‘We don’t have a strategy yet': Game over for Obama on foreign policy 4

Obama Aug 28 APImagine, if you will, a situation where a sitting U.S. president goes before the world and says he “doesn’t have a strategy” for dealing with a terrorist group that has created a budding Islamic Caliphate in the heart of the Middle East. Imagine if only months earlier that president had referred to the terrorists he doesn’t have a strategy for as a “jayvee” basketball team. Now imagine that president’s name was George W. Bush. What do you think would happen to him?

The world knows exactly what would happen to George W. Bush because the echoes of those mocking “Mission Accomplished” still bounce off the walls of cable news studios on a regular basis. Say what you will about the prudence of using the “Mission Accomplished” sign, it was still employed after a successful wartime strategy led to the ouster of Saddam Hussein. For Islamic State’s control over large swathes of Syria, Mr. Obama admits that he has no strategy.

An excerpt from the president’s statements to the press on Aug. 28 reads:

Press Question: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

Obama: I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as Commander-in-Chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress. And I do think that it will be important for Congress to weigh in, or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.

Perhaps the reason why Mr. Obama does not currently have a strategy is because it was only six months ago that he was flippantly making Kobe Bryant jokes about the same men who would come to behead American photojournalist James Foley. The president scoffed at the notion that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his followers were not a force to be taken lightly, and now the border between Iraq and Syria has essentially melted — sort of like Mr. Obama’s “red line” in Syria. The border between the two countries is essentially gone, and in its place is a well-funded, well-armed terrorist group that somehow manages to make al Qaeda skittish.

Perhaps even more hilarious (or terrifying), was the spin that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to put on Mr. Obama’s remarks immediately after the damage had been done.

On CNN he said:

“I just want to be clear about what our strategy is. The president’s clear in that this strategy is one that’s not going to solve this problem overnight. But he’s also clear about the fact that our strategy can’t only be the American military,” he continued. “We have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIL. One component of our broader strategy is the use of military force.”

Notice anything missing from the guy whose plan is to just say “strategystrategystrategystrategystrategy”? If you said “an actual strategy,” then give yourself a pat on the back. It would be as funny as Kevin Nealon’s old “Mr. Subliminal” skits on Saturday Night Live if it wasn’t real.

And speaking of SNL, one should take note of longtime writer Jim Downey, who said of attempts to make fun of Mr. Obama in his book “Live from New York”:

“If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, ‘Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10. [...] It’s like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled. There’s not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature.”

If you think that SNL has slipped over the years, perhaps it’s because they consider a guy who is capable of saying “We don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with an army of radical Islamic terrorists to be a “10 point 10″ in terms of comedic difficulty.

Regardless, it is game over for Obama on foreign policy, and that is no laughing matter.

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Burger King merges with Tim Hortons; greasy politicians upset no one likes Whopper-sized taxes 10

Burger King patriotismBurger King and Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons have officially pulled off the kind of merger that Walgreen couldn’t quite complete with Alliance Boots (i.e., Walgreen’ operations will continue to be based in the U.S.) As a result, the new company is primed to rake in $23 billion annually. Even President Obama’s buddy Warren Buffett is involved, with Berkshire Hathaway handing over $3 billion in preferred equity financing for the deal. The usual suspects are not happy.

Perhaps the funniest quote comes from MSNBC “conservative” Joe Scarborough:

“They’ll keep their money and we all will have to pay their taxes,” an outraged Joe Scarborough said on Monday. “So, you know what I’m going to do so I can afford to pay Burger King’s taxes? I’m just not going to ever go to Burger King again.”

“I think a lot of American should not go to Burger King again if they’re going to cheat,” he added. “It’s wrong for them to do this. They are stealing money from us.”

Why do I get the feeling that if Mr. Scarborough’s accountant were to disclose the host’s tax records for the time he’s been raking in big bucks at MSNBC that viewers would find plenty of “cheating” and “stealing” (if one defines legally keeping more of your own money as “cheating” or “stealing”) going on? Besides, I doubt that Joe Scarborough has purchased a Whopper in the last five years unless someone spread foie gras on the buns. But I digress.

