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What, Exactly, Does Uttering The Words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” Accomplish?

Obama ISIS

To listen to many of the Republican candidates for President, the reason that we aren’t “winning,” — leaving open the question of how one defines a win for the time being — the war against ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terror networks is because the President and other Democrats are refusing to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” to define the enemy that we’re fighting. Marco Rubio, for example, compared the current battle to the one against the Nazis in World War II in criticizing Hillary Clinton for not using the term either on the stump or in last night’s debate:

Senator Marco Rubio, arguing that the United States is “at war with radical Islam,” sharply criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton for declining to characterize the perpetrators of the Paris attacks in that way, invoking Nazi Germany to make his point.

“That would be like saying we weren’t at war with Nazis, because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi Party but weren’t violent themselves,” Mr. Rubio said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

At the Democratic debate on Saturday night, Mrs. Clinton said she was wary about “painting with too broad a brush” while describing Muslims and terror.

“I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims,” she said. “I think we’re at war with jihadists. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression.”

Republican presidential candidates have repeatedly condemned Democrats like Mrs. Clinton for their reluctance to use the term “radical Islam” while describing how they would respond to the violence wrought by ISIS.

Donald Trump made similar comments on Twitter, suggesting that we won’t defeat terrorism until President Obama utters the magic words:

And there were similar comments from Ted Cruz, as well as from Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and the Deputy Campaign Manager for Carly Fiorina.  The Washington Post’s Katie Zezima calls the refusal of the President, along with the Democratic candidates for President to use the phrase, while Republicans use it as much as possible, “a semantic fault line,” and several conservative bloggers have jumped all over the Democratic candidates for declining to use the phrase. The fact that Clinton used the phrase “radical jihadists” in response to this question from John Dickerson apparently isn’t good enough:

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned radical jihadists. Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed and the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?

CLINTON: I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists who have —

DICKERSON: Just to interrupt. He didn’t say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don’t…

CLINTON: I think that you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists, but I think it’s not particularly helpful to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with, that we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries.

We’ve got to have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam, that was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a Mosque in Washington, we are not at war with Islam or Muslims.

We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And, yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.

As Paul Waldman notes, Republicans have been criticizing the President for not using these words virtually from the start of his Administration, but it’s unclear what, exactly, would be accomplished if he or any future President did:

[B]efore we get consumed with the politics of this argument about word usage, we should ask a simple question: To quote something Clinton herself once said, what difference does it make? Do the words “Islamic terrorism” constitute some kind of magical incantation that once spoken will drive our enemies from the earth? I’m not saying language never matters, but what exactly is this particular language choice supposed to accomplish?

Republicans have been making this criticism of Barack Obama for years, endlessly saying, “How can he defeat radical Islam if he won’t call it by its name?!?” Even for them, this is an uncommonly stupid argument. Let’s say Obama or Clinton came out tomorrow and said, “Hey, you know what? You guys are right. We are at war with radical Islam.” Then what? Would that make anyone any safer?

I’ve yet to hear any conservative give a substantive reason why it would be preferable to have the president say “We’re at war with radical Islam,” other than that doing so would prove that he or she is tough and strong. And as Clinton pointed out, George W. Bush was careful to emphasize that we’re not at war with Islam; I don’t think there are many conservatives who think Bush’s problem when it came to terrorism was that he was weak.

But the Democrats do have a good reason why they think it’s a mistake to feed into the idea that this is a religious war. They argue that in order to stop terrorism, we need the help of the world’s Muslim populations, and the last thing we want to do is drive them away by implying that they’re all our enemies. The terrorists want Muslims everywhere to believe the West is at war with Islam. Should we really be helping them make that case?

In many respects, this argument over what to label the phenomenon we’ve been fighting since at least September 11th, 2001, and arguably long before then if you take into consideration the fact that the ideology that was behind terror attacks stretching back to the first World Trade Center attack, the embassy attacks in Africa, the bombing of the Khboar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the bombing of the USS Cole, not to mention numerous attacks that have occurred inside Middle Eastern countries for decades now is all united around one overriding theme. That theme is, in short, a view of Islam that sees war against the “infidel” West and fellow Muslims who do not follow their strict interpretation of the Koran as not only acceptable, but some kind of duty that leads to rewards in some mythical afterlife. Both ISIS and al Qaeda, and various smaller groups, have adopted some variation on this theme as their rallying cry. For al Qaeda, it meant war with the West in the form of terrorist attacks far beyond the Middle East and the groups base of operations with the eventual goal of creating uprisings in the Islamic world that would lead to the re-establishment of a Caliphate not entirely dissimilar from what came to be known as the Ottoman Empire. For ISIS, it has meant, at least until now, largely abandoning the attacks on the West in favor of establishment of a Caliphate now, which is essentially what last year’s declaration of the so-called “Islamic State” is supposed to have accomplished. The Paris attacks, along with other recent events such as the apparent though unconfirmed downing of a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai Peninsula, arguably demonstrate that ISIS is changing tactics, or at the very least attempting to draw the West into a military confrontation on its own territory.

Whatever the tactics are, though, there’s really no way of denying what the motivating ideology is behind these groups, the question is whether those who argue that using the label “Radical Islamic Terrorism” rather than, say “Radical Jihadists,” or just plain old “terrorists” matters, or whether it changes the nature of the enemy we’re fighting and what has to be done to defeat them.

