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Friday, December 11, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jim Geraghty points out that we have unclear and conflicting goals in Syria. Perhaps that is why nothing is being accomplished there despite Obama's bold language.
Here’s a list of what we’re trying to do in Syria:

1. Destroy ISIS.
2. Accelerate the removal of Bashar Assad and his regime.
3. Protect innocent civilians.
4. Minimize infrastructure and environmental damage.

Part of our problem is that these goals, particularly one and two, are contradictory.

ISIS launched an attack in Paris and at least inspiring, if not financing or training, an attack in San Bernardino, California. They want to launch more.

Bashar Assad is a butcher whose regime targets civilians, uses barrel bombs, summarily executes children, tortures foes and reportedly continues to use chemical weapons. He deserves the roughest justice that the United States and its allies, along with karma, can muster.

But, at least for now, he is not attempting to launch attacks against Americans, and ISIS is.

When you have a long and difficult to-do list, you have to prioritize; achieving your top goal sometimes requires putting your lesser priorities on the back burner. Winston Churchill once said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.” If temporarily letting up on Assad’s regime makes life tougher for ISIS -- in a way that is decisive to our effort -- we should pursue that option. We can always go back and find creative ways to make Assad’s life miserable later.

In mid-November, U.S. pilots could only destroy 116 ISIS tanker trucks out of 300 parked in one place . . . because they ran out of ammunition.

We also apparently are unwilling to hit ISIS employees:
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.
Frankly, it would serve our national interest to make ISIS a really dangerous, undesired employer. No one remembers a World War II rallying cry, “Hold your fire! He’s just a Nazi contractor!” (As Clerks pointed out, if you agree to work on construction of a Death Star, you run the risk of working there when rebels blow it up.)

Liberals might be surprised to learn that an assertion made by many conservatives, most recently Marco Rubio, that "None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them” is actually true. The Washington Post checked it and had to issue Rubio, albeit somewhat unwillingly, its "rare Geppetto Checkmark."

That's why the White House spokesman can't name a single mass-shooting that would have been prevented by Obama's gun-control proposals.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest struggled to answer direct questions Thursday about whether any of President Obama’s proposed gun control measure would have prevented the recent mass shootings seen in the U.S.

Reporter Byron Tau brought up Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R., Fla.) remark that no recent mass shootings would have been prevented by gun legislation, a statement rated “True” by the Washington Post fact-checker.

“If not a single recent mass shooting would have been stopped by the kind of gun control measures you champion, are those the right approach to this problem?” Tau asked.

“Well, Byron, I think we’ve been pretty direct and upfront about the fact that there is no piece of legislation that Congress can pass that would prevent every single act of gun violence,” Earnest said. “I think the case that we have made is one that rests primarily on our concern about national security and our careful consideration of common sense.”

This is certainly worrying.
A former Homeland Security employee says he likely could have helped prevent the San Bernardino terror attack if the government had not pulled the plug on a surveillance program he was developing three years ago.

Philip Haney told Megyn Kelly tonight that as part of his investigation, he was looking into a collection of global networks that were infiltrating radical Islamists into the U.S.

But a year into the investigation, Haney said they got a visit from the State Department and the Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, who said that tracking these groups was problematic because they were Islamic.

His investigation was shut down and 67 of his records were deleted, including one into an organization with ties to the mosque in Riverside, Calif., that San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook attended.

Haney explained that if his work was allowed to continue, it could possibly have thwarted last week's attack.

"Either Syed would have been put on the no-fly list because association with that mosque, and/or the K-1 visa that his wife was given may have been denied because of his association with a known organization," Haney explained.

Trace Gallagher reported that DHS claims Haney's story contains "many holes," but declined to comment further due to privacy laws.
We're also learning this.
The FBI believes Farook had ties to a group of jihadists in California who were arrested in 2012 for attempted to travel to Afghanistan to join al Qaeda.

Specifically, investigators are taking a new look at one of the four men who was arrested in the 2012 case, Sohiel Kabir. Kabir, who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, was the recruiter who helped radicalize others.

The 2012 probe happened in Riverside, California, not far from San Bernardino. Farook was in the social circle of Kabir, officials told CNN.

The FBI initially investigated five men as part of the Riverside group. The fifth wasn't arrested and hasn't been identified. But Farook was not among those investigated at the time, the officials said.

Hopefully, Congress will investigate and figure out what the truth is here. What are we doing to investigate centers of possible connections between radical Islamist mosques and communities here and global jihad?

