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Containing Both The Ebola And The Takfir Viruses

Tuesday, September 16, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

President Obama’s decision to commit American forces to contain and defeat the Ebola virus before it breaks out to devastate an entire continent and perhaps others is a good and necessary decision and conservatives and Republicans ought to support it.  Clearly experts have weighed in and warned him of the risks, and he has no preconceived notions about what he should and shouldn’t do for this new threat.  If anything, George W. Bush’s enduring legacy of aid to Africa might be an additional motivation to him.  Whatever the reason, it is a good decision, and Congress should provide the funds used in the Department of Defense via a supplemental that also addresses the additional costs being incurred in the slow ramp up to contain IS.  If the Speaker and Majority Leader McCarthy were on their game, they’d have a supplemental heading to the Senate today.

Now I am obliged to again push The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright on you and to ask you to push it to your still-in-the-dark-about Islamist-ideology friends.  Recall that Wright is a man of the left, the New Yorker’s national correspondent, and that The Looming Tower won the Pulitzer.  This book entails the return of the takfiris to modern Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, in the second half of the 20th century right through the attack on America on 9/11.  It is a genealogy of al Qaeda, and though it does not chart the further spread of this strain of Islamist virus to Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt and now western Iraq and Syria in the past five years, the nature of the ideology is full explicated and made impossible-to-misunderstand, which is exactly what President Obama and his inner circle need so desperately.

When President Obama declared last week that “ISIl is not Islamic,” the reactions were fast and furious by people with even passing knowledge of the Islamist ideology. Imagine President Obama saying “Genus Ebolavirus is different from other strains in the the Filoviridae family of viruses, and is in fact not an acute viral illness.”  The world would be stunned and then would set to wondering who exactly was handing the president his copy and whether he had any serious advisors around him at all.

The same sort of reaction is due the president’s declaration that ISIL is not Islamic, and the same sort of wonder and worry followed the president’s clueless announcement.  Many have remarked that George W. Bush went to great lengths to declare that we are not at war with Islam and W was right to do so, and President Obama would be right to do so as well.  But that is very different from denying the reality of the takfiri strain of Islam, its numbers and its potential for viral growth –a growth we see all too clearly in Iraq and Syria and indeed around the globe.

In yesterday’s interview with me, Charles Krauthammer bluntly declared that the president ” is clearly a narcissist” who “sees himself in very world historical terms, which means A) because he’s an amateur, he doesn’t know very much, and B) because he’s a narcissist, he doesn’t listen.”

Krauthammer added “he talks like the emperor, Napoleon,” and that “[t]here’s not anyone of independent stature around him,” that he is “is impervious to outside advice.”

“The man lives in a cocoon surrounded by sycophants,” concluded Krauthammer, whose book “Things That Matter” just passed the million books sold mark, and who is clearly among the most influential voices in America right now, and not just on the right though the president no doubt would like to dismiss him as such.

Someone broke through the cocoon on the issue of Ebola.  Somehow the president figured out the response had to be instantaneous and adequate to the task of containing the virus.  He didn’t count the cost and he didn’t worry about how his actions would be judged by history. He acted.

Now he needs to do the same thing vis-a-vis IS, and people across the political spectrum are pushing him to do so.  Last week, retired Army General and CIA Director David Petraeus and retired CentCom Commander and Marine General James Mattis –perhaps the two greatest war fighters of the past decade– both urged the president to do more faster.  Even President Bush who has strictly observed a “no criticism of my successor” [policy hinted at Cuyahoga Community College that a vacuum had developed that we needed to remedy quickly, as close as he could come to pushing the president to focus and focus immediately on the viral threat of takfiri radicalism within Islam.

Instead we get another spectacle of incompetence, with State Department “spokesperson” Marie Harf declared ‘We are not going to cooperate’ with Iran on IS, even as Secretary of State Kerry declared exactly the opposite on another continent.

This is just chaos, a breakdown in the response of the American government to the deadliest threat in the world right now, and that threat isn’t Ebola, it is IS.

The only message the president is likely to hear on IS is the sound of a political earthquake on November 4, the crashing in on him of political reality via a massive turn-out of Senate and House Democrats.  The election arrives at exactly the moment needs it to deliver a huge rebuke to the isolated, “self-involved,” cocooning president.  A message that says: You wanted the job, so do it.


