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Our Convoluted Immigration Politics

The man who was arrested for the Islamist terrorist attack on Halloween along a New York City bike and pedestrian lane that killed eight people and gravely wounded another dozen looks to be pretty darned guilty, and he’s an immigrant from the terror-prone country of Uzbekistan who got into the country via a convoluted “visa lottery” program, so the tragedy has unavoidable political implications. These days, though, it’s likely to become more complicated than it should be.
Some scrutiny of the convoluted “visa lottery” is surely warranted, as is a healthy skepticism about the left’s broader notion of awarding unscrutinized visas to people from countries where the people are prone to Islamist terrorism, and there’s no denying that the Republican party in general and President Donald Trump in particular now stand better in the ensuing argument.  Trump’s been gleefully “tweeting” about it, and rightly noting New York’s Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was a sponsor of that “visa lottery” that ushered the alleged terrorist who looks pretty darned guilty into the country, but he probably would have been better off focusing on the policy rather than the personalities. Trump’s very vigilant immigrant policies had previously excluded Uzbekistan and other Islamist-terrorism-prone countries from the former Soviet Union, this is the first time he’s “tweeted” about the “visa lottery,” and singling out Schumer for personal criticism hardly invites the senator from New York to join in a bipartisan fix.
Trump is also “tweeting” some tough talk about denying the suspect legal representation and summarily shipping him off to the Guantanamo Bay prison for unlawful combatants, but we think he’s overplaying a winning hand. Being old-fashioned law-and-order Republicans we’re forced to admit that no matter the convoluted system that let the suspect into the country did grant him a legal residence, the rule of constitutional law provides certain rights to legal residents charged with even the most outrageous crimes, and we’d hate to see rights denied innocent people might run afoul of Trump, and we’re confident we’re confident that the current judicial order will deal very harshly with a guy so clearly guilty. The established legal order has worked well enough so far, all things considered, and might well provide some useful information in this case, so we trust it more than we do Trump or any Republican or Democrat.
We’re hopeful Trump and the rest of the Republican party will achieve a less convoluted and more vigilant immigration policy, that there will be some Democratic support from the states where Islamist terrorism most often happens, and as a result we’ll someday annoyed by news that doesn’t involve a fatal Islamist terrorist attack which might have otherwise happened. We’d rather not give up on the constitution and the rest of that old fashioned Republican law-and-order, though, and we think it best that we not make it personal.

— Bud Norman

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Another Week in a Dismal Race

The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has had a couple of awkward moments lately, with several widely disseminated photographs showing her needing assistance to climb the steps of the White House and several others showing the father of a mass-murdering Islamist terrorist sitting just behind her in a prime seat and cheering heartily at one of her rallies. The former revived reasonable suspicions about Clinton’s physical fitness to assume the office, and in an eerily literal way at that, and at best the latter called into question the ability of her famously well-staffed campaign organization to stage an effective photo-op and at worst recalled her past insane statements about Islam having nothing to do with Islamist terrorism.
Any old Republican nominee should have had a good start to the week, but in this crazy election year the nominee isn’t just any old Republican but rather Donald J. Trump.
In his long and varied private sector career Trump has always had an undeniable knack for generating more headlines than any old Republican presidential nominee, or even any Republican president for that matter, and he’s never much cared if it was good press or bad press so long as they spelled his name correctly, so it’s no surprise that he somehow managed to overshadow his opponent’s photographically documented missteps by telling a North Carolina rally that “If she gets to pick her judges there’s nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” This impromptu aside was enough to generate such widely disseminated headlines as “Trump appears to encourage gun owners to take action if Clinton appoints anti-gun judges,” and for the oh-so-respectable press to fret that he “appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun controls,” and it put Trump’s apologists in the awkward position of talking about how he actually meant to the “unification” of the gun-owning population that would thwart a Clinton presidency Trump seemed to be talking about and how in any case he was just joking.
Our abhorrence of both these awful candidates, as well as our disdain for the respectable press that is covering their awful campaigns, allows us an easy objectivity on the matter. From our appalled perspective we can see how the Republican nominee really was talking some peaceable uprising or merely joking about knocking off a president or her judicial nominees, and we can also allow that maybe the Republican nominee of this crazy election year really was sanguinely contemplating some armed uprising against a possible Clinton administration. Something deep in our Republican souls also has to concede that this crazy election year’s nominee makes it hard to say for sure what the hell he meant to say.
Way back when Trump started knocking off the far more qualified field of Republican candidates his fans were enthused by his willingness to say whatever grammatically incoherent thought popped into his mind, which seemed such a welcome change from the poll-tested and focus-grouped responses of past Republican nominees, but even at the time we wondered if that tendency was really what we wanted in a president. We share Shakespeare’s opinion that one should “Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be though familiar, but by no means vulgar,” and we wish that any old Republican nominee would be as well-read and hipped-up. As awful as that Clinton woman is we have to concede that this crazy election year’s Republican nominee’s un-parseable word salad does allow for any number of readings, including the only slightly reassuring possibility that he was merely joking about someone offing a president or her judicial nominees, and that in any case it undeniably and unnecessarily does distract attention from the awful week that awful woman has been having.

