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Friday, November 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

I hope all my readers had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends and family. Right before the break, my AP European Country was studying the Industrial Revolution and reading some of the descriptions of what it was like to work in a factory or mine in that era. Then we went from there to talking about the Irish Potato Famine. We decided that we had so very much to be thankful for to be living here in American in this age. In a way it was a very nice transition from the study of history to celebrating Thanksgiving. The more I study, the more I'm grateful for when and where I was born.

As Chicago braces for widespread protests, I've been reading more about the alleged murder of
17-year old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. What a horrible story. I hadn't realized at first that this shooting happened over a year ago, but the city refused to make the very disturbing video public until forced to do so by a judge. I can understand why the authorities didn't want the video public, but one can't help wondering how much of the secrecy was related to the intervening mayoral election in which Mayor Rahm Emanuel was facing a very tough re-election. And it seems mighty convenient that the city paid out $5 million to the family before the city even bothered to charge the policeman in question. The Chicago Reporter reports on the efforts of a journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman to get the truth about the shooting out in the public. The city tried to cover up the whole story.
Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release. Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.

In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van Dyke unloaded his service weapon, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.

The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said. “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.” To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”

In April, the Chicago Tribune revealed Van Dyke’s name and his history of civilian complaints—including several brutality complaints, one of which cost the city $500,000 in a civil lawsuit—none of which resulted in any disciplinary action. In May, Carol Marin reported that video from a security camera at a Burger King on the scene had apparently been deleted by police in the hours after the shooting. (Link via American Thinker)
Things really smell here when the timeline of the city's story and what was later found out to be true comes to light. Just imagine if this story had come out in the middle of Emanuel's reelection campaign and the city had erupted in rioting. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune calls Emanuel out for calling about accountability while sitting on the video.
McDonald was shot to death by Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014. And Emanuel rushed to settle the case even before a lawsuit was filed. City Hall shelled out $5 million of taxpayer money.

And then the Emanuel administration wasted a boatload of cash on legal fees and other legal work, trying for months and months to keep Chicago from seeing that video the mayor said he'd never seen.

Rahm sat on the video, and kept sitting on it, all the way through his re-election, as black ministers and other African-American political figures rallied to his side to get out the black vote and deny that vote to Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

If the video had come out during the election campaign, Rahm Emanuel would not be mayor today.

Rahm didn't demand that the video be shown, and neither did the Chicago City Council's Black Caucus. They voted for the $5 million settlement.
Maybe Chicago benefited from releasing the video right before Thanksgiving and I'm certainly not wishing rioting or any more racial tension on the city near where I grew up. But, as Robert Tracinski argues, blacks should really be protesting the decades of misrule in the city that has helped the wealthy and hurt the poor. Check out his graphic showing the growth of poor areas among wealthy enclaves in the city over the past 45 years while the middle class has left the city.
The people most likely to engage in fiery Bernie Sander rhetoric about “inequality” are most likely to create that inequality in the places where they rule. Like many big cities, Chicago manages to provide security, public transportation, and good schools to a few small enclaves of the upper middle class. Everyone else gets failing schools, cuts in the number of bus lines, and above all else poor policing. Chicago suffers from the classic big-city dysfunction that results when the police view themselves as alien from a hostile population: the callous and excessive use of force, yet without any actual benefit in the reduction of crime.

So if there are any people who have a right to be lividly angry at their city government, it’s the people of Chicago—even more so because they have voted lockstep for the Democrats for 50 years, and this is the thanks they get.

Ah, but there’s the rub. If the city is about to get the riots it deserves, the protesters have to admit they have gotten the city government they asked for.

It’s not just that they have voted for politicians from the Democratic Party. It’s that they have uncritically embraced that party’s ideology. As they have suffered under the yoke of a big, intrusive, corrupt, callous, and indifferent government, they have clamored for more of it....

Chicago has a long history of embracing lefty do-gooders and rabble-rousers who make a lot of noise about how much they care about the poor, but manage to drain billions in taxpayer dollars without making anything better. Yet the people remain in thrall to those political charlatans—they even sent one of them to the White House.

What they need is not just a blind rebellion against the police or against City Hall. What they need is a real rebellion against the paternalistic ideology that treats them as wards or subjects of government, even as it fails them continuously for 50 years.

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Travis Hall, a self-professed fan of Rush Limbaugh, calls Rush out for his hypocrisy on Donald Trump. He expresses a lot of what I feel when I see conservatives falling for Trump's shtick.
One of Limbaugh's biggest criticisms of President Obama has always been the vagueness in Obama's message; in his way of speaking until he can think of something to say; in the blank canvas that he offers us to project our hopes and dreams upon. And that, when he goes off-message, he often misspeaks. Explaining what Obama meant to say has become a cottage industry for websites like Vox and full-time gigs for a variety of nationally known journalists.

When has Trump ever offered anything of substance? His speeches are meandering streams of consciousness, and although he claims each to be unique, they are often the same litanies of vague promises. Trump will negotiate hard with China and Mexico. Trump will make the military so strong it will make your head spin. You'll get bored with winning so much. Chinese bankers live in his building, which proves he can bring jobs back from China. Trump thinks reporters are sleazy. Trump will hit you so hard. And, oh, by the way, have you seen the polls?

Limbaugh has been the voice for those who believe in smaller government for as long as he's been on the air. So it would stand to reason that challenging Trump on even his vague promises to vastly enlarge an already bloated government should give Limbaugh pause. Apparently, it doesn't. How many new government agencies will be necessary to round up 11 million illegal immigrants, send them back to Mexico and then let them back in? How many billions of dollars will it cost to make the military so great your head will spin? How many government workers will be required to build the Trump wall, complete with a beautiful Trump door?

Limbaugh has long lamented "low-information voters," who, he claims, are responsible for the rise of Obama. It's not his policies that win the day; it's the fact that he's cool and hip. His celebrity overcomes all other weaknesses.

Trump took the money that his father left him and built a series of failed casinos. What else does he have to offer, other than gaudy celebrity?
I can understand the low-information voters who are attracted to Trump because of his celebrity or the illusion that he would be the strong leader that, apparently, they're waiting for. His simplistic, yet arrogant proclamations about how he'd solve our nation's problems and make America great again might appeal to someone who knows little about how government works or who has no grounding in conservatism. But there is no excuse for so many conservative radio voices to be cheering Trump on. I can only see two reasons for their doing so. They love his big talk about how he'd stop immigration and send people back and they enjoy the way that he takes on the MSM. But there is so much more to governing the nation than criticizing the liberals in the media.

Both David Frum and Ramesh Ponnuru criticize the efforts of some Republican groups to attack Trump as being extremist or unsuited to the presidency or to attack on national security. They both argue, adn I think they're right, that such attacks are not going to register with those who like Trump. They've heard all that for months now and it hasn't mattered. Both Ponnuru and Frum come to the conclusion that the best thing would be to attack at his supposed strong point - his stand on immigration. That is the position that has resonated with a lot of voters, but it has only recently become Trump's position. Just as Rubio is weak for his support of an entirely different approach to immigration, so is Trump. As Frum points out, many of this construction projects about which he brags so constantly have been and are being built with the labor of illegal immigrants.
Extreme and provocative statements verging on open racism normally doom candidates. They have helped Trump, to date, because those statements seemed to prove that here, at last, was a candidate as exercised about the immigration issue as Republican voters. The well-spoken politicians who had promised to solve the problem in years past had all failed, or turned coat. But a man who’d say wild things that the political elite unanimously condemned as reckless and irresponsible—well, he at least must be sincere, mustn’t he?

