I posted this on Facebook yesterday, expecting to get hammered for it and didn’t. So I’ll post it here. It’s a point I made earlier in the week in talking about Hillary Clinton’s dumb gaffe about the things you shouldn’t be able to do if the FBI has you on their radar.
Which is this – you shouldn’t get all wrapped up in the idea that we have to stop terrorists from buying guns. In fact, efforts to do that are counterproductive.
Why do I say this? Let’s take Omar Mateen as a for-instance.
If the FBI had been doing its job, it would have had Mateen on the radar and it would have been looking for him to make a red-flag-raising weapons purchase like a Sig Sauer MCX AND a 9 mm pistol at the same time, not to mention having the gun shop owner report him as suspicious.
And with all the evidence available to them, the FBI – had they been doing their job unencumbered by political correctness – could have easily gone to a judge and gotten a warrant to put a tail and probably electronic surveillance on Mateen, and been able to stop him before he hit that nightclub.
That would have been good, effective law enforcement. Nobody would have died. And if there were people responsible for radicalizing him, and especially if there were people pulling his strings, capturing him before the act could have rolled those people up.
By trying to stop a suspected terrorist from buying a gun, you take away a key data point that could tip the FBI off to something major about to happen and instead you turn these people over to the black market when it comes to buying guns – and that’s not going to hinder them a bit. Jihadists in Europe go around with fully automatic AK-47’s, which are considerably deadlier than what the ones here are carrying. They’re not getting those weapons legally.
We don’t need a single more law. What we need is more effective law enforcement. People need to stop assuming our cops are inherently incompetent and start demanding better – and giving them the tools to fulfill the demand.
And yes, this means casting a suspicious eye on mosques. Particularly those mosques which preach sharia law, are funded from overseas, have “graduated” known jihadists either as imams or followers or are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce fulfills multiple characteristics from that list, and the people worshipping there should get scrutiny from our counterterrorism apparatus if it’s doing its job.
People who have told coworkers they’re affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, go to such a mosque and pal around with ISIS suicide bombers ESPECIALLY ought to be scrutinized. And when such people go to buy more than one gun and freak out the gun store owner who then report them to the authorities, good law enforcement would go straight to a judge, get a warrant, follow the individual in question, perhaps place electronic surveillance at his house and be in a position to arrest him when he’s about to explode.
Back during the Bush administration, America went seven years after 9/11 without a deadly terror attack on our shores. And every two weeks or so there was a news report about the FBI or other law enforcement agencies breaking up a terror plot and arresting would-be jihadists for some indeterminate planned atrocity.
You don’t hear much about those arrests anymore, and yet there has been a deadly jihadist terror attack in America every single year Obama has been president. Does anybody really think Omar Mateen could have lit off this many flares before finally attacking that nightclub during the Bush administration without getting caught?
– Which brings me to my American Spectator column, in which I actually defend Donald Trump a little. Namely, that Trump committed what was probably a self-destructive political act by suggesting Obama could be rooting for ISIS, but it isn’t all that crazy to ask if the hideous performance of the Obama administration in fighting jihadist isn’t something more than just incompetence.
But the question is whether he’s right. And as much as others on the Republican side might have strokes about what he’s saying, or call it counterproductive to ask as to Obama’s loyalties, Trump will at least have little trouble finding ammunition for his arguments.
After all, why was a 25-year old Syrian immigrant who has said 9/11 changed the world for good recently appointed to Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council’s (HSAC) Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism?
That program, by the way, is fraught with a level of wrong-headedness it would be hard to imagine coming from a president not named Obama. Essentially, at its heart is the concept that enlisting Muslim sharia advocates on our side to do rhetorical battle with ISIS will keep us safe. Daniel Greenfield accurately characterizes this stupidity:
CVE tells us that the best way to fight violent extremists is with “non violent extremist” Salafi clergy who have the most influence on them. We’re supposed to fight the ISIS Caliphate with supporters of another kind of Caliphate.
What it really comes down to is paying Muslims to argue with other Muslims on social media. And hope that the Muslims we’re paying to do the arguing are the good kind of extremists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the bad kind of extremists, like ISIS. Even though they’re both vicious killers.
Essentially, as Greenfield notes, Obama has outsourced our Muslim outreach to CAIR and the Saudis. Is it so insane to wonder whether the leader of this administration is more than just a bumbling idiot?
Why has the Obama administration purged subject-matter experts like Phil Haney from government agencies tasked with counterterrorism for the sin of accurately describing the cultural and religious underpinnings of the jihadist movement and investigating potential jihadists accordingly?
The Iran deal?
The overthrow of the Qaddafi regime in Libya after it had tried to align itself with the U.S. and cooperated with us on fighting Al Qaeda?
Backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Particularly given the perceived level of influence one of its operatives had as Clinton’s right-hand woman in the State Department.
Refusing to aid Israel in its attempts to defend itself against jihadists?
Everything about Jeh Johnson?
You probably shouldn’t ask such questions if you’re running for president. But if you’re not running for president, they’re fair game. Obama is brutally efficient in getting lots of his policy preferences imposed on the American people, and yet with this, perhaps the single most important responsibility his job carries, the level of disinterest and counterproductivity isn’t just unmistakable, it’s terrifying. It does not make you insane to wonder what drives such miserable performance.
