Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Yes, We Kaine

So in a predictable, somewhat anticlimatic manner fitting the man himself, Tim Kaine has been tapped as Clinton's running mate.  This is, as Ezra Klein notes, a safe choice.  Kaine doesn't guarantee winning Virginia, but clearly and correctly, Clinton believes that winning Virginia is a big part of winning the election.  The "DC Establishment" extends into Northern Virginia, and many of them can't stomach Trump.  Kaine gives a few more of them license to vote for the relative safety of a Clinton-Kaine ticket.

So, why Virginia?  Let's give Clinton the states that 270 To Win gives her as safe: All the Northeast except PA and NH, the West Coast and Hawaii, NM, IL, MI and MN.  That's a reasonable floor.  You can argue that PA isn't really in play, but let's go with that.  If you add Virginia and Wisconin to the Democrats, Clinton now sits at 240.  Let's add Nevada and Colorado, with their large Hispanic populations.  Now we are 255.

That leaves Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina out in the cold.  She wins either of those states, she wins.  Turning Pennsylvania has been a dream of the GOP for years and it's never happened.  The most recent poll in Florida has Clinton +7.

Winning Virginia really narrows Trump's ability to get to 270.  In fact, my conservative take right now has Clinton with 314 EV.  But I can realistically see a map with 384 EV.  That's a map where Trump continues to scare the shit out of people, making more and more unforced errors, and with Gary Johnson siphoning off just a few votes from Trump.

As for Kaine himself, aside from being safe and reassuring, he makes an interesting play for "Francis Catholics" and can do Hispanic outreach better than most white dudes.

Kaine has, however, predictably set off caterwauls from the Left.  He is not a pick used to mollify the  Sanders wing of the party.  As Martin Longman correctly notes: tough shit, he's a solid pick.

Kaine isn't a "Blue Dog" but he's as close as you could plausibly imagine being the VP pick.  Clinton believes that playing for the center could get her potentially more votes in the House.   She also knows and trusts him.  Tim Kaine - like Hillary Clinton - can make a reasonable claim to being well-prepared for the presidency.  Trump can't make that claim.  (I mean, he will, but...)

The Conventional Wisdom is that "2016 is a crazy year and anything can happen!"  I don't think that's necessarily true.

Brexit was crazy, but it was also crazy-close.  Austria almost elected a right wing nationalist.  But they didn't.  Trump won the nomination, but he isn't creating an electoral coalition that can win in November.

Trump hasn't rewritten the rules of politics.  He's served as an avatar for Angry Republicans.  That can only get him so far.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Nuremburg On The Cuyahoga

So that happened....

Trump managed to fire up his crowd of fellow travelers with his "red meat" schtick last night.  Most sane observers from the reality based world saw a speech with no policy specifics and no vision for America beyond the inarguable greatness of Donald J Trump.  They saw incitement to hatred juxtaposed jarringly with claims of tolerance.  By the end of a very long speech, they saw Orange turn to Red as Shouty Man yelled and yelled and yelled.

Inevitably, a convention produces a "bounce" for the candidate at the polls.  Trump just got a week of free media, he should expect to see his numbers rise.

But most media coverage was unremittingly negative - from plagiarism to Ted Cruz to the tone to the lies.  Will even terrible coverage give Trump a bump?  Will all the awful things said about Hillary Clinton drive her numbers down?  Or will they rally some Bernie supporters around her in defense?

Most of all: What did Trump do to unify his party or win new voters that didn't vote for Mitt Romney in 2012?  Certainly the party is not unified.  Conservative "thought leaders" are denouncing the party of Trump and leaving the Republican party.  Not enough to have an electoral effect, perhaps, but that's telling.  Some evangelical groups are choking on Trump, too.

But what has he done to win new voters?  Remember two things: Obama won fairly handily in 2012 during the lingering pain of the worst economy since the 1930s.  The Obama Coalition is younger than the Romney Coalition.

So, we can presume that 2012 is kind of a baseline of sorts.  Obama had a bad economy that hadn't bounced back as much as it has now.  He was running against an anodyne boring Republican.  In the summer of 2012, his job approval rating was basically break even after being underwater for most of 2011.  While Obama was more personally popular than Clinton, he wasn't a "lock" for reelection.  Even with those headwinds, Obama won 51% of the popular vote and 332 electoral votes.

