Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cruising the Web

So is saying that there is a rationale for terrorism and murder any better than saying than talking about "legitimate rape"? I'm just wondering because of these remarks that our Secretary of State made in Paris.
In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate
How do such words come out of his mouth? Does he really see some murders as having a rationale? By the way does he forget that the same group of terrorists killed people in a Jewish deli at the same time? Was there a rationale for those murders because killing Jews makes more sense to Kerry? Charles C. W. Cooke writes,
There really is no way of reading these comments other than as a craven ranking of outrages. Forget Kerry’s brief flirtation with the word “legitimacy” and assume that he said “rationale” from the start. That changes precisely nothing. The top diplomat in the United States just publicly argued that because the victims at Charlie Hebdo had spoken risqué words but the victims at the Bataclan had not, the violence against the former was more comprehensible than the violence against the latter. Has he lost his mind?

Even if Kerry’s assumptions were all correct, the moral problem here would be obvious. We hear a great deal about “blaming the victim” in our domestic debates, especially as it relates to sexual assault. Does this not apply to other realms?
Allahpundit follows up,
Nothing good can come from drawing a distinction between Charlie Hebdo’s editors and the kids killed at the Bataclan. What Kerry’s getting at, I assume, is the idea that the former were killed for a particular reason whereas the latter were killed randomly, and random killings are supposedly more frightening because they drive home the fact that you too could be targeted. Except that’s not true. Random killings aren’t more frightening; the idea that it’s now quite plausible you’ll be murdered in a western country by fanatics for refusing to observe their cultural norm against blasphemy is frightening. Instead of expressing solidarity with Charlie Hebdo for daring to defy that norm, Kerry’s suggesting that until this weekend the French could take comfort in the idea that as long as they didn’t insult Mohammed, they wouldn’t end up on anyone’s kill list. If you strain, you can analogize his view of the distinction between Hebdo and Friday’s victims to the distinction between soldiers and civilians. Satire of Islam is to the cartoonist what combat is to the soldier; we mourn the deaths of both but we accept that their professions are violent, deadly business. By distinguishing Charlie Hebdo from the other victims, Kerry’s further mainstreaming the sense that people who provoke Islam have knowingly assumed a certain inevitable risk that other civilians haven’t. That’s where his little “legitimacy” fart came from, I think: It’s not that Hebdo’s editors are legitimate targets, exactly, as that they’re not quite as illegitimate as the guy minding his own business at the Eagles of Death Metal concert.
And Allahpundit goes on to point out that it isn't true that there wasn't any rationale given for the terrorists' attack last week. They claimed that it was in retaliation for western involvement in Syria.
Maybe the worst part is that little note of surprise in Kerry’s words when he marvels that Friday’s attack was “absolutely indiscriminate.” (“That’s not an exaggeration.”) So was the attack on the World Trade Center. This is what they do, and what they’ve been doing in places like Madrid and London and Mumbai for years now. If anything, it’s Hebdo that was the outlier, not jihadis blowing up random soft targets. Why is the fact that the attack was indiscriminate noteworthy 15 years into the war on terror? And why suggest that the Charlie Hebdo attack was somehow less, rather than more, problematic? What is wrong with this person?
John Hinderaker writes,
I don’t believe that every slip of the tongue is significant, but that’s not what this was. Kerry said what he meant, but then realized how bad it sounded and backed off. But conceding the “legitimacy” of the Charlie Hebdo murders was central to his point, that last Friday’s attacks were materially different. That Kerry and his boss, President Obama, regard the Charlie Hebdo murders as somehow legitimate likely explains why the Obama administration, alone among significant Western powers, sent no high-ranking representative to the Paris demonstration that followed a few days later.

Is it unfair to suggest that there is another kind of legitimate terrorism, different somehow from the rest, when Arabs murder Jewish Israelis? I don’t think so. I think some such belief is the only plausible explanation for the Obama administration’s neutrality (at best) as between terrorists and their victims in Israel.

This man came very close to being president. And now he is our chief diplomat. He is perhaps the only person who could have made Hillary Clinton's tenure at State look good.

I'll wait to see if the Democrats who rush to defend John Kerry's words were as tolerant of the idiocies uttered by Todd Akin about legitimate rape victims. They're both extremely stupid statements, but one was said by a backbencher in Congress and the other was said by our chief diplomat in Paris and whose words represent our government.

Here's an idea. Instead of settling millions of Middle Eastern refugees in Europe or the United States, we should be helping them to resettle closer to home. Europe can't absorb so many refugees even without the terrorism threat and can't afford the amount of public services such refugees will need. And, as Reihan Salam writes at Slate, even if they aren't radicalized when they enter, circumstances of reality of living in Europe might well radicalize a percentage of those refugees.
The trouble is that Syrian refugees are not a monolithic bloc, and even the most generous resettlement policy might feel repressive to, say, Syrians who believe that the doctrines of gender equality and sexual liberalism represent an affront to their religion. Policymakers don’t have the power to decide how their actions will be interpreted. Nor do they have the power to dictate how ordinary Europeans will react to Syrians on a human level. In much of northern Europe, it is common to hear European Muslims complain of the emotional coldness of their native-born non-Muslim neighbors, who never stop treating them as foreigners, no matter how hard they try to fit in. This subjective sense of exclusion does much to fuel resentment on the part of European Muslims, and understandably so. It’s not clear what policymakers can do about these failures of integration at the intimate level.

