Crusades VS ISIS: What’s the difference?

The President kicked up quite a ruckus last week during the National Pray Breakfast when in his remarks he compared ISIL to the Crusades. 

No really.  First the warm up:

But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.  From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.  We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism  — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions. 

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

So he is clearly putting his remarks in context with events that are occurring now.  But then, the swerve:

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation. 

So all of you people who are part of the coalition that’s fighting the Islamic State, hey, you’re not so great.  You are really as bad as the people you’re bombing.

Some pep talk huh?

I have to admit, I do find that mindboggling. Moral relativism is for academics and unemployed hipsters, not the President. The only reason to try to compare ISIS today with the Crusades centuries ago is to excuse ISIS. In the same week that a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by ISIS, the President feels the need to make a comparison with the Crusades? How does that help the coalition that he ostensibly leads?  Can you imagine FDR making the same comparisons with Hitler’s Germany?

“Troops, before you storm the beaches of Normandy, risking your lives to liberate France, just remember, you are no better than the people you are fighting.  Sure the Nazi’s are killing and enslaving people, but what do you think our country has done?  Massacred Indians enslaved Africans.  Really, we’re no better than the people I’m ordering you to kill.  So get to it!”

Basically the President is saying his side is no better than their side.

At a time in which the insane overreach of the Islamic State has lead to an opportunity to unify the Middle East against the IS, the President blew a chance to make it clear that the west was going to stand with Muslims and others who wished to support it against barbarians.  Instead he brought up the Islamist’s favorite go-to scare story about the West, the Crusades, and condemned his own side for thinking it was better than they were.

 

 

 

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.

 

Free Speech Thoughts by Bill Maher

The post I wrote last week felt naggingly incomplete to me for some reason.  My purpose was to note that President Obama shouldn’t have gone to the Paris march since he of course wasn’t “Charlie” and had a record of being critical of satire aimed at Islam.  And also to note the irony that the world leaders who did show up at the march were not “Charlie” either.  They came from governments that restricted free speech in one way or the other.

It was another grim reminder on how rights can be taken for granted at the same time they are being quietly taken apart.  And this brings me to Bill Maher.

Maher isn’t in any way a favorite of mine, and the last time I watched him with any regularity he had a show on ABC.  Hey I wonder whatever happened to that…  But for someone who is part of the American left in the 21st Century, he still retains a little of the old 20th Century liberal in him.  Gather round children, because you may not believe it, but there was a time when liberals actually favored free speech, even when it wasn’t politically correct!  Even when they opposed the message!  I know, it’s hard to believe huh?

Of course Maher has had more reason than most liberals to care about freedom of expression as a concept, rather than merely as an obstacle that still allows enemies of the left to voice their opinions.  Just a few months ago he was heavily protested by his fellow leftists at a speaking engagement at UC Berkeley.

So it was not quite surprising when I ran across a Daily Caller story about Maher.  The story, written by Daily Caller writer Chuck Ross (who must be single handedly producing ¾ of the Caller’s content), was taken from Maher’s show Real Time in which he criticized  a group trying to organize a boycott of sponsors of the Rush Limbaugh show.  That’s what old time 20th Century liberals would do; defend, in Voltaire-like fashion, speech they hate.  I think Maher would much rather be on the attack Rush side than on the defense, but he’s mad at official liberalism right now so he’s firing back. Wait until he starts defending Palin….

The problem with Maher is that his liberalism hasn’t really evolved since the 1970’s. Liberals used to really care about free speech, and took seriously the Voltarian maxim that I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. But that’s when they perceived themselves as the underdogs against “the establishment.” Now of course, they are the establishment. And guess what? They don’t like free speech. That’s why they want to regulate the internet, regulate political speech, and that’s why they’ve been pushing the doctrine of political correctness. Whatever speech they can’t make illegal, they want to make it unacceptable.

I’ve been surprised just how quickly the left has abandoned free speech.  Social Justice and Identity politics will not compromise with the Bill of Rights.  They demand total allegiance.

Maher is a dinosaur, and when his kind passes over to…well nothingness since he’s an atheist, the only defenders of free speech will be on the right.

