Sunday, November 29, 2015

And Sometimes, Pro-Death

It seems so long ago- but was only late last month- that during a GOP presidential debate (making the same claim on Face the Nation, below)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed President Barack Obama for allegedly failing to support police officers.

“The president's appointed FBI director has said this week that, because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars and enforce the law,” Christie said....

“When the president gets up to speak about it, does he support police officers? Does he stand up for law enforcement? No, he doesn't,” Christie continued. “I'll tell you this: the number one job of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of the American people. This president has failed. And when I'm in the Oval Office, police officers will know they have the support of the president of the United States. That is real moral authority we need in the office.”

Approximately eight weeks earlier

“Cops across this country are feeling the assault,” Cruz said Tuesday after a presidential campaign event in Milford, New Hampshire.

“They’re feeling the assault from the president,” the senator continued. “From the top on down, as we see — whether it’s in Ferguson or Baltimore — the response of senior officials of the president, of the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement. That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all.”

The presidential candidate made the remarks after he was asked about the shooting death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth, who was shot 15 times at close range Friday night at a gas station near Houston — Cruz’s hometown.

Cruz complained about Obama’s “silence” on the 47-year-old deputy’s slaying, saying the president was “completely wrong” and displayed the “manifestation of the divisiveness, the partisanship and of the hostility to law enforcement that has characterized the entire Obama administration.”

If that was hostility toward law enforcement, consider how hostile the anti-abortion Robert Lewis Dear was when he apparently murdered police officer Garrett Swasey Friday in Colorado Springs. That is some serious hostility but the pro-life Cruz, responding to the death of the officer and two employees of Planned Parenthood, was able merely to tweet "Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured & first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs." Carefully chosen words, they can be trotted out following the next deadly tornado, earthquake, train crash, or mass shooting.

They are, however, more than the straight-talkin', swashbuckling Chris Christie has been able to utter since the crime.   With no evidence, in October he accused the President of encouraging violence against police officers because Obama refuses to asume police officers are infallible.  Rarely at a loss for words or reluctant to pose as a defender of law enforcement, Christie has turned silent about the killing spree at Planned Parenthood.

More Republican candidates should speak out forcefully against the murderous rampage in Colorado, if only to pretend they really are pro-life or appalled by terrorism, whatever its source. On second thught- why pretend? With little likelihood non-Muslim Dear will be recognized by the media as a terrorist, they may as well continue to check at the door what little compassion they have.

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Not A Church, A Store, A Bank, A Post Office, Or A Private Home

In what is yet another mass shooting in America and probably an act of terrorism

What moved a man to kill three people and wound nine others at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado has not been disclosed. But the suspect accused of carrying out the shooting spree, Robert Lewis Dear, made remarks about "baby parts" to investigators after his surrender, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Dear, 57, told them he has anti-abortion and anti-government views, but that doesn't mean those opinions were his motive for allegedly shooting up the Colorado Springs clinic on Friday, the official said. It's too early to tell, as investigators are still processing evidence.

A white, rural male shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic while referring to "baby parts." If instead, an individual identified as a non-Christian (Jew, Muslim, or whatever) burst into a Christian church and yelled "Jesus is dead" or "the fraud, Jesus Christ" and killed two congregants and a police officer rushing to the scene.

The conscience, as it should be, would be shocked. (And if the assailant were Muslim, there would be calls for retribution.)  Not only would there be only two GOP candidates thus far moved to make even the most vanilla statement of regret, there would be no question as to at least a portion of the individual's motive. Additionally, there would be far less tendency to assign the blame to "mental health," as there inevitably will be in this instance.

We await more details. But theexistence of a connection between the dreadful act in Colorado Springs and the assault on Planned Parenthood, though it will be denied, is unassailable.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Valiantly Hailing God


With $550 of his own money, Harris County, Georgia Sheriff Ned Jolley purchased a sign (photo from Fox News via Salon), which he later placed in front of the Harris County Sheriff's Department office, reading (emphasis and spacing his)

WARNING: Harris County is
politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas,
God Bless America and in God We Trust.
We salute our troops and our flag.
If this offends you... LEAVE!

Well, that's the spirit. Or rather, that's the SPIRIT! There is nothing that says courage, political or otherwise, more than coming out foursquare in favor of the flag, the troops, God, and Christmas- all the while sporting a Sheriff's Department badge and a gun holster.

The irony is that the political incorrectness the Constitution-averse Jolley sports is the essence of political correctness.  Salon's Scott Eric Kaufmann points out that the American Humanist Association- which most Americans probably never have heard of- has complained.  So has.... evidently no one else yet.

Similarly, somewhat north in Virginia

Wayne Hazzard, chairman of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors, skipped the customary invocation ahead of Tuesday’s meeting and asked fellow board members to indulge him, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I think it appropriate that we continue to remember the reason that this great nation was formed and by whose grace it continues to survive,” Hazzard said, reading from a statement. “Christians who formed our nation celebrated days of thanksgiving to God. The Jamestown and Plymouth colonists recognized that they were sustained only by God’s providence and celebrated Thanksgiving feasts.”

The elected official pointed out that the first three U.S. presidents issued proclamations asking Americans to express thanks to God, and each president since Abraham Lincoln has issued annual Thanksgiving proclamations.

Then Hazzard compared non-religious Americans to Islamic terrorists.

“These days of an enemy from outside of this country, as well as people from within, who would attempt to remove all recognition of God from public life, we offer this proclamation as a reminder that the United States has always acknowledged our nation … is dependent on God’s grace and providence,” he said.

Hazzard proposed a resolution urging Hanover County residents to pray at Thanksgiving, and the board adopted it.

Hazzard's proclamation probably runs afoul of the First Amendment. It also is misleading, in that few people are trying "to remove all recognition of God from public life," and offensive in equating ISIL and American citizens.

More significant, however, is that criticism of Hazzard's words seems to be limited to the American Civil Liberties Union, which consistently calls out words and actions it believes antithetical to the Constitution. From politicians we hear.... silence.

Some things are still off-limits in polite society. (This excludes those comedians whose livelihood is dependent on stretching the boundaries.)  No one may question people who would attribute the USA's greatness to God, a common tendency on the right, except when debating defense budgets, when a mere $650 billion Pentagon budget is all that stands between us and obliteration. Were the commitment to "the troops" as complete as to the military, funding for veterans' programs wouldn't face the opposition it does, and ordinary Americans wouldn't be compared to terrorists.