It rarely occurs to leftists and faux conservatives that perhaps the government is spending too much of everyone’s money and needs to curtail its size and scope — as opposed to spending money the nation doesn’t have at a lower rate than “politician X” wanted and then calling it a “cut.”

Instead of asking the question “Why are iconic companies that have been in the U.S. for years suddenly looking for ways to leave?” pundits and politicians want citizens to believe that finding ways to legally keep more of your own money is stealing from someone else.

As Business Insider reported Aug. 25:

The news gives Democrats another talking point. The potential departure of an iconic American company because of “corporate greed” will be trotted out on the campaign trail.

Talking about “corporate greed” may rile people up (How odd that the federal government’s insatiable appetite for money is never framed as “greed”?), but at the end of the day the hard reality is that the United States is no longer the world’s outpost of economic freedom. In fact, in the annual Index of Economic Freedom put out by The Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, Canada ranks sixth, with the U.S. embarrassingly holding on for dear life to the tenth spot.

The 2014 Index concluded:

The foundations of economic freedom in Canada remain strong and well-supported by solid protection of property rights and an independent judiciary that enforces anti-corruption measures effectively. While many large advanced economies have been struggling with the heavy burden of government and fiscal constraints that result from years of unrestrained public spending, Canada’s public finance management has been comparatively prudent, with efforts to downsize government made on a continuing basis.

Canada’s economy has been resilient, benefiting from a strong commitment to open-market policies that facilitate global trade and investment flows. Efficient regulations are applied evenly in most cases, encouraging dynamic entrepreneurial activity in the private sector. Steady reduction of the standard corporate tax rate has also contributed to global competitiveness.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to backslide:

Registering a loss of economic freedom for the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. has recorded its lowest Index score since 2000. Dynamic entrepreneurial growth is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law. More than three years after the end of recession in June 2009, the U.S. continues to suffer from policy choices that have led to the slowest recovery in 70 years.

Until Americans stop listening to greasy politicians and start eying ways to increase economic freedom, there will be more well-known companies that close up shop or move overseas. Once you begin telling businesses that their money is your money, it is only a matter of time before the men and women in charge look for friendlier environments. That is not “corporate greed” — that is common sense.

Related: New York Times to Walgreen: You’re unpatriotic if you don’t love high tax rates

U.K.’s Islamic State problem: ‘Jihadi-cool’ isn’t going away anytime soon 3

Islamic State UK

The world has an Islamic State problem on its hands, but the United Kingdom may bear the brunt of terror attacks directed at Western interests in the years to come. The reason: “Jihadi-cool” sub-culture. There is a dangerous size of Britain’s young Muslim population that identifies with the Sunni terrorists chopping heads off in Syria and Iraq, and they have made it very clear that the battlefield for an Islamic caliphate is limitless.

Reuters reported Aug. 21:

Iqbal Sacranie, an adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain, said Britons from across the country’s communities had to stop young men being seduced by radical ideologies.

“This sub culture of this ‘jihadi-cool’ – as they call it in the media – within the margins of society … that is the real challenge,” he told BBC Radio. “This is a problem that affects all of us and it will only be dealt with more effectively if all of us are working together on this.” …

Ghaffar Hussain, managing director of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, said it was almost inevitable that men who had fought in Syria would return to plan attacks in Europe.

“It is disturbing that people born and raised in Britain and who have gone to the same schools as us could have been essentially indoctrinated to the extent where they can justify raping women and chopping heads off,” he said.

The Muslim Council of Britain is comprised of over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools that bring services to the nation’s 2.7 million Muslims. When its advisers start warning about “jihadi-cool” cultures taking root among British youth, it is time to worry.

In February, 2013 this blog explored changing demographics in the U.K., which favored its radical Islamic population. As a result, certain readers said I was “scare mongering.” Another asked: “Why are you making this bizarro assertion that there is some great Muslim threat in England?”

