship is also part of the agenda. Australian journalists, Bolt reports, “haven’t really needed a muzzle. They have been only too eager to shut themselves up rather than call out the growing threat of jihadism, brought to us by insanely stupid programs of mass immigration from the Third World.”

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Students of ancient history will recall that, back when the Anglican Communion described a form of the Christian religion, there were thirty nine articles universally promulgated within the faith.  These declarations were meant to describe the basic elements of the confession, and paid up members of the confraternity were expected to assent in their hearts (and sometimes publically, by an oath) to the substance articulated therein. You can get a good feel for what the thirty-nine articles required by savoring the first two:

  1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  2. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

Quaint, what? James Burnham was perhaps the most underrated political philosopher of the twentieth century. A month or two back Encounter Books published a new edition of his Cold-War classic Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. The book has a great deal to recommend it. Though published in 1964, when the Soviet colossus had yet begun to teeter, it is if anything more pertinent to our situation today, circa 2015, when Communism is hibernating but totalitarian Islam is on the march.  Burnham’s book was Janus-faced: one the one hand, he had a lot to say about the totalitarian threat of Soviet Communism. Mutatis mutandis, what he says there applies also to the threat of militant Islam. But in his efforts to account for the “contraction of the West,” Burnham the diagnostician also looked inward, at the beating heart of liberalism.

Who were the liberals Burnham was talking about? He proposed a list of thirty-nine propositions as a means of identification. Readers were invited to look them over and say whether they agreed or disagreed “by and large, without worrying over fine points.” I invite my readers to take the same quiz.

 1. All forms of racial segregation and discrimination are wrong.

2. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.

3. Everyone has a right to free, public education.

4. Political, economic or social discrimination based on religious belief is wrong.

5. In political or military conflict it is wrong to use methods of torture and physical terror.

6. A popular movement or revolt against a tyranny or dictatorship is right, and deserves approval.

7. The government has a duty to provide for the ill, aged, unemployed and poor if they cannot take care of themselves.

8. Progressive income and inheritance taxes are the fairest form of taxation.

9. If reasonable compensation is made, the government of a nation has the legal and moral right to expropriate private property within its borders, whether owned by citizens or foreigners.

10. We have a duty to mankind; that is, to men in general.

11. The United Nations, even if limited in accomplishment, is a step in the right direction.

12. Any interference with free speech and free assembly, except for cases of immediate public danger or juvenile corruption, is wrong.

13. Wealthy nations, like the United States, have a duty to aid the less privileged portions of mankind.

14. Colonialism and imperialism are wrong.

15. Hotels, motels, stores and restaurants in southern United States ought to be obliged by law to allow Negroes to use all of their facilities on the same basis as whites.

16. The chief sources of delinquency and crime are ignorance, discrimination, poverty and exploitation.

17. Communists have a right to express their opinions.

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The Real Lesson of Charlie Hebdo

January 9th, 2015 - 9:08 am

As the world endeavors to digest the savage massacre of 12 innocent people in Paris by French Muslims, it is worth stepping back to remember that the last week or so has also seen the publication of two important manifestos by prominent Muslims.

Both manifestos, though in different ways, are remarkable for their frank recognition of some salient facts about Islam, what a Marxist might call “really existing Islam,” as distinct from those ideal constructions urged upon us by the naïve but well-meaning.

The first manifesto was delivered in Cairo by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on New Year’s Day before Al-Azhar University and the Awqaf Ministry, which oversees Egypt’s religious endowments. Roger L. Simon, writing here at PJM, was right to call the speech “extraordinary.” El-Sisi, as Simon observes, called for nothing less that an ecclesiastical revolution in Islam. The great Raymond Ibrahim, who has done as much as anyone to tell the truth about Islam in the Middle East, posted an English translation of key excerpts from the speech on his web site. “The corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we sacralized over the years,” el-Sisi said,  are “antagonizing the entire world.” Egypt, he continued, is being “torn apart” by these violent ideas.

We have to think hard about what we are facing . . . It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! . . .
Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible! . . .
I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move . . .  because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

Some have objected that el-Sisi has not matched his actions to his words. But Simon is right: no Western leader (certainly not Barack Hussein Obama) has had the courage to issue a call for such radical change in Islam. And the fact that the leader of the largest Arab nation should do so has potentially “world-changing implications.”

