When It Comes to Defeating Terrorists, Take the Win

Back in 2011, when word spread across the news media that Osama bin Laden had finally been brought to justice, I remember a friend (a fellow Republican) turning to me and saying, “Obama’s going to get credit for this, isn’t he?”

My answer to that friend was, “So?”

I wasn’t interested in the political fallout. I was just glad that the leader of Al-Qaeda — the man primarily responsible for the deaths of thousands of people on 9/11 — had answered for his crimes, and was no longer around to take more innocent lives. It was a great day for America, regardless of one’s political leanings.

I did understand where my friend was coming from, however. As I wrote in a piece in 2012, where I defended Obama’s use of a campaign video bragging up his leadership role in the successful raid on the Bin Laden compound, there was some glaring irony tied to that part of the president’s legacy:

It was the controversial intelligence and interrogation techniques put in place by the Bush administration that ultimately led the CIA to Bin Laden. These were the very techniques that Obama adamantly condemned while he ran for the presidency. For nearly four years, the Obama administration has routinely blamed the poor state of the country on a situation he inherited from Bush. Yet, he’s now running on one of the very few successes he’s enjoyed as president – one that came to fruition from policies he also inherited from Bush.

Still, I made it clear that, in addition to our military and intelligence agencies, Obama absolutely deserved credit…even if any other president in that same position would have made the same call. I also had no problem with Obama touting his leadership on the matter. After all, if the operation at that Pakistani compound (which came with undeniable military and diplomatic risks) had failed, Obama would have received full blame for the failure.

I feel the same way about this week’s successful operation that took out ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It was a great day for America, and everyone involved deserves credit for the neutralization of this murderer, torturer, and rapist.

This includes our troops who bravely carried out the operation. It also includes Kurdish officials who reportedly provided most of the intel for the operation, and continued doing so even after Trump’s surprise withdrawal announcement that opened up the Syrian Kurds to a deadly Turkish offensive. Notably, that same move by our president reportedly complicated the jobs of the C.I.A and Pentagon as well, forcing them to speed up their planning of the raid before they would lose their ability to make calls from the ground. So those organizations certainly deserve a lot of credit for still pulling it off. And lastly, Trump deserves credit for making the call to launch the raid.

But because we live in hyper-partisan times, and because this was a political (not just a strategic) win for our president, some folks took a stunningly different view of the situation — one that included framing the newly deceased terrorist as an individual with some notably redeeming qualities.

No, I’m not joking.

The Washington Post’s obituary for al-Baghdadi was given this headline: “Austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State dies at 48.”

Austere religious scholar? This made me want to go back and check if the Post headlined Charles Manson’s obituary with “Renowned singer-songwriter.”

Speaking of the Washington Post, one of their columnists, Max Boot (who has renounced just about every political position he held prior to the Trump era), was so bothered by Trump’s description of al-Baghdadi’s final seconds, that he felt compelled to laud the terrorist’s courage:

The Washington Post’s Max Boot on Twitter (10/28/2019)

Now, to be fair, Boot’s first sentence had some validity. President Trump routinely uses similar verbiage (depicting made-up behavior) in an attempt to emasculate even his domestic political opponents. For Trump to extend such imagery to a dead terrorist leader isn’t particularly surprising, especially considering that it’s been common practice over the years, spanning different administrations, to demoralize America’s enemies in this fashion.

For example, some may recall that under Obama, John Brennan falsely claimed that Osama bin Laden had tried to use one of his wives as a human shield during the Pakistan raid.

Boot went off the rails, however, when he channeled his frustration with Trump’s fabrications into a defense of the terrorist leader. “Whimpering and crying” or not, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself and three children to avoid his own capture. I’m not sure which definition of courage Boot thought that met.

No one’s under any obligation to give credit to Trump, of course — just like Trump wasn’t under any obligation to give President Obama any credit for taking out Bin Laden:

You don’t even have to believe that Trump did something that any other president wouldn’t have, or that his foreign policy decisions, taken as a whole, have been sound (in my view, he’s made several mistakes).