How many of those 51% who voted for Obama are going to vote for Trump?  How many of the 47% who voted for Romney might vote for Clinton?  Or Gary Johnson?

So, keep your eye on the convention "bump" but don't worry too much until after the Democrats have their turn.

If there's no bump however, that means a lot.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Roger Ailes' America

As Cretinous Manslime Roger Ailes slinks off to a lucrative twilight, we have to realize we live in his country in many ways.

Tonight - if the leaked copy is correct - Trump will describe a dystopian hellscape where America is under siege from all sorts of threat, most of them imagined.

Here is a good example.  My old buddy Jake Tapper notes that historical crime trends are down, citing the FBI.  Paul "Love Me Some Dictators" Manafort says that the FBI is suspect because they didn't pursue the bullshit server story.

Think about that.  Revel in that.

The FBI... the most esteemed law enforcement agency in the country... is drawn into yet another partisan battle.  James Comey, a Bush appointee at one point, is yet another tool of the Democrats.  So we are going to throw out years of longitudinal study of crime by the FBI in order to keep you afraid.

At this point, my lovely wife is listening to the Overgrown Racist Oompa Loompa engage in his fear mongering and authoritarian leanings.  (It's frankly hard to blog with the noise coming in.)

Ailes perfected the fear-based media model.  He stoked the fears and resentments of the white working class for years, always tinged with race.

Trump took his model and ran with it.


Here is where we are.

Was Cruz's unvetted speech that riled up the Trumpsters and got him booed of stage a ploy of Cruz's or Trump's?

Cruz ripped the already delicate fabric of party unity last night.  Did the Trump campaign vet his speech and allow him to do that, setting him up to be booed off stage?  That is Booman's perspective.  And that guy is wicked smart.  His argument is that Trump WANTED Cruz to create a rift, because in Trump-land, all press is good press.

Or is this yet another example that these maroons couldn't organize a one person parade?

A Tsunami Of Bullshit

The Trump campaign is so awash in lies that it literally becomes impossible to keep up with them.

But people say Hillary is untrustworthy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Is A Big Deal

Eliminationism is  the  "belief that one's political opponents are "a cancer on the body politic that must be excised—either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination—in order to protect the purity of the nation".[1]"

If you were searching for the tone and substance of the GOP convention, there it is. Dave Neiwert has argued that this trend towards eliminationist rhetoric and thought has been building within the right wing media echo chamber for years.  The fever swamps of talk radio has been full of this for decades.  Fox News has always danced up to that line, but rarely crossed it.  

What we are seeing in Cleveland is that line being obliterated.  And that's terrifying.

I can't recall how many times I've worried about Trumpism's destruction of American political norms.  Here is a clear and dangerous example.

- You have a New Hampshire delegate saying Clinton should be shot for treason.
- You have a West Virginia legislator call for her hanging.
- You have Chris Christie called first for the jailing of Clinton and then for the purging of the civil service.  Christie gave less of a speech and more of a Stalinist show trial.

This REALLY freaking matters.  This is so much more important than whether Melania plagiarized her speech (she did) or whether Donald Junior plagiarized his (sort of, but only in academia).  

Eliminationist rhetoric was at the heart of the Birther movement.  It posits first that no Democratic president can be legitimate because "those people" voted them into office.  As the GOP looks to lose their third consecutive presidential election, the shrill cries of the eliminationists will get louder.

As we have seen with Black Lives Matter, even tempered calls for radical change can energize and empower the radical fringes.  I've met Deray McKesson, he's a thoughtful, considerate and peaceful man.  But his message can be pared away to a warped version of itself by the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters.  

What will the warped minds on the Right do with people who are outright calling for the death of the Democratic nominee for president?  

Clinton has high unfavorables.  I remain convinced that a great deal of that is that she is a woman who grates certain men the wrong way.  Combine that with the "D" after her name and you get millions of Americans who don't want her as president.


