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March 22, 2016

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And right on cue Ted Cruz steps in it:

We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.

Feh.

Oh, and this is just insane:

The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake.

The attack in Brussels was of a piece with the mid-eighties simultaneous attacks on airports at Rome and Vienna.

They were all outside of the security checkpoints, so making the checkpoints more secure does no good at all.

What's the deal with an airport's "checkpoints?" If the checkpoints is the only thing that survives a bombing, why not build the whole country out of checkpoints?

/Seinfeld

And here is where IMHO the current rhetoric (and worse) emanating from the right side of the aisle in the U.S. endangers the country - by alienating the U.S. Muslim community. By pushing people who might be inclined to report suspicious activity in their neighborhood to the proper authorities into indifference or acquiescence.

There is an obvious solution. One which I expect Trump (or maybe Cruz) to come out with before the year is out. Simply set up "relocation camps" and move all American Muslims there. (I believe the locations of most of the ones used during World War II are still available.)

Presto! No neighborhoods to worry about watching. At least, none outside the barbed wire.

I may have mentioned this before, but my thoughts on security checkpoints, based particularly on my experience with attending NFL games, is that the best place to kill a bunch of people is in the massive, dense lines where they are awaiting passage through those very checkpoints.

*imagine seamless segue to another point*

The situation in Europe differs from that in the US in contradictory ways, IMO. They have a colonial history in North Africa and Middle East (NAME) as well as greater proximity and passage over land, so the flows of immigration from those parts of the world have been going on longer and more robustly. (On top of that are the recent waves of refugees.) But their mostly Muslim immigrants from NAME are more isolated, to the point of near-ghettoization.

At the same time, it seems European leader are more likely to have regular contact with leaders in NAME who are also dealing with Islamist terrorism. They seem to have a sense that they're in this together with victims of terrorism in NAME countries, who are themselves largely Muslim. As a result, European leaders - not to a person, but on the whole - are less likely to generalize about Muslims being terrorists.

Muslims are far more likely to be victims of terrorism than they are to be terrorists. At the same time, looking at the global situation, they are also more likely to be the victims of terrorism than are non-Muslims. Europeans seem to get that far more than people in the US.

>There is an obvious solution. One which I expect Trump (or maybe Cruz) to come out with before the year is out. Simply set up "relocation camps" and move all American Muslims there. (I believe the locations of most of the ones used during World War II are still available.)

Or just cordon off areas in the inner cities -- places like Detroit. :-/

the government shall make no whosits regarding an establishment of whatnow ?

Is it a law regarding "the establishment of religion" if you make a law which discriminates against a particular religion?

I'm betting that all those "activist judges" on the Supreme Court would decide that both are banned. Perhaps even unanimously.

Dropping in for a moment: these attacks do, well and truly, bring out the stupid in Cruz and Trump. I'm not sure the "left", on balance, can claim any real high ground on coming up with a viable, long term battle plan, even if neither Sanders nor HRC have taken this opportunity to out-stupid each other and their opposition. Cutting ties with Israel isn't going to happen and wouldn't affect much even if it did.

The "left", in my view, doesn't really understand the nits and nuances, and mainly the cost, of having a military that can project credible force around a globe (the oceans, they are a mixed blessing). Similarly, the "left" tends to under-play military power to the end that nothing really decisive is even likely to occur.

I am an incrementalist myself in many respects when it comes to use of force, although I'd have a larger, deeper standing force and force projection capacity than is currently the case.

I used quotes to indicate what I see as a general proclivity, not to invite a side battle on who is or isn't *left*, or what is or isn't *left*. Also, I am fully aware of a lively section on the right that shoots first and formulates policy second. I get that and am not suggesting equivalency.

My question is: can the "left" reach a consensus on military power: how much and how to use it? If so, what are the general outlines that program/policy might take? And how would it apply to ISIS, terror cells, safe harbors, failed states, etc?

I'm against bombing Brussels, or even Paris.

"Cutting ties with Israel isn't going to happen and wouldn't affect much even if it did."

I partly agree with this. ISIS and the like have far more on their nasty little minds than just Israeli oppression of Palestinians. If Israel miraculously became the beacon of humanity its defenders claim it to be, ISIS would still be there. Possibly it would cut down a little bit on one recruitment technique--I would defer to whatever experts there might actually be on the subject, but that's my impression.

We should be tough on Israel for other reasons (though terrorism is a small part of it.) The main one is that we bear a large part of the responsibility for their crimes.

As for the "left's" plan for ISIS, I think that varies with the leftist. I'm somewhat ambivalent. Bombing them might help. Going after their funding would. But I have no brilliant notions and don't think I've read any elsewhere. We probably should try confronting Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states--Obama's rather remarkable interview with Goldberg at the Atlantic made it sound like he is very sick of the Saudis (and ironically he spoke of being dragged into their wars, even as we help them in their nasty little war in Yemen.) I would like to hear more about this--maybe he will say more once he is out of office.

I'm not sure the "left", on balance, can claim any real high ground on coming up with a viable, long term battle plan,

This is not a problem unique to the left. Indeed, it seems that no one, anywhere, has any such plan. There just seems to be a long string of examples of things that didn't work, most (if not all) of which involve killing lots of people.

Obama, to the extent he might be included in what you term the "left," seems quite comfortable killing lots of people. That he seems to have read the U.S. public (correctly, ISTM) as not wanting to launch a ground invasion of Syria/the greater middle east to "stop" ISIS is hardly evidence of under-playing military force.

More insanity from the Cruz Campaign:

she warned of the Muslim Brotherhood's "infiltration at the highest levels of our national security," according to audio posted by Right Wing Watch on Monday.

"Brotherhood affiliates and associates and those connected to it are the go-to advisers, if not appointees, for the top levels of our national security in our government, in this administration for sure, but going back many decades, really, is the program of this Brotherhood," she said.

Ted Cruz, the current choice of the GOP Establishment™ for the most powerful job in the world.

In spite of being a Democrat, Clinton is another neocon when it comes to foreign policy.

The "left" hasn't come up with a clear plan for changing the freezing point of water, either.