 

President Obama isn’t Charlie

“The Future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

President Obama 2012

Hey, is someone missing in that picture?

The President took a lot of heat this week for not showing up for the Paris March last Sunday.  And by heat I don’t mean talk radio, I’m talking about the President’s own Praetorian Guard, the main stream media.  When you lose both Jake Tapper (CNN) and Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC) you’ve goofed big time. But in retrospect, I think it was probably the right move not to show up.  After a few days introspection, I think that March was dishonest and there wasn’t a clear message that the President wanted to get behind.  Sure, I think it could be safely said that Obama opposes massacres of journalists, but he really doesn’t like satire against Muslims in general and Charlie Hebdo in particular.

In response to the publication of anti Islamic cartoons in 2012 by Charlie Hebdo, this was the White House response:

“We have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, while adding “it is not in any way justification for violence.”

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it,” Carney said.

This is pretty much in line with the standard American left view of this, although as I’ve documented previously, the left and the First Amendment parted ways many years ago, and in Europe, it was never much more than a talking point anyway.  It would be hard to explain marching in support of Charlie Hebdo after the President’s histrionics about the YouTube video that the administration claimed caused the Benghazi attack. In that case, the administration tried to pressure YouTube to take down the video.

So much for standing up for free speech.  But let’s face it.  Obama is no more on board with the free expression than the rest of the left.

If President Obama marched in Paris, how would he answer a French Muslim that he’s marching to support free speech to insult his religion while at the same time, it’s a crime to question the Holocaust in France, as well as many other countries in Europe?  That’s why free expression is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.  Once you start creating carve outs to protect some group’s feelings, when do you stop?

Answer:  You don’t.  You only have free speech as long as it’s convenient to the government.  Of course that means that with the changing demographics of France, eventually Blasphemy against Islam will probably be criminalized.

And the French will still think they have freedom of expression.

 

 

 

Cuba on Obama’s Checklist

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts on President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.  On the one hand, having no diplomatic relations with an island 90 miles from Key West seems an archaic relic of the Cold War.  The reasons for having no diplomatic relations and maintaining an economic embargo made sense when the US was engaged in a chess game with the Soviets, but those reasons are largely irrelevant now. We engage in diplomatic relations and economic trade with plenty of other despotic regimes, why not Cuba too?Raul Castro

On the other hand, Cuba is among a handful of countries that are among the worst of the worst in terms of political and economic repression of its own people.  It’s not quite North Korea, but it would like to be if it could.  It’s in the top 16 or so most repressive countries. It just doesn’t seem that it’s the type of country that we should be reaching out to. But President Obama feels differently…  It’s as if standing fast as a brutal dictatorship pays off in getting the US to say Uncle.  Not for the people of Cuba of course, but for the regime.

Cuban politicians of both parties seem none too happy about the move.  That’s surprising in that the Cuban American community seems split, mostly along an older versus younger axis, at least based on TV news reports.  But then most Cuban politicians fall within that older crowd and began their careers with the passions that were totally uncompromising where Cuba was concerned.

I think the timing of it all though, doesn’t make much sense.  We would have been in a much better bargaining position if we had waited until the Castro brothers were dead and buried.  At that point, Cuba would be more open to changes, and would be more open to the political and economic benefits of opening relations with the United States.  But with Obama, I think he just doesn’t care.  It seems that since the election, he’s decided to work off his lefty check list of things to do before leaving power.  And of course, that means ignoring Congress and doing whatever he wants to do.

Although foreign policy and diplomacy is mostly the providence of the Presidency, with Cuba there is a history of US law in the way.  The embargo is codified into law by the Helms-Burton Act, which the President can’t just wave away without Congress repealing or modifying the law.

Or maybe he can.  I dunno, we live in a new age in which the executive seems to be able to ignore laws he doesn’t like.

Other laws that regulate our relations with Cuba include the LIBERTAD Act and the Cuban Democracy Act.  Is Obama going to ignore them all?  Probably so.  He hasn’t seemed to pay any price for ignoring any other law so why not these as well?

