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.