Thursday, December 31, 2015


Chris Christie’s presidential campaign is enjoying a mini-revival, so the Washington Post needed to find new fault with the New Jersey governor. But how? It has already examined his high school baseball career, and the Bridge affair is old news.
Thus, the Post turned to Christie’s time as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and his claim that, in this capacity, he helped combat terrorism. Post reporter Frances Stead Sellers writes:
The tough-on-terror message appears to be resonating in New Hampshire, where polling shows Christie moving up and now tied for second place behind GOP front-runner Donald Trump. But Christie’s recent remarks on his counterterrorism experience are also prompting backlash, particularly among supporters of his political rivals, who note that Christie was much better known for battling public corruption than for fighting terrorism when he was a U.S. attorney.
Why might Christie be better known for battling public corruption than terrorism as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey? Here’s a wild guess: there was more public corruption than terrorist activity in New Jersey (at least when George W. Bush was president).
It’s possible, though, to bring plenty of public corruption cases — which Christie did, winning convictions or guilty pleas against 130 public officials from both parties — and still have a anti-terrorism record worth talking about. If one digs deeply enough into Sellers’ story, one finds that Christie has such a record:
[Kevin] O’Connor [a fellow U.S. Attorney during the Bush years] said Christie’s location would mean that he “had a far greater role” than most U.S. attorneys in counterterrorism efforts, which would have involved bringing together local, state and federal resources to prevent future attacks.
A large part of a U.S. attorney’s job was “helping to neutralize the threat,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, who coordinated the Justice Department’s counterterrorism efforts as the first assistant attorney general for national security. He said Christie was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee — a reflection of how he was perceived. That committee “was laser-focused” on combatting terrorism, Wainstein said.
That’s not all:
Although there were [were] relatively few high-profile national security cases during his tenure, Christie has said that “two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world” came on his watch: Six Islamist extremists were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in 2008 for planning to attack military personnel at Fort Dix in New Jersey, and Hemant Lakhani was convicted in 2005 for trying to sell a missile capable of shooting down a passenger plane to an undercover FBI agent.
In sum, Christie’s anti-terrorism record consists of successfully prosecuting the only terrorists who, from all that appears, committed crimes within his jurisdiction and of taking a lead role in bringing together local, state, and federal resources to prevent attacks.
That’s plenty. To my knowledge, Christie has never claimed to have done more.
In the end, the Post’s criticism of Christie seems to boil down to the fact that, for political gain, he’s focusing attention on his second biggest accomplishment as U.S. Attorney — fighting terrorism — instead of his biggest accomplishment — prosecuting corruption. But what candidate wouldn’t focus on the aspect of his record that’s most relevant to the presidency?
The Post would find happier hunting by delving into Christie’s Little League record than it does by pointing to his anti-corruption prosecution record.


