Listen: Kurt Russell Rips Leftist Reporter Who Call Guns a ‘Totem’ for ‘Disenfranchised White Guys’

by David French

I would invite you to listen this discussion between Jeffrey Wells and actor Kurt Russell. It represents the rarest of exchanges — a big-name actor ripping a reporter for his rote liberalism. In his account of the interview, Wells sets up the confrontation by saying that he intended to ask Russell if the violence in Quentin Tarantino’s movies is appropriate in the post-Paris, post-San Bernardino world:

I segued into a riff about how movies tend to reflect the times and the culture they come from. I was thinking that the Quentin Tarantino brand, which has always included a swaggering, half-smirking, bordering-on-flippant use of violence at times, might not fit or reflect the post-Paris, post-San Bernardino culture now as well as it did the all-is-well Clinton ’90s.

Russell was not amused. Here are some highlights:

Wells: I’m not talking about politics. I’m talking about a ground-level, water-table…a feeling in people’s bones. People are genuinely…between Paris and San Bernardino the idea of sudden violence becoming a normal, day-to-day aspect coming from the gun culture and everything else…it’s a different vibe, you know?

Russell: I don’t understand concepts of conversation [about] the gun culture. We’ve lived with guns since, what, the 7th Century or something? I don’t know.

Wells: Well, I think we all know…guns are a trope. Not a trope but a totem, a metaphor that disenfranchised white guys need…it makes them feel good about themselves.

Russell: You can say what you want. I don’t agree with that. It’s not my thing.

Wells: Well, it’s statistically irrefutable.

Russell: If you think gun control is going to change the terrorists’ point of view, I think you’re, like, out of your mind. I think anybody [who says that] is. I think it’s absolutely insane. The problem, the problem that we’re having right now to turn it around…you may think you’ve got me worried about you’re gonna do? Dude, you’re about to find out what I’m gonna do, and that’s gonna worry you a lot more. And that‘s what we need. That will change the concept of gun culture, as you call it, to something [like] reality. Which is, if I’m a hockey team and I’ve got some guy bearing down on me as a goal tender, I’m not concerned about what he’s gonna do — I’m gonna make him concerned about what I’m gonna do…

The went back and forth like the Left and Right have since San Bernardino, with one side focused on the weapons and the other side focused on the mindset:

Wells: Obama’s point was that the guys on the no-fly list, [there] for good reason because of terrorist connections or suspicions…they can get hold of a gun pretty easily.

Russell: They can also make a bomb pretty easily. So what? They can also get knives and stab you. Whaddaya gonna do about that? They can also get cars and run you over. Whaddaya gonna do about that?

Wells: They didn’t kill the people in San Bernardino with cars.

Russell: But they’ve killed others that way, haven’t they? Yeah, yeah. Whaddaya gonna do? Outlaw everything? That isn’t the answer.

I loved Russell’s conclusion:

You and I just disagree. I understand that you think you can control the behavior of people that are dead set on taking your way of life away from you. You think you can control that? And there’s only one thing you can do with that. And that’s [to say} ‘No, dude, that’s not gonna happen. That’s just not gonna happen.’

Russell is right. Terrorists dead-set on taking American lives will find the weapons to do it, regardless of whether they use bombs, knives, airplanes, or cars. There is no substitute for aggressive self-defense.

The Hidden Reason Why Americans Dislike Islam

by David French

Yesterday, YouGov and the Huffington Post released a poll showing that large majorities of Americans — and pluralities across every political demographic — have an “unfavorable opinion” of the Islamic faith. The numbers are simply not close:

There will be no doubt some hand-wringing about “Islamophobia” and further calls to continue the American elite’s fourteen-year track record of whitewashing Islamic beliefs and culture, but I wonder if the media is missing a powerful, largely-uncovered influence on America’s hearts and minds — the experience and testimony of the more than two million Americans who’ve served overseas since 9/11 and have experienced Islamic cultures up-close.

Yes, they were in the middle of a war — but speaking from my own experience — the war was conducted from within a culture that was shockingly broken. I expected the jihadists to be evil, but even I couldn’t fathom the depths of their depravity. And it was all occurring against the backdrop of a brutally violent and intolerant culture. Women were beaten almost as an afterthought, there was a near-total lack of empathy for even friends and neighbors, lying was endemic, and sexual abuse was rampant. Even more disturbingly, it seemed that every problem was exacerbated the more religious and pious a person (or village) became. 

I spent enough time outside the wire and interacting with tribal leaders to get a sense of the reality around me, but the younger guys on the line spent weeks at a time living in the heart of the local community. I remember one young soldier, after describing the things he’d seen since the start of the deployment, gestured towards the village around us and said — in perfect Army English — “Sir, this s**t is f**ked up.”

It is indeed. While it’s certainly unfair to judge Indonesia or Malaysia by the standards of Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s very hard to shake the power of lived experience, nor should we necessarily try. After all, when we hear stories from Syria, Yemen, Gaza, the Sinai, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan, and elsewhere they all fit the same depressing template of the American conflict zones. Nor is the dazzlingly wealthy veneer of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or the other Gulf States all that impressive. Tens of thousands of soldiers have seen the veritable slave labor that toils within the oil empires and have witnessed first-hand their casual disregard for “lesser” life. 

