PowerLine – McCain Tees Off on Obama – Gays, Lesbians Thinking About Self-Defense
- McCain Tees Off on Obama
- Gays, Lesbians Thinking About Self-Defense
- Is Trump Our Charles de Gaulle?
- Loose Ends (5)
- Obama’s new clothes
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 02:21 PM PDT
Today John McCain told reporters that Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for Omar Mateen’s terrorist attack in Orlando:
“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” a visibly angry McCain told reporters in the Capitol as the Senate debated a spending bill.
“So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies,” McCain said.
Questioned on his startling assertion, McCain repeated it: “Directly responsible. Because he pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”
Democrats responded predictably:
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said McCain’s “unhinged comments are just the latest proof that Senate Republicans are puppets of Donald Trump.”
Talk about unhinged!
The Weekly Standard says that McCain subsequently issued a clarification that did not materially retreat from his initial assertion:
I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible,” he said. “I was referring to President Obama’s national security decision, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.
The case certainly can be made that Obama’s disgraceful decision to withdraw prematurely from Iraq, which he seems to have taken mostly out of spite, was the key factor that allowed ISIS to become a force in the region. My own view is that the only persons “directly responsible” for Mateen’s mass murders are Mateen and those radical Muslims who inspired him. But it is easy to sympathize with McCain’s frustration, and, while he may have overstated the case, it is good to see a Republican going hard after Obama’s foreign policy failures.
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 12:12 PM PDT
In the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack, firearms–especially AR-15s, which the Democrats want to ban–are flying off the shelves. And quite a few of them are being sold to gays and lesbians:
Gun shops typically see a spike in customers after mass shootings. But this time, many are seeing shoppers they’ve never really seen before: More gays and lesbians. …
[W]hat’s different this time around is the clientele. Mike Smith, a firearms instructor in Colorado Springs, is one of many closely tracking the sudden surge in gays and lesbians buying weapons.
“I think right now because of what happened, people are looking for answers,” he said. “You walk into a gun shop and you expect to see people, frankly, who look like me. I think we forget we’re a country of all people, not just people who fit that predetermined mold.”
The Pink Pistols is a national gun club for gays and lesbians. It saw its membership soar from about 1,500 members on Saturday to 3,500 on Monday.
All around the country, gun owners are offering free shooting instruction to gays and lesbians. And in West Hollywood, these posters appeared overnight:
Shoot back: that’s good advice, and a lot of people have figured out that it isn’t necessarily safe to wait for police to intervene (three hours in the case of the Orlando massacre). The real legal loophole relating to guns that came to light as a result of the Orlando attack is the Florida law that makes all bars gun-free zones. That should be changed immediately.
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 11:23 AM PDT
The most frequent cliché about Trump from his detractors is that he’s the next Hitler, which is silly. Trump may be many defective things, but he’s not that.
But I wonder if he might be our Charles de Gaulle? Just to be clear, I think Trump is a pygmy compared to de Gaulle intellectually (there really can’t be any comparison between de Gaulle’s Edge of the Sword and Trump’s Art of the Deal), but there are some notable similarities between both men as political phenomena that point toward taking Trump and Trumpism seriously, and moreover as something fundamentally different from ordinary political categories.
Let’s start with a few “superficialities,” though I’m never sure that things we think are superficial don’t add up to something real and important. De Gaulle, like Trump, was physically imposing and embodied something elemental or primal in his physical bearing and presence on the public stage.
De Gaulle could be thought of as the George Washington of modern France,—the indispensable military commander who was by turns the indispensable political leader during and after World War II. His war memoirs are remarkable reading for showing de Gaulle’s deep perception of the necessary unity of his military strategy and his understanding that France had to play a leading role in the conflict even if the capacities of the Free French army weren’t much, because it was essential if France was to emerge from the war as a great and proud nation rather than as a nation humiliated, divided, and diminished by its military surrender to Germany on the battlefield and in its political surrender represented by the Vichy regime. (And what’s one of the terms of derision used about Republicans in DC these days? “Vichy Republicans.” Not fair, I think, but it does help explain why only someone like Trump could be seen as a remedy.) This explains de Gaulle’s often overbearing manner with his superior allies in the war, which often infuriated Churchill and FDR. What are the terms most often used to describe de Gaulle? “Intransigent, obstinate, domineering,” etc. The man was simply outrageous at times but often got his way by sheer force of will. If France was to be a great power, he thought, he must insist that it be treated as a great power. Full stop.
In politics de Gaulle was to large extent aloof from the fractious parties of the time (just as Trump is obviously aloof from either party or their ideological orthodoxies), because his idea of France was always larger than the schematic policy ideologies of any particular party, and his own personality was larger than any one party. It was precisely this self-cultivated image and towering willfulness that caused France to turn to him in the two subsequent post-war crises: the Algeria mess in 1958, and the near-revolution of 1968.
And what was his idea of France? See if the opening paragraph of his war memoirs doesn’t sound more than a little familiar:
All my life I have thought of France in a certain way. This is inspired by sentiment as much as by reason. The emotional side of me tends to imagine France, like the princess in the fairy stories or the Madonna in the frescoes, as dedicated to an exalted and exceptional destiny. Instinctively I have the feeling that Providence has created her either for complete successes of for exemplary misfortunes. If in spite of this, mediocrity shows in her acts and deeds, it strikes me as an absurd anomaly, to be imputed to the faults of Frenchmen, not to the genius of the land. But the positive side of my mind also assures me that France is not really herself unless in the front rank; that only vast enterprises are capable of counterbalancing the ferments of dispersal which are inherent in her people; that our country, as it is, surrounded by the others, must aim high and hold itself straight, on pain of mortal danger. In short, to my mind, France cannot be France without greatness. (Emphasis added.)