In the Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald recalls her own documenting of the “Ferguson effect” and the Left’s efforts to deny its existence:
Murders and shootings have spiked in many American cities—and so have efforts to ignore or deny the crime increase. … Americans are being asked to disbelieve both the Ferguson effect and its result: violent crime flourishing in the ensuing vacuum.
Data show an 11% increase in the homicide rate in 25 of the nation’s largest cities in 2015. On its face, that appears substantial. How have liberals tried to deny it or paper it over?
Several strategies are employed to play down the jump in homicides. The simplest is to hide the actual figure. An Atlantic magazine article in November, “Debunking the Ferguson Effect,” reports: “Based on their data, the Brennan Center projects that homicides will rise slightly overall from 2014 to 2015.”
Mac Donald cites several more instances of this “hide the numbers” tactic. She continues:
A second strategy for brushing off the homicide surge is to contextualize it over a long period. Because homicides haven’t returned to their appalling early 1990s or early 2000s levels, the current crime increase is insignificant, the Brennan Center and its media supporters suggest, echoing an argument that arose immediately after I first documented the Ferguson effect nationally.
It is true, of course, that current homicide rates are far less than what we experienced during the Clinton administration. But so what? An increase is nevertheless undesirable, and it raises the question: why are murder rates going up after a relatively long period of decline? What has happened to reverse the trend?
Coincidentally, the Minneapolis Star Tribune headlined today: “At year’s end, violent crime up in Minneapolis for the fifth straight year.” Here, the adverse trend with respect to violent crime in general predates any possible Ferguson effect. Still, the jump in homicides in 2015 is striking:
Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.34.40 PM
The Strib cautions us not to read too much into these numbers. Why? The homicide rate still isn’t as bad as it was a decade or two ago:
Despite the five-year rise in violence, overall the city remains a safer place than it was in the early 2000s, said Assistant Police Chief Kris Arneson.
The Strib confidently explains why we have crime:
Officials caution against reading too much into the rising crime rates — a product of underlying social conditions like poverty, racial discrimination and chronic unemployment — saying that sharp variations in the numbers may be misleading when considering long-term crime trends, which show that current levels are still hovering around historic lows in Minneapolis and other large U.S. cities.
If poverty causes crime, why is there no relationship whatsoever between the poverty rate and the violent crime rate in the U.S.? Poverty rate for families from 1959 to 2009:
Homicide rates, 1950-2010:
As for racial discrimination, is the Strib suggesting that there was a big increase in such discrimination between the 1950s and the 1990s? That would be a news flash, to say the least: the civil rights movement caused a huge increase in race discrimination!
And finally, chronic unemployment. It is true that we have a lot of chronic unemployment today, as a result of the lousy Obama economy. But is there evidence that the chronically unemployed are behind the increase in violent crime in Minneapolis in 2015? If there is, the Strib doesn’t share it. And historically, this claim makes no sense. The homicide ratedeclined through the 1930s, and is much lower now than it was during the 1990s, a time of relatively low chronic unemployment.
So it would seem that the Strib’s confident assertion of fact, that rising crime rates are the “product of underlying social conditions like poverty, racial discrimination and chronic unemployment” is false.
Then, of course, we have guns:
Deputy Police Chief Bruce Folkens, who heads the department’s Investigations Bureau, said the rise in violence is due, at least in part, to the proliferation of guns among young men, whom [sic] police say are increasingly likely to pull a trigger to ­settle old neighborhood scores or present-day beefs on social media. Officials said more than three-quarters of the city’s homicides in 2015 were caused by guns.
Guns are used in most homicides because they are more effective than knives or clubs. That doesn’t mean that such murders were “caused by guns,” any more than a stabbing is caused by the knife. But back to the statistical question: is there any evidence that there are more “guns among young men” in 2015 than there were in 2014? None is presented, and the assertion seems highly unlikely. So how can an alleged “proliferation” in guns account for the city’s 53% year-over-year increase in homicides?
Note that one possible contributor to the sharp increase in murders in 2015–the Ferguson effect–is never mentioned.
Nowadays, just about everything is politicized, nothing more so than crime. Liberal reporters are incapable of writing about crime without riding their favorite hobby-horses–poverty, discrimination, guns–regardless of whether the data implicate such factors or not. Meanwhile, data that suggest a causal relationship that liberals prefer to ignore–in this case, the Ferguson effect–are studiously ignored. When it comes to crime, the narrative always gets priority.

The Left’s Central Delusion

The Left’s Central Delusion
Its devotion to central planning has endured from the French Revolution to Obamacare.
By Thomas Sowell 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders can't close the gender wage gap, because it's due to choice

The problem with Bernie Sanders' statement is that the gender wage gap is due to the choices women make and is therefore not fixable unless those choices are controlled, which is a ludicrous suggestion. (Screenshot)

The problem with this statement is that the gender wage gap is due to the choices women make and is therefore not fixable unless those choices are controlled — which is a ludicrous suggestion.
And it's not even properly called a "wage gap," it is more appropriately called an "earnings gap," because that is the claim that women earn 77 or 78 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Women as a whole earn less than men as a whole because women are more likely to stop working to take care of a baby, to work fewer hours and to go into lower-paying fields. The 77-cent claim doesn't actually compare apples to apples, it compares apples to oranges.The White House has acknowledged that this is the case and the earnings gap does not refer to "equal pay for equal work."
"Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the annual earnings of full-time, full-year men," White House Advisor Betsey Stevenson said. "There are a lot of things that go into that 77-cents figure, there are a lot of things that contribute and no one's trying to say that it's all about discrimination, but I don't think there's a better figure."
Stevenson only acknowledged this disparity after being called out on her claim that the gap was referring to "identical work."
As for lower-paying jobs, one of the comparisons between men and women's earnings is in the social sciences. Yet even this field has different careers that result in different pay. Men tend to gravitate toward economics, which pays more than sociology, the field women gravitate toward.
Further, nine out of 10 of the highest-paying fields are dominated by men, while nine out of 10 of the lowest-paying fields are dominated by women. Men also tend to take more dangerous careers that pay more.So it seems Democrats are just really upset that women aren't making the careers choices that Democrats think they should make. Why do Democrats hate women's choices?

