The Winds of Trade War and Impeachment

President Donald Trump will spend today at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, and it will likely be an comfortable affair for all involved.
The summit is in London, where Trump has not been a welcome guest during his past two visits, and he’s expected to further publicly and bluntly harangue the allies about how much they’re spending on defense, and many of the allies will more privately and politely but forcefully express their differences with his policies regarding Turkey and Syria and Russia and Ukraine and other matters. One of those matters will surely be Trump’s ongoing trade wars with pretty much everybody.
Before jetting off Trump announced punitive tariffs on industrial metals from Brazil and Argentina for their alleged currency manipulations, and issued a threat of up to 100 percent tariffs on NATO member France’s wine and cheese and cosmetics and other fancy French product, apparently in retaliation for passing an internet tax law Trump thinks unfair to American businesses. This comes as Trump continues his brinksmanship with the ruthless dictator running the very importantly enormous Chinese economy, and Trump will probably spend part of his trip publicly grousing about how the European automobile industries are cheating America’s workers.
Trump will continue to boast about how America is once again respected around the world, as the country at long last has a wised-up leader and we’re no longer anybody’s sucker, but it clearly hasn’t helped America’s reputation as a good global neighbor. The military and trade political alliances that have a fairly good job of sustaining peace and prosperity in the post-World War II epoch are strained, and Trump and everyone else seem to be planning for a post-Pax Americana world.
Nor does it seem to have yielded any tangible economic results. The brinksmanship with the ruthless dictator in control of China’s very consequentially huge economy hurtles toward an inevitable brink, none of those greatest trade deals ever have yet been sealed, and so far even the rather minor revisions to the re-branded North American Free Trade Agreement haven’t been ratified by any of the three governments involved. The economy continues to grow at the same 2 percent or so it did back in the bad old days of President Barack Obama, and the stock markets were hitting record highs not so very long ago, but that seems to be in spite of rather than because of Trump’s policies.
The smart money on the stock markets seems to agree, here and around the world, as all the indexes dipped precipitously after his latest trade war escalations, as they always do whenever he does that. This time around the dip was also driven by yet another report on Trump’s beloved manufacturing, which continues for yet another quarter at negative growth. The markets usually recover when Trump announces light at the end of the tunnel and peace with honor, and Trump’s fans stick with him through thick and thin, and even if the allies have no respect for Trump they’re fearful of and dependent on America and usually only object ever so politely, but we worry that it can’t go on forever.
The smart money on Wall Street and all those funny-sounding foreign exchanges is hedging its bets, all those Euro-weenie leaders will be ganging on up on Trump in London, where he’ll need extra security just to get back to the fancy hotel, and those wily Chinese seem unfazed by Trump’s mastery of the deal. They all follow American politics, and know that there’s an impeachment and it’s going badly enough that polls show half the country wants Trump out of office now, and that will likely complicate all his dealings with foreign leaders, no matter how that turns out.
Trump fans love it when he feuds with those Euro-weenies and wily Chinese and the smart money on Wall Street and the “fake news” media and the damned Democrats and all of the rest of the rascals in the globalist “deep state” conspiracy, but we doubt they’re tired of winning yet. The farmers are getting welfare checks that don’t quite make up for the honest money they used to make on the global market, the factory workers are losing jobs in a sinking sector hard-hit by Trump’s steel tariffs, and we worry some damned Democrat and self-proclaimed socialist such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders might convince them they’ve played for the world’s biggest suckers.
Although it’s hard to imagine a happy outcome, we’ll hope for the best.