But this same experience has caused us to treasure the Muslim friends we do have — in part because we recognize the extreme risks of their loyalty and defiance of jihad. That’s why American officers fiercely champion the immigration of local interpreters, even to the point of welcoming them into their own home. That’s why there’s often an intense connection with our Kurdish allies, the single-most effective ground fighting force against ISIS. 

Two million Americans have been downrange, and they’ve come home and told families and friends stories the media rarely tells. Those stories have an impact, but because of the cultural distance between America’s warriors and its media, academic, and political aristocracy, it’s an impact the aristocracy hasn’t been tracking. Experience trumps idealistic rhetoric, and I can’t help but think that polls like YouGov’s are at least partly registering the results of a uniquely grim American experience.

Democratic Congresswoman: 5 to 20 Percent of Muslims Want a Caliphate

by Jim Geraghty

Most Democrats just avert their eyes from the topic of radicalization in Muslim-American communities, or the Muslim world at large. When they are asked directly about it, they usually offer some sentiment like Hillary Clinton’s recent statement, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has taken a shot at estimating (guess-timating?) what percentage of that community qualifies as extremist and threatening:

“But certainly, we know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in anyway possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms — our way of life,” Sanchez said on “PoliticKING with Larry King.”

And with that, the media freezes in indecision, unsure whether to denounce Sanchez for Islamophobia and bigotry or to hold fire on a Democrat in good standing.

Sanchez is running for the U.S. Senate. Her current House district, in Long Beach, is about 50 miles from San Bernardino.

She was previously best known for exceptionally odd Christmas cards that featured her cat.

Uncommon Knowledge Returns to NR

by Peter Robinson

I’m very happy to announce that Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, the show I host for the Hoover Institution is back on National Review. And this week, we debut with one of the great conservative thinkers and writers of our time, Thomas Sowell. In this interview, Dr. Sowell discusses poverty around the world and in the United States. Poverty in America, he says, compared to the rest of the world, is not severe. Many poor people in poverty in the United States have one or two cars, central heating, and cell phones. The real problem for the poor is the destruction of the family, which Sowell argues dramatically increased once welfare policies were introduced in the 1960s.

Justice Thomas on Racial Preferences and Mismatch

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Justice Thomas has developed at length the same argument to which Justice Scalia got himself into trouble by alluding. Here’s Thomas in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003):

The Law School is not looking for those students who, despite a lower LSAT score or undergraduate grade point average, will succeed in the study of law. The Law School seeks only a facade–it is sufficient that the class looks right, even if it does not perform right.

The Law School tantalizes unprepared students with the promise of a University of Michigan degree and all of the opportunities that it offers. These overmatched students take the bait, only to find that they cannot succeed in the cauldron of competition. And this mismatch crisis is not restricted to elite institutions. See T. Sowell, Race and Culture 176—177 (1994) (“Even if most minority students are able to meet the normal standards at the ‘average’ range of colleges and universities, the systematic mismatching of minority students begun at the top can mean that such students are generally overmatched throughout all levels of higher education”). Indeed, to cover the tracks of the aestheticists, this cruel farce of racial discrimination must continue–in selection for the Michigan Law Review, see University of Michigan Law School Student Handbook 2002—2003, pp. 39—40 (noting the presence of a “diversity plan” for admission to the review), and in hiring at law firms and for judicial clerkships–until the “beneficiaries” are no longer tolerated. While these students may graduate with law degrees, there is no evidence that they have received a qualitatively better legal education (or become better lawyers) than if they had gone to a less “elite” law school for which they were better prepared.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Court needs to reach a definitive answer to the question of how much of this mismatch racial preferences cause or how destructive it is in order to decide the case. It can and should rule simply on the ground that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” You’d have to fold, spindle, and mutilate that language not to see that it settles the case. Unfortunately that’s what the Supreme Court did back in 1978. It should revisit that mistake. And while a reference to the mismatch theory might be in order as a way of rebutting other justices’ claims, the Court should mostly leave the social-science argument to the social scientists.

Good Luck With Persuading MSNBC and CNN to Give Trump Less Air Time

by Jim Geraghty

Activists with, a site of progressive and Democratic Party activists, are circulating a petition demanding CNN and MSNBC “stop promoting Donald Trump’s racist presidential campaign.”

(The idea that CNN and MSNBC are “promoting his campaign” will probably come as a surprise to Trump and his supporters.)

The petition is more than a little contradictory. Yes, Trump is getting way more coverage than anyone else; one study concluded that between January and November, Trump’s campaign was covered for 234 minutes on the three newscasts. Jeb Bush’s campaign was covered for 56 minutes; Ben Carson’s, for 54. Hillary Clinton received 113 minutes; Bernie Sanders, 10.