To be sure, in any conflict it’s important to recognize the nature of the enemy you’re fighting. To use the World War II example that Republicans often, inappropriately in my opinion, use in making their argument understanding the nature of the ideology that motivated both the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese was important for the United States and its allies to understand because it indicated rather strongly that the strategy of fighting the war to a stalemate and armistice, as had been done in World War One and countless European conflicts before that, wasn’t going to work with an enemy that saw total domination, rather than mere acquisition of territory, meant that the only way to win was to pursue a strategy of “total war” until the other side either collapsed completely or gave up. One can make similar arguments about the importance of understanding the ideology that motivated Soviet power during the Cold War, and also that a failure to really understand that the enemy in Vietnam was motivated more by anti-Colonialism than Communism is what led to so many mistakes in that conflict. Applying that forward to the current conflict, it would be malpractice for leaders and military and policy advisers in the West to not understand the nature of the ideology motivating ISIS and its allied groups, and refusing to acknowledge those motivations sometimes seems as though it is an attempt to apply political correctness to a dangerous situation out of fear of offending someone. In the case of ISIS, that means recognizing that we are dealing with an ideology driven largely by an apocalyptic vision of the world that has brought to the world practices such as beheading and sexual slavery that had seemingly been eradicated centuries ago, and that they are using the chaos in Syria and Iraq in an effort to create a new nation that would be a base from which they would bring about what they seem to see as an inevitable confrontation between Islam and the rest of the world.

On the other hand, Waldman has a point when he wonders aloud what, exactly, would be changed if the White House and others started using the world “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” or if it really matters that they use other words. On some level, it is hard to see exactly why it does matter what words are used in public. President George W. Bush, for example, didn’t frame the argument in that manner in no small part because he took the position that equating these extremists with all of Islam posed the risk of making it appear that we were at war with all of Islam which is, arguably, exactly how the extremists want their fellow Muslims to view the situation and the argument they make when they try to recruit fighters from disaffected communities in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere. CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed this out on Sunday’s State Of The Union  when Jeb Bush again repeated the argument that the President needs to “name the enemy,” and Bush’s response was rather nonsensical.

The idea that labeling the jihadists as “Islamic” has the potential to backfire has supporting evidence. For example, the rhetoric from the Tsarnaev brothers in the months before the Boston Marathon Bombings indicates that this is exactly what they believed. In some sense, then, turning this battle into what sounds like a conflict between the West and all of Islam would seem to be exactly what groups like ISIS want. Additionally, as Tom Toles notes, Senator Rubio’s analogy to the Second World War doesn’t hold up, because while American leaders did acknowledge that we were at war with Nazism, we never took the position that we were at war with all Germans. Indeed, many Germans fought for the United States with honor and distinction, and there were German resistance fighters who did their best to work with the allies during the war. The same was true of Japanese-Americans notwithstanding the fact that, in their case, we did act as if we were at war with all Japanese people in a truly shameful and regrettable manner. Both during the Bush and Obama Administrations, it has seemed to me that leaders have made clear that they are aware we are fighting people who are motivated by a radical, violent, extremist interpretation of Islam that seeks to justify terrible acts in the name of religion. What they have generally avoided doing, though, is identifying that radical ideology as “Islam” itself. What Rubio and people like him seem to want the United States to do is to imply that it is at war with all of Islam by implying that the jihadists somehow represent an accepted interpretation of Islam. Given the fact that this would put us potentially at odds with a billion people, the vast majority of whom want nothing to do with the insane jihadists of ISIS or al Qaeda, or for that matter the Wahabbists in Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite radicals in Iran, seems both unnecessary and unwise.

In the broadest sense, though, I fail to see exactly how the war against ISIS or al Qaeda would be helped simply by the President or the Democratic candidates for President uttering the phrase “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” Using the phrase isn’t an element of military strategy, it isn’t a weapon, and it doesn’t seem likely to change the nature of the conflict that we’re dealing with. In fact, as I note above, it is something that could actually make things worse in the sense that it plays right into the hands of those who want to be able to tell the average man on the street in a Muslim nation that the West is “at war” with them. One can make a good case that we need to reevaluate our strategy in the “War On Terror,” but the one thing that seems clear is that uttering the magic phrase that Republicans are insisting on isn’t really going to accomplish anything.

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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. Rafer Janders says:

    The president’s critics are, by and large, a group of people who believe in and practice magical thinking. So you can see why the concept of a shibboleth is so appealing to them….

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  2. Jeremy R says:

    Why Republicans want Obama to denounce “radical Islam” — and why he won’t do it

    Obama’s refusal to mention “radical Islam” isn’t just, or even primarily, about political correctness. Instead, it’s about strategy and the war of ideas — to effectively fight terrorism, Obama wants to win, or at least not fully alienate, “hearts and minds” in the Muslim world. And he thinks framing the conflict in religious terms would hurt that effort — a belief his predecessor George W. Bush had shared.

    Obama thinks a presidential declaration of a war on “radical Islam” will just make the US more enemies, and will hurt its effort to discredit terrorist ideologies. Hillary Clinton made a similar point in this weekend’s debate, saying that framing the conflict as a war on radical Islam is “not particularly helpful to make the case” to “Muslim countries.”

    Other commentators are even more explicit, pointing out that there are a whole lot of Muslims out there in the world who could conceivably be characterized as “radical Islamists” — the term is not exactly rigorously defined — but who are uninterested in attacking the West, and could in fact be valuable allies against terrorists. These include ordinary citizens as well as more organized Islamist groups and current or previous governments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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  3. Hal_10000 says:

    Two opposing thoughts. First, I think it *is* important to realize what we are at war with: a radical version of Islam. This is not something that is conjured from the air, but is taken directly from the most extreme passages of the Koran and the Hadith. There was a great article a while ago about just how Islamic ISIS is and how they can cite chapter and verse to justify everything they do.