I think it's silly to think that the problem is that the United States lacks the ability to project force around the globe. What nation on earth has anything approaching our ability in that regard?

I think it's far more a question of what we do with it rather than whether we have enough of it.

@hairshirthedonist:
It's also very difficult to bomb your way to people not hating you. Not to mention that many of the terrorists involved in the attacks in Paris and Brussels- and plenty of the Muslims involved in terrorist attacks here in the USA- are home-grown. It's almost as if trying to solve the problem of terrorism through military force can have negative consequences closer to home.

My question is: can the "left" reach a consensus on military power: how much and how to use it?

no more than the "right" can.

Trump can't reach consensus with himself.

Similarly, the "left" tends to under-play military power to the end that nothing really decisive is even likely to occur.

what "decisive" use of military power has the American "right" made ?

the first Iraq invasion ? (unless you consider W's adventure to be a consequence of HW's) Grenada ?

the left should want to pick up more crappy little countries and throw them against the wall, just to show the world we mean business?

Nuke teh terrorists!

We should probably shift some of that enormous foreign-aid budget to defense.

I think it's silly to think that the problem is that the United States lacks the ability to project force around the globe. What nation on earth has anything approaching our ability in that regard?

One doesn't follow the other. We have more force projection capacity than any other country, true. Do we have enough to sustain regional sized operations? Probably not. This may be a good thing for some since it limits what we can do. However, should it ever become necessary to do more than make a token appearance or overcome something like ISIS, we will come up short.

That's my point: there is a significant information shortage when it comes to what people think our capacity is and what it actually is.

I think it's far more a question of what we do with it rather than whether we have enough of it.

And I think I raised that question.

overcome something like ISIS

how?

explain how we would do that and the lack of capability that's standing in our way.

And I think I raised that question.

You did, but I'm noting the relative importance of the two questions.

That's my point: there is a significant information shortage when it comes to what people think our capacity is and what it actually is.

You mean we can't occupy the world?

Believe it or not, I don't think ISIS poses and existential threat to the United States. They're horrible people who do horrible things, but such people always have and always will exist. I'm not sure what level of resources you're proposing we dedicate to defeating ISIS and the like, particularly with military force.

@mckinneytexas--

given the enormous force projection capabilities of the united states military it occurs to me to ask if we don't have enough of that capability to handle the fallout from our foreign policy we might ought to consider scaling back our foreign policy to fit the abilities of the military we have. isis represents an enormous charlie foxtrot but it isn't solely ours by any means. it also belongs to assad, it belongs to turkey, it belongs to iraq, it belongs i part to the anglo-french division of the region into "nations" they could administrate.

in my opinion, mcktx, unless you're talking about reinstating the draft and piling wwii numbers into the engagement, with all the potentialities for blowback and further charlie foxtrots, i don't see what having a larger military force is going to do for us in the situation. this is a situation that seems to call for diplomacy and patience.

I'm at a loss as to what a viable, long-term battle plan would look like, in the context of ISIS / Daesh / whatever.

The territory they hold is also claimed by other folks, some of whom we are friendly with, some not.

The collection of interested parties - which is quite large - includes folks whose interests align with ours, and others whose interests do not.

To add to the complexity, some of the folks whose interests align with ours *with regard to ISIS* do not align with ours in other ways.

Can we just tell everybody else to clear out and let us handle it? And, then what? Do we plan on taking and holding territory for an extended period of time? If not, what prevents them from simply re-forming once we leave the theater?

If we work with others, who do we work with? Russia? Iran? Turkey?

All of the those folks have interests and agendas that, combined with ours, weave a great big tangled mess.

What we're doing so far is air power, within limits so we don't step on folks we don't want to step on, and very limited on-the-ground involvement.

Which is sort-of a safe bet, but is probably not going to be sufficient to eliminate them as a source of general hell-raising and violence.

I guess you could say that the response of "the left" is insufficient, but you'd have to leave out folks like Clinton, who for good or ill would likely wade in more forcefully.

I haven't really seen a realistic, concrete plan of action from anyone, anywhere, that is likely to be an effective curb to ISIS.

Putin's goals seem quite focused - Assad is my guy and he's not going anywhere, and nobody is going to screw with our naval base, full stop.

It's easy to "win" if your goals are that narrow.

I'm not sure what end result we want, other than to not have people trying to kill us in our beds.

A worthy goal, but not really a sufficient rationale for viable, long-term strategies.

Basically, I have no great ideas, not because I'm nominally on the "left", but because I don't think any exist.

I'm at a loss as to what a viable, long-term battle plan would look like, in the context of ISIS / Daesh / whatever.

The territory they hold is also claimed by other folks, some of whom we are friendly with, some not.

The collection of interested parties - which is quite large - includes folks whose interests align with ours, and others whose interests do not.

To add to the complexity, some of the folks whose interests align with ours *with regard to ISIS* do not align with ours in other ways.

Can we just tell everybody else to clear out and let us handle it? And, then what? Do we plan on taking and holding territory for an extended period of time? If not, what prevents them from simply re-forming once we leave the theater?

If we work with others, who do we work with? Russia? Iran? Turkey?

All of the those folks have interests and agendas that, combined with ours, weave a great big tangled mess.

What we're doing so far is air power, within limits so we don't step on folks we don't want to step on, and very limited on-the-ground involvement.

Which is sort-of a safe bet, but is probably not going to be sufficient to eliminate them as a source of general hell-raising and violence.

I guess you could say that the response of "the left" is insufficient, but you'd have to leave out folks like Clinton, who for good or ill would likely wade in more forcefully.

I haven't really seen a realistic, concrete plan of action from anyone, anywhere, that is likely to be an effective curb to ISIS.

Putin's goals seem quite focused - Assad is my guy and he's not going anywhere, and nobody is going to screw with our naval base, full stop.

It's easy to "win" if your goals are that narrow.

I'm not sure what end result we want, other than to not have people trying to kill us in our beds.

A worthy goal, but not really a sufficient rationale for viable, long-term strategies.

Basically, I have no great ideas, not because I'm nominally on the "left", but because I don't think any exist.

should it ever become necessary to do more than make a token appearance or overcome something like ISIS

Actually, I take it back. Here is what I think a viable strategy for "overcoming ISIS" might look like.