Does the news media even care about these laws?  Not that I can tell.  In fact, based on my viewing of at least one of the network news programs, NBC, the primary impact of normalization of relations with Cuba is that American collectors will be able to purchase classic American cars and Cuban owners of those same classic American cars will be able to purchase parts for them from the US.  All illegal under US law of course, but that went unmentioned in the news reports I saw and sadly, probably not thought of as that important a consideration.

 

Some Snags in the Inevitable Decline and Death of the GOP

In the post election stupor that the Democrats find themselves in, The New Republic brought a little good news to the progressive plate; Five Charts That Show Why a Post-White America Is Already here. You don’t actually need all five graphics to see that.  This one explains it clearly enough:

The gist of it is that for children under five, whites are 51 percent of the US population.  Of course I didn’t need a New Republic graph for that.  I’ve known that for years, just based on my children’s classmates at school.  And 2011 became the first year that minority births outnumbered white births.  So the browning of America is baked in the cake, as it were.  Since I frequent political forums, I’m constantly reminded of that on a near daily basis.  Some lefty wag will start off a thread with something like, “since demographics are dooming the Republicans, what will you hate filled white men do now?”   Or some similar statement along those lines.  Like the New Republic, that inevitable day when non white “minorities” outnumber non-Hispanic whites is like a Left Wing Rapture, the start of a new rainbow era of totally left wing political control as far as the eye can see.

But not quite…

The GOP doesn’t need a total demographic flip to be on life support.  Remember, it spent most of the 20th Century as a semi permanent second party. The Democrats were the political party for decades. Of course, they were a much broader coalition then; they had everything from segregationists to fiscal conservatives, trade unionists, to communists. That’s why I don’t necessarily buy the forum leftist’s prescription that the Republicans are necessarily doomed because of demographics. The stupid party doesn’t need a massive demographic change to doom it.  It’s been doomed before.  However there are a lot of trends going on at the same time that make the future of either political party hard to predict.

Will they Democrats broaden their coalition? In the Obama era, they’ve purged most of their moderates and it’s a much more leftward party than it was just 6 years ago. Will that pay off when Obama is out of office? Would a Jim Webb centrist or a Howard Dean leftist have a better chance in a general election?

As the demographics of the country change, are people going to continue to vote in the same percentages of their racial groups as they do now?

Will Whites continue to leave the Democrats for the Republicans? I had previously posted that there has been a pretty steady trend of whites abandoning the Democratic Party for the Republicans. If something were to happen to increase that trend, a Republican Party that dominates the white vote could dominate politically for years.

Will successful Hispanics and Asians want to be locked in with the party of grievance? The identity politics left assumes all people of color (including oddly white Hispanics) will all naturally side with each other against whitey. That of course is the reason that changing the national demographics is so important to the left. But Asians and Hispanics are groups with different factions and are not all locked in to the Democrats the way Blacks are. Japanese Americans are basically indistinguishable from white people in most key indicators. Most Asian groups are on the opposite side of the affirmative action debate since they are punished, not helped by it. They’re also on the opposite side of the shopkeeper/business owner vs rioter situation. For Democrats, being the “Black” party can backfire when some of your other constituents are the people having their stores burned to the ground. I’m wondering how much that impacted the decline in Asian support for Democrats on this last election.

Indians are growing in size and influence among Asians. Who is going to wind up with their loyalties? Right now there are two, count them two, southern Republican Indian-American governors. And this is in what the political forum left regards as the unreconstructed racist south. Since Democrats are un-churched, they don’t understand how religion plays a role…well in anything. The future political Indian-American divide may be among those who are Christians flocking to the Republicans and those who have other or no religions flocking to the Democrats. We see something similar among Korean-Americans. Christian Koreans are far more likely to be Republican that Buddhists or atheists. That’s a dividing line that may be more important to future America than race, however Democrats so discount religion it might be years before they can even consider the possibility.

And like Asians, the Democratic calculus on Hispanics assumes they will want to remain poor in the party of angry grievance. Don’t they think a fair number of people want to “make it?” They want to move to the suburbs, have a white collar job, and just don’t buy that they can never do those things because evil white Republicans are keeping them down.