But the rhetoric from Cleveland is deeply, deeply dangerous in its extremism.  It is not saying that Clinton is incompetent or wrong or unqualified or flawed.  It is saying that she is a traitor, a criminal and, literally, in league with Lucifer.  If they really believe that, what happens when Clinton gets 55% of the popular vote in November?  Or even 51%?    Or 47% and 310 electoral votes?


That's what happens.

Eliminationism is a preceding cause of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Pol Pot's killing fields, Stalinist name it.  First, you deny them their humanity and rights.  Then you round them up.  Then you kill them.

Trump thinks it's all theater, I suppose.  It's not.  Not to some people.

Has The Press Reached Its Breaking Point

Chris Cuomo of noted journalistic swamp CNN has reached the limits of bullshit that he is prepared to eat.

As Cuomo says, the repeated and insistent lying from the Trump campaign is so blatant and unrepentant that it beggars belief.  Here's the key part:
“I can't move on,” Cuomo said. “Because you keep lying about it, so I can't move on from it.”
“Chris, I'm not lying about anything,” Manafort said.
“What is true: Did the language, did a portion of the language of that speech come from Michelle Obama’s speech, yes or no?”
“As far as we're concerned, there are similar words that were used,” Manafort said. “We've said that. But the feelings of those words, and the commonality of those words do not create a situation which we feel we have to agree with you. You want to have that opinion, fine.”
“It is not an opinion. That's the problem,” Cuomo replied.

So this is journalism as we would hope it would be practice.  Cuomo is better than most.  This isn't Wolf Blitzer or Don Lemon.  That might shatter the space-time continuum if those chowderheads committed journalism.

The Trump campaign - the Trumpster Fire - is so dysfunctional and so transgressive that the media literally don't know how to cover it.

This is a nice start.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Other Than That Mrs. Lincoln....

So, last night Melania Trump plagiarized part of her speech.  To be clear, this wasn't the worst thing about last night.

Booman has the rundown.

I'm in the middle of teaching a workshop on research based writing and obligingly moved up the section on plagiarism to today.  Thanks, guys!

But plagiarism is mostly a matter of academic standards.  We call it academic theft, but that's a bit melodramatic if accurate.

The level of racist fearmongering last night was willfully appalling.  What she did was merely incompetent.

UPDATE:  Josh Marshall has more.  As always, the issue with Trumpism is multi-fold.  It represents a fundamental violation of the norms that have governed American politics for decades, if not centuries.  It reeks of the beer halls of Munich in the 1920s, even if it lacks the coherent ideology of Nazism.

We will have trouble walking back through the door this "Cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shitgibbon" has led us through.

Monday, July 18, 2016


I've been in the same room with Roger Ailes.  I refused to meet him or shake his hand.  I believe that about 50% of the political problems we face as a nation can be laid at that motherfucker's feet.

I guess better late than never.

State Of The Race

Josh Marshall breaks down where we are in the presidential polls entering the period of volatility of the conventions.

He also rehashed a piece of conventional wisdom I heard on NPR this morning: It's hard for a party to win a third term.

Is it really?

Let's start in 1900, because why not.  And let's see if a party won a third  or fourth term when they could.

1908 - Taft beats Bryan for Teddy's "third term."

1912 - Wilson wins a four-way race that splits the Republican party.

1920 - Republicans take back the White House after two terms of Wilson.

1928 - Hoover wins a third term.

1940 - FDR wins a third term.
1944 - FDR wins a fourth term.
1948 - Truman wins a second term.

1952 - Eisenhower wins after five terms of Democratic rule.

1960 - JFK wins.

1968 - Nixon wins.

1976 - Carter wins.

1988 - Bush wins.

2000 - Bush wins.  Kind of.

2008 - Obama wins.

So, it's a mixed bag.  But here's another pattern.  From 1900-1932, Republicans held the White House with the exception of Woodrow Wilson.  Wilson won because the Republican party split in 1912.

From 1932-1968, Democrats held the White House, with the exception of Dwight Eisenhower.  Eisenhower enjoyed remarkable personal popularity but had short coattails.

From 1968-1988, Republicans held the White House, with the exception of Carter, who barely beat Ford, who was tainted by his pardon of Nixon.