More than a few Republicans might concur with the petition’s assertion that, “Desperate for ratings, the cable news networks have decided to broadcast nearly-continuous coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign at the expense of giving real issues the coverage they deserve. As policy fights play out in the halls of power in Washington, DC, large swaths of the electorate remain uninformed, with cable news coverage largely limited to live coverage of Trump campaign rallies and shouting matches between pundits over whether Trump’s latest racist proposal will help or hurt him among Republican primary voters.”

But then the petition demands, “We aren’t suggesting that MSNBC and CNN should ignore Donald Trump entirely…”

How big of them!

“…but the near-continuous coverage of recent weeks has got to stop. And when they do cover Trump, they should contextualize their coverage by pointing out his long history of racism, Islamophobia and hate.” Yes, because if there’s anything that MSNBC and CNN lack, it’s talking heads calling Trump racist, Islamophobic, hateful, etc.

There’s no way the networks will voluntarily turn away from such a ratings magnet. Remember when NBC loudly proclaimed it was cutting ties with Trump because of “the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants”? That was at the end of June. By November, NBC had invited him back to host Saturday Night Live.

The Educational Benefits of Diversity Are Dubious

by Jason Richwine

The premise of the affirmative-action case currently before the Supreme Court is that ethnic diversity improves higher education. But how do we know the premise is true? It is surprisingly difficult to find solid evidence in the case documents. The original UT–Austin brief refers me to the Joint Appendix. The Joint Appendix in turn cites the “Affidavit of N. Bruce Walker,” admissions director for UT–Austin. In that affidavit, Mr. Walker says that diversity improves race relations “in the University’s judgment.” He also assures us that, “I have read studies that tout other benefits.” Those studies are not listed.

The amicus briefs in the case are more forthcoming, but the barrage of studies they cite often have tiny effect sizes and narrowly focused results, making them more suggestive than convincing. A good example of narrow focus is yesterday’s New York Times op-ed by Sheen Levine and David Stark. The authors describe how the distrust and friction generated by ethnic diversity can be beneficial in avoiding the groupthink that creates stock-market bubbles. Interesting point. But then they go way beyond their empirical findings to conclude: “Ethnic diversity is like fresh air: It benefits everybody who experiences it.”

In fact, Levine and Stark’s research demonstrates how theoretically ambiguous the impact of diversity can be. Interpersonal friction may have some benefits, but it also carries obvious costs. It is especially difficult to reconcile the diversity benefits that Levine and Stark describe – which depend on people distrusting each other – with the supposed improvements in cross-racial understanding that come from diversity. The literature contains evidence of diversity producing undesirable conflict, and the uproar over Halloween costumes at Yale could probably be a new case study.

What we need is better data. All else equal, do students who attend more diverse colleges score higher on the GRE? Earn more money? Find better jobs? Go on to live in more integrated neighborhoods? Send their kids to more integrated schools? I understand the Supreme Court’s legal deference on these questions, but it would be nice for the public to have answers that are more reassuring than “in the University’s judgment.”

Sessions on Leahy Amendment: ‘Where Is the Bill’ to Protect Americans’ Rights?

by NR Staff

On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment, offered by Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), to express the sense of the Senate “that the United States must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion, as such action would be contrary to the fundamental principles on which this Nation was founded.” Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), who voted against the amendment, delivered the following remarks:

With regards to immigration, it is the job of Congress to defend the rights and well-being of American citizens. That means we must look at how immigration is impacting Americans in their wages, in their salaries, in their national security.

It was five months ago that Kate Steinle died in her father’s arms on a pier in San Francisco because a repeatedly deported criminal alien was set free. What about the American workers at Disney forced to train their guest worker replacements? They claim they were discriminated against because they were Americans. Where is the bill for them?

We have these fights over and over, but we never seem to advance a bill or proposal that actually results in more protections for American citizens. 

So that is the context today in which we consider this unprecedented effort to extend Americans’ constitutional rights and protections to foreign citizens living in foreign countries.

The adoption of the Leahy Amendment would constitute a transformation of our immigration system. In effect, it is a move toward the ratification of the idea that global migration is a “human right” and a civil right, and that these so-called “immigrants’ rights” must be supreme to the rights of sovereign nations to determine who can and cannot enter their borders.

Fundamentally, foreign nationals living in foreign countries have no constitutional right to enter the United States. If they did, any alien denied entry could file suit to demand entry and claim damages for lost employment, lost welfare benefits, lost income. 

Our immigration system derives exclusively from Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution, which vests the exclusive power in the Congress to establish a uniform system of immigration. Through acts of Congress, the United States can — and does – exclude aliens from entry into the United States for any reason provided by Congress.

The rules governing the selection of immigrants are, by definition, opposite the rules governing the treatment of citizens living or naturalized in the United States. There are 7 billion people in the world. Choosing who can immigrate into the United States is, by definition, an exclusionary process. The goal is to select immigrants for admission based on the benefits they provide to society based on skills, ages, values, philosophy, incomes, etc. Our goal is to choose for admission those likeliest to succeed and flourish and, crucially, to support our Constitutional system of government and our values of pluralism and republican governance.