— Bud Norman

Of Parades, Nicknames, and Other Political Spats

The stock markets were down again on Wednesday, but not to a panic-inducing extent, and the more reasonable sorts of Democrats and Republicans in Congress neared a compromise that would avert another government shutdown before tonight’s latest looming deadline, albeit a budget-busting one that neither side can celebrate. All in all it was a pretty slow news day, but as usual President Donald Trump provided plenty of what the newspaper people call filler.
Trump’s critics were able to fill countless column inches and big chunks of the 24-hour cable news cycle criticizing the Commander in Chief’s order for a grand military parade showcasing America’s might down Pennsylvania Avenue past the fancy Trump Hotel, and his most die-hard defenders couldn’t muster much of a defense for the idea. The District of Columbia’s city hall is worried about the damage that tanks and nuclear missiles might do to their expensively paved streets, and pretty much all the newspapers and all but one of the cable news networks had no shortage of retired generals and admirals saying on the record that it seemed a damned stupid deployment of tanks and nuclear missiles. Several of the more old-fashioned Republicans left in the party also opined that America has such an impressively big military stick that everyone already knows it, so it’s best to speak softly about it, unlike those envious regimes in North Korea and Iran and France and other godforsaken nations that routinely parade their relatively puny military hardware.
Even our Pop, a proud former Air Force officer and longstanding member of the military-industrial complex who’s an at-least-he’s-not-Hillary Trump supporter, admitted over lunch that the whole parade idea “sounds a little third-worldly.” The more die-hard sorts of Trump supporters will insist that the Commander in Chief merely wants to pay tribute to America’s fighting forces, and anyone who has objections to that is objectively un-American and arguably treasonous, but by now no one else doubts that like everything else the parade is more about Trump and his big stick than it is about anything or anyone else.
Meanwhile, on a slow news day we notice that Trump seems to be losing the nickname wars he’s long waged. He’s lately “tweeted” that New York Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on that pesky House committee looking into the “Russia thing,” is “Little” Adam Schiff, a diminutive description he’s previously bestowed on fellow Republican and Florida Sen. “Little” Marco Rubio, and although he creatively spelled  the Republican Tenessee Sen. Bob Corker as “Liddle Bob,” it’s starting to get stale. Around the same time Illinois’ Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth more damningly nicknamed Trump “Cadet Bonespur,” an apparently jocular reference to the military school Trump’s Pop sentenced him to and the spurious — if you’ll forgive the pun — medical condition that spared Trump from service in the Vietnam War but didn’t seem to interrupt his tennis and golf games and the constant womanizing he jokingly described as his own “personal Vietnam.”
That might seem a cheap shot at a sitting president, but in Duckworth’s case it’s undeniably been hard-earned. She made the remark in response to Trump’s jocular remark about treasonous Democrats failing to sufficiently applaud his State of the Union address, and although we disagree with most of her Democratic politics we can well understand why she resents “Cadet Bonespur” even jokingly impugning her patriotism for insufficient applause, She lost both legs in the Iraq War she willingly signed up for. Even Trump won’t dare “tweet” back that he likes a soldier who didn’t lose her legs for her country, even though he got away with similar disrespect for the heroic wartime sacrifices of Arizona[‘s Republican Sen. John McCain. Worse yet, Trump’s former die-hard defenders at and on some of the right-wing talk radio shows are now calling him “Amnesty Don” because of his most recent stands on illegal immigration, and it’s going to take some pretty clever nicknaming to counter-punch that.
At this point we hold out hope Trump seems so ridiculous that the stock market will absorb a much-needed correction without panic and the rest of the economy will chug along without him, that the more reasonable sorts of Democrats and Republicans will come up with some desultory but veto-proof agreement to at least keep the government limping along, and that the filler will prove just as entertaining.