So that’s the point where an effective attack would hit him.
Back in 2012 he was criticizing Romney for taking too strong a position on illegal immigration and pushing for a comprehensive policy “to take care of this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful productive citizens of this country.” So Frum suggests that some of the anti-Trump Republicans suck it up and try attacking on his flip flops on immigration.
Where he is in 2015 is not where he was in 2012—and that could suggest that where he is in 2015 is not where he’ll be if elected president. Every politician changes his mind. Accusations of flip-flopping hurt because they open the possibility that where there is a flip-flop, there may in future be a flop-flip—that the position adopted for political advantage will be jettisoned when political advantage signals a different direction.

Trump’s histrionics—and the criticism he has taken—may seem the ultimate proof of sincerity: When a man walks that far onto a limb, he must mean it, right? The task for Trump’s Republican rivals is to convince Trump followers that this supposed anti-politician is using typical politician’s tricks.

Attacking Donald Trump as untrustworthy on stopping illegal immigration—or having super PACs do it —will stick in the craw of elected Republicans. They are, for the most part, in full agreement with the 2012-vintage Trump on the issue. But it’s their only hope. Of course, it raises the awkward but all-important question: What would they do instead to address a voter concern that until now they have ignored or disdained?
It might go against their own beliefs on immigration, but if they're serious about taking on Trump, don't just echo the same criticisms that both conservatives and members of the media have been making about Trump without doing much to dent his popularity.

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Jonathan Haidt who has written powerfully with Greg Lukianoff about how coddling students has led to an intolerance of freedom of thought in today's schools and universities, has a very good post at Heterodox Academy about his experience speaking at a high school and how what is happening in high schools explains the rudeness and hostility to freedom of expression at places like Yale. He thought his talk was being well-received until the Q and A session during which he was peppered with rude and aggressive questions attacking him for all sorts of things he hadn't said. He slowly realized that all his questioners were girls and the boys were being silent. In another session with the students he started out by asking the students if they wanted their school to be one in which people felt they had to keep their mouths shut if they had offensive views or if they wanted the school to be one in which everyone felt comfortable voicing their views. They were unanimous in preferring the open-minded approach. But then he asked some more questions that revealed what type of school it really was.
Me: OK, let’s see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free].

Me: Now let’s try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? [the group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells] Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells]
Me: Now lets try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students]. Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.]

Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated [which I had discussed in my lecture, and which you can read about here]. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid.
This is a really powerful demonstration of how students really feel about expressing their views. And I'm sure that his unnamed school is not unique. I would like to think that the high school where I teach is different, but I'm not so sure. Every year, in my AP Government classes, I have the student discuss current issues and then map their views onto a scale measuring their ideology. I start off, as Haidt recommends, but stressing how important it is to respect other's views. When I first started in 2002, there would be an open discussion of issues like gay marriage or whether environmental regulations harm the economy. The leftist views predominated, but there would be a vocal minority for the opposite views. Now, no student will speak up against gay marriage or environmental regulations. Perhaps the students have all moved to the left, but I also wonder if there are students who are, as Haidt says, afraid of walking on those eggshells.

Haidt calls for diversity of viewpoints among the faculty so that the students would feel more comfortable. To tell the truth, I am not comfortable with teachers in high school talking about their political views with students. Sure it might come out and students can figure things out, but I don't want to make the Democrats in my classes to feel uncomfortable about stating their views because they worry about what I might be thinking.

Haidt answers those who might be indifferent to the discomfort that whites, males, and conservatives might be feeling.
You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.

And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.

So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The “Next Yale” that activists are demanding will make today’s Centerville High look like Plato’s Academy by comparison.

The only hope for Centerville High — and for Yale — is to disrupt their repressively uniform moral matrices to make room for dissenting views. High schools and colleges that lack viewpoint diversity should make it their top priority. Race and gender diversity matter too, but if those goals are pursued in the ways that student activists are currently demanding, then political orthodoxy is likely to intensify. Schools that value freedom of thought should therefore actively seek out non-leftist faculty, and they should explicitly include viewpoint diversity and political diversity in all statements about diversity and discrimination.
Well said.

George Will goes through the crazy stories from so many college campuses of how intolerant students and professors have become of anything that doesn't conform with the officially approved orthodoxy. There are many examples I hadn't heard of and I've been following these stories with a sense of horror. He concludes,
So, today give thanks that 2015 has raised an important question about American higher education: What, exactly, is it higher than?

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Charles C. W. Cooke rightly calls out the efforts of the Senate Democrats to connect their desired limitations on gun purchases to fears of terrorists coming here and buying guns by proposing that anyone on the watch list be barred from buying a gun.
Let us avoid gloss or euphemism and speak plainly: This idea flies directly in the face of every cherished American conception of justice, and it should be rejected with extreme prejudice. You will note, I hope, that Reid, Schumer, Jentleson, and co. are not proposing to place restrictions on those who have been “accused,” “charged,” or “convicted,” but upon those who are “suspected.” They are not referring to those who are working their way through the judicial system, but to those who remain outside of it. They are not seeking to limit the rights of those who are out on bail or awaiting trial, but those who have not so much as been handcuffed. Loudly and proudly, they are arguing in favor of removing fundamental rights from anyone whose name has been written down on a list. Because they hope to confuse the public, their talk is peppered with references to “Paris-style” “assault” rifles and “automatic” weapons. But this is a red herring: Their proposal applies equally to guns of all types, not just those that give Shannon Watts and Diane Feinstein the willies.

In times past, officials advocating the simultaneous undermining of a range of constitutional rights would have been tarred, feathered, and dumped into the sea, along with their staff, their press agents, and anyone else who saw fit to acquiesce in the scheme. A little of that spirit might be welcome here.

However the press might cast it, there are not in fact “two sides” to this issue. It is not a “tricky question.” It is not a “thorny one” or a “gray area” or a “difficult choice.” It is tyranny. Somewhere, deep down, its advocates must know this. Presumably, Chuck Schumer would not submit that those on a terror watch list should be deprived of their right to speak? Presumably, Harry Reid would not contend that they must be kept away from their mosques? Presumably, Diane Feinstein would not argue that they should be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures? Such proposals would properly be considered disgraceful — perhaps, even, as an overture to American fascism. Alas, there is something about guns that causes otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds.

Matthew Boyle describes how we could still end up with a brokered GOP convention. Those states holding primaries or caucuses before March 15 will award their delegates proportionally among the top finishers.
That means 1,113 delegates are awarded on a proportional basis before any winner-take-all state even comes up. That’s almost half of the 2,472 total delegates awarded and nearly enough to equal what’s necessary to win the GOP nomination, 1,237 delegates.

As such, some candidates may skip along picking up small pockets of delegates over the first few weeks of voting, gathering up a few hundred and holding them until the convention. At a brokered convention, some real dealmaking could happen on the floor. Deals could include who would be on the ticket, reforms to the party platform, cabinet position, and so much more.

