Thursday, October 31, 2019

Killing Hong Kong

While we certainly sympathize with the Hong Kong protesters, we are obliged to note the facts on the ground. Whatever the goal of those who are demonstrating for freedom, as of now, their most glaring achievement has been to wreck the local economy. 

Under the circumstances Beijing does not need to intervene very forcefully. The protesters are effectively hurting themselves, their livelihoods and the future of Hong Kong.

Zero Hedge has the story:

Hong Kong has finally entered a recession after more than half a year of violent anti-government protests, the city's Financial Secretary wrote in a blog post over the weekend, reported Reuters.

"The blow to our economy is comprehensive," Paul Chan wrote, adding that upcoming economic data later this week will trigger a technical recession.

"The government will be announcing its advance estimates for the third quarter on Thursday. After seeing negative growth in the second quarter, the situation continued in the third quarter, meaning our economy has entered technical recession," Chan wrote.

"It seems it will be extremely difficult for us to reach full-year economic growth of 0 to 1%. I would not rule out the possibility that the full-year economic growth will be negative."

How did it happen?

Protesters have frequently shut down popular shopping districts, something that we outlined last week, warning that the retail industry in Hong Kong is on the brink of collapse.

Tourism plunged 37% Y/Y in 3Q19, and the trend for 4Q19 is likely not to improve. The number of tourists for the first two weeks of October was down 50% on a Y/Y basis. 

Rooms at the most high-end hotels, like Marco Polo Hongkong in Tsim Sha Tsui, are going for $72 per night, a 75% discount versus last year. 

Anyone who wants to travel to Hong Kong this week, departing from New York City airports, can easily get roundtrip plane tickets for 50% off because air travel to Hong Kong remains depressed. 

Local businesses are cutting back on their workforce as approximately 77% of all hotel workers have just been asked to go on leave without pay. 

As I said, we all sympathize with the protesters. But, as of now, theirs seems to be a lost cause.

America's Empty Headed Philosopher Kings

If the nation were not riveted to President Trump, and if President Trump did not have to spend half his time dodging and deflecting incoming verbal attack missiles, we might have been paying attention to our philosopher kings, our intellectual and political elites, people who have been running the country... into the ground. By their lights Trump can do no right. By logical extension, they can do no wrong.

Victor Davis Hanson calls them our nomenklatura. (via Maggie’s Farm) They are a guardian class of philosopher kings who have taken control of the government and who will brook no dissent. You might think that they are running on fumes, but it would be more accurate, Hanson suggests, that they are running on credentials.

In that he is echoing a thought often expressed by David Foster of the Chicago Boyz blog, namely that America’s ruling class is defined by credentials, not by achievement or merit. Besides, in a world where diversity has overtaken merit, these credentials are no longer signs of real worth.

Hanson trots out the usual suspects and exposes a gang that cannot think straight. For all of the vitriol routinely tossed at Donald Trump, Americans intellectual leaders has failed to notice that their heroes have feet of clay.

You recall, Hanson reminds us, that serious psychiatrists have accused Trump of being mentally ill. And yet, how often does Joe Biden resemble a man who is suffering some level of dementia. One might even say the same about the hapless and helpless Robert Mueller, a man whose Congressional testimony showed that he was not in charge of much of anything.

As for Biden, Hanson remarks what we all know:

At times, former Vice President Joe Biden is unaware of which town, indeed which state, he is in. He slurs his words often. Biden strings together unconnected thoughts that result in utter incoherence—not alleviated by his near shouting emphatics or fits of pique at reporters.

Sometimes, Biden forgets names, and referents, and appears befuddled generally. His biography is mythical. He cannot address Ukraine and the role of his son, Hunter Biden, because, after all, what would a truthful person say? That the vice president of the United States allowed his wastrel son to become a multimillionaire by leveraging his father’s office with foreign corrupt governments? 

And yet, media enablers continue to claim that Biden merely makes gaffes. If Trump had done as much, they would have been crying out for involuntary commitment... even though they oppose involuntary commitment.