    But it’s also critical that we recognize that 80-90% of Muslims oppose this ideology and take their faith from the more tolerant passage of the Koran and the Hadith. In fact, almost all of the blood being shed to fight against ISIS is coming out of moderate Muslims. That’s why you have to parse your words very carefully. I can understand why the President wants to err on the side of caution. Words matter. And the wrong words could make the fight infinitely more difficult.

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  4. Mu says:

    I was always wondering the opposite, why are Republicans calling for it. Once you establish the concept of radical religious terrorism, and establish approved countermeasures (like general surveillance of all mosques and islamic services), how long until someone would extend that to their beloved Christian churches after the next domestic terror incident? And unlike the 60’s when it was mainly black churches the FBI infiltrated, this probably would be the white churches of their evangelical followers.
    You’d think the Republicans have much more to lose here than the Democrats by making that a religious war.

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  5. Bill Lefrak says:

    Flip this rhetorical question around. The same argument can be made against the likes of sensitivity training, diversity training, wanting to ban or otherwise to punish the magic words of racial harassment and discrimination, and a whole host of other left-wing missives, pogroms and tripe.

    Actions matter most. But words matter, too, especially when we’re talking about national leaders. If the ostensible leader of the free world can’t even muster the clarity of thought to call the proverbial spade a spade, how exactly does the West intend to win this global war against Islamic terrorism?

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  6. Cleve Watson says:

    @Rafer Janders: Your “shibboleth” just slaughtered 140 Parisians, wounded hundreds more, has slaughtered tens of thousands in the Middle East, has enslaved, raped, and tortured thousands more, has blown up a passenger plane, and has expressed its intent on continuing its course until the rest of the world is subjugated.

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  7. David M says:

    Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice

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  8. Moosebreath says:

    On some level this is purely cynical politics, where the whole point is showing the other side will cave if enough pressure is put on them, and once they do, they lose the support of the people who want the President to stick to his principles.

    And on another level, the article cited by @Jeremy R: above is exactly right. One of the few things I entirely agreed with Bush the Younger about was that it is an important piece of fighting al-Qu’eda or ISIL is to not imply that Islam is the enemy. If one does this, one loses the ability to get Muslim allies in the fight.

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  9. Lounsbury says:

    @Hal_10000: The Atlantic article was half-baked twattery actually.

    Of course DAESH is Islamically rooted, in much the same way the Lord’s Resistance Army is Christian.

    As several long ‘risala’ open letters sent by Islamic theologians to DAESH have pointed out, their actual claims and even interpretations are rife with error, half-quotations, and bizarre (as in not contra the article medievally founded) new interpretations.

    Religious they are. Well-rooted in traditional (not modern even, traditional) theology, not really.(*)

    There’s real utility in not playing into their hands by supporting their self-Ident as True Believers, but rather mocking that.

    The Arabic press pretty universally has adopted the DAESH acronym for that reason, as it has a nice couple of mockery variation readings. The DAESH guys actually threaten to cut out the tongues of people using.)

    (*: you know when even Al Qaeda finds your theology is off the deep-end, you’re not well-rooted.)

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  10. DrDaveT says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    If the ostensible leader of the free world can’t even muster the clarity of thought to call the proverbial spade a spade

    Who is being misidentified by the President? Are you saying that the jihadists are not the enemy? Or are you saying that singling out ‘jihadists’ instead of some broader category is factually incorrect?

    What fraction of Muslims would you estimate are “the enemy” here?

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  11. David M says:

    @DrDaveT:

    What fraction of Muslims would you estimate are “the enemy” here?

    In keeping with this thought, isn’t it prudent to take actions that could reduce this number? 1.5 billion seems like a lot, so maybe the less of that group that is involved, the better…

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  12. M. Bouffant says:

    The right wing, interested in nothing but shallow symbolism, & inevitably reacting just as the terrorists want.

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Bill Lefrak: Just because you want to say that “we’re at war with Radical Islam” doesn’t make it true.

    First of all, define “Radical Islam”.

    Second of all, WHICH “Radical Islam”? There seem to be 37 flavors (at least) of religious Islamic nutjobs running around the Mideast, all of which are claiming to be the Real McCoy, and many of them at least as passionate about blowing each other up as they are to Attack the Infidel. Are we at war with ALL of them, especially those that have (up to now) left the West alone?

    One thing I can guarantee is that if you state outright that “we are at war with Radical Islam” is that you have just upped the chance that those who haven’t been fighting us will feel they damn well have to. Especially since we’re being led on the Republican side by a bunch of idiots who haven’t bothered to distinguish among the different flavours of Islam and whose present-day strategy would seem to be “kill them all, let God sort it out.”

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  14. Guarneri says:

    LOL

    And I’m sure every college and pro football coach in the land will give a rousing pre-game speech this weekend exhorting his charges to “compete with spirit and zeal, with proper fairness and respect, against our worthy and esteemed adversaries who, but for having donned jersies of slightly differing hue, are most assuredly us.”

    Yeah, and I hear Mike Tyson used to use to include his opponents middle names in the ring, too.

    What next? Can’t we all just get along??

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  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: when was the last time a football team attacked their opponents with actual firepower?

    But if you want to treat the whole Mideast mess as Just Another Excuse For a Game, please go ahead and do it on your own, please?

