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Re: The Troubling Math of Muslim Migration



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I have strong misgivings about proposals, such as those that my esteemed colleague Ian Tuttle presents today, to restrict the number of Muslim immigrants and refugees in the United States. My root objection is that excluding people on the specific basis of their religion is illiberal and inconsistent with the spirit of the founding principles of this country. (Some readers will object that the Founders thought of themselves as establishing a Christian nation. This is a vexed question the plausible answer to which varies with the identity of the Founder. What I find dispositive is that the founding documents themselves eschew any endorsement of or preference toward a particular religion or creed. And apart from this textual matter, I do not think the political principles enshrined in those documents require justification in specifically Judeo-Christian terms.)

A few further points:

1. It is much better to apply extra scrutiny on the basis of political contingency as it relates specifically to the United States than it is to discriminate on the basis of religion or culture. Ian writes, for example, that “enhanced scrutiny can be applied to visa applicants from countries recognized [by the U.S.] as state sponsors of terrorism, or where terrorists are known to operate.” This is unobjectionable. Nor is there anything illiberal about scrutinizing would-be immigrants from nations engaged in hostilities with the United States. I am less willing to discriminate on the basis of a country’s fixed political procedure — for example, “shift[ing] immigration priorities toward . . . liberal democracies” — because I think that, given a suitably assimilationist political culture (see No. 2), a commitment to liberal democracy naturally arises among immigrants, and I am mindful that a great many good people have come to this country specifically to escape illiberal regimes. And “shift[ing] immigration priorities toward fellow English-speaking nations” strikes me as both illiberal on its face and premised on the false assumption that liberal democracy is an intrinsically Anglophone project. (Which is not to deny that, as a historical matter, liberal democracy has important roots in the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment. Conveniently enough, the true and the good are intellectually transferrable.)

2. While it is objectionable to exclude people on the specific basis of their culture or religion, cultural cohesion, and therefore assimilation, is important. Cultural cohesion is here to be understood as a shared commitment to the political procedures and founding principles of our country, and assimilation as the acceptance of such a commitment. Assimilation accordingly need not (and it should not) entail the elimination of cultural diversity. We should, however, wish to prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves consisting of populations who do not feel themselves to be part of our body politic. To the extent that new immigrant populations are not being assimilated, there is a good case for restricting immigration across the board, without respect to religion or culture (another of the proposals Ian considers). In addition, there may be, as my esteemed colleague Reihan Salam has argued, good reason to restrict low-skilled immigration irrespective of religion or culture, in part to promote the welfare of the low-skilled immigrants already here.

Keep reading this post . . .

Secret Service: We Were Never Asked about Paris Trip



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White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that security concerns were the reason President Obama did not join world leaders at Sunday’s “unity rally” in France. But the Secret Service says it was never even approached about the possibility of a Paris visit. Via CNN:

A Secret Service official said the agency was not asked to draw up security plans for a potential presidential trip to Paris in advance of Sunday’s march.

“We weren’t asked or notified about a trip,” the official said. But the agency had Secret Service agents on the ground in Paris, per its standard operating procedure. . . .

During the White House briefing, Earnest suggested security challenges were a factor in not having the president travel to Paris. But Earnest acknowledged the Secret Service could have pulled it off. An agency official noted previous “last minute” presidential trips have happened during the Obama presidency, including a hurried visit to South Africa in December 2013 for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Fox News’s Mike Emanuel reiterated the Secret Service’s claim in a tweet on Monday afternoon:

According to The Hill, the absence of a White House delegation was a “staff-level” decision in which the president was not personally involved.

So, if it’s not that the president could not go, what else can one conclude but that he simply did not want to?

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Irreconcilable



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I don’t see the logic of the idea, floated here, of using “reconciliation” — a process that does not allow filibusters — to pass tax reform. These Republicans seem to want to work with the Obama administration on the issue. But if they have buy-in from the administration, aren’t they likely to have a bunch of Senate Democrats on board too? And if they have them, they won’t need to worry about filibusters and don’t need to use reconciliation. And since there are limits on how often reconciliation can be used, using the procedure for tax reform means giving up other opportunities to bypass filibusters and send legislation to the president.

