President Obama’s Paris Lie And The Tommyboy Effect

No, not THAT Tommyboy, though the photo might not be far off...

No, not THAT Tommyboy, though the photo might not be far off…

In Paris yesterday, President Obama said at a news conference, “I mean, I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries.” It’s a jaw-droppingly false and irresponsible statement, especially since where he made it was just devastated by multiple mass shootings, with ISIS-affiliated terrorists killing random victims in public places with automatic rifles. Just one mass shooting at the Bataclan theater took almost a hundred lives.

The Volokh Conspiracy (now under the auspices of The Washington Post),  as other fact-checking columns have done previously with similar assertions of this sort as Obama has demagogued the gun control issue, definitively rated the statement false:

Is the president’s statement about “other countries” accurate? No. For example, on Nov. 20, 2015, mass shooters attacked a hotel in Mali, murdering at least 19 people.

Although President Obama has relatives in Kenya, his statement suggests a lack of awareness of events there. On April 2, 2015, criminals murdered 142 students at the University College Campus of Garissa, in northeastern Kenya. Among the other mass shootings in Kenya in recent years are those as Lamu (29 murdered, July 5-6, 2014), Mpeketoni (53 murdered, June 15-17, 2014),  Majembeni and Poromoko (15 murdered, two days after Mpekoni) and the Westgate Mall in Nairobi (67 murdered, Sept. 21, 2013)…On Saturday, Boko Haram attackers murdered four people in Nigeria, and four more in Niger. Last weekend, four Egyptian policemen were murdered in a drive-by shooting. As reported by CBS News the day before Thanksgiving, “Two massacres that killed 15 people in less than 12 hours rocked Honduras and left the country’s top cop in tears on Wednesday”…Suppose we accept the president’s implicit premise that “other countries” includes only the most-developed countries of the West. With this limitation, what is the accuracy of his statement that “these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries”? Plainly false, especially considering that the president was speaking in Paris, the site of multiple mass shootings on Nov. 13 and of the Charlie Hebdo mass shootings in January.

Of course it’s false. It is also, to be blunt, stupid, given the locale, and also unpresidential for a leader to be criticizing one’s own nation overseas (but we are used to that from Obama.)

More interesting to me was the phenomenon I observed over at Mediaite, where the comments almost invariably disintegrate into simple-minded-talking points, rationalizations and name-calling. A significant group of commenters, led by a snide, arrogant Obama defender calling himself “Tommyboy,” argued that only hateful, biased, “Repugs” could find fault with Obama’s statement. He didn’t literally mean that “this” doesn’t happen in other countries. Only fools could argue that he meant that, because it would be nonsense, especially given the locale. He’s a smart guy, so he would never say something stupid.

Later, Tommyboy’s proof was that Obama always uses this hyperbole, and thus it is an act of hate and bias to take the words to mean what the words do. Interesting theory: as long as a politician always uses the same misleading words, we should assume that he’s not trying to mislead. Continue reading

It’s Settled Then: Ben Carson Is An Idiot

ben-carsonNot that there was all that much doubt, after hearing about his theories that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain, and recognizing that any intelligent man would realize that giving a popular prayer breakfast speech and being a neurosurgeon no more qualifies someone to run for President of the United States than being a crossword puzzle champion or an airplane pilot. Nonetheless, his statement today ends any benefit of the doubt Carson had due to him. There is no doubt. He’s a dolt, and its obvious enough that we must assume anyone supporting him must also be a dolt.

Today, talking about the Syrian refugees in Alabama, Gentle Ben said...he really did…

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you’re probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs.”

Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees?”

No risk too small...

No risk too small…

I asked for a single reasonable, rational explanation of Democratic/progressive enthusiasm for allowing Syrian refugees, including an unknown number of potential terrorists, to enter and reside in the United States. I cited the pathetic attempts at such arguments made by various officials, candidates for President, and journalists. What has come in from comments so far does not meet my standard of reasonable or persuasive, and frankly deepens the mystery of why liberal leanings force people to take such positions. One of the most revealing articles of the liberal mindset came from extreme-left journalist Kevin Drum, writing on the web site of the “by any means necessary” leftist publication Mother Jones. He wrote:

“Here’s the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it’s pretty easy.

So to them it doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?

The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there….”