And this isn't at all scary, right?
With the U.S. and other countries on high alert for ISIS attacks, American authorities are warning the terror group’s followers may have infiltrated American borders with authentic-looking passports ISIS has printed itself with its own machines, according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News.

The 17-page Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Intelligence Report, issued to law enforcement last week, says ISIS likely has been able to print legitimate-looking Syrian passports since taking over the city of Deir ez-Zour last summer, home to a passport office with “boxes of blank passports” and a passport printing machine. Another passport office was located in Raqqa, Syria, which has long been ISIS’s de facto capital....

Fake Syrian passports have already been discovered in Europe, most notably two used by suicide bombers in the horrific terrorist attack on Paris last month. The two men are believed to have slipped into Europe with a flood of Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their homeland.

According to the source that provided the passport information to homeland security officials, Syria is awash in fake documents.

“The source further stated that fake Syrian passports are so prevalent in Syria that Syrians do not even view possessing them as illegal,” the report says. “The source stated fake Syrian passports can be obtained in Syria for $200 to $400 and that backdated passport stamps to be placed in the passport cost the same.”

The report included one example in which law enforcement officials said that a Syrian passport discovered in Turkey was printed with a designator number indicating it had been printed in an ISIS-controlled area earlier this year.

Recently international news outlets have reported that their journalists have been able to purchase fake Syrian passports for a few thousand dollars.
But we're supposed to have total confidence in how our government vets the refugees requesting entry into this country.

Now this should surprise no one except members of the Obama administration.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video featuring a former Guantanamo detainee, Ibrahim Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani.

In July 2010, Qosi plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. His plea was part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors during his remaining time in US custody. Qosi was transferred to his home country of Sudan two years later, in July 2012.

Qosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. Qosi and other AQAP commanders discussed their time waging jihad at length in the video, entitled “Guardians of Sharia.”

This is also no surprise.
The Obama administration broke the law and misled Congress in the swap last year of five Taliban leaders for a captured U.S. soldier because President Obama wanted to further his pledge to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday in a report.

The 108-page report also said key Defense Department officials who might have raised red flags on the swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl were left out of the decision-making process.

"Our report finds that the administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer," said House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.

"Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer.

The Daily Caller has gone through Hillary's released emails
to pull out the examples of her using her office to benefit favored friends, relatives, and political supporters. Now maybe all cabinet officials do this, but they haven't used their own server so that their correspondence was made public and searchable by the media.

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Jazz Shaw links to this story that the Israelis, in coordination with the United States, have successfully tested a ballistic missile interceptor.
The trial from an Israeli test range involved the Arrow 3 interceptor, designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere, with Israel concerned over the potential for attacks from enemies including Iran.

A similar test a year ago failed, but Thursday's trial intercepted a ballistic missile target above the Mediterranean.
That is indeed impressive. Apparently, the technology for this comes from the original SDI research from Reagan's much derided Star Wars program. Remember when that was supposed to be laughably impossible?

Charles C. W. Cooke explains why gun rights advocates shouldn't worry about Obama's proposed executive action on guns.
Even if we presume that the plan is both legal and workable — and, given how tightly both USC18§921 and USC18§922 are written, I am as skeptical as the president was a few hours ago — the benefits would be microscopic. Were Obama to change the regulations, the Post confirms, he would ensnare only “those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually” — a tiny fraction of those who sell firearms on the private market. He would not be “closing the gun-show loophole”; he would not be “extending background checks to private sales”; and he would not be elongating the three-day period during which the government is able to search for disqualifying information. Nor, for that matter, would he be banning a single “assault” weapon, limiting even one magazine, or confiscating even a part of a gun. He’d be posturing, and uncomfortably at that.

Moreover, the clock is not in Obama’s favor here. The Administrative Procedure Act requires that the new “rule” be presented for notice and comment before becoming active. That means that, if Obama follows the law, he probably won’t get this done by the time he leaves office. And if he doesn’t follow the law? Well, then he risks being slapped down by a federal court. As for the proposal itself, a serious statutory challenge is all but inevitable.
Of course, if Hillary Clinton wins next year, she could issue the same executive action.

This is a typical cave-in to anti-Semitic bigotry by Facebook. They have removed a picture of Golda Meir with her famous statement, "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." Given how Arabs celebrate suicide bombers who have killed Israelis and teach their children that it is good to kill Israelis, I'm not sure what is so objectionable about that statement. But the real hypocrisy is that Facebook doesn't censor anti-Israeli groups.
A basic search of the network shows that multiple anti-Semitic and anti-"Zionist" groups, including "Death to America and Israel," "Zionism is Terrorism and Therefore Must End" and "Death to zionism," are still up and running.