When the likes of Ned Jolley advocate assistance for veterans and recognize that "Merry Christmas" is being discarded by major corporate retailers, their whining will deserve to be taken seriously. Not before.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Some Ideas, Most Of Them Bad

Maureen Dowd, bowing to enlighten all of us narrow-minded liberals, has "decided  to let my Republican brother offer his red-state soliloquy now,  hoping he'd let me eat my white meat in peace. He-e-e-ere's Kevin."

It turns out that Kevin (pictured below) has very little to add to what we've noticed for months.

Most of the rest is partisan bunk as "Kevin" praises each candidate- Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, and Christie- he mentions, presumably the field of six he considers viable.  Note that the man who cites "the ultimate irony that the Republican field blows the Democrats away on one of their favorite topics — diversity" does not include Carly Fiorina, the only woman.

Kevin appears to believe (realistically) that Marco Rubio ultimately will be the GOP nominee, given that Dowd's brother exults "wait until he starts delivering his speeches in Spanish." That's selling hispanic voters a little short, given that they are likely to be far more concerned about electing a guy from a Party that wants The Other (Hispanics, Arabs, anyone on public subsidies) removed from civil society than they are to be thrilled  by someone speaking Spanish.  Admittedly, Rubio might speak Spanish even while seeking the nomination, as John Ellis Bush has. Good  luck with that.

Unconvincingly, Kevin suggests he wants a President among whose aims is to "protect the homeland and honor the Constitution."  This comes from a guy who believes the candidate who argues  "if we are ever ordered by agovernment authority to personally violate and sin.... we cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin" is "whip smart." Whip-smart Rubio may be, but he's not too big on honoring the Constitution.

Kevin says other silly things, believing even that Ben Carson "presents intriguing possibilities as part of the ticket, forcing African-Americans to choose between him and the wife of the man Toni Morrison called our 'first black president.'"  Yes, because voters always base their decision as much on the vice-presidential candidate as on the presidential candidate. Ask two wildly popular vice presidential nominees, Lloyd Bentsen and Ed Muskie, how that turned out.  Note to Kevin:  hispanics and blacks aren't as stupid as you think they are.

If Kevin were not so partisan, he might have figured a few things out.  "Sixty percent of the country does not trust" Hillary Clinton, he asserts, "and her emails are currently under for potential national security breaches."  A moment later the same fellow asks, remarkably, "O'Malley: Does anyone know his reason for running?"  As a standard-grade, Establishment liberal, O'Malley considers himself insurance against Clinton's candidacy blowing up, as someone who evidently believes it might ought to realize.

If "Kevin" were only Kevin, the brother of a frequently annoying and snarky columnist, it wouldn't matter.  But when he explains Trump's appeal as partially "We are tired of apologies for America’s exceptionalism,"  he taps into something significant.  The slogan of the Trump campaign is simple: "Make America Great Again."  Somehow, "America" (presumably the USA, rather than Latin America or South America), though exceptional, is not great.

"Make America Great Again" defines the country's greatness in terms of  who is president, rather than enduring qualities of liberty, justice, constitutionalism, openness to outsiders, and concern about our own citizens. It is an enervating principle for many American conservatives and explains much of the hostility toward President Obama and to Democrats and progresssives generally.

Consequently, Kevin may be accurately reflecting Republican sentiment in his essay. But as he ends by wishing a "Happy Thanksgiving," so may we be thankful that despite Citizens United and voter suppression in GOP-dominated states, a semblance of democracy still exists in the USA and one of the guys he admires probably will be rejected by the voters in 12 months.

                                           HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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The Supreme Law Of The Land

When Marco Rubio dies and faces God (not Saint Peter), he will reply:  "I was only trying to keep up with Ted Cruz."

Cruz is making inroads with evangelicals, well ahead of his ultimate confrontation with Rubio. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is a class-A extremist, as displayed when in an answer to a question from the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, he commented

We are clearly called, in the Bible, to adhere to our civil authorities, but that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. When those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win.

In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.

Digby remarks "I'm glad he brought that up. Because tons of people are trying to stop good God-fearing Americans from preaching the gospel and trying to force them to "perform same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it" and he needs to draw the line. "

We can only hope Marco does not eat shrimp because God- through Moses in Leviticus- prohibits us from "eating... any seafood without fins."  And he better lay off that juicy hamburger because, in the same book, God warns us to "eat neither fat nor blood.”  And he better stick to watching football on Sunday because "the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work." Such are God's rules we must adhere to.

Reminded that he seemed to be endorsing Kim Davis, Rubio continued

So in the absence of that,however, then it depends on what kind of society you live in. If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you're called to participate in that process to try to change it, not ignoring it, but trying to change the law. That's what we're endeavoring to do here and I continue to believe that marriage law....

Rubio did not therein indicate what we're to do while trying to change statute that conflicts with God's law, but if "government is compelling us to sin," presumably we are to refuse to obey the law. That was the way of Kim Davis.

A few thousand miles away, several governments are determined that their laws do not conflict with God's law (as it is understood).  Recently, a Palestinian poet and Saudi citizen learned what it means to violate God's law in a society dominated by Sunni Islam. Sentenced by the Kingdom's court to four years in prison and 800 lashes for renouncing Islam, he appealed, whereupon he was sentenced to death.

That principle is not unknown in Islam of the Shiite variety, also.  "The idea that the ruler of the state must be the person best qualified to interpret Islam and enforce Muslim law upon the people," Frederick W. Kagan of the conservative American Enterprise Institute has written, "is enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic."  That would be the Islamic Republic of Iran (cartoon from Google images),where God's law is supreme to any constitution, and a nation otherwise feared by Marco Rubio.

The Florida Senator believes we must fight abortionand same-sex marriage because they conflict with God's law. The mullahs in Teheran would heartily agree.


                                               HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Not Your Typical Republican Plea

It is in seriously bad form to compare Planned Parenthood to Nazi Germany, to commend Mein Kampf as a picture of the USA today, or to compare indviduals to Nazis or policies to Naziism. Do that enough and you'll find people comparing you to Dr. Ben Carson.