Today, there is a budding Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, there are no Christians in Mosul for the first time in roughly 2,000 years, and American photojournalist James Foley is dead — thought to be beheaded by a British-rapper-turned-terrorist, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.

The U.K. Independent reported Aug. 23:

A former rapper fighting with the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria is believed to be one of several British jihadists under investigation following the beheading of James Foley.

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 24, was known as L Jinny or Lyricist Jinn at home in London, where his rising music career saw him appear in videos and have his singles played on BBC Radio in 2012.

He came to national attention earlier this year, when he posted a picture of himself holding a severed head on Twitter after resurfacing in Syria.

The gruesome picture, believed to have been taken in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, was captioned: “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.”

It may very well turn out that Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary isn’t the man who murdered James Foley. Why? Because roughly twice as many British Muslims are fighting for Islamic State than in the nation’s armed services.

Newsweek reported Aug 20:

There are now more than twice as many British Muslims fighting for Islamic State than there are serving in the British armed forces, according to a British Member of Parliament (MP).

Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, estimates that at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria in the last three years. …

Mahmood told Newsweek that this figure had been building since the start of the Syrian conflict: “If you look across the whole of the country, and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate.”

According to the Ministry of Defence, there are only around 600 British Muslims currently serving in the Armed Forces, making up approximately around 0.4% of total personnel. 4.3% of the British population are Muslim. …

“Their use of the internet is unlike anything we have seen before,” Charlie Cooper of the Quilliam Foundation said.

If that phrase sounds familiar, that’s because U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel believes the same thing.

While speaking at a joint press briefing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on Aug. 21, he said: “They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess,” Hagel said. “They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.”

That is not “scare mongering.” That is reality. Unfortunately, it is a reality that too many people still do not want to confront. And if you think Islamic State is only going after men, then think again. France knows the problem first-hand.

The Associated Press reported Aug. 22:

PARIS (AP) — Two French girls, aged 15 and 17, have been captured by a security net that authorities are using to ferret out citizens who are considering traveling to other countries to join jihads. …

France, with a Muslim population estimated at 5 million — the largest in Western Europe — is particularly concerned about the flight of youths to the battlefields.

French authorities say there are some 900 people from France who have been implicated in jihad — meaning they have taken part in one, plan to join one, or are returning from one. Several dozen have been killed.

How many young girls across Europe are hoping to join Islamic State’s all-female brigade in Raqqa, Syria? That’s an excellent question. Regardless, we are well past the stage where officials (and bloggers) who want to know the answer can be labeled by multi-culturalists as “scare mongers.”

Syria Deeply ISIL

Foo Fighters ‘Ice Bucket Challenge': Time to talk about the line between self-congratulation and charity 5

Foo Fighters Ice Bucket ChallengeThe “Ice Bucket Challenge” has made millions of dollars for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awareness, which is a good thing, but at some point in time celebrities got involved and the need to “one up” the next guy began. Something pure was altered, and with many people (I make no claims as to the Foo Fighters’ motivations) the event seems to have turned into narcissism masquerading as charity. Perhaps the best case study in examining the line between self-congratulation and charity goes to the Foo Fighters.

Spin Magazine wrote Aug. 19 in a post headlined ‘Foo Fighters Spoof ‘Carrie’ for Best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Yet’:

“Several alt-rockers, including Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready, have already taken part in the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge, but few clips have been as inspired as the one that Dave Grohl posted today to the Foo Fighters’ Facebook page. [...] The video is inspired by King’s high-school horror film Carrie, but instead of pig blood, Grohl is simply doused in very cold water. And instead of killing all of his peers using telekinetic powers, he spreads joy, laughter, and awareness of a poorly understood degenerative disease to those who might watch the clip. It’s all quite silly and heartwarming and, hey, it features Dave Grohl in a prom dress.”

Since when did the “Ice Bucket Challenge” double as a contest of creative wits?

