Saturday, December 19, 2015

What’s wrong with being offended?

Steve Hughes on being offended:
 … Political correctness is the oppression of our intellectual movement so no one says anything anymore just in case anyone else gets offended. What happens if you say that and someone gets offended? Well they can be offended, can’t they? What’s wrong with being offended? When did "stick 'n' stones may break my bones" stop being relevant? Isn’t that what you teach children? He called me an idiot! Don’t worry about it, he’s a dick.

Now you have adults going “I was offended, I was offended and I have rights!” Well so what, be offended, nothing happened. You’re an adult, grow up, and deal with it. I was offended! Well, I don’t care! Nothing happens when you’re offended. “I went to the comedy show and the comedian said something about the lord, and I was offended, and when I woke up in the morning, I had leprosy."

Nothing Happens. “I want to live in a democracy but I never want to be offended again.” Well you’re an idiot.

How do you make a law about offending people? How do you make it an offense to offend people? Being offended is subjective. It has everything to do with you as an individual or a collective, or a group or a society or a community. Your moral conditioning, your religious beliefs. What offends me may not offend you. And you want to make laws about this? I’m offended when I see boy bands for god sake.

It’s a valid offense, I’m offended. They’re corporate shills, posing as musicians to further a modeling career and frankly I’m disgusted. …
The full sketch (including the weird and oppressive régime of Health & Safety regulations and the ban on smoking):

Friday, December 18, 2015

More Evidence that Obama Is the Expert in Common Sense Solutions, and Certainly Far More Intelligent than Those Clueless Republican Neanderthals

We keep hearing how Barack Obama is the most intelligent man to enter the White House, which is why he is constantly appealing to, and lecturing, the American people (as well as members of Congress) to go for "common sense" solutions.

Is that because none of the Republican Neanderthals, such as Ted Cruz, either of the Bush brothers, or even the Donald, would ever dream of nixing probes into Southern California jihadist groups or, more generally, protecting the rights of Islamists instead of protecting the American people?
Related: Advice to the Republican Hopefuls and to Other Leaders and Members of the GOP

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Son of Frenchman Who Presided COP21 in Police Custody for Fraud and Forgery

Remember the man who victoriously knocked the gavel for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris?

Aka France's Foreign Affairs Minister doubling as President-designate of COP21?

Laurent Fabius?

Well, you must decide for yourself whether the following is somehow symbolic, because, very frankly, you can't make this up.

A couple of days after Laurent Fabius brought down the gavel for a glorious new future for mankind, and just as he was thanked in parliament with a standing ovation, his son spent 12 hours in police custody for forgery and fraud, as well as money laundering.

But Thomas Fabius isn't only wanted by the French police. Just to make things a bit more interesting, Laurent's oldest son, a playboy who apparently has something of the gambler about him, has a U.S. arrest warrant issued in his name—for bounced checks running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and written in Las Vegas, of all places, totaling $3.5 million ($1,000,000 to The Palazzo, $900,000 to the Cosmopolitan, etc…).  The Daily Telegraph's Henry Samuel:
The playboy son of France’s foreign minister was taken into custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation into forgery, fraud and money laundering, just as the father was receiving a standing ovation in parliament.

  … As they searched the property in Paris’ literary Left Bank on Tuesday morning [a palatial €7.3 million (£5.3 million) apartment], Laurent Fabius, his father, was receiving rapturous applause in France’s National Assembly for his part in clinching an historic global climate deal over the weekend.
Le parquet de Paris a ouvert en 2013 une information judiciaire pour faux, escroquerie et blanchiment, confiée aux juges d'instruction René Cros et Roger Le Loire, visant le fils du chef de la diplomatie française.
In addition to the French police, Thomas Fabius is wanted by a U.S. arrest warrant issued in Nevada:
The playboy son of France’s foreign minister faces arrest in America for spending $3.5m (£2.3m) in a Las Vegas gambling frenzy only for the casinos to see his cheques

Nevada state court has issued an arrest warrant following a criminal complaint over several bad cheques Thomas Fabius wrote to three casinos on 15 May 2012 — the day before his father, Laurent Fabius, officially became foreign minister in President François Hollande’s Socialist government.
Thomas Fabius, fils du ministre des Affaires étrangères, fait l'objet d'un mandat d'arrêt aux Etats-Unis pour des chèques en bois, d'un montant total dépassant 3,5 millions de dollars, qu'il a rédigés pour des casinos de Las Vegas.