El-Sisi’s speech occurred on New Year’s Day. A scant week later,  two masked gunman shouting “Allahu Akbar!” stormed into offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered 10 journalists and 2 policemen in cold blood. This was not a random act of what the Obama administration called “workplace violence” (their description of the Islamic-inspired butchery at Fort Hood). It was not the work of “lone extremists” (another favorite Obama term for the work Islamic terrorism). It certainly was not an act of “anti-Islamic activity,” the cynical and mendacious term that former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith coined to describe Islamic terrorism. (Shades of the “No True Scotsman fallacy” there, Jacqui.)

No, these two French Muslims, since identified as Said Kouachi (34) and his brother Cherif Kouachi (32), were on a mission. They targeted Charlie Hebdo because the irreverent magazine had repeatedly made fun of Islam and its founder (it has done the same to other religions and indeed to other establishment figures in general, but with less incarnadine results). Back in 2011, after the paper published the famous “Danish Cartoons” of Mohammed, other partisans of “the religion of peace” firebombed the offices of the magazine.  Its editor, Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, was given round-the-clock police protection as a result. It wasn’t enough. The Kouachi brothers knew exactly who they were looking for. When they shot their way into the office of Cahrlie Hebdo, they rattled off a list of names of journalists and cartoonists, including Charbonnier’s. When they found them, they murdered them. Now at last, they proclaimed, “the prophet has been avenged.”

Think about that. The prophet, i.e., Mohammed, the revered founder of Islam, has been “avenged” because 12 people have been murdered in cold blood. Why? Because a magazine published some satirical cartoons of said prophet.

Which brings me to the second Muslim manifesto I mentioned.  This, too, was an extraordinary effusion, notable for its honesty about the realities of Islam in the world today.  But unlike President al-Sisi’s speech in Cairo, this manifesto was not a call for an accommodating revolution in Islam. On the contrary, it was a warning to infidels (that would be you and me, Virginia) that the French journalists (and their bodyguards) reaped what they had sown.

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So, when I wasn’t paying attention last Spring, the de Blasio administration in New York cooked up yet another mechanism for relieving denizens of Gotham of a little more of what some quaint folks still refer to as “their” money. Bill de Blasio, of course, thinks of it as his money. In this, he is merely following the lead of our masters in Washington, whose insatiable appetite for the green stuff leads them to hoover up as much of our money as possible (for really, you know, it is our money: pace Barack Obama and Elizabeth “Big Chief” Warren, we did build: they merely spend it).

But I digress. What prompts this little outburst was my discovery yesterday that New York City has just enacted a 30¢ “improvement surcharge” on every taxi ride.  That’s on top of the 50¢ surcharge they imposed some years ago.  What’s the “improvement” in question?  The New York Times had the story last April, but since I do not read our former paper of records, I missed it.  There is was in black and white: “The de Blasio administration on Wednesday approved a 30-cent surcharge on all yellow and street-hail livery taxi rides as part of a plan to make half of New York’s yellow cabs wheelchair accessible by 2020.”

I’d say you can’t make it up, but these guys not only made it up but, as I discovered where I got into a cab yesterday, they actually imposed this stupid tariff on the sheep, er, the citizens of New York. What’s next, cabs with extra flashing lights for the deaf? Sirens for the blind? Mandatory Arabic-speaking drivers for terrorists?

“It’s only 30¢ Kimball, suck it up. Are you anti-cripple or what?”

What I am against is the proliferation of government schemes to line their bureaucracies pockets by fleecing the citizenry.  30¢ may seem like a paltry sum. But it is only one of a veritable galaxy of levies, fees, surcharges, tariffs, penalities, “Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises” that governments federal, state, and local suck out of the helpless populace. The idea of requiring every taxi to be wheelchair accessible is as stupid as requiring every bus to be wheel chair accessible. It is a top-down imposition that is of questionable benefit to the halt but inestimable benefit to the rapacious bureaucrats who want to run your life.



The Use and Abuse of Democratic Freedoms

December 24th, 2014 - 7:15 am

Advice to the perplexed: if approached by a police officer, do not pull out a revolver and point it at him. It doesn’t matter if you are white, black, pink, or purple: such behavior is not conducive to your longevity. And that, frankly, is the way things should be.

