ISIS/ISIL

The Dance (Trumping the Line Fantastic)

Detail of cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, via Daily Kos, 9 December 2015.

Vicki Needham of The Hill offers this glimpse:

A top Senate Republican called Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States a “huge mistake” that would fuel terror recruitment in the United States.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the move could damage vital alliances in the region.

“I think this sends the wrong message to people that have to be part of our partnership for a solution,” Burr said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“Yes, it does serve as fuel [for recruitment].”

Indeed; it’s a point Lalo Alcaraz made quite clearly last week.

(more…)

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Unsurprising Cowardice (Leadership)

The shadow over Congress, and Mitch McConnell.

In February, Republicans said no to an Authorization for Use of Military Force specifically crafted to address Daa’ish because it wasn’t a big enough war. And while Republican presidential candidates might be lining up to take it out on Syrian refugees and Muslims both at home and around the world, the one thing they won’t do, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is grant an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Daa’ish.

“The president obviously feels he has the authority now to do what he’s doing,” McConnell said. “And the discussions with Democrats on AUMF make it clear that the only kind of AUMF they would support is one that would include such micromanagement of the military exercise as how many troops you could have, how long they could stay, and all of this.

“I would not want to saddle the next president with a prescriptive AUMF. We’re going to have a new president a year from now,” McConnell continued. “He or she may have a different view about the way to deal with ISIS and that part of the world. I don’t think we ought to be passing an AUMF as the president exits the stage when he already thinks he has the authority to do what he’s willing to do now.”

(Lesniewski)

This is a weird back and forth; as near as anyone can tell, the Obama administration is operating in the Levantine Theatre under the auspices of the same post-9/11 AUMF that saw President Bush invade Iraq. We are, essentially, living in the time of perpetual warfare authorized fourteen years ago.

(more…)

Something About Obama, Something About Putin (Jung on Rye Remix)

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and iconic closet homosexual Vladimir Putin (background).

Narrative counts.

Steve Benen offers the setup:

By late 2014, Republican affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the wane. After months of gushing praise for the autocratic leader, American conservatives saw Putin struggling and isolated, prompting his GOP fan club in the United States to fall quiet.

That is, until a few months ago, when the Russian president deployed forces to Syria, rekindling the American right’s love. Republican White House hopefuls once again praised Putin’s bold “leadership,” as did like-minded pundits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin argued, “In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle.”

Remind me, how’s that working out for the Russian president?

The punch line, of course, being: About as well as you would expect.

And, well, you know me; any chance to pick on Jennifer Rubin. The title of her October entry―and I shite thee not―is, “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”.

Still, though, this thing with Republicans and Putin is even more embarrassing than the bit about a young Jung finding a dirty thrill in his admiration for the maestro Freud.

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Benen, Steve. “Obama again gets the last laugh against Putin”. msnbc. 11 December 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”. The Washington Post. 1 October 2015.

A Perfect Way to Ruin Your Day (Light Bulb Belfry Remix)

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), left, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), right, speak with reporters at the Capiol, 11 December 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If I tell you that the headline above Scott Eric Kaufman’s report for Salon yesterday reads, “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”, and would, unfortunately, seem a reasonably accurate description of the wisdom proffered by Our Lady Light Bulb, do any of us really need me to post the detail?

Or is this one of those occasions we can trust that you will click and read, or not, according to your inclination?

Because it really is sickening.

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Image note: Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Michele Bachmann: Refugees coming to America in order to commit ‘rape jihad’ against non-Muslim women and girls”. Salon. 30 November 2015.

The Szubin Question (Forty-Seven Rise Again Remix)

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) speaks with reporters before the Senate luncheons in the Capitol, 15 May 2012. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“It’s grossly irresponsible of McConnell and his colleagues to keep government from doing what they say it should do: operate efficiently and protect its citizens.”

Jonathan Bernstein

Perhaps some recall an occasion not so long ago when the United States faced such a potential health crisis that small-government conservatives, Republicans who purport to disdain the idea of an American czar, called for President Obama to appoint a new policy czar to deal with Ebola.

The White House, Democratic supporters, and many others pointed out that the Senate could start by simply confirming the nominated Surgeon General; Vivek Murthy’s nomination languished for over a year because Republicans objected to the idea that gunshot wounds are a health issue.

