As the terror attacks in Paris unfolded, John, Scott and Steve hosted Episode 29 of the Power Line Show. The attacks threw both halves of the show into sharp relief. We started by interviewing Dan Polisar, author of in important article in titled “What Do Palestinians Want?

Polisar reviewed years’ worth of public opinion polling of Palestinians. He found several common themes; a common denominator is a lack of contact with reality. As twisted as Palestinian culture is, what we saw in Paris tonight reflects an even more virulent version of the same ideology.

Breaking: Jihadi John Gone?


jihadi-john-goneLast night, Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook announced that the United States had assassinated Mohamed Emwazi, aka “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State militant who executed several Western prisoners with a small knife, and whose grizzly YouTube videos made world headlines.

Though the government has not confirmed it, some news outlets report that he was, in fact, killed:

According to ABC News, a U.S. official described the attack as a “clean hit” with no harm to others on the ground. He also said that Emwazi, a British citizen, was “eviscerated” upon departing from a building in Raqqa, Syria, before entering a vehicle.

No, Rubio: The American Dream Is Not Universal


MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Presidential candidate Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (L) (R-FL) speaks during the Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The fourth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top eight candidates, and another for four other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)I’m a fan of Sen. Marco Rubio. He’s an impressive man, and really shines in debates. If he’s the GOP nominee, I’ll relish watching his performances against Hillary Clinton (recall that her only experience facing off with a good debater forced her to run for her first term in this cycle, instead of planning her presidential library at the end of her historic two terms).

Yet, in Tuesday night’s GOP debate on the Fox Business Network, I was struck by what Rubio said about the American Dream, rightly seen as a desire to live in a society of economic and personal liberty:

It’s a universal dream of a better life that people have all over the world.

The Kurds, Mount Sinjar, and Highway 47: A Quick Guide


_86641866_030081031-1I’ve spent the morning reading conflicting reports from Mount Sinjar (also known as Shingal) and Highway 47. A lot of the reporting about this, it seems to me, would be impossible to understand without some background knowledge — or a glossary, at least — so I thought I’d be helpful and try to make what’s happening there easier to follow. Forgive me if I’ve only made it more confusing, but at least that’s in a sense more accurate, because the situation is anything but clear.

First, some maps. Sinjar, the city, is shown by the red arrow:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 08.55.57Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 09.05.32The Sinjar Mountains are a 100-kilometer long range in northwestern Iraq. The highest segment is in Nineveh Governorate, and partly administered by Iraqi Kurdistan; the western and lower segment is in Syria, and controlled by the de facto autonomous Syrian Kurdistan, Rojava. The city of Sinjar — marked with the red arrow — is just south of the range.

A Question For Free Traders on the Trans-Pacific Partnership


Up or down on the TPP?  How would you decide?

When Obamacare was being debated I had liberal friends whose argument in favor consisted of “We need to do something,” and “Health care is a right.” One of my responses was that slogans are not legislation and it is only the details of bill that are relevant. In the case of Obamacare, it was a 2,000-page piece of legislation that no one understood, and today even some of my liberal friend rue its passage as they understand what it actually contained.



berlin-wall-falling-2I’m sure you’ve all been reading Titus’s dispatches from Romania with the same fascination I have; if not, I commend them to your attention. But you may have overlooked an especially interesting comment from Percival on Titus’s final dispatch:

Even in a year full of surprises, the events in Romania in 1989 still stick out. It all seemed to happen so fast, even to those of us over here who were paying attention.

The DDR was less a surprise, at least to me, because I had a friend in Berlin at the time. She was living close to the Wall and told me that the protesters had stopped chanting “Wir wollen aus” (dissident emigrants) and switched to “Wir bleiben hier” (revolutionaries). The penny had dropped, the worm had turned, and nothing could ever be as it had been again. But one minute Romania seemed like it was going to hang on, and the next Ceaușescu was giving that disaster of a speech on the balcony when he realized that it was only a matter of time before it all came down.