We would need to establish some kind of unified command and control structure for the region, which would involve getting the co-operation of -- at a minimum -- ourselves, Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

We would need to field a truly large force - half a million people, maybe a million - to take and hold territory ranging from Aleppo to Baghdad, up to the border of Turkey.

Those folks would have to stay there for years, I would say at least ten years, while all of the folks with political and security interests in the area figured out what the hell to do with the tiger they were holding by the tail.

If we could get all of that done, we could probably overcome ISIS *as a presence in Syria and Iraq*.

The focus of caliphate-building would likely then shift somewhere else.

should it ever become necessary to do more than make a token appearance or overcome something like ISIS

Actually, I take it back. Here is what I think a viable strategy for "overcoming ISIS" might look like.

We would need to establish some kind of unified command and control structure for the region, which would involve getting the co-operation of -- at a minimum -- ourselves, Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

We would need to field a truly large force - half a million people, maybe a million - to take and hold territory ranging from Aleppo to Baghdad, up to the border of Turkey.

Those folks would have to stay there for years, I would say at least ten years, while all of the folks with political and security interests in the area figured out what the hell to do with the tiger they were holding by the tail.

If we could get all of that done, we could probably overcome ISIS *as a presence in Syria and Iraq*.

The focus of caliphate-building would likely then shift somewhere else.

We'd save more lives by instituting a national driving-helmet program than by trying to "defeat" ISIS.

The beatings will continue until radicalism abates!

I must respectfully disagree with ugh's last non-PS paragraph.

"This is why the honest reassurance that the U.S. is not 'at war' with Islam is so important."

This is a fairly egregious strawman. It's easy to make honest reassurances that we're not at war with Islam as a whole, but it's wildly dishonest not to acknowledge that we are very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Islam. The US didn't brand this terrorism as Islamic; the terrorists did. It's always a good idea to believe your enemies' statements about their motives and intentions. After all, they have PR needs, too.

If we can't engage in sufficiently clear thinking to describe the enemy, and sufficiently competent PR to communicate this description to both ourselves and the Muslim world, then we have no hope of designing effective strategies of combating the problem.


"Why ethnic and religious profiling should not be done. Why everyone is subject to screening at airports, etc. and not just those who might be 'suspicious.'"

This sounds all lovely and high-minded, but from a management standpoint it's just terrible. Counter-terrorism intelligence and security are two of the most skilled-labor-intensive activities on the planet. Diluting that labor for PR purposes will lead to significantly worse outcomes (i.e., more dead people) than if we use appropriate classifiers to direct attention to the highest-risk individuals, communities, and organizations.

Of course, that's what we're actually doing behind the scenes. And if we all need to play Egalitarian Security Theater to disguise the fact that it's what we're doing, so be it--although it then becomes the most expensive and least effective PR campaign in human history.

Again, this all comes down to accurately describing your enemy in ways that are not horribly divisive but still true.


"In addition to ensuring that such measures are not overreaching and imposed on just 'those people,' it also sends the message - we are all in this together."

First, this does absolutely nothing to ensure that measures are "not overreaching". Instead, it merely ensures that the overreach is less likely to be effective. The security apparat is still perfectly capable of inflicting all kinds of PATRIOT Act and enemy combatant mumbo-jumbo on some random person, US or otherwise. The level of mumbo-jumbo practiced is solely dependent on the amount of labor devoted to practicing mumbo-jumbo; it's their job, and their management requires getting the most out of the labor. All that failing to discriminate early in the process does is increase the likelihood that the mumbo-jumbo is practiced on people without measurably improving security.

And we all are in this together. To the extent that American Muslims have better contacts with friends and family overseas, they're in a much better position to understand the dynamics that armed gangs use to take and control territory. They way you prevent gangs from taking over your neighborhood is through policing, and cooperation with those police.

It would be lovely if the American public wasn't frightened of terrorism, and if that fear didn't manifest itself in irrational and xenophobic ways. But that's how humans respond to threats. The good news is that it's usually not how counter-terrorism professionals respond. The pros have some idea of what works, at least tactically, and they know how to get the most bang for their buck. They are, admittedly, not perfect, and I'm sure that some of them are assholish enough to be counterproductive. That's why security organizations need aggressive oversight.

But slathering a bunch of policy gumgoozalum that actively denies the reality of the situation neither makes the job easier for the vast majority of good professionals nor serves any effective strategic purpose. Nothing good ever comes of pretending that something is what it isn't.

Snarki: They were all outside of the security checkpoints, so making the checkpoints more secure does no good at all.

The biggest single impact of security checkpoints is to create a large group of people queued up to go thru them. And that group is necessarily outside those checkpoints. Which is to say, the checkpoints actually create great targets for terrorists, where none were before.

All that making checkpoints more secure accomplishes is to make the queues longer. And thus even bigger and better terrorist targets.

I'm sure having a separate security process for Muslims will work out just fine in the end, TRM. Perhaps we can require them to wear armbands to make it easy to identify them.

Ugh, why armbands? Don't they all wear turbans? Isn't that how that guy in Wisconsin knew who to shoot?

but it's wildly dishonest not to acknowledge that we are very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Islam.

likewise, Islam is very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Christianity (and Judaism!) - just as terrorist recruitment propaganda requires.

No, HSH, not turbans. (Those are Sihks.)

But they do all have beards. So we can just go after anyone with a beard. Even if they claim to be part of Duck Dynasty.

Technically, an airport security check is meant to prevent people from blowing up or hijacking airplanes. In fact, they are fairly successful in this regard. If you compare the current situation with 1970's, you'll see that hijackings and plane explosions are much more rare.

At the airport itself, there is no way to prevent a bombing. You'll have a security perimeter somewhere and a crowd outside it in any case. The same applies to urban public traffic: there is no way to check everyone boarding a train or subway.

heh. derp.

likewise, Islam is very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Christianity (and Judaism!) - just as terrorist recruitment propaganda requires.

likewise, Christianity (and Judaism!) is very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Islam - just as terrorist recruitment propaganda requires.

@wj: The biggest single impact of security checkpoints is to create a large group of people queued up to go thru them.

