Will Brussels Finally Wake Europe Up?

by David Pryce-Jones

The latest jihadist atrocity in Brussels is a direct consequence of the poor police work manifest throughout Europe. Yes, the jihadists are at an advantage, they speak Arabic, and operate in a milieu of crooks, traitors, and double agents like the man who persuaded the Anglo-American leadership that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The failure to penetrate the milieu is costing the lives of people simply going about their lives. The Brussels bombings appear to have been organized by someone who got away after he had organized the Paris bombings that killed 130 and it further appears that he may have been shot and arrested quite by chance. Salah Abdeslam, a French citizen born in Belgium, should never have been able to leave a suicide vest in the street and drive away from Paris across the frontier into Belgium and hide out for months in the Muslim-majority suburb of Brussels in a house a few doors away from a house with some family members of his in it. Thanks to pure chance, the police picked him up.

Trying to have credit they did not deserve for wounding Abdeslam in a shoot-out and arresting him, French and Belgian politicians wallowed in the illusion of success. Twenty-four short hours later, jihadists attacked the Brussels airport and subway. The operation was on far too demanding a scale to have been improvised at the last minute to avenge the capture of Abdeslam or the simultaneous death of a second man who lived under a false name, perhaps to conceal his importance. The police had failed to identify these jihadists, to prevent them acquiring Kalashnikovs and suicide vests and also allowing them freedom of movement.

Is complacency at work, or perhaps some of the sense of superiority that Barack Obama displayed snubbing the Islamic State Caliphate soldiers as a “jayvee team”? To defeat jihadists will now involve much more thorough intelligence, probably detention centers along Guantanamo lines, and military measures, those celebrated boots on the ground. The alternative is growing numbers of bystanders killed or wounded by bombs here and there and everywhere. 

The Little Sisters vs. Big Brother

by Peter Kirsanow

This Wednesday will be a first. Specifically, it will be the first time that Catholic nuns will have a case heard before the Supreme Court. In what feels like a throwback to the anti-Catholic bigotry of the 1800s, the Little Sisters of the Poor will make their final plea with the federal government not to force them to choose between practicing their faith or getting hit with $70 million in fines.

Despite already losing a much more complex case in Hobby Lobby, involving whether the government has the right to force the owners of closely-held corporations into providing services that violate their religious beliefs, the ideologues in the Obama administration are still hanging on by their fingernails; they want to take just one more swing. Their target? Religious groups that don’t meet the IRS’s definition of “religious enough.” Groups like Little Sisters of the Poor.

But, as their lawyers at the Becket Fund have put it — these ladies will have nun of it.

It also feels a bit like a return to early 1900s, when tycoons in bed with government cronies got special protection for their monopolies, while little business guys got crushed. Here, the government granted waivers from the Obamacare mandate to big corporations like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, IBM, Visa, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Home Depot, and Boeing, among many, many others. The Little Sisters, on the other hand, received no such favors.

Perhaps in the eyes of the Obama administration, those corporations are too big to fail under the weight of complying with Obamacare, but who’s really going to notice if the Little Sisters of the Poor go quietly into the night? The people they serve — the destitute and dying elderly — aren’t going to be storming Capitol Hill looking for answers. No sleek lobbyists for them.

Indeed, the health-care plans of one in three Americans are exempt from providing the very goods and services, things like the week-after pill, (which no one really denies is a chemical abortifacient), that the Sisters object to. But the nuns just can’t catch a break. The government likes to claim that the Sisters are just “objecting to objecting” to the mandate, but the fact remains that the nuns would still be providing — directly through their health-care plans — services that violate everything the nuns have committed their lives to promoting.

And for no good reason. The government itself, in its brief before the Court, waxes un-poetically about just how successful the health-care exchanges have become, thanks to their victory in King v. Burwell. The government explicitly points to a litany of health-care options available to Americans, and states that “all of those sources” would be able to give American women the services the nuns cannot in good conscience provide. In other words, this is a completely unnecessary fight they have picked with the Little Sisters, who ask simply for the same treatment under the law as credit card companies.

Perhaps the government is hanging their hopes on some conflicting circuit-court rulings, holding out for the possibility it might be able to save some face or satisfy their constituents at Planned Parenthood. But they shouldn’t bank on it. The Obama administration has been on a losing streak when it comes to religious liberty, including a devastating 9-0 loss in Hosanna Tabor, another case litigated by the Becket Fund.