Maybe proponents think there is some tax-reform legislation that would have the support of congressional Republicans and President Obama but would be opposed by almost all Senate Democrats. It’s possible, I guess, but it seems hard to believe.

Web Briefing: February 1, 2015

Professor Jaffa and the Case of the Postal E-mail



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Harry Jaffa makes me laugh. That’s because in remembering him, I always think of the first time I successfully got him to write for National Review Online.

It was shortly after our beloved Bill Buckley had died. Jaffa was very clearly moved by the opportunity to pay tribute to his friend and sparring partner.

In the early years of NRO, the longer an author had been writing books or writing letters to WFB and NR, the harder it was to pitch online writing to him. As much as I thought the transition from long-form letter-writing debates (which Jaffa frequently participated in) to insta-publication should be an easy one, it obviously would sometimes be met with skepticism.

Jaffa knew NRO was a respected online publication, and he obviously respected Bill, so he was exceedingly gracious when I called. The only hitch was he wanted to know where he should mail his contribution when he was done. I remember saying something like “Thanks so much, Professor Jaffa. We’re so happy to have your remembrance of Bill. It means a lot to us that you would do this. I was thinking we’d publish it a little sooner than putting it the mail would allow, however. What are the odds you could . . . e-mail me the text when it’s done?”

He wondered if I might be able to get to his office to help him with the task. As NRO editor, I was, after all, the NR computer person. (In the very early years of NRO, this would be a frequent assumption on the cruise.) I would have been happy to help, of course, but given that I was in New York and he was in California, and that seemed even less expeditious than the U.S. Postal Service, he moved to a different plan.

In the end, everything worked out fine. Jaffa found a computer technician in the Golden State to help him. His name was Charles Kesler, professor of government at Claremont McKenna and editor of the Claremont Review of Books. Charles wound up e-mailing me the piece and it went live soon thereafter.

I had read Jaffa for years and would later spend more time with him during a Claremont Lincoln fellows program (during which my dear friend Andrew Breitbart and I consistently sat next to one another with our computers open, ever looking like the repair staff, no doubt), but this will always be my first and most lasting memory. The day I almost filled in for Charles Kesler as Harry Jaffa’s very own on-call Geek Squad.

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When Will Wages Grow?



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Perhaps the most important question about today’s economy is how far the unemployment rate can fall until we have to be worried about inflation.

Some thought that an unemployment rate below six percent would spark inflation — I didn’t agree, and addressed that in a column. With the unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, many remain concerned that inflationary pressures are around the corner.

I don’t agree. Looking at the labor market as a whole, I see quite a bit of slack. My guess is that the economy can continue to add jobs at a very healthy clip and that the unemployment rate can fall a good bit further without sparking higher inflation. This obviously has implications for Fed policy, and suggests that the Fed can keep its foot off the brake longer than many estimates suggest.

But I could be wrong. And this simple chart from Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Slok suggests I may be.

Stay tuned…

— Michael R. Strain is deputy director of economic policy studies and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. You can follow him on Twitter attwitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

Romney Precedents



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By 2016, it will have been 28 years since someone who had run for the presidency before won it — we have had three back-to-back presidents who made it on their first run – and 48 years since someone who lost one presidential election went on to win another.

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today



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1. In the New York Times: “Libyan Militants Aligned With Islamic State Claim Kidnapping of 21 Egyptian Christians.”

2. And the Wall Street Journal: “Facing Intolerance, Many Sikhs and Hindus Leave Afghanistan.”

3. A Saudi cleric’s fatwa on snowmen.

4. Americans United for Life issue their annual “Life List.”

5. Tom Hoopes on higher ed’s “Obamacare treatment.”

6. Ramesh on Frank Bruni writing on religious liberty.

7. On grief:

At this point in her story Mary finally began to weep, intensely so. She seemed surprised by the waves of emotion that washed over her. It was the first time since the death that the sadness had poured forth in that way. She said she had never told the story of her daughter from conception to death in one sitting.