So whereas we consider it improper to deny employment to a U.S. citizen based on, say, their age, we consider it necessary and important to consider immigrants according to their age and whether they will be able to contribute productive years of work to American society.

As stated by the United States Supreme Court: “Whatever the procedure authorized by Congress is, it is due process as far as an alien denied entry is concerned.”

What this amendment would do would be to turn this fundamental principle on its head and to apply some of our core domestic legal and constitutional protections to foreign nationals with no tie to the United States. The natural extension of this concept would fundamentally undermine entire provisions of immigration law, and the results quickly would become radical.

In the United States, we have protections against discrimination by religion, age, disability, country of origin, etc. We have freedom of association. Rights of due process.

Now imagine extending these as part of our immigration system. The logical extension of this concept results in a legal regime in which the United States cannot deny an alien admission to the United States based upon age, health, skill, family criminal history, country of origin, and so forth. If an elderly alien needing 24-hour medical care applied for entry and was denied, under this scheme of immigrant rights, they could file a lawsuit, and demand entry and taxpayer funding.

But let’s consider the question of religion more carefully. If we say it is improper to consider religion, then that means it is improper for a consular official to even ask about a candidate’s religious beliefs when trying to screen an applicant for entry.

It would mean that even asking questions of a fiancé seeking a visa about his or her views on any religious matter – say on the idea of pluralism vs. religious supremacy – would be improper, because if it is improper to favor or disfavor a religion, it is improper to favor or disfavor any interpretation of a religion. Even if it is a perversion of a religion, it is still a religion to that person.

Are we really prepared to disallow, in the consideration of tens of millions of applications for entry to the United States, any questions about religious views and attitudes?

This amendment would mean, for instance, that the United States could not favor for entry the moderate Muslim cleric over the radical Muslim cleric. We have huge unrest in the Middle East. An argument has been made by some that we should prioritize resettling Muslim immigrants in the region and prioritize the entry of persecuted Christians; this measure would forbid such considerations. Keep in mind, current refugee law requires us to consider persecution on account of an individual’s religion; this would ask us to discard, or undermine, that longstanding practice.

A U.S.-born citizen who subscribes to theocratic Islam has a freedom of speech that allows them to give a sermon denouncing the U.S. Constitution or demanding it be changed. But, under this amendment, a foreign religious leader living overseas could demand a tourist visa to deliver that same sermon, and claim religious discrimination if it is not approved. I think it is a dangerous step.

The next step, of course, if we say religion cannot be considered in any way, is to say we cannot consider history, or geography, or culture.

We need to make a holistic decision about applicants.

We cannot labor under the illusion that these are simple binary decisions. It is not as though every applicant is either clearly tied to terrorists on the one hand, or is absolutely safe on the other. Many people are radicalized after they enter. How do we screen for that possibility, if we cannot even ask about an applicant’s views on religion? Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?

Furthermore, some of the same supporters of this very amendment supported the ‘Lautenberg Amendment’ that gave special preferences for admission under our refugee program to Jews, Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Baha’is, and religious minorities – all to the exclusion of others. The import of this is that hundreds of thousands of individuals have been admitted to the United States based exclusively on their religion.

The rights that have been neglected by this Congress are the rights of the American people. The rhetoric today would have you believe we have been operating under some kind of closed-door immigration policy. The opposite is true. No nation on earth has ever let in more people over a shorter period of time. We have admitted 59 million immigrants since 1965. We have admitted 1.5 million immigrants from Muslim countries since 9/11. We have the largest foreign-born population in our history as a raw number, and soon we will have the largest percentage of non-native-born in the history of the Republic. As a share of population, it will soon eclipse every historical record. Meanwhile, large companies are exploiting programs to replace American workers and undermine their wages. Poor screening has resulted in thousands of crimes against Americans. Our entitlement programs are stretched. Wages have been flat for decades. Every year, we admit another 1 million permanent immigrants, nearly 100,000 refugees and asylees, and 700,000 foreign guest workers.

Though it appears that day will not be today, perhaps we should have a conversation soon about how to help the tens of millions of Americans who are only just barely scraping by.

Obama’s ‘Gun Control Executive Action’ Is Almost Certainly a Big Nothing

by Charles C. W. Cooke

President Obama is still looking into taking executive action on guns, the AP reports:

President Barack Obama’s advisers are finalizing a proposal that would expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval.

White House adviser Valerie Jarrett says the president has asked his team to complete a proposal and submit it for his review “in short order.” She says the recommendations will include measures to expand background checks.

Jarrett spoke Wednesday night at a vigil for the victims of the Newtown shooting, according to a summary provided by the White House.

After the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, Obama said his team was looking for ways to tighten gun laws without a vote in Congress. White House officials have said they’re exploring closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows and online without a background check.