There is some concern that Justice Scalia’s death puts a victory for the Little Sisters in jeopardy with a 4-4 split. But that analysis is based on the way the chips fell in Hobby Lobby, a more complicated case being litigated when the very fate of the individual mandate was not yet decided. This one should be a no-brainer. The government cannot force the Little Sisters to violate their First Amendment rights and provide services that are already, as the government readily admits, easily available on the (now Court-affirmed) exchanges. Especially when the government won’t even force soda companies to provide the same services.

There’s a first for everything. But maybe this is the beginning of the end for the HHS mandate.

Cruz Right about Empowering Law-Enforcement to Prevent Terrorist Attacks

by Andrew C. McCarthy

There is apparently consternation in the usual places — including CAIR, it should go without saying —​ regarding remarks by Ted Cruz in the aftermath of the jihadist attack in Brussels, in which at least 30 were killed and 180 wounded. Senator Cruz (on whose national-security advisory team I serve) argued, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

This is clearly true. I addressed the same considerations in a column posted this afternoon on the homepage:

We know, nearly a quarter century after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, that jihadist cells arise and thrive in ideological enclaves; that is where the radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, plotting, and injection and protection of jihadist immigrants occurs. We cannot deny reality by rationalizing that if we admit the truth we will be misunderstood as being “at war with Islam” – as in all Muslims.

What we like to think of as “radical Islam” is actually a legitimate and rabidly anti-Western interpretation of Islam that is followed by millions of Muslims. It is irrelevant to non-Muslims in the West whether theirs is a correct or incorrect construction of Muslim scripture. The remorseless fact remains that its adherents believe it —​ with a fervor that inspires the kinds of attacks we’ve seen today and have seen over and over again. Those adherents include Muslims who lack the commitment to carry out attacks themselves but nevertheless provide moral (and other) support to those who do, and who populate the Western immigrant enclaves in which the ideology thrives.

It’s a welcome fact that there are other ways of interpreting Islam that do not endorse war and hostility against the West; those who offer these interpretations are our allies, and we should be encouraging them rather than turning to enemies such as the Muslim Brotherhood to help us conduct “community outreach.” Still, the fact that there are pro-Western Muslims and authentically tolerant interpretations of Islam does not — and cannot be allowed to —​ obscure the fact that Islamic supremacism is a mainstream construction of Islam. It is not “false” Islam, or “anti-Islam.” It is Islam that competes, violently, with other constructions of Islam.

In the Obama years, there has been a shift away from post-9/11 prevention-first counterterrorism, which relied on our police, federal law-enforcement and domestic-security agents to gather intelligence about potential threats in the Muslim communities where Islamic supremacism is endorsed —​ meaning, of course, with cooperation from non-supremacist Muslims living in those communities who are just as threatened as the rest of us are. The Obama Left and its Islamist allies (who are ideologically sympathetic to the jihadists’ sharia-promotion agenda, while assuring us they oppose the violent methods), have moved us back to a pre-9/11 paradigm that regards terrorism as a law-enforcement problem to be managed —​ meaning, for the most part, that law enforcement engages only after attacks (or, at least, when a concrete threat of attack has been discovered —​ by which point, it is often too late).

Obama and his Islamist allies claim that the post-9/11 approach tars all Muslims and creates the misimpression that we are “at war with Islam.” They contend that we must, instead, (a) deny any connection between Islam and mass-murder attacks by self-proclaimed jihadists who rely on Islamic scripture to justify them; and (b) partner with the government’s preferred Muslim groups (many of which are Islamist in orientation) by empowering them, rather than law enforcement, to be our eyes and ears in Muslim communities —​ as if they have the same training, resources, and incentive as police do to report anti-Americanism and potential threats.

What Senator Cruz is correctly arguing is that we have to recognize the reality of what the threat is and where it comes from, and we have to stick with prevention-oriented, intelligence-based counterterrorism methods that work.

We have had some domestic terrorist attacks in the U.S. as the threat has intensified during Obama’s presidency. Yet, we have not suffered the spate of attacks they have had (and will continue having) in Europe. The main reasons for the difference are that (a) we have not had as much mass immigration of an assimilation-resistant population, and (b) our police and local governments have not ceded de facto jurisdiction over communities to Muslim activists who would turn them into anti-American enclaves.

Obama policies have put us on the trajectory to repeat Europe’s self-destruction. Cruz is saying we have to defend ourselves —​ and that we are worth defending.