What’s more, several candidates may not truly be ruled out until the very end of the race, since they might collect those small pockets of delegates early on, then take some of the winner-take-all states later in the game to reach the magic 1,237 delegates. With so many strong candidates in the field, and so much interesting and out of the ordinary stuff happening in this particular cycle, what most people say is that anything is possible.
Only a few states have winner-take-all rules for awarding their delegates. If those states go for different candidates, it could be that no one will have the necessary 1,237 delegates. I've been hearing such predictions for a brokered convention quite a few times, but the last time the GOP had one was in 1976 when Reagan came close to toppling Gerald Ford. And there is another little-known rule that I hadn't heard of previously.
“Officially, it’s Rule 40 in the RNC handbook and it states that any candidate for president ‘shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states’ before their name is presented for nomination at the national convention,”

The Examiner looks back on what polls were saying during Thanksgiving week the year before the past three presidential elections. There doesn't seem to be much predictive power. People just haven't made up their minds yet. So maybe it's too early to worry about a brokered convention.

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Stephen Hayes writes about the intelligence scandal over reports on ISIS. He points out that this is a scandal about which we've been hearing for a few years going back to how the administration has blocked analysis of the bin Laden documents that were captured in the raid that killed him.
The current storm over ISIS intelligence is not a new controversy, though most of the media are treating it as such. It’s better understood as an installment in a long-running scandal that extends beyond CENTCOM in Tampa, into the upper reaches of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps into the White House.

Readers of this magazine are familiar with the story of the documents obtained in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Sensitive Site Exploitation team on the raid collected more than a million documents​—​papers, computer hard drives, audio and video recordings. Top Obama administration officials at first touted the cache as the greatest collection of terrorist materials ever captured in a single raid and boasted that the contents would fill a “small college library.” An interagency intelligence team, led by the CIA, conducted the initial triage​—​including keyword searches of the collection for actionable intelligence. And then, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials with firsthand knowledge of the controversy, the documents sat largely untouched for as long as a year. The CIA retained “executive authority” over the documents, and when analysts from other agencies requested access to them, the CIA denied it​—​repeatedly.

After a bitter interagency dispute, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, allowed analysts from CENTCOM and the Defense Intelligence Agency to have time-limited, read-only access to the documents. What they found was fascinating and alarming. Much of what these analysts were seeing​—​directly from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders​—​contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly. While drone strikes had killed some senior al Qaeda leaders, the organization had anticipated the U.S. decapitation strategy and was flourishing in spite of it; bin Laden remained intimately involved in al Qaeda decision-making and operational planning; the relationship between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban remained strong despite the Obama administration’s attempts to weaken it by negotiating with Taliban leaders; al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran, while uneven and fraught with mutual distrust, was far deeper and more significant than U.S. intelligence assessments had suggested.

Taken together, this new primary-source intelligence undercut happy-talk from the White House about progress in defeating jihadist terror. Al Qaeda wasn’t dying; it was growing. The Afghan Taliban wasn’t moderating; its leaders were as close to al Qaeda as ever. The same Iranian regime promising to abide by the terms of a deal to limit its nuclear program had provided safe haven for al Qaeda leaders and their families and had facilitated al Qaeda attacks on the interests of the United States and its allies.
So why wouldn't the National Security Council want analysts to see these documents? Don't they want the most informed analyses made of the threat we're facing? Sources point to the White House and the NSC as being the ones to block access.

President Obama seems fixated on his graying hair. All presidents, except maybe Reagan, noticeably grayed and aged the longer they were in office. Imagine what Trump's combover would look like after four years in office. It would be Yuuuuuge.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cruising the Web

A former resident of Brussels' radicalized neighborhood of Molenbeek speak of his sadness at how this neighborhood has been transformed. He looks for an explanation of how Molenbeek became "Europe's jihadi base."
But the most important factor is Belgium’s culture of denial. The country’s political debate has been dominated by a complacent progressive elite who firmly believes society can be designed and planned. Observers who point to unpleasant truths such as the high incidence of crime among Moroccan youth and violent tendencies in radical Islam are accused of being propagandists of the extreme-right, and are subsequently ignored and ostracized.

The debate is paralyzed by a paternalistic discourse in which radical Muslim youths are seen, above all, as victims of social and economic exclusion. They in turn internalize this frame of reference, of course, because it arouses sympathy and frees them from taking responsibility for their actions.
As he describes, it is not permissible to complain about those changes among Belgium's progressive elites. Read his essay. I couldn't help thinking how this could describe some of our elites here in the United States. President Obama particularly.

One CNN reporter sounds as if he's channeling John Kerry as he tries to explain how Parisians are trying to come to grips with what has happened there. Jamie Weinstein reports on CNN reporter Martin Savidge's report from Paris.
Talking to CNN host Don Lemon Monday night, reporter Martin Savidge tried to convey why the people of Paris view the Nov. 13 terror attacks differently than last January’s Islamist terror attacks in Paris that targeted French cartoonists and Jews in a kosher grocery store.

“I think what really has shaken the people of Paris, they’ve grown accustom to the idea that of course the city is a target,” Savidge said from on the ground in the city of lights. “But this particular assault, aside from the sheer numbers of people that were killed or wounded, it was the neighborhoods that were struck. It was the fact that this time no one was spared. It wasn’t that a person was picked out because of their faith. It wasn’t because a person was picked out because of their jobs such as Charlie Hebdo. This was just people — any kind of person. And that has really shaken the people of Paris. This time you could not explain it away as somebody else’s threat.”
Just like Kerry said - there was more of a rationale for mowing down workers at Charlie Hebdo. Weinstein writes,
Ahh, so it’s more understandable when an Islamist terrorist murders a Jew because, well, it’s a Jew! What else should a Jew expect for being a Jew in Paris and shopping at a kosher grocery store, right? But when Islamist terrorists strike “just people” — “just” being a synonym for “real” here? — that’s far more alarming.
Sadly, I suspect that that is how many Frenchmen have reacted to the murders of Jews. Sure, it's tragic and terrible, but what happened on Friday the 13th was much worse, not just because of its scale, but because of who the victims were.

Senator Sessions has released a list of 15 men and women who came to the U.S. as refugees and became jihadis. They came as refugees from places like Somalia, Bosnia, and Kenya. These were refugees who went through the supposedly thorough vetting system that we have in place. The problem is that no system can determine what is in an applicant's heart and mind or what chance there is that the person might become radicalized.

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If the Republicans don't fulfill their nickname as "the Stupid Party," they have a good chance to win in 2016. Josh Kraushaar analyzes the factors that, contrary to the views of a lot of pundits, are in their favor.
Nearly every fun­da­ment­al meas­ure—with the not­able ex­cep­tion of the coun­try’s demo­graph­ic shifts—fa­vors the Re­pub­lic­ans in 2016. The pub­lic over­whelm­ingly be­lieves the coun­try is headed in the wrong dir­ec­tion (23/69, a his­tor­ic low in Bloomberg’s na­tion­al poll). Pres­id­ent Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing has been con­sist­ently un­der­wa­ter, with the op­pos­i­tion in­tensely re­ject­ing his policies. Any eco­nom­ic growth has been un­even, with more Amer­ic­ans pess­im­ist­ic than op­tim­ist­ic about the fu­ture. The pub­lic’s nat­ur­al de­sire for change after eight years of Demo­crats in the White House be­ne­fits the op­pos­i­tion. Mean­while, the party’s likely stand­ard-bear­er has been saddled with weak fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings of her own, with her email scan­dal drag­ging down her trust­wor­thi­ness in the minds of voters. This is not the en­vir­on­ment in which the party in power typ­ic­ally pre­vails.