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Chalres Krauthammer On Selling A Million Books And Our Narcissist-in-Chief

Monday, September 15, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Dr. Charles Krauthammer joined me in the first segment today to discuss the astonishing fact that his non-fiction collection of essays “Things That Matter” has sold more than a million copies, as well as to muse some more about President Obama’s ongoing collapse:




HH: I am beginning with Charles Krauthammer today, because this morning on a conference call with Michael Medved, Michael announced to me that Charles’ book, Things That Matter, had sold a million copied. And then I read that Pete Wehner at the Ethics And Public Policy Center said that’s unprecedented. I actually, Charles, just told Michael that’s not possible, because collections don’t sell a million copies.

CK: Well, they don’t sell at all, actually. And everybody’s kind of in shock. You know, it is, as far as we can tell, there’s never been a non-fiction collection that has ever sold a million copies, which would mean, Hugh, that Things That Matter is the best-selling collection of non-fiction since Marcus Aurelius, but we can’t be sure, because their final sales results from Byzantium and Thrace have not yet come in. So we’re withholding judgment on that one.

HH: And he might make a comeback at any time now that iTunes is out there. But that is remarkable, and I have a theory about this. Things That Matter has in its first chapter, and I’m doing this from member, I don’t have the book with me, my copy’s at home, is that politics are sovereign. That was the theme of your original…

CK: Yes.

HH: And that is becoming truer by the day. And I think people who see that realize you’re on to something.

CK: Well you know, I wrote in the introduction that I really wanted to do a collection of my non-political stuff, because in the first half of the book is all these weird, wonderful things in life, everything from meditations on Rick Ankiel to Winston Churchill and Woody Allen, and I wrote about chess and baseball and physics and Halley’s Comet and all that, just stuff I really enjoy. But as I wrote, you’re right, in the introduction of the book, a very long autobiographical introduction. And at the end, you can’t really do that. I have spent 30 years of my life writing mainly about politics, and the reason is, and the reason I left medicine, I was a doctor once, to do this, it’s for the same reason, because you know, all the other things that matter, the beautiful things in life, they can flourish, they can be wonderful, they can be thriving. You get your politics wrong, and everything is wiped away. And we see it all over the world. We see it historically, of course, Germany, 1933. You see it today in North Korea. Compare it with South Korea. South Korea got their politics right, and they’re thriving. They’re free, prosperous. North Korea, you know, this is a slave culture with the people spiritually and materially totally deprived. This is all about politics. So in the end, the book is a compromise. It was half politics, and half fun, and I’ve always loved part of it… Continue Reading

Part 2 of Romney 3.0

Sunday, September 14, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Monday Washington Examiner column focuses on the reaction to the Friday Politico Magazine article I co-authored with Robert C. O’Brien on the buzz around as return of Mitt Romney to the lists of possible 2016 contenders.

The Politico piece has, as of this posting, generated more than 1,700 comments.

Oh, and the Browns won their home opener for the first time in a decade.


Saturday, September 13, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I hope the Brendon Gleeson-led all-star cast of “Calvary” brings the audiences Calvary deserves.  It is one of the most complex, provocative and thoughtful assessments of the aftermath of the Roman Catholic Church’s abuse scandals as has been offered in any medium, and one of the most balanced putting as it does an innocent and wonderful priest at the center of  a small Irish town wracked by all the troubles one could imagine for any such village in the aftermath of Ireland’s epic economic collapse which occurred contemporaneously with the shudders of the abuse scandal in that country and across the globe.  It will not cheer you up or do anything other than oblige you to consider points of view that you perhaps haven’t –those of the victims, those of the innocent and especially those of the good priest laboring to do his job in the midst of the fallout of the awful evil.

“Calvary” is the kind of film that leaves a theater silent at the final credits,” wrote Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput in his review of the movie, and that is exactly how our theater reacted.  “Calvary” has an understated power – a blend of everyday pain, faith, despair, humor, candor, bitterness, and forgiveness,” Chaput continued, “that brands itself onto the heart with spare simplicity.”

“It’s also the best portrayal of a good priest in impossible circumstances I’ve seen in several decades,” he added.

He is right on every point, and he leaves much to be discovered by the movie goer as is right.  But among many heart-breaking scenes are two –one where the priest played by Gleeson chats with a young girl walking along a road only to be confronted by an angry father, and another where Aiden Gillen (Game of Throne’s “Little Finger,” here playing an atheist doctor) recounts a story central to his denial of the existence of God– which pack enormous wallops into scant minutes.

Gleeson ought to receive many nominations for his work in the film, though the subject matter may keep crowds away.  Whatever your point of view on faith and the Catholic Church, go and see it.


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