But there are some things that should transcend politics. And if we can’t agree that dealing a major blow to a terrorist organization is unequivocally one of them, our country’s in worse shape than I thought.

Megyn Kelly, on John A. Daly’s new novel, Safeguard.

Breaking: A Big Democratic Party Narrative

“…a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility…  has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain ― that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for President.  It was at the center of last year’s campaign.  It drives everything I do in this office.” — President Barack Obama, 2013

“for 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing. Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages despite a huge increase in technology and productivity. And what we have seen during that period is… massive wealth and income inequality…” — Bernie Sanders, 2015

The point is to stem runaway income inequality, where wealth begins to automatically compound at obscene rates for the extremely rich w/o lifting a finger – often at the cost of low wages. This is a huge driving factor in income & wealth inequality & few want to talk about it.” — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 2019

“Income inequality” was a term we started to hear quite a bit during Barack Obama’s re-election campaign back in 2012. It was framed by the president as worsening problem; a crisis in fact — this notion that rich people were becoming unacceptably wealthier than the middle class, and thus should pay more taxes to somehow balance out the playing field.

At the time, Obama’s political future was very much in question. Americans were still struggling with the nation’s slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, and the polls going into 2012 showed that voters had just about lost patience with the president. Understanding that the economy likely wasn’t going to show any rapid improvement before election day, the Obama camp decided that a class warfare campaign was their best hope of sticking around for another four years.

Thus, with the help of many in the mainstream media, wealthy people were turned into the cause of the anemic recovery, and forcing them to pay their “fair share” was the proposed solution. It didn’t make a lick of economic sense, but the stoking of economic resentment indeed resonated with much of the electorate.

After all, it’s not exactly a tough sell to convince people of the conventional wisdom that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” It’s even easier when a lot of people are struggling to stay afloat in a terrible economy. And in the end, it was enough to give Obama the win over a highly successful businessman whose personal wealth was front and center.

Since then, “income inequality” has become a mainstream political term, with top leaders within the Democratic Party insisting that its rise, and the “disappearance of the middle class,” are among the greatest threats our nation faces. In fact, just about every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has been running, in part, on how to address the issue, with new terms like “economic justice” entering the fray.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has even put forth, in the name of income inequality, a radical “wealth tax” proposal that could cost the nation’s richest employers hundreds of billions of dollars.

But a report today from the U.S. Census Bureau may have just thrown a big, cold bucket of water on the entire premise of growing income inequality.

As illustrated in a helpful graph from the American Enterprise Institute, a statistical measure of income inequality known as the Gini Coefficient has remained virtually flat for — wait for it — the last 25 years:

This is what Obama referred to as “the defining challenge of our time”?

Do you know what else has remained virtually flat over the last 25 years? The income shares of the top 5 and 20 percent of U.S. households:

So… Where’s the growing inequality?

But wait. Is Bernie Sanders at least right when he says the middle class is disappearing?

Yes, he actually is. However, it’s not because these people are falling further behind the rich. It’s because they’ve been moving into higher income brackets:

As Mark Perry of the AEI points, out, “The share of US households making $100K (2018 $$) has more than tripled since 1967, from 9% to 30.4%.”

Keep in mind that these aren’t the findings of some partisan group. We’re talking about data directly from the U.S. Census Bureau.

One would think that this information would devastate the campaign platforms of some of the top Democratic presidential candidates, but something tells me that neither they, nor much of the media, will put much stock in, or at least give much time to, these particular findings in U.S. Census report.

After all, who needs facts when the narrative is what’s important.

Are We Living with Hillary Clinton’s Legacy After All?

I sometimes hear from lefties (both in my life and online) who insist that the Democratic base isn’t nearly as far to the left as the unhinged rhetoric on cable news and social media would suggest. Believe it or not, I’m sometimes even inclined to believe them.

