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This Time in Turkey

The latest Islamist outrage occurred Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey, where at least three gun-toting suicide bombers slaughtered at least 36 people and seriously injured another hundred or so at the Ataturk Airport. At this point it’s unclear if it was the work of the Islamic State or the Kurdish separatists who have more frequently launched terror attacks in Turkey, although the experts guessing it’s the former and admitting it might yet be another group, but it any case it adds to the horrifying death toll of the past millennia and a half of jihad.
This time around was mostly a Muslim-on-Muslim slaughter, as has been common during much of the past millennia and a half of jihad, but of the course the victims at an international airport in such a cosmopolitan city as Istanbul included some infidels. At this point it’s not known if any of them were Americans, but we have several friends and family members who have travelled through what they all describe as the airport’s heavily secured hallways, so it could have been anyone from anywhere. Why any non-Kurdish Islamists would choose to target Turkey is also unclear at this point, as there any number of explanations.
There’s an ongoing resentment about all the years that Turkey’s Ottoman Empire ruled almost the entirety of the Islamic world, and even though that ended way back at the conclusion of World War I that’s no so long ago from the millenarian and a half perspective of jihad. The airport is Istanbul is named for Kemal Ataturk, whose reformers dragged Turkey out of the ruins of the post-Ottoman Empire and into something resembling the modern world, and from the Islamist point of view that’s even worse than the Ottoman Empire. The Turks have lately been involved in squabbles with everyone from Russia to Syria to the Syrian regime’s Islamic State enemies to of course those pesky Kurds, so the country has any of number of reasons to be attacked.
Since the good old days of Ataturk and his fellow “young Turks” the country has seen the more or less modern and cosmopolitan types in Istanbul and other urban areas demographically overwhelmed by the more fervently religious and therefore more fecund rural portions of the country, and Turkey has lately become Islamist and troublesome enough that its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and associate membership with the European Union have become problematic, but they’re still not nearly Islamist enough to spare themselves further Islamist terror attacks. It’s a tough spot to be in, but to quote an old song it’s nobody’s business but the Turks’.
As horrific as it was the Istanbul attack didn’t exceed the death count inflicted by an Islamist nutcase’s attack on the much softer target of an Orlando, Florida, nightclub not long before, so at this point in the millennia and a half of ongoing jihad everyone everywhere has to adjust its policies.
The American left tried to explain that larger death toll at an Orlando nightspot catering to homosexuals by a man who phoned into the police and clearly explained that he was acting on behalf on the Islamic State was actually the fault of those darned gun-toting and Bible-thumping Republicans, but this time at least the president admitted that it was some sort of unspecified “terrorism” and didn’t try to blame it Chick-fi-la or any bakers who decline to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, which would have been quite a stretch even for the president, and at this point it’s hard to guess what policy changes might be made. Both of the presumptive major party nominees hoping to succeed him have offered appropriate sympathy and outrage for the victims, and vowed the requisite resoluteness, and it remains to be seen which of them will win the next news cycle. Even the Democrat has lately started the using “Islamist” to describe all this jihad, and the Republican has been very stern if somewhat inconsistent and incoherent about it from the very beginning, but we’re not placing much hope in policy changes. Until the entirety of the barren west rouses itself against once again against the fecund forces of Islamism we expect the jihad will continue.