Pro-American Muslims can be a real asset in effective counterterrorism by joining us in helping us ostracize and marginalize radical elements – both the violent jihadists and their ideological sympathizers. But we have to prosecute the war against Islamic supremacists and protect our homeland regardless of how much or how little help we get.

The Problem With Obama’s Stealth Escalation in Iraq

by David French

Americans are back in combat in Iraq. Yesterday I highlighted a CNN report revealing the existence of a Marine artillery firebase in Iraq, establishing a greater American ground combat role in the fight against ISIS. Today, we learn that American troop levels are higher than we thought:

The U.S. military has around 5,000 service members in Iraq, officials said on Monday, far more than previously reported, as the Obama administration quietly expands ground operations against the Islamic State.

The number of American forces in Iraq has come under increased scrutiny following the death over the weekend of a Marine staff sergeant, the second combat casualty in renewed U.S. operations in Iraq. He was killed when militants launched rockets at a small U.S. base around the city of Makhmour. The existence of the Marine detachment had not been known prior to Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin’s death.

Officials at the Pentagon have declined to specify how Marines are serving at the outpost in northern Iraq, which they described as a satellite base positioned to protect American trainers at a nearby, larger base. Their presence in Iraq highlights the use of forces from Navy ships already in the Middle East.

The problem with Obama’s stealth escalation against ISIS isn’t the escalation — it’s the stealth. Obama famously downplays terror threats yet bombs terrorist targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia (and those are the strikes we know about). He pledges that we can defeat ISIS without American boots on the ground, then puts artillery firebases in Iraq and deploys special forces into Iraq and Syria. 

The expanded military action is necessary, but Obama is not leveling with the American people. His words lull us into complacency, convincing his acolytes that terrorism is a distraction from the world’s “real” problems. But his actions demonstrate that he’s worried. The peace president is leaving office with American military forces engaged in as many (if not more) countries as when he entered the Oval Office. 

I understand the need for operational security, and we certainly don’t need to receive word of every additional deployment. The element of surprise is vital in war. But Obama is leaving the nation unprepared to face the enduring threat. He feeds progressive narratives even as he bows to reality and pursues military strategies he once shunned. He uses the bully pulpit to undermine our will to fight even while wielding an increasingly deadly sword. 

But to change his public message is to admit a series of colossal errors. He thought he could leave Iraq without suffering serious consequences. He was wrong. He thought by turning the page on the Bush era, he could stabilize the Middle East. He was wrong. He thought he could defeat ISIS without a serious escalation and re-commitment to Iraq. He was wrong. He thought he could end the war in Afghanistan. He was wrong. 

I will give him partial credit, however. By his actions, at least, he’s demonstrated enough humility to modify his course. But a leader doesn’t just deploy troops, he rallies a nation. Obama leaves America far less prepared — morally and spiritually — to fight the necessary fight. His words are also his legacy, and his words have dulled American hearts and poisoned American minds. He used the bully pulpit to make us weak.

Lessons from Brussels

by Carrie Lukas

Horrifying reports and photos from the terrorist bombings in Brussels continue to roll in. President Obama and European leaders are issuing the all-too-familiar denunciations and expressing solidarity with the Belgians, such as French President Francois Hollande’s statement that, “Through the attacks in Brussels, the whole of Europe has been hit.”

Perhaps there is nothing better for officials to say in the immediate wake of such an event, before the facts are known, yet it’s hard not to feel as though they’re simply going through the motions. But there are some clear-eyed exceptions. The AP reports, for example, that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls emphatically stated that: “We are at war. Over the past few months in Europe, we have endured several acts of war.”

Valls certainly has a point – one hopefully other politicians will soon be making. While one attack does not a war make, on the heels of the November 13 slaughter in Paris, the Charlie Hebdo attacks before that, a recent thwarted attack in Berlin, and a string of Muslim-linked sexual assaults in cities around the EU (possibly planned in advance), Europe is feeling more and more like a battlefield.

Yet living in Europe, it seems to me most political leaders are continuing with a strategy of firm denial. In Germany, Angela Merkel continues to defend having practically single-handedly invited well over a million Muslims to migrate en mass, with similar numbers expected this year. European elites feel compelled to preface every statement with a recognition that “most” of these refugees are not violent, and this is true. But at the same time, most hail from societies that see themselves as at war with the West, and the huge population flows and growing sympathetic communities makes it easy for the true extremists to hide and operate. Belgium is now finding this out, much to its horror.

