Dems Say: Only “Hillbillies” Want a Strategy

Donna Brazile, Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, sometimes appears to be one of the more responsible leaders of the Democratic Party. But look what she retweeted this morning:

That’s dumb, obviously, an expression of the mindless hate that is pretty much all that is left of modern liberalism. But it also reflects, I think, the frustration that Democrats feel at having to defend the indefensible Obama administration.

Cheap Grace, Expensive Suits

There are certain TV preachers who shall go unnamed who peddle an updated version of the “prosperity gospel” in which faith leads to riches and happiness—just like that! To be fair, there’s a secular version of this coming from the academic pulpit as well, in the guise of “happiness research.” But in both cases, I wonder why the preachers need such expensive suits to promote what Bonhoeffer rightly called “cheap grace,” or maybe they’re just trying to prove that even an expensive suit can still be empty.

It’s as though the Book of Job went missing from their copy of the Old Testament. The great G.K. Chesterton wrote a short essay about the Book of Job that gets to the heart of the matter better than most of the long commentaries of learned Biblical scholars. Like this:

Here in this Book the question is really asked whether God invariably punishes vice with terrestrial punishment and rewards virtue with terrestrial prosperity. If the Jews had answered that question wrongly they might have lost all their after influence in history. They might have sunk even down to the level of modern well educated society. For when once people have begun to believe that prosperity is the reward of virtue their next calamity will be obvious. If prosperity is regarded as the reward of virtue it will be regarded as the symptom of virtue. Men will leave off the task of making good men successful. They will adopt the easier task of making out successful men good.

I may just have to start doing regular Chesterton installments here.

The situation “remains very fluid”

FOX News is touting the video below this morning as “jihadis gone wild.” They assert that it depicts Libyan jihadis disporting themselves at what is described as the CIA annex to our embassy in Tripoli. If this is the CIA annex, this must be the double secret pool outside it.

CNN reports on the video in “Libyan militia uses vacated U.S. embassy in Libya as swim club.” In the CNN report, the (vacated) US Ambassador to Libya sounds a little like Baghdad Bob. She conforms that the video depicts an annex to the embassy compound but assures us that all is well. An unnamed State Department official, however, concedes that the situation “remains very fluid” (I’m guessing no pun intended):

Ambassador Deborah Jones, who is not currently in Libya, tweeted that the images appear to show a residential annex in the U.S. Embassy compound. But Jones said “the U.S. Embassy Tripoli chancery & compound is now being safeguarded and has not been ransacked,” and “those who have actually visited the embassy know the truth.”

A spokesman for the General National Congress says the militias securing the U.S. Embassy compound are still there safeguarding it.

“The militias are under the command of the Libyan General Staff, and what happened was not an attack on the embassy grounds, nor was it an attempt to ransack its offices,” Omar Hmaidan said.

“What happened (the frolicking at the pool) was an isolated behavior by some of those who were in charge of protecting the compound. We don’t condone it and we don’t accept it,” he said.

A senior State Department official said the United States is “seeking additional details” about the incident.

“At this point, we believe the Embassy compound itself remains secure but we continue to monitor the situation on the ground, which remains very fluid,” the official said.

The video seems to carry a humiliating message to us in the United States, whose efforts were indispensable to the enjoyment of the jihadis. We are left with the nagging question whether the pool supplies were secured when we abandoned the embassy. As Drudge would say, developing…

UPDATE: David Kirpatrick covers the story here for the Times and also reports that the scene is “a residential compound.” Kirkpatrick goes along with minimizing the significance of the takeover, but he also weirdly reports that the scene results from a “nonviolent invasion” of the compound. He seems to be operating as much in the realm of public relations as journalism.

Democrats: Still Seeking the Bottom of the Low Road

Fred Barnes notes in The Weekly Standard that “Democrats Take the Low Road” in their desperation to keep their Senate majority. Ratifying that judgment is the New York Times, which includes a story today entitled “At Risk in Senate, Democrats Seek to Rally Blacks.” The subhed is even more revealing: “Move to Channel Anger.” (Note: this subhed doesn’t appear on the online version of the story; it’s just in the print edition, which I receive to boost the pulp and paper industry.)