— Bud Norman

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A Laugh-in at the Sit-In

A full 170 Democratic members of Congress staged a “sit-in” on the floor of the on the House of Representatives recently, and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s forceful response included turning off the C-SPAN and pool coverage cameras that were witnessing the spectacle. We think he passed up a propaganda coup by doing so, as those Democrats looked damned silly sitting there on that carpeted floor in their fancy suits.
Some Democrats of a certain age might have found it rather nostalgic, and the Cable News Network’s report on the incident included a helpful link to a photo montage of all those well-remembered “sit-ins” that occurred back in the long civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protest days, but those scruffier young Democrats who “occupied” all sorts of more uncomfortable places during the short-lived and happily-forgotten “Occupy Wall Street” movement of a few years ago were probably unimpressed, and we suspect that the vast majority of the rest of the country also thought it all looked damned silly. Those well-clad and comfortably air-conditioned protestors claimed to “fight the powers that be,” borrowing a hackneyed hip-hop slogan coined by the Maoist “gangsta rappers” called Public Enemy, but such well-clad and comfortably air-conditioned members of Congress are by any definition among the powers that be, and as Democrats they are arguably among the most powerful of the powers that be, and their cause certainly had nothing to do with civil rights or any sort of anti-war sentiment.
The whole hubbub started after yet another sexually-conflicted Islamist nutcase shot up an Orlando, Florida, nightclub catering to homosexuals on its “Latin Night,” killing enough people to earn the current American record for a mass shooting, and the Democrats instinctively blamed it on the gun-loving and xenophobic and homophobic and otherwise phobic Christian mainstream of America society. There were the usual Democratic calls for draconian gun control measures, this time with an emphasis on denying gun sales to anyone on the federal government’s “no-fly list,” and when the congressional Republicans offered to do just that so long as those people who somehow found themselves on the “no-fly list” were entitled some sort of due process the Democrats voted down that radical idea and instead decided to sit and pout on the House floor until they got their way. They no doubt hoped this would somehow simultaneously enhance both their peacenik and tough-on-terror stances, but to anyone paying close attention they come off as a bunch well-clad and comfortably air-conditioned powers that be demanding more power yet.
The late and great Franz Kafka once wrote a dystopian novella titled “The Trial” that described some poor schmuck finding himself under the thumb of a totalitarian state for reasons that are never to explained to him, and the resulting phrase “Kafka-esque” aptly describes that “no-fly list.” If your neighbor has done something to irk you can easily retaliate by screwing up his next vacation with a an anonymous phone call to any number of federal agencies and reporting that there’s something fishy about him, and if those sit-in Democrats get their way he’ll have absolutely nothing to about and it won’t be able to buy a gun to protect himself from whatever other mischief you have in mind. There should certainly be some legal consideration of any allegations made against someone that would reasonably preclude their flying on an airline or owning a gun, so the proposed Republican compromise┬áthat some due process should be involved isn’t so unreasonable as to justify a “sit-in” on that carpeted and air-conditioned House floor.
Among the most prominent of the Democratic powers-that-be who was “sitting-in” on the House floor was Georgia Rep. John Conyers, who was also in on several of those well-remembered “sit-ins” of the of good old days and still enjoys a reputation as a hero of the civil rights movement, yet also once found himself on the “no-fly list,” along with the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and some Republican but otherwise non-threatening reporters, and maybe even you, if you’ve somehow inadvertently done something to irk a neighbor. Thus the former civil rights hero was sitting on a carpeted and air-conditioned floor demanding that his civil rights be revoked, ostensibly to prevent an Islamist terror threat he will not name and prefers to implicitly blame on Republicans and the rest of mainstream Christian America.
Meanwhile the impeccably anti-establishment presumptive Republican presidential nominee is so admirably resolute against Islamist terrorism and so worrisomely indifferent to due process that he’s promising to talk his new-found friends at the National Rifle Association out of their more ┬áhard-line stance on the question, and should he be elected and become in charge of the Kafka-esque “no-fly list” we expect all those sitting-in Democrats will suddenly rediscover their past enthusiasm for due process and other essential civil liberties. In the meantime, they just looked damned silly.

— Bud Norman

A Dreary Look at the Latest Standings

Around this time of every year two of our daily news-reading rituals are checking in on the Major League Baseball standings, with a particular eye on where The New York Yankees stand in the American League’s eastern division, and a similarly quick glance at the essential Real Clear Politics internet sites’ widely watched averages of all the political polls, usually with an even more fervent rooting interest in how the Republican candidates are faring. During this recently hot and humid and stormy early summer, both have been rather dreary chores.
At the moment our Yankees are a couple of games under .500 and tied for last place in their division, even if they’re still within shouting distance of their rather mediocre rivals and there’s plenty of season of left before the Fall Classic, but their in-the-red run differential proves they’ve been eking out their wins and getting blown out in their more numerous losses and after a full third of the season we’ve yet to find anything in all the statistics that inspires much hope for their championship chances. Meanwhile the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee is also behind but within shouting distance if not within the margin-of-error of the Democratic party’s worse-than-mediocre presumptive presidential nominee in the aggregate of all the polls, and there’s also plenty of season left in that game, but the obsessive sort of sports fan who delves deeper into the numbers will find few championship hopes.
Not only do the latest data show Donald J. Trump losing to Hillary Clinton by 5.8 percentage points, but the same poll he used to lavishly praise when it routinely and correctly showed him in the lead in the Republican primary races now has him losing by a landslide 12 percentage points, another poll that has so far proved prescient has a whopping 70 percent of the country regarding him unfavorably and a more-than-decisive 55 percent saying they’d never vote for him, which exceeds even the unusually high disapproval of his worse-than-mediocre rival, the electoral map is more daunting yet, and although Trump is within shouting distance in some big swing states he’s somehow in trouble in such small but reliably Republican states as Utah and Kansas. Worse yet, these numbers come after what should have been a good week for Trump.