  • Buzzfeed’s reaction: ‘Go Home Everybody, The Foo Fighters Have Won The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge With Their “Carrie” Remake.’
  • The Huffington Post concurred: Foo Fighters’ ‘Carrie’ Sendup Just Won The Ice Bucket Challenge
  • From the Daily Dot: The Foo Fighters’ ice bucket challenge video is bloody brilliant
  • Rolling Stone warps the intent ever further: ‘Foo Fighters Turn Ice Bucket Challenge Into Epic ‘Carrie’ Tribute

Pride loves the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge.’ When a charitable event becomes about who “wins” or who is the most “brilliant,” then something has gone wrong. When the headlines zero in on how “epic” your “Carrie” tribute was as instead of how “epic” it would be to cure ALS, then something has gone wrong.

Foo Fighters ALSIt is a joyous thing that the Foo Fighters’ effort will result in more donations for a good cause. I would much rather live in a world run by the eager participants of an ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ than a world run by Islamic terrorists who behead American photojournalists. However, it is probably a good idea if everyone stepped back and objectively asked themselves what it says about our culture that charitable causes need to contain such a stark “Look at me!” element in order to go viral.

Thank you, Foo Fighters, for donating to a good cause. And thank you to everyone whose acts of kindness are only known to them and God.

Obama says ‘No just god would stand for ISIL,’ forgets that God gave humans free will 8

President Obama took time out from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation on Wednesday to give a press conference on the beheading of U.S. photojournalist James Foley. In his remarks on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant he made a curious statement: “No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.” It sounds nice, but there is absolutely no reason to believe he is correct.

Here is an excerpt from the speech:

“Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.

They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.” — (President Obama, August 8, 2014).

Mr. Obama forgets one crucial point: God gave humans free will. C.S. Lewis puts it well in “The Problem of Pain.”

I have tried to show in a previous chapter that the possibility of pain is inherent in the very existence of a world where souls can meet. When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the sufferings of men. It is men, not God, who have produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery, guns, bayonets, and bombs; it is by human avarice or human stupidity, not by the churlishness of nature, that we have poverty and overwork.” — (C.S. Lewis, ‘The Problem of Pain’).

A God who values free will would be very just indeed to let humans stew in the evil juices of their own making.

In short, we have a president who doesn’t have a clear understanding of the threat posed by ISIL, as even Shadi Hamid of the liberal Brookings Institution points out: “Underestimating ISIS is dangerous, as Obama did when he referred to it as the ‘JV team’ of terrorism. Let’s not do that again.”

Obama JV Team ISISAnd we have a president whose understanding of a just God is constrained to his point of view. Mr. Obama does little to dispel charges of narcissism when he even tries to lock God into an ideological box of his own liking.

What is more likely: That Mr. Obama knows what actions a just God would permit on earth — or that God’s purpose in eternity would in fact leave room for evil, so that free agents could reject such a scourge and willingly come to Him?

The onus is not on God to stop ISIL — the onus is on humanity. Mr. Obama may have inadvertently tried to slip off the hard (and painful) responsibility for humans to stand up to evil, but intellectually honest individuals know that it can not be done. While God may be gracious enough to answer certain prayers, He is under no responsibility to save us from the countless sordid affairs we create for ourselves on a regular basis.

C.S. Lewis also said: “Until the evil man finds evil unmistakably present in his existence, in the form of pain, he is enclosed in illusion.” We have been enclosed in illusion for a long time. It is time to wake up.

Related: Islamic State beheads James Foley, then keeps the lights on in town; U.S. citizens left in the dark

Editor’s Note for regular readers: The book I am writing is heavily influenced by the idea put forth by C.S. Lewis that “pain is inherent in the very existence of a world where souls can meet.” If that message resonates with you, then stay tuned.