As for Hillary Clinton, she refuses to accept that she lost an election and has descended to trafficking conspiracy theories… the kind that would normally label you paranoid. Of course, she and her minions have been accusing Trump of having done what she and her minions were actually doing. When it comes to corruption, to emoluments, no one beats the Clintons:

And all this from Hillary Clinton, who inaugurated the 2009 disastrous Russian appeasement scheme known as “reset” by pushing a red plastic Jacuzzi button in Geneva, and who was instrumental in green-lighting North American uranium sales to Russian interests, which interests through third parties had donated to her foundation and indirectly paid Russians to interfere in the 2016 election to destroy her opponent?

And the sainted Mitt Romney, a man whose good moral character does not include loyalty, refused to take the gloves off when running against Barack Obama. Now he has made himself a Republican scold, a party of one.

But after the implosion of the once impressive 2016 Republican primary field, Romney assumed the mantle of senior establishment Trump foe. If he played by the Marquess of Queensberry Rules with Barack Obama, he certainly did not with Donald Trump, blasting him frequently as a fraud, con, dishonest, a bully, and greedy—clueless that instead Trump served as some sort of sharp planer that ripped off the thin, shiny mahogany veneer pasted over our particle-board establishment.

And, let’s not forget:

Romney seems to have entered Hillary/Biden fantasyland by admitting to being a “lurker” on social media—one who adopts an anonymous and secret Twitter account (in Romney’s case under the nom de guerre “Pierre Delecto”), to channel and encourage nice stories about himself, and to attack vicariously those who do not share his views or self-admiration.

And, we can examine the records of former Obama administration officials James Clapper and John Brennan. Somehow or other the great minds of the media have not figured out that these holier-than-thou warriors are really trying to stay out of jail.

As it happens, no one much cares about holding them to account:

Before Trump, both John Brennan and James Clapper, respectively CIA director and director of national intelligence, lied under oath to Congress—and paid nothing for doing so. Or rather their past prevarications became good CV items for the new fake news industry. From them, we respectively once learned that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was largely secular and that jihad was a mostly a non-violent expression of personal growth and discovery. In their world, drones never hit bystanders, the intelligence agencies never spy on Americans, and the two of them never lied under oath. Both leveraged their past service and security clearances into lucrative cable TV analyst contracts—and often editorialized about ongoing investigations in which they were either knee-deep or of which they later became targets.

How did we go wrong? Hanson offers this explanation:

We have confused credentials with merit—as we learned when Hollywood stars and rich people tried to bribe and buy their mostly lackadaisical children into named schools, eager for the cattle brand BAs and without a care whether their offspring would be well educated. 

Graduating from today’s Yale or Harvard law school is not necessarily a sign of achievement, much less legal expertise. Mostly, entrance into heralded schools is a reminder of past good prep school grades and test scores winning admittance—or using some sort of old-boy, networking, athletic, or affirmative action pull.

Being a “senior” official at some alphabet government agency also means little any more outside of the nomenklatura. Academia, the media, and entertainment industries are likewise supposedly meritocratic without being based on demonstrable worth. Otherwise, why would college graduates know so little, the media so often report fantasies as truth, and Hollywood focus on poor remakes? Take all the signature brand names that the Baby Boomers inherited from prior generations—Harvard, Yale, the New York Times, NPR, CNN, the Oscars, the NFL, the NBA, the FBI, the CIA, the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, and a host of others. And then ask whether they enhanced or diminished such inheritances?

A country over $22 trillion in debt, with an open border, an existential conflict with China, and a West in cultural and demographic decline, for two years was told falsely that Donald Trump supposedly knew of a meeting in advance at Trump Tower, that James Comey would supposedly testify that he never told Trump he was not under investigation, and that Trump would soon be indicted, resign, or impeached. The amount of elite energy spent replaying the embarrassing progressive 2016 loss and trying to abort the Trump presidency before the 2020 election, remember, was the product of our best and brightest, the top echelon of our law enforcement and intelligence communities, and our most esteemed political and media elite.

They are defending their turf, their territories, their reputations and their livelihood. The one thing that they can never accept is that the curtain will be drawn back, revealing them to be impostors. They will never forgive Donald Trump for refusing to pay them proper obeisance.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Female Sexual Predator

As the current #MeToo narrative unfolds, you will have noticed that it is a morality play. Men are the essence of evil while women are essentially good. Men are at fault and women are blameless. If you think otherwise you are a bigot and a sexist. And you are condoning rape.

While those of us who are non-women believe that women embody all forms of moral virtue, the truth might be slightly more nuanced. A recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that women are manipulative and even coercive when dealing with men. And perhaps not just with men, I know you will find this shocking, but research is research.