Ces énormes dettes de jeu ont été contractées dans la nuit du 15 au 16 mai 2012, selon l'hebdomadaire Le Point qui a révélé l'affaire.

Ce même 16 mai 2012 Laurent Fabius était officiellement nommé chef de la diplomatie française. 
Update: I am told that this post is unjust, that Thomas Fabius is an adult with allegedly no connection (?) to his father.

That might seem to be a valid comment if you believe that the workings, attitudes, and beliefs inside families, especially families of the ruling élites, in the exact same timeframe have no meaning at all. Had something positive occurred in the Fabius family, for instance, one can be sure it would be treated with pride by all the other family members.

The comment would especially make sense if, by some accident, the same rules happened to apply to conservatives. (See especially Prescott Bush, and the Bush family being lambasted for their (grand-)father's foreign dealings, with a German régime recognized by all countries prior to World War II and before the Holocaust had even started, in a time when the elder George Bush was 10 and 50 years prior to any Bush attaining the White House.)

Related: Koch Derangement Syndrome: Leftists breathlessly report that the "Koch Brothers' father helped build a Nazi oil refinery that Hitler approved" without noting that construction occurred in 1933 (the first year that the National Socialists were in power), that it happened exactly five years prior to Time Magazine naming the Führer Person of the Year, that it happened before either Charles or David were born, and, last but not least, that similar actions by leftists such as the members of the Soros family or members of the the Kennedy dynasty are ignored. (See also: When Demonizing Billionaires, Leftists Like Paul Krugman Conveniently Ignore the Left-Leaning Statists Who Donate (Far More) Millions to the Left)

Advice to the Republican Hopefuls and to Other Leaders and Members of the GOP

If there is one thing that frustrates me to the uttermost degree, it is the seeming unwillingness, or inability, of GOP contenders — and I suppose that to some extent it involves the dread of being called a racist — to go after the man in the White House and the policies that he has championed for almost eight years.

Even this year, when, thankfully, most of the hopefuls are bringing a stop to the GOP politeness game à la John McCain/Mitt Romney campaigns, they are not taking full advantage of the situation.

Even Ted Cruz (whom I've supported for the past few months) does not do this enough — although he has been doing it more than anyone else.

Even, incredibly, Donald Trump does not do this enough. (He attacks more the policy than the man behind them, as well as Hillary the candidate but much less so than the man who has presided over those policies since 2009.)

In short: Hillary Clinton (or whoever the Democrats' candidate turns out to be) and Barack Obama should invariably be lumped TOGETHER in whatever criticism is made of the Democrat party and its members' administration of the country in the past seven years.

Three recent developments that should be picked upon unceasingly— especially when the candidate or any of his competitors (!) are being attacked personally:

1) The insanity of Obama's Iran deal, with the offer of $100 billion to the ayatollahs (see an example at the bottom of this post), not to mention the apologizer-in-chief's attendant domestic policy;

2) the petulant and puerile outbursts of Obama — allegedly the most intelligent man ever to run for the White House — his ugly mocking, which can be called akin to juvenility and childishness (a puerility which makes the GOP's remain-polite-to-Obama-at-all-costs game even more ludicrous);

3) and evidence of the double standards of the media (no recent development, this, but then, okay, neither was/is the ugly attitude of an extreme leftist nor was/is his smart diplomacy).

Ben Carson went for the jugular during a press conference when the media kept asking him about the West Point controversy.
I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama, when he was running, in fact I remember just the opposite, I remember people just said, "oh we won't really talk about that relationship, oh, Frank Marshall Davis, oh we don't want to talk about that, Bernadine Dorne, Bill Ayers, we don't want to know about that, all the things Jeremiah Wright was saying, ehh not a big problem.

Goes to Occidental college, doesn't do all that well, somehow ends up at Columbia University, I dunno.

His records are sealed." Why are his records sealed? You're not interested in that? Can somebody tell me why? I'm asking you why are they sealed? Don't change the subject. Will someone tell me please why you have not investigated that.

Something with the words "a scholarship was offered" is a big deal, but the president of the U.S. his academic records being sealed is not. Tell me how there is equivalency there. Tell me somebody, please.