— Bud Norman

The Past Bad Week, and the Next One

The past week saw 84 deaths from deadly terrorist attack in France and failed coup attempts in Cleveland and Turkey, three more police officers were killed and another three seriously worried in Baton Rouge, another young black man was shot and killed by police officers in Baltimore after he fired four rounds at them with a rifle, and this week doesn’t look any better. The President of the United States was only slightly less worse in his responses to these events than usual, the President of Turkey is so awful we weren’t sure who to root for during that short-lived coup attempt, and the failure of that coup attempt we were fervently rooting on in Cleveland means that the Republican National Convention will almost certainly nominate Donald J. Trump as that awful president’s successor, and we’d hate to be a police officer in the vicinity of Cleveland when that happens.
President Barack Obama’s response to the carnage in France was frank enough to acknowledge that it was “horrible,” and he even went so far as to call it an act of “terrorism,” but as usual he wouldn’t go so far as to characterize the clearly Islamist nature of it. He was clearly once again caught off-guard about the failed coup in Turkey, and was content to leave it to his hapless Secretary of State to explain why they were rooting all along for the Turkish president they once claimed a “special relationship” with and are now at odds with. Earlier Obama attended the funeral of five police officers gunned down in Dallas during a “Black Lives Matter” protest, and seized the occasion to make a case for the protest movement that has whipped up the anti-police hysteria that clearly has something to do with their deaths, but after three more officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge he more clearly took a stand against the murder of random policemen and urged that “We don’t need inflammatory rhetoric. We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points of advance an agenda. We need to temper our words and open our hearts.” Which is all well and good, we suppose, expect that it was probably a rebuke as much to such anti-Islamist-terrorism and anti-killing-of-random-policemen such as ourselves as to those erstwhile allies of his who have been egging on the recent violence.
The Democratic Party’s all-but-certain nominee was no better. She took the opportunity of the carnage in France to reiterate her previously stated absurd claim that Islam has nothing to with these all to frequent tragedies, also seemed surprised by the coup attempt in the Turkey she had so assiduously courted as Secretary of State, and after the carnage in Louisiana she took her sweet time before coming out foursquare against the murder of random police officers and adding the usual caveats to indicate her sympathy to the movement that is clearly fueling the recent spate of it. Should there be further troubles in Cleveland this week we’ll eagerly await her nuanced response.
Following the failure of that coup attempt in Cleveland the all but certain Republican nominee will be Trump, who cannot be accused of being at all nuanced about his opposition to Islamist terrorism or the random murders of police officers, but can be credibly accused of “inflammatory rhetoric” and “careless accusations” and attempts to “score political points or advance an agenda,” and would probably be leading by double digits in all the polls if he could temper his words or had a heart to open. The “Bikers for Trump” who have served as semi-official security guards for his rallies, which have long been beset by the violent thugs who oppose him are predicting the scene outside the Republican Convention will resemble the “OK Corral,” which reminds our baby boomers selves more of the Altamont concert by the same Rolling Stones’ whose “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” introduced Trump’s vice-presidential pick at a weird press conference this past week,  and the all but certain Republican nominee clearly relishes a good fight, and taking all of the bi-partisan nuttiness in account we’re feeling lucky to not be a police officer in Cleveland this week.

— Bud Norman

An Entire World Heading for the Exits

America rarely pays any attention to the rest of the world, but over the past weekend it seemed all the talk was about “Brexit.” By now even the most chauvinistic newsreader is familiar with that ungainly portmanteau for Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, which was approved by a majority of the country’s voter in a referendum Friday, and understands why it really is a rather big deal even here in the faraway heartland of would-be fortress America.
The world’s fifth-largest national economy has declared its independence from an EU that had collectively rivaled the Americans and Chinese as the world’s largest economy, and by the time you read this the stock markets almost everywhere will likely be in a panic about the possible ramifications of such an international disruption. There’s also the possibility of further disruptions to the world order, as there are similar anti-EU movements afoot in many of the federation’s other 27 member countries that will surely be bolstered and embolden by Britain’s exit, and there’s already talk of the French leaving in a Frexit and the Swedes leaving in Swexit and the Netherlands leaving in a Nexit, although we wonder if that lattermost possibility wouldn’t more properly be called a Netherexit, and there’s the threat of Italy leaving in what will likely be called an Itexit, and by the time all the potential ugly neologisms have been coined there is reason to believe that the rest of the EU might well soon unravel. Elite opinion both here and abroad believes that the EU is an essential project to maintain the historically unprecedented period of peace and prosperity that has mostly attained over the European continent since the end of World War II, and there’s no denying that the populist movements fueling those anti-EU parties do indeed include some of those more unsavory sorts of nationalists who caused all the unpleasantness of the past century, so we concede there might well be further and more disturbing disruptions to the world order.
Still, from our spot here in the heartland of would-be fortress America we’re taking a more hopeful view. Britain still has the world’s fifth-largest economy and enough economic common sense that that it will still want to have a common market with the economic powerhouse across the channel, which will most likely be willing to continue friendly relations with the world’s fifth-largest economy, if the European reputation for sophistication is at all justified, and unless the crude populist with the awful haircut who has now ascended to the top of the British Conservative Party as a result of all this insists on some extortionate trade agreement we expect it will all soon be worked out to the satisfaction of the world’s stock markets. As for the threat of rising nationalist populist sentiment among the western world’s great unwashed masses, we’ve long believed that the EU and other bossy internationalist projects of the elite opinion here and abroad were the main cause of that problem.