From 1988-today, Democrats have held the White House with the exception of Dubya, who may or may have won Florida and definitely lost the popular vote.

Incumbent presidents almost always win, with the exceptions of intraparty divisions (1912,1976,1980) or economic hardships (1932).  Or both (1976 and 1980).

This is why 2016 is a lost opportunity for the Republicans.  Unless the Sandernistas split the party in 2020 or there is a major (and truly substantive) scandal, Clinton will likely win re-election.

But what about term limited attempts to hold on to the White House?  This has only been in effect since Eisenhower.  Nixon almost won in 1960.  He would win in 1968, during the upheaval of Vietnam and the latter part of the civil rights movement.  Bush 41 did in fact win a third term.  And Al Gore got a half million more votes than Bush 43.

The evidence to me look a lot like certain parties go through prolonged periods where they hold on to the White House.  Republicans pretty much held the White House from 1860-1932 with only two exceptions.  Democrats held on to it from 1932-1968 with one exception.  Republicans from 1968-2008 with one exception (or maybe it's Democrats who will hold on from 1992-2020).

Ultimately, it seems like electoral coalitions are fundamentally more important than candidates.  When the Democrats lost the South in 1968, they lost the White House - except for the unique circumstances surrounding Watergate - until 1992.  Even Clinton needed a divided GOP and a three way race to win election.

Obama looks to have solidified a new electoral majority coalition.  Trump's terrible numbers amongst college-educated whites would help solidify the Obama coalition.

Given Clinton's unfavorable numbers (even leaving aside Trump's awful numbers), we will be able to test my theory, with only the future of western civilization on the line.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our Latest Shooter

The latest maniac to shoot up Americans exemplifies three things about America today.

1) The breakdown in race relations, especially with regards to policing.  Despite some remarkable progress in my lifetime over race relations, few people today can say with a straight face and possession of the facts that America is a color-blind society when it comes to law enforcement.  By all accounts, the Baton Rouge police department is a bulwark of racist police tactics.  There are still stories circulating about cops from other parts of the country who went - as volunteers - to Baton Rouge after Katrina.  They were shocked by the racism they saw in that department.

The killing of Alton Sterling - like the killing of Michael Brown - did not happen in a vacuum.  This was an egregious example of bad policing that citizens knew all too well.

The result was first protests, and now this new wrinkle after Dallas - retributive killings.

After Dallas, one could hope that both sides would take a deep breath and try and walk back from the cliff.  Almost immediately thereafter, the Baton Rouge police cracked down on peaceful protesters, and Gavin Long perhaps began to plan his own killings.

This is what a breakdown in the social contract looks like.  If there is no sense that police will be held accountable in a court of law, then crazy people take up guns.  That the shooter did this before a Grand Jury even convened in Alton Sterling's case says a great deal about where our faith is in our laws in some quarters.

2) You're goddamned right it's about guns.  When you have a single person, admittedly a former Marine, able to kill three cops and critically injure another, you are talking about the incredible ease with which we have made killing other human beings in this country.

For every ammosexual out there, telling me how his Glock and his AR-15 and his assault-style shotgun are necessary to protect himself, let me ask you this: If these well trained police officers could be killed this easily, do you really think you'd fair better?  Of course, the ammosexual would reply that he would, because he's REALLY good at Call of Duty or some specious bullshit.

I've argued before that having this many guns on the street makes every police action potentially lethal.  Add that to racial assumptions about black men, and you have the resulting mess of unarmed black men being shot by police.

Guns turn an everyday asshole into a lethal threat.

3) Revolutionary anti-establishmentarianism is inherently violent.  Bernie Sanders doesn't want cops killed.  Donald Trump doesn't want unarmed black people killed.  But the  anti-establishment rhetoric that flows from all quarters these days inevitably leads to violence.

Once you delegitimize the established order of things - not merely criticize or decry it, but say it is inherently corrupt and beyond repair - you open the door for crazy people to start shooting up police officers.  I know that people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are kind of boring technocrats.  Obama at least had soaring rhetoric, but at heart he was a technocrat.