It’s almost certain that Jarrett is referring to the same plan that Obama has been flirting with for a while: To redefine “gun dealer” so that the ATF can go after a handful of people who sell multiple firearms privately. Frankly, that plan is a big nothing. As I explained a month or so ago:

Even if we presume that the plan is both legal and workable — and, given how tightly both USC18§921 and USC18§922 are written, I am as skeptical as the president was a few hours ago — the benefits would be microscopic. Were Obama to change the regulations, the Post confirms, he would ensnare only “those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually” — a tiny fraction of those who sell firearms on the private market. He would not be “closing the gun-show loophole”; he would not be “extending background checks to private sales”; and he would not be elongating the three-day period during which the government is able to search for disqualifying information. Nor, for that matter, would he be banning a single “assault” weapon, limiting even one magazine, or confiscating even a part of a gun. He’d be posturing, and uncomfortably at that.

Moreover, the clock is not in Obama’s favor here. The Administrative Procedure Act requires that the new “rule” be presented for notice and comment before becoming active. That means that, if Obama follows the law, he probably won’t get this done by the time he leaves office. And if he doesn’t follow the law? Well, then he risks being slapped down by a federal court. As for the proposal itself, a serious statutory challenge is all but inevitable.

Unless Obama has something else up his sleeve I wouldn’t worry too much about this. He’s playing to the cameras and to the ignorant.

Shock: Released Gitmo Detainee Spurns Quiet Retirement, Rejoins al-Qaeda

by Ian Tuttle

Via the Long War Journal:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video featuring a former Guantanamo detainee, Ibrahim Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani.

In July 2010, Qosi plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. His plea was part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors during his remaining time in US custody. Qosi was transferred to his home country of Sudan two years later, in July 2012.

Qosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. Qosi and other AQAP commanders discussed their time waging jihad at length in the video, entitled “Guardians of Sharia.”

In February, Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary at the Department of Defense, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that 17.3 percent of all released Gitmo detainees are known to have rejoined the fight against the U.S., and another 12.4 percent are suspected of doing so — 184 detainees in all. At that time, only 48 had been killed or recaptured.

So glad the president’s campaign to empty Guantanamo Bay is proceeding apace!

Meanwhile, other terror-related news — from Minnesota:

Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan was charged Wednesday by criminal complaint with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Court documents allege Warsame tried to help other young men from Minnesota’s Somali community travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. Nine others in that group have already been charged, authorities say.

(That’s not exactly a surprise. To date, more than 60 young Somali men and women have left Minnesota to join al-Shabaab, the Islamic State, and other Islamic terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Africa. It’s a serious problem that neither local leaders nor government officials have any idea how to solve.)

And Down Under:

CANBERRA, Australia—Police have charged five people including a teenage boy over plans to carry out a terror attack in Sydney, linking counterterrorism raids on Thursday to an earlier operation last December.

Australia’s Federal Police and its state counterparts said they had arrested a 15-year-old youth and a 20-year-old man, while three men already in prison on terrorism offenses were charged over involvement in the plan.

According to authorities, the 15-year-old arrested in the raid had connections to an Iranian-born 15-year-old killed by police moments after he gunned down a civilian police accountant outside Sydney in October.

WaPo Acknowledges That Present Gun-Control Proposals Wouldn’t Have Stopped ‘Major Shootings’

by Charles C. W. Cooke

The Washington Post’s fact checker looks at gun control:

“None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). interview on CBS’s “This Morning,” Dec. 4, 2015

A colleague pointed out this statement by Marco Rubio as a possible fact check, suggesting that it was almost certainly incorrect. It posed an interesting challenge, given the reams of data to examine.

And was it “almost certainly incorrect,” as was reflexively assumed?

Nope. After going through the evidence at length the Post’s verdict was that:

Rubio’s statement stands up to scrutiny — at least for the recent past, as he framed it. Notably, three of the mass shootings took place in California, which already has strong gun laws including a ban on certain weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun-control advocates often point to the experience in other countries that have enacted gun laws that heavily restrict gun ownership; as we have shown, quantitative measures of cross-comparative crime statistics, especially where the crime is not consistently defined (i.e., “mass shooting”), usually end up being apples-to-oranges comparisons. It is possible that some gun-control proposals, such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of dead in a future shooting, though the evidence for that is heavily disputed. But Rubio was speaking in the past, about specific incidents. He earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

Rationing ‘Marginally Beneficial Care’

by Wesley J. Smith

Above the screaming about Trump and beneath Hillary’s Benghazi lies, hidden from public view, medical technocrats are busy planning medical-resource redistribution and technocratic health-care rationing.

The future they plan is visible in an AMA Journal of Ethics article. (If you want to see what will be going wrong in the near future, I always say read the professional journals.)

The article discusses whether a doctor should refuse a hypothetical patient’s request for a mammogram — depicted as “marginally beneficial care” — because she is younger than the practice guidelines say should receive baseline tests.

The authors conclude that such refusals should not be the responsibility of the doctor, but made from on high by public policy makers. From “Grow a Spine, Have a Heart” (my emphasis):

The lack of consistency and accountability in US insurance policy, and the lack of reliable and fair redistribution of resources on a societal level, ought not to be compensated for by individual physicians’ actions to limit care at the bedside.