— Bud Norman

A Long, Hot Summer Slides into Cleveland

This has been a riotous summer thus far, and we don’t mean in that in the secondary sense of the term that it’s been at all amusing.
Violent and disruptive protests sparked by the “Black Lives Matter” movement have caused serious injuries to numerous law enforcement officers in Minnesota, Illinois, Louisiana, and Missouri, five policemen were shot down by sniper fire in Texas and at four others have been shot in ambushes around the country, gangs of thugs have inflicted severe violence on attendees at the presumptive Republican nominee’s rallies in several other jurisdictions, not to mention the even worse carnage inflicted by radical Islamist terrorists. There have been less violent disruptions in a number of other cities, including right here in otherwise placid Wichita where on Wednesday when several of our most liberal Facebook friends were complaining about the “Black Lives Matter” protest that shut down essential 13th Street in an attempt to shut down the even more essential Canal Route, and we hear that even in the wake of those five officers’ deaths a similar protest did manage to shut down a far more heavily travelled rush hour interstate route in Dallas.
All in all, we’re feeling rather lucky not to be one of the law enforcement officers assigned to security at next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
In addition to all the other worrisome warning signs, the always-troublesome New Black Panther Party has announced it will be in attendance and availing itself of its legal rights to carry concealed weapons in Ohio, and it’s safe to assume that various other thuggish opponents of the presumptive Republican nominee will arrive with similar intent, and any old presumptive Republican nominee would have some supporters who would reasonably avail themselves of the same rights as they as peacefully participate in the political process, and although we aren’t attempting any sort of numerical or moral equivalence we feel compelled by intellectual honesty to admit that this particular presumptive Republican nominee has at least a troublesome few supporters who seem all too eager to mix it up and the presumptive nominee’s promise to pay for the legal fees for anyone who punches a protestor in the face. Not to mention that ever-present threat of radical Islamic terrorism, and the general craziness of this moment in American history, and the lack of anything remotely reassuring among everything else that’s going on. All in all, it seems the sort of combustible situation that we’d prefer to watch through barely opened fingers from a safe distance via television and the internet.
The last time we witnessed such potential mayhem at a major party’s presidential convention was when our elementary-school-aged selves watched the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago devolve into absolute chaos on our family’s fuzzy black-and-white television. There’s still some debate whether it was a police riot caused by the overaggressive forces of the local ruling Democratic urban machine or an ill-advised revolution of yippies and hippies and the disrupters of the system that the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate plausibly blamed, but in any case it undeniably resulted in the plurality election of the Republicans and their “law and order” platform. With the current presumptive Republican nominee promising more of the same “law and order” and in the exact slogan, history might well repeat itself. On the other hand, given the current media landscape and political demographic possibilities afoot, any tragedies in Cleveland might well wind up being blamed on Second Amendment rights and and the presumptive Republican nominee’s “at least he fights” persona, and there will surely be the usual excuses should it turn out to be radical Islamic terrorism, so we can’t discount the possibility that the Republican winds up winning but leaving office despite a landslide reelection victory because of his own character flaws. Some sage once noted that American history always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce, and this combustible situation seems to promise no happier outcomes.
We’ll be watching from a safe distance on television and internet through fingers that are crossed but opened just enough to allow for the watching, and hoping for the best. At every moment, though, we’ll be glad we’re not a cop in Cleveland. There are onlyso  many cops in Cleveland, and  a certain portion of them are need to maintain law and order in those areas outside the Republican national presidential convention, and apparently some of the neighboring police departmentwho t had volunteered their efforts to make up the difference are also thinking they’d also rather watch from a safe distance via television and the internet, and we worry it will continue to be a riotous summer in in the worst and most literal sense of that term.