Eric Dolan summarizes the study on Psypost:

The researchers anonymously surveyed 142 women (aged 16–53 years) regarding sexual coercion, pornography use, and personality disorder traits.

About 35% of the women admitted to engaging in nonverbal forms of sexual coercion, including persistent kissing and touching, or taking off their own or their target’s clothes despite them refusing sex. Nearly 16% of women also admitted to emotional manipulation and deception, such as repeatedly asking, using lies, questioning the target’s sexuality, or threatening to break up.

As I was pondering this great revelation, I ran across the latest Ethicist column by Kwame Anthony Appiah in the New York Times. It does not bear comparison to some of the columns I report on here, because Appiah, being a philosopher, is so much more thoughtful than most of the other advice columnists. His analysis is impressively cogent and correct. He has apparently remained untouched by today’s ambient psychobabble. To his great credit.

Anyway, Appiah prints a long, detailed letter about a woman predator preying on another woman. The predator's will to destroy the victim is palpable and frightening. The victim, a married mother was induced to walk out on her marriage. Now, she has broken all connections with her predator and has managed to remarry the man she divorced. Ostensibly, she wants to know whether or not to tell her adult children about why their parents got divorced:

I am a middle-aged woman. Several decades ago I had an affair with a woman I met in a writing class at a prestigious university’s continuing-education program. I was at a very fragile and vulnerable point in my life. My husband and I and our young children had recently moved to a new town where I knew no one. My children were both in school — I’d quit my job to raise a family — and I was lost, insecure, unhappy in my marriage and deeply depressed. (I was later put on antidepressants, which I continue to take to this day.) Not only did this woman think I was special and build my ego up as no one had ever done, but she also thought my writing was amazing. She had impressive credentials (she was published; she was enrolled as a graduate student in another program at the university and so on) so her support and encouragement made me feel as though I could accomplish anything.

The affair, however, was tumultuous and abusive — she had a Svengali-like hold over me. I can remember spending hours of my time, to all hours of the night, on the phone or instant messaging with her because she insisted she needed me and that if I hung up on her, she wasn’t sure what she would do to herself. She made up illnesses. She kept talking about suicide. She told me her fiancĂ© had recently died. She insisted many other women were interested in her and she would move on if I couldn’t commit to her. She infiltrated my family life: buying expensive gifts for my children, dropping in on special events and much more. She also wheedled her way into my sibling’s good graces and began turning my sibling against my husband. She pushed me to seek a divorce; she told me my husband wasn’t good enough for me, that I deserved someone who would encourage my writing, encourage my independence and encourage me to be me. And I fell for it completely.

My husband and I began divorce proceedings. He kept trying to tell me that she was controlling me, that I needed to “wake up” and see what she was doing to me, to him and to our children. I admit I had some doubts, but with the divorce proceedings snowballing, I felt I had to continue on the course I had set. She insisted I sue for sole custody, which meant there was no chance my husband and I could settle our divorce agreement out of court.

During the trial, my husband’s lawyer called her a sociopath. I had no idea what that really meant but soon learned that she was a serial predator and had been lying about virtually everything she had told me about herself. I was humiliated in court. My instant messages and my writings were blown up and printed on large whiteboards. I heard testimony from various people refuting all her claims about herself. One of the deans from the university testified that she had been recently reprimanded for stalking someone. Her claims about the advanced degree she was studying for and the dead fiancĂ© were also false.

I collapsed (physically and emotionally) and accepted a shared-custody deal that stipulated that our children would never have contact with her.

I saw her only a couple of times after the trial. The first time, my sibling stayed close by. (In court, my sibling realized that this woman had bamboozled all of us.) I called her out on her lies. She apologized profusely and told me she was manic-depressive and would be honest from then on. I told her that I didn’t care, didn’t believe her and that I never wanted to see her again. She tried to restart our relationship with more empty promises, but I refused. She eventually left me alone.

I slowly began to rebuild my life. I went back to work, started therapy, began the hard work of repairing the relationships I’d trashed and embarked on some deep soul-searching.

Fast-forward a number of years: After many years of self-reflection and therapy, my husband and I got back together and ultimately remarried. Our relationship is different from before — more grown up and respectful, and I cherish what we have. I went back to work full time, gained the self-confidence that I had been lacking and just plain grew up. I feel as though the experience happened to someone else in a very distant past. I still blame myself for what I allowed to happen to my life but now look back with a much better understanding of how depressed and vulnerable I was, and I’m able to cut myself some slack.