Most of my Democratic friends, after all, are self-made people who aren’t out there advocating for socialist policies. Also, Joe Biden (who most people consider to be a traditional Democrat) took a significant lead in the polls over his more liberal competitors the moment he entered the 2020 race.

But one only has to have watched last week’s Democratic primaries, and listened to the words of almost all 20 candidates on stage, to derive that the crowd those individuals are speaking to is indeed very far-left.

Public funding of abortion (including late-term)? Government health insurance for all (including non-citizens)? Decriminalizing illegal border crossings? Free college tuition for all? Amnesty on student loans? These would have been considered fringe positions just a few years ago. Now, they’re right at the heart of the Democratic party.

So what happened, exactly? What drove the party so far to the left in a relatively short period of time?

And while we’re at it, what’s behind the similarly stark transformation of the Republican party?

Just a few short years ago, fiscal conservatism, free markets, stern foreign policy, government accountability, and personal responsibility were core beliefs of the Republican base. Now, Republicans shrug their shoulders at even higher levels of government spending than under Obama. They defend unprecedented trade intervention in foreign markets, along with the taxpayer bailouts spawned from it. They make excuses for our president’s fawning over murderous dictators, his diminishing of the work of our intelligence agencies, and pretty much everything else that comes out of his mouth. And they do all of this largely in the interest of tribal cohesiveness.

Democrats and Republicans have embraced populism to an extent not seen in my lifetime. And in a rather brilliant piece the other day, conservative writer Jonah Goldberg identified a single political figure who was instrumental in pushing both of the parties in the directions they’ve taken.

No, it wasn’t Donald Trump. Nor was it Barack Obama or even Bernie Sanders.

According to Goldberg, it was Hillary Clinton. And he lays out a very good case for her historical significance in this respect.

Goldberg points out that most people on the right agree that Donald Trump’s 2016 victory had a lot to do with Hillary Clinton. Where they disagree is how.

Always quick to point out the losses of John McCain and Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, Trump fans tend to believe that only someone as bombastic and unscrupulous as Trump could have taken back the presidency from the Democrats and the Democratic establishment (including the mainstream media). And because Trump was victorious, these folks view him as a savior of sorts, worthy of their unconditional loyalty.

Others (including me) have a different view — one that Goldberg described in his column:

“It wasn’t so much that Trump was the one person who could beat Hillary, but that she was the one candidate he could beat. In other words, it was only thanks to the fact that she was so unpopular that Trump had a chance. Trump-reluctant Republicans and independents could be persuaded by the fact that he was better than Hillary when presented with a binary choice.”

It’s worth remembering that poll after poll during the election (the same national polls that predicted the actual voting outcome months later) showed that both Clinton and Trump were very unpopular with the American people. Their main competitors in their respective primaries were viewed more favorably among the general electorate. In fact, a number of polls showed that Trump was one of the few Republican candidates that Hillary could actually beat.

Goldberg explains that “Trump didn’t have to convince those voters that Clinton was unlikable and a little scary; he simply had to exploit their preexisting opinion of her. Indeed, Trump’s continued obsession with bashing Hillary points to how central she is to his identity.”

I think he’s right, and this also explains the conservative media’s continued obsession with Hillary, years after her political relevance expired.

The Left hasn’t forgotten about Hillary either, though they’re much less vocal about it. Liberals look back at her in much the same way that many Republicans do McCain and Romney: as an acceptable choice at the time, but an unenthusiastic and ultimately ineffective candidate.

There were of course additional problems with Hillary, and not just her aforementioned unlikability. She was perceived (with good reason) as corrupt, and she commanded a sense of entitlement in regard to her White House aspirations.

Goldberg describes why these were significant factors in the election:

“[Bernie Sanders] came way closer to beating Clinton in the primaries than most people thought he would by tapping into the passion of the base and the frustrations of other Democrats who didn’t relish a Clinton dynasty and disliked both Hillary personally and the corrupt practices of the establishment she represented. She ran on the implied claim that it was simply her ‘turn’ to be president — a poisonous framing in a populist moment (just ask Jeb Bush). In retrospect, not being Hillary was almost as big a boon to Sanders as it was for Trump.