This is generally true, but airports really are a special case. Even quite a small bomb can destroy an airplane and kill everyone on board; the bomb that took down Pan Am 103 (the Lockerbie bombing) was one pound or less. So even though the security line at the airport is a tempting target, it's a much less tempting one than the airplanes.

If you compare the current situation with 1970's, you'll see that hijackings and plane explosions are much more rare.

Seems like it might be much more relevant to compare to the 1990s. After all, crime in general has dropped a fair amount since the 1970s, so it might be expected that hijackings had dropped as well.

Also I would note that the things which have actually had a real impact on hijackings are:
1) reinforced cockpit doors,
2) armed air marshalls on random flights

Plus, passengers knowing that getting up and fighting the hijacker was a better option than sitting passively. Don't know if that has actually stopped one yet. But given how easily test subjects get weapons and explosives past TSA, it seems like it may be important. More important than TSA's security theater anyway.

can the "left" reach a consensus on military power: how much and how to use it? If so, what are the general outlines that program/policy might take? And how would it apply to ISIS, terror cells, safe harbors, failed states, etc?

I doubt it. I doubt the "right" can either.

Of course, reaching a consensus is not the main point. We are not deciding where to have lunch. The main point is to develop a strategy that has a decent chance of working without having a lot of negative repercussions. Once that is done, if it can be, it becomes somewhat necessary to sell it to the country.

I don't know how to do that either.

"but it's wildly dishonest not to acknowledge that we are very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Islam. "


Let me rephrase that--for Palestinians, it's wildly dishonest not to acknowledge that the people who stole their land identify as Jews, have the support of many Jews in other countries, and so it makes perfect sense if they say they are at war with a nontrivial segment of Judaism. And wouldn't you know it? Some do see it that way. And man, has it ever been helpful.

And no, I'm not being snarky. Why is it that some people want to play the bigot's game? Or the terrorist's game? They want to say they fight for Islam--why should we pay them the compliment of agreeing with them? I know it's a "no true Scotsman" thing and as far as I am concerned if an adherent of religion x says he is doing some terrible thing because of his religion, for him that is true. But we don't have to go beyond acknowledging that. What does it get us except a lot of bigots on our side stirring up hatred? It is the responsibility of Muslims to distance themselves from the extremists and most do.

My Palestinian analogy works the same way. The Palestinians have legitimate grievances, putting it mildly. It does no one any good, not them and not the Israelis and not anyone except some antisemitic demagogues, to make it about Judaism even if the people who took their land do it in the name of Judaism. Those who do make it about Judaism end up justifying terrorist attacks, as everyone already knows.

It's easy to make honest reassurances that we're not at war with Islam as a whole, but it's wildly dishonest not to acknowledge that we are very much at war with a nontrivial segment of Islam.

Speaking of wildly dishonest, how many of the 1.6 billion Muslims on this planet are we at war with, TRM? Because if your answer is 1% or less, as one must suspect it would be w/o further wild dishonesty regarding precisely what you mean by "at war with", I'm immensely curious how it's anything but wildly dishonest to characterize the US as "being at war with a non-trivial segment of Islam".

At the airport itself, there is no way to prevent a bombing. You'll have a security perimeter somewhere and a crowd outside it in any case.

I agree with this.

More broadly, there are crowds lots of places.

as far as I am concerned if an adherent of religion x says he is doing some terrible thing because of his religion, for him that is true. But we don't have to go beyond acknowledging that.

There are, after all, any number of folks who claim to be doing the terrible things that they are doing in the name of our religion.

@wj: There are, after all, any number of folks who claim to be doing the terrible things that they are doing in the name of our religion

I want to reply either

"What is this 'our' of which you speak, Kemosabe,"

or

"For any value of 'our.'"

The Cubbies are a greater danger to the Republic than ISIL, as of this afternoon:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/donald-trump-threatens-run-attack-083500362.html

Cruz threw in that Florida law enforcement should patrol and secure Tampa Ray Devil Rays and Florida Marlin dugouts all season before they become radicalized as a result of Obama having survived among the living for seven and a half years now, against all odds.

The large, visible, marvelous hand, his other in his pocket for safekeeping, of Donald Trump will work its magic on the American economy as foretold by the foretellers, who spaketh "a travesty if you can keep it"

It will don the jellied rubber glove of free market canoodling and crawl up our manifest fundaments and palpate our innermost American laugh tracks, spurring us on to ever more exceptional and risible destinies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he58B8gjfBc

We are a ridiculous people.

Is so much flying really necessary, especially among the business class? Can't American business hire locals everywhere to execute, rather than flying know-it-alls from headquarters to check up on everyone?

I think we should get rid of airport terminals altogether, park the planes in a long line on the tarmac and let everyone run like hell, like O.J. Simpson, across the tarmac and claim the flights on a first-come first-serve basis.

Wj-- you can say " our religion" in my case.

Nothing good ever comes of pretending that something is what it isn't.

In the spirit of intellectual generosity and/or beating a dead horse, I think TRM's error lies chiefly in the conflation of "a non-trivial number of Muslims" with "a non-trivial segment of Islam". Despite having the same number of syllables, these are in fact two entirely different things.

The GOP brings chaos to the Virgin Islands, too.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/virgin-island-gop-chaos

States and territories in the United States needs to do a better job of interdicting subversive GOP operatives before they commit terrorism.

This crossing of borders without even a bye-your-leave must stop.

Shoot them on sight.


It is fascinating, the assumptions folks seem to be making about my religion. I was trying to keep it generic enough that all of us, regardless of our religion, could see it apply. (OK, maybe not the atheists among us. Nothing's perfect.)

Because pretty much every religion has members who do the same thing. Islam just is (un)lucky enough to have folks with megaphones insisting that every one of them is to blame for their tiny minority of lunatics.

Two examples of "passengers stopping/hindering a terrorist": Ralph Reed (shoe bomber) and Whatisname (underwear bomber).

The actual threat to US flights is from *outside* the US: at their point of first contact (int'l flight landing in the US). And TSA doesn't run those checkpoints.

Once the 'bad guys' are inside the US, there are far softer targets at hand, and plenty of guns to do it with. Why risk going through *any* checkpoint? Just load up at the gun show and head for the shopping mall.