My children are now wonderful, well-adjusted, successful adults. I have one nagging reminder of that dark period, however. We never told the children exactly why we divorced. Because they were so young, we were counseled to keep it as generic as possible, and we did. Should my husband and I come clean to the children?

I used to write all the time, but since the trial, I haven’t written anything. Just lately, though, I have had the itch to begin writing again, and I enrolled in a weeklong, memoir-writing workshop.

I am cautiously looking forward to exploring this dark period of my life. Who knows if I’ll be published, and I’m not sure I care. I want to write my story and get it down on paper, for myself. Maybe I will finally be able to put some demons to bed.
But I also feel as if there is something so real about doing that, so wouldn’t it be better for me to tell my children? I worry that they will find out about the affair someday. Yet, I am terrified of the effects of telling them. I love my relationships with them. I am so worried that I’ll ruin these precious relationships and everything will change.

Name Withheld

Appiah correctly notes that the children are, by now, old enough to hear the truth. But that she must discuss the matter with her husband before exposing the family dirty linen. He also notes that the chances are good that they know the story already and do not want to hear more about it.

At the least, Appiah notes, she should question her intentions:

But you might be driven by other considerations, and if you decide to go forward, you should first get clear in your mind why you’re doing this. Is it to pre-empt their finding out some other way from a source less interested than you are in framing the story to your advantage? Is it because you want to write about the episode and realize that they may well end up seeing what you write? Is it simply because you think they’re entitled to know why their childhood was disrupted? Each of these motives suggests a different focus for your conversation with them. And honesty with yourself about what you’re doing will be a good preparation for honesty with them.

Bear in mind too that honesty with yourself involves an acknowledgment of your own agency here; this episode wasn’t simply something that was done to you. This isn’t a matter of blame. It’s a matter of coming to terms with decisions you made, the role you played in a turn of events that you now deeply regret. The story of your life can’t be written in the passive voice.

Be prepared to learn that your children may not want to hear all or, indeed, any of the details. You might just offer to tell them about what happened and fill in the details as they ask you about them. You should also be prepared to learn they know more than you and your husband realize. Your divorce involved a trial, and so some of the proceedings may have been public; there were a variety of people involved whom your children could have contacted, if they were curious.

All these points are very well taken. 

Surely, if the children wanted to know the details they could have found out. In truth, they probably know already what happened. I suspect, with Appiah, that they do not want to know anything else. So, it is good to respect their feelings and not to imagine that exposing her moral dereliction will be cathartic.

Appiah is also correct to read between the lines and discover that the woman might be thinking about writing it all up as a magazine story or even a book. Her lengthy account suggests as much.  If she is looking to write a memoir, it would necessarily contain the story of how she was seduced by a sexual predator and induced to throw away her marriage and damage her children.

For my part I would recommend that she try her writing talent on another story. Sometimes it’s best to let the past remain past.

California Burning

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blames it on climate change. For someone of such limited grasp of the facts, everything is climate change. As noted here and elsewhere California’s current fires seem to have been produced by bad government policy. Especially, by bad environmentalist policy. After all, California is deep blue. There aren’t any more Republicans left to blame. Thus, blame it on the climate.

Naturally, we want to know how this could have happened, how California could be overrun with fire and be lacking in electricity. Richard Lowry has a cogent take on the problems:

The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?

Call Greta Thunberg. She’ll know what to do.

Of course, the environmentally woke citizens of California do not want forests to be cleared and to be managed. 

Meanwhile, California has had a decades long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

In 2016, then-Governor Jerry Brown actually vetoed a bill that unanimously passed the state legislature to promote the clearing of trees dangerously close to power lines. Brown’s team says this legislation was no big deal, but one progressive watchdog called the bill “neither insignificant or small.”

Holman Jenkins makes a similar point in the Wall Street Journal this morning:

The wildfire crisis is ultimately the product of a state politics controlled by interest groups whose agenda has drifted out of any cognizable relationship with the daily well-being of the state’s average citizen.

