Friday, May 09, 2014

Cruising the Web

Jonathan S. Tobin ponders how so many people are willing to support American military action in Nigeria to go after Boko Haram to try to rescue the unfortunate girls kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. This is a story that has horrified and galvanized many who have opposed military action elsewhere to urge for it in Nigeria. Yet, as Tobin points out many more people, including children, have been killed elsewhere where Americans oppose any sort of military action.
Though the obstacles to a successful foreign intervention in Nigeria may have more to do with the dysfunction of the government in Abuja than in Western reluctance to get involved in an African battle, the case for intervention in Nigeria is easy to make. The defense of human rights has always been an important element in U.S. foreign-policy objectives and the notion of the West standing by and doing nothing while young girls are enslaved and sold with impunity in this manner is intolerable. But while we all join in expressing outrage about Boko Haram’s crimes, it’s fair to ask why Americans or their leaders aren’t similarly exercised about the atrocities being committed against children in Syria. The casualties in the fighting in Syria between the Assad regime and its opponents have reportedly taken the lives of up to 150,000 people, of which at least 11,000 are believed to be children. And yet both the administration and isolationists on both the left and the right tell us it’s none of our business. Does anyone else see this as a demonstration of our lack of honesty or at least consistency in our approach to foreign policy?
And then Tobin asks this question:
Let’s pose another not entirely hypothetical question: What will be the American public’s attitude if, in the coming years after the last American troops have left Afghanistan, the Taliban sweeps to victory and returns to power in Kabul in an orgy not just of murder but of rape in which women and girls are once again the particular objects of their hostility? If Afghan girls are once again being imprisoned in their homes or sold into slavery, will the same people who are today calling out the Marines on behalf of the Nigerian kidnapping victims be crying out for America not to stand by in silence? Don’t bet on it.

Perhaps it is too much to ask people to be consistent. But the isolationists who want no part of the global war being waged on the West by Islamist terrorists need to remember that the consequences of our indifference to their crimes are serious. The U.S. may not be able to solve every problem in the world or be its policeman. Yet neither can we pretend that the horrors perpetrated by these Islamists have nothing to do with us. Anyone expressing outrage about Nigeria should remember that the U.S. has made a conscious decision to ignore crimes just as bad in Syria and have set in motion a train of events that may lead to even worse in Afghanistan.
I don't know what the answer to these questions should be. But there is value in asking and discussing them.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali reminds us of how such jihadist groups who seek to oppress women rise in Islamic cultures. And too many Westerners want to close their eyes to this connection for fear of not being politically correct. That's fine for well-to-do students at Brandeis who protested Hirsi Ali's appearance at their campus, but the true victims are all those females who are oppressed and denied freedom in their cultures while Westerners pat themselves on their backs for their non-judgmental approach to other cultures.
The kidnapping of the schoolgirls throws into bold relief a central part of what the jihadists are about: the oppression of women. Boko Haram sincerely believes that girls are better off enslaved than educated. The terrorists' mission is no different from that of the Taliban assassin who shot and nearly killed 15-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai—as she rode a school bus home in 2012—because she advocated girls' education. As I know from experience, nothing is more anathema to the jihadists than equal and educated women.

How to explain this phenomenon to baffled Westerners, who these days seem more eager to smear the critics of jihadism as "Islamophobes" than to stand up for women's most basic rights? Where are the Muslim college-student organizations denouncing Boko Haram? Where is the outrage during Friday prayers? These girls' lives deserve more than a Twitter hashtag protest.

George Will reminds us of Thomas Jefferson's approach to those who held different religious beliefs than he did. The contrast to those atheists who were so upset at the prayers offered at the council meetings in the town of Greece.
On Monday, the Supreme Court split 5-4 in reversing that court. The majority held that ceremonial prayer — an encouragement to gravity and sobriety — is not harmful to the plaintiffs, who felt somehow coerced when present at public prayers and who said such prayers are necessarily divisive. The court should have told them: If you feel coerced, you are flimsy people, and it is a choice — an unattractive one — to feel divided from your neighbors by their affection for brief and mild occasional expressions of religiosity.
Taking offense has become America's national pastime. As the number of nonbelievers grows — about 20 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, as are one-third of adults under 30 — so does the itch to litigate believers into submission to secular sensibilities.
America would be a more congenial place if it had more amiable atheists who say, as one such did, that “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Still, Jefferson made statesmanlike accommodations of the public's strong preference for religious observances.
As president, he attended Christian services conducted in the House of Representatives. They also were conducted in the Supreme Court chamber and the Treasury building. Jefferson attended a service in the House two days after praising (in an 1802 letter) “a wall of separation between church and state.”
Jefferson was no slouch when it came to asserting rights. But Greece's prickly plaintiffs, having taken their town to court, might now ponder his example of relaxed, friendly respect for practices cherished by others and harmless to him.