Because you see, what you're not going to find with me is somebody who is going to sit back and be completely unfair without letting the American people know what is going on; the American people are waking up to your games.
Ben Carson should be taking on Obama all the time. As should all the others. But as far as I can tell, the surgeon stopped doing it.

They should also be getting to the root of an issue.

For instance, the only real news about the "controversy" of Ben Carson's not advocating a Muslim for president is not the content of that very statement, but — and any of the candidates could have picked up on this — the apparent dread of liberals and their media brethren to the horrific idea of having a Christian, i..e., an average, everyday American (never mind an evangelical Christian), for president.

Regarding a recent Donald Trump outburst, Paul Ryan intoned that
This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.
While GOP Chairman Reince Priebus added that
We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.
First of all, with regards to Ronald Reagan's dictum on remaining united, offhand I do not have too much issue (relatively speaking) with attacks on fellow Republicans. But by all means, follow it up with an "on the flip side", with an attack on the Democrats — and by that I mean, not just on Barack Obama, and I mean, not just on Hillary Clinton (or on Bernie Sanders); I mean, follow it up with an attack on both of them, on all of them, together. (Actually, an attack means little more than a neutral and objective description.)

So Paul Ryan attacks Trump for not understanding what America stand for. Fine. By all means, do so. But, at the same time, follow up the above statement with something to this effect:
[To the credit of all our candidates, however — and I mean all of them — not one of them has referred to any member of the opposition party as terrorists or the equivalent of Iran's religious fanatics. Nor, indeed, has any of them mentioned the Democrats as the worst enemies of their career.]
The speaker of the House might have added:
[Furthermore, no Republican would ever dream of nixing probes into Southern California jihadist groups or, more generally, protecting the rights of Islamists instead of protecting the American people.]
An aside: Often I have wondered what was the best comeback — the best succinct comeback — on issues raised by liberals.

On the issue of gun control, and how well it works in those Western European countries we should always be seeking to emulate, I came up with one three or four years ago. Last week the New York Times published it as a response to their "Gun Epidemic in America" editorial.

Through the years, I have also often thought about what might be the best response to being called a racist, a bigot, a fascist, or a homophobe or being told "you are full of sh1t." (Thank the person. Profusely.)

Returning to our candidates: I would to say that the perfect candidate would refrain, should refrain, as best as possible, from attacking his fellow Republicans all the other candidate. Even if they attack him (or her), he (or she) will look better to the voters if, au contraire, (s)he continuously defends all the others (Marco Rubio showed this brilliantly in his comeback to Jeb Bush (“My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it is not going to be attacking anyone else on this stage; I will continue to have tremendous admiration and respect for governor Bush”).) Even if, to be entirely honest, no one can deny that there is some degree of weasel-ness involved… It may also have been Marco Rubio who stated that anyone on this stage would be better than Hillary Clinton or than any Democrat…

In any case, I have never loved Marco Rubio more than during the third Republican presidential debate when he pointed out that
the Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. It's called the mainstream media … And I'll tell you why. Last week, Hillary Clinton went before a committee. She admitted, she had sent e-mails to her family saying, "Hey, this attack at Benghazi was caused by Al Qaida-like elements." She spent over a week telling the families of those victims and the American people that it was because of a video. And yet the mainstream media is going around saying it was the greatest week in Hillary Clinton's campaign. It was the week she got exposed as a liar. It was the week that she got exposed as a liar... But she has her super PAC helping her out — the American mainstream media.
It was brilliant.

Almost. Almost brilliant.

The Florida senator should have mentioned the apologizer-in-chief's name too, and should have hammered it home. Again and again. And again.

Witness the outburst, rewritten:
… the Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. It's called the mainstream media … And I'll tell you why. Last week, Hillary Clinton went before a committee. She admitted she had sent e-mails to her family saying, "Hey, this attack at Benghazi was caused by Al Qaida-like elements." She [and Barack Obama] spent over a week telling the families of those victims and the American people that it was because of a video. And yet the mainstream media is going around saying it was the greatest week in Hillary Clinton's campaign. It was the week she [and Obama] got exposed as [liars]. It was the week that [they] got exposed as [liars]... But she [and Obama have their] super PAC helping [them] out — the American mainstream media. [Obama and Hillary lied to the American people, Obama and Hillary lied to the international community (the apologizer-in-chief repeated the lie six or seven times in an address before the United Nations), and Obama and Hillary lied to you people in the MSM. And you know what? You couldn't care less. You didn't care then. And you don't care now.]
Obama lied.
In fact: Obama lied, Americans died.

