Category Archives: Politics

They’re all at it

My friend Phil wrote to ask what I thought of the current groping scandal engulfing his home state Senator Al Franken. Truth to tell, I don’t think much of any of the current groping/molestation/sexual assault/rape charges flying around. I would love to say that I was shocked and appalled, but I’m not. Not because non-consensual sexual activity is ever acceptable. It isn’t. Rather because, short of going full Mike Pence and never being alone with a woman who is not your wife, every man is open to the accusations and in the current climate of “I believe the woman” has no possible comeback. Worse, the “crime” has been defined down to such a degree that the British Minister of Defence felt compelled to resign over a “knee grazing” incident which a) happened inadvertently, b) did not outrage the owner of the knee in question, c) occurred fifteen years ago and went unremarked ever since.

Lots of pixels have been spilt making fine distinctions between assorted levels of groping, outright assault, feelings of discomfort and so on. Even more have died in trying to discern what level of historic evidence should be required before a man loses his career, is shunned by his colleagues and is replaced by Christopher Plummer.

Frankly, I think it is all a huge waste of time in almost every case. Sen. Franken was idiotic enough to have a picture snapped of his grope (which was not, by the way, the worst allegation made against him). In most of the other cases, the evidence is ten or twenty or even forty-year-old memories of encounters where drugs and drink were ubiquitous and modern standards of “sober, enthusiastic consent” were unknown. Of course, there were power imbalances; Monica did not arrive in the Oval with a penchant for cigars. And Bill was simply following in the footsteps of JFK and LBJ. Was he wrong? Of course, he was, so was Jack Kennedy getting blowjobs from 19-year-old interns. Harvey Weinstein, pig that he is, was in the tradition of Hollywood producers stretching back to silent films. (Kennedy’s father among them.) No one could possibly be surprised.

As to the furor surrounding Judge Moore, there is only one accusation which I consider disqualifying if true and that is the outlying charge that Moore took a 14-year-old girl back to his home and tried to become intimate with her. I say outlying because all the other initial instances were with girls old enough to consent and whose testimony suggested that Moore was pretty much a gent throughout. (And yes, there is lots creepy about a 32-year-old guy taking a 16-year-old girl out. But that, to my mind is not disqualifying if the behaviour has not continued.) [The woman with the yearbook – and Gloria Allred as her lawyer – is not plausible until she turns the yearbook over for handwriting analysis. Right now I suspect she is Moore’s best chance to discredit all the stories.] But the Moore matters all turn on evidence which is 30 or 40 years old and which has only come to light a month before a hotly contested election. He has a perfect right to push back.

And so it goes. Right this instant, as at the height of the Salem witch trials, a denunciation becomes a conviction in the flick of a tweet. Plausibility is now a matter of sheer numbers with 5 apparently being the magic number.  There is no defence and heartfelt contrition, as Sen.Franken is discovering, is not enough. The Salem witch trials burnt themselves out but not until 19 people had been hung and one “pressed” to death with heavy rocks. They ended for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was that “spectral evidence”, essentially dreams and hallucinations, was no longer accepted at face value.

At a certain point, and I suspect we are getting close to that point, the rush to accuse men of sexually inappropriate (and what an awful word that is) behaviour on the basis of shaky, historical, evidence will collide with the entirely devastating consequences for the men so accused. Sheep will be sorted from goats. Rapists like Clinton or Weinstein will, finally, be flung into outer darkness. So, I am afraid, will goofs like Al Franken who are dumb enough to have incriminating photos floating around. But the evidentiary standard is going to tighten as well. Dim chanting of “I believe the woman.” will be replaced with, “No ruin without evidence.”

But there are a few things we can learn from the current hysteria. First, very powerful men take advantage of that power. This is a reminder, not news. A nodding acquaintance with Roman history, or British or French monarchs, or the biography of Lloyd George or Asquith for that matter, not to mention Kissinger’s aphorism that “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” will serve to confirm this fact. Reading Keith Richard’s wonderful autobiography, Life, will serve to confirm this in another sphere.

Second, power is situational. The VP marketing for a tiny company may be in a position of relative power vis a vis his staff and the vendors who want to sell to that company. It is a pretty sure thing that if you looked at the conduct of 100 such VPs you’d find a few, perhaps more than a few, who after a few drinks got very handsy indeed.