Seems to me that Trump, in his inarticulate rhetoric, sees things exactly this way. Moreover, in his 1931 book The Edge of the Sword de Gaulle wrote that “one does not move crowds other than by basic feelings, violent images, brutal invocations.” Yeah, that’s Trump, too.
There’s more I can say about other parallels, but it should be kept in mind that at the end of his life, de Gaulle thought he had largely failed in his aims. A cautionary tale about the limitations of political action, and more.
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 09:08 AM PDT
• George Will thinks Republicans should ditch Trump and draft Mitch Daniels for president. I heartily agree with the idea, though I doubt you can persuade Daniels to do it. I tried once, in 2011. Will:
Without explicitly mentioning the paranoia currently convulsing many campuses, Daniels identified its origin. He said that “even more absurd” than the idea that life is a lottery is the idea that “most of us are victims of some kind, and therefore in desperate need of others to protect us against a world of predators and against our own gullibility.”
Daniels’s words to the Class of 2016 clarify why the 2016 presidential campaign offers an echo, not a choice. The presumptive Democratic nominee is a progressive committed to government ambitious enough to iron the wrinkles of luck out of life, and to distribute equity to life’s victims, meaning to everyone. The presumptive Republican nominee is a world-class whiner (a victim of debate moderators who are meanies, and most recently of a “rigged” judicial system) who is telling Americans that they are comprehensively victimized (by wily Chinese exporters, manufacturers making Oreo cookies abroad, freeloading allies, etc.). Purdue has the president the nation needs.
• The (London) Spectator, a soberest publication, has come out in favor of Brexit. Their editorial is behind a subscription paywall, but this link gets you to it through a workaround.) Sample:
Since 1975 the EU has mutated in exactly the way we then feared and now resembles nothing so much as the Habsburg Empire in its dying days. A bloated bureaucracy that has outgrown all usefulness. A parliament that represents many nations, but with no democratic legitimacy. Countries on its periphery pitched into poverty or agitating for secession. The EU’s hunger for power has been matched only by its incompetence. The European Union is making the people of our continent poorer, and less free.
This goes far beyond frustration at diktats on banana curvature. The EU has started to deform our government. Michael Gove revealed how, as a cabinet member, he regularly finds himself having to process edicts, rules, and regulations that have been framed at European level. Laws that no one in Britain had asked for, and which no one elected to the House of Commons has the power to change. What we refer to as British government is increasingly no such thing. It involves the passing of laws written by people whom no one in Britain elected, no one can name and no one can remove.
Sort of sounds like Washington, DC, and its relationship to the states, doesn’t it?
• Some internet hackers are hacking into ISIS Twitter feeds and spamming them with porn and homoeroticism. I like the spirit of this, but I’m not convinced that ISIS folks aren’t actually in favor of porn and homoeroticism. It sent me back to Richard Grenier’s fabulous 1983 comic novel, The Marrakesh One-Two. If Grenier had been more famous, he’d have had the fatwa against him before Rushdie. Read especially the opening paragraph of chapter 9. That’s all I’ll say. (Though I will share it with our VIP subscribers in our resumed regular VIP Briefings. Another reason to subscribe and become a VIP member!)
• Speaking of hackers, isn’t there something circular about hacking a hack like Hillary? Anyway, the Russian hack of the DNC website has yielded what purports to be the 210-page opposition file on Donald Trump. Mother Jones has posted it here. Maybe someone wants us to believe it is a hack to get the whole thing out there all at once? Related question: why didn’t the Russians hack the RNC? Probably because there’s no intelligence to be found there. (Rim shot!)
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 06:40 AM PDT
Events have conspired to make President Obama look like a fool, as he did in his obnoxious defense of the higher wisdom of his avoidance of any mention of Islam in connection with the Orlando massacre. Obama’s higher wisdom is not only foolish, it is also lethal. Former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer John Schindler tacitly makes this point in his Observer column “The road to Orlando.” Schindler observes:
During Mr. Obama’s first term, there was a thorough purge of personnel in the Intelligence Community and the Defense Department who were unwilling to follow the new party line. People were mysteriously reassigned, contracts were suddenly canceled, meetings were delayed never to be rescheduled. The message was obvious to counterterrorism professionals. As someone who has tried for years to walk a fine line on jihadism—we must be able to discuss political Islam and terrorism without stigmatizing all Muslims—I witnessed this happen, and it was tragically clear what the long-term consequences of this institutionalized unreality would be.
In his remarks earlier this week, I loved Obama’s citation of the advisers with whom he has surrounded himself. Their advice comports with what Schindler calls “the new party line.” They wouldn’t be where they are if it didn’t. Yet Obama thinks their agreement with him should be highly persuasive to us.
Here is how Obama put it: “Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man if we really use that phrase [radical Islam], we’re going to turn this whole thing around.’ Not once.”
Some might say that’s the problem. Some might think of the story regarding the emperor’s new clothes. For us, it’s Obama’s new clothes. For Obama, it’s case closed.
“Fundamental transformation,” and all that. Obama’s enforcement of the silence regarding Islam is only one aspect of the hole in which we find ourselves and not the biggest part, but it is telling.