Elsewhere, Byman has elaborated on the policy dimension of integrating Syrian refugees, observing that Europe already has a large population of radicalized Muslims, and that there is a real risk that these radicalized Muslims “will transform the Syrian refugee community into a more violent one over time.” To guard against this outcome, Byman makes a convincing case that European governments must offer refugees “a comprehensive and long-term package that includes political rights, educational support, and economic assistance as well as immediate humanitarian aid, particularly if they are admitted in large numbers.” What Byman doesn’t really address is whether European voters will welcome this prospect, particularly in countries where the social safety net is already under intense strain. Sweden is making across-the-board spending cuts to meet the cost of providing for the roughly 190,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other countries who’ve arrived in recent months, and other European countries are likely to follow. How many European voters are willing to pay substantially higher taxes for the privilege of doing more for new arrivals from Syria and Iraq? How many will be willing in the wake of the Paris attacks?
Salam points to proposals to help settle them in places like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Aid for refugees should focus on helping them in those locations to build up economic possibilities for those refugees rather than the fruitless goal of trying to assimilate them into Europe.

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Thomas Sowell has some "random thoughts."
Why have a national debt ceiling if it doesn't really put a ceiling on the national debt? What the national debt ceiling does is allow Democrats to gain votes by spending the government's money -- and then force Republicans to share responsibility for raising the national debt ceiling, under threat of being blamed for shutting down the government if they don't.

People who argue that the hostility to Israel in the Middle East is due to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians should explain why hostility to Jews in the Middle East was so great back in the 1930s that Middle East leaders were pro-Hitler. This was long before there was a modern state of Israel or a Palestinian problem.

In what part of the world is the situation better for America than it was when Barack Obama became President and Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State? If you want an easier question, in what part of the world is the situation worse?

John Hawkins has taken the trouble to read the list of Hillary Clinton's accomplishments that she is bragging about on her website. It is not an impressive list, because some of them are not, you know, actual accomplishments.
All seven “accomplishments” are things Hillary didn’t have much to do with -- like CHIP and the Family Medical Leave Act (Those went into effect when her husband was in office) or getting 9/11 first responders health care (Was that ever a question?). Alternately, they’re just ridiculous.

"Fought for children and families for 40 years and counting."

“Told the world that ‘women’s rights are human rights.’”

“Stood up for LGBT rights at home and abroad.”

The very fact that Hillary Clinton considers those things to be “accomplishments” that she should be applauded for as opposed to things that should evoke eye-rolling and “Is she serious?” comments tells you a lot about why she shouldn’t be President.

Of course, the real problem Hillary has isn’t that she doesn’t have achievements; it’s just that they’re not exploits that anyone would want to base a run at the Presidency on.
But Hawkins does have some other accomplishments that she has on her biography such as this:
She managed to turn a career in government service into immense wealth: Hillary and her husband managed to become filthy rich one percenters because of their government service. Granted, they did cut a few corners in the process. For example, while Bill was governor, Hillary got away with taking a nearly $100,000 bribe from Robert L. "Red" Bone via sleazy cattle futures deals. While she was Secretary of State, money poured into the pockets of her husband and the Clinton Foundation from defense contractors and foreign governments that got fat contracts from the State Department. Among the governments that funneled money into the Clinton bank account via speeches are Iran, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. They paid the Clintons an awful lot of money and if Hillary becomes our next President, people might be surprised at how much those foreign governments end up getting in return for making the Clintons rich.

And now, while pretending it's all about transparency instead of doing what is required by law, the Clinton Foundation has refiled its tax returns. But as Ed Morrissey points out, the big change that they had failed to report before the sources of some of their money. They got a lot of money from government grants.
The overall numbers didn’t change, but now we find out that there were millions of dollars in government grants to the foundation that never got disclosed before? If that goes back four years, then that coincides with Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Who directed government grants to a foundation set up by a high-ranking government official? Did those grants come from the State Department? If so, who approved them?

The income stream from Bill and Chelsea is somewhat less surprising, but still curiously omitted from tax disclosures during Hillary’s tenure at State. Why not break those out earlier? Are there connections to countries and other entities with business at State at the time?
Another major change that Reuters uncovered was that a lot of that money came from foreign governments. Hmmm. How interesting that foreign governments were giving money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Secretary of State.
Among other amendments, the foundation now reports receiving nearly $20 million in funds from governments, mostly foreign governments, between 2010 and 2013. The foundation had previously neglected to separately state its government funding as required on its original returns, although it continued to acknowledge foreign governments' support throughout this period on its website and in its publications.
Quite convenient that. Morrissey writes,
Suddenly the foundation wants to be more transparent about foreign government revenue during the period when Hillary ran the State Department. And then, only because Reuters discovered “errors” when investigating their returns. Golly, do you think the rest of the media will ask questions about this now … or will it just be “conservative critics”?