The big story of the past week has been the mass murder of 50 people and the serious wounding of many more at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub by a nutcase Islamist who had phoned in his fealty to the nutcase Islamic State before committing his slaughter, and as horrific as it was we’d have expected any old presumptive Republican nominee to get a bump from it. Another all-too-common mass slaughter on American soil by and Islamist nutcase and tied directly to the nutcase Islamic State was once again weakly addressed by a Democratic administration that seemed more offended by the Republican nominee than the mass-murderer and was reduced to angrily explaining why it won’t use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” and had not so long dismissed the Islamic State that arose in the aftermath of its premature withdrawal from Iraq as “jayvee team” of terrorism, and although the presumptive Democratic nominee felt obliged to tell the press she was “happy” to call it radical Islamic terrorism it should have been a good week for any presumptive Republican nominee. During this hot and humid and stormy early summer, though, the presumptive Republican nominee seems to have lost this gimme game to his worse-than-mediocre rivals.
Maybe it’s the way his immediately “tweeted” response was to congratulate himself for having predicted another terrorist attack on American soil rather than offering thoughts and prayers to the victims and their loved ones, as if it would require some sort of Nostradamus to make such a prophecy, or the way he immediately pandered to the homosexual community that had been targeted in the murders and using the cacophonous neologism “bigly” in the process, or that his past stands on the Islamic State have ranged from bombing the barnyard epithet against them and sending in up to 30,000 ground troops to outsourcing the problem that alluringly strong Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, or the way he failed to make case the case that Obama’s policies and had led to the tragedy and instead said something in his typically un-parsable English that allowed to press to plausibly characterize it as yet another of his frequent bizarre conspiracy theories, but in any case Trump seems to have fared more badly in the polls than even the worse-than-mediocre President Barack Obama and the even more unpopular presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and their utterly worthless responses on the issue.
It’s all a shame, because even in such a hot and humid and stormy early summer it could have been different. The New York Yankees have the biggest media market and a winning tradition and despite all that salary cap socialism they have the most resources and could have made a couple of trades or free agent signings that would have at least put them in contention, and the Republican party had at least three or four and as many 16 other choices that would have a big lead over the worse-than-mediocre competition at this point. Although we’re no longer taking any rooting interest in the race we believe that the presumptive Republican nominee’s self-aggrandizing and opportunistic and illiterate response was at least better than the opposition’s willful denial of an ongoing problem their policies have promulgated, and we can’t help but think that if the Republicans had a team that knows how to play this game it would be sitting on a cheering lead about now.

— Bud Norman

A Prayer for the Dead and the Rest of Us

We first learned of the past weekend’s mass murders in Florida while at our Sunday morning worship services. The very fine fellow who leads our congregation’s singing and offers its closing prayer is the sort of early-riser who eats a full breakfast and drinks a cup of coffee and looks over the day’s song list and catches up with the latest news before arriving resplendent at worship, whereas we’re the more nocturnal types who stumble more or less directly and somewhat shabbily out of bed and into our usual spot in the last row of pews at some point during the opening hymn, so it was news to us when he prayed for the redemption of those souls that had been taken in yet another of those all-too-common tragedies, and for the quick recovery of those who had been gravely injured, and for comfort to all those who know and love them.
Constant scanning of the local radio stations on the short drive home turned up nothing but ads and awful country music, so when we arrived at home we re-heated the coffee we’d earlier brewed but didn’t have time to drink and went to the internet for further details on the latest atrocity. Even the earliest dispatches we found reported that the attack had occurred at an Orlando nightspot that catered to homosexuals, and by the time that very fellow fine who leads our singing had left for the all-too-early morning Bible classes he had probably also heard about the murderer’s all-too-common Islamic beliefs, so we were pleased he had humbly admitted none of us yet knew all the facts and addressed our prayers only to the more pressing matter of the lost souls and the gravely wounded and the suffering of those who know and love them. Now that the all-too-predictably dreary facts of the matter are better established and the inevitable necessary dreary political debates are following, we appreciate that fine fellow’s priorities all the more.
Over on the secular left there’s the all-too-familiar clamor about America’s gun culture and the anti-homosexual stance of America’s conservative Christian culture and even some talk about how the latest carnage occurred because so much of America’s common sense culture has resisted the new rules about men using the women’s rooms and hanging around their public showers. The President of the United States acknowledged that the murders were terrorism but once again wouldn’t go so far as to describe its motivation, the presumptive Democratic nominee at long last called it “radical Islamic terrorism,” but everyone else on the secular left was trying to deny the plain fact that one member of its designated-for-protection minority groups had perpetrated such a horrible mass murder against one of its other designated-for-protection minority groups. None of it, of course, is likely to make any sense to the common sense majority of the voting public.
As usual nothing on offer by the gun-grabbing left would have prevented the murderer from obtaining the mundane weapons he used for his carnage, and he not only passed all the background checks for ownership even after two federal investigations but also passed muster to work for a security company often hired by the federal government, with his outspoken Islamism apparently being more a shield than a signal to investigators, and we’re sure if he’d tried his plot in a gay bar in the more gun-friendly jurisdiction of Wichita, Kansas, even such church-going types as ourselves have some dear and rather formidable homosexual friends who would have been armed and ready to lower the resulting death toll. The idea that western Christianity’s rigidly traditional yet ultimately forgiving belief in procreative sexuality as a social and spiritual ideal is responsible for Islam’s more stern and frequently murderous stance against the alternatives is laughable, and the notion that the ridiculous recent flap over men using the women’s restrooms and showers is more laughable yet.
These days the once-feared looming “Handmaiden’s Tale” theocracy of the “Religious Right” is reduced to defending its right not to bake a same-sex wedding cake or have nuns or Baptist entrepreneurs pay for contraception coverage, and with a presumptive Republican nominee who’s a thrice-married and boastfully adulterous and four-times bankrupt casino and strip joint owner who says he’s good with God because he “eats his little cracker” and “drinks his little wine” on infrequent Sundays there’s nowadays a certain unmistakeable secularism to the rest of the right. That presumptive Republican nominee has little to say about same-sex marriage or the right of people to not be involved in it, and has been utterly worthless on the matter of creepy men hanging around women’s restrooms and public showers on the federal government’s say-so, but he’s bound to gain some ground in the lately unfavorable polls by his full-throated denunciation of the secular left’s obvious nonsense.
Regular readers of this publication already know that we don’t place much hope in the presumptive Republican nominee’s ever-shifting yet always cocksure proposed solutions, either, so for now we’re left with that fine fellow’s prayer. The congregation we worship with is affiliated with one of those “politically incorrect” evangelical denominations that is invariably and and more or less accurately described as politically and theologically conservative, and despite those old-fashioned views we pray the same prayer as that fine fellow we know for the recently deceased no matter what their private lives, and no matter how vigorously we disagree with the religious beliefs of their killer we will pause to pray for their souls and those who were gravely injured and all those who know and love them, not matter what they say on the secular left and the secular right. There seems to be a battle between good and evil looming, and at this point we’re not looking to politics for redemption.