If the Clinton machine had not scared away more talented and resourceful politicians from running in 2016, it’s possible that someone other than Sanders would have captured the passion of the party — just as Obama did when he toppled Hillary as the inevitable nominee in 2008.”

Goldberg argues that because Clinton lost to Trump, the Democratic base got the message that “Sanders-style socialist populism was the key to success just as the GOP has concluded that Trump-style nationalist populism is the future of the right.”

Again, I think he’s right. And this is important because it illustrates just how reliant our politics have become on personalities and personas, and how disconnected they are from serious issues and common sensibilities. Desperation hatched from defeat has compelled both parties to conflate personal identity with political proclivity.

It’s like a domino effect of perpetual misreadings and misunderstandings — the kind that could have given the writers of Three’s Company a few extra seasons worth of material.

But this isn’t a sitcom, where the characters straighten things out by the end of the episode. It’s today’s politics… where identity itself is the script. And for that reason, the script will continue to be followed, no matter how absurd the story becomes.

January 20, 2017 Can’t Come Soon Enough

As happy I will be to watch Donald J. Trump be sworn in as our 45thPresident, that happiness will be overshadowed by the absolute ecstasy I will feel knowing that Obama and his crew are out of our White House.  Good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

This week, as we celebrate Memorial Day, all I can think of is our “Commander in Chief” bad mouthing my country in foreign lands.  As if his 2009 Apology Tour wasn’t bad enough, he now had to go to Japan and apologize for America dropping the bomb on the country that started our involvement in WWII in the first place.

Instead of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day (something his cohorts said he had to do instead of playing golf), and reading, of course, from a teleprompter a speech he probably didn’t write, he should’ve gone to Pearl Harbor this year and recognized the sacrifice the men of the USS Arizona made and all those who died in WWII following the Japanese, yes, I said it, the Japanese attack on the United States.

I’m sick and tired of him unilaterally imposing his will on the American people because he’s either too stupid or too lazy to deal with Congress.

I’m sick and tired of Obamacare and all the lies he told in order to get this abominable bill passed.  (Thank you, Mr. Obama for that 20% increase in my premium and the maternity and newborn care I neither need nor want.)

I’m sick and tired of his spending that will soon put our national debt over $20,000,000,000,000.00 – that’s 20 trillion dollars.

I’m sick and tired of seeing nothing done about, and no one being held accountable for, Benghazi and the lies he and his cronies (including Hillary) put out there to con the American people into re-electing him in 2012 and believing the attack that killed our Ambassador and three others was the result of a “video.”

I’m sick and tired of his impotence to destroy ISIS and, instead, his belief that climate change is our most pressing danger.

I’m sick and tired of him drawing lines in the sand and failing to follow through in any meaningful way.

I’m sick and tired of his willingness to place blame on, and his obvious disdain for, our police before hearing all the facts.

I’m sick and tired of him and John Kerry attempting to sell us the benefits of the Iran treaty when, in reality, it was all a con job to dupe journalists into thinking and reporting it was a great deal.

I’m sick and tired of his support of the slaughter of millions of babies every year under the guise of being “pro-choice” even in late term abortions, and his continued support of Planned Parenthood even though it has violated federal law.

I’m sick and tired of him pandering to the likes of the Castro brothers in Cuba only to have Fidel blast his visit even before Air Force One could land on American soil.

I’m sick and tired of him blackmailing states into doing what he wants, e.g., “transgender bathrooms in schools,” by threatening to withhold federal funds if the states don’t comply with his edict, when he doesn’t impose those same threats on sanctuary cities who fail to comply with federal immigration law or on Planned Parenthood despite its violation of federal law.