That was all true even be­fore the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Par­is rat­cheted up na­tion­al se­cur­ity as a dom­in­ant is­sue head­ing in­to the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. Obama, who dis­missed IS­IS ter­ror­ists this week as “a bunch of killers with good so­cial me­dia,” is badly out of step with Amer­ic­an pub­lic opin­ion on the cru­cial is­sue.
Of course, I never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to muck things up. But I like reading such optimism. And check out the article, for one of the worst photographs of Hillary Clinton that I've seen a major media outlet such as The National Journal use. An extreme closeup does not do wonders for Clinton. It's really rather cruel to use such a photo.

Analysts are having fun looking for some sort of comparison to Donald Trump. Yesterday, I linked to a comparison piece of Trump and Jesse Ventura. Now Rich Lowry compares Trump to Andrew Jackson, at least in his appeal.
In large part, Donald Trump is a Jacksonian, the tradition originally associated with the Scotch-Irish heritage in America and best represented historically by the tough old bird himself, Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory might be mystified that a celebrity New York billionaire is holding up his banner (but, then again, Jackson himself was a rich planter). Trump is nonetheless a powerful voice for Jacksonian attitudes.

Historian Walter Russell Mead once wrote a memorable essay on the Jacksonianism that, so many years later, serves as a very rough guide to the anti-PC and fiercely nationalistic populism of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Trump has trampled on almost every political piety, and gotten away with it, even when he has been factually wrong or had to backtrack. “The Jacksonian hero dares to say what the people feel and defies the entrenched elites,” Mead writes. “The hero may make mistakes, but he will command the unswerving loyalty of Jacksonian America so long as his heart is perceived to be in the right place.”

Trump condemns the political system, and everyone who has thrived in it. For Jacksonians, Mead writes: “Every administration will be corrupt; every Congress and legislature will be, to some extent, the plaything of lobbyists. Career politicians are inherently untrustworthy.”

Trump is obsessed with how other countries are taking advantage of us. He is tapping into the Jacksonian fear of, in Mead’s words, politicians “either by ineptitude or wickedness serving hostile foreign interests.”
Jackson was a populist Democrat. And Trump is more of a Democrat than a Republican in his ideology and history.

While some experts like Nate Silver at 538 are warning us not to take the polls today too seriously, David Byler is interested in the question of when early polls start to have a predictive use for Iowa and New Hampshire. His analysis or past polling leads to the conclusion that they start moving toward the actual results about two weeks after Thanksgiving. However, since Iowa and New Hampshire are a month later this year, that might move the predictive moment back a few weeks.

Stuart Rothenberg wonders if the voters are ready for a slow, soft speaker like Ben Carson. Rothenberg compares Carson's style to that of the other candidates who speak faster and more fluidly than Carson. But maybe that is a plus and makes him seem more sincere.

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This is how the State Department regards terrorism in Israel.
"We were happy to see that the violence seemed to have abated somewhat over the course of the last few weeks since we were there," the official said. "But then you obviously saw the violence spike back up again – five people killed, it’s a terrible tragedy, including an American citizen. We’re a bit concerned about that and said so publicly."
"A bit concerned"? Come on!

Jim Geraghty explains why it matters that Donald Trump, who might have seen reports of a few Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after 9/11 instead of thousands that he claimed to have seen. A lot of people might feel that such a mistake is "fake but accurate," but it is more damaging than that.
One poll in May of 600 self-identified Muslim-Americans found 51 percent agreed that agreed that “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah” and the same percentage “believe either that they should have the choice of American or shariah courts.” The same survey also found 25 percent agreeing fully or in part that “violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.” There may be some quibbles with the poll sample -- for example, it’s 55 percent men, 45 percent women -- but even if the numbers are half what the survey found, a portion of this community is in direct conflict with American liberty and rule of law.

It’s in this context that Hillary Clinton’s statement, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” is so maddening. The number of Muslims in the United States ranges from 2.6 million to 8 million, depending upon who you ask. If just one percent is extremist or supports Islamist terrorism, we’re talking about 26,000 to 80,000 people -- not a group small enough to ignore. The Fort Hood shooter, one man, killed 13 and injured 30 people.

“Jim, why are you writing about Donald Trump again?”

Because this stuff matters, and we have an obligation to get our facts right. A lot of people won’t want to think about any percentage of American Muslims supporting violence against Americans. They’ll want to tune it out as hatred and xenophobia. If you get this stuff wildly wrong, as Trump just did, and then refuse to acknowledge any error, people dismiss you as a crazy lunatic. The people who insisted Trump was right kept sending me videos from the wrong place or the wrong time period.

The NYT uncovers another fantasy story that Donald Trump has hung his hat on. He owns a golf course in Virginia on the shores of the Potomac that he has declared was once called "the River of Blood" because someone told him that. However, there is no evidence that it was ever called that. It's a small thing, but this is the guy whose every answer about what his policies will be on a whole list of issue is simply to brag about how he's going to hire the very best people to fix our nation's problems. He doesn't even have anyone to check out a rumor at one of his properties before he sets up a plaque about the supposed history of the site.

There are a lot of phrases that the Democrats can't say. As Jay Nordlinger writes, they are muzzling themselves.
Democratic candidates are apparently not allowed to say “radical Islam.” Or “All lives matter.” If they say those things, there’s hell to pay. And now Hillary Clinton has pledged not to say “illegal immigrant.”

By the time the caucuses and primaries roll around, will Democrats be able to say anything? Beyond “racist”? An assault on language is an assault on thought. Democrats like to say they’re the thinking party. The truth is, their party is chockfull of taboos, and not necessarily good ones.

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Jacob Heilbrun explores the damage that our tender snowflakes at universities are wreaking on American history with their over-dependence on political correctness.
As L. Gordon Crovitz observes in the Wall Street Journal, there are a bevy of malefactors from the past that young students can try to hunt down: “Elihu Yale made his fortune as a British East India Company imperialist. Exploited Chinese laborers build Leland Stanford’s transcontinental railway. James Duke peddled tobacco.” And so on. It’s a game of trivial pursuit with real consequences for the intellectual climate on campus. No longer do students attempt to divine why the leading lights of a different era thought as they did, to attempt to put them in a broader context. Looking at Wilson as a racist pure and simple is rather reductionist. It tells you something about him but hardly everything.

Nor is this all. The push for political correctness has a chilling implication for current debate, which is something that the contemporary myrmidons of virtue are uninterested about. The idea seems to be that their young minds should be kept unsullied from the wider world. They want to be protected from subversive sentiments, coddled and cossetted, rather than exposed to contrary ideas. Hence the “safe spaces” and concern about “microaggressions.”

Some institutions are fighting back. The University of Chicago issued a report in January that stated, “It is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”
Mitch Daniels of Purdue has also taken a mature stance.
Events this week at the University of Missouri and Yale University should remind us all of the importance of absolute fidelity to our shared values. First, that we strive constantly to be, without exception, a welcoming, inclusive and discrimination-free community, where each person is respected and treated with dignity. Second, to be steadfast in preserving academic freedom and individual liberty.

Two years ago, a student-led initiative created the “We Are Purdue Statement of Values”, which was subsequently endorsed by the University Senate. Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech. What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale. Today and every day, we should remember the tenets of those statements and do our best to live up to them fully.
Kudos to both those university leaders.

The UNC School of Journalism has just eliminated the requirement that majors take American history and Economics. Because why should their graduates be any wiser than the average journalist today? Jay Schalin of John William Pope Center bemoans this change.
Charlie Tuggle, a senior associate dean for undergraduate studies who served on the curriculum committee that made the changes, told The Daily Tar Heel, the official student newspaper, that, “no one really knew why we were requiring HIST 128 or why we were specifically requiring ECON 101.”