— Bud Norman

Deflated Balls

The big story on Monday was about deflated balls. We assumed it had something to do with with Secretary of State John Kerry and his folk-rocking hippie pal James Taylor apologizing to the French for snubbing their big march against Islamist terrorism, or perhaps the Republican Senators’ apparent capitulation to the president on the the illegal immigration issue, but it turned out to be just another of those annual allegations of cheating leveled against the New England Patriots professional football team.
Even so, the deflated balls theme seemed to recur throughout the news. There was much speculation about today’s State of The Union address, which will reportedly call for massive tax hikes and vast redistributive spending that the Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress will never pass, and the press was giddy with anticipation that at least they will once again be able to caricature the Grand Old Party as lapdogs of the top-hatted, mustache-twirling rich who are always tying the downtrodden middle class to the metaphorical railroad tracks. The Republicans have always endured this reputation, and it lately hasn’t stopped them from acquiring majorities in both chambers of Congress, but the renewed slander might yet force them into some sorry compromise on the ridiculous proposals.
Another popular topic was the opening of the annual confab in Davos, Switzerland, where the world’s most well-heeled wheelers and dealers gather to drink, dine, and discuss the world’s problems. The United Kingdom’s left-wing Guardian took the occasion to anxiously note that the world’s richest one percent now control half the world’s wealth, but they should find some solace in noting that the plutocrats hobnobbing in Davos seem every bit as socialistic and authoritarian as the most welfare-dependent Guardian reader. USA Today preferred the angle that Davos will confront a “World on verge of nervous breakdown,” citing everything from such real problems as increasing Islamist terrorism to such non-problems as anthropogenic global warming to such happy phenomena as falling oil prices, and seems to hold out hope that the super-rich socialists at the gathering mike come up with a solution for it all. We’ve not been invited to Davos, and couldn’t muster the airfare or lodging expenses even if we were, but we’ll keep a skeptical eye on the proceedings nonetheless.
The rest of the news seemed to be about “American Sniper,” a big Hollywood flick that has been setting box office records that the previous slew of anti-war flicks never approached and is sending the mainstream media’s last surviving movie clinics into rage. Apparently the movie regards Islamist terrorists as bad guys and the American soldiers who have been fighting them as good guys, albeit with the some of the requisite Hollywood moral ambivalence, so the outrage isn’t at all surprising. The protagonist is apparently a white guy, which is also controversial these days, so the criticism will likely mount leading up to the Academy Awards voting. We haven’t seen the picture yet, and probably won’t until it shows up on Netflix, what with movie and popcorn prices being akin to a trip to Davos these days, so we’re withholding out own our judgment on the film’s artistic merits, but we’ll keep an eye on these developments as well.
Perhaps the desultory nature of the news can be attributed to “Blue Monday,” that post-holiday point in the dead of the winter that is said to be the most depressing day of the year. Around here the weather was unusually tolerable, although not nearly to our warm-blooded liking, but it still seemed rather a glum slog through the news.