Jonathan Tobin is amused at liberals who were a mite bit put off by Hillary Clinton's attempt to explain away the money she has raked in from Wall Street firms by saying it was all due to 9/11. Don't they know anything about the Clintons?
It’s not just that the longstanding close relationship between the Clintons and major Wall Street firms is no secret and had little to with post-9/11 recovery efforts as she lamely claimed. It’s that liberals are being reacquainted with the facts of life about the Clintons. They put their fingers in their ears when evidence of conflicts of interest between Clinton Family Foundation donors and State Department business were brought forward. But their concerns about the quid pro quos that are part of the massive influx of Wall Street money into the Clinton machine’s coffers dovetail nicely with the same accusations that Democrats dutifully professed to be solely the product of the vast right-wing conspiracy that Hillary thinks is the source of all her troubles.

Of course, in principle, there is nothing illegal or intrinsically wrong about Wall Street political donations. Though liberals act as if Clinton ought to be ashamed of just taking their money, the problem isn’t the mere fact of her fundraising prowess among the one percent that Democrats think are so bad. It’s that we already know that the Clinton approach to such efforts is strictly transactional.

Schweizer brought forward numerous examples in his book that illustrated how anyone who gave big bucks to the thinly disguised political slush fund that masquerades as the Clinton family charity always expected and got something in return. It’s true that he produced no “smoking gun” that provided absolute proof of corruption that might place the Clinton clan in political jeopardy. But the sleaze factor went well beyond the fact that so many of the Foundation’s doings passed the smell test.
This is who the Clintons are. And the Democrats again and again have tied their party's fortunes to this sleazy couple.

Real Clear Politics has come up with a neat tool for political geeks so that you can play around with the GOP delegate count state by state. If you thought predicting Electoral College vote counts was a bit too problematic, try guessing what percentage of the vote and thus number of delegates the remaining GOP candidates might garner.

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Bret Stephens finds a common thread in the stories roiling our worlds today.
We live in the age of the sanctified tantrum—the political and religious furies we dare not name or shame, much less confront.

Students bully college administrators with contrived political demands. The administrators plead they can do better, then capitulate. Incompetent writers pen trite racial screeds aimed at the very society that lifts them above their ability. They are hailed as geniuses. Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination epitomizes the politics of the tantrum. He’s angry as hell, and so is his base. We’re supposed to respect this.

And then there is the tantrum of Islam, another eruption of rage that feeds off our astonishing willingness to indulge it.

Before Friday’s carnage in the City of Light, the world was treated to the hideous spectacle of Palestinians knifing Jews in Israel. The supposed motive of these stabbings was a rumor among Palestinians—fanned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—that the Israeli government intended to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.

This was a story the Israeli government adamantly denied and every serious person knew was false. Yet no senior Western leader dared call out Mr. Abbas to correct the record. Palestinian tantrums are sanctified tantrums. The violence they breed might be condemned, but the narrative on which they rest has the status of holy writ. It is no more to be questioned than the Quran is to be burned....

Here was the sanctified tantrum par excellence: People murder and maim because they have been put (by Israel) to a bleak choice. Rage is not to be condemned but understood, mitigated and mollified.
I guess those are murderers with a rationale that John Kerry would recognize. The results are what we saw on Friday.
Now 129 people are dead in Paris because Europe decided to make a fetish of its tolerance for intolerance and allow the religious distempers of its Islamist communities to fester over many years. That’s what happens when you sanctify political tantrums, explain and appease them, refuse to name them, try to look away.
And what if the terrorists are successful, as they claim they are seeking to be, on American soil?
Time is not on our side. The cancer on humankind is spreading, and it must be defeated as soon as possible.

The urgency is revealed by potential future scenarios. Imagine there is a Paris-like attack in New York, Washington, DC, or Chicago in coming weeks.

Would Obama finally rethink his approach? Would his security team be sorry they hadn’t urged him to do more? Would Democrats in Congress regret that they put loyalty to him ahead of all else?

The same challenge goes to all Americans. Who among us could we say we did everything within our power to protect the nation before it was too late?

The questions matter because there is a growing belief in law enforcement that a successful attack on the homeland is likely, maybe even inevitable.

In normal times, the country rallies around the president in emergencies. But we are not living in normal times and Obama is approaching the point of zero credibility on national security. There is no sign that he grasps the significance of what happened in Paris and will not change course.

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I keep seeing comparisons between Obama and Bartleby the Scrivener. Who would think that a Melville story would be so relevant to our commander-in-chief today? Here is Michael Goodwin on President Obama.

And for those who want to blame Israel for all terrorism, the Palestinians are ready to spread their lies to help out those excuse-makers.
An opinion piece from Sunday’s edition of al-Hayat al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper, argued that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was responsible for the terror attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday night, which killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more, according to an article in the Times of Israel.

Palestinian Media Watch, a watchdog group that monitors Palestinian society through its media and schoolbooks, translated the op-ed. The piece asserts that Israel organized the attacks because of recent moves by the European Union to label goods produced in Israeli West Bank settlements in an effort to isolate the Jewish state economically and to impose a two-state solution through the United Nations rather than work towards direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

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