But the attacks on technocratic governance that came from both the Left over the past 8 months and the Right over the past 8 years have left a serious wound on the ability of the center to hold.  The Establishment - for all its many flaws - is still critical for making sure society unfolds in an orderly fashion.  You want to know what a revolution looks like?  It looks like dead people in the streets.

The Baton Rouge shooter was part of an anti-government organization.  At this point, we're not sure if it was black separatist or simply anti-government, sovereign citizen type of organization.  We don't know to what degree convenient Right or Left labels can be put on this man and his beliefs.

But we know in the process of retributive killings for the situation in Baton Rouge (presuming that's what they are) he killed a black police officer.  Montrell Jackson - the slain officer - wrote the following a few days ago: "I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city love me.  In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat."

Those sentences are painful to read in light of the fact that he died serving a city that didn't know what to do with a black man or a blue uniform.  To the shooter, he was "the state."  He was the act of violence against black men.

John Bel Edwards, Louisiana's governor, has called this an attack against "all of us."

It is.  It's an attack against the forces that hold us together.

It's an attack empowered by the loudest, angriest voices on both sides.  It's an attack that happens when people no longer have faith in compromise.  It's an attack that underscores the lack of faith we have that laws apply to all of us equally.

We have to begin walking back from this abyss.  Every day, people reach out across lines of race and class.  You have stories like this from Georgia.  It really isn't all bad.  I swear it.

But it is pretty awful in great, dramatic actions.

I hate to cite Thomas Friedman, but he did have a point when he said we've moved from superpowers to super-empowered individuals.  We live in a fractured world where every voice is presumed equally valid, because we can find a sub-reddit to agree with us.  We live in a world where if you want to slaughter people, all you need is a truck or a boatload of weapons.  That's a world where every asshole with an ax to grind can create tremendous damage.

How do we heal this world we live in?

When Will It Be Said And Repeated And Repeated?

Yesterday, the Overgrown Racist Oompa-Loompa introduced his running mate, Indiana hatemonger and Talibangelical, Mike Pence.

As Ezra Klein succinctly put it, that speech clearly demonstrates why Trump should never be President.

The reason is that Donald Trump clearly suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  That this remote diagnosis could be even questioned at this point is ridiculous.  Trump is like a walking exemplar of every aspect of the disorder.

Let's run through the DSM V's definition.

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance 
Yup.  "Everyone loves me.  I'm very popular."

  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Yup.  How many bankruptcies is it?

  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Yup. Have a Trump steak while you consider that one.

  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Yup. From trophy wives to the constant refrain of self-adoration.

  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Yup.  He thinks he's smarter than Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

  • Requiring constant admiration
Yup.  And if you don't admire him?  You're fired.

  • Having a sense of entitlement

  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Yup.  His steamrolling of the RNC and the convention platform is a great example of this.

  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Yup.  Ask Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich about this.

  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Yup.  I mean, pretty much every word out of his mouth.

  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Yup. Certainly the last one, but the first one he keeps hidden.

  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
Yup.  I mean...Yeah.

The Republican Party has nominated someone with a full blown, ten mile high personality disorder - what we might call a mental illness.  I don't want to stigmatize mental illness, I've seen what personality disorders can do and it can be tragic.

But I also don't want to elect someone President who suffers from one.

Never has a tag-line seemed so appropriate.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Worst Possible Result

The coup in Turkey has apparently failed.  It was so ham-fisted and amateurish that some have suggested that Erdogan himself planned it.

Coups have a long history in Kemalist Turkey.  The Army has insured that the state remain secular and largely oriented towards the West.  Erdogan has been slowly eroding the democratic and institutional checks on his power, and the failed coup will accelerate that consolidation.  Hence the conspiracy theories that Erdogan planned it.  That's probably confusing cause and effect, as conspiracy theories often do.

From - broadly speaking - the West's point of view, we would prefer Turkey to be a democratic, secular state that models stability for the Middle East - a modern Muslim state, though not an Islamist one.

Whatever the motivations of the coup plotters, it's pretty clear that this coup will deal a potentially fatal blow to democracy in Turkey.  Erdogan is already more or less following the Putin blueprint in consolidating power, and just as Putin used Chechen terror attacks to consolidate power, Erdogan will use this event to snuff out opposition.