The TSA could revert to 1990's security level, and it would do just as much good in reality. Just not to their budget or sense of self-importance.

I think the best way to fight ISIS would be carpet bomb Syria, Iraq, and nearby areas with food, medicine, water, tents, bedding, clothing, books, teachers,nurses, doctors, art supplies...

"It is fascinating, the assumptions folks seem to be making about my religion."

To be fair, your post said 'our', not 'my', so it ow;d have been surprising had it not provoked a reaction.
As far as the US is concerned, 'our' religion has a pretty clear meaning.
In the case of the UK not so much, despite the continued existence of an 'established' church. Indeed I'm not sure that a mild atheism isn't now the dominant belief.

Nigel: "In the case of the UK not so much..."

In the UK, isn't the established religion an irrational belief in the entertainment value of cricket?

While in the US, it's baseball.

I don't think that schism will ever be mended.

I was wondering if Merrick Garland should just don a black robe and wander over to the Supreme Court and say to Roberts, et. al., "Well, here I am. Where do you want me to start?"

Contra McKinney: The childlike worship of force exhibited by those on the Right is a feature not a bug. That not an insignificant part of the Right also believes that government "cannot work" is somewhat endearing, but like any movement, it will pass. Organized force is an elemental part of maintaining a hierachical society. Thus the logical end of the right's argument is that classic line, "exterminate the brutes."

The question then is, where do you stop?

"I think the best way to fight ISIS would be carpet bomb Syria, Iraq, and nearby areas with food, medicine, water, tents, bedding, clothing, books, teachers,nurses, doctors, art supplies..."

... also carpeting. Throw rugs, for those who don't have flying carpets.

the Islamic terror orgs kill far more ME Muslims than they do anyone else. so, it seems typically self-centered to think they're specifically at war with the west.

"I was wondering if Merrick Garland should just don a black robe and wander over to the Supreme Court and say to Roberts, et. al., "Well, here I am. Where do you want me to start?"

Seems reasonable to me.

In this ridiculous country, it couldn't be any sillier than this f*cked up sh&t:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/sarah-palin-becoming-next-judge-201012321.html

You can see Republicans are grooming her for the Supreme Court with this appointment.

A Reality Show, if you can keep it, said the man.

Where do I go to be charged with contempt?

I'll take eleven years in Twelvesworth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td3p2XKHP2M

We are idiots.

This line from the Death Palin article, twisted my gut with hilarity:

"Though Palin doesn’t have a juris doctor degree like Judges Judy and Brown ..."

Gingivitis, Cruise, Tramp, and McCurdell plan on replacing the Ninth Circuit with Death Palin's new gig.

If you think that is funny, you didn't get the joke.

"the Islamic terror orgs kill far more ME Muslims than they do anyone else. so, it seems typically self-centered to think they're specifically at war with the west."

When you consider the number of Americans every Republican candidate has promised to murder their first day as President, Islamic terror seems like a good deal.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-lays-vision-gaining-respect-100003354.html


Ooh, your kisses, sweeter than honey
And guess what? So is my money
All I want you to do for me
Is give it to me when you get home

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R E S P E C T
Take care, T.C.B.

RESPECT
Just a little bit)
I get tired
(Just a little bit)
Keep on tryin'
(Just a little bit)
You're runnin' out of foolin'
(Just a little bit)
And I ain't lyin'
(Just a little bit)


http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ted-cruz-defends-patrol-muslim-neighborhoods

Translation: "Hey, don't sweat it. "Muslim" is just another way of (here, he puts the back of his hand adjacent to one side of his mouth to deflect the dog whistle) using the "n" word, as we were taught by our foredaddies. We'll just continue to shoot the enns in the back in those neighborhoods, as we have been doing all along."

Just f*ck me, and get it over with:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/jeb-bush-endorsement-ted-cruz

Better yet, maybe a four-year-old will shoot me:

http://juanitajean.com/fun-with-guns-trouble-figuring-out-whos-the-victim-edition/

The President of the United States needs to issue a nationwide terror alert:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-cheapest-patient-is-dead-one-by.html

This is murder. Millions more promised by the Republican Party.

As long as we're "carpet" bombing, throw in some pornography. Nothing X-rated; our Air Force is probably too officially prudish for that. Copies of the SI swimsuit issue should be adequate. The idea is not to provoke the pious young men who call themselves ISIL, but to distract them. (To provoke them, pictures of young women graduating from college would be more effective.) As self-styled defenders of The Faith, they would naturally decree that innocent civilians must turn in any of this filthy stuff they happen to find, so that it can be burned in huge bonfires. And there would be bonfires, but I bet the burning magazines would be short a few pages.

Infecting the minds of devout young barbarians with lascivious thoughts is practically biological warfare, so this proposal may be in violation of the Geneva conventions. If so, I withdraw it unreservedly.

--TP

I was serious about the art supplies. People who have been traumatized can use art to help with emotional healing. Plus the displaced, terrified survivors need something more than survival supplies; they need a sense of having a future. So my dream intervention would be focused on emotional as well as physical survival and on the future as well as the immediate circumstances. Thus teachers, books, tools...

Can anyone think of a military intervention by the US outside of Western Europe that had an intended positive result? I can think of lots with unintended negative consequences and some which were intended to be harmful and succeeded.

Remarkably and foolishly, and unlike ISIL assassins murdering Americans on video via the knife, Trump, Cruz and Ryan don't hide their faces when they threaten their next murders on video.

Shouldn't be too difficult to track them down and do what needs to be done.

I'd like to drop dozens of this very heavy objets d'art from military transport planes on the Quicken Loans Arena when it is at full capacity the week of July 18-21:

https://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/1486-8643

Can anyone think of a military intervention by the US outside of Western Europe that had an intended positive result?

The Philippines? kinda'? Sorta?

The human cost? Just collateral damage.

Does the Korean War count as US military intervention?
--TP

As long as we're "carpet" bombing, throw in some pornography. Nothing X-rated; our Air Force is probably too officially prudish for that. Copies of the SI swimsuit issue should be adequate. The idea is not to provoke the pious young men who call themselves ISIL, but to distract them.