As I have noted here on several occasions, the militarization of the police in the U.S. is a minatory development that should be scrutinized and reversed. American police should not be swaggering about town in armored vehicles and accoutered like a Navy SEAL en route to bin Laden’s Pakastani retreat. In America, the default posture of the police should be like something out of Mayberry, province of sheriff Andy Taylor, protector of the peace on The Andy Griffith Show. Deep down, of course, it is not Andy but the townspeople of Mayberry who are responsible for maintaining order. “Andy,” as I wrote in one of the above linked columns,

is simply a sort of boundary marker. He represents what Walter Bagehot might have called the impressive side of the social contract. He has a sidearm. He rarely wears it. It’s usually at home, unloaded, hidden on top of a china cabinet. He barely wears a uniform. That’s to say, his uniform is homey, not scary.

Why? Because he wished people to trust and respect him and not fear him; he was an authority, not an authoritarian figure. His sidekick, the lovable but bumbling Barney Fife, likes the paraphernalia of police garb. Andy lets him wear a revolver, but it has to be unloaded. He’s allowed to carry one round of ammunition in his shirt pocket.

It might seem odd to bring up the militarization of the police just now. Not only is it Christmas Eve, a time when more pacific sentiments ought to be on our minds. But also this is a moment when the nation is torn, in a way we’ve not seen since the late 1960s and 1970s, by violent protests and skirling demonstrators screaming about “police brutality.”

The salient point, however, is that (in Michael Goodwin’s crisp summary) “the whole narrative of widespread police brutality is a big fat lie.”

But wait, isn’t that why all the folks in Ferguson and New York and California are marching and looting, chanting and burning down buildings? That’s what they say. But the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson was not an instance of police brutality. It was an instance of self-defense on the part of a police responding to an angry thug who had first made a grab for his gun and then was charging him head on. Which is why the grand jury declined to indict the police officer involved: he had done nothing wrong.

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Will Bill de Blasio Be Forced to Resign?

December 21st, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Maybe. I submit that the mayor of New York cannot govern the city without the support of the police. Does Bill de Blasio have that support? Consider this exchange, overheard yesterday at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn:

De Blasio: “We’re all in this together.”
Unnamed police officer: “No we’re not.”

This was after police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, shot by a crazed black Muslim named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had been pronounced dead but before the mayor and his entourage made their way through a hospital corridor jammed with police who turned their backs on the mayor, shunning him.

On December 3, in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest, the mayor held a press conference and told the world that he worried that his biracial son Dante might be the victim of police brutality. “I’ve had to worry over the years,” de Blasio said. “Is Dante safe each night? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Ten days later the mayor was back in front of the microphone praising the anti-cop protestors in New York for being peaceful. That was the protest at which one could hear this chanted refrain:

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”

They got their wish.

It was during that pacific event that two police lieutenants were, as the New York Post  reported, viciously attacked by a mob.  The mayor described the attack as “an incident . . . in which a small group of protesters allegedly assaulted some members of the NYPD.”


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A Turning Point?

December 19th, 2014 - 5:58 am

I was pleased to see that President Obama announced today that there would be a public screening of The Interview at the White House on Christmas day. It took guts to stand up to the cyber bullies, whoever they are, who have terrorized the cry babies in Hollywood and sown fear among the rancid celebrities of the preening class. Many commentators on my side of the aisle were surprised at Obama’s forthright condemnation of this brazen act of cyber terrorism and his new-found resolve to stand up to America’s enemies. I was pleased, too, to see that he has replaced Susan Rice with John Bolton as National Security advisor and is setting up a cyber defense task force headed by General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the NSA. It has taken a while, but at last Barack Obama seems to understand the gravity of the many threats America faces on the international front and I am pleased that he has been so candid about putting American interests first.

Just kidding, of course. There will be no public screening of The Interview at the White House on Christmas, and if there were, you can bet your last devalued dollar that neither John Bolton nor General Hayden would have received a ticket.

No, the real question people should be asking themselves is this: Now that the President is seeking to “normalize” relations with the Communist hell hole of Cuba, is there any totalitarian enemy of the United States that he has not sought to cozy up to?

Russia? check. Hillary hit the reset button years ago, remember?

Iran? absolutely: what more could Obama do to assure that Iran becomes a nuclear power?

China? Obama made a special trip there to agree that the United States to hamstring its economy by adopting emissions standards that China wouldn’t have to adopt for decades.

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