How Not to Fight Radical Islam

Any rational and civilized approach to the threat of radical Islam in a free society must be based on a clear understanding of what the threat is, and what it is not.

There has been discussion recently of banning certain types of Islamic dress in western countries, particularly France.  This leads to other questions.  Marine Le Pen is quoted on Arutz Sheva as saying, “If we banned the burka, we should also ban kippahs in the entire public sector ... in the name of equality we have to do this. We cannot just ban Muslim dress because then they will say we hate Muslims.”

A superficial response to radical Islam focuses on superficial issues. Distinctive dress, head coverings, or other articles of clothing worn by any religion should not be a problem for a pluralistic society. A better strategy would have been to target those islamic/islamist practices that are the problem, or that can be exploited to cause problems: child "marriage", FGM, sanctioning of domestic abuse, incitement to violence, and full-face coverings that can serve to disguise persons with criminal intent.

A generic ban on religious head coverings does not advance the cause of liberty, but rather sets it back.


What if ... ?

There's been a lot of speculation lately about whether the Kremlin was the driving force behind the recent Wikileaks revelations about Hillary Clinton; and if so, "Why does Russia want Donald Trump to win the election?"  Following upon this, there is no shortage of theories by HRC supporters regarding Trump's supposed weakness toward Russia, ties with Russia, and so on.

I think it's important to ask questions about the provenance of new information, and to wonder what other parties might stand to gain from passing it on.  But when you start down this path, it's easy to build conjecture on top of conjecture, speculation on top of speculation, guesswork on top of guesswork.  And then you're going down the rabbit hole.

Look, as a pro-Trump guy I can play this game too.  Trump a Russian puppet?  But that's just what they want you to think!  You think Putin and his old KGB buddies are stupid?  They're putting out stuff that's damaging to Clinton with Russian fingerprints all over it, so that the Americans will trace it back to Russia and say, "Hey, all this anti-Clinton stuff is just Russian propaganda!"  And then the Americans will dismiss anything unfavorable to Clinton, and she'll be immunized against any and every scandal, because Russia!  And in fact that's exactly what is happening, you can see it on the social media if you don't believe me.  

Do I believe that that is in fact what happened?  I don't know.  And that's my point here:  I don't know.  I prefer to stick with what's known with some degree of certainty, where we can remain on reasonably firm ground.  Often in life we must form theories, hypotheses, or suppositions about the unknown; but we are safest if we start from a firm foundation of facts and stick to known facts as closely as possible.

Information and Sources

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it relevant?
  3. What are its implications?
These are the basic questions we ask ourselves when assessing the value of new information.  When the information comes by way of an unfamiliar source, it is perfectly rational and appropriate to question what motives may be at work.  

But when speculation along the lines of "Why do they want me to believe this?" takes precedence over accurately answering the basic questions, we are starting to wander down the rabbit hole of paranoid conspiracy thinking.

David Wong on America's Urban Elites

Cracked editor / writer David Wong (aka Jason Pargin) - himself a native of rural Illinois - has a splendid article on how half of America went crazy during this election season.  Yes, it's about Donald Trump, but it's not really about Donald Trump.

Every TV show is about LA or New York, maybe with some Chicago or Baltimore thrown in. When they did make a show about us, we were jokes -- either wide-eyed, naive fluffballs (Parks And Recreation, and before that, Newhart) or filthy murderous mutants (True Detective, and before that, Deliverance). You could feel the arrogance from hundreds of miles away. ...
Basic, obvious truths that have gone unquestioned for thousands of years now get laughed at and shouted down -- the fact that hard work is better than dependence on government, that children do better with both parents in the picture, that peace is better than rioting, that a strict moral code is better than blithe hedonism, that humans tend to value things they've earned more than what they get for free, that not getting exploded by a bomb is better than getting exploded by a bomb.

Go read the whole article at the link.


Election 2016

Until recently, I've refrained from debating the upcoming Presidential election, or even discussing it at all.  The 2016 election season has been extremely contentious, and I decided it wasn't worth potentially losing friends over.  Besides, I like to take my time coming to an important decision.

So with all that said, I have made up my mind about this year's race, and I will be writing more about it soon, probably after the holiday season is over (Simchat Torah is the Tuesday after next).



'Everyone who lived here said those things: provincial, self-satisfied, boring. If you said that, it showed you recognized these qualities but did not partake of them yourself.'

-Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye


When anarchy is passed off as so-called "liberalism", the defense of true liberal values appears "right-wing".


The Left wants to represent the immigrant/refugee crisis as a referendum on humanitarianism and tolerance. It is not. Nobody is objecting to lawful immigration by people of good intentions who are willing to work, nor to the offering of safe quarter to those innocents who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home nations.

What is objected to, is the indiscriminate admission of foreigners whose intent is less than honorable, without the consent of the citizens of the host nations.


World Today: 2016-09-22 Thursday

Kenya: Al-Shabaab attack on police station in Garissa County leaves two missing. 'Two policemen are missing after Somali Islamists attacked a police base in northeastern Kenya early on Thursday, a police spokesman said, the latest in a string of cross-border raids by the al Shabaab militia.'

Golan Heights: Syria regime prepares for major operation. Debka reports that 'Six steps by the Assad regime in the last few days, reported by debkafile’s military sources, point to preparations for a massive Syrian army offensive, backed by Hizballah, pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Iranian Rev Guards officers, for clearing the strong rebel presence out of the Syrian Golan. ...'