Along with calling for the an end to Israel and "Zionism," these same groups are also engaged in the active distribution of anti-Semitic propaganda, most of it in the form of crude political cartoons.

This isn't the first time that critics have questioned Facebook's judgment when it comes to its enforcement of community standards.

In 2014, Facebook responded to inquiries regarding a page titled "Death to Zionst baby killer israeli jews," which has since been removed, by explaining that calls to exterminate the Jews are not in violation of its community standards.

A Facebook spokesperson also said at the time that calls for the death of Israel aren't technically "hate speech," because Israel is just a country.
Click on over to the story to seem some of the despicable images that Facebook thinks are fine while pulling down the Golda Meir post. Somehow, calling for the death of Jews doesn't violate its policies. Pointing out that Arabs celebrate those who die while killing Jews is, however, not acceptable.

Newsbusters exposes how NPR chopped up an interview with Ted Cruz to make him look bad.

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune notes how delicately Obama and other Democrats are treating the story of the shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald and the cover-up. Remember that Obama thought it was important for him to pontificate on the arrest of Harvard professor of Henry Louis Gates without knowing the facts of the case.
I haven't seen word one from the mouths of Obama or Clinton about any of it. All I've seen are tepid, tapioca statements from their spokesmen.

That silence interests me. Sometimes, what politicians avoid, what they won't say, is more compelling than their dog and pony shows and photo ops.

Yes, Clinton did back a call for a Justice Department investigation of Chicago police when the mayor was still in denial. But since then, crickets. She and other national Democrats are keeping their hands off Chicago. And I'm sure you know why.

The guy who runs Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is their guy.

Were Emanuel a Republican they'd be all over this town. But since he's theirs, a Democrat who was Obama's chief of staff and served President Bill Clinton as an aide, they've decided not to engage.

Chicago roils. Protesters — white, black, brown — take the streets. And calls continue for the mayor to resign over the months-long suppression of a police video showing a white cop shooting black teenager McDonald 16 times until dead.

For national Democrats, this should be a perfect storm: race, politics, anger, cops, black votes and the politics of grievance or social justice.

This is the irresistible combination Democrats have used for decades. It is the stuff that drives the Democratic Party's political theater. And of course, Obama, Clinton and other national Democrats certainly remember what a smart political operative famously said a few years ago:

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste."

You know who said that. Rahm said it.
So Obama hasn't commented on the racial implications of the videotaped shooting of they young black man and the protests roiling the city. For this touchy situation, it's enough for both Obama and Clinton think it's sufficient to leave their expressions of concern to their spokesmen.

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Reason is cataloging all the very bad ideas that Hillary keeps proposing. For example,
* Her ongoing response to ISIS and related terrorism remains an incoherent mix of more-hawkishness-than-Obama and less-hawkishness-than-Lindsey Graham, with vows like "This is a worldwide fight and America must lead it," directly preceding comments such as "If we have learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's that local people and nations have to secure their own communities." Meanwhile, incredibly, she is holding up her disastrous Libya intervention as an example of "smart power at its best."

* And she's been touting a new quarter-billiontrillion-dollar infrastructure spending plan without so much as nodding in the vague direction of how such a thing might be paid for.

So did Ted Cruz have a Romney moment when he said something in private to donors that he wishes wouldn't be public? In this case, the NYT is reporting that he questioned Donald Trump's judgment to be president.
But inside a conference room in a Madison Avenue office, with about 70 people pressed around a table, Mr. Cruz gave a candid assessment of the race, lumping Mr. Trump with another candidate whose supporters the Texas senator hopes to poach, Ben Carson, according to two people present for the remarks.

“Both of them I like and respect,” said Mr. Cruz, according to one attendee, who requested anonymity to describe what happened at a private event. “I don’t believe either one of them is going to be our president.”

Mr. Cruz described both campaigns as having a “natural arch” with gravity “pulling them down” now. Mr. Carson’s descent, he added, has been faster.

But he added, according to a second attendee, “You look at Paris, you look at San Bernardino, it’s given a seriousness to this race, that people are looking for: Who is prepared to be a commander in chief? Who understands the threats we face?”