“What is wrong with me?” she asked as she cried. “It has been almost seven months.”

Very gently, using simple, nonclinical words, I suggested to Mary that there was nothing wrong with her. She was not depressed or stuck or wrong. She was just very sad, consumed by sorrow, but not because she was grieving incorrectly. The depth of her sadness was simply a measure of the love she had for her daughter.

(Hat tip: Maria Grizzetti.)

8. On marriage at the Golden Globes.

9. Take a three-second pause.

10. On WFB’s favorite peanut butter. From the New York Times:

For years, Mr. Buckley’s favorite brand was Red Wing, produced in this upstate village 45 miles southwest of Buffalo. A jar of the peanut butter had been sent to Mr. Buckley soon after that 1981 column by the executive who then ran the company, Douglas Manly.

“He wrote something about liking Skippy,” said Mr. Manly, now 87 years old and long retired. “And I asked a sales associate to send him a jar with a note that said, ‘We think you’ll like this better.’ ”

Mr. Manly was right. Mr. Buckley’s son, the novelist Christopher Buckley, said in a phone interview: “My dad’s one true quest in life was for the Platonic ideal of peanut butter. And I remember one day he announced, with a look of utter transfiguration on his face, that he had found paradise on earth in a jar with a yellow cap. And it was called Red Wing.”

The piece includes a link to NRO, to a famous WFB peanut-butter column.

(PLUS: Five Catholic Things.)

Vive la France!



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From my most recent NRO article, on the Paris March: “M. Hollande, cloaked in implausibility, unencumbered with any obvious qualification for any position more exalted than that of a rural railway stationmaster, has, these past months and culminating in the March of Unity in Paris on Sunday, written a new chapter in the greatness of his people.”

Whether you agree or disagree, your comments are, as always, most welcome.
 

Poetry



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TO MY HIKING PARTNER

Your pack looks like the one John Denver wore
when he was getting Rocky Mountain high.
The frame is bent, the straps can’t take much more.
Your jeans and flannel coat will never dry
if they get wet. Let’s hope we don’t get caught
by squalls on Thunder Ridge this afternoon.
Bold move to hike in boots that you just bought.
Don’t whine — we’ll stop to treat those blisters soon.
So far your luck has held, though you don’t care
for maps and packing lists. But will you keep
your winning streak? My money’s on the bear
if you continue eating where you sleep,
and leaving dishes close enough to touch.
My friend, God loves a fool, but not that much.

— This poem appears in the January 26, 2015, print issue of National Review.

Why Justin Amash Voted Present on the House’s Keystone Bill — And Was Right to Do It



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I have to admit that I haven’t spent much time learning about the Keystone pipeline project, and I certainly haven’t read the bills that made their way through Congress on the issue in the last four years. From what I’ve heard, it seems like a worthy project and the administration’s political obstruction seems very much out of line.

It’s certainly driven an obvious divide between left and right, which is why I was interested to read an explanation from Republican representative Justin Amash, who voted ”present” on H.R. 3, a bill to push approval of the pipeline through. (Hat tip to Nick Gillespie.)

As he explains, the project is a private industry project that should be supported. But as written now, the bill is a handout to one private company, giving it exemptions from generally punishing regulations and requirements. That’s cronyism.

Representative Amash, who writes up an explanation of each vote he takes, explains:

I voted present on H R 3, Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation. This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—and no other company—from laws that require pipeline owners and operators to obtain certain government permits and approvals.

I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for political reasons is wrong.  It’s improper, however, for Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private project, while doing nothing to address the underlying problems that allowed such delays to occur. The Constitution gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” but the Rule of Law requires that legislation be of general, not specific, applicability. A proper bill would address the circumstances that allow *any* such project to be held up for political reasons, not just Keystone XL.