Iraq: Army claims Shirqat under control. 'Iraq's military backed by air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition on Thursday seized the center of Shirqat, a northern town seen as a stepping stone in the campaign to recapture Mosul from Islamic State.'

USA: Rahami was flagged twice in 2014. 'When Ahmad Khan Rahami returned in March 2014 from a nearly yearlong trip to Pakistan, he was flagged by customs officials, who pulled him out for a secondary screening. Still concerned about his travel, they notified the National Targeting Center, a federal agency that assesses potential threats, two law enforcement officials said. ...'

USA: Islamic State references scrubbed from Chelsea bombing complaint. 'Earlier today, Mike Levine of ABC News tweeted the image above showing a blood-soaked page from Ahmad Khan Rahami’s notebook. The US government has accused Rahami of detonating a bomb in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 17 and planting three other explosive devices in New York and New Jersey. ... Curiously, the complaint does not include any reference to the Islamic State.'

USA: Stratfor on Chelsea bombing. 'An explosion in New Jersey on Sept. 17 marked the start of a busy two days for grassroots jihadists in the United States — and for the law enforcement officers responding to the attacks. ...' Timeline and article at the link.



Why Obama let Iran's Green Revolution fail. '... Obama wasn't just reluctant to show solidarity in 2009, he feared the demonstrations would sabotage his secret outreach to Iran. In his new book, "The Iran Wars," Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon uncovers new details on how far Obama went to avoid helping Iran's green movement. Behind the scenes, Obama overruled advisers who wanted to do what America had done at similar transitions from dictatorship to democracy, and signal America's support.'

The Iranian naval threat. '... Meanwhile, the Iranians keep improving the firepower of their fast patrol boats and adapt Western technology to further raise the threat level. They now have a semi-submersible fast patrol boat they acquired from North Korea and improved. This carries significant firepower and is hard to find and hit. They have taken British technology from the superfast Bladerunner speedboat and turned it into the Seraj-1, which exceeds 55 knots on the surface. A newer version, thought to be the Seraj-2, may reach 80 to 85 knots, far faster than anything in the U.S. inventory. And the Iranians appear able to acquire diesel engines, surface drives and other sophisticated gear from Western sources without any practical interference.'

200 yards is too close. '“Too close” has to be publicly defined. The Iranians should be put on notice that if they close to within 500 yards of any ship or boat, they will be fired on, not just given the courtesy of warning shots. Five hundred yards is about the range of a rocket-propelled grenade (though it’s hard to hit anything smaller than a large ship from that distance).'


Morning Report: 2016-08-22

Turkey promised to "cleanse" its southeastern border area of Islamic State following Saturday's attack at Gaziantep, which killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding. A security official linked the attack to earlier Islamic State bombings targeting Kurds.

Libyan government forces claim capture of mosque and prison from IS in the terrorist group's stronghold of Sirte. Long War Journal has background:

US Africa Command announced today that the US has carried out 62 “precision” airstrikes since Aug. 1 in support of “Operation Odyssey Lightning,” which seeks to dislodge the Islamic State from its stronghold in Sirte, Libya. On Aug. 17, the US bombed 13 “enemy fighting positions” and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).

Al Bunyan Al Marsoos (“Solid Structure”) operations room, which draws fighters from militias based in Misrata and is allied with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), is the main ground force seeking to clear the city. Special Forces from the US, and possibly other Western nations, are on the ground in Sirte as well. ...

Afghan government claims to have captured Khanabad district in Kunduz province.

Russia is suspending use of Iranian base at Hamadan. "Russia first used the base last week to deploy long-range bombers last week and faced international criticism for it" as part of the joint Russian / Iranian campaign to support Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Debka has more:

Monday, Aug. 22, just a week after the Russian defense ministry proudly released images of the first Russian bombardments in Syria to be launched from Nojeh airbase, which Tehran had granted Moscow near the Iranian town of Hamedan, the Iranian defense ministry snatched the concession back in a public rebuff for Moscow. The Russians had presented its Iranian acquisition as the twin of the air base granted by Syria at Kmeimim near Latakia.

However, the Iranian defense ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced baldly on Monday that the Russian mission “is finished for now.” He added that the Russian air strikes in Syria were "temporary, based on a Russian request;" they were carried out with "mutual understanding and with Iran's permission" and that the Russian mission "is finished, for now.” Iranian sources claimed that this stinging slap to the Kremlin was prompted by mounting Iranian popular and parliamentary criticism ...

Israel continues to attack terrorist targets in Gaza in response to a rocket explosion in Sderot.


Morning Report: 2016-08-17

North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production. 'North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production by reprocessing spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as perceived U.S. threats remain, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday. ...'

Munich raises beerfest security after jihadi threats. 'Organizers of the world's biggest beer festival, Munich's Oktoberfest, have raised security after Islamist attacks in Germany last month, including banning rucksacks, introducing security checks at all entrances and erecting fencing. ...'

Leaked Soros memo on refugee crisis. 'A leaked memo from left-wing financier George Soros’s Open Society Foundations argues that Europe’s refugee crisis should be accepted as a “new normal,” and that the refugee crisis means “new opportunities” for Soros’ organization to influence immigration policies on a global scale. ...'