The opposition to Erdogan is primarily focused on two groups: the Kurds and the Gulen Movement. The Kurds are more or less America's best friends in the Middle East.  Iraqi Kurdistan is reasonably secular and pro-Western, and there is a certain sympathy for the self-determination of the Kurdish people in America.  Certainly, US troops that served in Iraq preferred working with the Kurds over anyone else.

The Gulen Movement is precisely the sort of Islam we would like to see: Islam should inform your private life, but Islam should not be political.  Islam should build bridges to other faiths.  This is why Fethullah Gulen currently lives in the Poconos, because he's hated by Erdogan but represents what we would like to see Islam become.  Of course, he's probably corrupt, but that hardly differentiates him from other developing world figures who has money at his fingertips.

An ideal end for the events of yesterday - from a US point of view - would have been a collapse of the Erdogan regime and the failure of the coup.  We would like democracy to survive in Turkey and neither Erdogan nor a military coup really delivers on that hope.

Terrorist attacks like what happened in Nice are tragic and horrific and violate our sense of shared community and public spaces.  But what just happened in Turkey is probably worse for the Middle East and Europe than what happened in Nice.  More Turks died last night than died in Nice, but even more troubling is it's tough to see democracy in Turkey survive either.

UPDATE: Maybe this actually leads to more and better democracy?  

Friday, July 15, 2016

This Is Intetesting

Power In Weakness

As Richard Mayhew notes, terror attacks are fundamentally attacks borne of weakness.  ISIS has no armored divisions massed on the Turkish border.  ISIS is not and never has been a fundamental threat.  The absolute horror of the Nice attacks derives from the chaotic unpredictability of it.  More Americans will commit suicide today than died in Nice. And the day after that.  And the day after that.  But suicides are personal and private (usually) and their audience is limited, if it exists at all.

Terrorism is grisly theater.  It is intended for public consumption.  And mostly, it is intended to create a reaction.  Sadly, Trump and the current GOP is making C+ Augustus look like B+ Augustus.  Dubya never equated 9/11 with Islam.  He made a conscious effort to divorce the acts of terrorism from the religion of the perpetrators.  Trump and his minions and fellow travelers are falling over themselves to initiate new bans on Muslims.  Gingrich latest emetic offering is to round up all Muslims and then ask them if they believe in Sharia law.  If they do, deport them.

Basically, Gingrich wants to recruit for ISIS.

If I am a radical or angry Muslim American, I simply lie about Sharia (permitted in Islamic tradition) and then shot up a shopping mall at Christmas.  Secondly, Sharia law isn't Islamism, and certainly not radical, Salafist Islamism.  Sharia is simply religious rules for daily life.  What constitutes Halal food?  Who gets what in a divorce?  Can I charge interest on a loan to a non-Muslim?  Yes, there are parts of Sharia that we rightly consider barbaric - chopping off the hands of thieves, flogging rape victims for adultery.  Most of the awful aspects of Sharia are tied up in the unique religious-political system of Saudi Arabia.  No one in the US is using Sharia law to flog an adulterer.

The Right Wing fixation on Sharia is the sort of mind-numbingly stupid oversimplification of issues that should reasonably disqualify Republicans from being allowed to make complicated decisions from the Oval Office.  Republicans are no longer capable or allowed to make complicated and nuanced decisions.  They have been reduced to reflexive tics that come out like Tourettes: BENGHAZI!  SHARIA!  EMAILS!  FAST AND FURIOUS!

This is how Trump was able to takeover the Republican Party. Either by design or by accident, he tapped into the stupidity - and that's the word, sorry if that's elitist - of a Republican base that is incapable of holding contradictory ideas in its head.  "You hate these people, I hate these people."

The Nice attacks are a horror show.  But they are also an example of the fundamental weakness of ISIS and their strain of Takfir violence.  ISIS has lost Fallujah.  They are losing Ramadi and Mosul.  They are being rolled back in Syria.

But their strain of anti-Western nihilism is still laying there for any angry Muslim to pick up and use.  The solution is to stop alienating Muslims who live in the West and discredit ISIS by destroying their "caliphate" but to destroy it without invading another Arab country.  It is not to give in to fear and hatred.