This “news” story has virtually no facts that count as news or fresh information; it is one of those stories that makes the obvious seem profound to Times readers simply by appearing in the Times. Gee—parties try to turn out constituency groups that lean their way. Stop the presses: dog bites a mail carrier!

But ponder that subhed “Move to Channel Anger” a bit further: It reveals that the Democratic Party’s interest is for blacks to stay angry. Which means it is in the self-interest of the Democratic Party to make sure racial discord is a permanent condition. (This also explains the political calculations about Obama’s proposed move to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.) Still think Democrats seek solutions to poverty and urban decay? Maybe there’s a reason inequality and urban decay are worst where Democrats have been in charge the longest (Detroit).

Or try this headline as a thought experiment: “At Risk in House, Republicans Seek to Rally Whites.” If Republicans said openly their strategy was to mobilize white voters the Times would never stop screaming that Republicans are racist. Oh wait—that is what they say anyway. So why don’t they say the same thing about Democrats when they make direct racial appeals instead of an appeal to the public good? Hmm, maybe that tired charge about Republicans is a case of projection.

In any case, Fred Barnes better be ready with a follow-up piece, because that low road hasn’t reached the bottom of the abyss yet.

Obama invokes success of Bush-Cheney security policy as grounds for his complacency

As we have often observed, and did so again in the post just below this one, Team Obama specializes in excuses for inaction and complacency in the face of the threat posed by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists. But I never thought that, among its excuses, would be praise for the policies of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Yet, as Daniel Halper reports, President Obama used just that excuse at a fundraiser in Rhode Island last night. Obama told Democrat fat cats that despite what “seems like. . .just wave after wave of upheaval, most of it surrounding the Middle East,” presently there is little reason for alarm:

The good news is that we actually have a[n] unprecedented military capacity, and since 9/11 have built up a security apparatus that makes us in the here and now pretty safe. We have to be vigilant, but this doesn’t immediately threaten the homeland. What it does do, though, is it gives a sense, once again, for future generations, is the world going to be upended in ways that affect our kids and our grandkids.

Naturally, Obama didn’t identify the leaders who, after 9/11, built the security apparatus that “makes us in the here and now pretty safe.” Clearly though, as Halper says, the architects were “President George W. Bush, with the assistance of his faithful vice president, Dick Cheney,” sometimes over the objections of Barack Obama and many of his fellow liberal Democrats.

Putting aside Obama’s praise for the policies of Bush and Cheney, his statement in Rhode Island manifests a shocking degree of complacency. Is it really “good news” that we are “pretty safe”? Is “pretty safe” the standard that Obama is willing to settle for?

And is the upheaval in the Middle East a matter of concern only for “our kids and our grandkids”? ISIS is well on its way to establishing a state roughly the size of New England. Iran is well on its way to developing nuclear weapons.

The dangers to our homeland posed by these developments cannot be characterized as something that will affect only our kids and grandkids. 9/11 teaches us that much.

Obama has consistently and vastly underestimated the threat posed by ISIS, a group he dismissed last winter as “the jayvee.” It seems that even now, Obama has not learned this lesson.

John Kerry revives the “global test” to justify not taking strong action against ISIS

John Kerry takes to the pages of the New York Times to advance the nonsensical proposition that “the threat of ISIS demands a global coalition.” In reality, the threat of ISIS demands strong military action by the U.S. Without such action, a “global coalition” will accomplish nothing. With such action, that coalition is unnecessary.

For Kerry, as for most leftists, the word “global” is magic. (Recall the “global test” for U.S. conduct that he invoked during the 2004 election campaign). But magic words don’t constitute arguments.

It terms of an argument, the best Kerry can do is invoke the first Gulf War (which he opposed):

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

But Kerry doesn’t claim, much less demonstrate, that the quick victory in 1991 was due to the creation of a coalition. Nor would such a claim be tenable. It was the U.S. military that rolled over Saddam’s army. The coalition may have made our victory more palatable to some, but it was not necessary to achieve the victory.

Turning to the present, Kerry fails to explain why combatting ISIS requires a global response. ISIS is a terrorist organization that has expanded into an army and hopes to become a state. It takes an army to defeat an army, and it matters not how many or how few countries participate in the army that takes on ISIS.

Right now, ISIS is centered in Iraq and Syria. Ideally, therefore, a U.S. military response would work in tandem with Iraqi and Syrian forces. And it would be great if, say, Jordan contributed forces and the Saudis contributed money.

