Saturday, January 31, 2015
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Dear Reader (unless you’re Suge Knight, who apparently has bigger problems),
So Jonathan Chait stirred up a lot of sturm und drang this week when he complained aboutpolitical correctness on the left. I read somewhere that he says it’s the most debated thing he’s ever written. That’s probably right, at least on the left, which has gotten its cis-normative panties in a bunch about it.
I am not always a fan of “protest too much” arguments. Sometimes people protest too much because an accusation is so wrong, not because it strikes so close to home. If I publicly call you an incestuous pedophile or the founder of a Michael Bolton fan club and you make a big stink about it, maybe it’s because I hit a nerve, but more likely it’s because it’s not true.
But this isn’t one of those cases, I don’t think. Chait scores some direct hits. Lefties can quibble with some of his examples. And conservatives -- such as our own Kevin Williamson and the Federalist’s Sean Davis -- are absolutely right to complain that Chait is only now complaining after the problem has become inconvenient for him and his liberal friends. Davis writes:
I’m glad Chait has suddenly decided that speech policing is a terrible idea. He’s only a couple hundred years behind the times, but better late than never, I suppose. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s all that sincere about it. In fact, I think he just opposes speech codes when they’re used against him or his fellow travelers. And the reason I think that is because I’ve actually read what Jonathan Chait has written about people on the right who disagree with him. It’s one thing for Jonathan Chait to oppose the practice of using speech codes against Jonathan Chait and his friends, and another thing entirely for Chait to oppose speech codes used against his political opponents.
Yes, yep, yup, you betcha.
But as I wrote in the Corner, I don’t think conservatives should respond solely by beating the dickens out of Chait for his hypocrisy, real or perceived. First, we should all say, “See? We were right. This cancer of ass-hattery is now spreading to all of liberalism.”
Also, we should at least in part be like a good teacher bringing a student along to the Big Conclusion. In other words, we should be saying to Chait, “You’re getting warmer! Keep thinking it through. And if this PC shoot-the-messenger stuff is wrong when they do it to you, maybe it’s also wrong when you do it to us?”
You know, sort of like Hannibal Lecter leading Clarice to the realization of what Buffalo Bill’s really up to.
Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature? What do they do, these left-wing ass-hats you critique?
Clarice Starling: They shout down fellow liberals simply for disagreeing.
Hannibal Lecter: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing they do?
Clarice Starling: Congratulate themselves? Abuse language? Replace words like “seminar” with “ovular”?
Hannibal Lecter: No! They bully. They bully with guilt. That is their nature. And how do we begin to guilt trip, Clarice? Do we seek out things to abuse? Make an effort to answer now.
Clarice Starling: No. We just . . .
Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by morally bullying those close to us, people who will cave in to our cloying hectoring and claims of victimization.
Or something like that.
#page#Checking Karl’s White Privilege
Anyway, I am kind of excited, or at least entertained, by the spectacle of watching the Left eat itself. It’s like a terrible virus escaped from a lab at Brown University and is now spreading across the country, island hopping from campus to campus and beyond (I don’t merely mix metaphors, I put them in a salad spinner). My buddy James Lileks writes about how left-wing students at Berkeley (sort of redundant, I know) are starting to turn on Marx, not because of his potted theories of the dialectic, his crude reductionism of man to homo economicus, or even the fact that he set the foundation for turning the 20th century into an abattoir. No, Marx is bad because he’s just another dead white guy. The students write in the school paper:#ad#
We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.
First let me interject by noting that the moment anyone says to you “We are calling for an occupation of syllabi,” you can put your headphones back on and finish watching the latest episode of Gotham, because nothing that follows will be worth your time.
Anyway, they go on to gripe that Marx worked from the assumption that there are -- or were -- differences between men and women. The madman! The professor’s statement in defense of Marx, that “women give birth while men do not,” was enough to make some students flee the room, no doubt in search of a gender-neutral fainting couch. (“Don’t look at me! I’m all man” -- The Couch).