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  16. C. Clavin says:

    @Lounsbury:
    @Hal_10000:
    Yeah…I am not well versed in the Koran…but my sense of it is that ISIS is to Islam as the Westboro Church is to Christianity. A fundamentalist perversion.

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  17. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    WTF does that even mean?
    Smoking crack on your lunch hour?

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  18. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: And why do we keep saying “leader of the free world”? That sort of made sense, at least propaganda wise, when it was us against the commies. What does it even mean now?

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  19. Cian says:

    What will issuing the words “Islamic fundimentalists” accomplish? Well, a lot really, for Isis. Linking all Muslims to Isis in the mind of the American public is what they want. And guess what, it’s exactly what republicans want too. Getting President Obama to go along with Trump and the rest and it’s game over.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    What next? Can’t we all just get along??

    Idiot…not referring to them as radical Islamic terrorists isn’t paying them any respect…rather, it is differentiating a small group of warped killers who are trying to pervert an entire religion to serve their own misguided ends from most Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism…

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  21. C. Clavin says:

    The majority of Republicans now trust Trump to stop terrorism.
    The majority of Republicans are apparently dumb as rocks.
    And scared shitle$$ like Jenos and Jack.
    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/17/the_fearmongering_has_worked_plurality_of_gop_voters_now_say_donald_trump_best_equipped_to_handle_terrorism_following_paris_attacks/

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  22. grumpy realist says:

    I’m reminded of that point in Russian history when a small political party decided to call themselves the “Big Party”. (Bolshoi == big).

    The other, much larger side, with incredible stupidity allowed themselves to be saddled with being called “the Small Party.”

    Within a few years, they WERE.

    Now, what’s the Arabic for “The Fat, Clueless, Stupid Party”…? THAT’s what we should label these critters.

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  23. Tillman says:

    They need a label that conforms to their biases. Hell, the Democratic debate on Saturday had this wonderful little semantic moment between candidates and the moderator over whether there was any difference between a “jihadist” and an “Islamist.”

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  24. James Pearce says:

    The right continues to blame America first. They are literally making the same mistake Mitt Romney made back in 08, thinking words have more power than the president of the United States.

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  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The president’s critics are, by and large, a group of people who believe in and practice magical thinking.

    Came here to say that.

    As an athiest, I find it stunning how much of wars and politics is interworven with religious magical thinking.

    When will they learn: Politics is about MONEY !

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  26. humanoid.panda says:

    @grumpy realist: This is a nitpick, but the Mensheviks were by far the larger party after the February Revolution. Then they made the mistake of supporting continuing the war, and the Bolsheviks, who opposed it, became the larger party. In the end, labels are not that important.

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  27. Lenoxus says:

    I remember when Bush Jr called the War on Terror a “crusade” in some speech, and it naturally caused a minor outcry in the Middle East. I think that’s the closest he ever came to doing the sort of thing now expected of Obama, and it was obviously just a bad choice of words.

    (Interestingly enough, using the word “crusade” in a casual sense — “We’re on a crusade against bribery!” — could be considered a sort of Christian/English equivalent to an Arabic-speaking Muslim saying “jihad”, which can mean just “struggle” even though there’s a connotation of battle, without awareness of the implications.)

    I suspect that some combination of being a white Republican and wearing his Christianity on his sleeve meant Bush could easily “get away with” not making the enemy all about Islam. Obama, on the other hand, has that funny Arabic name, so it’s his responsibility to emphasize that the killers are killers purely because they worship the wrong deity, don’t you know.

    Of course, if he did this, conservatives would just focus on shifting the Overton window further. “Why is Obama hedging by saying these radical Muslims who are the enemy are unrepresentative of their religion? Why won’t he call a spade a spade and attack Islam itself?” You know perfectly well that’s where they’re headed — just look at the Ted Cruz proposal to filter refugees by faith.

    Still, to play devil’s advocate… I can’t be the first to notice a parallel to this sort of thing. Given that, I wonder how best to reconcile my own slightly-contradictory thinking about this.

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  28. Ben Wolf says:

    @Bill Lefrak: There is no war to win, at least not one in which we’re capable of achieving victory. We’ve been fighting across the planet for fourteen years and our enemies are stronger than ever. They recruit faster than we can kill them; the more we kill the more they expand their ranks and the more vicious they become. A very different approach is needed. Certainly our obsolete, bloated and wasteful military is ill-suited to the task.

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  29. mannning says:

    Radical Islamists
    I recognize the problem of labeling our effort the defeat of radical Islam.

    I also recognize the necessity for clarity about just who we are fighting, where they are in the ME, how they are armed, what their leadership knows about fighting, what tactics have they used to date, where their sources of supply are, and what weapons they have available, whether we are fighting a single, monolithic and religiously unified group or a loose collection of warring tribes that have less than strong allegiances to the current leadership.

    Sunni and Shiite groups are in the mix, and there is little love between them except on a local and temporarily objective basis. There are radicals from both major parties, and many have conflicting ambitions, but the Iranian Shiites and their minions appear to have the most forward-looking vision of where the conflict is directed to go–a worldwide Islamic Caliphate. ISIS does not fit their scheme, since they have their own vision of a Caliphate of their control, hence the Iranians aid Iraq in the fight up to a point. One use of the Iranian nuclear program is to provide Iran with the ultimate threat to any enemy, sooner or later, including all Sunnis.

    Then there is Syria and its divisions: the Assad regime and army; ISIS; and sundry rebellious splinter groups that the US has tried to support, with Russia attacking some splinter groups, while we try to decapitate, disrupt and defeat the ISIS leadership with air power.