Thus, it makes sense to talk of a regional coalition. (Such talk from Kerry smacks of hypocrisy, though, inasmuch as the administration has for years rejected pleas for meaningful assistance by non-jihadist rebels in Syria and rejected pleas from Kurds in Iraq until quite recently). But to talk of a global coalition is globaloney.

We can defeat ISIS without help from the likes of Uruguay, Portugal, Zambia, and Thailand. What we need is the will, not the globe.

Why, then, is Kerry insisting on the need for a global coalition? For two reasons. First, as noted above, he can’t help himself. He’s addicted to globaloney.

Second, it provides an excuse for inaction. When pressed for a strong response to ISIS, or at least for a strategy — as both Republicans and some Democrats are now pressing — the administration can say it is trying to put together a “global coalition.”

But if ISIS represents a threat to the U.S. — and the administration, including Kerry, now concedes that it does — the Obama administration jeopardizes our national security by delaying a strong response in the name of organizing a “global coalition.” The “globe” will not condemn Obama for striking hard at the barbarians who make up ISIS. And even if it did, such condemnation would not trump the need to protect ourselves from the barbarians.

One More Reason the Administration May Want to Have a Strategy

These days, all eyes are on ISIS. But they are far from the only Muslim terrorist group about which we should be concerned. Remember Boko Haram? They led the news cycle back in April–which seems like a long time ago, given the disasters that have occurred since then–when they kidnapped and enslaved 270 girls, most of them Christians. Which reminds me: is #BringBackOurGirls still trending? Now, that was a strategy!

Boko Haram hasn’t gone away, of course. Christian Today updates us on some of the group’s recent predations, including the beheading of a six-year-old Christian boy:

It was revealed this week that Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram beheaded a six-year-old boy on June 1 because he was a Christian.

The attack occurred in Attagara, Gwoza district, Borno State – a predominately Christian community, according to Voice of the Martyrs. Over 100 militants descended upon the village, slaughtering men, women, and children. …

One villager, Sawaltha Wandala, was arriving at church for the second service when he saw children being massacred. One six-year-old boy had been slashed and thrown into a ditch, but he was alive. Wandala picked him up and was carrying him to a hospital in Cameroon, when he was stopped by five of the militants.

The men reportedly took the child from Wandala’s arms and beheaded him, then began beating the 55-year-old with tree branches. After striking him in the head with a rock, they left him for dead. …

Two days later the militants returned, attacking Attagara and other villages in Gwoza. VOM reported that approximately 200 people were killed in the two-day assaults.

John Yakuba and his family survived the Attagara attacks and fled to Cameroon, but Yakuba returned to their home to retrieve their animals and some of their belongings. The family faced starvation at a refugee camp, and Yakuba hoped to sell the animals to support them.

Boko Haram members saw Yakuba entering his home, however, and captured him.

“We know you’re John,” they said to him, according to VOM. “You must convert to Islam or else you will die a painful death.”

When Yakuba refused to denounce Christ, they tied his arms and legs to a tree, and hacked his hands with a knife.

“Can you become a Muslim now?” the militants asked.

“You can kill my body, but not my soul,” Yakubu cried out.

You probably don’t want to read the rest.

Why is ISIS a bigger threat than Boko Haram? In large part because it has stolen enormous amounts of money, more than any terrorist group has ever controlled. But Nigeria is one of the world’s principal oil-producing countries; currently, its production is constrained mostly by violence precipitated by Boko Haram. What if that group should gain control over all or a substantial part of Nigeria’s oil resources? Is there any reason to think it would be less a threat than ISIS? Its depravity is certainly no less.

At the moment, terrorist organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram are great at slaughtering villagers, beheading Christians, enslaving women and intimidating ill-trained and unmotivated government forces. They are no match for a real military force of the sort that we and a handful of other countries can mount. But that condition is not necessarily permanent. As they acquire more territory, power and wealth, and gain access to weapons of mass destruction, it may not be easy, or even possible, to defeat them before they do incalculable damage to the civilized world.

Which is another way of saying that it is time for a strategy, not to accommodate or contain militant Islam, but to defeat it and extirpate it from the Earth. Somehow, though, I don’t think that is the sort of strategy that Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett and John Kerry are working on.