He went on: “Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that’s a question of strength, but it’s also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.”
You could say that this doesn't necessarily indicate that he doesn't trust Trump's judgment, just that judgment is going to be important for the next president. But that's a really empty statement that says nothing. The Cruz campaign has issued a non-denial denial.

On the day that a prominent Iowa Christian leader endorsed Ted Cruz, it is inconvenient if the media spends more time focusing on what he did or didn't say in a private meeting with his donors.

The GOP are preparing
for the increasingly possible scenario that the Republicans will have an open or deadlocked convention next year in Cleveland.

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David French pooh poohs the idea that anything Donald Trump or any other American says is fueling anti-Muslim sentiments.
I would say that hateful acts have far more real-life consequences than hateful words. Indeed, there is no politician’s statement that is more inflammatory than actual murder and actual terrorism — especially when murder and terror occur on a large scale.

As I’ve said before, since 9/11 Americans have suffered more than 60,000 casualties in our war against jihadists, with thousands more suffering from lingering psychological wounds from grief, loss, and difficult deployments. We’ve watched as radical Muslims burn people alive, throw them off buildings, and chop off heads. In some parts of the Muslim world, mobs of Muslims will sometimes hunt down and kill Christians in the most vicious and gruesome of ways. We’ve seen ISIS attempt genocide, Boko Haram enslave girls, and al Qaeda kill journalists at their desks in Paris. Yet Americans have responded with remarkable grace, and anti-Muslim hate crimes are rare indeed.

Yes, it’s true that many Americans dislike Islam. It’s true that many Americans want to either ban Muslim immigration or dramatically restrict entry into the United States....But don’t blame political rhetoric for this hostility. Blame actions — actions taken in the name of Islam.
French speaks of how his time serving abroad have also colored his view of Islam.
I wonder if the media is missing a powerful, largely-uncovered influence on America’s hearts and minds — the experience and testimony of the more than two million Americans who’ve served overseas since 9/11 and have experienced Islamic cultures up-close.

Yes, they were in the middle of a war — but speaking from my own experience — the war was conducted from within a culture that was shockingly broken. I expected the jihadists to be evil, but even I couldn’t fathom the depths of their depravity. And it was all occurring against the backdrop of a brutally violent and intolerant culture. Women were beaten almost as an afterthought, there was a near-total lack of empathy for even friends and neighbors, lying was endemic, and sexual abuse was rampant. Even more disturbingly, it seemed that every problem was exacerbated the more religious and pious a person (or village) became.

I spent enough time outside the wire and interacting with tribal leaders to get a sense of the reality around me, but the younger guys on the line spent weeks at a time living in the heart of the local community. I remember one young soldier, after describing the things he’d seen since the start of the deployment, gestured towards the village around us and said — in perfect Army English — “Sir, this s**t is f**ked up.”

It is indeed. While it’s certainly unfair to judge Indonesia or Malaysia by the standards of Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s very hard to shake the power of lived experience, nor should we necessarily try. After all, when we hear stories from Syria, Yemen, Gaza, the Sinai, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan, and elsewhere they all fit the same depressing template of the American conflict zones. Nor is the dazzlingly wealthy veneer of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or the other Gulf States all that impressive. Tens of thousands of soldiers have seen the veritable slave labor that toils within the oil empires and have witnessed first-hand their casual disregard for “lesser” life.

But this same experience has caused us to treasure the Muslim friends we do have — in part because we recognize the extreme risks of their loyalty and defiance of jihad. That’s why American officers fiercely champion the immigration of local interpreters, even to the point of welcoming them into their own home. That’s why there’s often an intense connection with our Kurdish allies, the single-most effective ground fighting force against ISIS.

Two million Americans have been downrange, and they’ve come home and told families and friends stories the media rarely tells. Those stories have an impact, but because of the cultural distance between America’s warriors and its media, academic, and political aristocracy, it’s an impact the aristocracy hasn’t been tracking.
I hadn't thought of that. But think of the American Green Beret who was dismissed from the military for beating up an Afghan man who was laughing about raping young boys. For those of us living here in the United States whose only contact are with immigrants who have are assimilating to American culture like the sweet students I teach, this is a totally different perspective. But think of those two million Americans David French is speaking of and all their family members and friends who are hearing the stories that they're telling. Then add in the stories of the brutal treatment we hear almost every day on the news of women and children by groups like Boko Haram or ISIS or the Taliban. It has an impact. Donald Trump didn't cause that and it is simplistic to blame him.