    Where does this lead us in trying to defeat ISIS, AQ, and the like, and what is the importance of labels in the fight? It would appear that the common thread here is Islam across the board, and drawn from the ranks of Islam across the ME and elsewhere is a radical subset of fighters we would like to label radical Islamists or Islamic Jihadists, which in truth they are, but many of us have demurred from using this label because of the views of all the other Islamists in the world, all 1.2 billion of them.

    In fact, except for derailing the Iranian goal of a Caliphate, we would like to see a true military reaction from virtually all Muslim nations to suppress ISIS, and the entire lot of extremists originating from their fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran, the Haddith, and Sharia, and their total disregard for infidel human life.

    The use of the term “Jihadist” implies Islam directly and would most likely have the same reaction from the Islamic masses.

    “Terrorists” has a limited scope, since ISIS is a full-scale army fighting with major numbers of troops, and an array of sophisticated weapons: this is not becoming an isolated police matter, but a full-scale coalition army matter, with local rules of engagement, not rule-driven from the US. It is quite possible that any application of the Rules of War, Geneva fashion, will fly out the window rather soon once (and if) a full engagement is mounted by the West. The most probable rule will be “any person, man, woman or child not identified as friendly, holding or appearing to hide a weapon, will be killed.’

    DAESH (with an identifying group label) seems to be the Islamic majority label. Seems appropriate to me.

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  30. JKB says:

    So the argument is between

    Radical Jihadists = Radical “Islamic Militants” = Radical “Islamic ‘individuals, combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods'”

    and

    Radical Islamic Terrorism = Radical Islamic “use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

    Of course, if anyone is tying the attacks to mainstream Islam, it is those who use jihadist. A jihad, although typically “a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels”, can also be “a holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral or spiritual or political goal”. But radical, Islamic, Terrorism is pretty clearly denoting a non-mainstream sect of Islam engaged in terrorist acts.

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  31. JKB says:

    But it should be recognized that this is a “war” against Islam to the extent that Islam seeks to involve itself in the affairs of those who choose not follow Islam and in “earthly life and earthly endeavors”

    Liberalism limits its concern entirely and exclusively to earthly life and earthly endeavor. The kingdom of religion, on the other hand, is not of this world. Thus, liberalism and religion could both exist side by side without their spheres’ touching. That they should have reached the point of collision was not the fault of liberalism. It did not transgress its proper sphere; it did not intrude into the domain of religious faith or of metaphysical doctrine. Nevertheless, it encountered the church as a political power claiming the right to regulate according to its judgment not only the relationship of man to the world to come, but also the affairs of this world. It was at this point that the battle lines had to be drawn.

    ….

    Liberalism, however, must be intolerant of every kind of intolerance. If one considers the peaceful cooperation of all men as the goal of social evolution, one cannot permit the peace to be disturbed by priests and fanatics. Liberalism proclaims tolerance for every religious faith and every metaphysical belief, not out of indifference for these “higher” things, but from the conviction that the assurance of peace within society must take precedence over everything and everyone. And because it demands toleration of all opinions and all churches and sects, it must recall them all to their proper bounds whenever they venture intolerantly beyond them. In a social order based on peaceful cooperation, there is no room for the claim of the churches to monopolize the instruction and education of the young. Everything that their supporters accord them of their own free will may and must be granted to the churches; nothing may be permitted to them in respect to persons who want to have nothing to do with them.

    Mises, Ludwig von (2010-12-10). Liberalism (pp. 55-56). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @mannning:

    ISIS is a full-scale army fighting with major numbers of troops, and an array of sophisticated weapons

    If that’s true, then obviously we’re not at war with Islam or Radical Islamists. We’re at war with the full scale army that calls themselves ISIS.

    Here’s an idea to consider. If we really do want to throw Geneva out the window, then we need to have a sitdown with ISIS. A little pow wow. We say, okay, so you can have this part of Iraq and this part of Syria and it can be your own little Islamic paradise/hell. Whatever you want to do.

    Any of you MFers launch even a single terrorist attack though, we’ll nuke you. Not one little tactical strike, but scorched earth baby. We’ll send one, Russia will send one, France, England. We’ll even get Pakistan and India in on it too.

    Then, no war crimes. Just the consequences of a violated agreement.

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  33. m u ncho el box says:

    The president’s critics are, by and large, a group of people who believe in and practice magical thinking.

    The only magical thinking is brilliant quote from man of the left john kerry

    “There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” he said in remarks at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. “There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘Okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.’ This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate.”

    .
    So here they are saying they don’t even understand the rationale for what they can’t say…and you lap dogs pant away with confirmation…magical

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  34. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem of religion is that ultimately, religion is not about beliefs. It´s about culture and about identification. The Northern Ireland Conflict(And all conflicts involving Protestants and Catholics) were religious conflicts, and one blames the Bible for the deaths in the hands of the IRA. In some sense, the distinctions between Common and Civil Law are distinctions based on religion.

    The idea that Daesh/ISIS/Whatever solely exists because of the words in the Koran is simplistic.

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  35. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    You can’t even get the Muslim population right…much less all the other crap you spewed forth.

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  36. Sherparick says:

    But “Rumpelstiltskin” disappeared when the Queen said the right name, right? Won’t DAESH do the same?

    With the demise of Communism as credible ghost under the bed, the American Conservative Movement has been been looking for a new “Enemy at the Gate, Enemy within the Walls” meme to get their base motivated and to swing popular opinion in their direction at election time. Islam apparently is going to serve that function. (Oldsters like me remember when tribal Islamists of Afghanisan and Pakistan’s fundamentalist dictator were called “Freedom Fighters” in the Reagan and Bush I administration – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Zia-ul-Haq#.27Sharization.27_of_Pakistan. Now “Sharia” is the new “Communist Manifesto.)