Inevitably, the Brussels attacks already are being used to score points in the U.S. presidential contest. But what real political lessons are there in all this? Surely there are policy steps we can take to avoid following in Europe’s footsteps. Indeed, action may be imperative. There has been much recent discussion of the deep disconnect between the general American population and many in the ruling class – sentiments linked most obviously to supporters of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The atmosphere increasingly is similar in Europe. Governments here continue to dismiss anxious citizens as backwards bigots for expressing concern about the inability or unwillingness of many Muslims to assimilate and accept the core values of Western society. On days like today, there will be strong words about rejecting violence and standing against terrorism – but how much longer will the citizens see this as a sufficient response? And how long before people who feel disenfranchised and sneered at turn to the few politicians not afraid to address their concerns head on, regardless of that person’s faults? Unless the “mainstream” politicians offer more than platitudes, stridency in politics will only become more intense.

 

Decision Desk, Rocky Mountain High: Trump’s Canyon

by Henry Olsen
The canyon separating Trump from his competitors will widen a little bit more.

The states selecting delegates today, Arizona and Utah, are known for their spacious and awesome canyons. So it is fitting they vote as a tandem, as today will see the canyon separating Donald Trump from his competitors widen just a little bit more.

Trump will win the larger of the two, Arizona, largely because it has very favorable demographics for him. It is arguably ground zero for the nation’s illegal immigration problem, making his call for a wall more salient here than elsewhere. It has relatively few very conservative evangelicals, the GOP faction that has thus far proven to be his main rival’s base of support. And it suffered a severe drop in real estate prices following the financial collapse, increasing the reality and the perception of economic dismay that has helped fuel Trump’s rise. Nevada and Florida had similar factors at play, and Trump won with 46 percent of the vote in each state.

Utah, though, is another matter. Heavily Mormon counties in Nevada and Idaho have voted for Ted Cruz by large margins so far, and Mormon icon Mitt Romney’s vociferous opposition to Trump has only intensified recently. Trump not only loses those areas, he gets annihilated. Trump’s share of the vote in heavily Mormon eastern Idaho ranged from a HIGH of 25 percent to a low of under 8 percent. Seventy-five percent of Utah’s population is contained in just four counties: Salt Lake has the lowest Mormon population of those at 56 percent. Expect Trump to not even break 20 percent statewide and Cruz to win all forty of Utah’s delegates by garnering over fifty percent.

I expect Trump to win all 58 of Arizona’s delegates, giving him a 58-40 advantage on the night.  State analyses are below.

**********

Arizona (58 delegates) - Arizona is a statewide winner-take-all contest. The polls so far vary in quality, but are remarkably similar in their predicted outcome: Trump by between 12 and 14 points over Cruz. I suspect that will just about right after all the votes are counted.

Arizona encourages early voting, so we should be able to know who won (or if there is even a contest) relatively soon after the polls close.  Phoenix’s Maricopa County cast about 60 percent of the vote in the 2012 GOP race, and Tucson’s Pima County cast another 16 percent. Early voting results for these two counties will let us know if staying up late is worth the effort.

My ranges are Trump 41-50, Cruz 29-38, Kasich 15-22. My best guess is Trump 47, Cruz 34, Kasich 16. Trump wins all 58 delegates.

Utah (40 delegates) - Utah awards all 40 of its delegates to a candidate who takes 50 percent or more of the vote. If no one reaches that bar, it awards delegates proportionally based on the statewide vote to all candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the statewide vote. This is why Kasich is campaigning in Utah: if Cruz falls below 50 percent, Kasich will get delegates. The only poll conducted since Rubio dropped out had Cruz at 53, Kasich 29, and Trump at 11 percent. Trump’s extraordinarily low standing is not likely to be an error. The other three Utah polls conducted this year had him at 17, 18, and 21 percent, and Romney’s anti-Trump offensive is clearly drawing blood.

My ranges are Cruz 48-55, Kasich 27-35, Trump 12-19. My best guess is Cruz 54, Kasich 33, Trump 13. Cruz wins all 40 delegates.

 

Trump Leads in Arizona, but if There’s an Upset . . .

by John Fund

Donald Trump was the clear favorite in today’s winner-take-all Arizona primary, even before the Brussels terrorist attacks. The immigration issue and the flood of early voters favors him, as does the fact that some of those early voters will have cast ballots for Marco Rubio before he dropped out last Tuesday night. If they had known Rubio would no longer be a candidate, many of those voters might have gone with Cruz.