We believe instead that, collectively, physicians have a social responsibility to share their knowledge and experience at the policy level for the benefit of society at large and move our society toward fair and equitable systems.

This is best achieved through a fair process in open democratic deliberations.

At the bedside, the physician should be focused on the individual patient’s welfare and be willing to say “no” based on her best interests alone. The art of medicine lies in balancing respect for patient autonomy against beneficence and nonmaleficence.

I bring this to the attention of readers not because I disagree with the conclusion the writers reach in their hypothetical case, but because it clearly shows the Obamacarians’ overarching policy agendas:

1. Redistribution of health care resources. The medical technocrats believe that some of us receive too much care and others not enough. The answer is to take from the haves.

2. Health-care rationing. Equality of outcomes requires coercion.

3. “Society” should say no. The authors don’t believe the woman seeking the mammogram should necessarily receive it. They just don’t think the doctor should be the one saying no. The approach they would favor would be for policy makers should create guidelines that allow or refuse service.

4. Mandatory cost/benefit centralized-rationing guidelines: This is the purpose of the not-yet-in-effect Obamacare best practice rules — to allow refusals of care that could benefit individual patients — but which in the aggregate may not benefit macro patient populations.

In such a system some patients will have, say cancer, undiagnosed, toward the end that the overall system saves money on tests and that patients not undergo the expense and rigor caused by “false positives.”

Such a system also benefits special interest groups with political clout. Thus in the UK, 42 year-old women are entitled to expensive IVF services without charge if they can’t get pregnant — not a disease, but a natural age-related phenomenon — while some terminal cancer patients are denied life-extending treatment.

5. Democratic deliberations schmemocratic deliberations: The gesture to democratic deliberations is a false flag operation.

Cost-benefit rationing will be imposed through the bureaucracy, relying on technocratic “best practice” studies. Special interest lobbying can influence the bureaucratic process, but the people generally are pretty powerless in that system.

As we speak, efforts are underway to allow doctors and bioethics committees to refuse wanted and efficacious life-extending treatment based on the patient’s quality of life, known as “medical futility.”

But cutting off the ICU will not save sufficient resources to achieve the redistribution desired. That will require limiting what is known in bioethics as “marginally beneficial care.” That restricting agenda is already on the drawing board.

So Many Unresolved Variables in the 2016 GOP Equation

by Jim Geraghty

Over at RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende chews over the polls and the outlook and concludes that Donald Trump is the most likely to win the nomination – but only gives him a 20 percent chance. He gives Marco Rubio a 16 percent chance, Ted Cruz a 15 percent chance, Christie 10 percent, and everyone else collectively makes up less than 15 percent. Here’s the scenario Trende deems slightly more likely than any individual candidate:

No One (25 percent): My most likely scenario is still that no one wins a sufficient number of delegates to claim the nomination. As Nate Silver lays it out, this comes in three different “flavors”: (1) No one wins, but someone is close enough that the writing is on the wall; (2) no one wins, but things get sorted out at the convention; (3) no one wins, and it is fought out on the convention floor. I agree with Silver that these are presented in decreasing order of likelihood, and actually put the overall percentages lower than he did (and lower than I did last winter).

One big question is whether the field thins and how quickly. By February 10, at least six and perhaps as many as ten candidates should be out of the race. Start with the no-hopers Gilmore, Graham and Pataki. If post caucus-winners Santorum or Huckabee don’t perform well in Iowa, what’s the point of them sticking around? (Currently, Huckabee is at 2 percent in the RCP average, Santorum at 1.7 percent.) If candidates who focused heavily on New Hampshire like John Kasich and Chris Christie can’t break into double digits, why should they continue? (Right now Kasich is at 8 percent in the RCP average in the Granite State, and Christie is at 7 percent.) If Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina or Rand Paul get wiped out in those early states, where do they make their stand? At what point do those candidates acknowledge that it just isn’t happening for them?

In other words, how quickly does the race come down to a quartet like Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and Carson? (Note Carson’s lost half his support in Iowa since Halloween and lost almost half his support in New Hampshire.)

By the time South Carolina votes on February 20, the choice could be down to four real candidates, or perhaps as few as three. (The only poll of South Carolina in December has Trump at 35 percent, Carson at 15, Cruz and Rubio at 14 each.)

Yes, there’s some question as to what percentage of the people telling pollsters they support Trump will turn up to vote in primaries and caucuses. Some polling indicates that a significant portion of his voters were previously unengaged with politics. But if you’re one of Trump’s rivals, it’s enormously risky to bet that his supporters won’t show up; they certainly appear willing to show up to hear him speak at his campaign events.

If by March 1, Super Tuesday, it’s a three-man race between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz, this is a dramatically different ballgame. Trump’s been the dominant frontrunner nationally while polling in the high 20s and sometimes popping up to the mid-30s. Is he acceptable to that remaining 65-70some percent, or are they deeply opposed? Do they unite around Rubio or Cruz, or do they remain evenly split? If it remains an evenly-matched three-way race well into the primary, will there be calls for an entirely-Cuban-American unity ticket? That lead to one of Trende’s convention scenarios . . . but for now, there’s still a lot of road ahead.