Third, none of this is a secret. We all knew. We all know. And “we” in this case includes women as well as men. Which is why I am not shocked nor, realistically, should anyone be who has spent time in the business, entertainment or political worlds. In fact, just day to day life will throw up instances of men using position to “get at” women. It is wrong and disgusting but it is also the way of the world and knowing that is part of growing up.

Optimistically, it is possible that the current generation of men, as they enter adulthood will have absorbed more egalitarian principles. But I doubt it. Against all the schoolmarm indoctrination about “appropriate” behaviour and “sober, enthusiastic, consent”, are ranged the full impacts of internet porn, hip-hop culture and a thoroughly sexualized media and advertising industry. Worse, the feminist doctrines of female sexual emancipation have created a Tinder culture where women are just as likely as men to swipe right and hook up. Obviously not every woman is on the hunt, but enough are to complicate things.

Even more complicating is the fact women have been known to use their beauty to get ahead.  The wonderful, and very beautiful, Nancy Huston writes,

“My beauty has gotten me many places, to some of which I very badly wanted to go, and to some of which I did not want to go at all. Over the years, I’ve watched it attack and corrode borders, then take me with it into foreign territories. Borders are ideas erected between age groups, social classes, all sorts of hierarchical entities, in order that society may function as predictably and as decently as possible. They are not solid brick walls. Beauty eats them away. This is the truth; we’ve all seen it happen, though it happens differently in different places” Dealing with What’s Dealt (excerpt)

While I am quite certain the current mania will pass, the underlying issues of sexuality, consent and power are not being addressed. Nor do I think they will be. Like a lot of other human behaviour, it is pretty much impossible to come up with top down rules governing sexually charged behaviour between adults. I suppose a company might make it a firing offence to be alone with a member of the opposite (or same, because, gay) sex. But I can’t see that working very well and, fairly quickly, it would be routinely ignored. And would a rule against older men dating younger women get off the ground? Should we go back to the days of chaperones? (Which, in the current climate, maybe an emerging Hollywood profession.)  I don’t think any set of rules dealing with sexuality will work.

A more promising avenue is an ethical philosophical commitment to treating all people as ends in themselves. Whether it is sex or business or school gate acquaintanceship,  it makes sense to treat people with kindness and respect rather than as mere instruments. This sort of approach would take a long time to gain traction but, in the long run, solves a lot more problems than just sexual misbehaviour. It is more than a little utopian but it is something you can teach your children right now. It is also something which HR departments, schools and universities,  can use in place of the brain dead “zero tolerance” dogma which gets in the way of a healthy business or learning environment. Best of all, it provides a framework for conduct and a scaffold for dealing with misconduct. It recognizes that “all or nothing” is an entirely inhuman way of understanding human behaviour.

A commitment to treating people as ends in themselves would also provide a means for individuals to redeem behaviour which fell beneath that standard. Instead of mouthing platitudes, Sen. Franken, possibly with the help of an applied ethicist, could set about making amends to the woman (well, women, it appears) he groped and, in the process, actually set his sights higher. Even criminal acts, such as Clinton’s or Weinstein’s rapes, while attracting criminal sanction, could also involve making amends.

I am deeply skeptical about the efficacy of any top down “rules” for behaviour; but I am deeply optimistic that men and women can learn simple, universally applicable, ethical principles and apply them in day to day life. We may not always meet those ethical goals, but having them at all is a good first step.

 

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Bannon 1, GOPe -5

Judge Roy Moore is about the last person I would want to see in the US Senate. But, and here’s the thing, he has the right friends and, more importantly, the right enemies. He thrashed swamp creature Luther Strange in the Republican runoff primary tonight.

No doubt he will bring his God-fearing, fundamentalist, Christian principles to Washington and enjoy a richly deserved obscurity in a back corner of the Senate. All of which does not matter.

The fight here is against “business as usual” in Washington and a win for McConnell backed Strange would have been all about continuing the dysfunction which is Washington politics.

Steve Bannon understood that and went all in for Moore simply for the message it would carry.

The message was received loud and clear by Tennessee Senator Bob Corker who announced he was not running again in 2018. As a RINO, Corker was pretty certain to be primaried. So he quit. A number of other quasi Republicans are expected to do much the same thing in the next few weeks.