Not as bad is dredging up a Nazi-era quotation, reformulating, and applying it  to a political campaign.  Actually, it can be quite intriguing, as when a retired Colonel and Vietnam veteran, Tom Moe, did a little dirty, and somewhat poignant, work for Ohio Governor John Kasich on Tuesday. Speaking at a media availability in Columbus ahead of a Trump appearance in the same state, Colonel Moe remarked

You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with their government because you’re not one. And you might not care that Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants because you're not one. And you might not care that Donald Trump says it’s OK to rough up black protesters because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists because you’re not one. But think about this: If he keeps going and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope that there’s someone left to help you.

This brings to mind the famous quotation from Reverend Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran minister in Germany, who not long after the end of World War II remarked

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For English poet and Anglican cleric John Donne it was don't ask"for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" and for the Dalai Lama (in Memphis in 2009, below) it was  "Remember we are all one - all the same." Now  a Kasich supporter is saying much the same thing. Good luck with that, in a Party more partial to the idea "as long as the bell doesn't toll for me, I don't care."

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Sometimes, Not So Tough

There are a few questions which can be answered by politicians in only one way. Is President Obama a Christian and was he born in the United States? The answer is yes, and not "I don't know" or "I have no reason to believe otherwise."  Another is "do you believe climate change is real?" The answer is "yes," not "I am not a scientist."

Another was prompted when Donald Trump yesterday claimed

There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George.

Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.

There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

This would be a great, albeit disturbing, story if it had happened. Fortunately, it did not, and Politico's Nick Gass notes

Stephanopoulos noted twice during their interview that police have said that it did not happen, and The Washington Post, in its Sunday evening fact check, noted a Sept. 18, 2001, article in the Star-Ledger that called “rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims here proved unfounded.”

In response to the paper’s initial article, the Post’s Glenn Kessler noted that several people had tweeted to him a Post article from the same day, which reported that “within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

The Post's report did not give an exact count on the number of people allegedly seen celebrating the collapse, though no known video footage exists, and Trump claimed he saw it on television.

The Democratic mayor of Jersey City, NJ (who is considered a likely candidate for his party's nomination to succeed Governor Chris Christie) tweeted "Either @realDonaldTrump has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party."

It's good to call out Trump for making this out but it shouldn't be only Democrats- and it shouldn't be only Trump who is fingered. We know who and what Donald Trump is, and the adjectives haven't been invented yet to describe him fully, though in his ridiculousness he still makes no less sense than his rivals for the Republican nomination.

NJ reporter Brent Johnson writes about the response of a guy who is wrong about most things but certain about everything:

"I don't recall that. I don't," Christie — who is running against Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — told reporters while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. 

"It was a pretty emotional time for me because, as I've mentioned before, there's family involved, there were, you know, friends involved and so it was a pretty harrowing time," he said. "I do not remember that, and so it's not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but, you know, there could be things I forget, too."

He added: "But I don't remember that, no."

Paraphrased, Christie is saying "I don't recall that but, oh gosh, I have such a bad memory."  The correct answer, however, is quite clear. "Trump is wrong" or as Tom Brokaw- usually of "the both sides do it" set- asserted "Trump is completely wrong."

If  even Tom Brokaw can say it, the governor of New Jersey can say it. Christie wasn't being asked to contradict Marco or Ted, one of whom he will have to heap praise upon once he is about to be nominated. It is Donald Trump, who has called staunch conservative columnist and pundit Charles Krauthammer a "clown," fellow Republican Ben Carson "pathological," and charged Hillary Clinton "can't satisfy her husband." And those are the things he has charged which may at least have a grain of truth.

But it's Chris Christie, who has called teachers "drug mules" and said teachers' unions deserve "a punch in the face,"  tried to provoke a fight on the boardwalk, and told someone else at the Jersey Shore to "sit down and shut up." Big, bold, and brash Christie now says "I would remember it but, you know, there could be things I forget, too."

This is significant because as the cartoon below from John Cole indicates, the appeal of the GOP does not include fear or misinformation. It is dependent upon it, and Governor Christie, former "moderate" hearththrob of the mainstream media, is as reluctant as almost any Republican candidate to challenge it.

Full of bluff and bluster, Chris Christie himself knows when to shut up, and that's when he's intimidated by someone like Donald Trump.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

What's Sauce For The Goose Should Be Sauce For The Gander

Salon's Valerie Tarico informs us that in Missouri, the Satanic Temple (which seems not to believe in Satan)

has waded into the reproductive freedom fight by filing suit on behalf of a member, “Mary Doe,” who says she is entitled to religious exemption from odious abortion restrictions. The Temple’s “Seven Tenets” include two that provide the basis for the court case: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone—and—Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. Lawyers for the Temple argue that forcing Doe to read scientifically bogus warnings against abortion (for example, that abortion causes cancer) and then contemplate the warnings for three days prior to the procedure violates her religious freedom. Once again, the Temple is crowdfunding the campaign and to date has raised about half of the anticipated $80,000 in legal costs.

Here is hoping the Satanic Temple gets its money.  The outfit, of course, is far less interested in reproductive freedom or the (federal) Religious Freedom Restoration Act than it is in establishing the principle that "it’s unacceptable to give (privilege and exemption) only to people who believe in the supernatural." It should be unacceptable to give privileges to anyone on the basis of religious belief but the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, with its all-but-inevitable loose interpretation, encourages preference. (Cartoon below, in response to Indiana RFRA controversy, is from Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.)

When a Reserved Army Training Corps ordered an applicant to shave his beard, cut his hair, and ditch his turban, the American Civil Liberties Union, citing the RFRA, filed suit on his behalf. The plaintiff prevailed in a decision unavoidable because individuals of other cultures had been given exemptions to the Corps' policy.  Then, however, came the Court's noxious Hobby Lobby decision, and the ACLU got religion (figuratively, obviously). Deputy Legal Director Louise Nelling then wrote 

The ACLU supported the RFRA’s passage at the time because it didn’t believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people such as Iknoor Singh, whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form. For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others. As the events of the past couple of years amply illustrate, our fears were well-founded. While the RFRA may serve as a shield to protect Singh, it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others. Efforts of this nature will likely only increase should the Supreme Court rule — as is expected — that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.