For the sort of story that horrifies us and leads to the negative views of Muslims that are horrifying Americans, Ace links to the appalling story from Rotherham in Great Britain about how gangs of English Pakistani Muslims in the city had organized a system of rape and child abuse that was covered up and ignored by the authorities. Girls as young as twelve were kidnapped, raped, and tortured. The jury is now hearing this terrible story.
A teenage girl abused by the Rotherham grooming ring was forced into daily sexual relations with men for years and used as a commodity to settle her abuser’s debts, a court has heard.

The girl, who was in and out of care from the age of 12, was allegedly taken around the country and made to perform sexual acts up to three times a day on different men, becoming pregnant twice, once when she was only 14.

She had just turned 16, and was still in local authority care, when her abuse became a daily occurrence, the jury was told. She terminated the first pregnancy but later gave birth to a boy who was looked after by her mother.

The girl is one of 12 allegedly groomed in a child sexual exploitation ring led by seven people, including two sets of brothers and two women, who between them are accused of 51 counts of abuse including rape, indecent assault, false imprisonment, abduction and procurement of girls for prostitution or for sex with another.

All of the girls were vulnerable to grooming and predatory behaviour, with unstable family backgrounds. “Some had unsettled home lives, had suffered previous ill treatment or abuse and some were in local authority care,” said prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC.

They were deliberately “targeted, sexualised and in some instances subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature”, she said, adding that one girl was so terrified of her alleged abuser, Basharat Hussain, she feared for her life.
The story is horrifyingly terrible and went on with over a thousand victims. Over a thousand! For years victims went to the authorities and told social workers about the sexual trafficking going on in Rotherham and elsewhere in England but the police did little and covered up the story. Members of the Rotherham City Council said that they were nervous about doing anything about reports of the kidnappings, rape, and sexual trafficking of young girls because of fears of being called a racist.
n just over a third of cases, victims were previously known to services in the South Yorkshire town.

The report says there was a series of failings including poor leadership from senior managers in child protection services and a perceived "lack of interest" in, and understanding of, grooming as a model of child abuse.

Victims were not heard or believed and there was a perception that a "macho and bullying" culture within the council prevented child sexual exploitation from being properly discussed.

There was "denial" that such events could happen in Rotherham and issues of ethnicity were "played down" by senior managers.

"Almost all" the abusers were described by victims as being of Pakistani origin, but authorities "wanted to play down ethnic dimensions... for fear of being thought racist."
We'd like to believe that our authorities wouldn't ignore such appalling reports of child abuse as they did in England.
Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, said she found “children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone”.

It said that three reports from 2002 to 2006 highlighted the extent of child exploitation and links to wider criminality but nothing was done, with the findings either suppressed or simply ignored. Police failed to act on the crimes and treated the victims with contempt and deemed that they were “undesirables” not worthy of protection, the inquiry team was told.

One young person told the inquiry that “gang rape” was a usual part of growing up in the area of Rotherham where she lived. In most of the cases that the inquiry team examined, the victims were white children under the age of 16 and the perpetrators named in the files as “Asian males”.

The report said council staff were scared of being accused of racism by flagging up the issue in a town of nearly 260,000, where 8 per cent were from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

However, schools raised the alert over the years about children as young as 11 being picked up by taxis, given presents and phones and taken to Rotherham and other towns and cities.

One researcher for the Home Office who raised concerns with senior police officers about the level of abuse in 2002 was told not to do so again, then suspended and sidelined, the inquiry found. Youth workers who worked with the victims and had already repeatedly told police and officials about the problems were criticised by full-time council staff and their roles downgraded.
Stories like these about what happened in a European community and went on for over 15 years help explain why so many Americans are wary about increasing Muslim immigration here. We're already seeing freedom of speech and press limited here when our Attorney General tells us how her greatest fear is hate speech against Muslims. The fact that the FBI (you know - that agency under Loretta Lynch's authority) reports that 66.2% of anti-religious hate crimes in the US are against Jews compared to 11.6% with an anti-Islamic bias apparently doesn't make the cut among her great fears or arouse the interest of the media. Minneapolis is struggling with the number of Somali immigrants who are interested in joining ISIS. Commenting on the Rotherham sotry, Ace reminds us,
For this to happen requires the connivance and facilitation of the machinery of the progressive shadow state, which despises the host country it supposedly works for.