Dan Slott calls Spider-Woman #1 variant a ‘false’ controversy; feminists retreat from ‘mansplaining’ liberal 45

The Mary SueMarvel Comics is great at patting itself on the back for temporary stories that put women in the spotlight, but when it comes to variant covers that turn women into sex objects its male readers want to pat on the butt, then the company suddenly has no comment. Luckily, Dan “Go to Christ-land” Slott was willing to weigh in on The Mary Sue’s anger over the Spider-Woman #1 variant by Milo Manara. His verdict: it’s a “false ‘controversy'”.

Dan Slott shame

The Mary Sue disagreed. The self-proclaimed watchdog for female representation in “geek culture” reported:

I mean, there’s art you personally might consider too sexualized in general, but there’s that other level of comic book hell reserved for The Hawkeye Initiative-type stuff or otherwise absurd art.

Yesterday, Comic Book Resources posted exclusive November solicits from Marvel Comics, which included the anticipated Spider-Woman #1. The piece included this variant cover by Milo Manara.

I honestly don’t know what anyone involved was thinking. The series is being written by Dennis Hopeless with art by Greg Land, and although it appears Marvel is attempting to draw in women with a slew of new female-led titles, this does not instill confidence. Nor does it tell women this is a comic they should consider spending money on. In fact, what the variant cover actually says is “Run away. Run far, far away and don’t ever come back.”

That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s really not. This is what we talk about when we ask comic publishers not to actively offend their paying (or potentially paying) customers. …

Marvel has declined comment at this time.

As a conservative comic book fan, I know a thing or two about Marvel going out of its way to offend “paying (or potentially paying)” customers. Welcome to the club, Jill! But I digress. Ms. Pantozzi didn’t take too kindly to The Amazing Spider-Man writer’s assertion that her work was part of a  media-orchestrated “false” controversy:

Dan Slott variant debateDan Slott’s favorite go-to weapon, the red herring, was on full display when he tried to frame outrage at Marvel’s decision as some sort of misdirected beef with Mr. Manara’s artistic style. Luckily, Ms. Pantozzi was having none of it. It was never about Mr. Manara’s “style” — it was the fact that an artist who specializes in erotic (some might say “sleazy”) artwork was used for a book geared towards female readers.

Dan Slott v Jill PantozziBacked even deeper into a corner, Mr. Slott doubled down on the “fake” controversy line of defense. The move was reminiscent of the time he and Marvel used anger to sell the Superior Spider-Man #9, and then tried to pretend like they were doing no such thing.

Jill Pantozzi Dan Slott

But here is where it gets interesting, dear readers — the woman who works for a website that considers itself a watchdog for women’s representation then went soft on an ideological ally. Someone like me would be accused of “mansplaining” to Ms. Pantozzi if I delivered exactly the same message as Dan Slott, but she simply “walks away” from Slottian mansplaining. She respects Dan Slott (the guy whose great new female character burst onto the scene by getting super-sexy, super-fast with Peter Parker), too much to take the conversation to its logical conclusion: Dan Slott’s tolerance for other points of view only lasts until you put up a strenuous defense against his straw man arguments, red herrings and personal attacks.

Jill Pantozzi“Nothing is being gained.” That seems to be a pattern with the Marvel scribe. Conservative? Liberal? Apolitical? It doesn’t matter. If you disagree with Dan Slott, your point of view isn’t valid or it’s just a “false” controversy stirred up by the media.

As fate would have it, Twitter user Ryan D entered the fray and rightly called Ms. Pantozzi out just as she did the same to Marvel and Dan Slott earlier in the day.

Ryan D Dan SlottDan Slott would be “crucified” if he didn’t say the right thing in his Twitter feed, and he knows it. That’s why he decided to return to “less controversial stuff” (i.e., topics where he could easily put himself up on a moral pedestal and bask in the accolades).

Dan Slott FergusonI look forward to the moment that Dan Slott goes back to attacking those who disagree with him politically. When that happens, then all of his Twitter followers can forget about the time he “mansplained” to a feminist about her “false” controversy — and she let him get away with it.

Editor’s note: Hat tip to reader Truthwillwin1 for the story.