The whole boondoggle began reasonably enough as a “Common Market,” with a number of large and nearby economies freely trading the best of their goods and services on mutually-beneficial terms, and even that was a hard sell to the non-elite sorts, unsavory and otherwise. We still recall an old New Yorker cartoon that showed some stereotypically stuffy Tory Member of Parliament saying it would be very un-British to join anything called a “Common” market, and of course the workers in the continental industries who couldn’t withstand the formidable British competition had their own objections, but with votes from consumers in all the countries who preferred being to able to buy the best and most affordable goods on services on a broader market they worked it out well enough to bring unprecedented peace and prosperity to most of Europe. The next step involved a common currency for the all the differently-sized economies involved, which encouraged the more dissipated economies to recklessly borrow at the same low interest rates afforded their more economically robust members, which has not worked out well. Then came political integration, which meant that each country was ceding sovereignty to a bunch of know-it-alls in Brussels who thought they knew how to run a business in Lancashire, England, or Orleans, France, or Athens, Greece, better than that unwashed shopkeeper in those Godforsaken jurisdictions could ever do. They were probably right about the Greek shopkeeper, but even and especially here in the heartland of would-be fortress America we can easily see how such detached and unaccountable bureaucratic meddling could fuel a populist uprising. Throw in the fact the orders were actually coming in from Berlin, Germany, where the previously sane and famously childless Chancellor has decided that the solution to her country’s below-replacement fertility rate is to import millions of fecund immigrants from more unsettled regions of the world where an Islamist hatred of western civilization is rampant, and that EU countries are bound by treaty with this civilizational suicide policy, and we can readily understand why many of even the most savory sorts of people with a love for their cultures will heading for the exits.
What probably explains why so much of self-involved America has been talking about “Brexit” is its glaringly obvious implications for the American presidential election. The incumbent Democratic President, who pretty much epitomizes elite public opinion, is a notorious Anglophobe who threatened that Great Britain would be “at the back of the queue” on trade negotiations if it dared abandon the EU, and his would-be Democratic successor, backed by much of the elite public opinion, is reduced to saying that she’ll try to help hard-working and stock-investing families get through the coming turbulence. Meanwhile the crude populist with an awful haircut who has somehow ascended to the leadership of the Republican Party has long been on record criticizing every free trade deal America ever struck, recently been stalwart opponent of immigration, and is running on the unabashedly nationalist promise to “Make American Great Again.” All in all, it should have been a good weekend for the Republican.
All politics is local, though, and in this locality the Republican seems to have a knack for blowing these opportunities. The mass shootings at a homosexual nightclub by an Islamist nutcase should have bumped his poll numbers up a few points, but his initial “tweets” on the matter congratulated himself on his prescience rather than offering condolences to the dead and the injured and his loved ones, and despite the incoherence of the Democratic response he actually saw his numbers go down. This time around the Republican happened to find himself in Scotland on the day of the referendum, taking time off from campaigning in swing states and trying to drum up business for his money-losing golf course that had all the invested locals and bought-off politicians and bullied neighbors angry at him, to the point that they were waving Mexican flags they somehow acquired at the protests, and his initial response to “Brexit” was once again clumsy. He initially “tweeted” how everyone in Scotland was exhilarated by the response, even though that portion of Great Britain had voted to remain by a landslide margin, and as the son of a Scottish immigrant mother he bragged to the locals that he was “Scotch,” which every Scot or Scotsman or Scottish person knows is a type of whisky and not a word that describes someone from Scotland, and the ensuing press conference was equally illiterate.
There was also a well stated statement about Britain’s right to sovereignty and a promise to put it at the front queue in our trade negotiations and allusions to the “special relationship,” and it’s obvious from the multi-sylabbic words and parseable grammar that someone else wrote it, but the Republican approved it and that’s an encouraging sign, but it’s still damage control rather than an offensive. The statement will probably get less attention than the Republican’s bizarre interview with Bloomberg News where the recently anti-immigration candidate criticized the globalist president’s high number of deportations of illegal immigrants and said “I have the biggest heart of anybody” and would therefore not have “mass deportations.” He didn’t back off from his threats of extortionate trade deals, and instead made an explicit plea to the supporters of self-described Socialist and too-far-left-for-even-the-Democratic-Party Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on both nationalist and socialist terms, but we think he missed a far greater opportunity to stick it to elite opinion.

