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Mark Steyn

Steyn on America

A Death in Syria

In a few hours' time, the President of the United States will apparently do to his oath of office what the Islamic State does to its captives. As I said to Hugh Hewitt the other day, even a constitution of meticulously constructed checks and balances requires a certain seemliness of its political class. This chief executive is brazen in his lawlessness, and ever more so. And he has calculated that those who object lack the stomach to do anything about it. We shall see.

However, I would like also to note another example of presidential brazenness this week - Barack Obama's reaction to the latest beheading of a US citizen by the head hackers of the Islamic State. Peter Kassig's death video was not as the others:

David Haines and Alan Henning – both from Britain – and Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff each made statements before their deaths in earlier videos. Each held Barack Obama or David Cameron to blame for their deaths, because of American and British military action against Isil in Iraq and Syria.

There was no such statement from Peter Kassig. Instead, "Jihadi John" appears with Mr Kassig's severed head, and sneers, "He doesn't have much to say."

Indeed. But I wonder what he had to say in the last moments of his life. Evidently not a statement blaming Obama for his predicament. Perhaps he even pushed back against his executioner in a more forceful way. In Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, in an essay on another westerner beheaded by the jihadists, I salute someone who declined to go gentle into that good night:

Consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly, "I will show you how an Italian dies!" He ruined the movie for his killers. As a snuff video and recruitment tool, it was all but useless, so much so that the Arabic TV stations declined to show it.

Evidently, Mr Kassig also ruined the movie for his killers. We will never know how. The classical idea of "the good death" has little resonance in today's western world, except perhaps among its soldiery - and Mr Kassig was not just another deluded humanitarian tourist in the heart of darkness but a battle-hardened army ranger. Did he show his captors "how an American dies"?

If so, President Obama had no compunction about dishonoring his death. At the Rose Garden ceremony for Bowe Bergdahl's parents, the President decided to pass off a deserter as an American hero. In his response to the beheading of Peter Kassig, Obama chose to turn a man who may have died heroically into just another Muslim victim:

Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity... ISIL's actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.

"Abdul-Rahman"? Why, yes. Mr Kassig supposedly converted to Islam while imprisoned by the Islamic State. That's to say, his submission to Islam was at the point of a sword. In America, at home, at liberty, he was not a Muslim. He was a Muslim only in captivity.

And to be pedantic about it, Peter Kassig was not, in law, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. He would not have been recognized by any government agency anywhere in the Republic of Paperwork under that name - not by the DMV, not by the Social Security Administration, not by the TSA, not by the Obamacare website. So why is the head of the US government recognizing Mr Kassig by a name none of his minions would? Obama's court eunuchs at The New York Times explained it this way:

The president used the Muslim name that Mr. Kassig adopted after his capture, making the point that the Islamic State had killed a fellow Muslim.

Why is that "the point" the President feels he has to make? In the same video in which "Jihadi John" appears with Mr Kassig's head, the Islamic State are seen decapitating 13 fellow Muslims from the Syrian army. If you're a Muslim, you get the group beheading with the crowd-scene extras. If you're an American or Briton, you get the star role, the solo act. The Islamic State knew which group Peter Kassig belonged to even if the President didn't.

Although my book is somewhat amazingly propping up the nether regions of the Top Ten humor bestsellers, quite a bit of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn deals with the all too deadly serious subject of Obama and others' prostration before Islam, and the iniquities of one-way multiculturalism - which in the end will destroy us. The wretched statement by this disgraceful president was, to go out as we came in, an especially brazen example. Peter Kassig died as he did not because he was "a fellow Muslim" but because he was an American. He deserved to be honored as one.

from Steyn on America, November 20, 2014

 

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If you had buttonholed me in the Senate men's room circa 2003 and told me that a decade hence Joe Biden would be America's vice president, John Kerry Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense, I'd have laughed and waited for the punch line: The Leahy administration?

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A week ago on NBC's "Meet The Press," David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a "high-capacity magazine" means an ad-stuffed double-issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America's gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it's something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

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"Lullay, Thou little tiny Child

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Jill Kelley for secretary of state

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Democrats find their issue, in a binder

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Apparently, Frank Sinatra served as Mitt Romney's debate coach. As he put it about halfway through "That's Life":

"I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly ... ."

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'Barack & Hillary at the movies'

I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is, too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single "O" logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick, hollow, vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn't occasionally intersect with reality?

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According to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, invited to address the Democratic convention and the nation, America faces a stark choice this November...

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Racist dog whistles and the men who hear them

American racism is starting to remind me of American alcoholism. At the founding of the republic, in the days when beer was thought of as "liquid bread" and a healthy nutritional breakfast, Americans drank about three-to-four times as much as they do now. Today the United States has a lower per capita rate of alcohol consumption than almost any other developed nation, but it has more alcoholism support groups than any other developed nation...

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War on women? The real war is on children

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Half-wit demagoguery, hard truths

Americans, according to a Winston Churchill quote of uncertain provenance, always do the right thing after they've exhausted all other possibilities. More verifiably, Sir Winston, upon being asked if he had any criticism of the United States, replied tersely: "Toilet paper too thin, newspapers too fat." But that was then. Today, America is a land of two-ply toilet paper and one-ply newspapers...