That comment is cause for reflection: one is tempted to ask how far removed from the real world academics are. Even some journalism students struggled to understand why such valuable courses are no longer required. “I haven’t been able to figure out the rationale for it yet,” said James Martin, a senior from Washington, North Carolina. He said that the economics course “is important for journalism majors to take,” and that it gave him “a different understanding of the world that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t taken it.”

Martin’s comments and those of other students the Pope Center spoke to bring into question Tuggle’s comments in The Daily Tar Heel that students found the “required classes were useless and boring.” That article also quoted from one student who said, “ECON 101 was the death of me. I’m sad I had to do it….”

But popularity and easiness are hardly true measures of a course’s value: pre-med majors may not like organic chemistry—a notoriously difficult subject—but they must master it to move forward as scientists. Some students who are initially against taking challenging courses such as ECON 101 are savvy enough to grasp the importance in retrospect. Victoria Karagiorgis, a senior journalism major from Winston-Salem, told the Pope Center that she found ECON 101 “aggravating” and said “I got my worst grade in college in economics.” She said that when she was taking the course, she wondered, “why the heck do I have to take this? I’m not interested in it, and I’m never going to use it.”

But afterward, Karagiorgis said she was glad she took it. “It gave me another way of thinking about things.” She said she heard a lot of “griping” about the course from her fellow journalism majors, but added, “if you have to report on financial matters it’s best to know something about them.”

The value of economics and history courses goes beyond specific knowledge. In J-School, one learns skills and techniques, not facts, ideas, and [some] reasoning. Ideas and facts they must get elsewhere. Those facts and ideas are needed to form the most important part of a journalist’s toolkit: perspective; it is a journalist’s job to relate events and trends to the rest of society. That does not mean they should report with biased opinions, but that they must know there is often more to the picture than at first glance.

After all, if journalists are ignorant of very basic economics, how can they write about a major macro-economic topic such as government spending? In the case of my New Jersey colleague, the answer is “poorly.” Instead of presenting a balanced view that included how continually increasing government debt eventually destroys an economy, as we have seen recently in Greece, he blathered on about how it was necessary to pass a budget immediately because government workers were suffering without their paychecks.

Robert Ehrlich, the former Maryland governor, describes the modern lexicon of progressives today. The saddest example is how they no longer value free speech.
Possibly the most perplexing aspect of modern progressivism is its intolerance of alternative viewpoints. And nowhere is this attitude better demonstrated than in the proliferation of speech codes on our increasingly politically correct college campuses.

It seems that a new generation of our best and brightest have adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society: a place where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will not be confronted with troublesome, angst-inducing dissent. Yes, that former First Amendment–friendly America (particularly American campus life) that invited dissent is now so 1960s. This, my friend, is America circa 2015, where you’d better watch your p’s and q’s lest a trigger warning terminates your conversation — and get you expelled, fired, or fined for your “insensitivity”. Don’t think such nonsense has struck a chord with young people? A recent “Notable & Quotable” piece in the Wall Street Journal (October 22) says it all:

By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.

The bottom line: Silly word games that used to be the butt of jokes are now the object of intense study at many of our leading colleges and universities. As a parent who pays tuition, you pay for this pseudo-intellectualism. Time to start hitting back. Time to remind our coddled children that a great big competitive and often nasty world awaits them. Time to expose the intolerance. Time to stop indulging the idiocy. Time to make freedom cool again!

Well, this is rather sick-making. The Clinton campaign is trying to soften up her image by having her reminisce fondly about the early days of romance between Bill and Hill. They were so cute and so in love. How sweet. But remember what their marriage evolved into.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cruising the Web

The Guardian speculates on how victory against ISIS could lead to even more terror attacks.
Conventional troops might be able to dislodge the group from Raqqa within weeks, but even taking the de facto Isis “capital” would not end the threat it currently poses to Europe.

The collapse of the statelet would not destroy the group’s ideology or shatter its cells of fighters. Still filled with deadly intent, but shorn of its state and the mundane security jobs it provided on the frontline, at checkpoints or on guard duty, Isis might become even more dangerous to western nations.

“Isis has an apocalyptic world view, and such organisations can become even more violent when their prophetic expectations are disappointed,” said Berger. “Fighting an insurgency requires a lot more people than terrorism does. If the Isis state falls, especially to an outside invasion force, the short- to medium-term result will likely be a massive wave of terrorist attacks.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam who has literally risked her life to expose how Islam treats women, has some harsh words for feminists.
“That’s what feminists used to fight for — the access for girls to education,” Hirsi Ali said. “They used to fight for the recognition of girls as fellow human beings and recognition of their personal liberty.”

She spoke of growing up in Somalia, where women aren’t allowed to leave the house without asking permission from a male guardian and need to be accompanied by a male guardian.

“If something wrong were to happen to me, and where I come from that happened all the time — you were groped, you were harassed, you were raped — you had no recourse because you weren’t supposed to be where you were,” Hirsi Ali said. “You were married off as a child and you had to obey the person that you were married to, it was just your luck.”

“Feminists in this country and in the West fought against that and won the battle,” she added.

But now, Hirsi Ali said, feminism has taken that victory and squandered it.

“What we are now doing with the victory, and I agree with you if you condemn that and I condemn whole-heartedly the trivial bulls*** is to go after a man who makes a scientific breakthrough and all that we as women — organized women — do is to fret about his shirt?” Hirsi Ali said, referring to the controversy generated by the shirt featuring cartoons of scantily-clad women worn by the scientist who helped land a robot on a comet. “We must reclaim and retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women.”

But, Hirsi Ali said, we should not throw away feminism, because that would be like throwing away the civil rights movement. Instead, feminism needs to fight the real war on women: Radical Islam and other parts of the world where women don’t even have the right to an education or to leave their home without a male guardian.

Here's a discouraging report about our fight against ISIS.
American forces made one of their most effective hits against the Islamic State on Nov. 15, when U.S. planes destroyed 116 tanker trucks used by the terrorist organization to transport the stolen oil that is its financial lifeblood.

American A-10 and C-130 warplanes targeted a group of about 300 trucks near Abu Kamal, in Syria. Given that the Islamic State is thought to have just over 1,000 trucks in its entire fleet, the group of 300 represented a huge target for U.S. planes.

At a Pentagon news conference last Wednesday, reporters wanted to know why American forces did not take out more than 116 trucks. Why not all 300, or something close to that? A U.S. official said the American attackers simply ran out of ammunition.

"There were 300, I think, to begin with, and then you hit 116. Why didn't you go back?" a reporter asked Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

"Frankly, the aircraft expended 24 500-pound bombs, and all of their ammunition," Warren answered. "So they — they shot everything they had and then they had to go home."

Journalists had another question: If oil is vitally important to the Islamic State, why didn't the U.S. hit the tanker trucks long ago, given that the American anti-ISIS operation began in September 2014?

"If it's so important to cut off the oil shipments, the critical revenue source for ISIS, why did it take so long to take out 116 oil tanker trucks?" a reporter asked.

Warren explained that American officials were deeply worried about harming the truck drivers, who were working for the Islamic State but might not be ISIS themselves. U.S. officials settled on a plan to drop leaflets on the trucks about 45 minutes before the raid, warning the drivers that an attack was coming, while U.S. pilots flew low passes over the area. Planning all that took time.
So, after lots of delay, they had the 300 ISIS trucks all in one place just sitting there in the desert. But they only went in with enough ammunition to destroy 116 trucks and left behind 184 trucks.