This is like watching Godzilla stomp across Tokyo and your only complaint is he’s not wearing pants.
And then there was this item from The Week(The National Review feature, not the magazine):
Mount Holyoke College is for women only, but they’re not super strict about the gender thing. According to official guidelines, you don’t need to have the usual anatomical features to be considered female; a student can apply for admission if he or she is “biologically born male; identifies as woman” or even “biologically born male; identifies as other/they/ze and when ‘other/they’ identity includes woman.” So basically, if you’ve ever thought about getting a mani-pedi, you’re in. This pro-transsexual policy is intended to make Mount Holyoke hospitable to all women, no matter how tenuous their gender identity, and now it has resulted in the additional benefit of getting The Vagina Monologues removed from campus. This pudendum-positive theater piece, solemnly recited at colleges nationwide every Valentine’s Day like the Haggadah at Passover, will no longer be performed at Mount Holyoke . . . because it is demeaning to “women” who have penises. The play is demeaning, all right, and so is this campus debate.
This reminds me: Since I brought up The Silence of the Lambs and Buffalo Bill, aren’t we overdue for a reassessment of that film? I mean isn’t Bill really the victim here, forced by an intolerant society to take it into his/her hands to become the woman s/he/ze was meant to be?
More to the point, when you think about it, the really funny part is that we’re still hearing how we conservatives need to get control of ournutjobs and extremists before average Americans will take us seriously. I’ll tell you what: “What.” I’ll also tell you that the typical Joe on the street will find gun rights and the Tenth Amendment reasonable and mainstream long before he gets his head around the idea that The Vagina Monologues is sexist because it lacks wangs in the cast -- and I don’t mean Asians.
China Syndrome Liberalism
Liberalism has been making these sorts of problems for itself for over a hundred years. I won’t bore you with another long rant about liberalism’s Faustian bargain with philosophical pragmatism, but I will bore you with another short rant about it. Progressives adopted pragmatism as a technique designed to delegitimize all competing ideologies. All philosophical opposition to progressivism, the pragmatists argued, was really grounded in naked self-interest. You don’t like the free market because you think it’s empirically superior or because you value freedom. You like the free market, quoth the progressives, because you benefit from it. This was Charles Beard’s wildly influential (and thoroughly debunked) claim about the Founding Fathers: They were just a bunch of rich white Christians protecting their economic privilege. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, the Progressives claimed that they were just empiricists and problem-solvers using science and the “experimental method” to find the best policies. Everyone else was a dogmatist or an ideologue. You can boil down vast swaths of leftwing egg-headery to this simplistic argument. Critical legal studies, critical race studies, Marxist notions of “false consciousness,” the Frankfurt school, etc: They’re all variations of the claim that the existing power structure -- or even just inconvenient arguments -- are nothing more than rationalizations of privilege, usually white-male privilege. By the way, such claims are not always wrong, but they are seldom right.
Saying everybody who disagrees with you does it because of some ideological spell or narrow self-interest is a great trick if you can pull it off, and ironically enough, Jonathan Chait is arguably the foremost champion of this charade. (Other than the current president of the United States).
#page#Among the problems with this con is the fact that it leaves liberalism almost completely defenseless against the exact same kind of argument when it sneaks up on it from the Left. That’s what’s so hilarious about the attack on Marx as just another marcher in the long parade of the pale-penis people. For generations, liberals saw things primarily through an economic lens. And from that perspective, Marx wasn’t part of the problem bequeathed to us by the DWEMs (Dead White European Males); he was part of the solution. But now that race and gender trump economics, he’s being reassigned to the same dustbin of history along with Plato and Shakespeare.
