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Media Matters

Radical Islam Is Radical Islam

By 7.22.15

When radical Islam strikes as it did last week in Chattanooga where four Marines and a Navy sailor were murdered by Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez at two military facilities, it never ceases to amaze how the mainstream media so eagerly to minimize what is staring us right in the face.

Enter Brian Ross of ABC News. 

You might remember that it was Ross who, in the wake of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado three years ago, said that the suspect Jim Holmes was listed as a member of the Colorado Tea Party. Yes, there was a Jim Holmes who was active with the Tea Party in Colorado. Only he was a 52-year old Hispanic male who, other than sharing his name, bore no resemblance to the 24-year old white male ex-medical student who was ultimately charged with the crime. As I wrote at the time:

Buy the Book

America at an Ominous Crossroads

By 7.22.15

Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order
By James Piereson
(Encounter, 389 pages, $27.99) 

Authors of history books often design them with a unifying theme, a so-called theory of history. Henry Steele Commager, one of the most ardent promoters of liberal politics in the 20th century, once explained his partisanship by saying, “History is a jangle of accidents, blunders, surprises and absurdities, and so is our knowledge of it, but if we are to report it at all we must impose some order upon it.”

Arnold Toynbee, whose prodigious A Study of History won worldwide acclaim in the 1950s, built his structure around the theory that a common religious belief has driven the rise of civilizations. His fellow Englishman Paul Johnson, whose Modern Times won popularity in the 1980s, followed a similar theme in citing “moral relativity” with its absence of firm values and standards as the acid that dissolves civilizations.

The Current Crisis

Barack the Garrulous

By 7.22.15

“Things fall apart,” as Yeats was wont to say, “The center cannot hold.” The center is most assuredly falling apart today, and who is at the center? Well, his name is Barack H. Obama. He is our president, and I think many Americans wish he would shut down. Every time he pipes up, especially on a peripheral issue, he makes things worse—no, not worse, appalling.

Political Hay

Trump and the Chattering Class

By 7.22.15

It is a toss-up as to who is more bombastic: Donald Trump or his critics in the chattering class. The latter is generating sympathy for him among primary voters by reacting so hysterically and pompously to a handful of off-the-cuff remarks. How bad can he be, they conclude, if liberals are calling for him to “leave the race” and boycotting him like a Christian baker?

In some respects, Trump’s critics exceed his bombast. They obnoxiously present themselves as arbiters of who is and who is not worthy of running in a party they hate. Their unsolicited advice on the “best candidate for the GOP” is always fatal.

So if primary voters are shrugging off their sanctimonious treatment of a trivial exchange of insults between John McCain and Trump, that’s no surprise. They long ago learned not to take the chattering class’s self-important outrage seriously.

A Further Perspective

Chattanooga and the Fact-Free Left

By 7.21.15

The outrage over another multiple murder of American military personnel on American soil by another Islamic extremist has been exacerbated by the fact that these military people had been ordered to be unarmed — and therefore sitting ducks.

Millions of American civilians have also been forbidden to have guns, and are also sitting ducks — for criminals, terrorists, or psychos.

You might think that, before having laws or policies forcing fellow human beings to be defenseless targets, those who support such laws and policies would have some factual basis for believing that these gun restrictions save more lives, on net balance, than allowing more legal access to firearms. But you would be wrong.

Most gun control zealots show not the slightest interest in testing empirically their beliefs or assumptions. There have been careful factual studies by various scholars of what happens after gun control laws have been instituted, strengthened, or reduced.

Political Hay

The Media Missed the Main Event

By 7.21.15

First, let’s briefly analyze the latest pro wrestling spectacle surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. There is better, and more important, material on the other side of this column.

Trump is more showman than leader, more carnival barker than politician. As such, he will flourish in the early stages of his White House run so long as he manages to entertain the masses — and when the public’s expectations change from “keep me interested” to “look presidential,” he’s no longer going to be a major factor in the GOP race.

What Trump is doing, and what he did again in scoffing at ancient establishmentarian senator John McCain’s Vietnam record (“He’s a war hero because he was captured; I like people who weren’t captured,” a direct plagiarism of a 2008 Chris Rock comedy bit), isn’t just political theater. He’s sticking pins in the political establishment.

The Energy Spectator

Mexico Begins to Share Its Oil Prize

By 7.21.15

Understanding the connection between energy and economic growth, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto set out to reform his country’s energy policy and invite outside intelligence and investment to boost slumping oil output. In late 2013, he succeeded in getting the constitution amended to allow private and foreign companies to explore and produce oil and gas in Mexico—for the first time in nearly eight decades. The amendments put an end to the government monopoly. Foreign companies can now compete with, or partner with, Pemex—the national oil company. Nieto hopes his reforms will bring in $50 billion in investment by 2018.

Main Street U.S.A.

Return of the ’60s

By 7.21.15

And so, as the 1968 election draws nearer...

I know — some of you are thinking that I meant to write 2016 but fouled up my typing.

Nope.

Though the calendar year we live in is 2015, in spirit the moment closely resembles the 1960s. Maybe it is the ’60s. Maybe, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, we awaken each morning to find ourselves living in a long-gone decade, with Sonny and Cher providing musical accompaniment.

The notion took on more flesh over the weekend with the outbreak, in Phoenix, of a patented ’60s-style event — the shouting down of a presidential candidate by a mob of yahoos. I call the mobsters yahoos despite the pass they earn from many for “demonstrating while black.” The mobsters wanted tried and (I had supposed) bona fide lefty, ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, to join them in vowing to dismantle “structural racism.” So they took over the stage of a way, way left-wing gathering where O’Malley was speaking.

The Obama Watch

Below the Headlines, the Real Obama Story

By 7.21.15

Despite having his best week this year a few weeks back, Obama remains decidedly out of favor. The contrast between his current successes and his long-term political erosion could not be starker. The real question is: How can Obama be winning so big and still doing so badly? 

As June closed, Obama arguably had one of his presidency's best weeks with big Congressional and Court successes.

In Congress he won trade promotion authority (TPA), which gives trade agreements he negotiates an expedited and protected path through Congress. In the Supreme Court, Obamacare received a crucial verdict allowing continuation of its subsidies, another ruling upholding the administration's targeting of unintended bias in housing, and a third upholding the constitutionality of gay-marriage.

For an administration less than two years from ending and facing a strong opposition Congress, any positives are welcome. To get them in areas so central to its legacy and its agenda, they are even more so. However, there are good reasons to delay reappraising Obama too quickly.

First, Obama's “victories” are less than they appear. 

Special Report

The Third Obama Term

By 7.21.15

Pundits of the left and the right have spilled much digital ink on Donald Trump in recent weeks, increasing in recent days with his unconscionable comments about John McCain. (McCain is not my favorite politician but a fighter pilot who refuses early release from the Hanoi Hilton because other members of our military had been there longer than he had is by any measure a war hero.)

Democrats enjoy what they wrongly perceive to be a massive Republican circular firing squad and a public being pushed to believe that Trump is representative of the broader GOP.

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