As F.A. Hayek explained in The Constitution of Liberty: “It is because the lawgiver does not know the particular cases to which his rules will apply, and it is because the judge who applies them has no choice in drawing the conclusions that follow from the existing body of rules and the particular facts of the case, that it can be said that laws and not men rule. Because the rule is laid down in ignorance of the particular case and no man’s will decides the coercion used to enforce it, the law is not arbitrary. This, however, is true only if by ‘law’ we mean the general rules that apply equally to everybody. This generality is probably the most important aspect of that attribute of law which we have called its ‘abstractness.’ As a true law should not name any particulars, so it should especially not single out any specific persons or group of persons.”

In other words, as written, the law uses improper means to achieve a desirable goal. That seems right to me. Economist James Buchanan wrote frequently about the importance of a generality principle in rule-making. (You can see some of his work on this, here, here and here, for instance.)

This is also why, as lawmakers go, Representative Amash consistently stands out from the pack. First, explaining all of his votes to his constituents, colleagues, and everyone who cares to read him easily makes him the most transparent and diligent member of Congress. Second, this is the guy you can count on to stand for free-market principles, even when very few people will stand along with him. 

I guess at this point I would like to join Nick Gillespie in lamenting our inability to clone Representative Amash and hoping that we could at least clone his commitment to principle.

A DHS Shutdown May Not Really Shut Down DHS, and Wouldn’t Stop Obama’s Amnesty



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If funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out at the end of February, it is unlikely that it would slow the Obama administration down. Instead, the federal government would have little difficulty proceeding to implement the president’s executive action on immigration as planned.  

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for processing applications related to the president’s amnesty, is fee-based. This means it’s not beholden to the hotly contested annual appropriations, as are other agencies within DHS, such as Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

If DHS funding does run out, USCIS would hardly miss a beat. When the government closed down in October 2013, USCIS stayed open. More than 97 percent of its employees were exempt from the work stoppage, according to a September 2013 report from DHS. All of USCIS’s programs, with the exception of E-Verify, continued despite the shutdown, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Some House Republicans have recognized USCIS’s unique position and introduced an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill that targets the fees that would allow the president’s executive action on immigration to be carried out. Representatives Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.), Mick Mulvaney (R., S.C.), and Lou Barletta (R., Penn.) have introduced an amendment that would block USCIS from accessing Immigration Examinations Fee Accounts to further the president’s executive action.

But it remains to be seen whether House Republicans will have any success in stopping USCIS. Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, says Congress should block the use of the fee accounts and instead have all fees go to the U.S. Treasury Department so that it’s easier for Congress to oversee where the money is going. However, she says, there’s some indication that blocking the fees through an appropriations bill could be against the rules because Congress is not supposed to legislate through appropriations.

How other components of DHS are preparing for the possibility of another shutdown remains unclear, but the agency’s past experience suggests a shutdown wouldn’t be catastrophic. Nearly 200,000 of DHS’s estimated 231,117 civilian and military employees were shielded from the 2013 shutdown and continued working, according to the Congressional Research Service. In the event that funding does run out, employees responsible for saving lives and protecting property would remain in place. Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, tells NRO he expects that a shutdown at the end of February would mirror what happened last time. “Non-essential personnel wouldn’t work and everyone else would be out there on the line like always,” he says. “This time, especially late February, it’ll be far too busy to be sending anybody home.”

DHS secretary Jeh Johnson has argued against a shutdown on the grounds that it would prevent new projects and not allow him to hire new Secret Service agents necessary for the 2016 election cycle. But, as former Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn pointed out in his final oversight report of DHS, the department could use some belt tightening. Coburn’s report found tens of billions of dollars spent by the department on counterterrorism with little to show, and hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on cybersecurity.

Given the recent terrorist attacks in France and the hacking of U.S. Army Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, a DHS shutdown could turn public opinion against Republicans deciding to take a stand against the president’s executive action by withholding funding from the department. A shutdown would also likely mean the executive action survives unscathed. Any DHS shutdown would halt some of the federal government’s operations, but its collateral damage could be much more ruinous for the GOP.