It’s amazing. We spent a century trying to explain to the Left why Marx was wrong. It just never occurred to us to try “He’s a white guy!” It should have been obvious. It’s like we spent hours trying to hack their computer and then suddenly someone suggests trying “password” as the password -- and voila.#ad#
What was I saying? Oh, right: Because pragmatic liberalism (deceitfully) claims no ideological principles save the greater good, it has few defenses when it’s ideological principles are attacked, particularly from within. If good is simply defined by what (liberal) people at any given moment think good is, all questions become contests of power. Bertrand Russell understood this as early as 1909, when he wrote that if everyone becomes a pragmatist, then “ironclads and Maxim guns must be the ultimate arbiters of metaphysical truth.” Russell’s point was that there’s nothing within pragmatism to delineate the proper and just limits of pragmatism. We must look outside pragmatism for truly meaningful definitions of the greater good.
Contra Russell, I don’t actually expect the different factions of liberalism to settle this like the fight scene in Anchorman, as awesome as it would be to watch Amanda Marcotte try to check Jonathan Chait’s privilege with a trident. But these questions won’t be settled by contests of principle either. They’ll be settled with power -- cultural power, electoral power, and social-media power. And at least until Barack Obama’s out of office -- and probably long after that -- Chait’s side of the intramural fight will likely continue to lose. This is because Chait’s position can find no emotional purchase on the left. So many of the responses to him have been “aww poor white guy doesn’t like to be made fun of.” It’s a stupid retort, but it works in a world where the highest goal is to use victim status to bully people.
Near the end of his life Charles Beard started to understand the problem he and the pragmatists had unleashed. By launching a “crusade against standards,” in the words of J. Allen Smith, liberals left themselves ill-equipped to enforce universal standards of their own. “These people are talking the relativism which will ruin liberalism yet,” Beard said of the new generation of liberals. “Don’t they know that the means can make the ends? Don’t they realize that their method of arguing can justify anything? I wish we could find some way of getting rid of conservative morality without having these youngsters drop all morality.”
It seems Chait is learning a similar lesson.
The Return of Sturm und Drang
As M. Night Shyamalan says to himself whenever he’s overwriting a screenplay, let me bring up one last irony. I began by pretentiously mentioning that Chait has stirred up a lot of Sturm and Drang. For those of you who didn’t know, those are the names of the Rottweilers I will train to help me survive the zombie apocalypse. It’s also the name of an 18th-century artistic movement in Germany aimed at pushing back against the Enlightenment. I didn’t intend it when I started, but it’s a pretty apt description for the forces on the left these days. According to the Sturm und Drang-ers, the Enlightenment was too rational, too empirical, too universal in its ideals. It reduced important questions to tests of reason, principle, and fact. The German Romantics (or proto-Romantics if you want to be a pest) preferred passion and emotion and self-expression. Artistically, Sturm und Drang was all about appealing to emotions and shocking audiences, not appealing to reason and rightly formed consciences. They responded to cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) with caleo ergo sum (I feel therefore I am).
(I’m sure many of you will correct my Latin if caleo is the wrong word.)
Well, that’s pretty much what the identity-politics crowd is all about. Away with your biology textbooks and medical definitions! If I feel like a woman, that is what I am. Your facts are useless against me! You may think you’re marshaling superior arguments, but all I hear is mansplaining! I don’t care that you’re descended from dirt-poor serfs who came to this country long after slavery ended, you’re white and that’s all I need to know! You must atone! And any claims to the contrary are just efforts to reinforce your privilege! Heed my trigger warnings or face my wrath!
#page#Verschiedene und Sonstige (AKA Various & Sundry)
Things are changing. Why, at this moment, fly DNA is rewriting my whole genetic makeup. If you thought it was no picnic watching me eat before, just give it a day or two. No, that’s not right. What I mean to say is that the Tattaglia’s are backing Virgil Sollozzo’s push to sell drugs in our territory! (“Tattaglia’s a pimp! How many times do I have to tell you? It’s Barzini!” -- The Couch.) No, that’s not it, either. I know: The leader of our cheerleading squad has been stealing all of our best routines from the public-school girls. If we’re going to win nationals this year, we’re really going to have to bring it.#ad#
No, none of that is right. Now I remember. Very, very soon NRO will be undergoing the Mother of All Redesigns. As the founding editor of NRO, let me tell you with adamantine certainty that some of you will complain about it. That is the nature of redesigns. But this was a long time coming. I mean we don’t even have a search engine these days. When I want to find an old article, I have to rub its scent on an intern’s nose and say “fetch.”