Because California accounts for less than 1% of global emissions, nothing it does will make a difference to climate, but its ratepayers shell out billions for wind and solar that might be better spent on fireproofing. A generation of ill-judged environmental activism has all but ended forest management in favor of letting dead trees and underbrush build up because it’s more “natural.” At the same time, residents resist any natural or planned fires that would consume this tinder before it gives rise to conflagrations like those now menacing Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Surely, the issue is complex. But, just as surely, the environmental activists in California have a great deal to answer for. Here’s betting that they shift the blame… to the NRA. 

After all, what could be more responsible for raging fires than… firearms. 

Will High Tech Leave California?

From the satirical website, The Babylon Bee:

New billboards have been popping up in California with the slogan “Move to Texas: We have electricity!” Many see this as a play to lure jobs away from California, as many jobs rely on electricity, especially in the modern economy. This could especially be attractive to jobs in the tech sector. 

Roy Rivera, a tech analyst with decades of experience in cutting edge technology, explained that “a lot of tech uses electricity.” He then pointed to a chart showing that tech businesses can be at least 300% more effective when they have power.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Bankers Fleeing New York

I suspect that this is mostly of interest to the few remaining holdouts. That is to the few New Yorkers who have not yet moved away from Comrade de Blasio’s failing city.

At the least, it’s an important sign of the times. New York City had been a financial hub. Roughly as Hong Kong was for China and East Asia. Wall Street had kept the city afloat, had flooded the city with money, supporting the legal profession, shops, restaurants, private schools, what have you. Today, as the city is losing its banking business, it is trying to attract more and more high tech firms, though the Queens Amazon debacle was certainly not a good sign.

So, what happens to New York City when financial service moves out of town? We have already noticed the billionaire Carl Icahn’s move out of New York to Miami will deplete the city’s tax revenue. Since 1% of the people pay 40% of New York’s taxes, when financial services move out the city will surely suffer.

The same issue dogs the protests in Hong Kong. Among the issues in that city is whether China needs Hong Kong more than Hong Kong needs China. After all, the city is a financial hub. But, what would happen if Chinese leaders decide to shift business to Shanghai or Shenzhen. It’s well and good to protest for freedom, but what if the money starts leaving town?

So, JPMorgan Chase, one of the world’s biggest banks is moving more and more people out of New York. The story suggests that the bank is preparing for the next economic downturn, but surely, the fact that quality of life and cost of living are better in other parts of the country has also been a determining factor. Perhaps the principle determining factor.

Zero Hedge reports:

A new report via Bloomberg details how JPMorgan Chase & Co. is preparing for the next economic downturn by weighing the option to relocate its Manhattan headquarters to lower-cost financial hubs such as ones in Plano, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Wilmington, Delaware.

JPM spokesman Joe Evangelisti told Bloomberg the bank's new headquarters (likely to be in Texas), will house twice the number of employees than its Manhattan office.

Sources told Bloomberg that hundreds of credit-risk employees have already transferred to Texas. Other sources have said Manhattan will no longer be the location for the bank's compliance.

Think about it, the company headquarters in Plano, Texas will be bigger than the headquarters in New York.

While JPM CEO Jamie Dimon told investors the bank would build a new headquarters at 270 Park Ave, in Midtown Manhattan, it has also quietly constructed a new building that can house 4,000 employees in the Dallas suburb of Plano. Already, JPM has 25,000 employees in Texas, and if the next recession strikes, it seems that the bank has a clear choice to move operations to a low-cost hub to weather the financial storm

JPMorgan Chase is not alone. Its actions are part of an exodus:

Bloomberg noted that other large financial institutions had been exiting NYC for lower-cost commercial hubs across the country.

Deutsche Bank expanded operations in Jacksonville, Florida; Goldman Sachs has built officers in Salt Lake City; and AllianceBernstein Holding LP announced plans to move its headquarters to Nashville, Tennessee.

Keeping employees happy means allowing them a good quality of life. High taxes and astronomically high rents and real estate prices have made it nearly impossible for any but the wealthiest to live comfortably in New York. And the city keeps imposing regulations that make it more difficult to do business:

The cost to run a company in NYC has skyrocketed in the last decade. Also, regulations and taxes in the city are some of the highest in the country.

In total, the bank has 37,000 employees across NYC, at least half are bank branch workers, a source told Bloomberg. Once construction at 270 Park Ave is completed, expected in 2023, JPM could consolidate employees across the entire metro area.