Good thinking.  The RFRA prohibits government from "substantially burdenin(ing) a person's exercise of religion" unless it furthers "a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that" interest.  However, the First Amendment of the US Constitution itself prohibits Congress from making any law "respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It was never necessary to add to, or detract from, those guarantees, which virtually mandate a wall of separation between church and state.

When a statute as vague as the RFRA is passed, it shuldn't be surprising that it would be used tactically to exploit the political passion(s) of the moment. It is now being exposed as bad legislation, which should spur questions for President Clinton's wife- and the other presidential candidates.  But that is unlikely, and the best hope for reevaluation lies in a successful effort by the unpopular Satanic Temple to exploit the law for its own benefit, for which the political class has only itself to blame.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

CNN And Christiane Amanpour: Perfect Together

Count my first impression of Christine Amanpour as inaccurate. That would apply, unfortunately, to roughly my second, third, fourth, and fifth impressions of her. Fortunately, my negative impression of her network was not as misguided.

The realization comes about as The Guardian reports

CNN has suspended a journalist after she sent a disapproving tweet about the House of Representatives passing a bill seeking to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the US.

Global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has been stood down for two weeks after tweeting out a CNN story written by Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett with the comment: “Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish.”

Within hours, the post had been retweeted more than 1,000 times and liked more than 2,000 times.

Eight hours later she apologised, saying her social media post was “inappropriate and disrespectful."

It's a sure bet that one of those "likes" did not come from Amanpour.  Whatever the rationale for suspending Labott- and this Washington Post blogger has inquired of the network- CNN policy presumably prohibits employees from offering opinions on topical, potentially partisan, matters.  In another context, CNN Jeff Zucker previously had differentiated his network from FOX News and MSNBC, which he labeled "two partisan networks, that are looking out for their viewers."

But that does not apply to every employee- or given the network's acceptance of controversial remarks from anchorperson Don Lemon, not every opinion.  Conservative website Newsbusters has both printed a portion of the transcript of, a conversation among a terrorist expert, Amanpour, and CNN anchorperson Anderson Cooper (video, below):

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, if anybody was expecting to hear in the — in the passion and eloquence and — and speech patterns of President Obama a tipping point — they did not hear that today — and, as you say, defensive when he was asked questions about American leadership; dismissing the notions of American leadership as mere slogans — seeming not to take into account the very palpable fear among citizens — certainly, here in France; to an extent, in the United States; certainly, in the United Kingdom — everybody bracing for the worst of the worst to happen again.

He said something that was pretty incredible — according to many of the military experts here and around the world who I've spoken to — that our strategy is working. People do not believe that to be the case. The only strategy that's working is the strategy that he tends to dismiss — and that's the ground troop strategy. Sinjar, Tikrit, Kobani — those are the only ISIS strongholds that have been taken back by a combination of American intelligence and air power, and local ground forces — whether they're Iranian-backed militias in Tikrit; whether they're Kurdish Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces in Sinjar and in Kobani. This is a fact.

He's saying that ISIS is contained. This also is — is not actually true. ISIS is not contained, because ISIS attacked a Russian plane; attacked Beirut; and has now attacked here [in Paris]. And military strategists say that the length of time between the ISIS attack on Charlie Hebdo — and the al Qaeda, of course, — Charlie Hebdo and the HyperCacher market, and here — ten months is strategically insignificant. That is no time at all. That means they are not contained.

COOPER: In terms of containment, though, he is trying to stress — and whether it's walking back comments he made before — he's really, in this, was stressing geographic containment on the ground, compared to, the same time last year—

AMANPOUR: Fine. But in terms of ability, they are not contained. They have just slaughtered 129 people in Paris—

COOPER: Right—

AMANPOUR: The death toll may rise very higher, because there are 352 people injured — of whom, 99 are critically wounded. So the question is to have an honest conversation now about a new strategy to destroy.

Amanpour evidently is out of step with CNN policy (for whatever that's worth)- and is also clearly wrong, as Cooper politely and diplomatically implied.  For more on this, let's go to Politifact, which explained

In the context of Obama’s Nov. 12 interview with Stephanopoulos -- the day before the Paris attacks -- it’s actually quite clear that when he says ISIS is contained, he is talking about ISIS’s territorial expansion in Syria and Iraq. Here are the relevant parts of the interview:

Stephanopoulos: "Some of your critics say, even your friendly critics say, like Fareed Zakaria, that what you have on the ground now is not going to be enough. Every couple of months you're going to be faced with the same choice of back down or double down."

Obama: "I think what is true is that this has always been a multiyear project precisely because the governance structures in the Sunni areas of Iraq are weak, and there are none in Syria. And we don't have ground forces there in sufficient numbers to simply march into Al-Raqqah in Syria and clean the whole place out. And as a consequence, we've always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL's capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing at the same time as we're putting a political track together in Syria and fortifying the best impulses in Baghdad so that we can, not just win militarily, but also win by improving governance."

Stephanopoulos: "And that's the strategy you've been following. But ISIS is gaining strength, aren't they?"

Obama: "Well, no, I don't think they're gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they'll come in, they'll leave. But you don't see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We've made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters."

When Obama said "we have contained them," it’s within a plainly defined scope: ISIS’s territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria. This context is bolstered by the fact that Stephanopoulos asks Obama about the ground efforts in those two countries.

He wasn’t saying, as critics have shorthanded, that ISIS no longer presents a threat -- an assertion that the Paris attacks would have negated. In fact, in the same interview, Obama acknowledged that ISIS might have surpassed al-Qaida as the greatest terror threat in the world, adding that they are constantly looking for "a crack in the system" to exploit to carry out attacks. "I think that one of the challenges of these international terrorist organizations is that they don't have to have a huge amount of personnel," Obama said.

Politifact added that the experts it consulted "all said Obama is accurate when he says ISIS hasn’t gained territory in Iraq and Syria in recent months, though it does not give a full picture of ISIS’s global reach."

Iraq/Syria is the center of ISIL's caliphate. Notwithstanding Amanpour's argument, ISIL has turned to terrorist attacks in the West partly because of its failure to maintain a portion of the territory it considers critical (map below from the Institute for the Study of War, with the crosses where ISIL has a remote "governate"; brick, clay, and yellow where they have ties). She realized Obama was referring to the ISIL's regional strength rather than global reach, but when Cooper noted Obama was "stressing geographic containment on the ground," she responded "fine. But in terms of ability they are not contained." And then she went on as if she hadn't been called out for misinterpreting the President's remarks.