With a potential health crisis pitching Republicans into panic, they sought another executive-appointed czar, instead of confirming a qualified nominee to lead the uniformed service whose job it is to respond to public health threats.

The president already has a “czar” to deal with Daa’ish; his name is Brett McGurk, and last month he replaced Gen. John Allen (USMC, Ret.) as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL”, but he also needs his Undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, currently occupied as an interim appointment for over two hundred days because Senate Republicans refuse to slate his confirmation hearing.

Szubin’s nomination got a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 17, and Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) praised his past work in countering terrorist financing during his time with both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“He is eminently qualified for this,” Shelby said at the time.

But Szubin’s nomination hasn’t moved since. There’s no clear reason why, beyond trying to make it difficult for President Barack Obama to fill administration posts.

“Treasury must have in place an experienced watchdog, with the know-how and authority to lead U.S. efforts to track and choke off the financial lifeblood of terrorist organizations,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, said Wednesday. “Republicans in Congress need to stop holding our national security apparatus hostage to political demands, and allow Adam Szubin and other national security nominees to be approved as soon as possible.”

A Shelby spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that Republicans recently lined up a confirmation vote on a separate nominee, Gayle Smith, for USAID administrator, but couldn’t say when Szubin might move.

Stewart dinged Democrats for “politicizing Paris” with this week’s push on stalled national security nominees.

(Bendery)

(more…)

The Ben Carson Show (America)

Ben Carson and the United States of America: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While not everything wrong with Ben Carson’s presidential campaign can be pinned directly on the good doctor, his own inability to communicate with others while respecting reasonable bounds of reality has left many questioning whether or not the man who believes so many absurd notions about history, science, and humanity is smart enough to be president of anything. And in that context, no, the latest failure of his campaign staff just doesn’t help.

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Recognizing that “too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens,” National Geographic created this annual observance to “raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education.”

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign inadvertently underscored this point Tuesday night, when it took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error.

(Ingraham)

Dr. Carson doesn’t help his assertion of Christian virtue with bigotry and cruelty toward war refugees; he certainly doesn’t help his assertion of presidential competence by losing track of New England.

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Image note: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Ingraham, Christopher. “Ben Carson’s campaign made a U.S. map and put a bunch of states in the wrong place”. The Washington Post. 18 November 2015.

FOX News and Fear

Megyn Kelly of FOX News, left; career traitor and moron Morten Storm, right.  (Credit: FOX News via Salon.com)

It is a prediction both grim and petty. FOX News calls in a career gangbanger to predict terrorism:

Not that Fox News is committed to providing fuel for elderly white people’s nightmares or anything, but on “The Kelly File” last night, host [Megyn] Kelly spoke to a former al Qaeda terrorist who said that a terror attack on United States soil is immanent — likely within the next two weeks.

“The people who are on the run at the moment from ISIS in Europe are very desperate, and they know their time’s up, and they will need to do as much damage as possible,” ex-terrorist and CIA double-agent Morten Storm told Kelly.

“I believe that copycats in America will do their best to do what their brothers have done in Europe,” he added. “I believe that within the next two weeks, we will have an attack.”

“In these people’s mind,” Kelly said, “America is the real trophy.”

(Kaufman)

Note the essential lack of any useful detail. Here’s the thing: Certes, an attack in the next two weeks is possible; this is an easy suggestion to make when your job is fearmongering.

But what is the standard? To the one, we might look ahead eight days to Thanksgiving, acknowledge a long weekend, and pray―if one is inclined to prayer―for Chicago, where the Labor Day weekend saw nine dead and forty-six wounded, Independence Day weekend racked up another nine bodies and fifty-three wounded, and the Memorial day weekend counted twelve dead and forty-four injured. We certainly have reason to wonder what misery the Windy City will find while giving thanks. By Storm’s standard, if even one of the shooters decides to claim Daa’ish affiliation he is right and FOX News gets another feather in their cap.

To the other, we might consider Chicago and the basic idea of regular, terrifying violence. True, it’s not specifically relevant to Storm’s prediction, but the question demands: If we are so worried that Daa’ish can strike even one American in the homeland, why are we not coordinating a massive societal response to the terror and death of more traditional American violence?

Or is that the point? That guns and pride and murder are traditional American values?