How Trump Can Become Person of the Year

by Rich Lowry

Trump missed out on Time’​s Person of the Year, but Stephen Miller has some ideas on how he can secure the recognition in the future.

  • Become Pope:

  • Become the front-man for U2:

  • Buy Time magazine:

Feel the Fading Bern

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt . . . 

Feel the Fading Bern

Briefly Wednesday night, the political world gasped at a surprising poll result, suggesting Bernie Sanders isn’t an afterthought…

The latest CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire’s likely Democratic primary voters tells a different story than that of national and Iowa polling, where Clinton holds double-digit leads.

The poll finds 50% of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire back Sanders, 40% Clinton, 1% former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

This New Hampshire poll does show a narrower margin for Sanders, however, with the Democratic field trimmed to just three candidates. Clinton has gained 10 points since September, when Vice President Joe Biden took 14% of the vote in the last CNN/WMUR Poll. Over that same time, Sanders has gained 4 points.

Don’t start cranking up L’Internationale quite yet. In Iowa, Hillary’s up by 14 in the RCP average. Maybe because of the quirks of the low turnout in a caucus, that could tighten up, but since late October, Hillary’s numbers have jumped from the 40s to the mid-to-high 50s and stayed there.  Sanders was tied there in early September, now he’s lost ground. There’s always room for late polling changes, but the history for outspoken, anti-war, hard-left Vermont Democrats in Iowa isn’t good. Howard Dean led the polls in Iowa until the final week and then he collapsed to third place. And that was before the “YEARRRGH!” scream.

Then it’s on to New Hampshire. Sure, maybe Sanders can win there; he’s helped by the geographical closeness. But that will also cause some people to dismiss a Sanders victory as virtual home-state advantage. Then it’s on to South Carolina, where Hillary leads by roughly#..#50 points.

Nationally, Hillary leads Sanders by about 25 points. She hasn’t been below 50 percent in any poll among Democrats since mid-October. Sanders has indicated repeatedly that he won’t criticize her about her personal e-mail server, and he’s indicated several times in recent days he doesn’t want to talk about ISIS much because it’s a distraction from his domestic agenda.

Bernie Sanders isn’t running to become president. He’s running to become George McGovern — the icon that inspires a generation of activists after him. He’s not interested in the war on terror, national security, or foreign policy in general. He’s interested in that darn one percent and assuring people that the reason they don’t have enough money is because the ‘millyunahs and billyunahs,’ as he calls them, are somehow taking it from them. 

Krauthammer’s Take: Trump’s Ego Will Talk Him out of Running Third-Party

by NR Staff

Charles Krauthammer predicted tonight that Donald Trump’s threats of mounting a third-party bid are just a bluff. Commenting on the 2016 front-runner once again saying he might abandon his pledge to run as a Republican, Krauthammer said that in Trump’s eyes, the pledge “isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

Appearing on Wednesday’s Special Report on Fox News, Krauthammer explained why he doesn’t think Trump will end up running as anything other than a Republican: 

I suspect that his ego will not — that would restrain him from running as a third party, assuming he doesn’t win the nomination. Because it’s going to be a lot harder than he thinks. And there will be a bar, sort of an invisible bar. And I think that’s going to be the Ross Perot number of 19 percent. I don’t think he would come anywhere near that in a general election. And that will be his mark on history and I don’t think he likes to be seen as a loser. The Republican nomination is his shot and I think that’s what he wants to go for.

Robert Dear Claims He Committed Murder ‘For the Babies’

by David French


Robert Lewis Dear, accused of killing three people last month at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, made a series of outbursts at a hearing Wednesday, saying, “I am a warrior for the babies.”

On a day on which prosecutors filed 179 felony charges against him, Dear, wearing an aqua jumpsuit and leg irons, made his thoughts known — through nearly 20 outbursts during the proceeding.

“You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic,” Dear said. “Atrocities, that’s what they want to seal.” He also said, “I am guilty. There is no trial,” and “Protect the babies.”

At one point, a bailiff placed a hand on Dear’s shoulder in an apparent attempt to quiet him.

Rather than further publicizing the words of Robert Dear, I prefer the words of the Southern Baptist Convention’s powerful Nashville Declaration, proclaiming the pro-life movement’s repudiation of violence to protect the lives of the unborn:

The Bible establishes a profound presumption in favor of preserving life rather than ending it. God wills that human beings should make peace with each other, should be reconciled, and should treat every life with the respect its divine origin and ownership demands.

As I said in a piece days after the shooting, There is no coherent moral argument for pro-life violence. That’s precisely why it is so rare, and that’s precisely why it will remain rare until America has a moral awakening, reverses Roe, and protects all human life — from conception until natural death.

Waiting for a Commander-in-Chief

by Jim Talent

After President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office, it’s evident that his administration is not going to take significant additional steps to deal with ISIS during the next twelve months. That’s disappointing, especially since there are prominent figures on the left in other countries who do recognize the threat posed by ISIS. As an example, watch this stirring speech given by Hillary Benn, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons last week. (The last few minutes are especially powerful.)

