By Doug Porter
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was in San Diego yesterday, ostensibly appearing at campaign fundraisers in La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe.
The big news, however, continues to be Republican cooperation with the idea of spreading fear and loathing outside the Caliphate, as Carson and other candidates have wasted no time in exploiting the Paris attacks as a way to prove who’s “tougher” on terrorism.
In doing so, they’ve fallen right into ISIS’ trap. They might as well open terrorist recruiting offices in major cities.
Here’s how they’re using all the get-tough talk as a recruiting tool, from Thom Hartmann program:
As one of ISIS’s leading propagandists explained in a manifesto called “The Extinction of the Grayzone” that was published earlier this year, most Muslims in the West actually oppose extremism and have to be converted to the jihadist cause.
The best way to do this, this propagandist went on to explain, was to conduct terror attacks against the West that through their sheer violence provoked a vicious backlash against Muslims.
Once this backlash starts, he wrote, “The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize and adopt the [infidel] religion propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the [infidels] without hardship, or they [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.”
With their news and social media interest, they will be noting everything that follows their murderous assault on Paris, and my guess is that right now the chant among them will be “We are winning”. They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.
Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance – it is not what they want to see.
Inconvenient Facts for Republicans
Via Ziad Jilani:
According to a review of the Migration Policy Institute, of the 745,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11, two men have been charged with terrorism-related crimes (providing funds for a terrorist organization in another country, not the United States). Additionally, the Tsarnaev brothers, whose parents were refugees from Chechnya, committed the Boston bombings, though there is no evidence that they were radicalized overseas; their turn to terror was the result of a domestic radicalization process.
It’s unclear if the Paris attacks now being exploited to demonize refugees even had anything to do with refugees. All of the men identified as being responsible are European Union nationals. Although a passport with refugee status was found nearby, it has confirmed to be fake—the exact same passport was found in Serbia.
We may soon regard the past few days of hysteria about refugees as we did the 2014 hysteria about Ebola—a massive threat exaggeration used for politics that leads to harmful shifts in our political dialogue.
Covering Carson’s Visit
From the Union Tribune:
The candidate was at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe for an evening gathering with about 40 people who paid between $2,500 and $3,000 each, according to a person familiar with his San Diego visit…
…Carson also was in La Jolla for a fundraising lunch at Donovan’s Steak and Chop House, where supporters paid a minimum of $1,000 for a seat or $2,700 for a private reception and photo opportunity, according to television news reports.
At The Bridges, the fare was said to be non-meat hors d’oeuvres. Carson is a vegetarian.
Local TV station KUSI ran with the headline “Ben Carson holds fundraiser in SD to stop President Obama’s refugee plan.” The video coverage is completely different than what appears as text on their website; it’s even more fawning.
The candidate’s trip to the area came on the heels of starting an online petition to “tell Congress to stop (President Barack) Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to America.”
This latest petition drive comes on the heels of last week’s effort to gather signers for a petition calling out CNN for having a liberal bias. People who wanted to sign that petition were required to make a donation of at least five dollars to the Carson campaign.
The candidate stopped by the studios of Fox 5 for an exclusive interview. For eighteen minutes and thirty-two seconds he fielded questions with a dazzling display of half-truths, imaginary data and ideological keywords. When cornered, his response was to blame the media.
Duped By the Media
Meanwhile, the Carson campaign was dealing with a “situation” arising from a New York Times interview with San Diego resident and ex-CIA agent Duane R. Clarridge, who until yesterday was considered a top advisor to the candidate.
From the Huffington Post:
“Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” Clarridge told the Times, suggesting Carson was having trouble processing the material.
Carson’s campaign pushed back on Tuesday, saying Clarridge had “incomplete knowledge of the daily, not weekly briefings” the candidate receives. Carson’s spokesman then upped the ante, essentially calling into question the mental capacity of Clarridge, 82.
“He is coming to the end of a long career of serving our country,” Carson communications director Doug Watts said. “For The New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices.”
As David Nir at Daily Kos noted:
This Duane Clarridge fellow, a former CIA agent, was indicted on seven counts of lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, only to be pardoned mid-trial by George Bush the First as the president was leaving office. That makes him the perfect person to be advising a Republican presidential contender…
And there’s only one problem, with the Carson camp’s push back: It turns out that Clarridge was referred to the Times by campaign officials in response to questions about the candidate’s foreign policy stances.
Dr. Ben Carson is currently polling in second place in national surveys of likely GOP voters.
Gov Kasich Wants Agency to Promote Values
After he gets through shrinking government, should Ohio Gov. John Kasich be elected president, one new agency would be created.
From The Hill:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday proposed a new government agency tasked with promoting “core Judeo-Christian, Western values” as a means of combating the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terror groups.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, the Republican presidential candidate said the U.S. needs to “beam messages around the world” to promote U.S. values in places like China, Iran, Russia, and the Middle East.
The new agency would have a “clear mandate to promote core Judeo-Christian, Western values that we and our friends and allies share,” Kasich said.
No More Wiretaps, Please
In keeping with contemporary American political tradition, the latest acts of terrorism have fostered additional calls from National Security types for more surveillance authority. Look for more quotes like the one yesterday from CIA director John Brennan saying he hoped the Paris attacks would serve as “a wake-up call” to those who oppose government surveillance in favor of personal privacy.
This week’s flavor of favored spook technology concerns encryption, software that scrambles the content of some communications sent over the internet. Our spies want companies to leave a way in for their analysts to prowl communications; the industry says there no way to keep other bad guys out once a such a method exists.
The New York Times responded to the CIA director’s hand-wringing with a blistering editorial:
It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.
Most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium, where several of the attackers lived only hundreds of yards from the main police station, in a neighborhood known as a haven for extremists. As one French counterterrorism expert and former defense official said, this shows that “our intelligence is actually pretty good, but our ability to act on it is limited by the sheer numbers.” In other words, the problem in this case was not a lack of data, but a failure to act on information authorities already had.
In fact, indiscriminate bulk data sweeps have not been useful. In the more than two years since the N.S.A.’s data collection programs became known to the public, the intelligence community has failed to show that the phone program has thwarted a terrorist attack. Yet for years intelligence officials and members of Congress repeatedly misled the public by claiming that it was effective.
I said Arabic can function like encryption: Paris attackers used a Moroccan dialogue that Belgian wiretappers found difficult to understand.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) November 18, 2015
On This Day: 1957 – Thirty-one men died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley during one of the worst storms in the lake’s history. The 623-foot ship, carrying limestone, broke in two. Four crewmen survived. 1985 – Washington quarterback Joe Theismann broke his leg after being hit by Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants). The injury ended Theismann’s 12 year (NFL) career. Unfortunately for sports fans, he went into broadcasting. 1995 – The Rolling Stones become the first act to broadcast a major concert on the Internet.
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