Monday, June 13, 2016

Yes, CNN, it does matter if Obama uses the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

CNN's bias is showing again--or, rather, still.

Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly called for  both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to call the motivations behind atrocities such as the Orlando and San Bernadino shootings by name: "Radical Islamic Terrorism." When assessing the importance of this label, CNN conveniently leaves off the "Radical" adjective while pontificating about the efficacy or inefficacy of the term.

To critique a term, one must first accurately reference the term. If the term is "Radical Islamic terrorism," then critiquing the use of "Islamic terrorism" is ultimately a straw man argument. CNN is, as is its wont where the Republican nominee is concerned, making a straw man argument.

I will say that I am at the present unpersuaded of any difference between "Radical Islam" and "Islam". I lean towards agreeing with Breitbart's Milo Yiannopolous on this point--that the problem, and the enemy, is in fact simply "Islam". 

Still, I appreciate Trump's nuancing with by making it "Radical Islam." It opens the door towards the posture of "Radical Islam" being different from "Islam", in the same way "crony capitalism" is different from "capitalism." It allows for common cause with moderate Muslim communities here in the USA to eradicate those who would use religion as a justification for murder.

If a Muslim living in the United States accepts that Sharia is not the law of the land, and will not be the law of the land, we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States accepts that he or she lives in cosmopolitan society, with diverse belief systems and creeds, and is willing to live in peace with those creeds, we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States is willing to assimilate into our culture, meeting our culture "halfway", we need not make of him an enemy. We can make of him a friend.

If a Muslim living in the United States demands Sharia, rejects our cosmopolitan society, and refuses to assimilate, then he has made of himself an enemy, and we can never make of him a friend. That is simply not one of the potential outcomes under those circumstances.

The United States is still the nation founded on the premise that all men are created equal, with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that government is the tool men use to preserve those same rights. Any religion or creed that cannot celebrate this premise will never be compatible with American civic life, and so must be removed from our civic society.

It necessarily follows from the term and Trump's repeated use of it that Trump understands both the nuance and the need for the nuance. In this chaotic and painful aftermath of the carnage in Orlando, that nuance and only that nuance allows Trump (or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton), to label, identify, and call out the threat that faces us--"Radical Islam"--while leaving an opening for the more moderate Muslims to make common cause against what should be a common enemy.

"Radical Islamic Terrorism" is the nuance that allows Muslims either living in this country or wishing to legally emigrate to this country the chance to be Americans, certainly in spirit and ultimately in citizenship as well. "Islamic terrorism" compels all Muslims to decide: their fate or this nation, their personal liberty or the freedom our society hopefully still cherishes. "Radical Islamic Terrorism" is the nuance allows us to oppose ISIS directly on its own without alienating the Muslim states we need as allies to defeat ISIS once and for all.

So yes, CNN, is does matter if Obama uses the term "radical Islamic terrorism." The term tells us he's looking at the right problem, in the right time, and in the right frame of mind. The term tells us if Hillary Clinton can or cannot competently address the real problems facing our society, here and around the world. It matters so much, that it even matters if your staff will are able to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

Sadly, it appears that your staff, just like Barack Obama and just like Hillary Clinton, are not able to call the enemy by its name: 

Radical Islamic Terrorism.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ted Cruz Demands The Media Discuss His Mistresses

Ted Cruz gives yet another lesson on how to turn a non-story into a story.

The Daily Mail asked Cruz to put the National Enquirer sex scandal story to rest and state specifically that he'd 'always been faithful' to his wife Heidi. Instead of saying that simple statement, allowed surrogate Carly Fiorina to rail at the putative injustice of "dancing to Donald Trump's tune."

Can there be a more bizarre, cringeworthy, and thus newsworthy response to what should be a simple straightforward question?

No matter the journalistic ethics (or lack thereof) of the National Enquirer, Ted Cruz has been accused by that publication of multiple adulterous affairs and sexual liasons. Instead of rebutting the charges simply and directly, Ted Cruz has

  • Denounced the story as "garbage".
  • Said the story was an attack on his wife, Heidi.
  • Attacked Donald Trump and his "henchmen" (despite the media reporting the likely origin of the story was the Rubio camp).
At no time has he said whether or not he has been unfaithful to his wife.

As Rick Sanchez of Fox News notes, the National Enquirer story is not an attack on Heidi Cruz or their daughters, but on Ted Cruz himself. Calling the story an attack on his wife is a bit of disingenuous distraction. 

Moreover, it is not Donald Trump accusing Ted Cruz of multiple infidelities (one hopes Donald, whose marital track record is hardly perfect, would know better than to commit that particular hypocrisy), but the National Enquirer. Other than calling the story garbage, Ted Cruz has said very little about the tabloid directly, preferring to go after Trump in each response to the story's allegations. Calling such behavior bizarre is an understatement to say the very least. Were this unfolding in a courtroom, with Cruz testifying from the witness stand, one can almost hear the attorneys lambasting his diatribes as non-responsive and asking the judge to direct Cruz to answer the question.

In an equally bizarre episode, when one of Cruz' alleged mistresses, CNN contributor (and former Cruz staffer) Amanda Carpenter, was challenged directly on live television by pro-Trump Boston Herald columnist Adriana Cohen about the allegations, her response was to "lawyer up":
What’s out there is tabloid trash. If someone wants to comment on it, they can talk to my lawyer. It’s categorically false. You should be ashamed for spreading this kind of smut. Donald Trump supporters should be held to account for it.
What Ms. Carpenter, who is married, did not say, is that she had not had an affair with Ted Cruz. The lawyerly parsing of words certainly gives the appearance of the spirited denunciation sought by Ms. Cohen, but closer scrutiny shows considerable wiggle room with regards to the specifics.

As Rick Sanchez succinctly said at the beginning of his op-ed column on the l'affaire Cruz:
If the National Enquirer wrote a story about me cheating on my wife with five women, I had better be extremely definitive in my response; because if I’m not, my wife –smelling the guilt – would kick my ass.
Both Ted Cruz and Amanda Carpenter have spouses. Neither has been "extremely definitive" in their responses. Rather, both Cruz and Carpenter have, at every turn, sought to turn the story onto Trump. Thus a story that Cruz does not want discussed remains legitimate material for the media to discuss.

In 2008, the New York Times published an article alluding to an affair between Senator John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Both McCain and Iseman denied the allegations, and thereafter refused to discuss the matter. The story died out soon after, and the New York Times had its own ethics questioned for the way it sourced and presented the story. Cruz and Carpenter have done the exact opposite.

Bizarrely, and probably suicidally, Cruz demands the media discuss his mistresses. For whatever reason, he deems this a more meaningful and relevant story for the campaign trail than his stances on the various issues.