    As Steve M. at “No More Mister Nice Guy” points out the real enemies are liberals, Democrats, and the Obama administration, just as for Joe McCarthy the real enemy was the Truman administration, not Joe Stalin. http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2015/11/kurt-schlichter-fights-real-enemy-hint.html

    “…Conservatives see everything, including the grave threat to America’s safety and security posed by foreign jihadists, as part of the real war, the War on Liberalism. Triumphing in that war is what’s most important; satisfying Muslim body counts come second; and actually neutralizing the specific group that threatens us comes third.”

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  37. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB:

    And because it (liberalism) demands toleration of all opinions and all churches and sects, it must recall them all to their proper bounds whenever they venture intolerantly beyond them.

    Thank you for that surprisingly cogent argument from von Mises as to why things like the Hobby Lobby decision and accomodation of the holy roller county clerk in KY should be opposed.

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  38. gVOR08 says:

    So it comes down to Obama not using a phrase because it would be irresponsible to use the phrase. The R prez candidates, on the other hand…

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  39. J-Dub says:

    @gVOR08:

    What does it even mean now?

    It means we have more money than everyone else.

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  40. JKB says:

    @gVOR08:

    I would have to agree with you on the county clerk since that is a government monopoly. Although the solution is for government not to license marriages but simply record them in the public record.

    But Hobby Lobby is different. The owners are observing their beliefs and government should not be imposing upon those beliefs.

    Same with the gay wedding cakes, the owners should be tolerated in their beliefs as long as the wedding cake baking field is open to competing businesses.

    On the other hand, gay marriage should be legal as far as the state provided secular benefits are concerned but should not be something imposed upon the religious churches and sects to perform or sanction.

    Tolerance goes both ways. Your fetish of government intervention in all aspect of life does not counter tolerance and it is a good reason for government, the organization of compulsion and coercion, to be very limited in its scope. To facilitate tolerance, the rules of society should be as rudimentary as possible and not enter areas of life where a variety of choices are exercised by The People.

    We call the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion that induces people to abide by the rules of life in society, the state; the rules according to which the state proceeds, law; and the organs charged with the responsibility of administering the apparatus of compulsion, government.

    Mises, Ludwig von (2010-12-10). Liberalism (pp. 35-36). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    But Hobby Lobby is different. The owners are observing their beliefs and government should not be imposing upon those beliefs.

    You say this, but you don’t believe it. I know you don’t believe it because if the details were different — if the owners of Hobby Lobby believed that flogging their employees was required by their religion, or that their employees must wear opaque hoods at all times (even when not at work) — then you would not for an instant think that “the government should not be imposing upon those beliefs”.

    People who believe in separation of Church and State don’t have a problem here, because they treat both cases identically — religious beliefs have no standing at all in deciding what employers can and can’t do to their employees. The challenge for you is to explain on what grounds you draw the line between religious beliefs that must be respected and those that need not be respected (or must not be respected). Hint: the criterion can’t be religious.

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  42. mannning says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Speaking of spew, you haven’t a clue…

    You fester and fume but really should rue

    the childish opinions you trickle here too,

    what many with sense think the West should do.

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  43. mannning says:

    @James Pearce:

    If that’s true, then obviously we’re not at war with Islam or Radical Islamists. We’re at war with the full scale army that calls themselves ISIS.

    …which employs a version of Islam that rates as utterly radical and murderous.

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  44. mannning says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You say this, but you don’t believe it. I know you don’t believe it because if the details were different — if the owners of Hobby Lobby believed that flogging their employees was required by their religion, or that their employees must wear opaque hoods at all times (even when not at work) — then you would not for an instant think that “the government should not be imposing upon those beliefs”.

    Yes, but only if you do truly believe in total separation of church and state, which is a belief not held by a majority of our citizens, while some forms of Christianity are still dominant, and do not believe in floggings or hooding their adherents, or any other physical violation of persons. Refusal to serve because of religious beliefs is the right of individuals, but they must also suffer the consequences of failure to perform their duties to an employer. We do have conscientious objectors and laws governing their actions.

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  45. mannning says:

    @Sherparick:

    We will, of course, multitask!

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  46. John430 says:

    Q: “What, Exactly, Does Uttering The Words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” Accomplish?”

    A: Because it puts a very specific name to a very specific group. If they were “Radical Christian Terrorists”, the leftists here would jump at the chance to adopt that label.

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  47. grumpy realist says:

    @John430: Considering how people on the right call everyone on the left “Marxists”, I have no doubt but that if President Obama were to utter the words “Radical Islamic Terrorists” you people on the right would attach that term to anyone who even spoke Arabic.

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  48. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    Nothing you type makes sense.
    From mis-stating the muslim population to mis-characterizing Iranian behavior and their nuclear programs.
    And childish rhymes won’t change that.

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  49. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    Which makes me wonder…if you really have no idea what you are talking about…why hold such strong beliefs? Wouldn’t you be better served trying to learn something of the topic first?

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  50. mannning says:

    @mannning:

    Add: Owners of businesses with religious beliefs that inhibit them from serving a set of people have no higher boss than God, with the government coming in a distant second, primarily in taxation, codes and the like. The government should not interfere with their religious preferences, but if one objects to their actions, one should feel free to boycott the business.