If Christiane Amanpour wants to continue to be partisan, she can quit her job with the network and become a full-time pundit, there or elsewhere. On second thought: she can remain in her present capacity with CNN because the network apparently doesn't mind partisan sniping- as long as it's the right kind.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Upon Further Review, Hispanics Aren't Unique

Give me a break.

Context and exact wording are important, so it's hard to evaluate remarks made at a meeting without having the transcript. But that won't stop me.

It's never a good idea, thoughtlessly and without ulterior motive, to insult your guests. Insults should not be used without a tactical motive (see Trump, Donald). Fittingly, it was the appearance as host of Donald Trump on NBC's Saturday Night Live (nee Saturday Night) which precipitated a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with MSNBC and NBC news executives. However, Politico reports 

NBC News President Deborah Turness committed a major blunder — as far as the Hispanic lawmakers were concerned — when she described undocumented immigrants as “illegals," a term that many in the Latino community find highly offensive.

Turness was describing NBC's integration with their Spanish-language network Telemundo, which included coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. and his interaction with a young girl who was afraid her parents would be deported because they’re “illegals.”

“I’m going to stop you right there. We use the term undocumented immigrants,” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) interrupted.

Turness apologized.

"Illegals" is a derogatory term, not the least because it's a word manufactured to express disdain for those whom the CHS refer to as "undocumented immigrants."  The individuals are people, therefore deserving to be reffered to with a noun rather than an adverb.

However, the term "undocumented Immigrants" goes too far in the opposite direction. There can be no "undocumented immigrants" without "documented immigrants," a term never used because it would raise questions.  Further, the reason persons are undocumented is because they have immigrated to the USA illegally, unlike legal immigrants. Legal and illegal- mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories. Nice and neat.

The word "undocumented" purposely obscures the status of the individual, the effort to enter the country illegally. It wipes out the distinction between legal and illegal, between Bill Clinton's "work hard and play by the rules" (emphasis mine) and the others. "Undocumented" implies instead a failure of faceless bureaucrats who simply couldn't, or wouldn't, come up with the documents needed by the deserving.

But we've lived with clever marketing, the art of the spin, in the political sphere for some time now, thanks in large measure to Frank Luntz. He has taught Republicans to say "exploring for energy" instead of "drilling for oil"; "international trade" rather than "foreign trade"; "Washington" instead of "government"; and my favorite, "death tax" instead of "estate tax." In a stranger argument made at the meeting, (Florida US Representative Tony) "C├írdenas argued that if Trump — who has made a series of remarks about Hispanic immigrants, including calling them 'rapists' — said similar things about African-Americans or Jews, NBC would not have had him on the show."

The obvious distinction is that African-Americans- and the Jews of whom Cardenas speaks- are Americans (first hint: African-Americans).  The Hispanic immigrants of whom he speaks are entering the country illegally.   If blacks and Jews from another nation were doing so, there also probably would be an outcry.  Though there is nothing strictly analogous, a similar situation is now playing out, as we read elsewhere in Politico

Since the Paris attacks, thirty Governors have declared their opposition to resettling Syrian refugees within their states. New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Georgia’s Nathan Deal, Illinois’s Bruce Rauner, and several others have stated flatly that their states will not accept new Syrian refugees.

Fortunately, it's only governors (almost all of them Republican), whose loyalty must be to the citizens of their own state, who are putting up a roadblock. Yet, according to a separate article in Politico (from which photo below is taken)

Less than a week after terrorists killed more than a hundred people in Paris, the House is set to approve a bill Thursday that would block refugees from Syria or Iraq from entering the country unless they pass strict background checks.

The bill will see near unanimous support from Republicans and broad support from Democrats - even as the Obama administration makes a last minute pitch to convince on-the-fence House Democrats to oppose the GOP-written bill.

 TIME points out

The legislation requires the director of the FBI to vouch for the completion of a background investigation on each refugee, as well as to certify to Congress that they are not a security risk. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence would also be required to certify to Congress that individual refugees are not security threats. And the bill stipulates that Homeland Security officials submit monthly and yearly reports to relevant congressional committees about the program.

Although this promotes a more intrusive federal government, the GOP has long ago given up- except rhetorically- the idea of small government. (See abortion, same-sex marriage, spying on citizens, the Pentagon.) The GOP-sponsored bill and its requirements are unnecessary because

Syrian and Iraqi refugees are already the most heavily vetted category of people to enter the U.S., the subject of an intensive process that lasts an average 18 to 24 months. Their screening already includes background checks by the FBI and DHS, and seven other federal agencies, Administration officials say.

Syrians are different, one might argue, because of the threat of terrorism. Yet, nativism is not uncommon in the land, as Jamelle Bouie explains

You saw it in the late 1930s, when Americans faced Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and had to choose: Would we take the victims of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, or reject them? On the question of refugee children, at least, Americans said no: 67 percent opposed taking in 10,000 refugee children from Germany, according to a 1939 poll from Gallup.

They were similarly unmoved by earlier groups of Jewish refugees, and their fears evoked the anxieties of their predecessors in 1848 and beyond. Americans, and their counterparts in Western Europe, feared foreign influence and dangerous ideologies like communism and anarchism. (Just a few decades earlier, in the living memory of many adults at the time, an anarchist killed an American president.)

Again and again, when faced with the question of refugees and immigrants, Americans are ambivalent and sometimes hostile. In 1975, for example, 62 percent said they feared Vietnamese refugees would take their jobs. Four years later, just as many said they didn’t want to admit “boat people” from Vietnam, who were fleeing the country’s repressive communist government. Americans said the same for Cuban refugees in the 1980s, Haitians in the 1990s, and most recently, the wave of refugee children from South America, which brought protests and fears of disease and infection.

You can even apply this dynamic to the Great Migration, the huge movement of black Americans from the South to cities and towns across the country. These Americans were internal refugees, fleeing lawlessness and racist terrorism. When they reached their destinations—cities like Detroit and Chicago—they faced deep hostility from existing residents, who blamed them for crime and economic disadvantage.

Oh no, it would  happen only to "undocumented" hispanic immigrants. It would never happen to blacks and Jews- except it already has.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Point Made

"But you believe whatever you want, Steve."