Contrary to liberal science, Hispanics are an ethnic group and not a racial group. So for those who assimilate, increase their incomes, and intermarry, are they expected to remain loyal to Democrats because of last names?

As you can see, I have more questions than answers on this topic, but I admit it’s more complicated than it’s usually presented.  I agree with the internet leftists that demographics are a major factor, but they are not a determinative one.  The year 2043 doesn’t necessarily mean that the United States automatically becomes the Socialist Rainbow Coalition of America.  There are still a lot of things that can happen between now and then, and we don’t even know what most of them are.

 

Democrats losing the White vote?

Just a few more notes on the elections.

In my last post I started out with this:

Rush Limbaugh was in full on denial mode today, bragging that yesterday’s election result meant that the American people soundly rejected liberalism.  Nu-uh.  All it means is that civic minded Republican voters are more likely to turn out to vote during mid-term elections than young people who only know about the President and not much else…And that will be obvious in 2016 when Republicans, who will have more Senate seats to defend than Democrats, lose the Senate gains they’ve just won.

Just to elaborate on that point a bit, if I were to guess right now, I would guess the electorate would swing right back into the Democratic camp in 2016. There is a big difference between the number of people who show up to vote in the mid-terms and those who show up in Presidential years. Based on the numbers I’ve seen this morning, turn out for this year was even lower than in 2010, which was another big Republican year. So you have a 76 million voter turnout for this year, but in 2012 you had 129 million voters.

That’s about a 50 million voter difference between the midterms and the Presidential voting years. So I suspect GOP gains will be washed away in 2016; particularly since there will be more Republican Senate seats to defend then Democratic ones that year. So all of the Republican high fiving will turn to bitter salty tears two years from now, while the current Democratic rage will turn to Democratic gloating.

And demography continues its relentless march,

But I did stumble across a mind blowing revelation, and hat tip to the Parapundit blog for bringing this to my attention, but according to the New York Times, Democrats have not won the white woman vote since 1992.

Where the white women at?

Apparently trending to the GOP.  And I am surprised that I didn’t know that before now.  For decades I’ve been hearing about the GOP’s gender gap, and I knew it was a phony issue.  I mean overall, if your numbers are down for the woman’s vote, the inverse of that is that the numbers are up for the male vote.  However the media doesn’t frame the question that way.  Why can’t Democrats attract Male votes?  Nobody cares about that although the issue is just as real for the Democrats as any alleged female gender gap for the Republicans,  However there is a resistance in the media to accepting that simple truth, no matter how obvious it is.  Certainly that was the case in reference to the Texas Governor’s race in which a Salon writer regards math showing that Davis didn’t win the female vote as racist. White women stayed away from her.

And whites in general are slowly but surely abandoning the Democrats.  An AP article made this point in an exit poll study:

Across 21 states where Senate races were exit polled, whites broke for the Republican by a significant margin in all but four… 

The shift is particularly acute in the South, where some of the last white Democrats in the House of Representatives lost their seats on Tuesday.

In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan carried just 33 percent of the white vote

In Louisiana, Mary Landrieu captured just 18 percent of the white vote

 Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin captured 43 percent of the white vote in his successful bid for re-election, that’s down 18 points from his support among whites in 2008.

After the 2012 election I wrote a post about this very issue, the gradual re-arranging of the political parties along ethnic and racial lines. Of course I thought then that Democrats still had white women, I didn’t realize that as a group, they had left the Democrats a quarter of a century ago.

How you feel about this I suppose depends on your point of view.  If you are a Democratic strategist, even though turn out failed for the Democrats this year, the long term demographic trends are heartening.  As whites move into a smaller percentage of the electorate, the coalition of everyone else will eventually establish more or less permanent political power.  Although that won’t happen quickly, since whites will still be the single largest group.  They are not exactly fading into that good night just yet.

For me, even though the election was disheartening in a lot of ways, I think presages the end of a modern political democracy and voting based on issues into the realignment of parties drawn along ethnic, racial, and religious lines.  In other words, we’ll become like every other 3rd world crap hole country in which issues are irrelevant, only your tribe matters. To me, that’s a sad end for the American experiment.