In America, it is currently the de facto law that you cannot post a picture of Mohammad. That we should live under this stricture of Sharia law -- an alien religion most of us do not believe, and many of us are in fact hostile towards -- was a demand of violent Islamists, but it was actually made into semi-official law by the progressive shadow state which, through both active agitation and passive cowardice, turned a terrorist demand into the reigning de facto law of the nation.
Transformation starts slowly, but these stories are heard by Americans and it might be politically incorrect to talk about it, but people get worried. The answer isn't an unworkable ban on Muslim immigrants or tourists such as Trump shot off about. He doesn't even have a plan of how it would work except to just ask people if they're Muslim. Yeah, that would filter out all potential terrorists. Charles Krauthammer writes,
Brilliant. And very economical. That is, if you think that bloodthirsty terrorists — “people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” as Trump describes them — will feel honor-bound to tell the truth to an infidel customs officer. They kill wantonly but, like George Washington, cannot tell a lie. On this logic hinges the great Maginot Line with which Trump will protect America from jihad.

I decline to join the chorus denouncing the Trump proposal as offensive and un-American. That’s too obvious. What I can’t get over is its sheer absurdity.
Again, I link to David French's discussion of how Donald Trump has, at least, opened up what is called "the Overton Window," the range of what topics are acceptable for the public to talk about.
While many of Trump’s actual proposals are misguided, nonsensical, or untenable, by smashing the window, he’s begun the process of freeing the American people from the artificial and destructive constraints of Left-defined discourse. Serious and substantive politicians like Ted Cruz will get a more respectful hearing, and PC shibboleths about allegedly boundless virtues of Islam and immigration will be treated with the skepticism they deserve....

The marketplace of ideas is getting raucous indeed. What’s a person to do? As I wrote yesterday, now is the time to speak with informed conviction, apathetic to the demands both of political correctness and the mindless reactions against PC. Use the new-found room in the public discourse to speak your mind, but at the same time model the values you wish to see in others. In the new free-for-all, the Golden Rule still matters, reason still matters, and attitude is not everything. Trump should not rule the world he has made.
Trump's proposal is off-the-cuff and designed to get him attention. He pulled attention away from the discussion the nation was having about how to fight the war on terror and Obama's weak reaction to the San Bernardino shootings. He also managed to steal the headlines just as Ted Cruz was surging in the polls. But serious discussions of horrors like what happened in Rotherham or how to combat the appeal of ISIS among Muslims here in our country are what we should be hearing. People have legitimate concerns about immigration and the inability of authorities to vet applicants for visas. We heard this weak that US intelligence officials fear that ISIS is trying to infiltrate the Syrian refugees. Trump's half-baked proposal speaks to those fears. Peggy Noonan expresses my concerns about Trump's message.
Under the circumstances public concern is entirely warranted. Good on Mr. Trump for addressing it—and, in addressing it, forcing other candidates to come up with their plans. Bad on Mr. Trump—very bad—for doing it in his usual way. Colorfully, yes—this is a man who knows how to break through the clutter!—but crudely, seemingly off the top of his head, and using his mouth as a blunt instrument. He doesn’t think it through, doesn’t anticipate legitimate pushback, doesn’t try to persuade, only declares. And of course he was confusing and contradictory. We’ll ban all Muslims! Including U.S. citizens returning from an overseas trip? Yes! No! It’s only temporary, a pause. It’s not about religion, it’s about security! He ignores civic and cultural politesse when that politesse is not just old sissy stuff but a melting-pot tradition that exists for good reason. In defense of his stand he evokes FDR’s actions during World War II, which included putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Mr. Trump seems to think that was a good thing because FDR did it. But it is regarded as an American embarrassment and a stain on FDR’s legacy. And this is not a Secret of History. Congress officially apologized for internment 27 years ago.

All of this forced us into the nonsensical but at this point compulsive media cycle in which Mr. Trump says something rash, the media pounce, and Republican contenders are told they must denounce him or forfeit their place among the just and the good. Mr. Trump then announces he is misunderstood—that in fact he loves women, Mexicans, Muslims, whoever he has offended this week. Oddly enough, I think he is sincere about this and feels genuinely injured. But one thing an effective leader must always do is know what can be misunderstood and guard against it, what can be misconstrued and used to paint you—and your followers—as bigoted. Leaders try hard not to let that happen. It is the due diligence of politics.