How damning and obnoxious. Drum never actually explains why the concern aren’t legitimate; he just condescendingly assumes that his compatriots understand they just are, because…why? Obama, who has been wrong about just about everything, says so, I suppose. Or because progressives are just enlightened. Maybe because Democrats believe open borders are a great thing, because the minority migrants, legal or illegal, mean more votes. I have no idea why he is so smugly superior, but he gives only one substantive argument: “Never mind that screening is already pretty tight.”

Oh is it now? From that far-right conservative, Republican wacko xenophobic newspaper, the Washington Post:

While they say U.S. security measures are much better than in the past, vetting Syrian refugees poses a quandary: How do you screen people from a war-torn country that has few criminal and terrorist databases to check?

The United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees since the mid-1970s, and the screening system in the post-9/11 era includes multiple background checks, screenings against FBI and other databases and an in-person interview. Debate over the program has intensified since the deadly terrorist strikes in Paris blamed on the Islamic State, though each attacker identified so far whose nationality has been confirmed has been found to be a European national, not part of the wave of refugees from Syria.

“I don’t, obviously, put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, so that’s a huge concern of ours,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a security industry conference in September, using another name for the Islamic State. He added that the government has “a pretty aggressive program” for screening refugees but that he is less confident about European nations.

FBI Director James Comey added in congressional testimony last month that “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less than excellent vetting,” he said.

Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Then the story follows with an extensive description of what screening is supposed to be, an was with Iraqi refugees—none of which appears to be relevant to the reality of screening the Syrian. The story concludes:

But one of the senior administration officials at Tuesday’s briefing acknowledged the limitations inherent in screening refugees from Syria, where it’s very difficult to determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.

“We do the best with what we have,” the official said. “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

Talk to people about what their criminal histories are. Yup, nothing to worry about. Only xenophobes and racists would see any deficiencies or risks here. Let’s just pretend to respect what they say; they can’t stop it anyway.

Here is Beth’s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees??

Yes, I’ll be back at the end.

And still ticked off. Continue reading

An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees??

"Repeat after me:  WE CAN SCREEN THE SYRIAN REFUGEES! THERE IS NO DANGER! NO DANGER"

“Repeat after me: WE CAN SCREEN THE SYRIAN REFUGEES! THERE IS NO DANGER! NO DANGER”

The question of whether to accept Syrian refugees is not, or should not be, a partisan one. It’s simple logic, duty and priorities, as I wrote here. A needy group has an unknown component of deadly members capable of killing Americans. Until or unless those members can be identified and separated from that group, it would be irresponsible to admit them into the country. The Paris bombing vividly illustrated the risk of ignoring these facts. So why are Democrats and their pundit allies making statements attacking those who acknowledge them? You know, just because they are conservatives and Republicans who tend to think that all of President Obama’s policies are misguided doesn’t mean they can’t be right occasionally.

I have been searching for a single persuasive, fact-based argument that justifies the risk of accepting thousands of Syrians. In fact, I have been searching for one that wasn’t dishonest, an appeal to emotion over reality, or a cheap excuse to engage in race-baiting, now the Democratic Party’s favorite pastime.

I’d love to hear one. I’d love to be convinced. If the nation can take in the suffering refugees without vastly increasing the chance of a bomb going off in the a restaurant I’m eating with my family, hurray!

Such arguments just aren’t there, however. Instead we are hearing: Continue reading

The Syrian Refugee Controversy: For The US Government, An Easy Ethics Call

Syrian refugees

That does not mean that it is an easy call for Barack Obama, whose perception of his duties and the stakeholders in his decisions is often confused.

The Question: Is it competent and responsible (ergo ethical) for the  the U.S. accept 10,000 Syrian refugees (or 65,000, as Hillary Clinton advocates) in the U.S., knowing that it is statistically certain that some of them will carry the threat of Islamic terrorism with them?

The Answer: No. Of course not. How can a rational person advocate such a foolish policy?

The answers to the last question are fascinating to speculate upon, and range from 1) “A rational person won’t,” to 2) “Willful blindness to reality” to 3) “Because of a profound misunderstanding of  the ethical priorities of government and leadership” to 4) “That’s a rational policy if the policy maker-wants  terror attacks.”

The proper analogy is admitting a refugee population with members suffering from a highly-communicable, infectious, incurable and fatal disease. No responsible government would risk bringing a plague into its population without being able to make certain—certain—that none of the refugees carried it. Thus there would be a quarantine period imposed on the refugees showing no symptoms, and those infected would not be allowed to enter the U.S. population at all. This is the same situation, except that the infectious, fatal, incurable contagion is radical Islam.