Where Christianity Lives

Where Christianity Lives

by John Schroeder

On Christmas Eve Eve, Daniel Henninger declared this “The Year Christmas Died.” He laments that this year the store windows of New York’s famous Fifth Avenue are devoid of not just religious Christmas imagery, but virtually anything traditionally associated with the holiday. It is a lamentable fact. For some years I had a client that had me traveling to New York during the holiday season and I always tried to Christmas shop for the Missus on that fabled Avenue. But with each passing year you could feel the cheer oozing out of the area. When the contract came to its inevitable end I found that the shopping was better closer to home. That said, Henninger’s observations, as corroborated by my own experiences, are symptomatic of the problem, but do not give us a clue as to the cause of death. Like the skin lesions associated with Chicken Pox, it tells us we are sick, but the lesions are not fatal. Nor will treating them cure the illness.
Franklin Graham’s anti-GOP tantrum this past week is treating the lesions, not the disease. Christianity is most assuredly the cure for what ails our culture and our nation. But when we wave it like a magic wand at surface symptoms not only do we make it look ineffective, we reveal how little we understand of its true nature and power. “Christian” is not a brand name to be hung on political stances or commercial products thus somehow sanctifying them. When we treat Christianity as a mere label, even if what the label represents is in line with genuinely Christian thought and teaching, we are constraining it. We are putting walls around it to keep it from leaking into the places where it is really meant to do its work.
For thousands of years God lived inside the walls we constructed. He expressed Himself in laws and objects, temples and a nation. But on Christmas, some 2000 years ago, He blew the walls down. No longer were things intermediate between Him and us; the Incarnation enabled us to confront God Almighty most directly. But more importantly it enabled Him to confront us face-to-face. From that point forward the laws and institutions, governments and behaviors were not the way TO God, for God was now with us. From that point forward such things emanated FROM God because we were, in fact with Him.
Christianity lives not in laws or temples or governments, but in us. We build those things as a reflection of the work that God is doing in us. If the reflection is ugly then we, as what is being reflected, must be ugly too. The first thing that happens when God confronts us face-to-face is that we discover our ugliness. If we insist that the world is ugly because of “them” instead of ourselves then either, a) we have not really met God face-to-face and had our own ugliness revealed to us, or b) we have not been up to the task of helping those around us to also come face-to-face with God. And let’s be honest, option b) is really just another revelation of our own ugliness.
I think we keep wanting the way to God to be in the governments and laws and temples because we don’t want to have our own ugliness revealed to us. But that also means we do not understand Christmas at the deepest levels. God did not bother to assume humanity in order just to show us how inadequate we were. On the contrary God, assumed humanity to in order to grant us the grace to overcome our inadequacy. Unfortunately, we cannot take advantage of such grace until we understand our need for it.
Is Christmas dead? No, most assuredly not. Jesus tried dying once, didn’t care for it much and gave it up. After that, it is going to take a lot more than some inappropriate store windows to kill Christmas. Besides, Christmas does not live in those stores windows anymore than Christianity lives in federal budgets. But if Christians and Christian leaders keep looking for Christ in those places instead of in the hearts and minds of those that have met Him face-to-face, He is going to get harder and harder to find.
The world is an ugly place because we are ugly people. If we want the world to be prettier, then we have to start by making ourselves prettier, and the only way to do that is in face-to-face confrontation with Christ. If we worked more on that and less on store windows and federal budgets I KNOW that the windows and budgets would get prettier too.