Or perhaps that meme should be turned around: Americans died, Obama lied.

How 'bout:
Americans died, Obama lied, Hillary denied.
If, like me, you have been made angry about Barack Obama's mocking Republican candidates as not being able to "handle a bunch o' CNBC moderators" and wondering what kind of comeback would be best to counter that childish behavior with, well, finally it struck me: the best thing would have been effectively to act — to have actedpreemptively.

How well would Obama's bogus charge have played, even with his own base, had Rubio mentioned his name as well every time he charged the media of being indifferent to Hillary's actions, actions which were not only failures but lies?

Would Obama even have dared make the mockery in the face of such a statement? (Quite possibly — given the media double standards — but it would have looked much less convincing to the average voter…)

Finally, with regards to the three points above, the sentence I would like to hear a candidate, several hopefuls, all contenders say a variation of over and over again (the Republican names in the sentence depend on who is speaking, obviously—indeed, this is one more thing that Paul Ryan could have, should have, added to the end of his bromide against Donald Trump):
[We keep hearing how Barack Obama was, is, one of the most intelligent people to enter the White House, and a man who keeps appealing to, and lecturing, the American people to use common sense solutions. I suppose that is because neither I [whichever candidate is speaking], nor Ted Cruz, nor either of the Bush brothers, nor even Donald Trump would ever dream of bestowing a gift of not $100 million, not $1 billion, not $10 billion, but $100 billion to the ayatollahs of a country whose leaders regularly lead the people in chanting "Death to America!" and "Death to the West!"]
• From the 2012 archives: IdeOlogy Masquerading as Foreign Policy (What Romney Must Point Out in the Third Debate).
• From the 2008 archives: A Winning Strategy for McCain: Not Attacking Specifics, Simply Describing Patterns; What McCain Must Say in the Coming Weeks

Obama lied, Americans died

Obama lied.

In fact: Obama lied, Americans died.

Or perhaps that meme should be turned around: Americans died, Obama lied.

How 'bout:
Americans died, Obama lied, Hillary denied.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Obama has become European: The less he wants to get involved abroad, the more he dials up his rhetoric

I have long been a critic of the German foreign policy debate
writes Clemens Wergin, predicting America's current mess (in the New York Times, of all places) already a year and a half ago
— of its freeloading on the American security umbrella, coupled with moral grandstanding whenever the Americans did things their way; of too much analysis of past events and not enough thinking about how to get things right in the future; of its tendency to take words as a substitute for deeds. That’s why I have usually given the Americans the benefit of the doubt: At least they took on problems nobody else was willing to tackle.

But then, at the height of the Syria conflict and just after yet another of Barack Obama’s speeches, I suddenly understood the problem with this American president and his foreign policy. He sounded just like a German politician: all moral outrage, but little else to help end one of the most devastating civil wars of our age. President Obama, I thought with a sigh, has become European.
Indeed, the less this president wants to get involved in something abroad, the more he dials up his rhetoric. That the American president finds things “unacceptable,” one of his administration’s favorite words, doesn’t carry any real meaning anymore; it certainly doesn’t mean that America will try to change what it deems “unacceptable.”

 … Polls suggest that Americans are not happy with the results of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, though they still shy away from the costs that more engagement around the globe would entail. Welcome to my world. It sounds awfully European to want to have one’s cake and eat it at the same time.

There is a certain irony in the fact that President Obama’s foreign policy finds its Waterloo in the same country that shipwrecked the Bush doctrine: Iraq. It is true that the Bush administration seriously mishandled the war in Iraq. But it is also true that after the surge, George W. Bush handed Mr. Obama an Iraq that was in much better shape than it is today.

By rushing to the exit and teaming up with the Iranians to reinstall Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki after he lost the elections in 2010 — and by not confronting him forcefully on his anti-Sunni policies — the Obama administration undermined the progress American troops had paid for very dearly.