But I am confident that you will also appreciate how much time and thought went into this redesign. And, if you complain too much, please take note of the death-ray feature we had installed.
Zoë Update: So we’re in the homestretch. The Fair Jessica returns Monday and my forced and intensive bonding with the dingo will wind to a close. She’s been on the best behavior of her short life these last few days, and I’m afraid to jinx it. I fear it might be because she’s sick. She’s still full of energy when it comes to wrasslin’ dogs and chasing squirrels, but she seems to have a cold. The only evidence I have for this is that she sleeps a lot more and is sneezing a lot, which she did in my mouth yesterday morning as a novel way to wake me up. That was only the second-worst animal related thing that has happened to me this week. The worst was when my iPhone fell in the cats’ litter box while I was cleaning it. Anyway, here she is sulking, post-bath. And here she is getting her compensation for the pain and suffering.
Not Islamic either, part deux
By Scott Johnsonon Sat, 31 Jan 2015
When he ran for president in 2008, then-Senator Obama castigated the Bush administration for taking his eye “off the ball.” “The ball” was the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Looking back on the campaign, Obama noted: “I talked frequently during this campaign that we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq. And now it’s done. My job is to withdraw in a responsible way from Iraq and stabilize the situation there. But our real focus has to be on Afghanistan, the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we have to put as much pressure on them as possible.”
Having lost its use as a cudgel with which to beat Bush and Republicans, Obama himself has taken his eye off the ball. He seems to think we are at peace with the Taliban. He no longer even recognizes the Taliban as a terrorist organization.
Obama’s spokesmen are bending themselves into pretzels to keep up appearances. White House spokesman Eric Schultz made himself a laughingstock on Wednesday as he stood up for the Taliban as “an armed insurrection” rather than a terrorist group earlier this week. (He was explaining why our trade of five Taliban terrorists detained in Gitmo for Bowe Bergdahl was A-okay.)
White House spokesman Josh Earnest did it again on Thursday at greater length. See if you can follow this, per RCP:
At today’s briefing Josh Earnest seemed to double down on the rhetoric by tip-toeing around the term ‘terrorist group.” Earnest used phrases like “this description that you have put forward” and “designating them in a way that you have described.”
Earnest did finally say the Taliban “has resorted to terror tactics,” but qualified that they have “principally been focused on Afghanistan.”
“It is important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda,” Earnest told Karl. “The Taliban has resorted to terror tactics, but those terror tactics have principally been focused on Afghanistan.”
Earnest also called the Taliban a “dangerous organization.”
Earnest also drew a distinction between how the U.S. handles the Taliban and how the U.S. views al Qaeda.
“What the president has pursued is a clear strategy for building up a central government in Afghanistan and the Afghan Security Forces so that they can be responsible for security in their own country and take the fight to the Taliban,” Earnest said. “That, however, is different than the strategy that we have pursued against al Qaeda — al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that has aspirations that extend beyond just the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
“There are no doubts that both these organizations are dangerous and have drawn our attention,” Earnest added.
“So if I am hearing you correctly you are saying the Taliban engages in ‘tactics akin to terrorism,’ but you don’t actually consider them a terrorist group,” Karl attempted to confirm.
They have a different classification,” Earnest said. “They have a classification that does allow us to pursue financial sanctions against them that have succeeded in limiting their capability that have been effective.”
Earnest again differentiated the two, saying the Taliban “is different than an organization like al Qaeda that has much broader global aspirations to carry out acts of violence and acts of terror against Americans and American interests all around the globe.”
Roll Call’s video of the exchange (below) runs for three minutes.
This is a useful companion to Earnest’s explanation for the administration’s disavowal of the term “radical Islam” to describe the ideology of our terrorist enemies.