I'm not sure that this would be all that effective.

First, judging from al Qaeda's leadership, they already have plenty of pornography on their computers.

Second, given the number of women they are kidnapping for sex slaves, the attraction of mere photographs may be limited. Except, I suppose, as a source of new ideas for what to do.

According to my dad, the UN should be dissolved, since the Brussels attacks occurred. The UN should have somehow eliminated ISIS, and the UN doesn't do anything, anyway.

Putting aside any misconceptions about the UN's (non-)role in fighting terrorists, I have to wonder if he knows that the WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, etc. are UN programs. I guess they should all go away because some assholes killed people in Brussels yesterday.

This is my America. Thanks for reading.

Another example of "hate the idea; want the reality." Just like "hate big (especially Federal) government; want the government's two biggest programs -- Social Security and Medicare."

It does suggest, however, that both the Federal government and the UN could do a better job of educating people about all of the critical but non-spectacular things that they do.

TSA at airports, and the occasional military bombing strikes, are real visible. But they are not really anywhere near being the bulk of what the government does. Specifically, not the bulk of what the government does that really impacts most people's lives. (You can argue that they should be. But not that they currently are.)

"...given the number of women [ISIL] are kidnapping for sex slaves, the attraction of mere photographs may be limited. Except, I suppose, as a source of new ideas for what to do."

Okay, so airdrop issues of "Goat Fancier Monthly". I hear that the manly men of NRO have a stash that would do quite nicely.

Never try to get Erick Erickson's goat and redistribute it to the undeserving.

He's very attached to it.

You could say they are stuck in .. I mean .. ON each other.

He's running for President now:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/paul-ryan-politics-civility

Well then, stop scaring and insulting me, Paul.

He promises to at least pay lip service to foreplay when he gets our goats.

the Islamic terror orgs kill far more ME Muslims than they do anyone else. so, it seems typically self-centered to think they're specifically at war with the west.

BS, cleek. ME Muslims are killed in local crime, not war - it's like gang violence in inner cities. Why the hell would Islam be at war with ME Muslims? They're not exactly overburdened with freedoms, and as any fool can tell you it takes people being free to incite Muslims to war.

Donald Trump likes to say "They're chopping off the heads of Christians." He has since added, as an aside, "...and other people's." Oh, yeah, them - the other people, the non-Christians.

i do like that Cruz is all "treat it like a law enforcement problem!"

fifteen years ago, he would've been branded as a naive liberal terrorist coddler for that.

Might's well get these all out of the way at once to keep the beat-down focused properly:

@ugh: If you can come up with a set of classifiers that are more accurate, have at it. My complaint isn't that we aren't targeting Muslims; it's that egalitarian security screening in any form is silly and a waste of resources.

@cleek: It's a fair statement but a non sequitur. The US has a security problem, and its solution requires proper enemy identification. The enemy in this case is religiously motivated, no? You can argue that the enemy has perverted their religion, but that doesn't change the fact that they do what they do because of their religion. The US isn't fighting them because it's a Christian nation; it's fighting them because it has national interests, foremost being security.

@Donald Johnson: I think that that's a completely accurate description of the Palestinians' interest and works very well as a statement of fact. I merely hope that we are capable of making equally clear statements of fact about our interests. If you'd like to make value judgements about the morality of those interests, that's completely fair. But I very much doubt that you'll find many security pros who think that the morality of the situation has much to do with the realistic need to stop Bad Guys from doing Bad Things. They tend to be--oh, what's the word I'm looking for? oh yeah--agnostic about such considerations.

As for your follow-on comment, if the "bigot's game" is to take people who wish you harm at their word, then I guess you've got me nailed there.

@NV: If you're going to peg the definition of "nontrivial" at ">1%", then you've got me. A little googling yielded a number of trained fighters in Islamist groups of about 225K if you leave out the IRGC. But that hardly seems "trivial". It's certainly well beyond the point where you can dismiss Islamist-motivated military force as simply a few nutjobs. "Nontrivial" seems about right to me.

@NV again: Please remember that the original comment is asking that we use reality-based classifiers for assessing threats and determining screening.

On reflection, though, you're right: Building classifiers based on religion is silly, because religion isn't immediately apparent. Let's do it on national origin of surname instead. Is that better?

ME Muslims are killed in local crime, not war - it's like gang violence in inner cities. Why the hell would Islam be at war with ME Muslims?

Nope, what ISIS (for example) is doing is war, not merely local crime. We can argue about how much territory a group has to control, to the exclusion of any other group, in order to count as a war. (And whether some of our drug gangs manage to make the cut.) But on any threshold I can think of, ISIS is well past it.

Why would Muslims be at war with Muslims? Theological differences. (Recall that Europe saw something similar a while back.) Not just between Shia and Sunni, but even within the Sunni branch between moderate, fundamentalist, and ultra-fundamentalists.

The US isn't fighting them because it's a Christian nation

there are plenty of people ("conservative" people, especially) who disagree with you about that.

@wj
Perhaps I would have been clearer had I referred to it as petty crime.

--

@TRM:

If you're going to peg the definition of "nontrivial" at ">1%", then you've got me. A little googling yielded a number of trained fighters in Islamist groups of about 225K if you leave out the IRGC. But that hardly seems "trivial". It's certainly well beyond the point where you can dismiss Islamist-motivated military force as simply a few nutjobs. "Nontrivial" seems about right to me.

So your number of choice is 225K? Even "better". We're not talking about "less than 1% of Muslims", we're talking about right around 1% of 1% of Muslims - well, okay, more like 1.4% of 1% (0.014%). How on earth do you get from "1 in 10,000" (which is in no way, shape or form uniformly distributed globally) to "a non-trivial segment"? Again, not a non-trivial number, but a non-trivial segment? In the last four years, a bit less than 1% of Congress has been convicted of felonies (5/535). How would it be anything but wildly dishonest of me to characterize this as "a non-trivial segment of Congress"?