Then came another deed of omission in Syria. For years Middle East experts had warned that the civil war in Syria would not be confined to that country, but would spill over into neighboring countries. But Mr. Obama stood back, using rhetoric and admonitions while ignoring the experts. Yet they were right: The crisis in Iraq is a direct result of Mr. Obama’s nonconfrontational strategy in Syria.

When he was first elected in 2008, Barack Obama was hailed on the old Continent as a president with almost European sensitivities and worldviews. But the compliment was unintentionally double-edged. For more than two decades now, Europeans have assumed that the world would remain comparatively stable and wouldn’t need much hard power to be maintained (at least European hard power, that is). So too, it seems, does Mr. Obama.

While Mr. Obama’s new style of diplomacy — soft power and nonintervention — was at first seen as a welcome break with the Bush years, five years later a dismal realization has set in. It turns out that soft power cannot replace hard power. On the contrary, soft power is merely a complementary foreign policy tool that can yield results only when it is backed up by real might and the political will to employ it if necessary.

Ultimately, the measuring stick for a successful foreign policy is not how many nice and convincing speeches a leader makes, but whether he succeeds in getting things to go his way. … the list of actors and countries that are actively pushing against European and American interests, and getting away with it, grows ever longer.

Barack Obama wanted America to learn from Europe’s soft-power approach. But while Europeans are loath to admit it, they know that European soft power often doesn’t work either — and that it is a luxury that they could afford only because America’s hard power always loomed in the background. And when they dropped the ball, America would pick it up.

And therein lies the lesson to our American friends who seemingly want to become less involved and more European: There is no second America to back you up when you drop the ball.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Perhaps the most terrifying trend in today’s military is the diminution of the warrior spirit

People are understandably fed up with Islamic crazies killing innocent people 
notes Benny Huang, a veteran who also is sick of it, "though less eager to send ground troops" abroad (thanks for the InstaLink) — although not necessarily for the reasons you might think.
Not that we have any good options.

 … I believe that most of that 53 percent of Americans who want to send our young people back to the sandbox labor under the mistaken belief that our military is a well-oiled machine that will make mincemeat out of ISIS. I would warn these people that our military is actually pretty ragged—under-funded, undertrained, and sorely lacking in the morale department. Most importantly, it’s been wussified—forced by politicians and general officers to become the “kindler gentler military” Stephanie Gutmann warned of fifteen years ago in her seminal book by the same name. If you haven’t read it, you need to.
Slashed military budgets have shrunken our armed forces. The US Army is now the smallest it’s been since before World War II and the US Navy the smallest since before World War I. We’re still asking this skeleton crew to keep the sea lanes open and to hold down the fort in Korea, something we didn’t ask of them in our pre-superpower era.

Morale continues its descent into the abyss. … Only 27 percent said that officers in senior leadership positions had the rank-and-file’s best interest at heart—a clear indicator that careerism is having a corrosive effect on the military. As journalist Hope Hodge Seck wrote in the Military Times: “Today’s service members say they feel underpaid, under-equipped and under-appreciated, the survey data show.” “

 … Perhaps the most terrifying trend in today’s military is the diminution of the warrior spirit. This “wussification” of the US military has probably been underway for decades but it shifted into hyperdrive after the ascendency of Barack Obama. His campaign to get women into combat arms positions—even elite units—without lowering standards was exposed as a farce at the very same press conference at which it was unveiled. As General Martin Dempsey famously pronounced in January 2013, “Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?” But don’t worry, standards won’t be lowered—and you’re sexist if you say otherwise.
The wussification of the Army is nearing its end stage. … This is not your father’s Army. It isn’t even the Army I joined in 1999. My drill sergeants relished “smoking” the privates. I recall one particularly hard drill sergeant who I’m quite certain would not graduate from today’s Drill Sergeant School on account of his old-fashioned approach to training. Whether the privates were getting enough TLC was not his top concern.

 … I lost forty pounds in basic training and gained a lot of self confidence. That would not have happened if Danielle Brooks had been my drill sergeant. Before we go sending the bloom of our youth to fight crazy dudes on a mission from Allah, it might be prudent to ask ourselves if we have truly prepared them.
Check out the website that Benny Huang works for: Wounded American Warrior

Monday, December 14, 2015

A handy guide to help you know your tropes for the political exploitation of terrorism

After hearing Barack Obama lecturing us about our intolerance, Robert Tracinski offers us a handy guide to help you know your tropes for the political exploitation of terrorism.