But polls have been tricky and often erratic this year (think Michigan and the surprise win of Bernie Sanders). For example, the latest poll showing a 14 point Trump lead appears to oversample Phoenix voters (59 percent of state’s population vs. 73 percent of those polled). Trump outperfoms his statewide average in the Phoenix area. The Washington Post reports that “Cruz could definitely score an upset in Arizona.”  If that happens or Cruz comes very close here will be the relevant factors, according to the Post.

Cruz has a superior ground game. Neutral observers say his team is a lot more organized than Trump. His state director elected many Republican members of the legislature.

It’s a closed primary, meaning only Republicans can vote. Trump has struggled in closed primaries.

Cruz has scored a bunch of late endorsements: Rep. Matt Salmon announced his support last night.

Cruz is still perceived as strong on border security.

Reversibility

by Jay Nordlinger

One of the president’s men has said that the purpose of this trip to Cuba is to make Obama’s policy toward the Castros “irreversible.” Well, I hope that President Cruz has something to say about that.

Isn’t it interesting, by the way, that the GOP field had two Cuban-Americans who really “get it”? Get the Castro dictatorship? Get freedom and tyranny? The American people could vote for such candidates, if they wanted to. But instead will it be O, O, as far as the eye can see?

Remember: In an election, people don’t pronounce on the candidates so much as they pronounce on themselves. Elections tell us who we are (alas).

‘That Alone Should Have Been Enough’

by Jay Nordlinger

Did you see Mary Anastasia O’Grady in the Wall Street Journal?

On March 13, the secret police in Havana again set upon the Ladies in White, a group of peaceful dissidents. One member, Aliuska Gómez, told the online newspaper Diario de Cuba about her arrest. “After they had taken away all of my belongings,” she said, “they told me to strip naked, and I refused . . . so they threw me down on the floor and took off all of my clothing, right in front of two men” and “they dragged me completely naked into a jail cell.” That alone should have been enough for Mr. Obama to cancel his trip.

P.S. Pretty much everything I think about Obama and Cuba, I put into a column last month.

From Cuba, Grotesque Images

by Jay Nordlinger

At his blog, Capitol Hill Cubans, Mauricio Claver-Carone has an item headed “Images: Three Ways Not to Promote ‘Change’ in Cuba.”

The first is, “Take an official picture in front of Castro’s secret police headquarters, emblazoned with Che’s image.” (I wrote a post about that yesterday.)

The second is, “Chat up Raul Castro’s dauphin, Col. Alejandro Castro, who oversees the regime’s security apparatus and is being groomed as heir to the family dictatorship.”

Recently, I wrote a book called “Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators.” I have a chapter on Castro — Fidel. But I touch on Raúl, as at the end of that chapter:

Other dictators have had their sons succeed them. [Fidel] Castro has had his brother succeed him. And after Raúl, if Cuban Communism persists? Guillermo Fariñas, a prominent Cuban dissident, has made a prediction: Either Raúl’s son Alejandro … or Fidel’s son Antonio, the doctor-businessman-sportsman-playboy, will rise to the top. The former is already close to the top, a heavy in state security.

Yup.

And No. 3: “Enthusiastically greet Gustavo Machin, a Cuban intelligence official expelled from the U.S. in 2002 as persona non grata, and a key conspirator in the murder of democracy leader Oswaldo Paya.”

I would have to wash my hand in acid after shaking the hand of such a man. Anyway, I want you to know about the late Payá’s daughter: Rosa María Payá, who is devoted to her father’s memory and, more, to the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba. Follow her on Twitter, for example.

Obama and Human Rights: A Confusion

by Jay Nordlinger

When I was growing up, liberals had a line (and by “liberals,” I mean McGovernites, basically — people who today are called “progressives”): Sure, the West had “political rights,” such as the right to speech, to worship, and to assembly. But the East — i.e., the Communist states — had “economic rights,” such as the right to food, to shelter, and to health care.

West Germany had mere “political rights.” You could say what you wanted, but you had to sleep under bridges. In Erich Honecker’s beautiful East Germany, you might not be able to say what you wanted, but you were fed, warm, and comfy.

I discussed this with Jeane Kirkpatrick once. She said, Yes, the Communists deprived people of all political rights. But they left them in extreme material want as well.