— Bud Norman

Radical Islamic Terrorism, This Time Around

There should be some respectful and contemplative pause between such horrible carnage as occurred over the weekend in Florida and the inevitable and necessary political debates that always follow, but that no longer seems possible. With the death toll yet to be tallied, the all too familiar arguments are already being advanced.
This time around it’s difficult for the left to state its usual case. The murders of at least 50 people at an Orlando nightclub already sets a record for the deadliest mass shooting in American history, which would ordinarily cause many of the more prominent media and the predictable politicians to amplify their ritual calls for further gun control laws, but as usual none of their proposals wouldn’t have done anything to prevent the murders and in this case it’s far, far more complicated than that. The nightclub where the murders occurred catered to a homosexual clientele, the murderer made clear that he was motivated by his murderously anti-homosexual Islamic beliefs and his fealty to the Islamic State terror organization that has lately been inflicting such horrors on the homosexuals and the Christians and more peaceable Muslims and many others sorts of similarly sympathetic people in a the wide swath of the Middle East it now commands. Thus the President of the United States who lit the White House in the rainbow colors of the homosexual rights movement to celebrate same-sex marriage and dismissed the Islamic State as a “jayvee” team” of terrorism and insists there’s no such thing as radical Islamic terrorism and that at any rate the Koran doesn’t say about homosexuality what that mass murderer read in its plain text and has declared the future should not belong to those who slander the Prophet Muhammad finds himself arguing about gun control from a muddled position.
Even the most polite press media are now obliged to acknowledge that the Islamic State is proudly and credibly blaming credit for the mass murder on American soil, even the president and the rest of the government officials at every level are openly calling it an act of terrorism of some undefined sort of another, and there’s also the unavoidable matter that the killer not only passed those much-ballyhooed background checks for a weapons purchase but also for a position in the federal government, and that his outspoken anti-homosexual Islamic views somehow exempted him from official scrutiny even after two investigations by federal authorities. The recent Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has fancied herself a fearless defender of homosexual rights for the past few years it’s been so popular, finds herself a similarly muddled situation.
Meanwhile, the presumptive Republican nominee, real-estate-and-gambling-and-strip-joint-and-professional-wrestling-and-scam-university-and-reality show mogul Donald J. Trump, has staked out what is at least a clearer stand. He’s on record on for wiping out the killer’s family and torturing anyone suspected of being involved with him and banning even the people with more peaceable notions of Islam from entering the country, and he’s used barnyard profanity to describe the bombings he’d inflict on the Islamic State, and although he’s backtracked all the crazy talk about ordering war crimes and how the military would bend to his will if he did, and although he’s also talked about out-sourcing that Islamic State problem to the alluringly strong Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, he still somehow comes off at the stronger horse to an understandably horrified public.
As we pray for those poor souls who suffered in the weekend’s massacre, we’d like to think that some more sensible solution could be found in a respectful and contemplative pause between such horrors and our nation’s response, but that no longer seems possible.

— Bud Norman