‘Or The Terrorists Win’

This is the claim that people should engage in some utterly ordinary activity — shopping, watching television, eating bacon, etc. — as an act of defiance against terrorism. Because if they don’t do it, “then the terrorists win.”
This trope originated with exhortations from President Bush just after 9/11 for people to keep going about their normal lives in spite of the fear al-Qaeda wanted to instill in them. Which is reasonable enough, I suppose, but then it got out of hand
 … Note that in its pure form, Or the Terrorists Win is not about the need to pursue some actual foreign policy that might disrupt or defeat terrorists. It’s about asking us to “go on living our lives as usual” — which means that there is no activity too trivial or mundane that it cannot be recast as an act of defiance against terrorism.

Or the Terrorists Win is no longer a trope, strictly speaking, because it has become a running joke. No one uses it non-ironically any more.
But they are still oh-so-serious about knowing Exactly What ISIS Wants.

‘Exactly What ISIS Wants’

The bodies were barely cool in the Paris shootings when we were treated to lectures that “The West Is Giving ISIS Exactly What It Wants,” usually accompanied by very dubious projections of what ISIS wants, which just so happen to correspond to any policy proposed by someone on the American right.

Exactly What ISIS Wants may seem as if it is the opposite of Or the Terrorists Win. Or the Terrorists Win urges action to defy terrorism — albeit trivial and ineffectual — while Exactly What ISIS Wants demands inaction. But both effectively say the same thing: act as if the situation is normal, go on with our lives as if nothing happened. Or the Terrorists Win tells us to go shopping or hold awards ceremonies or whatever else we were already doing — even though many young men, thankfully, did disrupt their lives by volunteering to join the armed forces. Exactly What ISIS Wants tells us to change nothing about our policies toward terrorism, toward ISIS, toward Syria, toward refugees, or anything else — even if such changes might be warranted.
The purest, most absurd use of Exactly What ISIS Wants is to declare, “If we go to war, we’re doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

Get that? Don’t destroy ISIS. Don’t bomb them, shoot them, or hunt them down like dogs. That’s exactly what they want!
As absurd as it may sound, this is the specific form Obama used in his appeal to Exactly What ISIS Wants: “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want.” To which he then adds: “They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield.” Strange, then, that they would want to draw us into a war they know they can’t win, isn’t it?
 … maybe we should decide our response to terrorism based on our own judgment of our interests, without worrying too much about what ISIS has to say on the matter.

But Exactly What ISIS Wants is the black hole of arguments. It pulls any proposed action against terrorism into its gravitation field and sucks all motion and energy out of it. Which is interesting, because I’m pretty sure that dithering and inaction on our part is exactly what ISIS wants. It has certainly served their interests so far.

But we have not exhausted the tropes for the political exploitation of terrorism, not by a long shot. Exactly What ISIS Wants, for example, is merely an inverted version of Vicarious Terrorism.

‘Vicarious Terrorism’

Vicarious Terrorism is when you advocate responding to terrorism by taking away the grievances that motivate it — which means, in effect, granting the terrorists’ demands.

The person who makes this argument is not a supporter or sympathizer of the terrorist group in question and would never dream of committing an act of terrorism himself. It’s just that the terrorists’ supposed grievances happen to correspond in some way to his pre-existing agenda, and he just can’t help using the attack to promote that agenda.

 … One of the common threads among these tropes — the thing that makes them tropes — is the fact that they are always used to justify a pre-existing agenda. They are less a response to terrorism than an attempt to exploit terrorism to promote or defend an existing political program. …

‘Bin Laden Syndrome By Proxy’

In Bin Laden Syndrome by Proxy, you take someone else’s terrorist attack, fantasize what you think its causes and motives ought to be according to your world view, then advocate a response intended to address this pretended cause.
In Vicarious Terrorism, the terrorists’ real motives and agenda have some overlap with your own, and you succumb to the temptation to exaggerate the connection and use the attacks to promote your agenda. But in Bin Laden Syndrome by Proxy, the overlap is entirely a product of your own imagination, spurred by naked opportunism.

