Thursday, September 11, 2014

et ceteras

Never forget
Today is 9/11, the thirteenth such date to pass since the one on which Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers and damaged the Pentagon -- and on which they would have also destroyed the White House, had it not been for the valor of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.

But the date 9/11 is not only about the 2001 attack, for today also marks the second anniversary of the attack on our country's consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the murder of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Notably, that attack happened on the same day that the Muslim Brotherhood stoked anti-American riots in Cairo. Surely it was no coincidence that those things happened on the 11th day of September.

If we allow our memories of those events to fade, we do so at our own peril because the threat of Islamic terrorism is as imminent as ever. Perhaps it is even more imminent, since mullahs in the Middle East are creeping closer to nuclear capability while imams in the West are recruiting more than a few U.S. and U.K. nationals to join the jihadists.

As for now
Fortunately, due to the recent beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, even hardcore leftists seem to be under no current illusions about how real the terrorist threat is. But isn't it horrible to be in the position of using the word "fortunately" to discuss any fallout that flows from such barbarism? And isn't it horrible that it took beheadings to rouse so many Americans from their slumber, since, after all, Foley and Sotloff were not the first American journalists to have their craniums sawed off by Islamic swords.

On an official level, our president has finally acknowledged the authenticity of the threat posed by ISIS. However, he has not made it clear whether he understands that ISIS is just one piece of a much larger puzzle, and that the threat comes from the puzzle as a whole. Even if we were to destroy ISIS, that would not, in and of itself, remove the threats posed by al Qaeda, by al Qaeda's affiliates, by nuclear ambitious Iran, by the Assad regime in Syria, by Hamas, by Hezbollah, by the Muslim Brotherhood, by the resurgent Taliban, et al. In short, our enemy is terrorist Islam, and until our government clearly identifies it as such and clearly combats it as such, our chances for defeating it are small.

Obama's speech last night got it right as far as the tone was concerned. He finally spotlighted the contrast between the good done by America and the bad done by ISIS, and he finally showed resolve in standing up to the bad guys. But as you can gather from the above paragraph, I think he failed to adequately identify the bad guys. Also, I think he erred badly by declaring that we will not engage in a ground war, because once you tell your enemies what you aren't willing to do, you essentially hand them a guide book on how to defeat you.

And I think his idea of building a coalition, while good and honorable, is unworkable given the way he has been loathe to lead since taking office and the multitude of ways he has betrayed our friends (see Poland and the Czech Republic vis-a-vis our promised missile shield, Ukraine vis-a-vis giving them weapons to defend themselves against Russia, Israel vis-a-vis everything, Canada vis-a-vis the Keystone pipeline). Our friends have good reasons for not trusting him, and that makes the lifting he must do all the more difficult. Hopefully he proves himself up to the task.

What a paragraph
Regarding Obama's penchant for trying to prop up his agenda (and himself) by concocting myths that never were, check out this deadly accurate paragraph by Victor Davis Hanson:

Most of the assertions uttered in the 2009 Cairo speech were untrue, from false claims about Islamic achievement to supposed Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition in Cordoba -- at a time when there were no Muslims in Cordoba. Emperor Hirohito no more surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or FDR were in office when their respective wars ended and they supposedly agreed to prisoner exchanges -- or than Barack Obama's grandfather helped to free Auschwitz. Obama sees history in the same postmodernist fashion in which he looks upon his own past -- details are constructed by everyone, and thus truth is a relative construct that should not be adjudicated by those with privilege against those who are using narratives to advance social justice. The result is that almost any time the president makes reference to the past, ours or his, we can assume two things: His facts are wrong, and they are wrong in a way that is meant to highlight his own godhead.

In case you are one of the two or three people who still doubts whether Obama makes stuff up, consider that he once told the British-born journalist Richard Wolffe, while smiling: "You know, I actually believe my own bullshit." I don't need to point out that Obama would never describe his claims as "bullshit" if he really thought they were factual, do I?

Freedom of speech
Or as Ice-T put it back in '89: Freedom of speech...just watch what you say.

In case you haven't heard, the U.S. Senate is set to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effectively repeal the First Amendment. The measure was authored by New Mexico's Tom Udall and is being championed by Nevada's Harry Reid, both of whom are Democrats.

It is extremely unlikely to pass, especially since that would require a long run in which it must be ratified by 38 of the 50 states. Nonetheless, it is chilling to think that Reid is bringing it to a vote. To read about it you may go here and here (and I am sure you may go to many other sources as well).

Ray Rice
I thought from the beginning that a two-game suspension was extremely weak for an incident in which Rice was known to have knocked out his fiancee with an intentional punch.

But I have to come clean about something. I also thought the public should withhold its harshest judgment about Rice, and my reasoning went like this: "There is a second video the public hasn't seen -- the one from inside the elevator -- and surely the NFL, with all its resources and power, has seen it. So if they only gave Rice two games and Janay herself does not want charges to be pressed, surely that video must show her attacking him in some way that shows his punch was understandable, even if it's not forgivable."

Well, thanks to TMZ we have now seen the other video and all it does is make Rice look worse. Janay approached him and was clearly irritated, but she did not approach him with arms flailing or fists clenched; and his response was not to talk back to her, or shoo her away, or even restrain her. Instead his response was to level her with a vicious left hook to the face, which he delivered so fast that it's barely a blur even when you are looking for it.

The NFL claims it did not see the video until TMZ released it, but somebody from law enforcement claims the NFL is lying about that. The million dollar question is whether or not the NFL is lying. If it is, the PR damage to the league could (and should) be as bad as the damage done to Major League Baseball by the 1919 Black Sox scandal. And if the league's "didn't see it" claim is a lie, Roger Goodell must go. Immediately.

But then there is this: What about Ray and Janay as a couple? They got married after the elevator incident and she is passionately standing by him at the time. Most of us attribute that to some kind of abused woman psychological defect, but what if she's right and we're wrong? What if this incident really was a 30-second anomaly, fueled by alcohol, that would never repeat itself? What if Ray Rice is genuinely contrite and has prostrated himself before Jesus and is trying to put the pieces of his and Janay's lives back together? What good does it do either of them, or their prospective children, to brand him with a scarlet letter and obliterate his earnings potential while he is still in his twenties?

Thinking about this case makes my head spin like it's going down a whirlpool to the bottom of the sea. I don't know the answers and I don't think any of us do.

Speaking of Jesus
Go here for an excellent interview of David Limbaugh by Kathryn Jean Lopez, touching on the former's book in which he takes an empirical look at the existence and divinity of Jesus. I have not read the book, but after reading the interview I certainly want to. Limbaugh was once a skeptic and the topic makes me think of something I have often felt to be true: Where religion is concerned, the world's most authentic believers worked their minds through tumultuous periods of doubt before arriving at a state of true belief.

And finally...
...I am signing off. That was one long "et ceteras." I'll be back soon enough.

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