Nothing good ever comes of pretending that something is what it isn't, right. There is a huge, glaring, non-trivial difference between something representing a non-trivial segment of a given population, and something comprising a non-trivial number of individuals. If we pretend(against all common sense) that "Muslims at war with the US" are uniformly distributed across the globe, how exactly is it anything but wildly dishonest to claim that the US's 365 Muslims who are "at war" with "us" are a non-trivial segment of the US's 2,750,000 Muslims? How can you possibly hope to credibly claim that making such a baldly absurd and ill-considered assertion is anything but a lazy mischaracterization?

The enemy in this case is religiously motivated, no? You can argue that the enemy has perverted their religion, but that doesn't change the fact that they do what they do because of their religion.

This is an answer as lazy as your others. AQ was/is a religiously aligned organization that did not target the US for religious reasons. Their attacks on the US were politically motivated, and directly tied to US foreign policy. Pretending that these attacks were something that they were not led to no good, and still does. Likewise, it's difficult to conclude that Daesh's motivations in attacking Western nations are strictly religious, particularly since they've only taken place after the west began engaging in proxy and direct war against their nation (such as it is). A far better case of religious motivation can be made in their case than AQ's, obviously, and I don't think in their case it's unreasonable to say that they are religiously motivated. However, it's laughably absurd to equate their fringe sect with all of Islam as you quite eagerly and confidently do. Was the US at war with Christianity when they laid siege to Koresh's Waco compound in 1993? Were they even at war with a "non-trivial segment of Christianity"? Your xenophobia is showing.

TRM @ 1:28 - Forgive me if you have previously commented on this, but given what you've written, I am left wondering what your opinion is on the NYPD's 'stop & frisk' policies? Or that of Chicago, Los Angeles, Philly, etc.?

Cruz still digging.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ted-cruz-defends-police-us-muslim-neighborhoods/

I get the feeling TRM is arguing in favor of the Israeli methods of screening.

The US isn't fighting them because it's a Christian nation

there are plenty of people ("conservative" people, especially) who disagree with you about that.

I think we are fighting ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc because of a series of terrorist events going back to and maybe preceding Pan Am 103, and we are doing so because we've been attacked. What motivates people to blow up airplanes or set off bombs at ticket counters or fly planes into buildings? Who would want to cut another person's head off? Beats me. I can't come within miles of getting that mentality. I can guess that it is some form of extreme religious and philosophical drive, but that's just a guess.

But, a common element in the terrorism the West faces seems to be a very radical subset of Islam. Does that radical subset create a milieu for attacking other Muslims of differing sects or insufficient enthusiasm as well as non-Muslims? Maybe so, but if it does, how is that anything other than an aggravating factor?

Ugh is correct. This isn't going away anytime soon. I was hoping to hear something from lefties here about how to address the situation. Still waiting for that. Unless "I don't know" is the answer.

Trump screens:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/npr-training-hostile-environments-trump-rallies

Imelda screened for Beatles:

http://lisawallerrogers.com/2009/04/08/imelda-marcos-almost-gets-the-beatles-killed/

Kansas will screen you and your little dog Toto too:

http://www.ottumwacourier.com/region/new-kansas-law-lets-campus-religious-groups-restrict-members/image_99b04ba6-dd5b-51d9-a98f-207ea366dbc4.html

Republicans want to screen the terminally and chronically ill from the health insurance system.

It's like being turned away from the conservative disco club: You ... not you .. you're OK; hold on there, bub, you look a little sickly, not tonight, move along; no way, pops! I smell cancer!"

If you're stoopid, of course, you get in. "You, dimwit, front of the queue, I can tell you watch Judge Death Palin regularly. Hey, you with the KKK t-shirt, you and the kirlfriend, kree krinks on the kouse. Lookee here, we've got this kanumbskull dressed up like John Galt, and either you're glad to see me or you're packing heat too;.... jeez, you shoulda been here last night, cause a dying guy gave us some trouble, gangway, everyone, let dis guy enter. There's nothing says "Entree, Monsieur" like a hundred-round clip on an open carry automatic weapon. Get in here, skeezix!"

ISIS doesn't screen. They'll kill anyone.

But Obama is the great divider, so it's OK, all this increased screening to weed out the unwanted.

I look at it as choosing up sides for the next great bloody uncivil war in this country.

I get the feeling TRM is arguing in favor of the Israeli methods of screening.

I've seen plenty of ethnic screening in the UK, in France and in Italy. Pretty much every time I've been to any of those countries, or made a connection in one of them.

If Baader Meinhoff was blowing the shit out of US sites, I don't think anyone would complain about giving Germans a harder look at airports and elsewhere.

If the KKK was smuggling bombs on airplanes, I don't think we'd be spending a lot of time frisking African Americans.

If some weird ass white supremacist militia group in Montana declares war, there is no need to shake down people of color entering and leaving the state.

The problem is, we don't like picking on non-white people because of their color or their faith. Any differential treatment is an anathema. Our history of mistreating minorities and Native Americans makes it very difficult for most of us to verbalize a rationale for taking a harder look at non-Caucasians.

Focusing on Muslims or people originating in the ME isn't *irrational bigotry* when it is from among Muslims and people originating from the ME that we find the vast majority of terrorists. It's not *invidious discrimination* since adverse action isn't taken unless the person being singled out has additional indicia of being a threat, i.e. a bomb or a gun and also because, in the absence of repeated terrorist events from among that quarter, Muslims would no more likely to be singled out than anyone else.

But, even if it isn't irrational, or bigoted in a venal sense, it is still singling out an identifiable group for somewhat differential treatment, i.e. heightened security at more vulnerable security points. We can't bring ourselves to do that. If, looking back in 20 years, our present policy did not materially and adversely affect public security, all well and good. If, OTOH, significant attacks were allowed in part because of a color blind security policy, that will be worth noting for future reference as well.