Stephen Colbert, figuratively and literally taken aback (video of this portion, below) seemed almost hurt when his guest, unabashed atheist Bill Maher, maintained "really, we're very opposite." Maher noted that Colbert is a practicing Catholic though the host, anxious to avoid a fight and to alienate much of his audience, replied with the nuanced "I am, doesn't mean I'm good at it."

Few individuals think as well on their feet (or in this case, on his chair) as Stephen Colbert. "I suck at" being Catholic, he claimed either in humility (as he implied a moment later) or as a savvy remark by a brilliant celebrity aware that his multi-million job on CBS' Late Night eventually would be imperiled if that portion of his audience which is unbelieving or even skeptical heard a full-throated defense of Catholic Christianity.

Knowing that Maher was raised as a Roman Catholic, Colbert stated

Come on back, Bill, the door is always open. Golden ticket right before you. All you have to do is humble yourself before the presence of the Lord. Admit there are things greater than you in the universe that you don't understand and salvation awaits you. Take Pascal's wager: if you're wrong you're an idiot; but if I'm right, you're going to hell.

(Colbert, an admirer of Pope Francis, probably wouldn't admit that his emphasis on belief in God conflicts with the pontiff's argument that "God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience." Salvation for atheists- an interesting viewpoint for a prelate.)

But Maher was having none of Colbert's invitation, responding "I do admit there are things I do not understand.  But my response to that is not to make up silly stories." A moment later, he would add "or to believe intellectually embarrassing myths from the Bronze Age."

The knife surgically inserted, Maher added "But believe what you want, Steve."  Rather than defend God's existence- or his own honor- Colbert replied "I could eat a big bowl of this. This is good. See, my religion teaches me humility in the face of this attack." It was a quick and pleasant retort for a guy whose main concern in life is to keep that big payday coming, but when Maher immediately noted "you brought it up," the bleeding was evident.

This was a classic confrontation in which each participant accomplished his objective. Maher sought a confrontation which he knew he could not lose because Colbert could not afford (term of art, that) to tell his guest what he really thought about him and his ideas. He did so by placing himself squarely on the side of rationality and science (truth being a matter of opinion), which Colbert's old audience on Comedy Central would have appreciated.  Even the Late Night audience, generally adoring of Colbert, was not squarely in the host's corner.

Having pulled his punches, Colbert, too, had good reason to be satisfied with his performance. Displaying good humor amidst obvious discomfort, he managed to get out of the segment without actually committing to any creed, thereby maintaining credibility with his audience and the network executives. And tas Colbert repeatedly demonstrates, that is mostly what matters.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sometimes, We Are Not Our Brother's Keeper

Jack Mirkinson writes (with video below accompanying his piece)

A segment that aired on CNN this past Sunday was such a perfectly rotten emblem of the Islamophobia poisoning our discourse that it felt like another instantaneous historical document, a time capsule being created as it was happening.

In the segment, anchors John Vause and Isha Sesay demanded that Yasser Louati, a member of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, tell them why French Muslims didn’t do more to stop the attacks in Paris.

“Why is it that no one within the Muslim community there in France knew what these guys were up to?” Vause asked—a patently ludicrous question.

“The Muslim community has nothing to do with these guys,” Louati replied. “Nothing. We cannot justify ourselves for the actions of someone who just claims to be Muslim.”

“Surely someone beyond the seven guys who’ve been killed over the last 48 hours would have to have known something and that was probably within the Muslim community, but yet no one said anything,” Vause said—again, as though the “Muslim community” all hang out together on one street corner in France.

When Louati pointed out that it was actually the government’s job to catch criminals, Sesay took over, badgering him about why Muslims weren’t taking more “responsibility” in stopping people like the Paris attackers. As the interview ended, Vause muttered, “I’ve yet to hear the condemnation from the Muslim community on this, but we’ll wait and see,” seemingly forgetting that he’d just been talking to a Muslim who had condemned the attacks. “The word ‘responsibility’ comes to mind,” he added.

"The responses to this sort of thing can come to feel tedious," Mirkinson laments, as he does that "nobody seems to remember all of the Muslims who are condemning these attacks" and "that Muslims are the biggest victims of ISIS brutality."

ISIL is perfectly fine with murdering Jews and Christians also, however. Further, emphasizing its bloodlust for other Muslims might incur a reaction similar to the response of many conservative whites to inner city crime: the mantra of "black-on-black crime," which carries with it the whiff of indifference, if not bigotry.

Slightly agitated, the female anchorperson asks rhetorically

Given the fact that the finger of blame is pointed at the Muslim community, rightly or wrongly, does that not shift the (word indecipherable) situation Muslim community and the ledership should step up and take a greater role in looking at the young people and the road they're going down.  You have to accept that responsibility to prevent the bigger backlash that comes your way when these things happen.

The best answer (as Mirkinson provides) is "nobody asks all Christians or Jews to account for their most extreme elements."   Surely, few people ask all Christians to account for terrorism committed by far-right, extremist Christians, and not only because in the USA it has been discrete, scattered, and far less deadly than the attacks of September 2001 or any which may currently be in the planning stage.

The most directly analogy (though involving an ethnic group, rather than a religion) is the case of La Cosa Nostra, which once was a scourge upon society, a particular threat in large and medium-sized cities, and which brought down a US president 52 years ago to the month.  The History Channel explains

In the early 1960s, U.S. Attorney Robert Kennedy (1925-1968) stepped up government efforts to fight organized crime and corruption in labor unions. One of Kennedy’s top targets was Jimmy Hoffa (1913-1975), the head of the million-plus-member Teamsters union. Kennedy also pressured FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who had been slow to pursue the Mafia, to intensify his agency’s efforts against mobsters. The FBI, whose investigators up to that time had scant knowledge about the Mafia’s operations, began an electronic spying program that netted valuable information. Another important development came in 1963, when convicted New York mobster Joseph Valachi broke the Mafia’s sacred code of silence, or omerta, and became a government informant, revealing and confirming details about the Mafia’s structure and customs for the first time.