— Bud Norman

Even “Team America” Can’t Rescue Free Speech

Although we are not fond of the comedy of Seth Rogen, we were nonetheless dismayed to hear that his latest motion picture is being pulled from theatrical release because of terroristic threats by the North Korean government. When the tinpot dictator of a third world basket case can determine the choices of the American movie-going public it is a blow to free speech, and we are fond free speech. When the likes of Kim Jong Un can even halt a screening of “Team America: World Police,” the kind of movie that free speech was invented for, we are doubly outraged.
“Team America: World Police” isn’t a movie we recommend to everyone, as it is only suited to certain unrefined tastes. The polite word for its style of humor is Rabelaisian, but such a highfalutin term isn’t quite appropriate to such a deliberately foul-mouthed and dirty-minded puppet show. Those whose minds are already in the gutter and whose stomachs are strong enough for such fare will find it hilarious, though, and notice it has more shrewd points to make than the next ten indie flicks that will play your local art house put together. First released in 2004, the movie spoofs the Bushian patriotic fervor of America in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but that’s mostly rendered with the sort affectionate understanding that the great Preston Sturges brought to his classic satires “Hail the Conquering the Hero” and “Miracle of Morgan’s” during the similarly proud days of World War II. By far the harshest barbs are aimed at Islamist terrorists, the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, and their equally anti-American sympathizers in Hollywood. “Team America: World Police” is such a convincingly scathing indictment of Hollywood’s limousine liberalism that it’s a wonder Hollywood ever released it, but at the time Hollywood didn’t have the ready excuse of not wanting to offend any of the various Kim Jongs of North Korea.
Since the original release of “Team America: World Police” the North Koreans have been cast as the villains in several movies, including that awful remake of “Red Dawn” which somehow retained all the stupid improbabilities and bad acting of the original but somehow omitted all the popcorn-chomping patriotic fun, probably for lack of politically correct and liability-proof options. Hollywood stopped doing commie villains as soon as the Cold War ended, and even wound up re-making “The Manchurian Candidate” with some vaguely Koch Brothers-ish corporation as the bad guys plotting world domination, and was more likely to release an adoring bio-pic of Che Guevara. Neo-Nazis still make an occasional appearance in the movies, but that beloved cliche has mostly played out from overuse. Christians and Republicans and especially Christian Republicans can always been employed to stop a high school dance or say unpleasant things about a cross-dresser or complicate someone’s abortion or provide some other villainous plot twist, but that’s only good for the women’s market, and is insufficiently violent for the action-adventure fare that brings in the really big box office, and it probably doesn’t translate well to the foreign market.
Islamist terrorists are widely unpopular domestically, a sentiment that probably prevails in a profitable segment of those foreign markets as well, but of course they’re terrorists and might prove more expensively dangerous to offend than whatever’s left of the Neo-Nazis or the Koch Brothers-ish corporations or Christians or Republicans or even Christian Republicans. From the still-in-hiding Salman Rushdie to that besieged Danish magazine that published the Mohammad cartoons to the murdered Theo Van Gogh, criticizing the Islamists has never proved a profitable enterprise. The same ribald fellows who did “Team America: World Police” also do the foul-mouthed and dirty-minded and frequently brilliant “South Park” cartoon, but when they dared to depict Mohammad in solidarity the Comedy Central network did not air the offend segment. The same network’s Stephen Colbert recently received the effusive thanks of the Democratic party for his long service to its cause, which they will cite as proof of how very daring they are, but they are by no means alone in Hollywood in their preference for a safer sort of daring.
Kim Jong Un has apparently noticed this tendency, if that reports that it’s actually a big publicity push for some otherwise unsaleable Seth Rogen flick can be discounted, and now he can enjoy the same immunity from Hollywood villainy as his friends in Iran and Cuba. The studio has already suffered from a cyber-attack that has revealed e-mails and other internal documents confirming that everyone in Hollywood is as self-absorbed and shallow as you’d always thought, and apparently believes that the North Koreans can make good on its more deadly threats. A few theaters decided to show “Team America: World Police” as a protest against the Sony Corporation’s capitulation to the terrorist threat, but the studio decided to pull even that worthier production from the theaters as well. Any other tinpot dictators of third world basket-cases seeking some say in which pictures get green-lighted can expect the same response, and it will likely have an inhibiting effect on the American cinema. At this rate, the next James Bond will have the intrepid secret agent saving the high school dance that one of those creepy Christian Republicans was trying to shut down.