Charlie Hebdo’s Latest Cover Has Mohammed Holding a ‘Je Suis Charlie’ Sign: ‘All Is Forgiven’



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France’s Charlie Hebdo is back at it again, less than a week after a deadly terror attack on the magazine. The satirical paper’s latest cover features a seemingly saddened Mohammed holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign with the headline “Tout est Pardonné” — French for “All Is Forgiven.”

​The magazine vowed resilience after the massacre at the hands of Islamic terrorists last week, promising to put out an issue on schedule despite losing its editor and top cartoonists. The magazine, which normally turns out about 60,000 copies of an issue, will publish 3 million copies of its latest issue, in 16 different languages following the outpouring of support from across the globe.

How Harry Jaffa Brought Me to the Right



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It was 1989, I believe, and Harry Jaffa was giving a well-publicized and attended “retirement” lecture (everyone knew then, as they know now, Harry was never going to retire). The audience was filled with students, faculty, trustees, and all variety of VIPs from the conservative intellectual and financial constellation. I was a left-wing undergraduate editor of the Claremont Colleges’ newspaper. I recall how Charles Kesler introduced Harry that day, comparing him and his work to Abraham Lincoln, whom Harry had studied and taught so well and for so long. Eerily, the date of that speech was the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. Charles ended his introduction by saying, “ . . . of course the difference between Harry and Lincoln is that Harry would have shot back!” 

The next day, from my leftist point of view, I wrote and published an editorial highly critical of Jaffa. Jaffa read it, called me, and asked me to stand by what I wrote by debating him publicly. I declined, saying something like, “Sir, there’s no way, I’m a junior in college and you’re a master of rhetoric and intellect.” He said, “Well how about I buy you a cup of coffee, then?” And so began the lifelong learning and total change of intellectual pursuit to which I owe my whole worldview.

Harry took my hand, started introducing me to a line of thought and reason I never even knew existed, walked me through everything he could teach me, and never let go. I bought every book he ever wrote and took them with me everywhere I lived, only to reread them again and again over the course of the last 25 or so years, always learning something new. He changed my whole life. Years and years of meetings, of calls, of questions I had for him; years and years of his unbelievable volumes of scholarship — I digested as much as I could and will never be able to thank him enough. Nor will there be enough room for others to tell almost exactly the same kinds of stories, of how he personally led them to a life of learning they never knew possible.

As I think of the timing of his death today, I recall the statement of a well-placed Capitol Hill aide who had studied under both Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa: “Walter taught me an intellectual could actually love America, Harry taught me why.”

God bless you, Harry; thank you, and may you rest in peace.

— Seth Leibsohn is the host of The Seth Leibsohn Show, which airs nightly in Phoenix on KKNT/960 AM; a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute; and the president of the Leibsohn Group.

Backing Bill Maher: Understanding the Pyramid of Support for Jihad



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As an Evangelical conservative, I can’t say that a militant, condescending atheist like Bill Maher is my favorite comedian or my favorite pundit, but when a man’s right, he’s right. His statement last week that “Hundreds of millions of them support an attack like this. They applaud an attack like this. What they say is, ‘We don’t approve of violence, but you know what? When you make fun of the Prophet, all bets are off” is supported by real data. 

Extrapolating from polling numbers, hundreds of millions of Muslims do, in fact, support the death penalty for blasphemy against Mohammed. Hundreds of millions do support the death sentence for “apostasy” — converting from Islam. It’s even true that in the recent past, hundreds of millions expressed approval for Osama bin Laden.

Regarding blasphemy and apostasy, here’s the Washington Post describing startling findings in a comprehensive Pew Research Center report on Muslim beliefs and attitudes:

In fact, according to the 2013 Pew Research Center report, 88 percent of Muslims in Egypt and 62 percent of Muslims in Pakistan favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion. This is also the majority view among Muslims in Malaysia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

Do the math. From these countries alone, there are more than 200 million Muslims who support capital punishment for basic free speech and freedom of conscience. But what about terrorism? I posted these sobering approval numbers for Osama bin Laden last week, but I’ll post again:

Again, the support — at various times — ran into the hundreds of millions. This is not a “few extremists” but instead a movement that is extreme to us but solidly mainstream within the global Muslim community.