Maybe so, but if it does, how is that anything other than an aggravating factor?

my point there was that there is a non-trivial number of people who think that we in the US are, in fact, fighting Islam because we are a Christian nation (a subset of those who mistakenly insist we are "Christian nation").

and, i tried to say (but flubbed the first time through) that these people play directly into the propaganda efforts of those Muslims who insist that Christians are deliberately attacking Muslims because they are Muslims.

religious fundamentalists want to make this a battle of religions - because it helps recruitment, i suppose. and they are helped by people who seem eager to frame everything as an existential crisis.

well, i don't buy either of those viewpoints.

we are not at war with Islam. and Christianity is not at war with Islam. there are a handful of people who, for whatever reason, have been seduced into adopting a perverse version of a religion that is, statistically speaking, about as peaceful as any religion has ever been. and those people are trying to frame their terrorism as a grand battle between their self-proclaimed-"pure" version of Islam and everybody else. and they're killing many more Muslims than they are killing Christians or Jews. but by framing it as a war of religion, which sets all the fundamentalists and 'existential' hyperventilators into fits of stamping and foaming, they have distracted everybody into ignoring that. they've convinced people who apparently adore war and desperately want to live in a time of existential crisis that this is the battle for the future of civilization.

it's not.

no, the problem not going away soon. but it's going take more than Trumpian bluster and Cruzian bravado to fix it. what else ya got?

I was hoping to hear something from lefties here about how to address the situation.

and i'm still waiting for you to tell me about all of the great "decisive" military actions that the right has taken on. surely there must be some? and what is the right's great plan to defeat ISIS? surely you must have one. otherwise, what are you doing by drawing a left/right divide here?

"Ugh is correct. This isn't going away anytime soon. I was hoping to hear something from lefties here about how to address the situation. Still waiting for that. Unless "I don't know" is the answer."

I may be wrong, but I thought Russell came down on the "I don't know".

Mostly, when I consider the zillion tons of ordnance dropped on the problem in the Mideast in the past whatever years and now the all-out Trump/Cruz assault on civil liberties in this country as the go-to alternative, just STOPPING all of that sounds like a good start on doing something.

As far as immigration security stateside, given the unemployment problem in this problem, hire one million new immigration agents and train them rigorously to screen EVERYONE entering the country, whether tourist, refugee, or work visa recipient and then follow-up in a disciplined but civilized and welcoming manner to make sure they are enjoying themselves pursuing the legit purposes for which they claimed to enter the country.

I've traveled abroad enough and in many different kinds of countries to realize that the entrance interview, even it's just standing opposite a well-trained serious looking mofo agent and trying to hold eye contact without either laughing or dropping the illegal invasive species secreted in my pants, or triggering my non-explosive vest, is a sobering experience, capable of sending at least one testicle into my abdomen for safekeeping.

I expect a well-trained, smart hard ass can spot a another hard ass, male or female, most of the time.

Diplomatically in the Mideast, undermine the current conservative governments of all of those countries, from Israel to Bahrain, and from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, by seeking back channel influence and economic carrots and sticks with more liberal, humanitarian political elements in those societies.

Course, that probably wouldn't work in many cases, they'd just be disappeared.

But, given the recent elections in Iran which moderated their elected bodies considerably, it looks like the undermining Iran deal, much like the undermining Cuban deal, is having that very result.

No walls, no invasions. No turning away from hospitals and public assistance.

Batter up.

And the next time Trump and/or Cruz or any of these other characters say they will torture, or remove civil liberties from innocent people, arrest and prosecute the former under the new Homeland Security Protection From Asshole legislation, just to show the rest of the world that we take our exceptionalism seriously and we aren't going to let idiots f*ck with it.

"unemployment problem in this 'country""

YMMV

I was hoping to hear something from lefties here about how to address the situation. Still waiting for that. Unless "I don't know" is the answer.

I have no idea what a "lefty" solution might look like. But I do have some vague thoughts on what parts of a solution might be.

- We need radical political and economic changes in the Middle East. Ones which will give young men some vision of how they can accomplish something outside the radical religious context. [We need the same thing in Europe, especially with respect to their (frequently Muslim) immigrant populations, too.]

At the moment, there is nothing much to do for young Saudi men, and very little constructive to do for young men across the region. "Idle hands do the devil's work" and all that.

Also, in a lot of countries, the mosque is the only alternative to government organizations. The only place where anyone who is not willing to just accept the (bad) government they have can meet and talk. Which colors the kind of alternatives that get discussed.

- We need to slash the economic power of the Saudis to warp the way Islam is taught around the world. At the moment, they spend massive amounts of money to fund mosques and schools which teach their particular, fundamentalist, brand of Islam. If they didn't have the money, Wahabism would be a fringe Arab sect at most. As it is, it has been spread far and wide.

Dropping oil prices will help with that -- as long as it lasts. But I'm not sure that will be enough. Maybe we can refrain from getting involved while they wade in to some more unwinable local wars....

- While we're at it, in a lot of places, the only education available is at the mosque. Having somewhere else that kids can be taught, and taught something besides religion, would be a big step forward. All those kids are going to have to live in the modern world . . . unless the ISIS types manage to restore the 12th century, of course. And they are going to need to know something about how it works to get jobs doing something other than fighting.

Will that still leave some disgruntled young men, who will still want to start a fight and/or blow something up? Sure. We have them in militias here. But what is important is getting the numbers down to where they are an irritant, not a significant threat.

and i'm still waiting for you to tell me about all of the great "decisive" military actions that the right has taken on. surely there must be some? and what is the right's great plan to defeat ISIS? surely you must have one. otherwise, what are you doing by drawing a left/right divide here?

I give "the right" credit for turning around Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the initial success in Afghanistan. I give "the right" credit for deterring the Soviet Union long enough for it to fall apart. I give "the right" including me credit for invading Iraq, so that's one on the negative side and a big one. I give a slice of "the right" credit for understanding how defense works and for recognizing real, potentially existential risks in the world and for having a much more realistic view of what it would take in material terms to deal with those threats if things ever got out of hand. However, that is a sideshow. I made the point that Cruz and Trump were demonstrably idiots. By default, that leaves your group. Does your group have a plan?

by seeking back channel influence and economic carrots and sticks with more liberal, humanitarian political elements in those societies.

Good plan. I like it. Heading home for a vino. Adios, Count.

Who would want to cut another person's head off?

I have to admit that there are people that I fantasize about doing pretty nasty things to.
Personal cutting of throats is not included though. Too messy and far to quick and good for those guys. Breaking on the wheel would be more like it but only after the extended capsaicin cure (imagine burning at the stake without any fire involved).

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