Harvard Fellow Attends Anti-Police Brutality Conference … in Iran


Speaking of education, I caught Michael Totten’s latest column at World Affairs Journal about this group of twenty-odd American yo-yos who’ve gone to a conference in Iran against police brutality and racism. No, not Iranian policy brutality and racism. American police brutality and racism. Mike, reporting this with the journalistic equivalent of a straight face, notes that,

The Iranian government hunts down gay people and hangs them from cranes. It sends the Basij militia into the streets to attack peaceful protesters with clubs, chains, knives and axes. It routinely and as a matter of policy tortures liberal activists and intellectuals in Evin Prison.

There’s much going on in the world at the moment, and instead of bringing you a themed show, we thought we’d look to those whose writings on it we admire. And, of course, a little music.

First up to join is Bret Stephens, the Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign-affairs columnist at the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, America in Retreat, has been quite influential. He and Milt talk about ‘The Tyranny of a Big Idea‘.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review shudder as intelligence experts believe it’s likely ISIS or some other terrorist group smuggled a bomb onto the doomed Russian airliner.  They also scold Bernie Sanders for deciding now that Hillary’s emails are an issue for concern.  And they shake their heads at the massive protests of Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.  No podcast Friday.  We’ll be back Monday.

Putin’s Propaganda, Dugin’s Lunacy, and You


tass_re146fc7_0I was asking myself this morning why I felt a special need to emphasize that the biggest threats to Europe may not be the ravening hordes of Muslim invaders (or desperate refugees) swarming across its borders (or dying en masse in the Mediterranean) and threatening to suck on the teat of its precious welfare services (or being promptly deported back to hell). After all, who am I trying to persuade? And why? Few members of Ricochet will be voting in European elections, after all. And I hardly wish to make the point that unlimited immigration to Europe will be an unfettered boon; it isn’t even a point I believe.

It took me the day to sort out my thoughts. Europe is not now under grave threat from either communists or Nazis in their most recognizable historic form. There are some left, of course. But perhaps I don’t need to run through the list of them; I’ll just say that I’m on call should you have any questions about Europeans who might be Nazis and how to recognize them, likewise should you have questions about  Europeans who might be communists, I can help you out. (As for the latter, bet you can figure it out without my help. See, for example, the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way, which really exists, as do many such groupuscules. I think time-travelling technology may be involved, or perhaps someone pickled them. Do spend a few minutes on their site, by the way, and tell me whether you think their understandable grievances require our legitimization, given that they’ve got nowhere mainstream to go with their concerns, and Europe’s pointy-headed elite insistently lock them out of the political process. For the record, I am totally in favor locking the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way out of the political process. Call me a pointy-headed European elitist all you like, but I think the world is a better place when people like them are marginalized, mocked, dismissed, and irrelevant.)

My real concern is Russia. It’s Duginism, in particular. But before discussing him, let me take you on a little tour of the kind of Russian propaganda in which Europe’s wallowing — but let me bring it home for you with an example that might feel more personal. Like this:

ISIS vs. Russia?


Yesterday, CNN reported that US intelligence believes ISIS brought down Kogalymavia Flight 9268 — the Russian airline out of Egypt — with a bomb. This morning, the WSJ reports that the United Kingdom has come to the same conclusion and has grounded all flights out of Sharm El Sheikh, where the flight originated (there are thousands of Brits there currently on holiday). Several people on Ricochet have previously speculated that the plane was taken out by a bomb near its tail and the Islamic State has already claimed credit for this deed.

My question is this: what does it all mean? Is this the beginning of a broader campaign by ISIS against Russia? Will Chechnya once again explode in violence and terrorism? Will Russia become more involved against battling ISIS, at least to save face?

Nazis. I Hate Nazis.


Strange times we live in when American conservatives — or some of them, anyway —  think it makes perfect sense these days for Europeans to get their Nazi groove on. I’ve been hearing this a bit too much on Ricochet of late, so I thought I’d make what in normal times would be an excessively easy call.

Nazis. I hate Nazis. And so should you.