As for the next big trend in business, Wall Street banks are already making their exit plans out of NYC to lower-cost financial hubs across the country.

Most of those who are remaining are working at the network of branches that dot the city. One suspects that, what with the advent of online banking, those people will soon find their jobs taken over by AI.

Obama and Trump Fighting Terrorism

Piers Morgan is not the only commentator who compared the different reactions to the assassination of Osama bin Laden with the suicide of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Yet, his comments were succinct, and to the point.

When bin Laden died the world rejoiced. All Americans rejoiced. When Baghdadi died Democrats and their media enablers fell over themselves to denounce Donald Trump. America’s divisions have rarely been as stark.

You might say that Trump is the more divisive figure, but Republicans afforded President Obama a degree of respect that Obama’s supporters have never offered to President Trump.

Morgan begins:

I was in New York on the night President Barack Obama announced Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden.

Obama was intensely disliked by Republicans at the time, but partisan rivalry was set aside for a moment of true, unified joy at the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist.

People of all political leanings took to the streets to chant ‘USA! USA!’ as they celebrated the wicked Al Qaeda leader’s grisly demise in a Pakistan shoot-out.

It didn’t matter how you voted, what mattered was that the man who masterminded 9/11 had finally been made to pay for his despicable crimes.

It was a great day for America, and for the world.

As though we need the reminder— though we probably do— Morgan offers a list of the horrors committed by Baghdadi.

For five years, after declaring Islamic State as a worldwide caliphate, Baghdadi presided over one of the most brutal, evil periods of unconscionable terrorist activity in modern history.

His followers burned victims alive in cages or slowly drowned them. They threw gay people off rooftops, and beheaded others on videos they then broadcast online.

They executed 13 teenage boys in Iraq with machine guns because they were watching a football match on TV.

They shot, suicide-bombed and massacred any rival Shia Muslims they could find in a relentless frenzied attempt to ethnically cleanse them off the face of the planet.

They murdered anyone who tried to leave their caliphate, or those they deemed ‘ineffective in battle’.

They kidnapped thousands of women, especially Kurds or Yazidis, and either sold them as sex slaves or forced them to marry ISIS fighters and be their sex slaves. Many were tortured, or killed themselves to escape the torment.

They trafficked human organs they ripped from living captives and hostages, including children.

They used brainwashed kids as young as six to be front line shields.

It was not limited to the Middle East:

As Baghdadi’s terrible tentacles spread ever further around the world, fueled by constant ISIS propaganda on the internet, the scale and ferocity of attacks against civilians worsened.

In January 2015, ISIS terrorists armed with assault rifles stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.

A few months later, ISIS carried out coordinated attacks in the same city at a football stadium, cafes and the Bataclan concert hall – killing 130 people and wounding 350.

In 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility when a man in a large truck drove through a crowd in Nice, France on Bastille Day, murdering 84 and injuring 330.

A year later, an ISIS-inspired suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 predominantly young girls and wounding another 59.

All of this was conducted on Baghdadi’s watch.

He was the boss, the driving force, the brains behind the barbarism.

So yesterday was a truly great day for America and the world.

As it happened, much of it was conducted on Barack Obama's watch. About that people have very little to say.

And yet, the American left seems incapable of anything but the most partisan warfare:

Last night was a time for America to put aside its insanely vicious partisan feuding and just celebrate the demise of the worst person on Planet Earth.

That’s not, as some of his enemies would have you believe, Donald Trump.

It was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

His death is a massive boost for American in its war on terror.

It cuts the head off ISIS at the precise moment its entire existence is teetering on the brink of collapse.

It’s no exaggeration to say this might hasten the end of ISIS altogether, though we can certainly expect some form of reprisal attacks in the wake of Baghdadi’s death as the few remaining ISIS fighters desperately try to rally support.

So regardless of your view of Trump, and I’ve been as critical of him in recent weeks as anyone, this was a moment to praise him for taking the bold, courageous decision to order a dangerous mission that successfully took out the leader of ISIS.

And then there were the fans at the World Series game in Washington. These fans stood up to boo the president of the United States. Most likely they were government employees and lobbyists, people who live off the government. One assumes that they were Democrats and fervid Obama supporters.

As noted here yesterday Morgan calls them out for their manifestly unpatriotic gesture:

Yes, I know Trump’s encourages his own supporters to do this to Hillary Clinton at all his base rallies.