A continuing mystery of Mr. Trump is his failure to impose on himself political discipline. He has been front-runner for six months but he doesn’t act as if he has absorbed the fact that he could become the nominee. At this point he owes it to his country—he owes it to his own ambition!—to become disciplined in terms of statements and policy. It is possible for candidates to be vivid but careful, dramatic but responsible. When you’re winning you can’t just keep pulling it out of your orifices. Mr. Trump’s lack of discipline should worry his supporters. I know it doesn’t, but it should. Because indiscipline shows disrespect. And people pick up on it, they see it.
It's just a shame that the boorish bombast of Donald Trump increases the chance that people run back to their ideological and partisan corners to denounce him and his proposal without having that serious discussion. He might have smashed the Overton Window, but he has also reduced the possibility of there being a useful result.

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Michael Barone acknowledges
that pollsters haven't a clue as to what the turnout will be in the Iowa caucuses.
People aren't inclined to participate in something like an Iowa caucus unless they have done so before and/or if they are attending without at least one other friend. You don't want to spend an hour more in a room discussing controversial matters with dozens of people who are total or semi-strangers without having someone you know with you or without having done this before. This helps to account for the high evangelical percentages at Republican caucuses. Presumably they are part of congregation-based networks who attend as a group or with one or more friends. Unchurched people who don't participate in other civic associations are probably much more reluctant to go.

But is past performance an indication of future trend? Not always. Polls suggest that Donald Trump is attracting previous non-voters to his candidacy; the question is whether they will vote in primaries or — even iffier because of the above described circumstances — in the Iowa caucuses. And the answer is that we just don't know. We do know that about 125,000 Iowans voted in the 2008 and 2012 Republican caucuses. We know that about 250,000 Iowans voted in the 2008 Iowa Democratic caucuses, approximately double the number of Iowans who had done so in past years. We know that in statewide presidential year general elections about 700,000 Iowans vote for each party. Thus there are large reservoirs of additional caucus participants of both parties to draw on to increase caucus turnout.
So there could be as many twice as many turning out this time. And pollsters can't really predict what the numbers will be. That makes all their projections basically guesses.

Steven Groves of Heritage warns all those countries hoping to get big subsidies from the U.S. to fund their green energy initiatives to just forget about it.
One week into the Paris climate change negotiations, and it’s now doubtful whether President Barack Obama will be able to make good on his promise to provide billions of dollars to the “Green Climate Fund.” The goal of this fund is to give U.S. taxpayer dollars to poorer nations in order to subsidize their climate programs.

During a press conference at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), Todd Stern, Obama’s chief climate negotiator, was asked about congressional opposition to the Green Climate Fund. Stern could only say, “For this [budget] year we’re seeking $500 million, and I hope we can get as close to it as we can, but we don’t know yet.”

Ten Democrat U.S. senators flew over to Paris and held their own press conference, but not one of them addressed the funding issue.

This is understandable, as climate change alarmists in the White House and the Senate don’t have a good answer to the significant opposition within Congress for the climate fund. Thirty-seven Republican senators have already pledged “that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent.”

On the House side, 110 members have likewise pledged to block budget requests for the Green Climate Fund unless the Paris agreement is brought to Congress for its approval.

In fact, a concurrent resolution has been introduced in both chambers opposing funding the Green Climate Fund.

This is a significant embarrassment for the president’s negotiating team in Paris, since it is clear to all present here that the “developing” nations of the world will not agree to anything unless they are guaranteed the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that they have been promised.

Unlike under the terms of the 1997 Kyoto climate protocol, developing countries are now pledging to reduce their carbon emissions—but only if they are provided the financing and technology to do so. And any projects they take on to adapt to the climate change already occurring must also be underwritten by the world’s wealthy nations.

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Oh, geez. Yet another claim by Donald Trump that indicates he has no understanding of how our system of federalism works.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to issue an executive order to mandate the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer.

“One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order, if I win, will be to sign strong, strong statement that would go out to the country, out to the world, anybody killing policeman police woman, police officer, anybody killing police officer, the death penalty is going to happen,” he said.

“We can’t let this go,” he added, speaking to a New Hampshire crowd alongside the New England Police Benevolent Association, shortly after the group voted to endorse Trump.
No, a president can't mandate the death penalty for anyone, much less for a state crime. He can't do it for a federal crime either. Christine Rousselle explains more about the problems with Trump's promise.
Namely, it violates the 10th Amendment as well as the 6th Amendment, and possibly the 8th and 5th. Also, it's not exactly the most "conservative" thing in the world to alter the criminal justice system via executive order.