Well, That Was a Disaster


For all the conventional reasons, I’ve been bullish about Republican chances in 2016: Democratic policies are unpopular; President Obama’s not running; It’s been eight years; We’ve got a strong bench; and everyone’s tired of Hillary Clinton. Stipulating that it’s generally not a good idea to put much stock into a single poll — let alone one this early into the cycle — this piece from the WSJ has me re-evaluating:

The number of people who are unsatisfied with [Clinton’s] response to questions on the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound dropped to 38% in the poll, from 44% in a poll taken before she testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22. The new poll found Republicans’ opinion remained largely unchanged, but among Democrats and swing voters, there was a significant rise in satisfaction with Mrs. Clinton’s response.

Sinai Crash Caused by “External Influences”


_86435749_86435748The Russian airline Kogalymavia has blamed “external influences” for Saturday’s Sinai plane crash which killed 224 people, reports the BBC:

A senior airline official said: “The only reasonable explanation is that it was [due to] external influence.” …

At a news conference in Moscow, the deputy director of the airline, which was later renamed Metrojet, ruled out a technical fault and pilot error.

Turkey Votes


2015-09-08t200504z_1485595093_gf10000197992_rtrmadp_3_mideast-crisis-turkey-pkk.jpg_1718483346According to initial results, a huge number of voters changed their minds at the last minute and decided to vote for the AKP, despite what they said to pollsters. Either this is a huge upset, a sign of fraud, or the early results are way off. With 50 percent counted, the projection is that the AKP will have 331 seats in parliament — enough for single party rule, and to effect constitutional reforms by taking them to a referendum.

The results so far may be skewed because the earliest results are from the east, where the AKP is stronger. CHP and MHP are stronger in the West.

It’s still too early for post-mortems or to say what this means. It will be a long night for those with an interest in Turkey. But right now, it looks like this:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer Marco Rubio for defending his description of Hillary Clinton as lying about Benghazi and eviscerating Charlie Rose’s efforts to defend her.  They’re also worried that Pres. Obama is still not serious about wiping out ISIS with his very limited deployment of special forces to Syria.  And they react to the women of “The View” referring to Carly Fiorina’s smile as “demented” and a “Halloween mask.”

The Hearings that Were More Important than Benghazi


Writing in The American Interest, Eliot A. Cohen notes to his chagrin that Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the committee investigating Benghazi eclipsed everything else in the news that day. This is unfortunate, he notes, because on the same day, he took part in another hearing, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Capital Hill.

“Vanity aside,” he remarks, “I wish that my hearing had received a bit more attention.” My vanity isn’t at issue here, but I too wish that his hearing had received more attention.

Honor Is in Our National Interest


A country that acts solely out of goodness and duty is bound to be played; the world is simply too nasty, too mean a place for the well-intended naive, and even a good country will often have to make ugly decisions that are hard to sleep on. However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that acting in our self-interest is necessarily in opposition to good morals. More often than not, the smart thing to do overlaps with the right thing to do.

During the occupation of Iraq, many Iraqis decided to throw their lot in with the American-led coalition and the new Iraqi government. Whatever, their reasons, it was a risky and — in some cases — very brave decision to make. Though many paid for it with their lives during the insurgencies that rocked the country before its precarious stabilization in 2008, it seemed to have been the right one to make. But in the provinces that have fallen to the Islamic State since our decision to leave, it’s again become sentence to torture and death:

Reality Check: ISIS Could Win


is-flagForeign policy experts have repeated the same sentence over and over: “There is no military solution in Syria.” Being professionally trained to automatically question and contradict any opinion held by a very large majority, I have trouble buying this.

Consider, for example, that nearly everyone in 1980 thought the Soviet Union was unstoppable and that nearly everyone in late 1999 agreed that technology stocks were a fabulous investment; we all know what happened in both of those cases. Similarly, if nearly everyone agrees that there is no military solution in Syria, I’m inclined to believe one exists. Let us briefly examine each scenario, unattractive as they may be.

The Assad/Hezbollah/Iran/Russia/Shia Axis Wins