Kevin Williamson thinks that we have a very shaky and rotten sense of who elites are in this country.
Pat Buchanan, who practically grew up on Air Force One and hasn’t had an unpublished thought in 40 years, complains that “Republican party elites” are being beastly to that nice man Donald Trump. “There is a plot afoot in the Washington Post Conservative Club to purge Trump from the Republican Party before the primaries begin,” he wrote over the summer. In case you’re wondering, “Washington Post Conservative Club” means “George Will.” Will is something of a hate object for the populist Right at the moment, having had the bad taste to suggest that Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan is a poor piece of work. “You’re a hack!” O’Reilly raged. O’Reilly, who attended private schools, holds a graduate degree from Harvard, and is paid $20 million a year to read aloud to his audience on Fox News, dismissed Will as an “elitist.”

Perhaps “elitist” now simply means “Burn the Witch!” It is indeed difficult to think of a definition of “elite” that excludes Pat Buchanan, once a president’s right hand and still an enormously influential voice in public affairs, or Bill O’Reilly, the most prominent face of the country’s most successful cable news network. Sometimes “elite” means a person with ties to the formal leadership of the Republican party or to organs of government, which again would include Buchanan, a former Nixon aide, and any number of professedly anti-elitist tea-party veterans who are actual senators, representatives, and governors. Ted Cruz boasts that “Washington elites despise me,” which is awfully buttery rhetoric for a man who is, after all, a United States senator — one who very well may be the next president of these United States. If the Senate isn’t the establishment, there is no establishment.

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PJ Media reports on something from Ted Cruz's personal biography I hadn't known about - his time working at the FTC as the director of Policy Planning.
At the FTC, Cruz’s agenda could have been written by Milton Friedman.

Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers. Based on his early support of disruptive online companies, Cruz has some grounds to call himself the “Uber of American politics.”

Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC.
Interesting. Read the rest.

Politico reports that more and more Republicans are seeing the contest in Iowa coming down to one between Cruz and Rubio. There is the assumption/hope that Trump is going to eventually fade. Then it will become a battle between Cruz's support among evangelicals and Rubio's efforts to attract the rest of GOP voters while trying to peel away some of those Christian conservatives.

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This is a poll result of the opinions of Syrian refugees about ISIS that will surprise all those who see them as fleeing ISIS.
The poll shows thirteen percent of Syrian refugees have a completely positive opinion of ISIS with another ten percent having mixed feelings on the terror group, suggesting that nearly one quarter are open to recruitment by ISIS.
Clearly, hatred and fear of ISIS would not be what was motivating their fleeing Syria. That would be in accord with the argument that many have made that the people flooding into Europe are going there for economic reasons rather than fear of Isis. Given that there is no screening that our intelligence sources could do to tell us what people believe in their hearts, there is even more reason to be wary about bringing in people from the entire region.

Marc Thiessen reminds us of how Bill Clinton handled a refugee problem even when there was no corresponding fear of terrorism. Hillary tells us that it would not be the American way to slam "the door on refugees."
Funny, because when her husband was president, he “slammed the door” on refugees — the cell door at Guantanamo Bay.

In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of refugees fled Haiti and sought refuge in the United States following the military coup that overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide. They did not include Islamist terrorists, but many posed another perceived threat: They had HIV. Instead of admitting them into the United States, President Bill Clinton ordered the Haitian refugees be held at Guantanamo, and then repatriated back to Haiti.

During the 1992 election Clinton criticized President George H.W. Bush’s practice of repatriating Haitian refugees as “cruel” and “immoral,” and promised to end the practice. But after winning the presidency, Clinton reversed course, and tried to stop the Haitian exodus by declaring that the refugees would be intercepted and sent back to Haiti. It didn’t work, and eventually he decided to house tens of thousands of Haitian refugees in Guantanamo. A federal judge declared Clinton’s policy of detaining refugees at Gitmo “outrageous, callous and reprehensible” and criticized him for inflicting on the Haitians “the kind of indefinite detention usually reserved for spies and murderers.” After an American-led force restored President Aristide to power in 1994, the Clinton administration told the remaining refugees they had to return home, declaring: “Under no circumstances will any Haitian currently in Guantanamo be admitted to the United States.”

Did Bill Clinton “betray our values” in refusing to admit these refugees?
We know that there are security concerns about the Syrian refugees because Obama administration officials have testified to Congress that they can't fully vet these refugees. And who knows how many of them actually support ISIS. The poll results are not encouraging.
These are serious security issues. But instead of working with Republicans to resolve them, and finding a bipartisan way forward to help the refugees, President Obama is politicizing the issue — and Hillary Clinton is joining the political bandwagon. She ought to be careful. It’s tricky claiming the moral high ground on refugees when President Clinton’s preferred solution was to send them to Guantanamo Bay.
We'll see if anyone in the media questions Hillary about her husband's choices.

Ramesh Ponnuru ponders the inability of Democrats to acknowledge that terrorist attacks have anything at all to do with Islam.
John Kerry, Clinton's successor as secretary of state, said a few days before her speech that the Islamic State's barbarism "has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism -- I mean, you name it."

Nothing to do with Islam? Does anyone think we're going to find professed atheists among these psychopaths? Kerry obviously wanted to condemn Islamic State and its allies while not lumping in most Muslims with them. He could have simply noted that most Muslims reject terrorism, that many call it a perversion of Islam, and that he hopes this view prevails among more and more of them. Unlike what he actually said, none of that would have been absurd....

At the most recent Democratic debate, Clinton condemned "radical jihadist ideology" in her opening statement. She used versions of "jihad" five other times that night. Everyone knows the religion with which jihad is associated. She didn't call it a "radical Crusaderist ideology." She's talking about a subset of Muslims, just as the Republicans who talk about "radical Islamic terrorists" are.

If using the word "Islam" in the vicinity of "terrorism" is a bad idea, then so is using the word "jihadism" to mean, well, Islamic terrorism. So it isn't surprising that the J-word has run into the same criticism. In 2009, John Brennan, then an adviser to President Barack Obama and now head of the CIA, said that the administration disavowed the term "jihadism" for pretty much the same reasons Clinton dislikes "radical Islamic terrorism": It "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek" and "it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself."

All this tortured diction is pointless. We're at war with people who believe that Islam justifies mass murder. There's no way to conduct that war without giving some people the impression that we're at war with Islam, period.
There is a fearfulness of offending Muslims that seems to trump any other characterization of what we're facing.

Ken White writing at Popehat, has an excellent post about the liberal tropes in the media about free speech controversies.
But it's harder to detect the subtle pro-censorship assumptions and rhetorical devices that permeate media coverage of free speech controversies. In discussing our First Amendment rights, the media routinely begs the question — it adopts stock phrases and concepts that presume that censorship is desirable or constitutional, and then tries to pass the result off as neutral analysis. This promotes civic ignorance and empowers deliberate censors.

Fortunately, this ain't rocket science. Americans can train themselves to detect and question the media's pro-censorship tropes. I've collected some of the most pervasive and familiar ones. This post is designed as a resource, and I'll add to it as people point out more examples and more tropes.