So now that Harry Reid has told us that the Koch brothers are "one of the main causes" of global warming, Ashe Schow ponders what else Reid might blame the Kochs for. This is quite funny. Their evil reach is, apparently, so terribly vast. Meanwhile, Allahpundit catches an interview with Harry Reid in which he tries to distinguish between the evil, dirty Kochs giving millions to conservative candidates and Nevada multi-millionaire Sheldon Adelson giving millions to conservative candidates.
There are two big differences between Adelson and the Kochs, he says. One: Adelson’s a social liberal, a pro-choice Republican. A man like that deserves some leeway. Which would be fine, except that … the Kochs are socially liberal too. David Koch supports gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and tax hikes in the name of balancing the budget. The Kochs’ libertarianism, oddly, doesn’t buy them the same line of political credit with Reid as Adelson’s beliefs do. Two: Unlike the dirty, dirty Kochs, says Reid, Adelson’s not in politics to pad his bank account. He’s a true believer in his causes, which is respectable. That may be the first time I’ve heard a Democrat distinguish hundreds of millions in conservative “dark money” as good or bad depending on the purity of the donor’s motives, but in any case, this too is wrong. Adelson’s perfectly happy to shower cash on members of Congress in the name of protecting his business. He and his family have donated tens of thousands to Lindsey Graham, for instance; coincidentally, Graham introduced a bill just last month that would ban online gambling, thus killing potential competition for Adelson’s casinos. Reid supports online gambling but only with respect to poker, and had nothing but nice things to say about Adelson’s lobbying when asked about it recently. Go figure.
All of the opprobrium heaped on the Koch brothers isn't stopping them from spending their millions to elect Republicans.And as for Reid's delusions that the Koch brothers are responsible for global, not so much.
By the fact-checkers’ reckoning, Koch Industries is, under the most damning calculation, responsible for one six-thousandth of 1 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which issued a report ranking the world’s worst corporate global-warming offenders, did not see fit to put Koch on the top-50 list, and Richard Heede of Climate Mitigation Services, who published a similar list, also excluded Koch Industries.

Peggy Noonan contrasts how Reagan responded to the Iran-Contra scandal and how the Obama administration has responded to investigations into what happened leading up to, during, and after the attacks on Benghazi.
The attorney general, Ed Meese, launched a review of the affair. It was a real investigation, and he went public with his findings. The national security adviser who oversaw the operation had left, but his replacement resigned and his deputy was fired.

The president delivered a national address. Two congressional committees launched investigations. Networks covered the hearings live. Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post said it was the most fun he'd had since Watergate.

Reagan waived executive privilege so his aides would testify. He announced a special commission to investigate everything. There was a full housecleaning. Colin Powell was brought in to run the National Security Council, and Mr. Shultz given full authority for all dealings with Iran. Ultimately Reagan dumped his chief of staff.

The Iran-Contra affair did not spring from low motives. There was no hope of partisan gain, it wasn't a political play.

All involved were trying—sometimes stupidly, almost childishly—to save lives, and perhaps establish a new opening with Iran. They had good reasons, but the actions were bad, and everyone involved paid a price.

Compare that with how the Obama White House has handled Benghazi. It's all been spin, close ranks, point fingers, obfuscate, withhold documents, accuse your accusers of base motives. Nobody in the administration has paid a price.

The reporter Bob Timberg, who along with the late Michael Kelly toughly covered Iran-Contra for the Baltimore Sun, suggests the press had its own biases. "At a certain point, though, I realized that the comparison to Watergate . . . didn't hold up when looked at in light of the motives," he writes in his new memoir, "Blue-Eyed Boy."

No, Benghazi was no Iran-Contra, in terms of the nature of the crime or the handling of it.

Dude, that was, like, almost 30 years ago. You can look it up.

Dude, that's how patriots, not punks, deal with scandals.
Rich Lowry explains what the Democrats opposing any more investigation into what happened in Benghazi apparently believe.
The deniers evidently believe:
An administration should be able to make erroneous statements about a terror attack that killed a U.S. ambassador in the weeks before a presidential election and expect everyone to accept its good intentions afterward.
An administration should be able to withhold a bombshell White House email from congressional investigators and expect everyone to greet its long-delayed release with a yawn.
An administration should be able to send out its press secretary to abase himself with absurd denials of the obvious and expect everyone to consider its credibility solidly intact.

Read more:

Chris Cillizza rips apart the self-gratifying lie that Charlie Crist is now promulgating that the reason he left the Republican Party was due to its racism instead of the fact that Marco Rubio was delivering a shellacking to him in the GOP primary for the nomination to run for senator.