Forgive me for repeating myself as I reiterate that the Obama administration has degenerated rapidly into a clown show. It may be a clown show that falls into the killer clown horror genre, but still it’s some kind of a clown show.
Obama Drops the Pretense of Bipartisanship
By Ted Bromundon Sat, 31 Jan 2015
Let’s be grateful to President Barack Obama. In his State of the Union address, he dropped the pretense of bipartisanship and, by siding with the progressives, gave the nation what it needs: a clear choice. That’s the true American way.
One of the most tiresome things about the first six years of President Obama’s tenure was his fake bipartisanship. He often offered to work with the opposition, provided it was reasonable. But since to him only his own ideas are reasonable, the offer was meaningless.
His pretense was popular because it appealed to our love of bipartisanship: Americans like the idea that reasonable people can agree on the solutions to the contentious moral issues at the heart of politics. We’re a nation of problem solvers, and for the most part it’s served us well.
But politics aren’t like that. They’re about dilemmas to be handled and principles to be applied, not problems to be solved. Because of that, permanent victories are rare. Permanent battles are the norm. We say we want bipartisanship, but fortunately we don’t act that way.
A good bit of the democratic world does. In much of Europe, for example, politics have become extremely consensual. There are still political parties, but the differences between them have shrunk to the vanishing point. Germany is governed by a “grand coalition” of Christian Democrats and socialists; Britain by a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
But the best example of consensus politics in Europe comes from Sweden, where in December, six parties agreed to support the center-left government. Sweden’s prime minister said this was an example of the country’ “proud tradition” of working together.
That sounds nice. But actually, the deal was done to keep the Sweden Democrats, a populist party that wants to reduce welfare spending on immigration, from holding the balance of power. That’s politics when it’s dominated by a clubby, liberal establishment that denies choices which fall outside their narrow, approved range.
Of course, Sweden, Germany and Britain have parliamentary systems, and we don’t. But clubby consensus isn’t a product of a particular system: in the 1980s, across parliamentary Western Europe, you could vote communist. We have more lively politics here because our elite isn’t as dominant as the European one, and so hasn’t succeeded in smothering our differences.
And thank goodness for that. The clash of opinions isn’t guaranteed to produce truth, but elite agreement is almost certain to produce error. From campaign finance reform to the Vietnam War, some of our greatest failures have been backed by a political consensus.
In Europe, too, consensus breeds pushback. Across the continent, it’s spawning opposition parties — from the U.K. Independence Party to the anti-austerity Syriza in Greece — precisely because the establishment consensus is so narrow.
Nor has our lack of consensus been bad, on the whole, for America. True, the political warfare between the White House and Congress has hurt our military. But it’s helped to hold down spending and taxation and reduced the number of new laws, which is good for the private sector. Even the administration’s love of rule by administrative pen hasn’t eliminated that advantage.
What the president did last week was to offer a clear choice, without the rhetoric of phony bipartisanship. His party has suffered unprecedented losses. He came out punching with proposals designed not to pass, but to control the agenda and trip up conservatives.
That’s a good thing. For while the American people say they want bipartisanship, standing by your principles isn’t the sign of a broken system. It’s the sign of a genuinely competitive system that works — for all Americans.
Is Ben Carson a Man of Destiny?
John L. Chapman
The new 114th Congress and its looming battles with President Obama over budget priorities, health care, immigration, and challenges abroad will soon be subsumed by the handicapping and daily volley of news regarding the 2016 presidential race, which has effectively begun. While early polls show familiar public figures atop them – names such as Bush, Clinton, and Romney – political newcomer Ben Carson begins the year poised to make a serious run at the Oval Office. A former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon risen to world renown from inner city Detroit poverty, Dr. Carson has never before run for elective office. But he's almost ideally positioned to capture the White House, a fact missed entirely by "experts."