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  51. mannning says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Dear, dear, you practice the usual progressive debate tactic of picking on an aspect of a topic in an attempt to discredit the whole, which is completely dishonest and reprehensible. I recommend you learn honest debating before posting here.

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  52. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:

    The government should not interfere with their religious preferences

    OK…questions:
    Why do you think it’s OK for a business to decide when the corporate veil applies and when it does not?
    If a business has personal religious preferences, should it’s owners be exposed to personal liability for harm and or injury caused to others by the business?

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  53. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    If you cannot understand the basic facts of a topic…how can you hold strong beliefs? In other words; if your opinion is based on factual errors and mis-information…then your opinion is faulty by definition.

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  54. wr says:

    @mannning: “Add: Owners of businesses with religious beliefs that inhibit them from serving a set of people have no higher boss than God, with the government coming in a distant second, primarily in taxation, codes and the like.”

    Actually, this is the exact opposite of what Jesus said — “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s” — but I guess expecting a self-styled “Christian” to know anything about Jesus is silly.

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  55. Pete S says:

    In the broadest sense, though, I fail to see exactly how the war against ISIS or al Qaeda would be helped simply by the President or the Democratic candidates for President uttering the phrase “Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

    It has nothing to do with winning the war against ISIS. It is an effort to get some sort of cover for a party whose leading presidential candidate is talking openly about closing mosques.

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  56. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    I mean, seriously…if the facts matter not…then we are free to form any opinion we want. But that’s a pretty f’ed up way to make policy…based on fiction.
    Really though…isn’t that how Republicans govern? The Laffer curve is fiction. WMD’s in Iraq were fiction. Climate denial is all based on fiction. Almost every single Republican policy prescription is based upon fiction.

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  57. mannning says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And progressive policies are not fiction? One sure fiction is that the American public mind can be made to conform fully to liberal and progressive ideas and policies, and another is that central economic planning can be successful in creating an enjoyable society for 300 million or more people. A third is that, as I mentioned above, that anyone can impose full separation of church from state in America today or tomorrow without taking a totalitarian approach. I suppose a fourth delusion is that the American people would accept a collective approach to government now or in the future. These are snake-oil ideas that poison the well. We now devote close to 70% of our GDP for entitlements, and the fiction is that we can increase that percentage if we stay with liberal/progressive government, and to hell with the national debt of $18.5 trillion or so. Who increased this debt to such an extent that it is soon close to unpayable? Your so-called fictions pale in comparison!

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  58. wr says:

    @mannning: “Who increased this debt to such an extent that it is soon close to unpayable?”

    Republican politicians who slashed taxes on the rich and corporations. Next question.

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  59. mannning says:

    @wr:

    Christians owe God their allegiance and the government their loyalty and taxes. God’s (The Trinity) prescriptions trump rational Christian government on matters of belief, but obviously not in an atheistic government. Is this the wr attitude?

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  60. mannning says:

    @wr:

    BS. Seven years of profligate liberal spending did it.

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  61. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    It’s obvious you have no idea what you are talking about.
    Obama has slashed the deficit left behind by the Republicans.
    Any increase in debt is a hangover from Iraq, Medicare Part D, Tax Cuts, and the economy they tanked…3-1/2 times what Obama has spent.
    These aren’t opinions…they are facts.
    Criminy…how do you get thru the day being absolutely wrong about everything???

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  62. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:
    Jesus gawd man…you can’t even defend yourself without making up more fiction. Where do you copy and paste all that nonsense from?

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  63. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:

    We now devote close to 70% of our GDP for entitlements

    Give me a link for that big guy….
    Bet it’s closer to 20%.
    But don’t let facts stand in the way of your ideology.

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  64. Tillman says:

    @mannning: Is there a reason you’re so keen to show yourself as trinitarian? It’s very odd given that trinitarians are the majority of Christians here or elsewhere. Also I imagine you’re in favor of abolishing the Pledge of Allegiance being recited in schools as that would present an irreconcilable conflict to Christian kids?

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  65. JKB says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Way to be willfully ignorant.

    In the actual Hobby Lobby case, the state is forcing individuals to take actions against their religious beliefs to benefit others. See the SCOTUS for elaboration on the government’s compelling interest to impose upon beliefs of minority individuals.

    In your fantasies, you speculate that there is some right to force religious beliefs upon non-followers of the religion by making them take actions such as submitting to floggings or wear hoods.

    Surely you can see the central point here is the forcing of someone to do something either against their personal religious beliefs or to comply with someone else’s religious beliefs.

    Your religious/ideological belief that the state should be able to impose the majority belief upon minority believers, the central tenet is the liberty of the individual.

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  66. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:
    No…individuals start corporations of their own free will. The Corporation itself does not have religious beliefs. If you follow your logic and the corporation is in fact the same as the person, then that person should also be personally liable for any damages the corporation inflicts. e.g. the Koch brothers should go to jail for killing their employees and others.
    Only in Scalia-land do you get to pick and choose when the corporate veil applies and when it doesn’t. Probably the most flawed decision in recent history…along with Citizens United and McCutcheon…and one that will cause a lot of trouble down the road.
    But once you start appointing Presidents…anything goes.

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  67. grumpy realist says:

    @mannning: It was YOUR guy who decided to have two wars without raising taxes to pay for them, dude…..

    And wasn’t it his VP who said “deficits don’t matter”?

    So why are you bitching now? Clean up your own stables before whining about the smell of sh*t, ok?

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  68. Tyrell says:

    This is interesting: take a look at the letters ISIS . What do we notice here ? Two letters stand out. They have an importance, obviously. The letters are: SS !
    It is no wonder that this organization is also murderous, uses torture, and has the goal of world domination. It also is commanded and lead by people who can only be described as evil.