That makes it even more important that the next president must come into office prepared to defeat ISIS. A good plan will require doing a number of things in a number of places at the same time, and probably for a long time. Here’s a list:

Strategy: In the Levant, it is first necessary to set a political objective that will make it possible to assemble a coalition that can defeat ISIS. The cooperation of the Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria is essential to victory, and they will not sign up if they believe that the result of an ISIS defeat will be a region dominated by Iran, radical Shia militia, and Bashar Assad. One of the strengths of ISIS, despicable as they are to most Muslims, is that to the Sunni Muslims in the Levant they are the lesser of two evils. So America’s goal must be not just to defeat ISIS but to emerge with a political arrangement in the region that is acceptable to the Sunni tribes as well as those Sunni regional powers (Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States) which – before the Obama administration — were America’s best allies in the region.

Needless to say, the details of such an arrangement will be immensely difficult to work out and implement — much more difficult than was  the case only a few years ago. That’s because decisions have consequences; bad decisions over time tend to narrow options; and the Obama Administration has made a lot of bad decisions in Iraq and Syria. But details aside, it is vital that the United States convince the region, through consistent action in support of consistent policy, that it is committed to a political solution that accommodates the basic security concerns of the Sunni tribes and powers.

That is one reason why the administration’s attempted rapprochement with Iran is so damaging. As everyone outside of the White House knew, it has not and will not restrain Iranian aggression, but it has undermined America’s credibility with the Sunni actors whose cooperation is necessary to defeat radical Islam in all its forms.

Combat Support: A much more vigorous air campaign and ground-combat support effort in Iraq and Syria is essential to both the military and political objectives. Apart from the damage that can be inflicted directly on ISIS through such efforts, the world must be convinced that the United States is fully engaged in the fight, and the best way to do that is by actually fighting them at the center of their Caliphate.

“Combat support” means assistance with targeting, logistics and intelligence, advisers embedded with friendly forces at company level, and support with special operations. Even robust combat support may not turn the tide if allied ground forces are inadequate, but the current anemic American effort is not going to cut it.

The Administration’s policy in this regard is a mystery to me. I understand and agree with not wanting American troops to bear the brunt of ground combat in Syria. But why commit American personnel to an air campaign and combat support mission — thus accepting the risks associated with such a mission — but then restrict them to a minimal effort that signals weakness and virtually guarantees failure? 

Keep reading this post . . .

Politicians Aren’t Causing Anti-Muslim Hostility — Jihadists Are

by David French

Early this morning I was reading the “Daily 202″ — a daily news rundown and analysis from the Washington Post — and I ran across this paragraph:

HATEFUL WORDS HAVE REAL-LIFE CONSEQUENCES: There here have been two dozen attacks documented against Muslims in the U.S. since the Paris attacks, including a pig’s head being thrown at a mosque, according to USA Today. Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, one of two Muslims in Congress, announced that he received a death threat. He blames politicians for “fanning the flames of bigotry.”

There is no excuse for death threats or tossing a pig’s head at a mosque, but is it really the case that people are lashing out because of “hateful words” or because they might be upset at the deaths of 120 innocent people in Paris or 14 innocent people in San Bernardino? I would say that hateful acts have far more real-life consequences than hateful words. Indeed, there is no politician’s statement that is more inflammatory than actual murder and actual terrorism — especially when murder and terror occur on a large scale.

As I’ve said before, since 9/11 Americans have suffered more than 60,000 casualties in our war against jihadists, with thousands more suffering from lingering psychological wounds from grief, loss, and difficult deployments. We’ve watched as radical Muslims burn people alive, throw them off buildings, and chop off heads. In some parts of the Muslim world, mobs of Muslims will sometimes hunt down and kill Christians in the most vicious and gruesome of ways. We’ve seen ISIS attempt genocide, Boko Haram enslave girls, and al Qaeda kill journalists at their desks in Paris. Yet Americans have responded with remarkable grace, and anti-Muslim hate crimes are rare indeed.

Yes, it’s true that many Americans dislike Islam. It’s true that many Americans want to either ban Muslim immigration or dramatically restrict entry into the United States (I’m in Andy McCarthy’s camp on the issue). But don’t blame political rhetoric for this hostility. Blame actions — actions taken in the name of Islam. 

Rob Johnson, Former Perry Staffer, Joins Fiorina Campaign

by Alexis Levinson

Rob Johnson, a former consultant to Rick Perry, is joining the Carly Fiorina campaign as a senior advisor. 

“I think Carly has a blueprint to take back our country and address serious challenges facing our nation. She’s a credible outsider with the experience to be president,” Johnson tells National Review, calling her “exciting” and “tough as nails.”

Johnson was a senior consultant for Perry’s presidential campaign until the former Texas governor dropped out earlier this year. In 2012, he was national campaign manager for Newt Gingrich before leaving to join Perry’s first presidential bid. He also worked on Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial-primary campaign against then-Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.