Dishonest and manipulative politicians like Hillary Clinton tacitly acknowledge the plague model when they say that refugees must be admitted to the U.S. but only after they are “thoroughly vetted.” They cannot be thoroughly vetted, however. Records from Syria are neither reliable nor available. Thus what such politicians are really saying is either “I don’t support taking Syrian refugees, but want you to think I do” or “I’m hopeless detached from reality.” The first is Hillary; the second is Barack Obama, who said yesterday,

“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”

We can’t do both. It can’t be done. His first sentence is pure demagoguery, and demonstrates, yet again, how shockingly ignorant the President is regarding the duties of his office. His essential duties are  to do what is in the best interests of the United States, its citizens, and its mission of promoting human rights in the world. When those objectives are in conflict, the President must put the welfare and security, long term and short term, of the citizens who elected him and the nation he leads above all else.

Why can’t Obama see that? I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to understand the man.

Objectively, the question of the Syrian refugees is an ethics conflict, when warring  ethical principles and systems contradictory results.On the side of accepting the refugees and the undeniable risks they carry, we have altruism, The Golden Rule, fairness, kindness, decency, tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and caring.

On the side of rejecting them, there is utilitarianism, responsibility, loyalty, process, competence, trustworthiness,  prudence, and due diligence.

For a leader, the choice is obvious, because for a leader, it can’t be a question answered objectively. The President of the United States is not permitted the luxury of altruism, or objectivity. He holds an office of trust, and is trusted to place  citizens above others. This decision involves more than values. It is a matter of leadership and government ethics.  However much Obama or anyone else believes that assisting the Syrian refugees, of any number, is objectively the “right thing to do,” the United States Government cannot regard it that way. It is bound by its own duties, standards and priorities to be partisan: this country comes first. The Syrian refugees present a real and existential peril that cannot be avoided, except by keeping them out.

Easy ethics call.

At least it should be.

Other points:

1. Nonetheless, it is Obama’s call. The 28 state governors who have announced that they will “not permit” Syrian refugees in their states are either ignorantly or for effect asserting a power they do not have. States cannot reject immigrants and refugees duly and lawfully admitted into the country by the Federal government. (According to the Obama Justice Department, they can’t reject illegal immigrants negligently admitted into the country by the Federal government’s incompetence and corruption, either.) These announcements of defiance are a bluff, but have undeniable political power. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

tapper-rhodesIt is tragic that it takes bloody murder to raise the press out of its journalism ethics torpor, and force it to ask tough questions of the administration it helped put in power and  has pampered,  pimpeda nd covered for ever since.  Still, progress is progress. CNN’s Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to an objective journalist in captivity, has obviously had enough of the seven-year pattern of pretending that all Obama policies are working just marvelously thank-you, even as the stench of fakery, dishonesty and incompetence fills the air.

Over the weekend, Tapper was having none of the spin offered by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), both sent out by the White House for damage control, after the President’s statement that “ISIS has been contained” was rendered ludicrous by the deaths in Paris.“If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained,” Tapper told Rhodes.

Bazinga!

President Obama ended the war on terror, put tepid measures in place in Syria, dismissed ISIS as “the junior varsity, ” and in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, coordinated a campaign of media disinformation to blame it on a YouTube video rather than admit that Al Qaeda was not “decimated” as he had puffed, all while taking unseemly personal credit for the killing of bin Laden and feeding the public what has been called a “narrative of success.”

Maybe the news media will finally insist that he accept accountability for his inept and feckless terrorism strategies. I doubt it, but at least Tapper gave us a reminder of what unbiased journalism looks like, lest we forget.

On Immigration, Speech Suppression, War, Terrorism, Police and More, It’s Cultural Death By Compassion Poisoning

Think of the children!Compassion is a wonderful thing. A nation cannot govern or even survive, however, using compassion as its guiding ethical principle. The United States currently seems hell bent on disproving this fact, and is well on the way to confirming it. It is too bad that this is true, and we should all agree that it’s  a damn shame that you can’t run a successful democracy without periodically inflicting pain, creating suffering and harming some human beings in order that many more can live in peace and pursue their lawful ambitions and desires. Nonetheless, that is an immutable fact of existence. Government policy that attempts to deny it is not merely incompetent and naive, but ultimately suicidal. A culture that elevates compassion above all other values like responsibility, accountability, prudence, process and proportion is betting everything on the inherent goodness and rationality of humanity. History tells us it’s a losing bet.