— Bud Norman

Chuckling Away the Refugee Crisis

We have long noticed that whenever a doctrinaire liberal is confronted with verifiable facts and irrefutable logic he tends to respond with a condescending chuckle and an upturned chin and a self-righteous assurance that only the worst sorts of Fox News-watching and church-going and Republican-voting people and otherwise uncivilized people would be rude as the mention such things. This annoying tendency has been on conspicuous display during the recent debate about what to do with that tidal wave of people desperately fleeing the Middle East, which we are assured is a blameless part of the world where a Religion of Peace prevails, when the modern liberal has been reduced to condescending chuckles and ad hominem arguments to explain why the western world is obviously obliged to import millions of potentially dangerous people from the pathologies of a hostile and increasingly belligerent region.
It wouldn’t be so annoying if it were only coming from the hipsters at the local beer dive, but it’s also coming from President Barack Obama and all of his potential Democratic successors and too many of their allies in the respectable press, not to mention such formerly sensible European Union grandees as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and it seems at the moment the tidal wave will prove irresistible. This comes just days after at least one lone wolf of that tidal wave of putative “refugees” helped pull off a sophisticated and deadly terrorist attack on Paris, and shortly after their allies in the Middle East had downed a Russian jetliner over Egypt and bombed some religiously internecine enemies in Beirut and Ankara, and long since the European continent has been engulfed in decades of similar difficulties with an unassimilated Muslim population, and a numbing 14 years since America suffered an even more deadly attack on its soil, and by now the modern liberal hopes that the same old condescending chuckle and rote recitations of moral relativism will once again suffice. Real arguments for the insane policy of relocating a large chunk of the most troubled parts of the world to the west, however, are harder to come by.
There’s the hard-to-resist sob story about innocent refugees of war, of course, but in this case a suspiciously large chunk of the refugees of the Syrian civil war are young and male and fighting-fit, and an awful lot of them don’t seem to be from Syria, and at the moment a large chunk of Syria as well as Iraq and many other Middle Easter countries are “governed” by people who have openly declared war on the west, and it takes quite a condescending chuckle to dismiss any concerns that the unwashed public in Germany or red state America might have about it. We’re told that the refugees will be properly “vetted,” but no chuckling or ad hominem attacks on our racist motives can dispel our doubts that there’s a database somewhere that can reliably verify each of the proposed 100,000 “Syrian” “refugees” that the administration wants to bring in are really who they say they are, or that the records we’ve been allowed access to in the currently at-war-with-us country of Syria are at all reliable. The lower administration officials whose reputations are at stake on such obviously ridiculous claims are more carefully stating their statements, but the higher and more term-limited officials above them doing the usual chuckling and disparaging of dissenting opinions. The same thing seems to be going on in more vulnerable Europe, and even there the population seems rightly skeptical. There’s the same condescending chuckles and upturned chins and self-righteous talk about religious discriminations, as if the Christians and Yazidis and other victims of the region’s religious genocides weren’t already underrepresented in the west’s relocation efforts, and as if those genuinely blameless minorities didn’t import a cultural and religious hostility toward the west, but we doubt it will prove persuasive to the publics that are expected to welcome these new neighbors.
There’s already a populist backlash growing almost everywhere, from the majority of the United States whose governors have raised objections to the suddenly insurgent political parties that are drawing massive protests through the the rest of remnants of the western world. To the extent the condescending chuckles and ad hominem attacks have succeeded in banishing such arguments from respectable debate In some parts of the western world have succeeded, the most disreputable sorts of people have seized an advantage. In France the notorious and Vichy-linked Le Pen Party has surged in the polls, similarly suspicious organizations Germany are gaining on the increasingly unpopular Merkel, and even here in the relatively unaffected United States Donald Trump has increased his lead in the Republican party’s presidential race, and whichever Democrat facing him seems sure to fare badly on the refugee issue and the broader question of immigration into the country.
That condescending chuckle and those ad hominem arguments cow a lot of people into compliance with liberal orthodoxy, both here and in Europe, but they don’t always carry the day. There are not only a lot of governors but also a full slate of Republican candidates questioning the idea of allowing large numbers of “Syrian” “refugees” into the country, and they seem to have counterparts around the rest of the western world, and in many cases they seem reasonable people, and there’s some hope that the for-now majorities in those jurisdictions will wind up voting for the most respectable champions of the status quo, and that their votes will still count.