And people think Donald Trump is not Presidential.  Is this photo of Obama “Presidential” or just the behavior of a doofus:

nuclear security summit

Or how about this behavior at Nelson Mandela’s memorial (Michelle certainly doesn’t look all that thrilled either):

obama at nelson mandela memorial

Obama is an embarrassment and Jimmy Carter is looking pretty good right now.

I’ve had my countdown clock set on my computer since January 20, 2013.  I had to reset it because I never dreamed that this incompetent could be re-elected in 2012 but I was wrong.  Unless King Obama changes the law unilaterally and gives himself a third term as President, he’s outta here in seven months, twenty days, eleven hours…….

ISIS – The Left’s Double Standard of Political Correctness

double-standard-definitionThere’s a lot about the left in this country I just don’t get.  One of the things the left insists upon, which I really don’t get, is the obsession with “political correctness.”  You’re not allowed to say anything if it will offend, or potentially offend, any other human being.

You can’t fly a flag on your condo balcony because it may be offensive to someone.  (My position:  you don’t like the American flag, leave the country and go somewhere that has a flag you like.)  You can’t wear a sombrero on Halloween because it may be offensive to a Mexican (even though our local Mexican restaurant takes a photo of you wearing one on your birthday).  You can’t have an “American Day” at school to express your patriotism because it may be offensive to another student.   If you believe marriage is between a man and a woman, you hate gay people.  If you think women should buy their own birth control devices, you’re sexist.  If you’re opposed to Obamacare, you want people to die.  If you think the US government should enforce immigration laws and stop funding sanctuary cities, you’re a bigot.  If you think “all lives matter,” you’re a racist.

By the way, the phrase “politically correct” is now politically incorrect.  Using the words “lame,” “crazy,” “man up,” and “thug” are not to be used.  It’s now racist to use the term “calling a spade a spade.”  Things have gotten absolutely insane and it’s probably insensitive of me to even use the word “insane” because it might offend someone with a mental disorder.

I’ve been seeing a new buzzword lately — “self-identify.”  If you self-identify has a “woman” even though you’ve got all your man parts, I have to use pronouns “she” and “her” when speaking to or about you.  If you self-identify as “black” even though your entire lineage is white, that’s ok.  If you’re a woman yet self-identify as a “man,” take hormones and grow a beard and have a baby, you’re a pregnant man.  If you’re a teenager and self-identify as a “female,” you’re entitled to use the women’s bathroom and locker room– even if it makes every other female uncomfortable.  That’s the way America is now.  Again, it’s absolutely insane.

I don’t lean left on any issue so I don’t consider myself “politically correct” or “politically incorrect.”   However, our fearless leader in the White House and the three Democratic hopefuls consider themselves far better people because they’re so much more sensitive than the likes of someone like me.

They all seem to believe that calling terrorists “radical Islamic terrorists” is politically incorrect because including the word “Islam” somehow may offend Muslims who are not terrorists.  They walk on eggshells when they discuss this subject and I actually watched Saturday’s Democratic debates listening to Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley try to explain their refusal to use such terms.  On the one hand, it was quite funny (it could’ve been a SNL skit); on the other hand, it was pathetic because how do any of them expect to be the Commander-in-Chief without identifying the enemy?

The barbarians that terrorized Paris on Friday night self-identify as “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (“ISIS”) or “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (“ISIL” as the empty suit in the White House likes to refer to them).  When they’re about to blow themselves up or kill innocent people they utter the words “Allahu Akbar” – an Islamic phrase meaning “God is greater.”  It isn’t a Catholic, Buddhist, Hebrew, Hindu or Shinto phrase – it’s an Islamic phrase.

My question is this:  If I’m required to call someone a “woman” because that person self-identifies as a “woman” or risk being called insensitive or worse, then why aren’t we required to call radical Islamic terrorists “radical Islamic terrorists” when ISIS self-identifies as “Islamic”?

Bottom line:  Why doesn’t Obama, as well as the three Presidential hopefuls, include the word “Islamic” when referring to these savages who self-identify as Islamic?  Isn’t that the “politically correct” thing to do?

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.