Secondly, in the states that allow or use the death penalty, killing a police officer or government official is an aggravating factor that elevates the murder charge into a capital crime eligible for the death penalty. There's no need for this Trump executive order, as it's already the law on the books in the states that actually have capital punishment. Further, I'm not sure how this executive order would be able to successfully overthrow the laws on the books prohibiting capital punishment in the states that have ended its use. The Supreme Court has already banned the death penalty before, and the suit that is likely to emerge in response to this executive order (if it were to happen) could easily backfire on President Trump.

I'm a death penalty supporter, and I think that people who kill police officers should be executed--if a jury and judge decides that this is an appropriate punishment for their crime. That's how the American justice system works.
Do people really want to vote for someone who thinks and plans to aggrandize more power in the executive branch than even President Obama has done?

Kimberley Strassel writes about this today in the WSJ when she describes how the political "guardrails" have been removed from what a president can do. Barack Obama has begun this process and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaign on doing even more.
Barack Obama has done plenty of damage to the country, but perhaps the worst is his determined destruction of Washington’s guardrails. Mr. Obama wants what he wants. If ObamaCare is problematic, he unilaterally alters the law. If Congress won’t change the immigration system, he refuses to enforce it. If the nation won’t support laws to fight climate change, he creates one with regulation. If the Senate won’t confirm his nominees, he declares it in recess and installs them anyway. “As to limits, you set your own,” observed Dan in that editorial. This is our president’s motto.

Mr. Obama doesn’t need anyone to justify his actions, because he’s realized no one can stop him. He gets criticized, but at the same time his approach has seeped into the national conscience. It has set new norms. You see this in the ever-more-outrageous proposals from the presidential field, in particular front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Mrs. Clinton routinely vows to govern by diktat. On Wednesday she unveiled a raft of proposals to punish companies that flee the punitive U.S. tax system. Mrs. Clinton will ask Congress to implement her plan, but no matter if it doesn’t. “If Congress won’t act,” she promises, “then I will ask the Treasury Department, when I’m there, to use its regulatory authority.”

Mrs. Clinton and fellow liberals don’t like guns and are frustrated that the duly elected members of Congress (including those from their own party) won’t strengthen background checks. So she has promised to write regulations that will unilaterally impose such a system.

On immigration, Mr. Obama ignored statute with executive actions to shield illegals from deportation. Mrs. Clinton brags that she will go much, much further with sweeping exemptions to immigration law.

For his part, Mr. Trump sent the nation into an uproar this week with his call to outright ban Muslims from entering the country. Is this legally or morally sound? Who cares! Mr. Trump specializes in disdain for the law, the Constitution, and any code of civilized conduct. Guardrails are for losers. He’d set up a database to track Muslims or force them to carry special IDs. He’d close mosques. He’d deport kids born on American soil. He’d seize Iraq’s oil fields. He’d seize remittance payments sent back to Mexico. He’d grab personal property for government use.
And now it extends to how politicians regard their partisan enemies.
Today’s divisive president never misses an opportunity to deride Republicans or the tea party. He is more scornful toward fellow Americans than toward Islamic State. This too sets new norms. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid now uses the chamber to accuse individual citizens of being “un-American.” Asked recently what “enemy” she was most proud of making, Mrs. Clinton lumped “Republicans” in with “the Iranians.” Ted Cruz rose to prominence by mocking his Republican colleagues as “squishes.” Mr. Trump has disparaged women, the other GOP contenders, Iowans, wives, the disabled, Jews. (Granted, he might have done this even without Mr. Obama’s example.)

Can such leaders be trusted to administer Washington fairly? Of course not. That guardrail is also gone. Mr. Obama egged on his IRS to target conservatives, used his Justice Department to exact retribution on politically unpopular banks, and had his EPA lead an armed raid of an Alaskan mine. Is it any wonder that Bernie Sanders’s climate plan, released this week, includes a vow to bring criminal prosecutions against “climate deniers”? And he would.
And now Trump promises to mandate death penalties for crimes committed within states. At what point do the talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham who have delighted in how Trump tramples on political correctness and talks about immigration realize that he also violates major principles that conservatives are supposed to believe in like limited government, federalism, and checks and balances?
The more outrageous Mr. Trump is, the more his numbers soar. The more Mrs. Clinton promises to cram an agenda down the throats of her “enemies,” the more enthusiastic her base. The more unrestrained the idea, the more press coverage; the more ratings soar, the more unrestrained the idea. The humble candidates—those with big ideas, but with respect for order and honor—are lost to the shouting.

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