Starting in the later part of the 20th century, the government began winning its war against the Mafia. In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which proved to be one of the most powerful tools used to take down mobsters, as it allowed the government to “attack criminal enterprises on a broad front, stripping them of their leadership and sources of both illicit and legitimate revenue in one massive prosecution,” according to a 1992 report in Congressional Quarterly. During the 1980s and 1990s, RICO laws were used to convict high-ranking mobsters, who in the past had been able to avoid prosecution. (Similar laws were effective in producing mass convictions in Italy during this time.) Some Mafiosi, faced with long prison sentences, opted to testify against fellow mobsters in exchange for a place in the witness-protection program. Additionally, Mafia membership in the U.S. declined as insular Italian-American neighborhoods, once a traditional recruiting ground for mobsters, underwent demographic shifts and became more assimilated into society.

By the early 21st century, the American Mafia was a shadow of its former self...

Relatively few individuals blamed the American Mafia (La Cosa Nostra) on the Italian-American community, and the stereotyping of that ethnic group as conniving and criminal typically was considered unfair or even completely rejected.  La Cosa Nostra was not defanged and nearly destroyed by the Italian-American community, notwithstanding residence of most of its members in close-knit neighborhoods, fairly homogenous neighborhoods. It was brought down by law enforcement, most notably by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, during whose term convictions of organized crime figures (then, but not now, of Italian descent) rose approximately 800 percent, and which probably cost his brother's life.

There is a disturbing tendency among Muslims worldwide to support values antithetical to progressive, western values. ISIL, moreover, probably is genuinely Islamic, in the way that, for instance, Larry McQuilliams probably was an extremely fundamentalist and deluded Christian. Still, responsibility for cracking down on terrorism committed by a Muslim group lies not with other Muslims but with national governments, augmented by international cooperation.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Declaring War

John Ellis Bush has laid down the gauntlet... thrown a hail Mary pass... gone for the gold.

Submit your own cliche.  The man who calls himself JEB! has done what no other Republican (or of course, Democratic) presidential candidate has done.  Responding to the terrorist attacks in Paris, Lindsey Graham stated "I'm trying to protect America from another 9/11, and without American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, we're gonna get hit here at home.  And if you don't understand that, you're not ready to be commander-in-chief in my view."

Graham had already called for American ground troops in the Mideast but even on Sunday he didn't go as far as Bush did.  To be sure, the former Florida governor took no risk when on Sunday's Meet the Press he contended that President Obama should

Declare a no-fly zone over Syria. Directly arm the Peshmerga forces in Iraq. Re-engage with the Sunni tribal leaders. Embed with the Iraqi military. Be able to create safe zones in Syria. Garner the support of our European allies and the tradition Arab states. Lead. That's what I want him to do. I want him to lead.

A moment earlier, however, he had gone where no other man (or woman) had gone when he declared

You don't see ISIS and Assad fighting each other. What they, the fight is with the remnants of the Syrian Free Army, we need to build that force up, which is not what's happening. This is viewed as a law enforcement exercise by the Obama administration.

We should declare war and harness all of the power that the United States can bring to bear both diplomatic and military, of course, to be able to take out ISIS. We have the capabilities of doing this, we just haven't shown the will. 

Whoa! Mr. Bush has recommended the United Staes of America declare war on ISIL (at beginning of video below).  That is a bold statement, one which probably will garner him little support- among politicians, the public, or (especially) the Pentagon.  It's safer, as all of the GOP candidates (except Rand Paul) who have addressed the issue have done, to flex muscles, blame President Obama for everything, and let the testosterone flow.

So give John Ellis Bush credit. Don't, however, give him a pass.  Don't let him slide by for declaring at a mid-August forum in Iowa “I’ll tell you, taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal" or for arguing at the first GOP debate  "As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe. I don't know if you remember, Donald -- you remember the rubble? You remember the firefighter with his arms around him? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism, and he did keep us safe."

Even John Ellis Bush, the man who forgot about the Twin Towers attack fourteen years ago when he contended he knew his brother "kept us safe," should have remembered that same brother ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and of Iraq without a declaration of war.

For another cliche: Bush has opened Pandora's Box.  If his GOP rivals and the presumptive Democratic nominee don't slam it in his face, it will be only because they have decided he has become irrelevant.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

The E Word

Two years ago, the historian, academic and commentator Juan Cole decried media response to the massacre in the Central African Republic of 24 Muslims by anti-balaka Christian militias. "Whereas Seleka (a coaliton of Muslim clans) is often called extremists in the US press," he noted, "the Christian militias are almost never called 'extremist Christians.'" He explained "while Western press reports dospeak of Christian milita members, on the American side the E-word was little applied. But surely massacring 24 non-combatant people is extreme."

"Racist" has become the R-word among Republicans, determined to deny the existence of such a creature now that America the Beautiful has elected a black president.   Similarly, the E-word been has been de facto banned by US politicians, Democrat and Republican, from being applied to acts of Christian terrorism.

Pity that, but if the murderers of 24 people because of their religion deserved- as they did- to be recognized as "extremists," so too, do the murderers of approximately 150 people in Paris, Francis warrant use of the term "extremist."  "How did we get to this place," Bill Maher asked Friday night, "where just describing something is demonizing?" (two videos from Real Time, below).

That question looms as even more fundamental, given an exchange in Saturday night's Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

Moderator John Dickerson asked, in his words, whether "the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam" as maintained by Marco Rubio.  As this portion of the transcript indicates, it was "like pulling teeth," as the old saying goes, to get any of the three Democratic candidates to utter the phrase "radical Islam," and these teeth never were pulled. (O'Malley, with nothing to lose, would have interjected or gone back to the subject if he had a different perspective.)


I don't think we're at war with Islam. I don't think we at war with all Muslims. I think we're at war with jihadists who have--


Just to interrupt, he-- he didn't say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don't--


I-- I think that you can-- you can talk about Islamists who-- clearly are also jihadists. But I think it's-- it-- it's not particularly helpful to make the case that-- Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we've gotta reach out to Muslim countries. We've gotta have them be part of our coalition.

If they hear people running for-- president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam-- that was one of the real contributions-- despite all the other problems that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, "We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression." And yes, we are at war with those people that I don't want us to be painting with too brand a brush.



The reason I ask is that you gave a speech at Georgetown University in which you said that it was important to show-- quote-- respect even for one's enemy. Trying to understand and in so far as psychologically possible empathize with their perspective and point of view. Can you explain what that means in the context of this kind of barbarism?