The Moore win, in the face of a 30 million dollar campaign and the lukewarm endorsement of Strange by Trump (apparently under pressure from the useless GOPe), has made Bannon and Brietbart the single most imposing political machine in the US. It is dedicated to Trump but the old Trump, not the shiny new, Democrat-leaning, confection of the generals and the Kushners.

Now, from what I can see, Trump hates losing. He hates making mistakes. Supporting Strange for a handful of McConnell’s magic beans was a mistake. But, and here is the thing, Bannon is smart enough to let Trump climb down with Grace. However, Bannon is not going to stop in Alabama or Tennessee. Leaving out Tennessee, there are seven Republican seats in play. Several RINOs need ejection.

At a guess, we have seen the last time Trump is going to intervene in a primary fight where Bannon has a preferred candidate. It didn’t work this time and there is no reason to believe it will work in other races. Which leaves the table open for Bannon to run against GOPe wherever they pop up. Flake in Arizona is the obvious target, but there are several others.

Bannon has Mercer money, lots of it, available for the right fights. He has Breitbart. He has an all-star cast of deplorables from Sarah Palin to Phil Robertson to Nigel Farage (which I think is hysterical). He has an agenda which actually contains policy. Most of all he has the fact that the Senate and House Republicans can’t seem to get anything done even with a sitting President.

As Trump’s adventures in football are demonstrating, Trump knows how to keep his base onside; but Trump without Bannon is an empty suit. Fortunately, Bannon is well aware of this and is taking full advantage. The Generals and the GOPe leadership may think they have the Donald in harness but they couldn’t deliver in Alabama and it is unlikely Trump will risk another humiliation at the hand of his biggest, and smartest supporter.

Some whacko Alabama judge won a runoff election tonight, Steve Bannon gained control of the electoral fortunes of the entire Republican Party. Bannon was wasted inside the White House. It was like asking Captain Kidd to command a Royal Navy Man ‘o War, he could do the job but never be comfortable in the position. Now Bannon is loose.

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Sheep from goats

The mayhem in Charlottesville was pretty much locked in when the Swastika was unfurled and neo-Nazi chants about Jews filled the air. The antifa people are usually exaggerating when they go on about how nationalist=white supremacist=Nazi, but in Charlottesville that reasoning was not wrong.

Here’s the thing: if Nazis, real live Jew hating Nazis, join your protest and you let them, their stench will infect everything you do. Over on the left people are at pains to distance themselves from BlackBloc whack jobs. The right needs to do the same thing with Nazis.

This is not a question of free speech or free association: the Nazis have a perfect right to both; rather it is a question of whether of not the resurgent right wants to accept Nazis tagging along for the ride. If the right and alt-right people are OK with Nazis in their midst then they will simply lose the vast majority of their supporters. However, if they make it very clear that Nazis are unwelcome they can carry on an build support. And by “making it clear” I mean to the point that Nazis at right wing gatherings are more likely to be punched by alt-right people than antifa.

If the Nazis want to organize their own demos they can go right ahead; but the serious right need to make sure that there is no place for Nazis on the right side of the aisle.

(And, just to avoid confusion, America’s own KKK needs to be bunged in the same barrel as Nazis.)

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CNN Blackmails a 15 year old??

Out in Twitter Land at  there is a very interesting story emerging about the silly Trump WWF/CNN tweet. Apparently, CNN took it upon themselves to track down the perpetrator of this lese majeste. While they can’t quite find the evidence of Trump colluding with the Russians they were able to find the evilton. Who is 15.

CNN nobly declined to publish his name while referring to him as “the man” who created the video.

CNN is not publishing “HanA**holeSolo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
Huge mistake.
What CNN has now done is let loose the firestorm of Reddit, 4Chan and 8 Chan on their unsuspecting heads. Internet rule is you do not threaten to “dox” someone, especially some 15 year old kid with a silly sense of humour unless you are willing to reap the consequences.
At the moment Twitter is hosting the address and home details of Wolf Blitzer’s house. And it will get worse. Much, much worse.

Once the “anything goes with CNN” meme gets going there is an army of technically sophisticated, boundary free, kids out there ready, willing and able to hack feeds, websites and create brilliant memes.