As I noted in the column, America got hit last weekend with the worst terrorist attack since 9/11 and Obama’s reaction was to demand gun control. And as noted above the political class, including Donald Trump, wants to deny Americans a God-given right (actually more than one) just because we might be on some sloppily-drafted government list. When, as demonstrated above, denying an American that right is actually counterproductive to the goal of catching him before he does something awful.
– Jay Cost had an interesting piece at the Weekly Standard about how Trump is sliding, badly, in the latest round of polling. Cost’s suggestion is that the delegates in Cleveland get together and dump Trump before he leads the Republican Party to cataclysm in November.
The Republican party deserves better than Trump, and it is not too late to get rid of him. The delegates at the GOP convention in Cleveland this July can and should select somebody else as the presidential nominee.
The process of dumping Trump is not all that difficult. The delegates are not technically bound to vote for the winner of the primaries and caucuses. Under the rules of the Republican party, they first have to vote to bind themselves to those results—meaning that they are, in truth, free to do whatever they like. There was an effort during the pre-convention maneuvering in 2012 to bind delegates formally, but this endeavor was unsuccessful. So, the delegates have the sovereign authority to choose somebody other than Trump.
This can happen one of two ways: the party’s rules committee can draft a report that unbinds the convention delegates, or a majority of the delegates can vote to do that from the convention floor itself. Either way, the primaries and caucuses are non-binding “beauty contests,” until the delegates affirmatively declare them otherwise.
Cost goes through the numbers and argues they show Trump can’t win in November – the Bloomberg poll out earlier this week showed a race that had been relatively close between Trump and Hillary Clinton ballooning to a 49-37 wipeout now, and an ABC/Washington Post poll had Trump underwater 31-69 on favorability ratings – and notes some of the stupid recent gaffes he’s made which would make him unelectable.
There are veteran political people in GOP circles now talking about hitting the eject button on Trump at the convention in order to save down-ballot races. That’s never happened before, or at least not in modern history, but this isn’t a normal cycle or anything close to it. If things continue as they are, with Trump making daily mistakes like trying to buffalo the NRA into agreeing to let the federal government infringe on 2nd and 5th Amendment rights by denying guns to someone on some crappy list, or suggesting that soldiers in Iraq stole recovery money, it’s no longer going to be fanciful to suggest he won’t survive to the convention.
But what happens then? At Hot Air, Allahpundit wonders whether that would make Ted Cruz the nominee…
If the delegates decide enough’s enough and pull the trapdoor on Trump in Cleveland, is Cruz the guy? Yep, says Michael Brendan Dougherty, in all likelihood — and that’s yet another reason to think the trapdoor won’t get pulled. Not only will many of the delegates in Cleveland be Trump loyalists, not only will there be massive anxiety within the party about staging a coup against the candidate whom voters chose, but we’ve learned the hard way that many establishmentarians have no strong preference for Cruz over Trump. If you think they’re both destined to lose this fall, especially if the party splits over a last-second switcheroo at the convention, why not stick with Trump?
Let me counter that with a different question, though: Would Cruz still want the nomination at this point? I’m not so sure.
The risk for Cruz if he runs is that he’d be accepting a very long longshot opportunity, hobbled by institutional weaknesses, and might be sacrificing his chance at a future successful run in the process. That’s the key. If Cruz is perceived by pro-Trump Republican populists as having engineered the coup against Trump, their bitterness not just towards the party but towards him personally may carry on for years and years. Cruz needs populists to have a chance at the nomination in 2020; if he’s radioactive to them then usurping Trump in Cleveland suddenly becomes his best and last shot at the presidency, and that ain’t much of a shot. Granted, Cruz’s initial plan to beat Trump on the second ballot at the convention by holding him below 1,237 pledged delegates also risked forever alienating pro-Trump populists, but maybe not as many. The rules, after all, did say that the nominee needed a clear majority of delegates to win. If Trump failed to gain that majority, Cruz as nominee had a claim to legitimacy. He won’t have the same claim if the rules are suddenly rewritten to undo Trump’s primary win and allow the delegates to ignore the choice of Republican voters. And of course, if Cruz’s initial plan had worked out, his campaign team would have remained intact and they would have hit the ground running after the convention. He’d have to cobble his organization back together now and beg the Republican establishment to back him in order to unite the party quickly in order to have any chance at Hillary. What reason is there to think they would? They’re already resigned to losing this fall. If they lose with Cruz instead of Trump, hey, so much the better. That’s two threats they no longer have to worry about instead of just one.
Allah suggests the possibility that Cruz might endorse someone else, like for example Scott Walker, and then take payment for that endorsement in a greater role in the Senate or a Supreme Court appointment or whatever should Walker win. If Walker didn’t win, then Cruz would be the frontrunner for 2020.
The guess here is Allah’s correct. Cruz wouldn’t be the guy this time. He’s already moved on to 2020 and building a strategy for that cycle. Were there to be a delegate revolt in Cleveland, Cruz would look really good by demurring and in effect saying it’s not about him, that any role he would have in a convention coup would come out of principle and party loyalty rather than personal gain. He’d still have his detractors, but on the other hand he’d have people saying he “saved” the GOP from Trump.
You’d probably lose the election as a result, but at this point you’ll lose it anyway. The down-ballot damage might be less pronounced with someone less “colorful” at the top of the ticket.
Or not. It just depends on whether Trump gets better as a candidate.