But just because he’s wrong to do that, which he is, it doesn’t make it right to do it to him on such an important day.

In fact, it makes it unpatriotic and shameful.

When bin Laden was killed, the images of Americans coming together in joy went round the world and were a powerful symbol of unity.

Today, the only images people will see are of Americans booing their president for helping to kill the leader of ISIS.

Yes, it was a bad look for Trump.

But it’s a far worse look for America.

Trump has also been denounced for not showing sufficient respect to the dead terrorist. Compare his remarks with the Obama presidency’s dealing with Osama bin Laden’s remains. That administration gave to bin Laden the full dignity of an Islamic burial:

Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed... The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea.

Whereas Trump declared that al-Baghdadi had died whimpering and cowering like a dog, Obama showed respect toward the world’s leading terrorist. For those who believe that Islamist terrorism is an aberration, not a true part of the religion of peace, the Obama administration was saying otherwise. Don't you think that the gesture of respect showed the world that terrorists deserve our respect?

As was his wont Obama was also showing a cowardly and submissive reverence for Islam, even for Islamist terrorists. Apparently, Obama was terrified that if he said or did anything to offend Muslim sensibilities he would be inciting terrorism. Islamists considered him weak and cowardly… and invitation to act with impunity. On his watch ISIS metastasized, largely unimpeded. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Turning Trump's Victory into Defeat

In a better world the news would have emphasized the fact that the United States had murdered the leader of the Islamic State, the world’s most important terrorist, a mass murderer and torturer. And yet, to do so would have required the media and the Obamaphile left to praise President Trump. And we can’t have that.

It has been a thoroughly astonishing spectacle. From Saturday Night Live running a skit showing how Trump was coddling ISIS at the precise moment that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was blowing himself and three of his children up to the Washington Post being incapable of writing a correct headline.

The Post, the paper of record in Washington D. C. first headlined the story by calling al-Baghdadi a “terrorist in chief.” Then, someone decided that that would give Trump too much credit, so it changed the description to “an austere religious scholar.” Considering that the man was responsible for mass murder, mayhem, gang rape and sex trafficking, it seemed a bit too weak, even for the Post. It immediately provoked an outcry from Post readers. The paper changed the headline to “extremist leader.”

At the least, it does not inspire confidence in their journalism.

And then, at the World Series game last night in Washington, President Trump was roundly booed by Nationals fans. Obviously, these fans live in a deep blue city. Even the Washington suburbs are deeply blue… meaning that they are inhabited by government employees, thus, the kind of people that Trump has been attacking and that have, truth be told, been attacking Trump.

It is a pathetic spectacle, not a sign of patriotism. When you boo the president you boo the presidency. And it does not spell patriotism.

So, leftist politicians and media mavens started spinning as fast as they could. They said it was no big deal. ISIS is not defeated. Trump’s press conference was largely inferior to that of Obama when Osama bin Laden was killed. Trump lied about al Baghdadi’s whimpering. And besides, the credit all belongs to Barack Obama, who began the fight against the Islamic State.

You need to wonder how people are stupid enough to believe any of this, but apparently they are. Otherwise why would anyone overlook the obvious fact that the Islamic State was part of the Obama legacy?

Before Obama there was no caliphate. During the Obama years a caliphate grew and became more powerful. Its ability to show itself powerful in the face of the weak Obama policy attracted adherents from around the world. When Obama left office there was still a functioning caliphate. President Trump defeated the caliphate, captured large numbers of ISIS fighters, and ultimately, as of yesterday, eliminated the organization’s chief.

If you put that together and decide that Obama deserves credit for the death of al-Baghdadi you should go back on your meds.

And yet, James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence said this on CNN:

What is going to be interesting is to the extent to which this negatively affects ISIS or does it galvanize ISIS, the remnants of ISIS, which still survives as an ideology and has franchises in other places besides Syria.

Since Trump might be credited with launching the raid, we are now told that ISIS is really an idea, that it exists elsewhere and that the death of its leader will embolden it. Was this what they said when the Obama administration killed bin Laden?

Or else, read Matt Stieb, in New York Magazine. He first needs to attack Trump, with mockery and ridicule:

The president, who appears to relish violet rhetoric, personal boasting, the defeat of his enemies, and the simplicity of a good vs. evil narrative, announced on Sunday morning that U.S. special forces had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid in northwestern Syria on Saturday. With such a natural lining up of his interests, Trump turned the event into a spectacle, even promoting the press conference on Twitter the night before.