That’s just a fact.

I tend to think of the degrees of support for violent jihad in terms of a pyramid, with a broad base narrowing down to the sharp point. Hundreds of millions support sharia law’s most bloodthirsty elements. Hundreds of millions have supported al-Qaeda, at least tacitly. A percentage of those hundreds of millions go beyond mere tacit support and actively advocate for Islamic terror, support it on social media, or write checks. I’ve not seen any real research on that level of activity, but it’s likely in the tens of millions (conservatively). Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Saudi Arabia held a telethon to support Palestinians, a telethon that featured support for Palestinian suicide bombings. Some charming vignettes:

A 6-year-old boy, with a plastic gun slung over his shoulder and fake explosives strapped around his waist, walked into a donation center and made a symbolic donation of plastic explosives, according to Al Watan daily.

Another Saudi, 26-year-old Mohamed al-Qahtani, offered his car, saying he hoped it will “reach the Palestinian areas so a Palestinian fighter could use it to blow up a military barracks and kill (Israeli) soldiers,” Al Watan reported.

These millions (or tens of millions) in turn generate hundreds of thousands who actually take up arms for jihad, and the numbers seem to be growing. In Syria alone, jihadists number in the tens of thousands. Outside of Syria, the Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram, the Taliban, various al-Qaeda branches, and jihadists in Somalia comprise a collection of jihadist fighting forces that control nation-sized chunks of real estate.

Pointing out facts is not bigotry. It is also a fact that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who do not support terrorists and do not support the bloodthirsty elements of sharia law. The sad reality, however, is that by our actions and attitudes, we appease and empower the violent (It’s still just stunning that the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, essentially put jihadists in power in Libya, and left Israel hanging out to dry in its conflict with Hamas) while mainly paying lip service to moderates — offering soothing words when our true Muslim allies (like the Kurds) need military support far more than they need kind words about Islam or its prophet.

If it takes a Bill Maher to wake up my liberal friends, well then God bless him in his work.

Blackmailing Scalise



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Some recent news items like this one report that liberal civil-rights groups are hoping to use Representative Steve Scalise’s troubles to their advantage. Their hope is that he can be pressured to prove that he’s really not a racist by, among other things, promising to support the Left’s proposed legislation to resurrect Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Representative Scalise should tell the groups that he’s not interested, and in no uncertain terms. 

No new legislation is needed. The Supreme Court struck down only one provision in the Voting Rights Act, and there are plenty of other voting-rights laws available to ensure that the right to vote is not violated. What’s more, the bill that has been drafted is bad legislation. For example, it does not protect all races equally from discrimination; it contains much that has nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s decision; and it itself violates the Constitution by prohibiting practices that are not actually racially discriminatory but only have racially disproportionate effects. The bill has been extensively criticized on National Review Online and elsewhere: See here and here and here and here and here and here.

And so, at Senate hearings last year, it was clear that no Republican would favor it, because it is designed to give a partisan advantage to the Left. It would serve no purpose to hold hearings on the bill in the House. The bill is dead, and it should stay dead.

Can France Regenerate Itself to Fight Radical Islam?



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The nation of France imploded last week. Heavily armed Islamic extremists ran amok, massacring police officers, cartoonists, and shoppers at a kosher supermarket. The overall death toll reached 17, with four victims still in critical condition.

Much of the French intellectual elite has long been opposed to combating radical Islam within and outside of the country’s territories.

It’s worth recalling that the highly admired French sociologist Jean Baudrillard was euphoric when planes smashed into the Twin Towers on 9/11. Two months after those attacks, Baudrillard wrote in Le Monde that “In the end, they did it, but we wanted it.”

Dr. Richard Landes, an expert in French history, tackled Baudrillard’s “American Derangement Syndrome” in his fine analysis of rising French anti-Americanism. The kind of toxic, self-destructive, post-modern thinking that targets America and oozes contempt for the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, has long been a fashionable philosophy among many politicians and intellectuals in France.