Islamic State beheads James Foley, then keeps the lights on in town; U.S. citizens left in the dark 12

James Foley

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant beheaded U.S. photojournalist James Foley yesterday, and the news shot out across social media at lightening speed — but Americans have been kept in the dark about what it will take to defeat the terrorist group. As Islamic State and its tens-of-thousands of fighters dig in to large swathes of Iraq and Syria, we are being led to believe that random airstrikes, occasional Special Forces operations, and some new weapons in the hands of the Iraqi government will do the trick. Meanwhile, Islamic State is learning how to fill potholes and get the trash out on Thursdays.

The Obama administration is not being upfront about the nature of the threat, and in time that dishonesty will bring the sorrow felt by the Foley family to many other Americans.

James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, spoke with The Washington Times on Tuesday. During the interview, he indirectly reminded everyone that the group President Obama infamously referred to as the “J.V. team” are establishing themselves as a serious adversary.

It’s “a very provocative way of showing that you are still a force to be reckoned with” and not just “a bunch of losers,” he said. “In this part of the world, honor is power. It’s not about doing the right thing. [Honor] is as important to them as martyrdom.

The U.S. is setting itself up for failure because many of its policymakers a.) don’t understand (or want to understand) the threat posed by Islamic State and its allies around the globe, b.) what they do know they don’t accurately convey to the American people, and c.) they deal with the threat by creating the illusion that something is being done (e.g., random drone strikes), when in reality they are most-likely exacerbating the problem.

Meanwhile, Islamic State is using its time in charge of cities across the Middle East to learn how to govern.

Foreign Policy Magazine reported Monday:

The Obama administration’s escalating air war against the Islamic State is running up against a dispiriting new reality: The militants are becoming as good at governing territory as they are at conquering it, making it considerably harder to dislodge them from the broad swaths of Syria and Iraq that they now control.

U.S. intelligence officials say the leaders of the Islamic State are adopting methods first pioneered by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, and are devoting considerable human and financial resources toward keeping essential services like electricity, water, and sewage functioning in their territory. In some areas, they even operate post offices. …

Islamic State, already the best-armed and best-funded terror group in the world, is quickly adapting to the challenges of ruling and governing. That, in turn, dramatically reduces the chances that the extremists will face homegrown opposition in what amounts to the world’s newest territory.

“ISIS is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world because they combine the fighting capabilities of al Qaeda with the administrative capabilities of Hezbollah,” said David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who spent several years working as a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus during the height of the Iraq War. “It’s clear that they have a state-building agenda and an understanding of the importance of effective governance.”

Once again, it’s time to revisit David Remnick’s January interview  with President Obama in The New Yorker:

I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

Is the extermination of entire Christian populations in the Middle East worth wading into? We now know that it’s at least worth a few American air strikes along the side of a mountain. Is the beheading of American photojournalists worth wading into? Perhaps not a single person, but the mountain of heads is piling up mighty high in Syria and Iraq, and the guys wielding the instruments of death have openly stated their desire to bring terror to the Western world.

The Obama administration desperately wanted to believe that “extremist Islamic ideology” is something that is only a threat to “local” populations, when members of such groups state again and again that the goal is to build a worldwide Islamic caliphate. While it is much harder to expose Mr. Obama’s incompetence on domestic issues (e.g., The reason why Program X isn’t working is because it requires $10 billion more dollars on top of the $10 billion we’ve already spent, and the evil Republicans in the House aren’t working with me.), honest individuals can see that he is in way over his head on foreign policy. His fundamental misunderstanding of the threat posed by Islamic terrorists will have deadly repercussions for years to come.

If you get a moment, say a prayer for the Foley family. Then, say a prayer for the family of journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, who Islamic State is threatening to behead next.

Russell Brand says he would never condemn cops — then calls them stupid tools of the ‘establishment’ 15

Russell BrandSocial media is a double-edged sword. If an individual wants to quickly disseminate a message, it’s there. Unfortunately, social media doesn’t discriminate between the man of tact and temperance and the reckless individual who rides his emotions wherever they take him. Enter Russel Brand, the successful comedian who thinks that spewing a bunch of contradictory New Age gibberish automatically certifies his opinion as genius.