–Bud Norman

Yet Another Deadline

Today is the deadline for reaching a nuclear deal with the Iranians, and by all accounts there won’t be any deal, but of course there will always be another deadline. By this point so many deadlines have passed and so many new ones have been set that it’s hard to see the point of going on, but hope apparently springs eternal at the State Department.
There doesn’t seem to have been much progress made over the past several deadlines, at least from the point of view of anyone who would prefer that the mad mullahs of Iran don’t get their hands on a nuclear weapon. After more than seven years of the Obama administration offering an open hand to the virulently anti-American and anti-semitic and longing-for-the-Armmageddon regime, and more than two years of sitting down at a Viennese negotiating table with them, they’re still insisting that no inspections of their military facilities be allowed and that all of the economic sanctions that forced them to that Viennese negotiating table cease the moment the deal is signed and not when it has been verified that there isn’t any nuclear shenanigans going on that those military facilities. Some “unnamed senior U.S. official” has acknowledged that America doesn’t allow foreign inspections of its military sites, and similarly unnamed U.S. officials have long sounded willing to go along with the sanctions demands, but even our French negotiating partners are balking at that while the Iranians seem eager to learn what further concessions they might extract from an American president who is clearly eager to make any sort of deal.
Our guess is that the Iranians are holding out for a deal that will require America to provide them with a sizable nuclear arsenal, along with the needed inter-continental ballistic missiles that can deliver them to Tel Aviv and Riyadh and Paris and any other locales that offend their religious sensibilities, along with the global positioning system coordinates needed to land them there, and that the final sticking point that requires yet another deadline will be whether New York City and Los Angeles and Wichita are also included in the bargain. New York City and Los Angeles are full of reliably Democratic voters, so that would be the sort of sticking point that would require a couple more deadlines to be set, but we expect that some unnamed senior U.S. official or another will find something in America’s sinful past and current policies that makes it unfair to object to the nuclear annihilation of such as reliably Republican town as Wichita.
The president’s foreign policy legacy is at stake, after all, and almost any deal that’s cooked up can somehow been portrayed by the obeisant press as some sort of triumph, so surely that’s worth another two or three or four or however many deadlines are required to get there.

— Bud Norman

The Big News of the Day, Here and There

The big news on Friday, at least here in the United States of America, was the Supreme Court’s discovery that same-sex marriage is a previously undiscovered right guaranteed by the 18th Century framers and ratifiers of the Constitution. Meanwhile, in France and Tunisia and Kuwait, the big news of the day was a trio of simultaneous terror attacks that left at least 54 people dead and one victim’s disembodied head impaled on the gates of an American-owned factory.
America’s State Department won’t yet concede that the simultaneous terror attacks were coordinated, but with uncharacteristic frankness it does at least acknowledge that they were more or less simultaneous, and were undeniably acts of terrorism, and at the risk of political incorrectness one might infer from this reluctant admission that it was all inspired by the same Islamic ideology that has also lately inspired the very Sunni Islamic State to toss homosexuals from tall buildings in its recently-conquered portions of Iraq and Syria and Libya to the delight of the assembled throngs and the very Shiite Ayatollahs of Iran to subject homosexual males to brutally forced sex-change operations. Still, we are told that any Catholics or Protestants or any other varieties or Christians or Orthodox Jews or Hindus or Buddhists or any other religions that hew to their millennial-old notions regarding sexual morality must reconcile their beliefs with the latest Supreme Court ruling and social fads, while the Sunni Islamic state is merely a “jayvee team” of terrorism and the Shiite Iranian ayatollahs are rational people who can be entrusted with nuclear weaponry no matter what declarations they have made about Jewish genocide or death to the Great Satan of America or the arrival of the 12th Imam and the end days, and that any old Baptist congregation or obscure Indiana pizzeria that is perfectly willing to tolerate but unwilling to celebrate a same-sex marriage must get its mind right about the latest judicially-mandated fads.
Although we are clearly damned to political incorrectness and whatever social stigma it might entail by saying so, this strikes us as absurd. By happenstance we ran into a dear old homosexual friend of ours on Sunday, not long after our attendance at a fundamental Christian worship, whose seemingly happy relationship with a homosexual lover has long outlasted our heterosexual but devastatingly failed marriage to a woman, and we shared a much-need laugh with a favorite old dirty joke of ours about parachute training and sodomy. We aren’t all assured that our friend shares our concerns about originalism versus that crazy “living constitution” interpretation of the legalistic stuff, or the ramifications for those of us those who still worry how that the latest Supreme Court ruling will affect the religious liberties of those of us who still harbor doubts about the future of a civilization based on old-fashioned notions notions about married men and women raising the next generation, but we are hopeful our friendship will remain intact. We assume he has the usual fashionable notions about same-sex marriage and tolerance of an Islamic ideology that quite clearly thinks otherwise, but we can’t help wondering how it might look from a French or Tunisian or Kuwaiti perspctive,