And you remember Orwell: The Communists say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Well, they’ve broken a lot of eggs (by murdering millions, for example). But where’s the omelet?

Which brings me, of course, to Raúl Castro and Barack Obama. Castro said the usual stuff about how food, shelter, and health care are human rights. And here comes our guy, Obama:

“President Castro, I think, has pointed out that, in his view, making sure everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age — that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with that. … You know, I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we’re falling short, because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well.”

Great, just great. You know what this reminds me of? The “human-rights dialogue” that Obama’s State Department held with the Chinese regime in 2010.

After the dialogue, a reporter asked our representative, Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner, “Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?”

Our guy said, “We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”

Great, just great. Thanks, guys. And thanks, American people, for electing these people, twice. You done yet? Or on to Hillary? (Trump complicates things, it’s true.)

Naming Names: The Importance

by Jay Nordlinger

Regarding events in Cuba, have a snippet of an Associated Press report:

Asked by an American television reporter about political prisoners in Cuba, Castro seemed oblivious, first saying he couldn’t hear the question, then asking whether it was directed to him or Obama. Eventually he pushed back, saying if the journalist could offer up names of anyone allegedly imprisoned, “they will be released before tonight ends.”

“What political prisoners? Give me a name or names,” Castro said defiantly as Cuban citizens watched on state television. He added later, “It’s not correct to ask me about political prisoners in general.”

Human-rights groups have provided lists (for example here). I am reminded of Andrei Sakharov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Soviet government did not allow him to travel to Oslo, but his wife, Yelena Bonner, happened to be abroad for medical treatment. She stayed abroad and read her husband’s Nobel address.

Through her, Sakharov did something astounding toward the end of his address. He simply named names — names of political prisoners. One by one, Bonner read them off, beginning with “Plyush, Bukovsky, Glusman, Moros, Maria Semyonova, Nadeshda Svetlishnaya …” He named about a hundred names, concluding with “and many, many others.”

Raúl Castro said, “It’s not correct to ask me about political prisoners in general.” You know, he’s right, in a way. Bonner told me that it was extremely important to Sakharov to name names and cite particular cases, as opposed to talking generally about human rights. This “fulfilled a most important inner need for Sakharov,” she said.

To read about this, you may consult my history of the Nobel Peace Prize, Peace, They Say.

Millennial Socialism Will Harm Our Democracy

by Stanley Kurtz

Distracted by the rise of Trump, liberals and conservatives alike have had far too little to say about the return of open socialism. Many observers simply write off the Sanders surge as a passing response to economic troubles by young people who don’t know what socialism is to begin with. Others claim that “democratic” socialism is nothing much to worry about. All of this is largely mistaken.

I take on the new socialism and explain why it’s not so warm and cuddly in a piece at The Washington Post’s In Theory blog. The piece is called: “How socialists from the 60s primed millennials to Feel the Bern.” The Post’s​ In Theory blog is dedicating a week to commentaries on the resurgence of American socialism.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]

Multiple Terrorist Attacks in Brussels

by Carrie Lukas

Apparent terrorist attacks in Brussels have claimed dozens of lives. Here is the latest from the Guardian:

The death toll from both the attacks has increased to 34, according to an unconfirmed report by the Belgium broadcaster VRT.

It said 20 died in the metro attack and 14 were killed at the airport.

Prayers for everyone impacted by this latest tragedy. 

Tuesday links

by debbywitt

It’s William Shatner’s 85th birthday: here he is in 1978 ’singing’ Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup.

How Capicola Became Gabagool: The Italian New Jersey Accent, Explained.

Meet the Amazonian Terminators of Dahomeythe Most Feared Women in History.

Watch this baby elephant try to figure out how his trunk works.

22 Vintage Pictures of Old Los Angeles Restaurants with Wacky Shapes.

Why Does My Nose Run When It’s Cold?

ICYMIMonday’s links are here, and include instructions from 1984 on sending an ‘E mail’, amazing submarine concepts, Spring equinox science, myths, and music, and Amsterdam’s floating cat sanctuary.

Q&A and A&Q

by John J. Miller

Here’s my Bookmonger interview with Thomas J. Knock, author of The Life and Times of George McGovern: The Rise of a Prairie Statesman. We talk about McGovern’s legacy, whether he’s the Goldwater of the Left, and if Bernie Sanders is his true heir.

Here’s an interview with me on the Liberate Liberty blog (love the name). We talk about the power of fiction, and more.