End of CNN? Not likely. Rather the end of CNN as any sort of respected news source. Those kids are brilliant and seriously without constraints. Pretty much anything can happen when they take up a cause. And looking at Twitter tonight they are ready to roll.

You think BLM is irritating…wait until you see 4 Chan unleashed.

Update: Trump’s tweet tomorrow:

Kid had spunk. Funny guy. CNN blackmails him….He’s coming to the White House. Like the clock guy.

Update #2: So CNN is saying that it was not a 15 year old they were attempting to blackmail, it was an adult. Oddly, this does not seem to have helped their case much.
Plus, there seems to be a good chance that the meme Trump used was not the meme the “kid” actually made. (OK, it is Buzzfeed via Twitchy but still more reputable than CNN.)
As predicted the internet has gone nuts with the meme jihad dumping all over CNN.
Once again, the lefty media establishment’s total lack of any sense of humour is forcing errors. Add to that the MSM’s complete lack of any sort of crisis management skills and you have the perfect storm.
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Yappers

Br'er_Rabbit_and_Tar-BabyTrump.

There really has never been a President anything like Trump. Or a Presidency.

There was a fair bit of anti-Bush sentiment, and Reagan was often attacked, and, of course, Nixon was vilified long before Watergate; but for sheer, sustained, noise, anti-Trump campaigning by the Democrats and the mainstream media is an order of magnitude or two greater. Everything is a potentially impeachable offence or an indication that Trump is mentally unbalanced or both. The never-Trumpers in the RINO section of the Republican party are having a great time suggesting that Trump is a threat and a menace and needs a good impeaching.

In the hysteria virtually any bit of information, regardless of source, so long as it is anti-Trump, is a page one story. Anonymous sources say Trump revealed super secret stuff to the Russians? Perfect, Wapo is on the job and he’s a traitor or an incompetent or both. Doesn’t matter that the people in the room heard nothing of the sort. Impeach him! Guy phones the NYT with a pull quote from a memo that former FBI Director Comey wrote to file on a meeting with Trump? Quote says Trump said, ““I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump allegedly told Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”” which is clearly the biggest obstruction of justice since Nixon wanted Archibald Cox fired.

At this point, Trump supporters usually say, “but the White House could have handled this better.” I don’t. I don’t say that because there is no “handling” the mainstream media, rabid Democrats and charging RINOs.

Trump and his people have to make a choice between conforming to the norms of a Washington Presidency or simply saying that was what Trump was elected to fix.

“I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests,” Trump said. “I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing.” (Breitbart)

It is an audacious position to take. It will only work if Trump sticks to his guns and backs up his people. And it will only work if some of those people are smart enough to be silent officially while working very hard and very quietly. Trump was elected as an oppositional President and he does best when he is opposing.

An encouraging sign is the Congressional reaction to the Comey “memo”. Unlike the NYT, Congressional  Committees have subpoena power. They want to see the Comey memo. And, perhaps more to the point, Senators and Representatives are asking to see Comey memos on his conversations during the Obama administration. In particular, they are looking for memos to file vis a vis the decision not to prosecute Hilly.

The Trump remark about Flynn, assuming it was made as Comey is reported as having recorded, is not an obvious candidate for an obstruction of justice charge. It might be an impeachable offence as an abuse of Presidential power but, as written, that would be a stretch. But, by leaking the contents of his memo to file, Comey has put his archive of such memos into play.

I don’t have any sense that Trump or the White House staff know much about “damage control”; however, they have a good deal of capacity to, in the words of a former President, punch back twice as hard. To do that they need to ignore the storm and fury of the Washington establishment and the legacy media and go for kill shots with live ammunition. The Comey memo archive is a great place to start.

Maxime!

 

Bernier, O'LearyPaul Wells suggests that Kevin O’Leary was a clown. No kidding. But the clown served a purpose in corralling all the silly votes – the people who think Canada needs its very own Trump – into one big cotton box. Now they have been released and asked to support the only adult in the PC zoo: Maxime Bernier.

Over at Kate’s place there are assorted dimwits nattering on about “French guy”. Let them natter. In actual fact, Maxime is the one actual conservative in this race. Libertarian on social policy, free market on economic policy. Our Red Tory friends will take to their fainting couches at the possibility of a real conservative winning.

