ISIS Doubles Down
ISIS is doubling down on its claim that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was "a soldier of the Islamic State." The latest edition of the Islamic State's propaganda newsletter claims that Paddock converted six months ago.
There are reasons to be skeptical, however. Paddock certainly does not fit the profile of your typical jihadist. While rare, the group has made false claims in the past. And, as it continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, it is increasingly desperate to maintain its relevance.
That said, the attack fits a pattern in other ways. Las Vegas has been threatened repeatedly by terrorist groups, most recently in May of this year.
The Gun Control Debate
Earlier this week, I noted that the left's knee-jerk reaction would be to attack the Second Amendment. A more appropriate response, in my opinion, would be to resuscitate the First Amendment and for America to turn back to God.
But since the left and its media allies are all-in on blaming "gun violence," I think it is important to provide some context.
- While the Las Vegas shooting has rightly seized the public's attention, 60% of all gun deaths are suicides, not homicides. Every death is a tragedy. But beyond banning handguns, the left has no "gun control" solution that addresses the vast majority of cases of alleged "gun violence."
- When it comes to mass shootings, Chicago accounts for 10% of all incidents. Nearly 2,900 people have been shot in Chicago so far this year. Even the left-wing New York Times noted that the atrocity in Las Vegas occurs almost every month in Chicago. Celebrities and progressive politicians rail against the NRA for defending the Second Amendment. Why aren't they leading protests in Chicago?
- Honest liberals do admit that gun control isn't the answer. Unfortunately, some politicians have a problem with honesty.
- For example, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said this week that it was "absurd" to say that "the background check proposal wouldn't have stopped the killer in Las Vegas." Well, it wouldn't have. According to NBC News, Stephen Paddock passed "all required background checks." It is absurd that liberals lie to push their radical agenda.
By the way, when President Trump wanted tougher background checks, the left erupted in a fit of rage and said it was discriminatory. Of course, that was when President Trump called for "extreme vetting" of individuals from countries infested with jihadism.
Perhaps the president should reissue his executive order and say that all immigrants and refugees coming into the country must undergo more severe background checks just in case they want to purchase a firearm. The left would really be in a bind then!
A final point. For many progressives, the real issue isn't our constitutional rights. It's power. But don't take my word for it.
In response to the Las Vegas shooting, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offered this advice to the left:
"There is only one remedy: Get power. If you are as fed up as I am, then register someone to vote or run for office yourself or donate money. . . This is about raw power, not persuasion. And the first chance we have to change the balance of power is the 2018 midterm elections. . . Just get power. Start now."
Friedman isn't right about much, but he's right about one thing: Elections have consequences.
"Calm Before The Storm"
During a meeting with top Pentagon officials at the White House last night, President Trump said that this was "the calm before the storm." That certainly got everyone's attention! Asked by reporters what he meant by that, Trump simply replied, "You'll find out."
I have no idea what the president means, but I doubt he was referring to the weather.
My guess is that it is part of an ongoing effort to wean North Korean leaders off of the idea that American presidents give in to extortion, which is what past presidents of both parties have done.
Trump is trying to send a signal to both North Korea and Iran: "Don't miscalculate because I'm not like other presidents."
Speaking of Iran, President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will no longer certify Iran's compliance with Barack Obama's terrible nuclear deal. Since that deal was announced, Iran's support for terrorism and its belligerent actions in the Middle East have gotten worse, not better.
According to Politico, the White House is announcing plans "aimed at cracking down more forcefully" on Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah. Iran's support for Hezbollah has increased dramatically since Obama's nuclear deal lifted tough sanctions against the Iranian regime.
In June, the Justice Department charged Samer El Debek of New York and Ali Kourani of Michigan with conducting surveillance operations for Hezbollah. Among the sites targeted were the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Panama, as well as "military and law enforcement facilities in New York City."
And guess what? It seems like President Trump's tough stance is starting to payoff. Reuters reports that Iran is suddenly open to talks about its ballistic missile program.
Peace through strength works!
The Trump Administration today fulfilled a key promise to values voters. It formally rolled back Obamacare's contraception mandate by expanding the existing exemption granted to churches to other faith-based institutions, businesses and non-profit organizations.
Just to clarify any fake news you may hear, Donald Trump did not ban birth control. The new rules simply state that any organization claiming a religious or moral objection cannot be compelled by the government to provide free birth control.
Obamacare's contraception mandate took a big hit in 2014 when Hobby Lobby and other closely-held private companies won a major case before the Supreme Court. But a year later, the Obama Administration still refused to accommodate the Little Sisters of the Poor. It was so committed to its radical pro-abortion agenda that it threatened to bankrupt Catholic nuns!
In addition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance to all federal agencies instructing them to fully respect religious liberty. Below is an excerpt from his memo:
"Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law. . . Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. . .
"Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming."