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San Bernardino Leaves Anti-Terror Policy In Disarray As Obama Prepares To Address Nation

Obama ISIS

With the San Bernardino shootings now essentially confirmed to have been at the very least an act of ISIS-inspired homegrown terrorism, The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is rethinking its anti-terror strategy as the President plans to address the nation tonight from the Oval Office for only the third time since he became President:

WASHINGTON — The day before Thanksgiving, President Obama reassured Americans there was “no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland.” Seven days later came an explosion of gunfire and the deadliest terrorist attack in America since Sept. 11, 2001.

What may be most disturbing is not that Mr. Obama was wrong, but that apparently he was right. By all accounts so far, the government had no concrete intelligence warning of the assault on Wednesday that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif.

Swift, ruthless and deadly, the attack appeared to reflect an evolution of the terrorist threat that Mr. Obama and federal officials have long dreaded: homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected before striking one of many soft targets that can never be fully protected in a country as sprawling as the United States.

“We have moved to an entirely new phase in the global terrorist threat and in our homeland security efforts,” Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, said in an interview on Saturday. Terrorists have “in effect outsourced attempts to attack our homeland. We’ve seen this not just here but in other places. This requires a whole new approach, in my view.”

The White House announced that Mr. Obama would address the nation on Sunday night about the nature of the terrorist threat and steps the administration is taking to protect the United States. Mr. Johnson said the government should continue to augment airline security by placing more agents in overseas departure airports and further toughen standards for the visa waiver program that allows visitors from certain friendly nations easy entry into the country. He and other officials said the government needed to reach out even more to Muslim communities to help identify threats that might otherwise escape notice.

Unable to curb the availability of guns at home or extremist propaganda from overseas, the authorities may have to rely more on encouraging Americans to watch one another and report suspicions. Federal and local governments already have programs urging friends, families and neighbors to identify people targeted for recruitment.

The attack may reignite the privacy-versus-security debate about encryption software sold by private-sector providers over government objections. And some administration officials said they needed to escalate efforts to stimulate contrary Muslim voices to counter extremist propaganda by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“We can work with the private sector to get additional messengers with alternative voices out there,” said Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism adviser. “Frankly, we’ve got to do a better job of approaching this in a way that allows us to — the phrase has been used — break the brand of ISIL’s message.”

The San Bernardino attack has already inflamed the political debate less than two months before the first voting in the 2016 presidential primaries, and it may reshape Mr. Obama’s last year in office. While Republican candidates denounced the president, politicians were not the only ones asserting that his administration should shift course.

John D. Cohen, a professor at Rutgers University and a senior Homeland Security Department counterterrorism official until last year, said the administration needed to “wake up” to the threat and change an approach that is “ill-suited to deter these kinds of attacks.”

Alberto M. Fernandez, who until earlier this year led the State Department unit that counters militant propaganda, said, “The administration seems to be really flailing and tone deaf to this latest challenge.” He called the San Bernardino attack “D.I.Y. jihad,” and said it “forces the administration to look at where it does not want to go and is weakest, at jihadist ideology and its dissemination.”

Others, however, cautioned against overreaction, warning that the focus on Muslims could lead to the kind of anger and alienation that creates more potential for terrorist recruitment. Some experts urged officials to keep the danger posed by terrorism in perspective.

The death toll from jihadist terrorism on American soil since the Sept. 11 attacks — 45 people — is about the same as the 48 killed in terrorist attacks motivated by white supremacist and other right-wing extremist ideologies, according to New America, a research organization in Washington.

And both tolls are tiny compared with the tally of conventional murders, more than 200,000 over the same period. But the disproportionate focus they draw in the news media and their effect on public fear demand the attention of any administration.

In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, Mr. Obama warned of the Islamic State’s efforts to inspire people in Europe and the United States to carry out attacks.

“We know that ISIL and other terrorist groups are actively encouraging people, around the world and in our country, to commit terrible acts of violence, oftentimes as lone-wolf actors,” he said. He urged the country to uphold its values, which administration officials said means not demonizing Muslims.

“We are strong,” the president said. “And we are resilient. And we will not be terrorized.”

The President’s speech tonight, which was announced late yesterday afternoon, wAill be only the second time the President has addressed the nation in prime time on Sunday since he took office. The first, of course, came on May 1st, 2011 when, under much better circumstances, he was able to announce to the nation and the world that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a raid on a compound in Pakistan where he had apparently been hiding for several years at least. At that point, it seemed as though the nation had turned a significant corner in the War on Terror and, indeed, the Obama/Biden ran for and won re-election in no small part on the idea that its policies and the pursuit of remaining al Qaeda leaders via drone strikes and other means had sent the organization into hiding. To be sure, there were still efforts by terrorists to wage attacks on the United States, most prominently from the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen as well as people such as  Anwar al-Awlaki, which was behind such attempted attacks as the so-called “Underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab, who attempted to blow up an explosive device on a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, Faisal Shazad, who attempted to detonate a bomb in his car in Times Square in May 2010, and an effort to place explosive devices disguised as printer cartridges on cargo planes, and the chaos in Libya led to the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that has been the focus of numerous Congressional inquiries for years now. For the most part, though, it seemed after the death of bin Laden that a corner had been turned in the War On Terror, as it turned out it was merely a temporary respite.

The first sign that things hadn’t really changed came, of course, with the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April 2013, which was the first real sign of something that many anti-terror experts had been warning about for years, the homegrown terrorist who is essentially self-radicalizing and pulls of their attacks without any assistance from or communication with people in other countries. These people, obviously, are harder to detect via standard intelligence and law enforcement surveillance, thus making it less likely that attacks can be prevented. Less than a year after Boston, we were talking about the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which scored a stunning serious of military victories thanks largely to a collapsing Syrian state and an Iraqi Army that was unwilling to fight even when they had the overwhelming advantage. From that, ISIS has become able to launch attacks with its own trained terrorists in Europe, but also inspire attacks and attempted attacks in the United States, something evidenced by the fact that at least one of the San Bernardino shooters had posted a pledge of support to ISIS less than an hour before unleashing fire in a conference room at a government complex. Of most concern regarding the events in San Bernardino, though, is the fact that neither Syed Farook nor his wife Tashfeen Malik had apparently raised any red flags for law enforcement prior to their attack, nor had they apparently engaged in any actions that would have called for greater scrutiny:

What has made the San Bernardino attack all the more alarming is that Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik tripped none of the usual wires that would alert the authorities. They did not fit the model of the Paris attackers, many of whom were raised in France or Belgium, where Muslims are not as well assimilated economically, politically and socially as they are in the United States. While counterterrorism experts never thought that greater Muslim assimilation in this country meant there could not be an attack here, the assumption that the United States was less vulnerable than Europe has been shaken by San Bernardino.

“The couple was not on any radar and had no real connections to terrorist suspects,” said Matthew G. Olsen, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. “And what’s really troubling is that they appeared to be a well-integrated and stable couple, with a baby and a job.”

While it would be a worrisome intelligence failure if the government missed obvious warning signs, William McCants, a former State Department official who worked on countering violent extremism, said the alternative — that there were no signs at all — would be worse.

“It would mean that ISIS fans are learning to be less vocal in their fandom to avoid detection, making them much harder to identify and stop an attack,” said Mr. McCants, author of “The ISIS Apocalypse,” a new history of the Islamic State.

As a result, the massacre may presage a bitter new reality.

“It’ll gradually dawn on people,” said Bruce Jones, a former United Nations official and the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, “that we’ll be living for a long time with the possibility of low-level attacks that can never be predicted and can rarely be prevented.”

This is the environment into which the White House now finds itself thrust, and it’s hard to say exactly what can be said or down at least in the short-term to calm public fears about terrorism, or in the long-term to deal with ISIS abroad and the potential threat of homegrown terrorism in the United States. We’re unlikely to get much in the way of detail from the President tonight, to be honest. Reports indicate that the President’s speech will be, at most, fifteen minutes long, which isn’t surprising given that anything longer would run up against the beginning of Sunday night’s N.F.L. game and the fact that, outside of football, Sunday night isn’t exactly a big night for television viewership. The Oval Office was obviously selected as the venue to lend an air of seriousness to the address, but early accounts of what we’re likely to get from the President tonight make it seem unlikely that the speech will contain anything more than vague generalities about keeping the nation safe while increasing the fight against ISIS abroad. Whether that will be enough to calm the public remains to be seen.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    A lesson we can’t seem to learn in the west is overthrowing one bad guy frequently if not nearly always results in an even worse bad guy and even greater instability.
    Josh Marshal has some excellent observations. He points out that .Europe has a much more difficult time integrating foreign populations than the United States primarily because we in the US have been doing it for most of our history. Here in the Portland area the vast majority of Muslims are well integrated often more so than the extreme Evangelical Christians. Even the Mormons here resist integration.

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  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    “Dems in Disarray?”

    Doug likes those old-school media narratives, I guess.

    And the fact that this ISIS couple bought an arsenal “without raising any red flags” means we should just accept Islamic terrorism on our shores as part of our daily life, because there is nothing we can do to prevent anyone in America, regardless of affiliation, from buying semiautomatic rifles.

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  3. Slugger says:

    This seems a very hard to solve problem to me. These two terror murderers were low profile with no ties to known militant organizations using legally obtained weapons. Farook’s profile on a dating site talked about enjoying the outdoors and snowboarding and looking for a religious woman; nothing that raises red flags with me. The same goes for the Boston Marathon bomb murderers. Short of a 1984 type of surveillance state, it seems pretty hard to think of a systematic response likely to be effective. Bombing Raqqa flat is unlikely to reduce antiAmerican sentiments. Hauling every Muslim into a police station for waterboarding would be a pretty porous sieve that would not deter hardened would-be killers, and there would be the obvious problems of finding them as well as the problems posed by other school/mall/Planned Parenthood shooteruppers who are not Islamic.
    Maybe we all have to get used to the idea that 50 Americans per year will be murdered by these isolated events. We don’t actually want the type of police/surveillance state that could reduce this number.
    Operations to neutralize organized violence must continue. However, organized violence does not define these attacks.
    Finally, let’s not lose our shit. The screamers on cable news channels are not interested in solving problems. Remember the Intifada burned out.

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  4. WR says:

    “outside of football, Sunday night isn’t exactly a big night for television viewership.”

    With all due respect, Doug, there are a lot of things you know a lot about… but the TV biz isn’t one of them. Sunday has always been one of the most important viewing nights, probably second only to Thursday (when studios like to run movie ads). In fact, the highest rated drama on TV right now airs on Sundays — The Walking Dead — as do HBO’s and Showtime’s series. I believe Sunday is also one of the nights FX programs. Because this is when viewers are available and watching.

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  5. Pch101 says:

    There is a percentage of Americans who want to work themselves into a tizzy. The same social media that nurtured this lone-wolf attack encourages this sort of collective panic.

    Unless Obama indulges that whim in some way, his speech won’t help. And he won’t, because that isn’t his style. Keep calm and carry on may work in the UK, but it backfires here.

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  6. stonetools says:

    Maybe you might want to listen to the speech first before you criticize it? Is that too much to ask in these modern times?

    One thing is sure. We aren’t in 1791, anymore, Dougie.

    These people, obviously, are harder to detect via standard intelligence and law enforcement surveillance, thus making it less likely that attacks can be prevented.

    Maybe then, we should focus on making sure these attacks are less lethal by blocking terrorist access to the deadliest weaponry-which in modern day America, are powerful firearms?

    Anyway, I’m content with waiting to hear what the President has to say rather than imagining what he might say.You might want to try out that old timey standard of good journalism.

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  7. PJ says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    He points out that .Europe has a much more difficult time integrating foreign populations than the United States primarily because we in the US have been doing it for most of our history. Here in the Portland area the vast majority of Muslims are well integrated often more so than the extreme Evangelical Christians. Even the Mormons here resist integration.

    Europe has far less problems with Central American gangs. Is that due to the US being worse at integrating Central American immigrants than Europe?

    It’s a lot harder and expensive for people from the Middle East to get to the US than Europe and likewise it’s a lot harder and expensive for Central Americans to get to Europe than to the US.

    If the US bordered the Middle East things would quite different, much as things would be quite different if Europe bordered Central America.

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  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    So suddenly Josh Marshall praises American assimilation, a doctrine despised by the Left as cultural genocide, something he’d have violently denounced a year ago. Love it. I have stood for assimilation from the start. So glad to see — too late, of course — that at least some on the Left are reluctantly wising up and recognizing that assimilation is what explains our social cohesion, a cohesion the Left has undercut for decades.

    Look, this idea that the West is solely to blame for any lack of assimilation of Muslim populations is nonsense. Obviously Muslims are at least as responsible. I would say to them the same thing I’d say to orthodox Jews: if you insist on setting yourself apart by your dress, by your social conventions, by your doctrines of male dominance, by your open contempt for gays or for women outside of the home, you make assimilation impossible. In fact, you’re telling the world you have no interest in being assimilated.

    At the day-in, day-out level, if you can’t go out drinking with co-workers, and you can’t bring your wife to social events, and you spend a month every year fainting from hunger, you’re not really ever going to fit into San Bernardino life.

    It’s analogous to the Mormons who insisted on their polygamy and removed themselves from (and were forcibly removed by) populations of mainstream Christians. There are things you can choose to do that make assimilation impossible. Having six wives is an example. Being overtly racist is another. So the Mormon prophet had himself a couple of convenient revelations which changed those impossible-to-swallow practices. If Mormons were still polygamists, or still in effect rejected the humanity of black people, they would not be as integrated into modern America as they are. We could not have had a GOP candidate in 2012 who had six potential First Ladies. Non-starter.

    In reality what we have is not a West sinfully resistant to the assimilation of anxious-to-get-along Muslims, rather we have a combination of a West very confused as to its position on assimilation, and a Muslim population that by virtue of its religious practices and beliefs, makes assimilation difficult. You cannot easily assimilate into the USA circa 2015, people who believe it’s probably a good idea to hang homosexuals and stone adulterers. Round hole, square peg.

    If, long term, we expect to continue to bring people in from all over the world, we need a policy of assimilation, not a policy of pluralism. And we need to choose populations that can be assimilated, not populations that will reject assimilation. And before various idiots accuse me of being an anti-Muslim bigot, I would say exactly the same thing if were were proposing to take on-board a bunch of ultra-Orthodox settlers. Assimilation is a two-way street: we have to want to assimilate, and they have to want to be assimilated. Right now we have neither A nor B.

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  9. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So suddenly Josh Marshall praises American assimilation, a doctrine despised by the Left as cultural genocide, something he’d have violently denounced a year ago.

    Josh Marshall “violently denounced” assimilation of immigrants a year ago?

    Got a link?

    There’s nothing in the Muslim religion that makes assimilation difficult which is why we have millions of well assimilated muslims in this country. Unless if by “assimilation” you mean give up their faith and watch Joel Olsteen every Sunday.

    I wouldn’t accuse you of being an anti-muslim bigot. Just another old white guy who’s afraid of his shadow.

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  10. Pch101 says:

    @PJ:

    Europe has far less problems with Central American gangs. Is that due to the US being worse at integrating Central American immigrants than Europe?

    American culture is based upon a political mythos; one can theoretically become an American by buying into and embracing American institutions. The US has done a fair job of creating paths to assimilation that allow people to become American in a spiritual sense while retaining their cultures.

    European culture is based upon heritage that is largely inherited. It’s difficult to be accepted as Belgian simply by speaking the local language and having a taste for waffles and mussels, particularly if one isn’t white and wishes to hang on to his cultural ties. European assimilation requires one to effectively abandon his culture, which is too much to ask.

    It’s a work of fiction, but I would recommend watching the film “My Son the Fanatic” for a depiction of the son of an immigrant who turns his back on the west in response to the difficulties that his westernized Pakistani father faces in his efforts to become accepted as a Brit.

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  11. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The empirical reality is that most Muslims assimilate to America over time.The first generation Muslim looks impossible to assimilate: the second generation Muslim wins the Miss USA beauty pageant-with home town support.

    But in Dearborn Fakih received considerable support. The town, which sits in Michigan’s car manufacturing belt, is regarded as the capital of Muslim America because of its large Islamic population.

    As you should know, Michael, a bunch of people from the East who dress funny, speak a foreign language, follow a seemingly incomprehensible and much derided religion, and who some people think are all engaged in secret conspiracy to rule the world, can assimilate over time.Note that all of the congregants in the Farooks’ mosque condemned their action and seem happy to be Americans.

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  12. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Those are some interesting caricatures you have built of the left and muslims. The left in American politics is not opposed to assimilation and you’d be hard pressed to find any prominent Democrat that fits your above stereotype of a leftist calling assimilation ‘cultural genocide’. Now, you probably could go onto some college campuses and find some well meaning kids that would say that, but those kids have right about no power.
    Further, American style assimilation doesn’t mean losing all ethnic and religious practices. The Italians and Irish, for instance, managed to assimilate quite well while remaining largely catholic and retaining relatively strong ethnic identity. American muslims are generally well integrated. We do a much better job of that than Europe, largely because being American isn’t tied to shared ethnicity or religion the way it is there. Being French or German means something fundamentally different than being American and that is a problem for them when it comes to immigrant populations.
    On the MUCH smaller point of the religiously orthodox, whether hasidic, polygamy practicing mormons, wahabists, or what have you; yes they self segregate and assimilation/integration is less common and less complete with those groups. That isn’t the majority, a plurality, or even a particularly large minority of jewish, christian, or muslim immigrants though. You might want to consider laying off the straw men for a bit. Beating on them can get tiring leaving you out of breath and you have cigars to smoke.

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  13. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So suddenly Josh Marshall praises American assimilation, a doctrine despised by the Left as cultural genocide, something he’d have violently denounced a year ago.

    {Citation needed}

    Leave the straw man arguments to the conservative trolls, big guy.

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  14. JKB says:

    @Lit3Bolt: And the fact that this ISIS couple bought an arsenal “without raising any red flags”

    Other than the man being reported to have been devout in practicing his chosen worship, the couple are said to have been the very model of assimilated Muslims. He natural born and educated in America, her a new immigrant wife.

    So are you saying the fact they were Muslims should have “red flagged” them in the NICS system? Cause, it has been wrongfully attributed to Trump that he wants to register Muslims, so that would be what was needed to red flag them in the NICS.

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Davebo:

    Read the piece Ron linked. Josh is still defending pluralism even while sliding back toward assimilation.

    There’s nothing in the Muslim religion that makes assimilation difficult which is why we have millions of well assimilated muslims in this country.

    Yes, and there were two assimilated in San Bernardino.

    Islam holds that the Koran is the inerrant and literal word of God. That is different from the Christian or Jewish views of their scripture. You can’t revise the literal, dictated word of God. There are several specific denunciations of homosexuality and requiring punishment, and there are elements of the Hadith recommending death. The Hadith can be finessed, but the Koranic injunction against homosexuality cannot.

    The essential difference is not that Islam is crazier than Christianity. You don’t get crazier than God crucifying his son as whipping boy for human sin, followed by 2000 years of praying to the Roman version of a gallows while drinking your God’s blood. Christianity is absolute batshit. Islam actually represents a more humane iteration of monotheism – for the 7th century. But this insistence on literalism has shielded Islam from reformation, and from adaptation.

    Offer me a choice between a 7th century Islam and a 7th century Christendom, you can call me Mohammed. Unfortunately the choice is between a largely un-modernized Islam and a Christianity that has been changed profoundly by secular power. Christianity has been saddled and tamed, though it retains its core intolerance. If you told me you were importing a bunch of 7th century Christians into the country, I’d warn against that, too. The only reason Christians aren’t hanging gays on orders from Jehovah is that secular power has reduced that faith to a shell of its former self.

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  16. JKB says:

    Well, we can expect Obama to call for the abrogation of Due Process for people who run afoul of federal bureaucrats who can put their name on some arbitrary, unaccountable list.

    But wait! Will the SCOTUS go along, or will the up till now unaccountable lists be subject to Due Process challenges thus revealing vital national security intelligence sources and methods?

    Word is based on the NICS system load, that gun sales were better yesterday than they were of Black Friday, which broke records. The people are voting the gun control issue with their cash and credit.

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  17. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds: Actually there was one assimilated in San Bernardino, if you can even describe it as that and another that hadn’t yet even gained the skill of conversational english.

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Davebo:

    So he was assimilated but rather easily un-assimilated. And you think that’s a good argument, do you? What you are actually arguing is that radical Islam can inspire terror from both foreign and assimilated Muslims. Right? In other words, you’re making the case that assimilation is not a sure defense against radicalization.

    Care to try to talk your way out of that?

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  19. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: So what do you suggest? Lock all Muslims up? Put them on a watch list and have every action of theirs televised by drones? Throw them out of the country? Grab hostages, one from each family, and say “if any of you do anything wrong, we’ll torture said hostage to death”?

    C’mon, big boy. You’ve been screaming about Those Horribly Fearsome Muslims for some time now: what you do suggest that we do? (Oh, and show how your suggestions follow due process and all the other persnickety checks-and-balances we have, please.)

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  20. Pch101 says:

    Why would anyone wear a seat belt when the belts don’t work 100% of the time?

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  21. steve says:

    “Islam holds that the Koran is the inerrant and literal word of God. That is different from the Christian or Jewish views of their scripture.”

    Nope. Don’t know about Jewish, but that is the belief of evangelical Christians. That is what I grew up with. Read any of the social conservative blogs. Surely you are aware of the Young Earth people who believe the world is just 6000 years old. Also, I don’t really understand your assimilation statement. The right commonly complain that Hispanics and Muslims are not assimilating, but writers from the left are the ones who point out that Hispanics are learning English just as fast as prior immigrants. That Muslims are in fact assimilating well for the most part. Heck, last time we were in LA the folks in Persian Square seemed to dress pretty much the same as everyone else in LA and they certainly seemed into affluence just as much as anyone else, but we were just visitors so maybe I missed something.

    I think you might be referring to valuing diversity. I don’t especially see anything wrong with Irish, Italians, Chinese, Jews or whatever holding onto to some of the traits that make them culturally a bit different. It makes the world more interesting. Maybe better. I don’t see why that can’t also be true for Muslims, especially since most are doing so quite well. It is the radicals (fundamentalists) in all faiths that cause issues as they don’t want to integrate or assimilate. They want the world to behave on their terms. That said, Muslim funds are more problematic than most others. Christian funds don’t have many people devoted to killing to advance their beliefs. Muslims do have a significant number willing to do so.

    Steve

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  22. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    So what do you suggest?

    Panic, xenophobia, and verbose ramblings on the internet should do the trick.

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  23. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I would put a hold on immigration from Sunni Muslim countries. That’s it.

    But by all means, go on to tell me what an asshole, coward, bigot, racist and proto-Nazi I am for suggesting that draconian measure.

    We have a right to decide who gets into the country. We have a right to look at immigration in terms of how it profits us. This is not kindergarten, not everyone gets to play.

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  24. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds: No he didn’t assimilate.

    He never needed to having been born here, educated here and on and on.

    How many muslim snowboarders do you know Michael?

    And why just block immigration from Sunni Muslim countries? Are Shia muslims all peace loving?

    Basing immigration quotas on religion is not only silly but horribly un-American.

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  25. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This is what Marshall wrote:

    It means that one of our key strategic defenses against the general conflagration of the Middle East and Muslim South Asia spilling over onto the mainland United States is and has been the relatively high level of integration of American Muslims. Talk to any counterterrorism expert in law enforcement, the US intelligence community or academics and they will tell you this is true.

    But hey, let’s ignore the experts and listen to the fantasy writer talk about Muslim assimilation!

    Maybe you should listen to those experts on this, Michael. This maybe a bit out of your area of pontification . Just saying.

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  26. michael reynolds says:

    @steve:

    There is a key difference between the Christian (even the very conservative) and Muslim views of scripture. Christians hold that God inspired Moses, Matthew. etc… Muslims believe that God dictated to Mohammed. That’s why Muslims do not favor translating the Koran, because God literally spoke those actual Arabic words.

    That’s not a fringe view in Islam, it’s a central view, radically different from what mainstream Christian denominations teach. Now, are there Christians who don’t know the difference and don’t understand their own doctrine? Sure. But even they don’t literally believe an unfaithful wife should be stoned. Right? So there’s room even in the craziest Christian for re-interpretation.

    It’s not that all Muslims are devout (I assume they’re as likely to be half-assed as any given Jew or Christian) it’s that the literalism makes it very hard for them to form a religious basis for tolerance. If your scripture says X, Y and Z, and if your scripture is the literal word of God dictated onto the page, then where do you find a basis for tolerance? The most tolerant Muslim countries are the most secular, not a surprise, the least tolerant are the most religious, Saudi Arabia being the obvious case, and it is to Saudi Arabia that all good Muslims must try to go during their lifetimes.

    Now, let me point out, that here at OTB I have on probably 100 occasions defended the need to be tolerant of and respectful to the Muslim community. I’ve pointed out repeatedly that most tips law enforcement will get on radicals must necessarily come from the Muslim community. I have no special beef with Islam, I cordially dislike all religions. But I’m not prepared to ignore reality for the sake of political correctness. I read a piece just the other day from a Muslim complaining about our blanket kumbaya tolerance, since in his opinion, we were undercutting the efforts of people like him to liberalize Islam.

    We must tolerate all religions. That does not mean we can’t criticize them. Tolerance does not preclude criticism, and as someone who has spent a lifetime criticizing Judaism and Christianity, I’m not going to just pretend that this one monotheism is above reproach.

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    I hope that Obama is aware of gVOR’s Eighth and Ninth Laws of Thermodynamics. (I make these up as I need them.)
    8. Don’t panic, you got through the last thousand panics OK. (In this case you have ISIS in retreat.)
    9. While honoring 8, do light your hair on fire and run around screaming and hollering a bit to show management (the electorate) that you take their panic seriously, but don’t do anything stupid. (But you already had that rule.)

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  28. EddieInCA says:

    Don’t take a bath.
    Don’t get in a car.
    Don’t be outside during a thunderstorm.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-terrorism-statistics-every-american-needs-to-hear/5382818

    When did Americans become so fearful and stupid.

    We will NEVER be able to stop a shooting like the San Bernardino shooting because there as absolutely NOTHING in his background to suggest he was capable of something like this.
    His father is crushed and stunned.
    The Rest of his family is stunned.
    His co-workers are stunned.

    The rifles were purchased legally.
    The “bomb making equipment” was easily purchased at Home Depot or Lowes.
    There is/was no manifesto or “martyr video”.

    Unless we’re going to become the police state of Trump’s dreams, there is no way to stop a lone wolf or disgruntled followers of a radical group to perform a mass shooting.

    But the reality is that we’re more likely to be killed by falling in the bathtub than by a terrorist.

    Numbers don’t lie.

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  29. Pch101 says:

    @Grewgills:

    In light of your comments yesterday, have you figured out yet that this Reynolds dude is a self-important verbose wingnut with a penchant for factual inaccuracy?

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  30. EddieInCA says:

    Don’t take a bath.
    Don’t get in a car.
    Don’t be outside during a thunderstorm.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-terrorism-statistics-every-american-needs-to-hear/5382818

    When did Americans become so fearful and stupid?

    We will NEVER be able to stop a shooting like the San Bernardino shooting because there as absolutely NOTHING in his background to suggest he was capable of something like this.
    His father is crushed and stunned.
    The Rest of his family is stunned.
    His co-workers are stunned.

    The rifles were purchased legally.
    The “bomb making equipment” was easily purchased at Home Depot or Lowes.
    There is/was no manifesto or “martyr video”.

    Unless we’re going to become the police state of Trump’s dreams, there is no way to stop a lone wolf or disgruntled followers of a radical group to perform a mass shooting.

    But the reality is that we’re more likely to be killed by falling in the bathtub than by a terrorist.

    Numbers don’t lie.

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  31. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    Actually, the point about law enforcement that you quote is one I’ve made probably 100 times.

    So, no, I’m not out of my depth, I’m just not uncritically falling in line behind every liberal shibboleth. The problem, you see, is that talk of the wonders of our assimilation died in San Bernardino. A man with a job, a wife and a kid, grabbed guns and bombs and murdered people he knew by name. He was apparently radicalized by an immigrant from Pakistan (but really Saudi Arabia.)

    Do you think he’s the only guy thus vulnerable?

    Why is it we can talk freely about radical Christianity inspiring abortion cliic bombers, or ultra-Orthdox judaism inspiring land-grabs and thuggery in the West Bank, but we have to pretend not to see the role of Islam in San Bernardino?

    Talk about fear? You’d have no problem admitting that Christianity is a seed bed for crazies, or that Judaism ditto. Suddenly when it’s Muslims we have to play pretend.

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  32. Pch101 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I agree with the sentiment of your comments, but globalresearch.ca is a conspiracy theorist website (in this case, on the left) with the legitimacy of Alex Jones et. al.

    I have to agree with this assessment: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Globalresearch

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  33. stonetools says:

    By the way ,quite lost in all this talk of the scary unassimilated Sunni Muslim brown people is the fact that just a few days before a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant American born terrorist shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing and injuring twelve people.
    Maybe we should focus on the fact that terrorists of any stripe can walk into any Walmart and walk out with the means of killing a bunch of Americans with no barrier other than passing an ineffectual criminal background check? Or we have given up already on the best of means of at least limiting injury from those attacks?

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:

    No way to stop it. Let’s all shrug our shoulders and accept the fact that terrorists can and will kill hundreds, thousands, who knows, tens of thousands. Yay! Relax. Nothing we can do.

    Listen to me: maybe you can’t see a way to do something, but if you think the American people will accept this you’re nuts. Something will be done. It will either be done by rational people, or it will be done by irrational people. Where do you think people like Trump come from? If you got nothin’, then you end up sidelined and another player takes the field, it’s that simple.

    If the answer from Democrats is, “Get used to it,” we are beyond f-cked. You’ll be living in a very different country 20 years from now if we don’t get a handle on this now.

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  35. EddieInCA says:

    @Pch101:

    The sources for the article are:

    Harpers
    Reuters
    Center for Disease Controls
    US Saftety Council
    US OSHA
    Scientific American

    There is no editoralizing in the piece. It’s all numbers – all sourced – from reputable organizations.

    You can have a problem with the company, but the article is well-sourced, cited, and factual.

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  36. Pch101 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    A bad source is a bad source. Conspiracy theorists often add some factual information to their fiction in order to create a veneer of legitimacy, but being wrong less than 100% of the time doesn’t make it good.

    As the factual case can be made with legitimate sources, I would reference those instead.

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  37. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So what do you suggest Michael, other than discriminating on immigration based on religion?

    Should we not allow the wife of a person born in the US a to file a Petition for Alien Relative?

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  38. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Is there are real difference between the Virginia Tech Shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, and Sayed Farook? If so, what is it, other than that the non-Muslim killed more people?

    Is there a real difference between Adam Lanza and Nidal Hassan? I mean, other than that the non-Muslim killed more people?

    My point is that you can’t stop lone wolf shooters. If someone has no ties to radical ideology (Lanza, Harper-Mercer, Dylan Roof, Elliott Rodgers, Aaron Alexis, James Holmes, etc), no amount of screening is going to prevent them from going off. None.

    Most of the mass shootings are done by non-Muslims. Most of them are US citizens.

    Timothy McVeigh was AN AMERICAN. How would you have screened for him?

    Without a full police state. You can’t. And if that’s what anyone wants, they can have it. I have the means and resources to move to Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any other place where I’d like to live.

    At a certain point, if it gets too bad and we get a dirty bomb or a small nuke hitting us, the USA or one of it’s allies will deploy a few nukes and completely flatten a country or two. That’s the future and not much can stop it.

    Regardless of all that, we are alll going to die. Until I do, I’m going to keep on living my life; traveling, exploring, learning, evolving. I’m going to keep taking baths. I’m going to keep driving my car. I’m going to keep going to every country on my bucket list with my American Passport.

    I’m more afraid of the moron close to me with a concealed handgun than I am about Muslim Terrorists.

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  39. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The problem, you see, is that talk of the wonders of our assimilation died in San Bernardino.

    Just as all talk of assimilating christians died a week previously in Colorado.

    Why is it we can talk freely about radical Christianity inspiring abortion cliic bombers, or ultra-Orthdox judaism inspiring land-grabs and thuggery in the West Bank, but we have to pretend not to see the role of Islam in San Bernardino?

    Why is your prescription for them so radically different? Your response to a religiously motivated muslim terrorist is a blanket ban on travel for muslims, yet your response to a christian terrorist motivated by his religion is?

    Talk about fear? You’d have no problem admitting that Christianity is a seed bed for crazies, or that Judaism ditto. Suddenly when it’s Muslims we have to play pretend.

    We aren’t the ones being inconsistent here.

    @michael reynolds:

    Something will be done. It will either be done by rational people, or it will be done by irrational people.

    The problem here is, your proposals since Paris have been irrational. You haven’t been advocating a rational, fact based risk assessment of terrorism and terrorists. You have been advocating talking tough and looking like we are doing something on the domestic front and wholesale slaughter on the international front. Yes, dropping a nuke on Raqqa is wholesale slaughter. So, no you aren’t advocating the rational response to avoid the irrational response. You have been, at best, advocating a slightly less irrational response to possibly avoid a more irrational and xenophobic response.

    If the answer from Democrats is, “Get used to it,” we are beyond f-cked.

    If we accept your framing, then our response to murder, rape, traffic fatalities, and virtually all bad things is “get used to it”. We haven’t come up with the plan to reduce any of those things to zero. There will be some level of murder, rape, and yes, terrorism that we cannot completely eradicate. That doesn’t mean we don’t act to reduce those as much as we can while preserving our freedoms as much as we can. It does mean that we shouldn’t pretend the sky is falling because on one particular day as many people died as typically die in less than a typical week of mass shootings in the US. If we can endure those deaths week in and week out, we should be able to endure the very rare incidents like San Bernadino. Again, before you set up your straw man to beat mercilessly, that doesn’t mean we don’t try to minimize all of those threats and all of those deaths. It does mean that we should assess and address those threats rationally and without undue loss of liberty.

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  40. stonetools says:

    There is nothing we can do to stop every terrorist attack, apart from Minority Report science fiction type technology.
    We can certainly take steps to limit the number and severity of such attacks. Here’s my 1-2-3.

    1. Screen all prospective gun buyers for the acquisition and possession of deadliest categories of firearms. There is a reason the Farooks used assault rifles.They are really good at killing lots of people fast. Heck it’s the main reason Hitler liked the assault rifle. (Funny, how we don’t use his term Sturmgehr as the name for these weapons anymore, isn’t it?)Second in the “kill people fast” category are handguns ( Actually, maybe first overall, in some measures). So you screen such buyers more. In Canada, you are required to do safety training before you buy semi-automatic weapons. That gives you more of a chance to screen out crazies, since you have a human person taking a long look at the buyer.

    2. Have a no gun list similar to the no fly list. Put in a due process requirement giving the prospective buyer a chance to appeal once he finds out he is on the list. At most it means the person wrongly put on the list has to go through a hearing to get his name taken off the list. Well, boo fvcking hoo. The upside is we don’t have terrorists gunning down 30 or more people at a time. Most Americans can live with that.

    3. Continue to reach out to Muslim communities to way we have and provide resources for “deprogramming” any Muslims we suspect are being radicalized.
    I think that’s a start. All else that is needed is political will to do this. THAT’S the tough part.

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  41. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “But I’m not prepared to ignore reality for the sake of political correctness.”

    Oh, for God’s sake, Michael, isn’t it possible for you to make your argument without having to parrot the idiotic ramblings of Trump and Carson?

    Once you’ve decided to reduce the arguments of anyone who disagrees with you to “political correctness” — which, if nothing else, should offend a writer of your abilities as the worst of meaningless cliches — you’ve just gone around the bend.

    I can live with the fact that your politics are where they are. But once your politics so completely pollute your cognitive abilities that you start writing like Jenos… I think you should be concerned.

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  42. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    the couple are said to have been the very model of assimilated Muslims.

    By whom, exactly? Farook was born in this country, so being “assimilated” is not really relevant when we are discussing him. His wife came to the US recently, and she remains more or less a cypher even after intense scrutiny from law enforcement and the media. Apparently she wore traditional dress and often covered her face even after coming to America – hardly signs of “assimilation”.

    So who are all the folks you claim represented these people as “the very model of assimilated Muslims”? Perhaps you could produce some cites – or are you simply making things up, as you tend to do…

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  43. michael reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:

    It’s really not complicated:

    1) Use law enforcement assets to deal with domestic crimes, including all forms of terrorism.

    2) Attack and/or subvert terrorist organizations abroad. Raise the price significantly on foreign terror organizations like ISIS.

    3) Don’t take in people from conflict areas where we have reason to suspect terrorist infiltration, or ideological susceptibility.

    4) Keep pushing to limit the availability of guns, bullets and bomb-making necessities.

    5) Continue co-operation with our own Muslim population.

    So, let’s see, that’s no Nazis, no hate, no discrimination against American citizens. No American will be harmed in any way, including American Muslims. Liberals won’t like the war, conservatives won’t like the limits on guns and ammo, but there is nothing either Trumpish or Hitlerian required. In fact, it’s just common sense, and if you polled that list I’d guess you’d get about 65% support.

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    @WR:

    Dude, two weeks ago you were touting our “vetting” and accusing me of cowardice because all the Syrians were women and children. You were telling me there was no electoral risk. You were all dismissing the likelihood of an attack in the next 11 months.

    And now, our vetting is clearly bullshit. The women and children argument died in San Bernardino. And as for the electoral risk, Trump is at 36%, and loses in a head-to-head with Hillary only by 3 points, margin of error. And the elapsed time between Paris and San Bernardino was two weeks.

    And thank God it happened now and not in the general. Though of course there will quite likely be at least one more round between now and then.

    So, the arguments you advanced were all wrong. Now you’re down to sniffing that I reek of Trumpism.

    This country is not Malibu, Park Slope, Madison and Berkeley. Out there beyond the smug zone, people aren’t going to tolerate terrorism in this country, they’ll do something, and you and I won’t like that something. Which is why we need to come to grips with sh-t and stop stewing in our sanctimony.

    Denouncing people as cowards or bigots is not going to turn this issue around for you. I’m hoping Mr. Obama is smarter than you folks and will have a plan of some sort tonight. Because if the liberal’s answer is “what can we do, waaaah?” there will be plenty of people ready with answers, none of which you’ll like.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    Of most concern regarding the events in San Bernardino, though, is the fact that neither Syed Farook nor his wife Tashfeen Malik had apparently raised any red flags for law enforcement prior to their attack, nor had they apparently engaged in any actions that would have called for greater scrutiny:

    Stockpiling large numbers of weapons raised no red flags, got no additional scrutiny and was not even noticed.

    That is of grave concern.

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  46. EddieInCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    How would you know if one of your neighbors was stockpiling a huge cache of weapons?

    Specifically, how would you even notice?

    How would you scrutinize it?

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA: close the gun show loopholes, require registration of all guns at time of purchase or transfer, count the guns people have.

    It’s not rocket science.

    It doesn’t account for the black market, so add extreme penalties there to raise the risk to the sellers, and the cost.

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  48. EddieInCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    That didn’t answer my question.

    How would you know? A close friend of yours could have a huge cache of weapons right now. Or a co-worker. Or a family member.

    How would you know?

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  49. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You’ll be living in a very different country 20 years from now if we don’t get a handle on this now.

    Will it be like “Prayers for The Assassin” by Robert Ferrigno or like “Flashback” by Dan Simmons?

    Maybe you should extend your timeline.

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  50. Lit3Bolt says:

    Based on the strawman punching I’ve read so far, it seems michael wants

    1) Obama to say “Radical Islam” and “Islamic terrorism” more often

    2) Discriminatory measures against Muslim refugees, because of the whims of Joe and Jane Sixpack, who rule “Real America” and are not smug or sanctimonious, just normal and afraid

    3) A travel ban against all Sunni Muslims travelling into the United States

    Let’s unpack these:

    1) You have ISIS radicalizing lone wolf terrorists. I fail to see how this is different from Pro-life terrorism, white supremacist terrorism, or red pillers shooting women because they think they’re not “alpha” enough, or crazy schizo kids shooting schools and colleges. The common denominator here is the easy access to guns. I fail to see how you can police the internet at this point and prevent this type of self-radicalization by virtually anyone in our society, other than maybe handing out fliers that say “Hey, if you feel like buying a gun, try Prozac first.” Just because these 2 losers failed to assimilate, does not mean assimilation is worthless and/or every unassimilated Muslim must be treated as a terrorist.

    2) Fear of the demagogue. I fail to see how going “demagogue lite” is an advantage for Democrats, because we will never out demagogue the Republicans. If Democrats call for a suspension of Syrian refugees, Republicans will simply call for a total lifetime ban of Syrian refugees, plus a promise to deport all Muslims from American soil. There’s no way to win that battle straight up. The key will being calm, leader-like, without trying to match every speckle of foam that comes from a fascist’s mouth. The “temporary suspension” idea has some merit, but the political cost of that could outweigh the benefits. Even if HRC goes full anti-Muslim Pam Gheller crusader, she’ll simply lose her base and fail to convert any “centrists.” HRC has to burnish her liberal cred, or Dems will simply stay home.

    3) Immigration, travel, work, and student visa bans. This could work, if we’re willing to cast aside every single ally in the Middle East, and make our job exponentially harder in fighting ISIS when all the Sunni nations close all of our military bases and airfields and withdraw their embassies. Also, does this include Turkey? Egypt? Every Gulf State? Israel (Sunnis live there, too!)? Also, how long should the bans last? A decade? Two decades?

    So we do that ban, embolden ISIS because they see their strategy working, which then step up the attacks on us, which are now much better funded and planned because the covert support they were getting just now changed into overt support from every Sunni nation and their military.

    And finally the other claims:

    4) Everyone who disagrees with Michael Reynolds is a Berkeley liberal who is only concerned about being PC to Muslim terrorists. Just stop.

    5) Michael Reynolds is right because assertion, assertion, unsupported claim, random musing, strawman, strawman, ad hominem attack, dire prediction of fascist response to Muslims which we must prevent with fascist response to Muslims. Ha, no.

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  51. Alan MacDonald says:

    As Tom Brokaw said last Sunday on “Meet the Press” about the only way to avoid the ‘blowback’ and protecting Americans from terrorism:

    “TOM BROKAW: Well I agree, listen. You know, when Donald Trump talks about security or Ben Carson, we’re talking about three-year-old orphans who are orphans and refugees because of American policy.” —- the key phrase being ‘because of American policy’.

    But what Tom should have added is, “we’re talking about three-year-old orphans who are orphans and refugees because of the American policy of (ACTING LIKE A GLOBAL EMPIRE)”

    The far bigger issue than ‘Gun Control’ is ‘Empire Control’ —- the control that this Disguised Global Crony-Capitalist Empire currently has over our formerly democratic Republic of a country in all its; policies (foreign and domestic), laws, economy, financial, media/propaganda, political facade, wars, and tyranny.

    If/when the people of the former country (AKA America) can diagnose, recognize, educate themselves, and non-violently confront this current and quietly metastasizing new form of ‘Empire Control’ with a Second American Revolution “against Empire — again”, then all of the superficial ‘identity issues’, subordinate ‘symptom problems’, and our entire “ailing social order” caused by the ‘Empire Control’ can be solved — just as they were when our country initially overcame ‘Empire Control’ in 1776.

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  52. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    But the reality is that we’re more likely to be killed by falling in the bathtub than by a terrorist.

    We should be way, way more afraid of our diet than terrorists. It’s your diet that’s going to kill you.

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  53. stonetools says:

    @Gustopher:

    Stockpiling large numbers of weapons raised no red flags, got no additional scrutiny and was not even noticed.

    That is of grave concern.

    Heh, and thereby hangs a tale.

    Any time everyone has even hinted at limiting the number of weapons a gun buyers, or even tracking gun purchases, the gun nuts freak out.

    “It’s their raaht to buy as many guns as they want, blah, blah, blah. ”

    But is it though? Surely, your right to self defense is satisfied by the purchase of ONE gun, especially since that gun is going to be much better than Ye Olde Flintlock?

    At any rate, two handguns, two assault rifles and vast amounts of ammunition seems to be a bit much for the self defense of a suburban California household. Maybe the trigger for greater government scrutiny should be the purchase or acquisition of three or more guns. After all, if the Lone Ranger was able to get the job done with two revolvers and a lever-action rifle…

    Needless to say, the gun nuts are going to go crazy at the idea that they can’t buy an unlimited number of guns of any type whatsoever, without intensified government scrutiny. Because FREEDUMB!

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  54. stonetools says:

    @EddieInCA:

    You won’t know , but the government should. If you are saying that we should be tracking gun transactions more closely, I agree with you.

    After all, we are at war, as the conservatives keep telling us.

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  55. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m hoping Mr. Obama is smarter than you folks and will have a plan of some sort tonight

    Oh, i’m pretty sure he’ll have a plan, and it won’t be liberals who will upset with it, as Doug’s pre-speech conniption fit shows. I’m sure Doug’s “President’s Incoherent Anti Terrorism Plan Tramples on the Second Amendment” post is already half written. The template was probably emailed to him this morning by the Reason.org guys.

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  56. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools: we track all sorts of things looking for patterns that suggest terrorist sympathies — even perfectly legal things. Gun and ammo purchases are (and should be) legal, but large numbers of purchases should be a signal that, mixed with other signals, leads to increased scrutiny. We shouldn’t be ignoring “obviously capable of a mass shooting” from things to look for when looking for people who might commit a mass shooting. But, it’s just one signal among many.

    Part of a gun club for years, no signs of hanging out with radicals, saving for your kids college fund, basically well integrated — no reason to poke further.

    If they live off the grid, and have police reports filed against them, might not be such a bad idea to look some more.

    Buying guns up over six months, with a spouse brought in on a fiancé visa from a country with a significant number of radicals — might be worth a second look.

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  57. Tyrell says:

    The president needs to show boldness, and be assertive, and not show the caution, confusion, amd timidness we have seen so far.
    “Grant Moves South” Catton

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  58. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell: I’m not sure if that is meant to be a parody of political arguments just being a random string of meaningless bland non sequiturs, or whether you think you have a point in there.

    Well done, or please elaborate.

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  59. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Actually, Tyrell is right. Mr. Obama needs to convince the American people that he has a handle on this and is taking it seriously.

    As you know, I supported Mr. Obama with voice, vote and cash. I defended his arm’s-length policy in Syria and Iraq. I would vote for him again tomorrow. And I will absolutely vote for Hillary.

    But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. Mr. Obama’s public reaction to Paris and then to San Bernardino has been nothing but sour notes. He doesn’t look or sound like a guy in charge. He looks like a guy who is counting the days until he can head to Hawaii. Meanwhile all the air time is being sucked up by our homegrown Mussolini promising unspecified draconian measures.

    Perception matters. The country wants stern daddy right now, not cool professor. We need some “fight them on the beaches,” not another round of Kumbaya.

    Once again, let me repeat, the latest head-to-head poll of Clinton v. Trump has it for Hillary by three points. Margin of error. It is past time for people on the Left to realize the danger which is not terrorists per se, but what terrorism will do to the politics and civil life in the United States. If you want a preview of what it looks like when liberals fail to supply security, I present: Israel.

    And if I hear one more idiot talking about how stairs are more dangerous than terrorists, I will scream. Yes, stairs are more dangerous. Now, go explain to Black Lives Matter that they are far more likely to die from a gangster’s bullets or in a car accident than they are to be shot by cops. People do not react to danger by whipping out their calculator, they never have, they never will, any more than on December 8th, 1941, they would have listened to FDR explain that they were far more likely to die of tuberculosis. There is a fundamental difference between falling down stairs and being hunted down by madmen with guns.

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  60. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So suddenly Josh Marshall praises American assimilation, a doctrine despised by the Left as cultural genocide, something he’d have violently denounced a year ago. Love it. I have stood for assimilation from the start. So glad to see — too late, of course — that at least some on the Left are reluctantly wising up and recognizing that assimilation is what explains our social cohesion, a cohesion the Left has undercut for decades.

    Michael, you are continuing to go off the deep end here. Yeah, there’s some on the far left who may have called American assimilation cultural genocide. The average liberal, or Democratic politicians? Not so much. Many (most?) Democrats/liberals believe that immigrants enrich our culture and we don’t have a need for English-only laws. That doesn’t mean we don’t also believe that immigrants shouldn’t obey our laws, or learn to speak English, or interact and get along with their neighbors of other backgrounds.

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  61. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Heh, just about every gun nut has responded to the terrorist attacks and gun death statistics by yowling, ” What about cars?” . The guys who went crazy about Ebola are now talking risk assessment!
    Obama is going to give you what he always give you: Mr . Cool. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he’s a bad motherfvcker (shut your mouth!) who prefers action over tough talk. I’d like him to reveal his inner Churchill, but he has no inner Churchill. Like it or not , we elected more of a John Shaft.

    II’m certain we will get a plan, though. And like most of his plans, it will be carefully thought out and will work over time. That will have to be enough.

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  62. Monala says:

    In case my edit didn’t occur soon enough, I also wrote this: Michael, you’re sounding more and more right-wing everyday. I live in a community with a large Muslim population, hailing from Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Morocco and Turkey. Their kids go to public school, dress like other kids (except the teen girls wear headscarves), and attend birthday parties with their classmates. The adults socialize with their co-workers and neighbors. (And you know, there are Americans who don’t drink. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with people who do). They speak English; in fact, many came to their country already speaking it. They’re not living in isolated enclaves and refusing to have anything to do with American culture. They can maintain their religion and other aspects of their culture, and be fully American. Again, it’s for the most part ignorant right-wingers who think people can’t. Why are you joining them?

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  63. Monala says:

    For that matter, Muslims assimilating into American culture is not new. I live on the West Coast, but grew up in the Midwest, and there were a lot of Muslims in my childhood community, although they were mostly Lebanese, Palestinians, and Bosnians. And they fit in pretty well then, too. A favorite childhood memory of mine is a Bosnian co-worker of my dad’s inviting us over for dinner, and basically treating us like kings and queens (Muslim culture being known for its hospitality).

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  64. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds: You know what’s missing in your parallel?

    Why is it we can talk freely about radical Christianity inspiring abortion cliic bombers, or ultra-Orthdox judaism inspiring land-grabs and thuggery in the West Bank, but we have to pretend not to see the role of Islam in San Bernardino?

    The word “radical” before Islam. You’re basically saying that it’s radical Christianity that inspires Christian nutjobs, or ultra-Orthodoxy that turns Jews into thugs, but no such modification is needed to create a terrorist out of a Muslim. Basically, you’re condemning the entire relgion.

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  65. michael reynolds says:

    @Monala:

    You know how my people adapted culturally to American life? We turned Jonathan Leibowitz into Jon Stewart. In other words, we altered our selves, our practices, our beliefs, our presentation, to mesh with American society. We compromised. We “sold out.”

    That kind of thing is seen as shameful nowadays. But if we were all still wearing beaver hats we would not be what we are, which is, pound for pound, the most powerful minority in the US. Assimilation does not mean you bring your old world bullshit with you, it means accepting and adopting local customs while holding onto the most important aspects of your original belief system, so long as they do not conflict in some intractable way with the dominant culture.

    When I lived in Italy I could have afforded to buy and operate a clothes dryer, but that’s not the Italian way, so I hung my clothes like all my neighbors. I like to dine around 6:30, Italy says no, it’s 8:00 PM, so I ate at that time. Here in the States it’s jeans and a t-shirt, in Italy you don’t go out dressed like that, so I didn’t. When in Rome (or Tuscany) you do as the Romans do. I assimilated more in six months that Tashfeen Malik did in a year, and she was sought out by Syed Farook in part because she was so at-odds with American culture.

    As for me condemning all Muslims, nonsense. I condemn all people who believe in fairy tales and trust me the ratio of words I’ve spent dissing Christianity to words spent dissing Islam is at least 100 to 1. The ratio for Republicans would be 1000 to 1. In fact I suspect my dissing of Jews (at least in Israel) is at least 2 to 1 over Muslims.

    So, sorry, that accusation won’t fly.

    Further, it ain’t all Muslims, just the Sunni. The Shiites may be all kinds of trouble, but they don’t fly jets into buildings. (Not yet, anyway.) I don’t like the regime in Iran, but I’d have no problem accepting refugees from Iran because they are not infected by this Salafist jihadism. I would accept the Alawite Muslims from Syria as well. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahai, Russian Orthodox, all welcome to apply.

    Try not thinking “religion” and instead think, “ideology.” Because really there’s very little difference in practical effect. If I said, a belief in Marxism makes it more likely you’ll develop to full Communism and from there to Stalinism, would you really argue with me? Isn’t it self-evident that a person who buys “dictatorship of the proletariat” will be more likely than most to get to “gulags for kulaks?” I mean, what with 100% of the latter starting from the former?

    Well, 100% of foreign or foreign-inspired terrorists who kill Westerners are Sunni. You have to be willfully blind to ignore that. 100% from Sunni, 0% from Shia, which rather suggests there is a problem in Sunni Islam. No?

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  66. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Perception matters. The country wants stern daddy right now, not cool professor.

    We’ve had to endure several mighty loads of BS from you since Paris, but this is getting ridiculous.

    Leaving aside how you can possibly think you know what “the country wants,” there’s huge glaring problem with this:

    If the “the country wants stern daddy right now” then that preference would probably be reflected in our presidential candidates, right? And yet, a majority of Republicans like Trump, indicating they’re not really taking this seriously, and a majority of Democrats like Hillary, indicating they’re not really reacting to current events.

    Then you say stuff like this:

    “Mr. Obama’s public reaction to Paris and then to San Bernardino has been nothing but sour notes. He doesn’t look or sound like a guy in charge.”

    And you apparently want us to accept this as something novel and interesting, even though it’s the very same thing we’ve heard about Obama from the Breitbart/Foxnews right for years. It’s as you’ve reheated a frozen TV dinner and want us to act like it’s fine-dining.

    It is past time for people on the Left to realize the danger which is not terrorists per se, but what terrorism will do to the politics and civil life in the United States.

    Oh, tell us, Nostradamus, what will terrorism do to the politics and civil life in the United States? What is this terrorism thing you speak of? Have we experienced it before?

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  67. Pch101 says:

    If someone could inform MIchael Reynolds that Hezbollah is a Shiite organization, it would be much appreciated.

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  68. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101: But that might lead him to consider that Islamic terrorism is primarily a political problem, which would totally negate all those noble efforts to make Islamic terrorism exclusively about Sunni ideology.

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  69. Hal_10000 says:

    The empirical reality is that most Muslims assimilate to America over time.The first generation Muslim looks impossible to assimilate: the second generation Muslim wins the Miss USA beauty pageant-with home town support.

    This is what I’ve observed. It really struck home when I was in Disneyworld a few years ago. There were a lot of Muslims families and the arrangement tended to be: old ladies fully covered, sometimes including the face; middle-aged women with conservative clothing and a full headscarf; younger women in jeans, a T-shirt and a small headscarf. It was like watching assimilation happen.

    As to the larger issue … we may just have to accept that his kind of thing will happen occasionally. One of the women they shot went this guy’s mosque with him. She didn’t notice anything odd. No one who worked with him did. None of his family did. Maybe if they’d gotten to know the wife better, they would have seen something, but even then … who knows. There may not be an answer here. We may have to uncork that dreaded phrase from the troubles in Ireland: an acceptable level of violence.

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  70. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    But that might lead him to consider that Islamic terrorism is primarily a political problem, which would totally negate all those noble efforts to make Islamic terrorism exclusively about Sunni ideology.

    You are grossly overestimating his cognitive abilities. The guy has a soundtrack and it has a beat that he can dance to, so expect that tune to remain in heavy rotation on American Grandstand.

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  71. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So suddenly Josh Marshall praises American assimilation, a doctrine despised by the Left as cultural genocide, something he’d have violently denounced a year ago.

    Centrist, mild-mannered, scholarly American history PhD Josh Marshall (whom I know personally), an American Jew, would have “violently denounced” American assimilation as cultural genocide??

    Have you suffered some sort of medical event lately? I mean this in all seriousness, because you’re starting to sound, for lack of a better word, insane. Very often, rapid and extreme shifts in personality and a difficulty with rationality indicate some sort of underlying medical factor (series of mini-strokes, blow to the head, etc.).

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  72. michael reynolds says:

    @Pch101:

    Yes, it is, and it has not been flying jets into buildings.

    Stop trying to lecture me. You know less, and you’re not very smart.

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  73. An Interested Party says:

    Well, terrorism is meant to terrorize, so it has certainly been successful in doing just that to some people…

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  74. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You were wrong about vetting, wrong about the likelihood of an attack, wrong that women were safe, wrong about the political effect. I was right across the board. You know f-ck all about politics or international relations, all you do is regurgitate HuffPo talking points.

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  75. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    What will terrorism do?

    Well, so far 2 wars costing a trillion dollars and a surveillance state. So yeah, no problem at all.

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  76. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And now, our vetting is clearly bullshit.

    Sayeed Farooq was not vetted, you ignorant moron, because he was a born and bred American, and his wife entered the US on a fiancee visa. “Vetting” had nothing to do with it.

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  77. Pch101 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    it has not been flying jets into buildings.

    Er, you might want to type “Beirut Marine barracks” into a search engine.

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  78. michael reynolds says:

    Every single one of your collective arguments has been disproved:

    Point: Insane! to be worried about Syrian refugees, why they’re women with children!

    Counterpoint: San Bernardino. Woman with child.

    Point: We have vetting!

    Counterpoint: Right, because our intel is so very reliable.

    Point: There won’t be an ISIL inspired attack in the US!

    Counterpoint: Um….

    Point: You’re a terrified coward.

    Counterpoint: Funny, how I wasn’t until I disagreed with you.

    Point: There won’t be domestic political blowback.

    Counterpoint: Trump jumped to a new high. He’s three points behind Hillary in head-to-heads, and Trump’s not the only guy.

    Point: We must stand by Syrian refugees!

    Counterpoint: Just listened to Obama’s speech. He wants to tighten visa vetting and made no mention – not a word – about Syrian refugees.

    Now, you can call me names, or you can try to argue the points. But so far you’ve collectively been nothing but wrong.

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  79. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You were wrong about vetting, wrong about the likelihood of an attack, wrong that women were safe, wrong about the political effect. I was right across the board.

    (A) “Vetting” is irrelevant since this attack was carried out by an American and his wife; (B) I never wrote a word about the likelihood of an attack so can’t have been wrong about it, (C) never wrote a word about whether “women were safe” (whatever that means), so again, cannot have been wrong about it, and (D) am still correct about the political effect, which will be de minimis overall.

    You know f-ck all about politics or international relations,

    Man, I guess the four years I spent getting an Ivy League degree in American government and international relations was a bust, huh?

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  80. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Counterpoint: San Bernardino. Woman with child.

    Counter-counterpoint: she wasn’t a refugee, you lying moron.

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  81. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, and by the way, Mr. Obama’s increased vetting was interestingly applied to people traveling in war zones. Like. . . Can you guess? Syria and Iraq.

    And of course that does not include Saudi Arabia, the jihadist homeland.

    I watched it on MSNBC and even Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman found nothing to love in the speech. But no doubt you’ll all think it was Churchillian.

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  82. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Not the f-ing point, genius, your argument was that WOMEN and CHILDREN could not be threats and yet: reality.

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  83. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101:

    You are grossly overestimating his cognitive abilities.

    Nah. I’ve been interacting with him for years. There has often been disagreement, but I’d vouch for him otherwise.

    You know that thing when you’re in school and you make new friends, but you also convince yourself that your old friends are lame? I think that’s kind of what’s going on here.

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  84. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Do you even know who these refugees are? They are NOT fleeing ISIS, 93% are Sunnis fleeing Assad.

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  85. Pch101 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I first noticed this Reynolds character when he said, “The Turks have the tanks, the Saudis have the money, the Jordanians have the intel, and the Egyptians have the people. ISIS could be wiped out in six weeks without so much as an American drone.”

    Anyone who would say something that braindead, particularly something that is so oblivious of the Turkish position on ISIS, is in no position to claim that anyone doesn’t “know f-ck all about politics or international relations.” For someone who knows so little, he certainly has a high opinion of himself.

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  86. michael reynolds says:

    @Pch101:

    Turkish capability is not Turkish intent. Duh. “Can/could” is not “Will.”

    Learn to read.

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  87. Pch101 says:

    If the Nazis had liked Jews, just think of how different the Holocaust could have been!

    (You should admit that you had no idea that the Turks were supportive of ISIS until I pointed it out. You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed.)

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  88. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Vetting” is irrelevant since this attack was carried out by an American and his wife;

    Are you really that dumb? Yes, it was carried out by this asshole and his WIFE, his wife from Saudi Arabia, the one who pledged allegiance to ISIS, the one who was NOT a US citizen when she came here.

    Jesus, dude.

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  89. michael reynolds says:

    @Pch101:

    Um, I know you’re a genius and all, but I’ve written repeatedly about Turkey’s treachery and secret support for ISIS. Repeatedly. Ask Mataconis or Joyner. Or anyone who has actually paid any attention to what I’ve written here over the last few years.

    As a matter of fact, let’s make this interesting. I’ll bet you ten thousand dollars I can find a comment by me saying pretty much that.

    I have the ten k. I’ll send it to Doug or James as escrow if you’ll do the same. They can then judge.

    Agreed?

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  90. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, so far 2 wars costing a trillion dollars and a surveillance state. So yeah, no problem at all.

    If you want to go to war with Sunnism, the ideology, you better be prepared to pay an even larger price.

    There are over a billion Sunnis on this planet. You won’t be able to talk them all out of their beliefs. You should be prepared for forced conversions and mass executions if the existence of Sunni Islam is intolerable.

    Of course, it’s much easier to tackle the political ideologies that inspire terrorism. Not easy, mind you. Easier.

    After all, how is it that there are some parts of the Muslim world who are, at least, modern and peaceful, if not fully Western? I mean, I couldn’t afford to go to Abu Dhabi, but you couldn’t pay me to go to Aleppo. I assure it’s not because one place has Muslims and the other does not…

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  91. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, it was carried out by this asshole and his WIFE, his wife from Saudi Arabia, the one who pledged allegiance to ISIS, the one who was NOT a US citizen when she came here.

    And who came here on a fiancee visa, not a refugee visa, and therefore was not subject to the extensive vetting that refugees are.

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  92. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    They are NOT fleeing ISIS, 93% are Sunnis fleeing Assad.

    Well, that’s just a lie. You are a lying liar, Michael.

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  93. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Not the f-ing point, genius, your argument was that WOMEN and CHILDREN could not be threats and yet: reality.

    Another lie: no, my argument was not that, I never wrote one word on or about that topic. If you disagree, please produce the exact quote where I supposedly wrote that women could not commit acts of violence. But you won’t be able to, will you, Michael?

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  94. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I would put a hold on immigration from Sunni Muslim countries.

    I’m sure our strategic position will be greatly improved by violently pissing off our allies in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia, and Pakistan, the Muslim populations of which are all majority Sunni. Nothing to make the governments of those countries want to help and cooperate with us by branding them all as dirty terrorists….

    (And of course, such a policy would bar the US to an Iraqi Sunni soldier who fought side by side with US forces, but would allow in an Islamist radical from France….)

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  95. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    From Fact Check:

    From 2013 though Nov. 17, the U.N. says it has referred 22,427 Syrian refugees to the U.S. for “resettlement consideration.” The U.N. could not tell us how many of the 22,427 U.N. referrals were Christian, and the State Department did not know how many Christian Syrians may have been rejected by the U.S. But we know the U.S. is drawing from a limited pool of applicants provided by the U.N. from a predominately Muslim country.

    So what religion are the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S.?
    The vast majority are Sunni Muslims, who make up 2,128, or 93 percent, of the Syrian refugees in the U.S. The Sunnis are about 74 percent of the Syrian population, according to the CIA, but “they tend to support the rebels and oppose the Assad regime, and Syrian Sunnis have been subject to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Alawite minority in recent months,” as the Washington Post reported on Oct. 18, 2012.

    Now, if I were in your position right now, I would apologize.

    I’m going to tell you something: First, if I wanted to lie you, you’d never know it. I’m a professional liar. Secondly, I don’t lie. It’s a personal choice. And yes, I realize that’s a bit of a conundrum.

    But more to the point, I very, very rarely fail to have my facts lined up in advance. If I say 93% it’s because I saw the number 93%. Right? Because otherwise you’re not just accusing me of being a liar, you’re accusing me of being a bad liar. You’re suggesting I’m such a bad liar I’d leave myself exposed.

    And that hurts.

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  96. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Because otherwise you’re not just accusing me of being a liar, you’re accusing me of being a bad liar. You’re suggesting I’m such a bad liar I’d leave myself exposed.

    Oh, indeed I am. You’re not only a liar, but a very bad one. And, what’s worst of all, a boring one.

    If I say 93% it’s because I saw the number 93%.

    Yes, you saw the number 93% — but you didn’t understand it. You’d claimed “93% are Sunnis fleeing Assad.” But the Factcheck site you link to never said that, rather, it just said “The vast majority are Sunni Muslims, who make up 2,128, or 93 percent, of the Syrian refugees in the U.S.” Now, it then went on to say “they tend to support the rebels and oppose the Assad regime” (emphasis mine), not that every single Sunni in Iraq opposed Assad. Many of the refugees favor neither Assad nor ISIS, but just want to get their families out of the firing line.

    In fact, later in the same Factcheck, there’s a quote by Ken Pollack of Brookings in which he notes that the refugees tend to be Sunni because: ‘“In addition, much of the fighting has taken place in heavily Sunni areas (because most of the country is Sunni),” Pollack said. “Finally, much of the Sunni-controlled territory is controlled by ISIS, and nobody except absolute lunatics WANT to live under ISIS.”’ It’s entirely possible to be a Sunni in Iraq and be fleeing ISIS.

    So, to sum up: you saw a claim that “93% of the refugees are Sunni” and conflated that to “93% of the refugees are Sunni AND oppose Assad.” That is to say, you lied (or, maybe to be more charitable, you just got very very confused with all the numbers and didn’t understand what you were reading).

    Now, if I were you and got caught in a flat out lie, I’d apologize. But since it’s you, I supposed we’ll get a few thousand more words of boring.

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  97. Grewgills says:

    Michael, you have yet to answer why you think someone wanting to commit a terrorist attack on the US would choose to come here as a refugee rather than coming under a tourist visa or with a visa waiver from a closely allied country. Malik, who is Pakistani rather than Saudi btw, came in on a fiancee visa. A fiance visa is generally approved in a matter of months with considerably less vetting than refugees are facing. Student and tourist visas are also MUCH quicker and require MUCH less vetting. Even easier would be to come in through a closely allied country that allows visa waivers. My mother in law is in town for 3 months now from such a country with no visa and no wait or vetting apart from what she endured at the airport. Any potential terrorist with two brain cells to rub together would chose to come in any way other than as a refugee. Concentrating on refugees is not about rational risk assessment. It is about appealing to xenophobes.

    Counterpoint: Trump jumped to a new high. He’s three points behind Hillary in head-to-heads

    That sounds like it backs up your point until you consider the fact that back in September the head to heads had Trump leading Clinton 45 to 40. Also consider that a week after the Paris attacks when you said Clinton’s response would be disastrous, she polled higher than every republican on who they would trust to handle foreign relations and terrorism. What do you bet, she’ll still be ahead on that metric in a week? in a month?

    Denouncing people as cowards or bigots is not going to turn this issue around for you.

    For democratic candidates on the national stage that isn’t a winning strategy and that might be why you aren’t hearing them say that. On a relatively low traffic blog it is entirely safe to call a spade a spade.

    To your broader point, vetting will never be 100% effective. However, closing the gates and trying to go fortress America is counterproductive.
    Stopping immigration from Sunni majority countries will not make us meaningfully safer on the domestic front, but it will create tensions with allies that we need with us. That also still leaves us open to non sunni majority countries like France and Belgium, where the Paris attackers actually came from. Should we shut off immigration from all countries with sunni populations? Should we shut off immigration by sunni muslims regardless of country of origin? What effect do you think that move would have on our allies? What effect do you think it could have on terrorist recruitment? How do you think that would effect American muslims? Do you think it would make it easier or more difficult to radicalize American muslims?
    You need to step back for a moment and really think about all of the implications of the policies you are advocating.

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  98. Davebo says:

    First, if I wanted to lie you, you’d never know it. I’m a professional liar.

    Yes, to 12 year olds. You’ve gone off the rails Mike.

    Perhaps a month long winter vacation off the internet on a warm island is a good idea.

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  99. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    Malik, who is Pakistani rather than Saudi btw, came in on a fiancee visa.

    To be fair, she is Pakistani, but she grew up in Saudi Arabia.

    That said, the idea that she radicalized him is borderline ludicrous. She was a Saudi wife. And apparently he was a jellyfish.

    I guess that’s easier to believe than an American dude committing a very American gun massacre.

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  100. Guarneri says:

    Having fun yet, Michael??

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  101. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Those investigating the attack don’t consider the idea ludicrous at all.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/12/06/tashfeen_malik_female_san_bernardino_suspect_may_have_radicalized_husband.html

    As the investigation into the San Bernardino mass shooting continues, attention seems to be centering on Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani woman who participated in the rampage with husband Syed Farook. The broad outlines of Malik’s story are beginning to take shape: a smart, modern woman from a well-to-do family slowly started becoming more extremist while in university. Now investigators are looking into whether she pushed her American husband to take up violence.

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  102. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We need some “fight them on the beaches,” not another round of Kumbaya.

    What I’ve always liked about Michael as a writer is how he doesn’t rely on lazy and outdated cliches….

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  103. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, it is, and it has not been flying jets into buildings.

    No, Hezbollah has not been flying jets into buildings, but it has been driving truck bombs into US embassies (Beirut, Berlin), US Marine barracks (Beirut), US Air Force barracks (Khobar Towers), Israeli embassies (London, Buenos Aires), and Jewish cultural centers (Buenos Aires, again). As recently as 2012 it was responsible for the Burgas bus attack in Bulgaria which targeted Jewish tourists.

    But I’m sure you’ll explain in verbose, boring detail how driving truck bombs into buildings to kill Jews and Americans is an entirely different thing than flying airplanes into them…..

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  104. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    That said, the idea that she radicalized him is borderline ludicrous. She was a Saudi wife. And apparently he was a jellyfish.

    I guess that’s easier to believe than an American dude committing a very American gun massacre.

    A viable reason for believing she was the source of the belief change is the timeline. It makes more sense that she was already sympathetic, if not actively advocating, ISIS-type politics and theology then it is to say he got radicalized, found a wife, managed to radicalize her as well and then convince her to join him in this plot during her pregnancy since July 2014. I wouldn’t put it past ISIS to try honey traps considering their sexist official views on what women can contribute (see the response they wrote to a Saudi woman’s offer to help)

    Unless she was a stone cold bitch more interested in her martyrdom then her child (remember, they can procreate too!), he had to convince her to get in the truck to start it all. Talking ain’t doing. I don’t know about any of you guys but the whole being pregnant and giving birth thing tends to take it out of you. You have to be REALLY committed in order to have the energy and will-power to pull something like this off – leading back to the she-was-already-a-radical theory.

    Otherwise, you’re arguing that she’s the jellyfish and went along with her husband on an insane spree because. I must reluctantly agree with Micheal on this: it’s sexist and naive as hell to believe women can’t inherently be dangerous.

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  105. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You’re pathetic. We’re done.

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  106. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Cold compresses and aspirin for the welt on your head. I’ll have to check for drywall repairmen…..

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  107. Pch101 says:

    @James Pearce:

    That said, the idea that she radicalized him is borderline ludicrous

    I don’t see why that’s ludicrous. It’s one possible scenario.

    I suspect that we’ll find that they radicalized each other. Her background is the sort that is typical of the idealism-driven terrorist (affluent, educated, convictions that grew during her 20s), while he may have been disaffected (a passive-aggressive introvert with a difficult childhood and a faith that few around him shared but got him teased and hassled at work.) Combine that together, and you end up with a guy quietly seething with resentment and a wife encouraging him to strike a blow against the institutions that they believed were conspiring against them.

    Perhaps the investigation will find some conclusive answers. But we may never know for sure.

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  108. Pch101 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’ll bet you ten thousand dollars I can find a comment by me saying pretty much that.

    Someone who wasn’t a self-important blowhard struggling with an inferiority complex would just post a link.

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  109. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Those investigating the attack don’t consider the idea ludicrous at all.

    Sure, they’ve got to investigate every angle. And I think the more they investigate, the more they’ll find that this guy was well on his way to becoming a Jihadi before he met his wife.

    @KM:

    A viable reason for believing she was the source of the belief change is the timeline.

    Actually it’s the timeline that makes me think the wife had little to do with his radicalization. I would think you would already be on the path towards radicalization if you were shopping online for a good obedient wife from Pakistan/Saudi Arabia. He saw the niqab in her online profile and went schwing! Something was already…off…about this guy.

    As for whether she was whispering in his ear, telling him to buy the guns, the armor, build the pipe bombs, I suppose it’s possible. My guess, though, would be that the niqab-wearing wife would be the one taking orders, not giving them.

    I mean, it’s pretty clear he picked the target. I’m also fairly certain that he acquired their arsenal. (Kinda hard to get your wife to go gun-shopping when she’s caged up at home.) He probably hatched the plan, too, and being the obedient wife -who above all must obey– she went along with it, not an unwilling participant mind you, but more of a dupe than a mastermind.

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  110. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    And I think the more they investigate, the more they’ll find that this guy was well on his way to becoming a Jihadi before he met his wife.

    I don’t doubt that at all. I think Farook was “on the path” to radicalization and that’s why he sought out a wife who was old-school Muslim rather than one who would have been in line with his earlier focus on modernity (as related in a social media profile where he characterized himself as “religious but modern”).

    Malik herself had been on the “modern” side until the last few years, when she began to wear the headscarf and (according to a story I read over the weekend) essentially lost focus on her university studies and began proselytizing to her friends.

    These two were puzzle pieces and unfortunately they fit each other. They were both radicalizing and when they got together it was a match made in heaven for them, in hell for victims, with each of them “building up” the other in radicalization until they could do things like abandon their baby in favor of martyrdom.

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  111. Sherparick says:

    @Davebo: Right wingers don’t need links to their leftie strawmen:-)

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  112. Monala says:

    @Pch101: Teased as a kid – likely. Hassled at work – very unlikely. He worked for a government agency. Non-discrimination and non-harassment are drilled into government employees, and violations of such rules are taken very seriously.

    Let me edit that: since he seems to have had problems at work, it might not have been that he was hassled, vs. he was the hassler. Maybe he was proselytizing at work and was told to knock it off. (Remember that one of his victims attended the same mosque.)

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  113. Pch101 says:

    @Monala:

    The Jew for Jesus who Farook murdered was reportedly giving him grief:

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/05/san-bernardino-victim-had-argued-with-shooter-about-islam

    Other reports claim that he was teased for his beard.

    None of that justifies homicide, of course, but it may explain some of his anger.

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  114. Monala says:

    @Pch101: Wow, interesting. I work for a private nonprofit agency that receives government contracts for some of the programs we operate. Because of this, we have to take non-discrimination and non-harassment very seriously, and are pretty much told in no uncertain terms that the kind of behavior described in the article is grounds for losing our grant funds. I just assumed that meant that the employees of government agencies are held to the same standard. (And maybe they are, but perhaps the bigger and more bureaucratic the agency, the harder it is to monitor?)

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  115. Pch101 says:

    @Monala:

    If you believe the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the officer corps of the military is packed with Christian fundamentalists who make life difficult for those who don’t buy into their version of faith. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/a-spiritually-transformed_b_936091.html

    Anecdotally, I know an atheist who works for a county agency that is loaded with proselytizing Christians. If you believe him, those who don’t belong to the Jesus club get inferior posts and a have a harder time getting promoted, so it literally costs the non-believers. This guy who I know isn’t Mr. Personality, but I’m willing to bet that he is more intelligent and technically capable than most of his coworkers and I am inclined to believe him.

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  116. Matt says:

    @EddieInCA: You know even if every single gun was banned and all ammo banned it wouldn’t matter. We’re not an isolated island nation like Australia or even the UK. There will be guns flowing in from Canada and Mexico regardless. It’s much easier to smuggle guns than it is to smuggle drugs and the cartels seem to have no issue getting TONS of drugs into the USA despite decades of the war on drugs. The vast majority of guns used in crimes were already illegal (defaced, illegally purchased etc).

    Then there’s the issue that the current guns aren’t going to magically disappear. Just like with Trump and his deport them all policy for immigrants you’re going to have to kick down doors and search every house in the USA. Otherwise the ban is completely meaningless. Even then there’s plenty of guns and ammo floating around for at least 20 years worth of continued violence. By that point the bad guys will just make their own guns via printers that cost under $1000 bucks. What will you do then? Maybe ban more things? Monitor each person 24/7? Genetic tests of fetuses for violence related genes so we can abort them?

    Maybe we should address the underlying cause of our violent nation at some point instead?

    @Pch101: This has been my experience too as a non caring non believer. I am basically an agnostic and once I explain that things inevitably go downhill at work/social places etc. If you’re not Christian or at least pretend to be then things are harder for you. This includes some government related work areas.

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