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  69. bill says:

    well, we do need to know our enemies i assume? we should be told if a mass killing was the result of;
    1- workplace violence
    2- something racial
    3-just some wack job who felt like killing

    this is the day/age when headlines scream that a “white” something did something to a BLACK (preferably unarmed) person. although more often than not it was totally legit.
    just yesterday i was reading a story of a kid in mass. who raped/killed his math teacher- no mention of either’s race so i just had to google it….and of course it was a black who raped/killed a white woman …..guess that’s expected so it wasn’t really “news”?
    and 0.0 attention to the race of either. yes, that’s the world the msm wants you ‘tards to exist in for them. they can’t get enough of blacks running amok for the slightest of reasons, it’s great “news’ – and they deliver the goods more often than not.

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  70. Ratufa says:

    @C. Clavin:

    @mannning:

    We now devote close to 70% of our GDP for entitlements

    Give me a link for that big guy….
    Bet it’s closer to 20%.

    If you really want to see whose number is more accurate (depending on one’s definition of “entitlement”), some data is here:

    http://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go

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  71. Moosebreath says:

    @Ratufa:

    Umm, no. Your article dealt with the percentage of the Federal budget which is spent on different items, not of GDP as mannning said. Since the Federal budget is about 25% of GDP, there is no way he can possibly win that bet.

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  72. An Interested Party says:

    yes, that’s the world the msm wants you ‘tards to exist in for them.

    With most of the drivel you write you have the nerve to refer to others as “‘tards”…obviously self-awareness and irony are things you have no grasp of…

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  73. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    In the actual Hobby Lobby case, the state is forcing individuals to take actions against their religious beliefs to benefit not harm others.

    Fixed that for you. At which point, it’s just a question of how much harm you’re allowed a free pass on due to religious beliefs. We know it’s not infinite; I want you to elucidate the criteria you think ought to be used to decide where the line is.

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  74. Tyrell says:

    It makes no difference to me what they call them: devils would be my choice. A lot of the hesitancy to use “radical Islam terrorists” is just more of the “political correct” garbage that took hold a while back and attempts to control speech. There seems to be a backlash going on now.
    This is interesting: the other day some Hispanic lawmakers met with some NBC news executives. It seems that they were upset over NBC allowing Donald Trump on the “SNL” program, so they were all tensed up about that. Then someone had the gall and nerve to actually use the term “illegal” in their presence and that set them off. Then later one of them actually spoke some Spanish to them and they really got bent out of shape (you know, you just can’t please some people) . They also did not like it when told that the news division had no connection to that program, it was the entertainment network that they should be talking to. So that did not turn out well. “SNL” pokes fun at everything and everybody, so they need to chill and get over it.
    But that is the atmosphere we are in. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld says that it is different now; he feels that his show would not make it. Sad .
    The new definition of bank robber: unauthorized account withdrawer.
    Speeder: calf muscle disabled
    Drunkard: alcohol collector
    Hobo: traffic light solicitor

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  75. Ratufa says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Whoops, ,my bad. My brain must have automatically skipped over the “GDP” part of manning’s claim, since it was so crazy (and it’s stlll crazy if you take state & local government spending into account).

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  76. KM says:

    @Tyrell:

    *sigh* Far be it from me to interrupt your symbolism or whatever that was but “ISIS” ins’t their name – it’s a standardized English translation. It’s name is الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام which I have no idea if this blog will render or not. Transliteration al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham – two Is and an S.

    But I do agree that are certainly stirring up more then their fair share of asshattery in the world lately.

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  77. mannning says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Dear me! GWB left a debit of about $10+trillion as of Nov 2008
    BHO has a debit now of about $18.3+ trillion as of Nov 2015, and growing.
    The Treasury Dept. projection is for a debit of $25,247 trillion in 2023.

    The stink is obviously not under control from either faction–Rep. or Dems. This level of debt is unsustainable, and the guy in the catbird seat for the last 7 years has not worked to decrease it, although he has reduced the deficit temporarily. But it is projected to grow again at about $.75+ trillion a year average over the next ten years to our grave danger. The largest portion of the revenue outgo is entitlements. followed by interest on the debt. By 2030 debt interest and entitlements will consume the entire US revenue. ( Sources: US Office of Management and Budget; the Budget of the US Government, Year 2015, and the Congressional Budget Office.)

    It is apparent that here in OTB comments the past seems to be extremely important, but it is the present and future is what we must face and control. Dragging up every past president, either Rep or Dems, does not solve the present or future problems, so dwelling on past failures is idiocy, except for lessons learned, such as Dems tax more and “spendthriftly”, while some Reps incur undue debts from recent wars. A Hobson’s choice, but both congress and the president did authorize the wars to begin with. We seem to have an overspending engine that is unstoppable.

    Has anyone heard how Clinton would address this if she somehow gets elected? I imagine it would be another tax and spend administration, till we go dead broke, perhaps real soon. It seems to me that we need a president and Congress that has fiscal responsibility as its mantra for the coming years, and that ain;’t Dems.

    My error: The 70% figure relates to revenues plus interest, not the GDP.

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  78. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    What fraction of Muslims would you estimate are “the enemy” here?

    Still waiting to hear an answer to this one from the Dauntless Protectors of the Homeland…

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  79. mannning says:

    Guess: Somewhere between, 20,000 and 100,000 maybe, with viable or coercible reserves in the millions worldwide.

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