Probably the best example I have ever seen of Bin Laden Syndrome by Proxy is giving a speech after an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in which you tell the American people that gun control is now “a matter of national security” — which is exactly what Obama just did. Obviously, he did not start wanting to ban “assault weapons” because a couple of terrorists used them last week. He’s been advocating it all along as his standard response to domestic shootings by crazy people with no ideological motive at all. But these shootings haven’t mobilized the public to support gun control, so he repackaged his argument to connect it to an issue on which people do seem to want strong action.
Then again, maybe that’s not the very best example, because it’s hard to top “climate change caused the Paris attacks.”

What unites Exactly What ISIS Wants and Bin Laden Syndrome by Proxy is that they both help the user avoid addressing the essential cause behind the current terrorism threat: the religion of Islam. This avoidance has spawned a whole constellation of tropes, starting with the assertion that the Islamic State and Islamic terrorism have Nothing to Do with Islam.

‘Nothing To Do With Islam’

“This has nothing to do with Islam” is a standard description for anything bad done by a Muslim in the name of Islam, based on arguments offered by Islamic imams citing quotations from Islamic scripture.
Hence Hillary’s Clinton’s assurance that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism” — in response to attacks in Paris by Muslims who were not peaceful or tolerant and had something to do with terrorism.
This is a variant of The Religion of Peace.

‘The Religion Of Peace’

The Religion of Peace is the religion that did not motivate the San Bernardino shootings, the Paris attacks, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Fort Hood shootings, the beheading of hostages in Syria, the mass execution of policemen and soldiers in Iraq, the shooting schoolgirls in the head, and so on and on. It definitely didn’t motivate the 9/11 attacks, and that is why it is not even supposed to be mentioned at the Ground Zero museum.
Must be some other faith. Try the Presbyterians.
The purest examples of either trope are when non-Muslims — who endow themselves with the authority to speak on behalf of somebody else’s religion — offer assurances about the essential peaceful and tolerant nature of Islam. This culminates in No True Muslim.

‘No True Muslim’

This is a variant on the No True Scotsman trope. In its original inspiration, this is a type of circular reasoning used by a Scotsman to endow his countryman with some particular, virtuous quality. When confronted with the counter-example of a Scot who fails to possess this virtue, he merely declares that the miscreant must be “no true Scotsman.”
In this case, the trope is used by a non-Muslim to disavow the association of Muslims with any negative qualities — particularly religiously motivated violence — by asserting that anyone who commits such violence must be No True Muslim.
Thus, when a British Muslim began stabbing people the London subway and declared, “This is for Syria,” an onlooker was recorded telling the attacker, in impeccable London slang, “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!”

 … But as Hillary Clinton explained above, describing Islamic terrorists as Muslims would “play into their hands.” It is Exactly What ISIS Wants.

You see how it all fits together. If we can’t admit to the real motive of Islamic terrorists or address their actual strategic goals, we need to invent new motives and goals and use these polite fictions to dictate what actions are acceptable and unacceptable as a response. And if we’re going to do that, we might as well invent motives and responses that allow us to remain comfortably in the rut of our established domestic political routine.

In declaring that No True Muslim is inspired by the Religion of Peace to engage in terrorism, which has Nothing to Do with Islam, we invite ourselves to engage in Bin Laden Syndrome by Proxy, because otherwise we might be tempted to do Exactly What ISIS Wants. We had better continue along undisturbed in our pre-existing routine, Or the Terrorists Win.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The mother had the coffin opened, and found that it contained, not her child, but the body of an old officer in Russian uniform

In the pages of the International Herald Tribune, 100 Years Ago:
BERLIN — A widow lady named Wachterhausen, residing at Potsdam, recently had the misfortune to lose her only daughter, Amalia, who was staying at Nice for the benefit of her health. The mother telegraphed to an undertaker in that town ordering an elaborate coffin, and requesting that the remains should be sent home for burial. Just before the funeral on Sunday the mother had the coffin opened, and found that it contained, not her child, but the body of an old officer in Russian uniform. On making inquiries she learned by telegram from Nice that the bodies had been accidentally exchanged. Her daughter’s body had been forwarded to Smolensk in Russia instead of that of the officer. On telegraphing to the Russian authorities Madame Wachterhausen was informed that the body of her daughter had just been buried with great ceremony and military honors.
The New York Herald, European Edition, December 12, 1915