When you see the media using these tropes, ask yourself: what normative message is the author advancing, and does it have any basis in law?
He examines talk about "hate speech" which is not an actual exemption to the First Amendment. Some advocates of censorship like to tell us that "not all speech is protected." That is certainly true, but the guidelines to when there are exceptions to the First Amendment are quite clear. All the additional exceptions that pro-censorship members of the media want to support don't have any basis in the history of Supreme Court rulings on free speech. Read the entire post; it is very educational on what the Supreme Court has actually said on the subject.

Glenn Reynolds rejects the President's attacks on Republicans as a failed attempt to hide Obama's own contributions to the refugee crisis.
And Democrats kind of sense this, too, as David Brooks noted on NPR: “For Democrats, I think there's a sense of responsibility here. You know, President Obama waxed self-righteous about the Republican bill and the Republican behavior, but he's made a series of cold and, to me, amoral decisions over the past five years to allow this genocide. And maybe they were the right decisions, but they were not moral decisions.”

Now that those decisions — along with the war on Libya, which toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi and unleashed chaos in Libya and still more refugees on Europe — are bearing unfortunate fruit, Obama wants to talk about what big meanies the Republicans are.

But reality remains, no matter what you say about it, the same. And the reality is that Obama’s record in the Middle East has been one of unparalleled debacles, of which Syria and Islamic State are perhaps the worst. (How bad? So bad that Jimmy Carter is calling Obama feckless, noting that Obama “waited too long” to address ISIS and commenting that “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.” Indeed.)

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Nate Silver takes to his blog at 538 to give comfort to those of us fretting about Donald Trump's continued lead in the polls. Remember that polls are quite iffy. And most people haven't made up their minds.
If past nomination races are any guide, the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.

It can be easy to forget it if you cover politics for a living, but most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the campaign right now. Certainly, voters are consuming some campaign-related news. Debate ratings are way up, and Google searches for topics related to the primaries1 have been running slightly ahead of where they were at a comparable point of the 2008 campaign, the last time both parties had open races. But most voters have a lot of competing priorities. Developments that can dominate a political news cycle, like Trump’s frenzied 90-minute speech in Iowa earlier this month, may reach only 20 percent or so of Americans.
Exit polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire indicate that around a third of them make up their minds in the last month of the campaign. So at this point, only about 20% of the voters have firmly decided whom they will vote for.
So, could Trump win? We confront two stubborn facts: first, that nobody remotely like Trump has won a major-party nomination in the modern era.4 And second, as is always a problem in analysis of presidential campaigns, we don’t have all that many data points, so unprecedented events can occur with some regularity. For my money, that adds up to Trump’s chances being higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent. Your mileage may vary. But you probably shouldn’t rely solely on the polls to make your case; it’s still too soon for that.

I just noticed that one of my favorite political analysts, Henry Olsen, has a blog at National Review in which he analyzes poll results. It's worth checking out.

Byron York puts forth a theory about why Trump says outrageous things. He points out that many people agree with his ideas. Or maybe he's conducting his campaign the way he would conduct bargaining to make a deal - by asking for more than he actually wants.
Perhaps deporting all illegal immigrants is the political version of asking for about three times more than you want.

Trump has repeated his deportation vow many times. But few have noted that when Trump rolled out his written immigration plan, posted on his campaign website, there was nothing about mass deportation. In addition to Trump's famous "beautiful wall," the plan had a lot of mainstream conservative proposals about securing the border and tightening interior enforcement.

The effect of Trump's deportation proposal was to pull the Republican immigration debate toward immigration and further right — that is, where Trump wanted it to go. When Trump made an actual written proposal, even an abbreviated campaign-style proposal, it was more measured.

Asking for about three times more than he wants helps Trump keep up his image with supporters. Perhaps the biggest part of Trump's appeal to those supporters is that they see him as strong, and other candidates as weak. Trump has to keep sounding strong to keep their support — even if the things he says scandalize others.
So those who are attracted to Trump because of what he's actually saying, they might want to ponder that he might not mean what he's saying. And given that he'd never be able to get such policies through Congress anyway, Trump can get the benefit of the shock value of saying some of these things. What I notice is that he manages to say one of these things that causes a brouhaha in the political media ever few days. So he keeps himself at the top of the political news cycle. That might drive a lot of people to dislike him even more, but it certainly keeps himself in the forefront of people's minds. Even those people not paying attention to the news; they'll still know what Trump has said.

Nicole Russell makes an interesting comparison between Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura and their appeal to voters. They're both Alpha males and delight in that persona. They are full of braggadocio, although Trump downplays his braggadocio while praising himself and telling us how much money he has. They also have other commonalities.
While on the one hand Ventura made his name with his bombastic personality and unique political views, on the other hand, it hurt his—and Minnesota’s—reputation. No political leader who is in the limelight 24/7 can avoid a gaffe or misstep, but Ventura seemed to seek them out. He referred to the press as “media jackals,” a term that even appeared on official press passes. When Minnesota author and humorist Garrison Keillor wrote a book about Ventura, he responded angrily to the jokes (although he later offered Keillor an olive branch).

Ventura was also litigation-hungry. He filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration, then later against the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle for defamation. When Kyle was killed, Ventura swapped in Kyle’s wife as the defendant. Granted, a jury found in Ventura’s favor to the tune of $1.8 million. But who continues a lawsuit against a SEAL’s widow? Seems like bad form, even if he was legally in the right.

Trump, likewise, has thin skin and has said some outlandish things. He’s sure of his skills, despite never having held political office, and he puts down others to demonstrate that. “We are led by very, very stupid people….We will have so much winning if I get elected, that you may get bored with winning.”

Trump called Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer “a totally overrated clown.” He tweeted, “Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
And the catalog of outrageous and outlandish things each has said could go on and on. Ventura was a failure as governor. He made a lot of money out of being governor but the state suffered. It doesn't augur well for Trump.
Ultimately Ventura was like a giant chocolate Easter bunny: all sweet promises, but hollow inside. As a candidate, Ventura vowed, “As governor, I will veto any new taxes and any increase in existing taxes. And I keep my word.” Yet less than four years later, “the governor proposed body-slamming Minnesota taxpayers to the tune of almost $2 billion in the next biennial budget.” After four years with Ventura at the helm, the annual general fund “ballooned 30 percent, to almost $14 billion.”

It isn’t hard to surmise what Trump would do if elected. No doubt he’d be all bark, no bite. Lewis’s observation of Ventura remains relevant today, when you consider it with Trump in mind: “Perhaps Jesse Ventura’s difficulty in matching his actions with his rhetoric is due to his background as an entertainer. Professional wrestling is built on illusion. Nothing is for real. One might say the same of Ronald Reagan’s pre-political career, but Reagan had one thing Ventura lacks: an ideology.”

Ventura didn’t have time to bleed. Trump doesn’t have time to garner an ideology. And we, the American people, don’t have time for either.
One problem was that Ventura had no allies in the Minnesota legislature and had trouble working with them. Can you imagine Trump having allies in Congress? That might seem like a plus to his followers, but that isn't how our system works. Obama has been able to used executive orders to achieve his goals because he knows that his flunkies in Congress will block any effort in the Congress to roll back his actions. Could Trump depend on either Republican or Democratic congressmen to have his back in Congress? I doubt it. So he would have a lot more trouble governing by executive order. If the Republicans controlled both houses, they might be able to pass their agenda and then just hope that Trump would sign it, but who knows? For all his boasting about all the great deals he'll make with everyone imaginable, we actually don't have any idea of what a Trump presidency would really look like.