Statistically speaking, in my lifetime, the people who are most dangerous to me are white Christian males.

Nor am I unique, or even unusual.

Nor do we treat Christians as so many Americans would have us treat Muslims.

And, you know, what the hell is the deal, here? How does being a career moron and traitor qualify Morton Storm as a terror expert? And what about his FOX News analysis isn’t lowering the bar for expertise?

Two weeks? This better be a hell of a spectacle.

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Image note: FOX News host Megyn Kelly, left; career traitor and terrorist washout Morten Storm, right. (Image: FOX News via Salon)

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Be very, very afraid: Megyn Kelly talks to former terrorist who predicts attack on US soil within two weeks”. Salon. 18 November 2015.

Nothing That Requires Your Attention

Le Bataclan in Paris, France.  The concert hall was the site of a mass-murder terror operation on 13 November 2015.

This is just a reminder, a marker laid for myself. An idea flickers, dances, swirls. It is still a blur, but as with any such idea one feels more than comprehends it.

Says me: It’s too soon to pick this fight.

Says the other: Bullshit. It was past due long before this chapter opened.

And as I watch and hear the people in my society who tell us it is of a certain nature betray that condition, the reasons to wait melt away.

So I remind myself. Do not forget.

#ParisLives.

Essential Reading: Daa’ish Winter

Emad Mostaque offers reflection on Daa’ish and Islam, for Reuters:

The Eiffel Tower is lit with the colors of the French flag in Paris on Nov. 16, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)Yet, just as it is clear that Daesh is not Shi’ite because it rejects key elements of Shi’ite Islam — and actually hates Shi’ites with a passion — its views are not within Sunni orthodoxy. This is not to say that Daesh is not Muslim according to Sunni orthodoxy. For most Muslims, their religion is a matter of belief and not actions. Even murderers or pedophiles, for example, are still regarded as Muslims — though they commit terrible crimes and are awful human beings.

Yet Daesh goes one step beyond: It declares those who disagree with its views as non-Muslim. It labels them heretics based on their actions, not their beliefs. Muslims who do not follow the views Daesh professes are its main targets — and most frequently its key victims.

Daesh particularly targets refugees. They are most despised because they are fleeing from its professed utopia. So, Daesh welcomes calls in Europe to close borders because it feeds into its agenda. It also sees overflowing refugee camps as ideal sources of future recruits because it seeks to serve as their primary source of employment, much as Hamas does in Gaza.

This is essential reading.

No, really. Consider a question: How can Daa’ish expect to have Jesus Christ on their side?

Like I said, essential reading.

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Image note: The Eiffel Tower is lit with the colors of the French flag in Paris on Nov. 16, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Mostaque, Emad. “Islamic State and the ‘management of savagery'”. Reuters. 17 November 2015.

The Marco Rubio Show (Aid and Comfort)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

“George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had ‘hijacked Islam’ in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.”

Peter Beinart

There really is nothing like giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Or, rather, this is how you run for president in 2016 if you are a Republican.

Peter Beinart of The Atlantic dissects the Florida junior’s remarks regarding the Paris terror, a case study in getting everything wrong while running for president.

One would think the general threat Daa’ish presents against humanity would suffice, but for Republicans that isn’t good enough. In February, Congressional Republicans refused a specific authorization for use of military force against Daa’ish because it wouldn’t have been a big enough war for their satisfaction. Meanwhile, Sen. Rubio, whose campaign slogan is itself a war cry, has shown himself something of a dim bulb in questions of foreign policy. Steve Benen notes, “the Republican field is dominated by candidates with no meaningful experience in or understanding of foreign affairs”, and at some point along the way this ought to become a relevant consideration. Whether it means anything to Republican voters at present remains to be seen; whether it means anything when voting starts is an unresolved question. Still, though, the seeming now-more-than-everism among warmongering Republicans is a bit unsettling; if they intend to keep it up through the general, we might also hope they will at some point find a clue. Otherwise, it is all noise and fury, and not even a spark of useful thought.

Something goes here about the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the devastating toll it can incur.

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Image note: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

Beinart, Peter. “​ISIS Is Not Waging a War Against Western Civilization”. The Atlantic. 15 November 2015.

Benen, Steve. “GOP offers a lesson on how not to respond to terrorism”. msnbc. 16 November 2015.