Anytime President Trump speaks for 48 minutes straight, you can expect some pretty unhinged remarks; on Sunday, things started to get weird just 90 seconds in, when Trump described the ISIS leader “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to the back of a tunnel in his compound, where he detonated a suicide vest as he was surrounded by three of his children. The president, who did little to hide his enjoyment in the moment, said that “it was just like a movie.”

For those who have no faith in CNN, I will add that a commentator on that network, someone whose name escapes me, explained that Trump had done a great job detailing the raid to the public. The unnamed commentator thanked Trump for describing what happened so well that he and journalists would not need to spend weeks figuring itout for themselves.

Anyway, Stieb seems vaguely offended that Trump was dehumanizing al-Baghdadi:

Trump aim seemed to be dehumanizing al-Baghdadi, the terrorist responsible for the Yazidi genocide, systemized sex slavery within ISIS-controlled territory, and the deaths of thousands in the region. “He was a gutless animal,” Trump said, later adding that “he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying.” He employed one of his frequent, if incoherent, jabs at al-Baghdadi, claiming that he “died like a dog.” In a bizarre piece of symmetry, as Trump degraded the terrorist, he elevated a military canine involved in the raid: “Our K-9, as they call it — I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog — was injured and brought back, but we had no soldier injured … We had nobody even hurt. That’s why the dog was so great.”

Tell me that that is not one of the most bizarre paragraphs you have ever had the misfortune to read. Stieb seems to suggest that there is something wrong with dehumanizing a mass murderer, a genocidal maniac, an inveterate homophobe and promoter of gang rapes and sex trafficking. Does he not understand that the propaganda war against ISIS is best advanced by showing its leader to be a sniveling coward? Apparently not.

The raid was named in honor of one Kayla Mueller, a young American woman who was captured by ISIS and who was raped repeatedly by al-Baghdadi himself for months on end… before being killed by an American missile. (via Maggie's Farm) Mueller’s parents did not have as many reservations as the American leftist media.

And then Thomas Friedman, in a column praising Trump, tries to argue that Obama got it right, that ISIS was produced by the Bush administration—you know, after Obama abandoned Iraq and Syria. And then, he dives into the moral equivalence trap and compares al-Baghdadi to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi:

Trump has never met a dictator he did not like. He is blind to the fact that the next al-Baghdadi is being incubated today in some prison in Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, whom Trump once actually called “my favorite dictator,’’ is not only rounding up violent Jihadists but liberal nonviolent journalists, activists and politicians. Their only crime is that they want to have a say in their country’s future and help to create an environment where they can realize their full potential — so they will not have to look for dignity, power, a job or a girl’s hand from extremist groups like ISIS.

True enough, el Sissi has been cracking down on dissent. You will recall that Egyptian dissidents are most often members of the Muslim Brotherhood or other terrorist organizations.  These have done their best to produce mayhem in the country. The Brotherhood is the godfather of Islamist terrorist organizations. If you know the difference between the Brothers and supposedly liberal journalists I will agree that we should distinguish the one from the other.

We might add that when a Brotherhood leader named Mohamed Morsi won the presidency of Egypt—before being overthrown by a coup lead by el-Sissi— the first  foreign leader to bless his victory with her presence was no less than America’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. 

No one likes to mention it, but Brotherhood voter outreach contained active support for female genital mutilation. Before the election it was sending mobile infirmary vans into the poor neighborhoods of Cairo, the better to allow families to have their daughters mutilated without needing to undergo the indignity of having to go to a clinic or hospital.

Friedman neglects this point. He argues that pro-Iran militias and Syria conspired to help Trump to eliminate al-Baghdadi because they wanted to rid their nation of Sunni influence. He might have added that Sunni Turkey contributed too.

Friedman is sorely offended by the Trump administration’s wish to protect the oil wells, instead of protecting what he called “islands of decency.” A noble thought, offered by a man of surpassing virtue. And yet, where was he when Obama was selling out to Iran and to Islamist terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas? Was the Iran nuclear deal a way to foster decency? And where was Friedman and where was the Obama administration when the Iranian regime was shooting protesters in the streets during the Green revolution of 2009?