 

 

The Great White Working-Class Debate: Just Because I’m ‘Nasty’ Doesn’t Mean I’m Wrong

by David French

Last week I wrote a lengthy Corner post in support of Kevin Williamson’s excellent (and strongly-worded) attack on the notion that white working-class voters constitute just another American victim class. In the absence of war, plague, or natural disaster, white citizens — indeed, all citizens — have real agency. They have the power to help themselves. Writing to echo Kevin’s point, I cited my own long experience in reaching out to struggling poor and working-class families:

Yet millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying. As I’ve related before, my church in Kentucky made a determined attempt to reach kids and families that were falling between the cracks, and it was consistently astounding how little effort most parents and their teen children made to improve their lives. If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school. If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor. And always — always — there was a sense of entitlement.

In response, I’ve received quite a bit of blowback but very little actual argument. I’m “nasty” and self-hating, I’m trafficking in “social Darwinism,” and at least one writer feels my words are so self-evidently awful that merely quoting me is an illustration of the “extraordinary sewer that is the American right today.”

But lost in all the name-calling is any actual refutation. There is an enormous problem with self-destructive behavior in the white working-class — indeed, in poor and working-class families of all races. There is an enormous problem with entitlement. Talk to public school teachers. Talk to social workers. Talk to medical professionals in poor and working-class communities. Yes, they can point you to salt-of-the-earth families striving to make the best of terrible misfortunes, but they can also point you to many, many families where the parents engage in appalling behavior, the kids learn from mom and dad, and yet they’re befuddled and angry that they can’t get ahead. 

It’s fascinating the extent to which some of my conservative critics have adopted leftist arguments. I could type all day about the failings of the establishment or the elite (indeed, I’ve written far more about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of America’s cultural elite than any other social class), and my cheering section is vast. To use the Left’s language, that’s “punching up,” and that’s cool and fine. But when I talk about undeniable, rampant problems in America’s working-class, then I’m a meanie. That’s “punching down.”

This is classist nonsense. It’s the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” We’re all responsible for our actions, and our income is irrelevant to our moral obligations. We could have the greatest elite in the world, but if America’s poorer citizens can’t stay faithful to their spouses, are indifferent to their academic and work performances, and abuse alcohol and drugs, then their lives will be a struggle — even if we created the big-government, protectionist utopia that the socialist Left and Trump Right seem to crave.

Sadly, however — as Charles Murray notes in Coming Apart — we’re cursed with an elite that won’t preach what it practices. America’s wealthier citizens tend to get married, stay married, stay in school, and attend church at higher rates. Yet, at the same time, they too often publicly embrace and advocate the moral decline of the sexual revolution and the economic dependence of the welfare state. Rather than leading by word and deed, they wrap themselves in their own prosperous cocoon and substitute good wishes for meaningful actions. 

In the United States of America, “You can do better” is a far more compassionate and constructive message than “It’s not your fault.” We’re fallen human beings. We can always do better — rich and poor. We always have responsibilities — rich and poor. Any other message is pure pandering. 

Beehive Jive

by Jay Nordlinger

Utah is an interesting place right now, politically. Trump has no chance, it seems. And Kasich is trying to spoil things for Cruz — by keeping Cruz under a 50 percent threshold.

I enjoyed this bit from an AP story:

Dave Hansen, a Republican operative in Utah, is confident that the state’s highly engaged voters will figure out that Cruz has the better chance to get to 50 percent and block Trump.

“They are the kind of people who record C-SPAN for viewing later,” Hansen said.

Thank goodness for the kind of people who record C-SPAN for viewing later!

And thank goodness for Mitt Romney, I say. Romney has declared, “A vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.” Yup.

This very night, we would have had the last Republican debate (the last scheduled one). But Trump and Kasich canceled it, by refusing to participate. Nice goin’, guys. A beautiful pair, they are. They deserve each other.

(Disclosure.)

Obama Lectures Britons About Europe - Perhaps It Should Be the Other Way Around

by Iain Murray

When the President gets back from honoring communists and murderers in Cuba, he will begin planning for a trip to the United Kingdom on April 22nd. While there he plans, we are told, to break with all precedent and interfere with the referendum about Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. The British MEP Dan Hannan has a great column in today’s Washington Examiner about this, explaining why this is a spectacularly bad idea, and suggesting that the President might want to reread the Declaration of Independence first:

The EU is showing its age. It’s a leftover from the top-down,dirigiste, big-bloc thinking of the 1950s. This might explain President Obama’s soft spot for it. But the rest of the world is going in the opposite direction. In an era of Skype and cheap air travel, regional customs unions look obsolete. The idea that we should meekly acquiesce in the rulings of transnational bureaucracies seems terribly 20th century.