— Bud Norman

With Friends Like This

Much ridicule has already been heaped on Secretary of State John Kerry for having James Taylor sing “You’ve Got a Friend” to the French last week, but we feel obliged to add a bit more. Not since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered that apologetic misspelled “reset” button to the rapacious Russkies has American foreign policy been so embarrassing.
It’s not just that Taylor’s folky schtick was sappy even when it was popular way back in the ’70s, or that “You’ve Got a Friend” was just about the sappiest of it, but that the gesture was intended as an apology for the United States’ even more embarrassing failure to send a high-ranking figure to France’s march on behalf of freedom of speech in the wake of a murderous attack by radical Islamist terrorists against a satirical magazine that had published cartoons critical of radical Islamism. While the heads of state of every other significant country felt obliged to make the trip, America was represented at the march by its ambassador the country, a former campaign bundler for the Obama presidential campaigns, despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder was conveniently in Paris at the time, Vice President Joe Biden’s schedule was of course open, and the security concerns that were cited to explain the president’s absence didn’t keep Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a spot at the lead of the march. The international and domestic criticism was so withering that the White House spokesman acknowledged the mistake, and Kerry and his guitar-strumming buddy from Martha’s Vineyard were dispatched to make amends.
Compounding the embarrassment even further was the obvious insincerity of the performance. The same president that declared to the United Nations in the aftermath of a terror attack on an American consulate in Benghazi that was falsely blamed on an obscure YouTube video critical of Islamism that “The future must not belong to those who slander that prophet of Islam” was never to going to march on behalf of the right to freely express opinions regarding religion. As France musters some uncharacteristic courage to confront the Islamist threat it has unwisely welcomed, it will take more than a washed-up folk-rocker to convince them they have a friend in the United States for at least the next two years.
Even James Taylor and John Kerry aren’t as embarrassing as that sad fact.