Just as troubling, French political and intellectual discourse is increasingly rife with anti-Semitism. The French journalist Catherine Nay exploited the alleged killing of Muhammad al-Dura, a Palestinian boy, by Israeli troops during the Second Intifada, saying that the boy’s death “cancels out, erases that of the Jewish child, his hands in the air from the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto.” Compelling evidence later revealed that the al-Dura event was staged by Palestinians to garner world sympathy.

In 2013, the Mayor of the French suburb of Bezons awarded honorary citizenship to a convicted Palestinian terrorist. Sadly, there’s no shortage of examples of French appeasement toward Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other Islamic terrorist entities. The Middle East expert Amir Taheri has documented the full catalogue of French capitulations in a New York Post column.  

There is a natural temptation for Americans to toss up their hands at France’s intellectual and political cowardice. But that would be a serious mistake.

France implemented a burqa ban in 2011. Early in 2013, President Francois Hollande sent a sizable military operation into Mali to eliminate the Jihadi movement that had taken over the northern part of the country. And later that year, Hollande was more enthusiastic than President Obama about launching missiles at the Assad regime to end its use of chemical weapons on innocent Syrians. Put simply, France can fight back.

Domestically, French cities need to enact an anti-crime strategy similar to the one employed by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the 1990s. France’s General Directorate of External Security is one of the world’s finest intelligence agencies when it comes to counterterrorism operations. French politicians have until now failed to internalize that their over-worked and under-resourced security forces cannot cope with the country’s large Jihadi network by themselves.

As a result, France is on its back today. But it can quickly get back on its feet by adopting an anti-appeasement philosophy.

Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal

Tags: Terrorism

Paul Ryan: ‘I Am Not Going to Run for President in 2016’



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Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) may have been on a presidential ticket in 2012, but don’t expect to see him at the top of one in 2016, according to a new report.

“I have decided that I am not going to run for president in 2016,” Ryan told NBC News, a decision he made “weeks ago.” “It is amazing the amount of encouragement I have gotten from people — from friends and supporters — but I feel like I am in a position to make a big difference where I am and I want to do that,”

He described himself as “at peace” with his decision not to jump in to the already crowded Republican field.

Ryan’s announcement comes as Mitt Romney, whose presidential ticket he joined in 2012, is reportedly exploring another run in 2016. The Washington Post reports that Romney has already reached out to Ryan about Romney’s interest in making a third run at the White House.

But while 2016 may not be in the cards for Ryan, he did not close the door on a run farther down the road, telling NBC he wants to “keep my options open.”

Frank Bruni vs. Religious Liberty



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Frank Bruni writes that many Americans wrongly treat him as a threat to religious liberty because he is gay. The trouble is that he is a threat to religious liberty. It’s not because he’s gay. It’s because he is one of those contemporary liberals who has a conception of religious liberty that is illiberal and narrow, especially compared to the historic American practice. His op-ed makes the point abundantly clear, even as he insists that taking a broader view of religious freedom is a sign of “extremism.”

So, for example, Bruni complains that “churches have been allowed to adopt broad, questionable interpretations of a ‘ministerial exception’ to anti-discrimination laws that allow them to hire and fire clergy as they wish.” Questionable? The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Constitution requires the ministerial exception. Maybe Justice Ginsburg is a religious fanatic; or maybe Frank Bruni is not a reliable guide to what constitutes extremism.

Bruni also believes that the exemption of religious institutions from taxes is a special favor from the government, and one that should come attached to more restrictions on these institutions’ activities than we already have.

In addition to being out of the mainstream, Bruni’s thoughts on religious freedom are half-baked. Take this passage:

What’s more, in a country that’s not supposed to promote any one religion over others, we do precisely that.

Would we be content to let a Muslim store owner who believes that a woman should always cover her hair refuse service to women who do not? Or a Mormon hairdresser who spurns coffee to turn away clients who saunter in with frappuccinos?