Meanwhile, conservatives who like to win elections have to take a serious look at Bernier. He’ll carry Quebec seats, likely quite a lot of them. He’ll play well in the West because, other than really fossilized old anti-Quebec bigots, he understands a free market spirit.

In “vote rich” Ontario? Hard to say. He’ll certainly get up the nose of the Star and I am not entirely sure he is polite enough for the Globe and Mail; but I can see the guy doing well in the ‘burbs. He’s not a Rob Ford populist, he’s about 90 times smarter than Ford; but he can throw a softball and, I bet, cook a hot dog.

What Bernier is not, and why I think he should win, is an elite Central Canadian. He is willing to look at pipelines, the end of supply management on the farm, killing the CBC. Detail stuff which actually matters.

It is tough to find a CPC candidate with much going on, with that bit of charisma which matters. It is even tougher to spot one who might just take down our boy Justin (who apparently thinks its cool his dad got his little brother off pot charges).  Bernier looks like and sounds like the adult in the room.

And now he likely has the votes. Quick, can you remember four CPC candidates’ names other than O’Leary and Bernier? You might get one or two but Bernier pulled out in front two months ago and looks likely to stay there.

In spite of the the Ontario, Red Tory, dummies it is possible that the CPC might just elect someone who can beat Trudeau. Pure fluke but there you go.

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Bully! A Splendid Little War

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 7.33.08 AM

So The Donald has sent in the cruise missiles in response to the Syrian sarin gas assault on its own people.

Sending 59 cruise missiles with conventional warheads and then sitting down to dinner with the Chinese President pretty much establishes Trump as a “tough guy”. But will he be smart enough to leave it at that?

In a very real sense, Trump has redrawn the “red line” which Obama and Kerry allowed to fade to palest pink. Served notice that “there is a new Sheriff in town” to quote an awful lot of pro-Trump blogs. Which, I suspect, most international players had already noticed.

The question is whether Trump is able to enjoy an American casualty free battle and move on to the next thing on his agenda. Obama demonstrated in Libya that regime change may, or may not, be for the better. Generally, it seems to be a bad idea in the Middle East simply because the next regime may be worse than the one you “changed”. During the campaign, Trump seemed to get that. Does he now?

Assad needs to go. Murderous barbarian and all. However, he needs to go when there is some idea of a better thing to replace him. That might be a new regime or it might be the carve up of both Syria and Iraq and the end of the Sykes-Picot travesty which has haunted the Middle East for nearly a hundred years.

Regime change could be accomplished with a lot of money, a few Russian Spetsnaz and a dozen bullets. But what then?

Unwinding Sykes-Picot is a much larger and, strategically, more intelligent enterprise. Defeat ISIS and then carve out the Sunni, Kurd and Shia enclaves being sensitive to the worries of the Turks and the position of the minorities. That is the work of a negotiator and a statesman. And it is something which will involve Putin as well as Trump. No bad thing that.

Right at the moment, Russia is hanging on by a thread. Demographically, economically it is in huge trouble. For Putin to survive he needs to seem indispensable. Trump can give him that. Putin can give Trump essentially nothing. Other than his nukes and his special forces, he is the Tsar of a gradually dying nation and only massive help from America can really save him. Monkeys can climb a very long way up trees, it is the getting down part which is tricky.

Syria offers Putin the opportunity to act as and be seen as a statesman.  With Trump’s help, he can open the book on Sykes-Picot and facilitate the reformation of Syria and Iraq into a loose confederation of ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets. Between the Americans and the Russians, all of the factions can be brought to the table and, with luck, disarmed and sent on their way. None of the resulting states will be heard of again for generations.

Trump has played the first card of a strategy which will likely take a few years to play out. By being willing to punish actions which are against all agreed-upon international norms Trump makes it clear that hard power is a real thing for America again.

Trump knew the world was watching and he gave them a show. Now we’ll see what he does with the attention.

 

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Oversight

Bill C 51 seems to be a relatively well thought through approach to the problem of combating terrorism in a free and democratic society. It will, likely, pass muster at the SCC and will allow CSIS to get up the noses of people who support terror. All good things.

But, and it is always a concern, government has a nasty tendency to take the powers it’s given and apply them in ways never within the contemplation of the legislation.