I think with this kind of barbarism and nihilism-- it's very hard to understand other than the lust for power, the rejection of (UNINTEL), the total disregard for human life-- freedom or any other value that we know and-- respect.

Historically it is important to try to understand your adversary in order to figure out how they are thinking, what they will be doing, how they will react. I-- I plead (?)-- that it's very difficult when you deal with-- ISIS and organizations like that whose-- whose behavior is so barbaric and so vicious-- that it doesn't seem to have any purpose other than lust for killing and power. And that's very difficult to put ourselves in other shoes.



Very quickly, do either of you-- radical Islam, do either of you use that--





I don't think the term is what's important. What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or Al Qaeda who do believe we should go back several thousand years, we should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted, that they are a danger to modern society. And that this world with American leadership can and must come together to destroy them. We can do that.

Yes, Senator, it is important, important because words have meaning- if they didn't, you wouldn't be carefully avoiding certain ones.  They tell us something important, and very ugly, about Ben Carson that he would compare such things as abortion and the Affordable Care Act to slavery or the Holocaust.  It is why Marco Rubio- who has no concrete suggestions for dealing with ISIL and no plans to declare war on it- strategically refers to a "war" with radical Islamists.

It is, additionally, why Hillary Clinton refers to "Jihadists," a term of conveniently shifting interpretation. "Jihad," appearing often in the Koran, means "to strive, to apply oneself, to struggle, to perservere" but in the USA is used to mean whatever one wants it to. And so it was that in the Georgetown speech 12 months ago to which Dickerson referred, former Secretary of State Clinton argued

This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool…leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace,

Notwithstanding the disinterest of the GOP presidential candidates in understanding ISIL, Islamic terrorists in general, Russia, or virtually anything foreign policy, it is critical to understand the enemy.  But "empathize," informs Merriam-Webster, is "to have the same feelings as another person," and empathizing with mass murderers is a bridge, or several bridges, too far.

Republicans have mocked President Obama's avoidance of "Islamic extremist" or "radical Islam" to describe terrorists.  But they shouldn't need Frank Luntz to exploit Mrs. Clinton's recommendation that the nation insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Illegal Must Be A Racist Term

"People who work hard and play by the rules shouldn't be poor," the aspiring presidential candidate maintained.  As President, in a September, 1993 radio address the self-styled man from Hope (who also could be Mike Huckabee) would reiterate "the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll be rewarded with a good long life for yourself and a better chance for your children."

It was a common theme for Bill Clinton in Johnstown, Pa. when he was running for the job held by GHWB and asserted "The idea that if you worked hard and played by the rules you'd be rewarded, you'd do a little better next year than you do last year, and your kids will do better than you — that idea has been devastated."

Martin O'Malley evidently would like to rework that theme to something along the lines of "if you don't play by the rules, we'll reward you by recognizing you as a New American." O'Malley was distressed that an appeals court had refused to lift the order which blocked implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, as well as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.The Dallas Morning News reports

A family of mixed-immigration statuses welcomed Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley into their Austin home for lunch Thursday to discuss the personal impacts immigration policies have had on them.

Over homemade chilaquiles, beans, potatoes and salsas, the Ramirez family told O’Malley how they came to America illegally when their children were young, and have lived in fear ever since. The youngest daughter, Abigail, is the only Ramirez child born in the U.S. At 13, she said she worries every day about coming home to an empty house.

“I hear people say, ‘Well, I’m glad that they’re going to deport all of these people,’” Ramirez said. “But how would you feel if you came home one day and no one was there—an empty house? And you think, ‘Oh, they just went out,’ but after hours and hours of waiting they never come back.”

During and after the meal, which O’Malley said was the best he’d had on the campaign trail, he tried to distinguished himself as the most compassionate candidate when it comes to immigration reform. He accused his fellow Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders of “talking out of both sides of their mouths.”

He said Clinton has played a “sort of cynical game, where you say one thing to one crowd and use the term ‘illegal immigrants,’ and then turn around to another crowd and switch your messaging and talk about ‘new Americans.’ I always say ‘new Americans,’ O’Malley said. 

O'Malley was therein given the benefit of the doubt with the printing of "new Americans" instead of "New Americans."  In de facto assurance that he was manipulating the language to make a radical ideological point, before the gathering the former Maryland governor had tweeted "Looking forward to meeting the Ramirez family & sharing a meal w/ a New American family that can show us how #DAPA is good for our country." He has called such persons also "new American immigrants," thereby granting them a designation apparently not earned by legal immigrants (naturalization ceremony in Grand Canyon, below, from Yahoo images).

O'Malley was distressed that an appeals court had refused to lift the order which blocked
implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, as well as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

There might be a reason, other than cynical politics, that Hillary Clinton sometimes refers to certain individuals as "illegal immigrants." The US Code actually refers (promiscuously) to persons in the country contrary to law as "aliens"- even in "The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA" enacted on September 30, 1996.

"Alien" is a little harsh and a little misleading, given that the grayish, skinny guy didn't land here in an extraterrestial flying object from some other galaxy. "Immigrant," however, is what the "New American" is, and he or she is here illegally. That makes her an "illegal immigrant," which should be obvious to anyone who passed junior high school English.

The rhetoric should not be surprising, however, coming from someone who chose to dine with a family here illegally rather than legally, depriving legal immigrants of that honor. When Bill Clinton was speaking in Johnstown 23 years earlier, he was talking to struggling families, many of which still are struggling or have been replaced by those that are. Here legally, they presumably are "Old Americans" and not afforded the privilege of being exalted by O'Malley as "New Americans."

There are real questions about Hillary Clinton's electability, about her foreign policy hawkishness and connection to Goldman Sachs, support for "free trade" pacts, and on and on and on. Even her advocacy of reproductive freedom- yes, even for reproductive freedom- needs to be questioned, given Clinton's long-held support for "safe, legal, and rare" and the Supreme Court's acceptance of a case from the state specializing in targeted regulations of abortion providers. Yet, Martin O'Malley has chosen to focus on Mrs. Clinton's imperfect advocacy of illegal immigration. Pitiful.

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Unstated But Real

On Real Time with Bill Maher , comedian Larry Wilmore was criticizing the Republican Party for its long-standing opposition to women by avi...