Beltway insiders deride Dr. Carson as a total outsider with no chance: never before in U.S. history has someone like him achieved the presidency. Indeed only three men outside politics have been elected president, but in each case they were well-known as Army generals and war heroes: Zachary Taylor (1848), Ulysses S. Grant (1868), and Dwight Eisenhower (1952). Further, dating to 1788, examination of major party losers who were outsiders in presidential elections yields only Wendell Willkie, the GOP standard-bearer in 1940 (well-known U.S. Army generals lost as major-party nominees in 1852, 1864, and 1880, respectively; more recently, Ross Perot was a notable outsider in 1992, though not major party-backed).
But an examination of the current scene set against who Dr. Carson is and what he stands for vis-à-vis all other politician-candidates offers a real possibility that the long march to determine the 45th U.S. president could end in a world-historical upset and huge mandate.
Carson's rise to prominence followed his 2013 keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he candidly assessed the shortcomings of current policies with President Obama sitting six feet away. After a Wall Street Journal editorial noted the speech with favor, citing Dr. Carson's favoring a 10%-flat tax, market-based health care ideas, and his attack on the disingenuous political correctness now stifling Beltway discourse, his popularity surged. Thus began months of speaking engagements, media commentary and his sixth book, along with an outpouring of encouragement from voters. And, a grass-roots draft movement has raised $13 million, generating a gargantuan list of potential donors to any eventual campaign.
Remarkably, from a cold start in 2013 and far lower name recognition than conventional politicians, Dr. Carson is third in the latest national polls of potential GOP candidates (trailing Jeb Bush and Chris Christie). A December CNN/ORC poll including Mitt Romney placed him second behind Romney, and several Public Policy Polling state-level polls have shown Dr. Carson with outright leads in states as diverse as Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania (where Messrs. Bush and Romney are tied for second), tied with Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, and a strong second or third in others – again, with name recognition well below all rivals.
The more voters learn about him, the more they like him. His most recent book, One Nation (Sentinel, 2014), a New York Times Bestseller, has far out-sold Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices, which appeared three weeks later (Carson's 2012 book is also outselling Mrs. Clinton's 2014 offering). A key reason for his burgeoning popularity is one that pundits have completely overlooked: far beyond his compelling life story and rise from poverty to globally-famous brain surgeon, Dr. Carson is seen as deeply authentic in a world full of phonies, and in tune with the American people on a host of major issues. While insiders consider Carson's outsider "novice" status a liability both for fund-raising and electability, voters increasingly see in him the one potential president who could both unite a fractured electorate and return the country to sustainable prosperity. His secret? In Reaganesque fashion, Dr. Carson sees life as up-versus-down, not left-versus-right as most do.
While details of his policies have yet to be fleshed out, both in his speaking and written commentary Dr. Carson, a keen student of American and world history, shows an acute understanding of a flourishing economy's drivers: reasonable levels of taxation in a non-distortive flat-rate system, sound money, unleashed entrepreneurial risk-taking, lessened burdens of job-killing regulation, and unrestricted trade. Altogether, these will induce an explosion of job- and wealth-creating investment in the U.S. economy.
Additionally Dr. Carson, recently returned from a foreign policy-developing trip to Israel, understands that only a vibrant U.S. economy can guarantee the continued unassailable strength of American military and naval power in a dangerous world.
Given his philosophy and authenticity, Dr. Carson would enter the Oval Office as only the third president since 1900, after Presidents Coolidge and Reagan, with an unambiguous commitment to a reduced federal footprint in American life. Critics will charge that potential spending cuts show a lack of concern for sacred pillars of social policy including health care and education. However, in both areas media-inflamed dissatisfaction could find resolution in his reform ideas, borne of an historic career as a neurosurgeon in one of the world's finest health care facilities and the Carsons' singular efforts to promote better educational outcomes for disadvantaged youths via their in-school Carson Scholars Fund programs, which have materially helped thousands.
To these disadvantaged students and indeed all Americans, Dr. Carson offers an inspiring vision of hope and opportunity garnered from the seminal lessons of his own life: that, regardless of one's station or origin, skin color or creed, the most important person in determining one's future is the individual himself. And, a free society with a growing economy provides boundless opportunities and enables success for all who desire it – this is in fact the central message the Founders wished to convey to future Americans and to the world. It's a maxim people never tire of both hearing and wanting to leverage, and one Carson viscerally apprehends like no other American politician since Mr. Reagan.