— Bud Norman

The Gathering Storm

Another 12 lives have been added to the casualty list from the Islamic fanatics’ war against the West, this time at the offices of a French satirical magazine that was deemed insufficiently reverent toward Mohammad, and there are the usual worries among the chattering classes that Islam will be blamed. The long-awaited backlash against Muslims in the west hasn’t happened yet, and the West’s governments and opinion-makers are as eager as ever to prevent it, but they are right to worry. Each new outrage tests the public’s patience and draws the world closer to an inevitable confrontation between the west and its sworn enemies.
America has already launched costly battles in Afghanistan and Iraq in response to the terror attacks on its soil on Sept. 11, 2001, and even as it withdraws from those conflicts with little regard for the consequences Europe is being forced to confront the broader war within its own borders. Shortsighted immigration policies have left many European nations with large Muslim populations that are rapidly growing while the indigenous ethnic population is at or below replacement levels, and the newcomers are not assimilating to the existing cultures but rather attempting to impose their own culture on their hosts. A generous welfare system and a condescending multi-culturalism seem to have only exacerbated the resentments in the Muslim ghettos that have sprung up across the continent, which are often radicalized Islamic states within the state. The excellent British writer Theodore Dalrymple offers a chilling description at City Journal of the situation in his adopted country of France, where bureaucratic planning has created a segregated ring around the major cities where the police and firemen and emergency medical personnel are afraid to go, filled with angry young men whose culture is defined by its opposition to the nation at large. He describes how the resulting crime and disorder are affecting the lives of ordinary French citizens, and how they have thus far resigned themselves to the situation, and how the arbiters of elite French culture have even championed the anti-French subculture of the ghettos, but the disorder has now killed 12 at a satirical magazine and will soon move on to the gay bars and will eventually threaten everything that even the enlightened French culture will inevitably find worth fighting for.
Already there are worries that there will be increased support in France for Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which has not had much success in shedding the image of her father’s unabashed fascist policies but is the only political party that has forthrightly challenged the creeping Islamization of France. Anti-immigration parties are finding increased support across Europe, and although the European and American press like to describe them all as “right wing” some are merely urging reasonable restrictions on immigration and assimilation policies for those already in the country along with the same sort of economic agenda that conservatives offer in America, but there are parties with a more authoritarian style that will also make gains in countries where the more established parties refuse to offer viable solutions to the pressing problems posed by an increasingly radicalized Muslim population. Wherever any resistance to the Islamic immigration is considered beyond the respectable limits of discourse, the disreputable parties will become increasingly popular.
The United States has a smaller, albeit growing, Muslim population, and it is not segregated and alienated to the same extent as In Europe. Nor are the parameters of the debate about Islam’s uneasy coexistence with the West so severely restricted, despite the best efforts of politicians and the academy and the establishment press and the entertainment industry. The death toll from radical Islam’s war against the West is nonetheless high here, and likely to grow higher, and the same willing blindness to the problem too often prevails at the highest levels of power. The anti-social ethos that Theodore Dalrymple describes in the ghettos outside Paris is eerily similar to what is found in the ghettos within America’s cities, right down to hip-hop music and fashion and government-subsidized bling, and the reaction by America’s intellectual elites to its anti-social and police-hating ethos is pretty much the same, and all that’s missing is radical Islam’s appeal to the spiritual void of those angry young men and its promise of something more meaningful. Post-modern Europe has nothing similar to offer, and America needs to recall the vision that once served that purpose.
The same apologetic and appeasing offer of debilitating support that America has offered its ghettos since launching a “War on Poverty” is what it now offers the Islamic world, but generous welfare systems and a condescending multi-culturalism are no more likely to work here than in France.

— Bud Norman

A Deal of Worry

Everything about the deal that the Obama administration is trying to strike with the Iranian government regarding that country’s nuclear ambitions is worrisome. The Secretary of State assures the nation that “We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” but it’s worrisome that a man in his position feels obliged to offer such assurances.
Blindness and stupidity are the most likely explanation for the deal, which would ease the international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for promises of a suspension of some parts of the country’s nuclear program, so perhaps such denials are indeed obligatory. Israel’s Prime Minister has declared the deal “very bad,” which is worrisome because he’s usually right about matters so crucial to country’s continued existence and because it represents yet another example of America’s frayed relationships in the Middle East even if he’s wrong. Even the socialist surrender monkeys of France find the deal too appeasing, and have at least temporarily nixed it as part of the cumbersome six-country negotiating coalition, although it’s worrisome that they are the ones demanding firmness. The Saudis don’t seem at all confident that the deal will so much as delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, as they have now made arrangements with Pakistan to acquire some of their own, and the prospect of a nuclear arms race in a region so rife with hatred and fanaticism is about as worrisome as things get.
Although the Secretary of State touts the long experience of his diplomatic team, it is worrisome that a lead role is being played the ex-social worker whose previous experience with nuclear arms negotiations allowed the North Korean nutcases to acquire enough weapons to menace their part of their world. Worrisome, too, is that the ex-community organizer in charge of these negotiations won the presidency mocking his opponent for being concerned about such a “little country” as Iran and has since pursued an “open hand” relationship even as the country celebrates it hostage-taking revolution with clinched fists and shouts of “death to America.”
There’s always a chance that the French will continue to stand steadfast for Israel and all of the Sunni Arab countries that would be endangered by an Iranian nuclear bomb, although it’s worrisome that it has come to that. Enough of Israel’s remaining Democratic friends in the Senate might yet be convinced to the join the Republicans in continuing the sanctions, which have by all accounts seriously hindered Iran’s economy and weakened its increasingly unpopular government, but it is worrisome that many Democrats will happily go along with efforts to bolster the hideous theocracy. Continuing the sanctions is the very least that needs to be done, and it’s worrisome that the most that will be required doesn’t seem even remotely possible with America’s current leadership.

— Bud Norman