On the Ferguson shooting death of Michael Brown, Mediate called his twelve-minute rant against Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and anyone who disagrees with him a “searing take down.” (It was so “searing” that the writer couldn’t be bothered to transcribe any of it for his audience.)

Here is an excerpt:

Bill O’Reilly: “Do we weigh in as the boy’s father? And if it were my son I would have probably said the same thing. But he’s obviously talking through an emotional prism. His son is dead. He believes, probably — I know he believes — that it was an injustice. That it was done for nothing. A murder. And many, many African Americans believe that without knowing the facts.”

Russel Brand: What facts can emerge? There is no fact that can emerge that makes it all right that this kind of thing keeps happening. What is the motto of police? ‘Protect and serve.’ That relationship has completely broken down. I would never condemn police officers. I know the kind of background  that most police officers come from. They come from the communities that they work in, but the ideology they work for is an establishment ideology. They are not protecting and serving. The people that they are protecting and serving are not the people of the streets of Ferguson. They’re the people of Wall Street, and the city and the government.”

If an unarmed teenager, who stands over six-feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds, gets into a physical altercation with a cop and goes for the officer’s weapon, then it most-certainly is a “fact that can emerge” that could (and should) change the emotional calculus of neutral observers. If that cop, who is fighting for control of his weapon, knows that there is a second suspect who could join in the fight at any time, then it certainly is a “fact that can emerge” that could (and should) change how third-parties judge the situation. That is why investigations are necessary. That is why prudence is a virtue. That is why the millions of people who buy into Mr. Brand’s ramblings have no idea what they’re talking about.

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the Russel Brand “take down” is the moment where he says he would “never” condemn police officers — who grew up in the communities they protect — before doing precisely that. Brand would “never” condemn cops, but yet we’re supposed to believe they’re all a bunch of stupid tools who protect and serve “the establishment” (whatever “the establishment” means in the mind of Russell Brand).

In the end, even the comedian’s spiritual mish-mash of beliefs falls apart. If we are all essentially a part of the universal consciousness and “I am you and you are me, and Bill O’Reilly is Russell Brand and Russell Brand is Bill O’Reilly,” then why does it matter if Bill O’Reilly is “racist”? If we follow Russell Brand’s logic, and the two men are really one, then the reality is that Russell is the racist. We’re all racist…and none of it matters because the swirling spinning universal consciousness will be just fine in the end.

If you’re looking for insightful analysis on race relations in the United States, then you probably don’t want to turn to Russell Brand. If you want to see evidence that it really does matter what religion you choose, then watch his so-called “take down” in its entirety.

‘The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics': Pay a small price for the work of an intellectual giant 6

CS LewisFor years I only knew C.S. Lewis as the guy who was good for some really witty quotes and the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I knew he was a Christian, and I knew he was friends with J.R.R. Tolkien. When I started writing a book roughly a year ago I told myself that I should really read his work to augment my knowledge of the Christian faith, yet I still procrastinated. Finally, after his name came up in the comments section of this blog, I vowed to get up to speed on C.S. Lewis — and I’m glad I did. “The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics” may be $34.99, but it’s worth every penny.

Here is what readers get for their money: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed and The Abolition of Man. Another way of putting it: 730 pages of philosophical and creative works written by an intellectual giant. Even those who disagree with the man, if they are honest, will concede that he was powerhouse.

C.S. Lewis writes in “Miracles”:

“Let us suppose a race of people whose peculiar mental limitation compels them to regard a painting as something made up of little colored dots which have been put together like a mosaic. Studying the brushwork of a great painting, through their magnifying glasses, they discover more and more complicated relations between the dots, and sort these relations out, with great toil, into certain regularities. Their labor will not be in vain. These regularities will in fact ‘work'; they will cover most of the facts.