— Bud Norman

Falling in Line

Everything was supposed to be different by now. When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, it was supposed to herald the dawning of a brave new world. A trillion dollars or so of stimulus money handed out to the right Democratic constituent groups would cause an economic boom to pay for a slew of expertly administered programs that would cure every social ill, a bit of the impeccably multi-cultural president’s silver-tongued oratory in Cairo would soothe the most savage Islamist breast, and the most transparent administration in history would reveal no taint of the scandals that had so offended liberal sensibilities for the previous eight years. By now, the faithful truly believed, everyone would be marching in formation behind the great leader toward a glorious future.
Although it seems so very long ago, we vividly recall running into a friend who had just returned from an Obama rally on the eve of the Democrats’ state caucus back in ’08. She spoke at length about the wonderful things her newfound hero would surely accomplish, and with such a youthful idealism in her star-struck eyes that we were tempted to slap some sense into her, then promised that the best part would be when the country stopped bickering and was at long last united. When we assured her this would not happen, and that we were certain of the fact because we had every intention of opposing with every legal means at our disposal, she seemed quite taken aback but only momentarily disappointed by the news. Everyone else she knew was apparently of one mind about Obama’s leadership, and she was confident that the few contrarians would eventually come around.
The same expectation was widely shared by the president’s supporters, and for a while there it seemed possible that the opposition of a few individualists would indeed be overwhelmed by the collective adulation of the masses. Most of the media did their part, overlooking Obama’s paltry record of legislative accomplishments, longtime membership in the First Church of Hate Whitey, his sneering characterization of small town Americans, and various other scandals while focusing on the most minute and sometimes imaginary scandals of the opposition, and the photographs always seemed to include some sort of halo effect. Dissent was suddenly unfashionable after Obama’s election, and those who did dare express were treated harshly in the court of public opinion. A well-known radio commentator who openly hoped for Obama’s failure was pilloried in the press, and the president himself warned congress not to listen. The only television news organization that assumed an adversarial role in its coverage was widely mocked, with the president criticizing it by name. A mass protest movement by ordinary Americans opposed to the administration’s deficit spending and extensive health care reforms was portrayed by most of the news media as an extremist element constantly on the verge of violent revolution and was relentlessly ridiculed by the entertainment media. The bond holders in nationalized auto companies, Supreme Court justices issuing unfavorable rulings, wealthy donors to conservative causes, and others who stood in the way of the administration received similar vitriol.
In recent weeks it has been revealed that the official harassment of the administration’s opponents went beyond far beyond name-calling and stigmatization, with protest groups subjected to the menacing scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service, journalists being treated as suspects in criminal investigations simply for doing their jobs, donors to opposition campaigns being hounded by various agencies of the government, and businesses being approached for donations by people with regulatory power over their industries. The administration professes to be appalled at what has been happening to the very people they have eagerly demonized for the past five years, and insists that of course it has nothing to do with what has been going on in its government, but the public seems to be growing skeptical lately. There’s no shaking a suspicion that the president had also expected that everyone would have fallen in line by now, and is not troubled if some are pressured rather than persuaded.
The economy has whimpered rather than boomed, the various new programs have shown little success and the big Obamacare triumph is looking like a “train wreck” even to its sponsors, the murderous impulses of Islamist terrorism are somehow proving immune to the president’s oratory, and the bickering continues in a country that is far from united. All of which makes it even more crucial to quash the dissent, as the entire collectivist project depends on having everyone go along. If some private company starts fracking oil and gas on private lands it keeps the prices down too low for the government’s “green energy” plans to succeed. People with legal claims to the industries being nationalized make it difficult to transfer their wealth to more favored groups. News organizations that report stories embarrassing to the administration undermine public confidence in the government’s ability to solve all their problems. Tax protestors make it difficult to raise the revenue required for an ever-expanding government. Donors to the opposition might even wind up getting a Republican elected.
Such dire outcomes cannot be tolerated, not when there’s a brave new world that might yet be achieved, and it should not come as a surprise that some people have been taught a lesson about keeping their mouths shut.

— Bud Norman