Will Dr. Carson run? An announcement is months away, but he is preparing as if he will. Can he win, as a total outsider? Following the deep policy errors of two successive presidencies led by consummate insider politicians and big-government proponents, voters crave both authenticity and return to a sustained prosperity that only ensues from a dynamic private sector. Knowing the political class has failed them, voters understand the country is beset with deep challenges, antidotes for which perhaps only a unifying outsider can provide, via a return to smaller-government policies that work – policies employed by Messrs. Coolidge and Reagan that need repassage.
For the GOP faithful, electability hinges on their nominee being able to break into the Democrats' lock on 242 Electoral Votessince 1992 (these 18 states and the District of Columbia: CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, MA, ME, MI, MD, MN, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, WA, WI, VT). An authentic outsider following a pro-growth, pro-prosperity and pro-national security agenda could unite the country and deliver big congressional majorities needed to implement the requisite policy mix. In the months ahead, it might well become manifest that Dr. Carson is likely the only candidate who can do this, and may therefore be the man for the hour.
Mr. Chapman is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and principal at Hill & Cutler Co.
Breitbart News asked Paul—flanked by the new addition to his campaign team, Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri—for his thoughts on Mitt Romney bowing out of the 2016 GOP presidential contest at the Friday evening press conference held at the Renaissance Hotel.
“I supported and campaigned for him when he won the nomination in the fall,” Paul said of Romney. “I think he’s a great man personally, a great businessman, I think he would have run this country a lot better than this president. But he didn’t get enough electoral votes. I think what it’s going to take is something reaching beyond. There’s nothing that I’m saying is wrong, but it’s just got to be that plus something if we’re going to win a big election. I wish him well, and he’s somebody who I met several times and I have a great deal of respect for him and his wife.”
Another reporter asked Paul if he’d like to receive Romney’s endorsement in the 2016 GOP primary, should he decide to run.
“Sure,” Paul responded. “But I’m guessing it would be difficult to get and he may not get involved until the primary sorts itself out. I could be wrong, but yeah, I’d want the endorsement of any prominent Republican.”
At that point, another reporter asked for Paul’s thoughts on what Romney leaving the race after originally flirting with it means for the 2016 field. That’s when he lit into Clinton.
“I think it indicates there’s going to be some new candidates—quite a few new candidates—when this thing shapes up,” Paul said. “And it may be a great deal of contrast sort of between today’s news and yesterday’s news. I think Hillary Clinton is, in some ways, a blast from the past, in the sense that I really think she represents policies that are outmoded and not really forward thinking.”
Paul is giving the keynote speech at the Dallas County GOP’s Reagan Day dinner late Friday night on a swing through Texas this weekend.Read More Stories About:
No doubt because of my background investigating, prosecuting, and studying terrorism, the cynical claim by White House spokesmen that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization has annoyed me even more than the Obama administration’s nonstop lying usually does. No surprise then that I could be found railing about it on The Kelly FileThursday night.
In that spirit, ten thoughts for the weekend:
1. Under federal law, there are only three requirements for a group to qualify as a “foreign terrorist organization”: It has to be (a) foreign, (b) engaged in “terrorist activity” (bombings, assassinations, etc., carried out to intimidate people and change policy), and (c) a national-security threat to the United States. The law that covers this is Sec. 1189(a) of Title 8, U.S. Code, from the federal Immigration and Nationality Act. It’s here, and it’s just the first few lines — even a president who routinely ignores the laws he is sworn to execute faithfully should be able to make some time for it, maybe on the plane ride between the golf course and the Saudi palace.
2. Obviously, even if it were true, as posited by Messrs. Schultz and Earnest (speaking for President Obama), that the Taliban is concerned only with Afghanistan, not with the global jihad, that would be irrelevant. They easily fit the definition of a foreign terrorist organization.