I doubt it. So why should a merchant whose version of Christianity condemns homosexuality get to exile gays and lesbians?

Where to start? One: We don’t need legal coercion to keep Muslim store owners or Mormon hairdressers from doing these things; market pressures—that is, civil society without the backing of force—seems perfectly well equipped to do the job. Two: What would the alternative to market resolution be? A law banning discrimination against coffee drinkers? Three: If such a law were to pass, religious-liberty protections would probably not help the hairdresser in question, since as far as I know there is no Mormon prohibition on consorting with the caffeinated. Four: I know of no credible legal case anywhere in which a florist or baker is claiming a religious-liberty right “to exile gays and lesbians.”

Bruni closes his column by saying, “I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts,” just not elsewhere. How very generous of him to let people “say what they wish” in their “hearts.” It is another piece of rhetoric that betrays his pretensions to moderation.

As does another stray remark about how our country is “still working out this separation-of-church-and-state business and hasn’t yet gotten it quite right.” Bruni should just say that our country and its Constitution are too protective of religious freedom and need to be changed accordingly. I don’t think he would have a good case, but he would have a more candid, or at least less self-deluded, one.

WH to Ed Henry: We’re Actually Not Sure What Obama Did Instead of Going to Paris



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President Obama’s absence at Sunday’s Unity Rally in Paris had many scratching their head wondering what he did instead, including his own press secretary.

“I haven’t spoken to the president about what he did yesterday,” Josh Earnest told Fox News’s Ed Henry during Monday’s briefing. “I guess I prepared for a lot of questions today, but I did not prepare for a question based on what the president was actually doing yesterday.”

Earnest explained that the president’s attendance at the outdoor march proved too difficult to coordinate oless than 36 hours notice, given security protocols. Additionally, the White House worried that security measures would have impacted other participants’ ability to take a part in the rally.

Henry pushed back, saying that dozens of other world leaders adequately addressed those concerns and attended the rally on short notice, such as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He went on to compare the sudden event to South African president Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013, which President Obama attended. Unlike Mandela’s funeral, which officials had already planned for years in advance in the event of his passing, the Paris march quickly came together, Earnest said. As a result of the president’s “more onerous” security compared to that of other world leaders, the sudden turnaround was too difficult.

Ultimately, Earnest reiterated that the administration should have sent a more “high-profile” official to the rally, including potentially Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for an anti-terrorism summit. Before moving on from Henry, Earnest emphasized that the administration continues to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the French in the aftermath of last week’s attacks.

As White House Admits Error Over Paris March, State Dept Gets Snippy



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Looks like somebody forgot to pass State Department deputy press secretary Marie Harf the memo. 

As White House press secretary Josh Earnest ate crow over the Obama administration’s failure to send a high-ranking official to Sunday’s massive anti-terror march in Paris, Harf remained defiant in the face of similar questions from the State Department press corps. 

Exhausted by a series of questions on the absence of President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and even Attorney General Eric Holder — who was in Paris the day of the march — Harf lashed out at the State Department press corps.

“I would like to see how many minutes we spend on Boko Haram compared to a march, I just want to point that out to people,” she said testily, referencing an attack by the Islamic terror group that killed thousands in Nigeria last week. “I know, I know. I’m just pointing it out. Making it a little commentary there.”

Harf had earlier reiterated ad nauseam that the United States “stands squarely by our French ally,” explaining that Secretary Kerry was in India for a pre-scheduled event.

“I don’t think [the criticism] is fair,” Harf said, pushing back against a reporter who said it was “weird” that the United States was absent while more than 40 other world leaders attended.

“There are more ways than just this march to show our solidarity with the French,” she insisted. “And I think that’s what I would underscore . . . It is not the only way to show solidarity. And the secretary certainly would’ve been there if he could, and he’s looking forward to going there on Thursday.”

And when another reporter asked if there were any internal administration discussions on sending a high-ranking White House official, Harf got snippy. “I’m not going to get into what our internal conversations look like,” she said. “As we said on the record, the secretary’s schedule wouldn’t allow it.”

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