Washington is closing its eyes to Iran’s persecution of Christians

Washington is closing its eyes to Iran’s persecution of Christians

Christmas is a good time to take stock of oppressed Christians around the world. So why not this year look at a place that Washington tries so hard to warm up to, and therefore may overlook?
Iran’s attempt to present itself as a champion of its Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities, combined with comparisons to the murderous religious cleansing in areas controlled by ISIS, can lull us into believing that all is hunky-dory in the land of the mullahs.
It isn’t. Ayatollah Khomeini’s heirs have learned his lesson well: Even if you present your country as pluralistic and accommodating, remember that all non-Shiites are far from your equal. Keep them in check — or better yet, imprison and execute them.
President Hassan Rouhani made a splash in 2013 when, during his annual New York trip for the UN General Assembly, he brought along the sole Jewish member of Iran’s parliament. See, said some ardent supporters of America’s Iran rapprochement, the mullahs aren’t as bigoted as others in the region. They tolerate minorities.
Especially these new, improved moderates.
The 8,000 Jews left in Iran may not be molested outright, but they’re barred from teaching Hebrew and banned from contacting relatives in Israel, let alone visiting Judaism’s holy sites there. But the lot of Iran’s half-million Christians is even worse.
Christian leaders were executed even as the efforts to topple the shah were ongoing in 1979. The revolution’s ideology reserves a special contempt for Baha’is and Christians. That’s because those believers are considered stray Muslims who’ve deserted their faith, explains Menashe Amir, director of Israel Radio’s Farsi Service and a veteran mullah chronicler.
Christian leaders were therefore targeted and executed by mobs, and by the state, since the first days of the revolution, but under “moderate” Rouhani, things haven’t changed much. “Christians most commonly prosecuted appear to be converts from Muslim backgrounds or those that proselytize or minister to Iranian Muslims,” wrote Ahmed Shaheed, the UN watchdog on human rights in Iran, in a 2014 report.
“While most cases involving Christians are tried in revolutionary courts for national security crimes, some Christians face charges in public criminal courts for manifestation of religious beliefs,” Shaheed added. In one October 2013 case, a court sentenced four Christians to 80 lashes each for drinking wine during Communion.
Among dozens who languish in Iranian jails for pursuing their Christian faith, Americans rightly pay extra attention to Saeed Abedini, the Idaho pastor who was arrested in Iran in 2012 and sentenced to eight years in the notorious Evin prison for “undermining national security.”
As many critics of President Obama’s Iran deal noted, we failed to include in it a demand for an unconditional release of American hostages in Iran. In addition to Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and former Marine Amir Hekmati are also held in jails on trumped-up charges. Former CIA contractor Robert Levinson, who was kidnapped in 2007, has been missing ever since.
And those are the cases we know about.
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry assured the mullahs that the administration will override recent congressional legislation changing visa waivers for world travelers to the United States. Iran would be exempted, Kerry vowed. Why? Tehran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, threatened to cancel the Iran nuclear deal if the legislation stands.
It’d be nice if Kerry, or anyone else in the administration, could every once in a while retort by demanding that unless Iran changes its behavior, we won’t deliver our end of the deal either. For starters, why in Sam Hill didn’t we demand that, before even talking, Iran release all American hostages and refrain from further American hostage taking — a mullah habit since the early days of the revolution?
And even that’s not enough. We should have demanded, and still must, changes in the appalling human-rights situation in Iran. As we rightly denounce any singling out of Muslims for crimes committed in the name of Islam, we also need to demand some reciprocity from Iran.
Time to turn up the heat and highlight religious persecution in Iran — of Baha’i, Jews, Sunnis and, yes, Christians. After all, ’tis the season.