Take another look at your Declaration of Independence. See how aptly the colonists’ grievances might now be leveled against the EU: “a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution”; “abolishing the free System of English Laws”; “declaring themselves invested with the power to legislate for us”; “obstructing the Laws for the Naturalization of Foreigners”. There is even, uncannily, an anticipation of the European Parliament, which moves every month between Brussels and Strasbourg: “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable and distant”.

Indeed. The European Union has turned into something quite offensive to the British constitution (and yes, the Brits do have one). However, it didn’t need to have gone that way.

I’ve just returned from a conference of world taxpayer groups and European think tanks held in Berlin. There was almost universal regret at what has happened to Europe. The dream of peace and trade that seemed so wonderful in the 1990s has turned into a nightmare of terrorism, seemingly unstoppable mass migration, and financial ruin. Most of these problems, however, could probably have been obviated if the EU had been just a little bit more, well, Euroskeptic. A Europe of competing nations with their own legislative frameworks acting within the confines of a strong trade treaty – no Euro, no bailouts, no weak countries propped up and uncertainly controlled by stronger countries – would probably have achieved all the benefits of economic liberalization that the EU has achieved (I will never suggest that the EU has not done a lot of good on the continent) without the costs we currently see and probably be a darn sight more dynamic and innovative to boot.

Indeed, the agenda the Europe should have followed is the one outlined by Margaret Thatcher in her Bruges speech in 1988. In it she outlined 5 principles for a Europe in which Britain could be strongly engaged and which would probably have produced the sort of Europe I described above:

  • willing and active cooperation between independent sovereign states
  • follow policies that tackled problems in a practical way, “however difficult that may be” (by which she meant abolishing counter-productive policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy)
  • follow policies which encourage enterprise (and note that she said, “But it is a matter of plain common sense that we cannot totally abolish frontier controls if we are also to protect our citizens from crime and stop the movement of drugs, of terrorists and of illegal immigrants.”)
  • Europe should not be protectionist
  • Europe must continue to maintain a sure defence through NATO

This Europe, a Thatcherite Europe, is what we lost sight of in the 1990s. Ironically, what a sensible President would do is not lecture Britain about what a wonderful thing the EU is, but lecture Europe about what the EU should be – and perhaps, just perhaps, that is quite a bit more British in outlook than it has been to date.

 

Clinton E-mail Scandal Update — Is Sidney Blumenthal in Trouble?

by David French

I would urge everyone to read John Schindler’s Friday piece in The Observer, highlighting recent developments in Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal. It’s well worth your time, but I’d like to highlight this portion, where Schindler claims to “confirm” earlier reporting that Clinton pal Sidney Blumenthal sent a word-for-word copy of highly-classified information to Clinton’s unsecured e-mail:

Now, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011, email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

Specifically, this information was illegally lifted from four different NSA reports, all of them classified “Top Secret / Special Intelligence.” Worse, at least one of those reports was issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling caveat that is applied to extraordinarily sensitive information (for instance, decrypted conversations between top foreign leadership, as this was). GAMMA is properly viewed as a SIGINT Special Access Program, or SAP, several of which from the CIA Ms. Clinton compromised in another series of her “unclassified” emails.

Currently serving NSA officials have told me they have no doubt that Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from their reports. “It’s word-for-word, verbatim copying,” one of them explained. “In one case, an entire paragraph was lifted from an NSA report” that was classified Top Secret / Special Intelligence.

If true, this report highlights the extent to which close Clinton friends and confidantes may soon find themselves in serious legal jeopardy. Clinton’s extraordinarily selfish act — her insistence on setting up a private server and a special, for-herself-only communications protocol — meant that her inner circle was inevitably ensnared. If she insisted on communicating with her own devices – and simultaneously demanded timely intelligence information — then aides would constantly encounter a choice between following the law and obeying Hillary. 

As the FBI investigation winds towards its conclusion, the first shoe to drop may be an indictment of one or more of Clinton’s aides. Arresting aides would be less politically explosive than initially indicting Clinton, and any subsequent cooperation with the government could make it extraordinarily difficult for the Obama administration to shield Hillary herself. The endgame is approaching.