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Obama the great disabler

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Obama builds roadblocks, not roads

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Lights out for U.S.-style Big Government

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Three months ago, I quoted George Jonas on the 30th anniversary of Canada's ghastly "Charter of Rights and Freedoms": "There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself," wrote Jonas. "It's as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them."

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Earthly woes mount as Obama's rhetoric soars

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Eternally shifting sands of Obama's biography

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Democrats should let sleeping dogs lie

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Buying 'Buffett Rule' makes you a fool

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Wait and see how flexible he'll be

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Gradual insolvency about to speed up

I was in Australia earlier this month, and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you're not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. "I don't feel America is quite a First World country anymore," a robustly pro-American Aussie told me, with a sigh of regret...

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America's longest war will leave no trace

Say what you like about Afghans, but they're admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn't put it any plainer: "Die, die, foreigners!" And foreigners do die. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Loftis, 44, and Army Maj. Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry. In a "secure room" that required a numerical code to access. Gunned down by an Afghan "intelligence officer." Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.

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The all-you-can-eat salad bar of rights

CNN's John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers: "Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?" To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of The Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about "the Obama administration's dictate that religious employers provide health care plans that cover contraceptives." Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen's response for the Age of Obama: "I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans."

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Sorry, Newt. Only the debt ceiling will reach the moon.

Had I been asked to deliver the State of the Union address, it would not have delayed your dinner plans: "The State of our Union is broke, heading for bankrupt, and total collapse shortly thereafter. Thank you and goodnight! You've been a terrific crowd!"

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GOP not so 'Grand'

VIDEO: The Republican primary process hasn't left Mark Steyn filled with hope for the near future. Find out why in this interview with Michael Coren on The Arena.

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Ron Paul beckons GOP to Fortress America

In the 2010 election the New Hampshire Republican Party took 298 out of 400 House seats, 19 out of 24 state Senate seats, and all five seats on the Executive Council. A little over a year later, in the state's presidential primary, the same (more or less) electorate gave over 56 percent of its votes to a couple of moneyed "moderates," one of whom served in the Obama administration and the other of whom left no trace in office other than the pilot program for Obamacare. Another 23 percent voted for Ron Paul.

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Politics trumps Left's empathy

Lest you doubt that we're headed for the most vicious election year in memory, consider the determined effort, within 10 minutes of his triumph in Iowa, to weirdify Rick Santorum

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Our Sick State

A couple of months back, I was with a friend of mine when she suddenly collapsed and I found myself having to run her to the emergency room. After a fairly harrowing 14 hours, the hospital released her, the doctor writing her a prescription for the still-very-intense pain she was in. So we stopped at her local Kinney Drugs in Vermont. Despite having been called in by the doc, the prescription wasn't ready. Come back in an hour. Heigh-ho. So we left it an hour and a half, and then, not wishing ...

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THE COCOON OF DENIAL

Ring in the same old same old

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THE GINGRICH GESTALT

Newt's world is one of more government, more bureaucracy, more dependency

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MORE MORE MORE. HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?

As the SS Spendaholic heads for the abyss, Steyn proposes a new national anthem

 

NO MAN'S LAND

Steyn on Penn State: What's illegal, what's wrong, and what's the difference.

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AUSTERITY FEVER GRIPS WASHINGTON!

...from the Superfriends' Supercommittee to the Social Security lifestyle glossy

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REVOLUTION KARAOKE

The grand convergence of the non-productive classes

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DIAPER CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

It's Awareness-Raising Day Awareness Day!

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MOMENTARY MADNESS

The youth of "Occupy Wall Street" share the same assumptions as their parents and grandparents

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BIG SLOTH AND THE AMERICAN AUTUMN

It's American Autumn ...and you know what comes after that: America's college kids demand more government-funded lethargy

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SOFT SELL, HARD CONSEQUENCES

There was no due diligence on Obama in 2008, and the press has no plans to change that.

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IN THE DANGER ZONE

'It's the end of the world as we know it," sang the popular musical artistes R.E.M. many years ago. And it is. R.E.M. has announced that they're splitting up after almost a third of a century. But these days who isn't? The eurozone, the world's first geriatric boy band, is on the verge of busting apart. Chimerica (Prof. Niall Ferguson's amusing name for the Chinese-American economic partnership that started around the same time R.E.M. did) is going the way of Wham!, with Beijing figuring it's ...

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THE "PASS THIS BILL NOW!" BILL

The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his American Jobs Act. That's a good name for it: an act. "Pass this bill now!" he declared 24 times at a stop in in Raleigh, North Carolina, and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: "Pass this bill now!" Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the ...

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THE HOLE AT THE CENTER

Guest-hosting for Rush on Friday, I mentioned that, for a writer, one of the pleasures of doing the show is that a listener's call will start your mind heading to places it might never have got to if you were just sitting in a room typing away. One example of that occurred last year when I was hosting the show during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, and my resulting riff attracted a lot of commentary. I subsequently expanded my thoughts in After America, and it seems appropriate to excerpt ...

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LIFE, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

That thoughtful observer of the passing parade, Nancy Pelosi, weighed in on the "debt ceiling" negotiations the other day: "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." It's always good to have things explained in terms we simpletons can understand. After a while, all the stuff about debt-to-GDP ratio and CBO alternative baseline scenarios starts to give you a bit of a headache, so we should be grateful to ...

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