3. Of course, it is not true that the Taliban is concerned only with Afghanistan. The administration’s risible claim to the contrary is part of its campaign to bleach the Islam out of radical Islam. Islamic supremacism, the ideology that fuels jihadist terror, is a global conquest ideology. Obama wants you to believe that there is just a dizzying array of small, disconnected, strange-sounding, indigenous “insurgent” groups that are not joined by any unifying ideology — the Afghan Taliban (not to be confused with the Pakistani Taliban), Hamas, Hezbollah, the Haqqani Network, Boko Haram, al-Nusra, Ansar al-Sharia, the sundry jihadist franchises that invoke al-Qaeda’s name (in the Arabian Peninsula, in the Islamic Maghreb, in the Indian subcontinent . . . ), and so on. You are not to see them as a united front against the West, but instead as animated by strictly parochial political and territorial disputes. The strategy, a disingenuous elevation of semantics over substance, is designed to minimize the global jihadist threat to the West that has intensified on Obama’s watch and has undeniable roots in a supremacist interpretation of Islam.
4. You need not take my word for it when it comes to the Taliban’s ideological connection to the global jihad. Instead, just look at what they do. What did the Taliban do when they ruled Afghanistan? They willfully allowed their territory to be used as a launch pad for attacks against the United States (the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa, the 2000 bombing of the Cole, and the 9/11 atrocities). And after 9/11, when, by simply handing bin Laden & Co. over to the United States, they could have stayed in power and avoided an invasion of the Afghanistan they are said to be preoccupied with, what did they do? At enormous cost to themselves, they tried to shelter al-Qaeda. In the 14 years since, they have continued to abet the global jihadist campaign, and have reveled in making war against the United States — a war they now understandably think they will win.
5. The Taliban’s continued alliance with al-Qaeda’s global jihad is of a piece with Hamas’s self-proclaimed incorporation in the Muslim Brotherhood’s global ambitions, and with the forward-militia role Hezbollah plays for Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolutionary state that exports its Shiite version of jihad. All of these actors perceive themselves as enmeshed in a civilizational struggle against the West. We can’t erase that by pretending there is no animating ideology, pretending that they can be pacified if we satisfy their local grievances.
Friday, January 30, 2015
At an event this morning, Vice President Joe Biden told Democrats that, "To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country."
"And they've been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel]. They've been really tough for our party. And together we made some really, really tough decisions -- decisions that weren't at all popular, hard to explain," said Biden.
Biden was speaking at the House Democratic Caucus retreat in Philadelphia.
In case you missed it earlier this week, the White House is now trying to argue that the Taliban is a not a terrorist organization but rather an "armed insurgency."
Just one day after White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz made that claim, three Americans were killed in Afghanistan by members of the Taliban.
The Afghan-based organization on Friday to credit for an attack that killed three American contractors and said it was carried out by a fighter who had infiltrated Afghanistan's security forces.
The attack came Thursday evening at a military base at Kabul's international airport, and also left one Afghan dead. The Taliban's claim of responsibility came in a message on Friday from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who identified the attacker as a man named "Hessanullha," from Laghman province, just east of Kabul. Hessanullha "penetrated into the security forces and was waiting for such a target for a long time," Mujahid said.
"Yesterday in the evening he managed to get to a crowd of invading and infidel American military forces where he turned his gun towards them and opened fire," he added. "During the gun battle, Ehsanullah was also killed by the enemy."
As Conn reported yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to clarify Schultz' remarks, saying the Taliban carries out acts "akin to terrorism," but would not concede they are in fact a terrorist group.
As a reminder, the Taliban has been classified as a terrorist organization since 2002.
Tuesday White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden noted that the Taliban was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) by executive order in July 2002, even if it is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the State Department. Either designation triggers asset freezes, according to the State Department, though they can differ on other restrictions imposed on the target organization. The Treasury Department told ABC News the Taliban is still on their SDGT list.