For example, the intention to disrupt a meeting of the G-20 whether in Canada or abroad, if there is even a hint of the physical could trigger the provisions of the bill. I might think G-20 protestors are dweebs but I think there is room for robust protest in the political sphere.

What happens if the Jewish Defense League decides to protest a speaker at Palestine House in Toronto. Or to counter march against the Musoloons the next time Hamas or Hezbollah attacks Israel? And what happens if I or BlazingCatFur put up a link to the protest or counter march?

Mark Steyn is worried.

And so he should be. At this point we are dealing with a Conservative government which has been pretty clear eyed about where the terrorist trouble is coming from.

“It doesn’t matter what the age of the person is, or whether they’re in a basement, or whether they’re in a mosque or somewhere else,” Harper said Friday in Richmond Hill, Ont. cbc

But what if the very dim Liberals are elected and have access to this same set of tools. It is not difficult to imagine that they would loose the dogs of CSIS on people engaged in Islamophobia (or what we call around here, clear thinking) or any other activity which does not contribute to Kumbaya Nation.

So C 51 needs one, large, effective block to its misuse: but what should that block be? The problem with security courts and the like is that they operate, of necessity, in secret. Is there a better way?

There might be. It seems to me that what we are really looking for is accountability and that can be created by using a degree of required, public, disclosure albeit after the fact. Basically, the security services could be required, in order to use the provisions of the new legislation, to file operational plans, including budgets, with specified goals and named targets. These plans would be filed by named agents and managers. (Names could be withheld from the public but would be available to Parliament in the second phase of the oversight.)

At the conclusion of the operation or at the expiration of three years, (extensions available if the government of the day applies to the Chief Justice), these operational plans (with redactions only to conceal the names of active agents), would be made publicly available and subject to a hearing of an all party Commons Committee for a value of service/common sense audit. The outcome of the operation would be disclosed as well. The committee would be charged with grading the operation and would have three grades available to it: commendation, pass, and fail. A finding of fail would mean that every agent and manager associated with the plan would summarily be fired and would not be eligible for further government service for their lifetimes.

Should concentrate the minds of our security people wonderfully.

Update: Welcome Free Speech Warriors from Blazing Catfur, Five Feet of Fury and Mark Steyn…

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Taking Islamic Terror Seriously

The Daily Mail, whose coverage of the Paris atrocity has been outstanding, reports that there have been at least three incidents of “revenge” attacks overnight. The attacks have focused on mosques and a kebab shop rather than on actual Muslims.

The desire to lash out at the symbols of Islam (and a kebab shop) makes sense in the wake of the atrocity; but it actually reflects the correct perception that the political class is incapable of anything beyond in the moment police work and platitudes as to how the Charlie Hebdo attack had nothing to do with Islam. All of which is an indication that the political classes don’t have a clue what to do about terrorism and it roots in Islam.

This is largely because the political classes are in a state of deep denial as to what might be termed the root causes of Islamic terror. Here’s a hint – it is Islam and at its very root, the Koran.

Assorted “far right” commentators have taken the time to read the Koran and have been shocked at what it contains. Understanding the texture of the Koran requires a bit of knowledge of Mohammed’s story and how that influenced the early Mecca portion of the Koran and the later, much more violent, Medina surah. (A quick guide can be found here.) The “death to the unbelievers” portions are generally from the later period.

I argued yesterday that Islam is not a religion. It is, however, a political cult based upon a willingness to spread its power by the sword. Jihad is not a peaceful inner struggle, it is a tactic with the strategic goal of converting or killing unbelievers. (And for all those ahistorical dimwits out there moaning about how Christians have killed for their faith, find a single gospel story where Jesus exhorted the faithful to murder “unbelievers”. You won’t.)

Against this view are arrayed a good deal of scholarship which suggest the admonitions of Allah through his prophet were situation specific and the Juden haus of the Koran was directed at specific tribes of obstinate Jews who got in the way of the spread of Islam. Which may very well be true, but the first thing a serious approach to Islamic terror needs to recognize is that this liberal interpretation of Islam is not what drives the terrorists.

One would think that would be obvious, but listening to the great and good exonerate Islam at large for the Paris atrocity it becomes obvious they are willfully blind to the interpretation of the Koran which fuels Islamic terror. So long as the political class takes this Pollyanna approach there is not the slightest chance Islamic terror will be taken seriously enough to be defeated.