David Drucker points out how similar Trump's foreign policy is to Barack Obama's and Rand Paul's.
Obama often advocates for reducing the U.S. military footprint overseas so that Washington can focus on investing and rebuilding infrastructure "here at home." So does Trump. Paul regularly questions America's role as the West's global guarantor of security, urging a "noninterventionist" foreign policy tailored to homeland defense. So does Trump. Indeed, Trump has gone further than Obama or Paul in challenging the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that has held since World War II....

Trump's vision for U.S. foreign policy, as he has described it, can be inconsistent (and, his critics might add, incoherent).

Last week, he made waves by suggesting that extra-constitutional measures should be taken to surveil Muslims in the U.S. The New Yorker likes to describe himself as "militaristic," and occasionally sounds like a muscular Republican, modeled after President Reagan. Trump, who has advocated military action in Iraq and Syria to dismantle the Islamic State, says he would invest heavily in the military, and strenuously opposed Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

But in September, during the Republican debate hosted by CNN, the real estate mogul and reality television star suggested that he would be disinclined to use force against the Islamic State. "Syria's a mess. You look at what's going on with ISIS in there, now think of this: we're fighting ISIS. ISIS wants to fight Syria. Why are we fighting ISIS in Syria? Let them fight each other and pick up the remnants," he said.
Drucker goes on to give several examples of how Trump has suggested in interviews and in debates how he would pull back from America's historical military alliances. He wants to pull back from patrolling the South china Sea and South Korea. And he refuses to say whether he would pull out of Obama's deal with Iran.

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Jonathan Tobin details how the New York Times misleads in its reporting on murders of Israelis by Palestinians.
Today, another Israeli was killed and two more were wounded in a stabbing attack at a gas station by a Palestinian terrorist. On Sunday, another Israeli, a 20-year-old woman, was stabbed at an intersection near where 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Sharon, Massachusetts was killed. That attack was one of three assaults by Palestinians on Jewish targets that took place that day in which Israelis defending themselves killed all of the terrorist assailants. How did the New York Times describe it in their initial report on the events of the day published on its website Sunday evening? The headline read as follows: “1 Israeli and 3 Palestinians Killed in the West Bank.” This was a classic example of moral equivalence in which Israeli victims are equated by mainstream media bias with terrorists.

By Monday that headline was changed to: “Israeli Woman and 3 Palestinian Attackers Killed in West Bank.” But before we give the Times too much credit for correcting the prejudice against Israel that was demonstrated in the initial headline, it’s important to note that the story was just as imbalanced as it devoted far more space to information about one of the attackers than the Israeli that was killed. But in spite of that tilt, it also contained some important information the demonstrated the way the “moderate” Palestinian Authority was encouraging violence. In other words, the story was every that was wrong in the Middle East contained in one bad article.

The instinct to lump in together all those killed in the last two months as Palestinian terrorism surged into what is being called the “stabbing intifada” stems from a belief that what is happening is merely part of a “cycle of violence.” Seen in that way, there are no terrorists or victims, merely two sides that are equally to blame for the problem.

This ignores the fact that the conflict is driven by the Palestinian belief in the illegitimacy of Israel within any borders. That is something that has been made evident by their repeated rejections of peace offers that would have ended the Israeli presence on the West Bank and given them the independent state they say they want. Yet the Palestinians continue to seek out random Jews to kill on the streets and do it in the name of their desire to end an occupation that could have been finished long ago if they were not still obsessed with Israel’s destruction.
The NYT should explain why they think that murder victims and murderers should be treated as equivalents. Just like John Kerry, they seem to think that there is some sort of legitimacy or rationale behind the terrorist actions of Palestinians. This is how some of our nation's elites think when it comes to Israel or to those who dared to draw cartoons of Mohammad. When Kerry made those idiotic statements last week, he left out the Jews who were killed in the Jewish deli. Perhaps he thought that there was some rationale in killing French Jews shopping for dinner. Tobin continues,
It’s not often that one not particularly remarkable article could sum up everything that is wrong with the Middle East and the way Western liberals think about it, but the Rudoren piece does just that. So long as Palestinians get this kind of favorable coverage, it’s little wonder that they persist in their belief that sooner or later the West will hand them Israel on a silver platter.

Politically correct idiocy continues. Now a yoga class at the University of Ottawa has been cancelled because some sensitive snowflakes fear that it will be regarded as "cultural appropriation."
Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of "cultural appropriation."
Jennifer Scharf, who has been offering free weekly yoga instruction to students since 2008, says she was shocked when told in September the program would be suspended, and saddened when she learned of the reasoning.

Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that "while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students ... there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice," according to an email from the centre.
The centre is operated by the university's Student Federation, which first approached Scharf seven years ago about offering yoga instruction to students both with and without disabilities.

The centre goes on to say, "Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from."

The centre official argues since many of those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy ... we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga."

The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture for dubious reasons -- such as the fad of hipsters donning indigenous headdresses as a fashion statement, without any regard to cultural significance or stereotype.

But Scharf, a yoga teacher with the downtown Rama Lotus Centre, said the concept does not apply in this case, arguing the complaint that killed the program came instead from a "social justice warrior" with "fainting heart ideologies" in search of a cause celebre.

"People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find," said Scharf.
Oh, barf! Gosh this sort of stupidity infuriates me. Why won't these people worry about actual persecution of real people rather than making up mini-controversies. Eugene Volokh writes,
Bunk. Total bunk.

Yoga, whether you’re a fan of it or not, doesn’t exclusively belong to some group of people who share the same skin color or language or culture or religion — just as classical music or Western medicine or modern physics doesn’t belong to the Europeans. It, like all such ideas, is the common heritage of all mankind. That means of each and every one of us, even those of us who have a genetic background or culture that some people feel aggrieved at.

We (Indian, American, African, Oceanian, anyone else) are entitled to use it, to adapt it, to merge it with other ideas. There’s no improper “appropriation” here because there’s no “property” here in the first place. I think it makes sense to view this as our honoring other ideas: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and so is adaptation and modification, since it represents the view that the thing be imitated, adapted and modified is worth our time and attention.

When Mitsuko Uchida or Itzhak Perlman plays Mozart, that isn’t Japanese or Jews somehow taking something away from Austrians or Germans (however you choose to slice European culture there). Rather, it is two people contributing to world culture, including by contributing something that can in turn be used by future Austrians and Germans. And it is a mark of how enduringly appealing classical music is. Indeed, appeal to people whose ancestors came from quite different places and cultures is one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to a culture. The same is true for jazz, yoga and a vast range of other cultural artifacts.

In a few situations, our legal system reserves to inventors a 20-year monopoly on ideas that they come up with, as an incentive to come up with ideas and contribute them to the common heritage of mankind. (Copyright law also reserves to inventors a longer — in my view, too long — but still limited monopoly on their particular expression of an idea, but not to an idea or genre itself.) But these are limited monopolies, justified by the perceived need of incentives to create, monopolies that a far narrower than what the critics of cultural “appropriation” would seek.

But no rule of law or ethics gives some ethnic, religious or cultural group a perpetual monopoly on the right to use yoga just because its creators happened to share a broad location, language or bloodline with the members of the modern group. Of course, it’s human nature for some people to want to lock up ideas for themselves, whether for financial gain or for the ability to boss people around and the pleasure of asserting special entitlements. But if people try to do that to you, point out their supposed moral theories for the nonsense that they are.