Obama’s Denial of Jihad’s Ideological Roots Gravely Endangers the Nation

The Obama administration calls its national security strategy “Countering Violent Extremism.” In the benighted times before January 20, 2009, we used to call it counter-terrorism.
Why does Obama insist on the more fuzzy “extremism”? Because “terror” has its roots in Islamic scripture. This fact ought to be undeniable, but Obama denies it -- and in Washington, he’s far from alone in that.
It is not just that the word terror appears several times in the Koran; it is that the word appears in a particular context: The duty of Muslims to act as Allah’s instrument to terrorize non-Muslims is a recurring scriptural theme. In Sura 3:151, to take one of several examples, Muslims are admonished:
Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.
Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted in the mid-'90s after his cell bombed the World Trade Center and planned similar strikes against other New York City landmarks, was a renowned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence. Indeed -- and this is worth pausing over -- his mastery of our enemy’s ideology was the sole source of his authority to approve jihadist attacks. Think about that: his blindness, and various other maladies, render Abdel Rahman unable to do anything useful for a terrorist network. He can’t build bombs, command forces on the battlefield, execute assassinations, and so on. But his authority is unquestioned because of his scholarship and rhetorical power in the scripture-based doctrine our president pretends is non-Islamic and of marginal importance.
Sheikh Abdel Rahman was adamant that terror is fundamental to Islamic doctrine:
Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We ... have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy. The Koran [said] “to strike terror.” Therefore, we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” ... They may say, “He is a terrorist, he uses violence, he uses force.” Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.
Obama’s national security strategy is suicidal because it mulishly denies two unavoidable facts: (a) terrorism is rooted in Islamic supremacism’s literalist construction of scripture, and (b) even if Islamic supremacism is not the only way of interpreting Islam, it is a mainstream interpretation of Islam.
Islamic supremacism is not merely the creed of outlier “violent extremists,” but of hundreds of millions of Muslims, the ocean in which jihadists comfortably swim. A commander-in-chief who does not or will not come to terms with those facts is unfit for his most basic responsibilities. His stubbornness renders him incapable of protecting the nation.
That’s Obama. Understand: the president is not refusing to associate terror with Islam out of political correctness. His delusion is ideological. It informs his every decision. It is why the terrorist threat has so intensified, and why we are in more peril today than at any time since before the 9/11 attacks.
The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategy has gotten some way overdue attention in the two weeks since 14 Americans were killed by the San Bernardino jihadists. As I’ve recently recounted, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security published CVE training instructions for federal agencies involved in national security. All of the two-page “Do’s and Don’ts” [sic] document is breathtakingly detached from life here on earth, but buried in the middle is a specific directive that speaks volumes:
Don’t use training that is all “war stories,” which may rely too much on outdated information and overgeneralizations. Regaling an audience with a blow-by-blow account of a 2003 terrorism investigation does not address the changing nature of violent extremism we face today.
Obama believes the nature of terrorism is changing. This is absurd. The violence today is executed by jihadists. They are motivated by a scripture-based doctrinal command to impose sharia -- Islam’s societal framework and legal code, which is the necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society and, ultimately, establishing a caliphate. That is why they kill today, it is why they killed in 2003, in 1993, in 1800, in 1565, in 1064, in 732, and so on all the way back to the raids Muhammad himself led in the seventh century. The technology and tactics of violent jihadism have changed over time; the nature of it has been the same for nearly a millennium-and-a-half.
The Obama administration has thoroughly politicized national security (just as it has politicized law enforcement and most everything else), so I would not disappoint you by saying the president’s approach to “violent extremism” is all ideology and no cynicism. By bleaching out the ideological catalyst for mass-murder attacks and attributing them to “extremism” without acknowledging what the killers are extremeabout, Obama promotes an ugly moral equivalence between jihadists and his political opposition, whose members are habitually smeared as “extremists.” It is no surprise that, while unable to bring itself to concede that the Fort Hood massacre was a jihadist attack, the Obama administration was issuing Homeland Security Department memos that profiled conservatives and U.S. soldiers returning from war as potential violent extremists.
Still, Obama really is ideologically impenetrable when it comes to the motivation and even the identification of actual terrorists. In an important report over the weekend, the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes detailed the president’s serial lies about the jihadist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay – lies about how many enemy operatives he has released during a time of increasing terrorist threat, lies about the backgrounds of the terrorists he’s sprung. Particularly telling, though, were the president’s remarks about jihadist recidivism, a combination of duplicity and delusion:
We assume that there are going to be – out of four, five, six hundred people that get released – a handful of them are going to be embittered and still engaging in anti-U.S. activities and trying to link up potentially with their old organizations.
Of course the recidivism rate is astronomically higher than Obama is letting on, but pay close attention to why he says jihadists go back to the jihad: They are “embittered.” You are to understand it is not their belief system – one that burns strong enough in jihadists that many are willing to die for it – but the fact that they are held in captivity.
Yes, some of this is cynicism: It’s a powerful political cudgel to claim that policies you condemn (like Obama condemns Gitmo) are not only wrong but responsible for mass-murder. Obama, however, has internalized his ideological pieties. The nature of terrorism, he believes, has changed. Terrorists kill not because of their doctrine – as the DHS guidelines tell us, that kind of thinking is so 2003. “Extremists” kill because of policy grievances, some of which the president shares. So if we just release them, leave them alone, and change policy course, all will be well.
Consider how the president’s worldview endangers the country. Ibrahim Qosi is now a leader of al Qaeda’s most deadly competent franchise in Yemen. Until 2012, he was a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. But Obama released him – just as the Obama and Bush administrations have released hundreds of Gitmo detainees – rationalizing that Qosi would be participating in a “rehabilitation” program run by the government of Sudan. Many other former prisoners go through a rehab program run by Saudi Arabia. These are Islamic supremacist countries in which sharia is the law. Indeed, the Saudi government competes with ISIS each year over which will lead the Middle East in beheadings. Sending a jihadist to a rehab in a country whose sharia culture is a jihadist assembly line is like sending an alcoholic to rehab at the local bar.
Yet, because Obama will not come to grips with the ideological basis of jihadism, a violent conquest doctrine rooted in Islamic scripture, he sees no problem sending the dynamite back to the fire.
To protect the nation, a president has to grasp the source of the threat, who it is coming from, where and why it is likely to strike next. We do not have such a president. That is why we have become so vulnerable to catastrophic attack.