Rather than taking the mildest, most liberal, construction of the Koran, politicians and opinion leaders need to look at the darkest, nastiest, most brutal interpretation which, in fact, drives the lone wolves, the wolf packs and outfits like IS and Hamas. It is that dark version of Islam which implies a never ending war, mandated by God, until the Peace of Submission encompasses the entire world.

Armed with that understanding, the political class will be able to intellectually, and eventually tactically, separate the sheep from the goats. Understanding the dark, violent, side of Islam is the only way to beat Islamic terrorists. And to reach that understanding, the political class will have to actually learn some history and read within the Wahabbi and Safalist traditions. When they do they will discover that Islam is not, by the lights of its terrorist theologians, a religion so much as a complete tactical guide for the forceful conversion of all non-Muslims.

Happy clappy, kumbaya approaches to Islam which have so far characterized the Western elite’s limited engagement with the problem, rest on the presumption that only a tiny minority of Muslims accept the dark vision of Islam triumphant by the sword. To address Islamic terror that presumption needs to be tested against reality.

There is a fair bit of survey research which suggests that Muslims in Middle Eastern and European countries are broadly supportive of sharia law. A significant minority indicate support for the bloodier forms of jihad including IS and Hamas. Digging into this support will identify the sources of these profoundly anti-democratic views.

A root cause is just that: a cause to which specific acts of terror and support for terror can be traced. For example, it may well turn out that the Paris murderers were influenced by a specific imam, or a specific book or website. And there is where the pushback needs to happen.

Randomly bombing kabab shops will do nothing to address the roots of Islamic terrorism. Deporting radical imams, closing Islamic bookshops which sell hate literature and shutting down Islamic websites which support violent jihad are all easily justified and potentially effective ways of countering radical Islam.

As importantly, creating a chilly climate for Islamists is the least Western societies can do to protect themselves. Ending immigration from Muslim nations without positive security and cultural vetting – which will, because of the resources required, slow immigration to a trickle – is a necessary first step. Prohibiting the construction of mosques on the basis that they are political rather than religious buildings is another useful step. Cancelling the so called “reasonable accommodation” provisions which create gender segregation and allow self ghettoization should make Western countries less attractive.

Creating a hostile environment for Islamic terrorists will, necessarily, create a somewhat unpleasant environment for non-terrorist Muslims. Tough. There is no reason to accord a political movement’s members any privileges which are not enjoyed by the rest of the society. If someone shows up for a job interview wearing Nazi regalia we expect that fact to be taken into account. The political dress adopted by Muslims in the West should have exactly the same status.

A serious, measured, approach grounded in an understanding of Islam as a political movement with totalitarian aims will begin the process of defeating Islamic terror. The time to start was twenty years ago, but today will have to do.

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Long views

A long break from writing my blog but not from thinking about the questions which drive it.  In the interim we have seen the rise of IS, the economic laming of Europe, the collapse of high oil prices and the end of the Democratic Congress.

Oh and I nearly forgot, the end of alarmist climate change as anything but a fringe issue… When you are reduced to the Pope and Prince Charles you know that the shark jump has occurred.

At end I have been reading history and Gore Vidal’s essays and Proust. To really get a handle on IS you need a sense of the murderous history of the Near and Middle East. To capture the spirit of massacre which permeates the politics of the Levant you need to recognize that it stretches all the way back to the Early Byzantine. If you want to understand the nastiness of elements of Sicilian and Spanish cultural attitudes towards women you have to see how far into Europe Islam advanced. Similarly it is useful to know that before the Islamic invasion much of the Middle East was Christian, pagan or Jewish. The Crusaders, in their brutish way were protecting Christian holy places from invaders. (Not that the Crusaders were adverse to killing the Jews as well as Muslims in wholesale numbers. Not to mention attacking Byzantine, populated by fellow Christians.)

When you get a bit of a historical feel for the place a lot of the vexed questions of whose land is it vanish – it is contested land open to whomever can hold it. So then the question become who would we like to hold it. And that question can be answered in a number of defensible ways.

So, back to blogging. It is an emptier world than when I tapered off. But it will be interesting to see who is new.

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