When I woke up to the horrible news of the Paris attacks, and after I had finished simultaneous laughing and crying about the fact that President Obama picked yesterday to proclaim that the threat of ISIS had been “contained,” it suddenly occurred to me that the majority of the crises this nation struggles with today are  linked by the same cultural and leadership malady. The United States increasingly is unwilling to accept the reality that governance is utilitarian, and that punishment, deterrence, sacrifice, pain, retaliation and accountability are indispensable tools that must be used and used unapologetically. The alternative is chaos, and chaos is what we are facing.

An impressive number of these crises have been in the news this week: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau

The exquisitely rendered artwork of Gary Trudeau, circa 1970.

The exquisitely rendered artwork of Gary Trudeau, circa 1970.

“At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”

—-Doonesbury cartoonist and relentless critic of the Right, Garry Trudeau, in a speech delivered on April 10 at the Long Island University’s George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award.

Trudeau is a Yale grad, so perhaps we should cut him some slack muddled thinking. (Kidding!) However, in making his weak case that legitimate and socially acceptable satire only consists of “punching up,” he appeared to be advocating government prohibition of certain kinds of speech, to be designated by Trudeau and his ideological allies, who, of course, know best.

In doing this, Trudeau came very close to aping the popular theme from activists on the Left, especially on campuses, that “hate speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment.” “Hate speech” is an invention of progressives, and is generally defined as political or social criticism of members in good standing of their club, or groups and individuals they sympathize with or approve of.  Saying that you hope Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys fail is funny and deserved;  saying Mike Brown engineered his own demise by attacking a cop is hate speech. It’s easy when you get the hang of it: just look at the world like Gary Trudeau.

Earlier in his speech, he talked about “red lines” in satire, and blurrily–that is, inarticulately enough that he has plausible deniability, called for restrictions on “hateful” cartoons like those that prompted Islamic assassinations in Paris: Continue reading

Long Memory Ethics: Wait, NOW The Media Says The President HAS “Apologized”?

See what you want to see..."Faces? What faces?"

See what you want to see…”Faces? What faces?”

The Washington Post echoed the consensus of the news media by reporting that the White House has apologized for not treating the anti-terrorism march in Paris with the respect and attention it deserved. “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Oh, that’s an apology now?

Interesting, given that the word “apology” was notably absent from the statement. I will await, then, an admission from the horde of Obama defenders, like Paul Krugman of the New York Times and many others in the “We come to praise Obama, not to critique him” brigade that has guarded the Presidents flanks for going on seven years now, an admission that our President did indeed go on an “apology tour” around the world, regretting past U.S. policy of every sort. Over at the New York Times where Krugman reigns, the then-public editor Arthur Brisbane declared in 2012 that Mitt Romney was lying when he called Obama’s various mea culpas apologies, writing.

[P]erhaps the next time Mr. Romney says the president has a habit of apologizing for his country, the reporter should insert a paragraph saying, more or less: “The president has never used the word ‘apologize’ in a speech about U.S. policy or history. Any assertion that he has apologized for U.S. actions rests on a misleading interpretation of the president’s words.”

Funny: if that’s the standard for what an apology is—actually using the word “apology”—then the White House hasn’t apologized for embarrassing the nation and insulting the world.  You just can’t have it both ways. Continue reading

Cowards and Hypocrites

"All is forgiven"

“All is forgiven”

The New York Times and CNN, among others, are ducking their responsibility as news organizations to run the current cover of  “Charlie Hebdo.”  Why is it their responsibility? Because the response of the devastated satirical publication is news, and as the Times laughably says on its front page, that news is fit to print: the Times and CNN are describing the cover, but don’t have the guts or integrity to show it. The disingenuous rationale, in CNN’s terms, is that they are respecting “the sensibilities” of Muslim viewers.

In a word: CRAP. The vast majority of readers and viewers should be kept in the dark to avoid offending Muslim readers and viewers who can easily avert their tender eyeballs? When have CNN and the Times applied that standard regarding any other religious group, or any group at all? [UPDATE: Over at Popehat, Ken White extravagantly exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of  the Times’ rationalizations for not showing the cartoon with a series of well-formulated and pointed questions. This is admittedly more diagnostic than “CRAP,” but the message is the same.]

The translation of this craven self-censorship is “We are concerned about offending an anti-democratic and violent minority who are successfully using threats to constrain the free distribution of knowledge and information, because we are unworthy of the profession we presume to practice.”