But if they go on to conclude that any departure from them would be unworthy of the painter, and an arbitrary breaking of his own rules, they will be far astray. For the regularities they have observed never were the rule the painter was following. What they painfully reconstruct from a million dots, arranged in an agonizing complexity, he really produced with a single lightening-quick turn of the wrist, his eye meanwhile taking in the canvas as a whole and his mind obeying laws of composition which the observers, counting their dots, have not yet come within sight of, and perhaps never will,” (Miracles, 387).

The beauty of Lewis’ work is that it’s smart, but it’s personable. A man without a high school education and a Rhodes Scholar can both appreciate the product. Lewis’ insights are sharp, but he never talks down to his audience. Just as the U.S. Declaration of Independence artfully articulates the rights given to all men by their Creator — in ways anyone can understand — Lewis makes the case for God in ways that individuals of varying degrees of mental acuity can comprehend.

“What can you ever really know of other people’s souls — of their of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You can not put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all the chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anesthetic fog which we call ‘nature’ or ‘the real world’ fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, unavoidable?” (Mere Christianity, 170).

One of the most interesting aspects of Lewis’ life is the fact that for many years he was an atheist. In many ways, his early atheism actually benefited Christianity because it is obvious that he thought long and hard about the existence of God. Those doubts are revisited in his journal entries pertaining to the death of his wife; the result is thought-provoking and hauntingly beautiful. Lewis says of dealing with his wife’s passing due to cancer: “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” He is correct. His faith comes out in tact, but the journal entries from “A Grief Observed” leaves readers shaken because the truth can be jarring.

I highly recommend “The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics” for agnostics, atheists, Christians and non-Christians everywhere.

Hillary attacks Obama’s foreign policy, issues denial, and then wonders why no one trusts politicians 28

HIllary APIf you ever needed a crystal clear example as to why people have zero trust in politicians, then look no further than Hillary Clinton’s recent criticism of President Obama’s “Don’t do stupid stuff” foreign policy and her denial of it roughly 48 hours later.

The Atlantic reported August 10:

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

After someone pulled her aside and convinced her that the internet doesn’t exist, her spokesman released the following statement August 12:

“Earlier today, the Secretary called President Obama to make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies or his leadership. Secretary Clinton has at every step of the way touted the significant achievements of his presidency, which she is honored to have been part of as his secretary of state. While they’ve had honest differences on some issues, including aspects of the wicked challenge Syria presents, she has explained those differences in her book and at many points since then. Some are now choosing to hype those differences but they do not eclipse their broad agreement on most issues. Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when she they see each other tomorrow night.”

Intelligent people can have a debate on whether or not Mr. Obama should have been more engaged with Syria before 200,000 people were slaughtered and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over large swathes of the Middle East, etc., but there is no debate to be had regarding Ms. Clinton’s attack on the president’s foreign policy. That is exactly what she did, and to say otherwise — only 48 hours after she did it — is indicative of someone who is a pathological liar. One almost feels bad for National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who had to amend his original piece on Ms. Clinton’s Atlantic interview after saying that Americans may have “just witnessed a rare and risky act of authenticity.” No authenticity there, Mr. Fournier. Just blatant lying.

The problem with lies like this (besides the fact that it’s a lie), is that it’s over something relatively insignificant — she disagrees with her old boss’ foreign policy. She could have easily said, “You know what, that was probably an unfair assessment and I should have articulated that better,” — but she didn’t. She lied. And if she will lie without hesitation over the little things, then she will lie when it comes to the big things.

I could sympathize with a woman whose husband gets caught having an affair with a young intern in the Oval Office. I could forgive her lies when she is forced to talk about her husband’s personal failings on live television. I do not sympathize with a woman who lies about public policy as if whatever she says at any specific moment is and always was the truth.

If Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is “don’t do stupid stuff,” (while allowing Putin to take Crimea, ISIL to take over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, and Libya to turn into Terrorist Central), then it appears as though Ms. Clinton’s is: “2 + 2 = 5″.