Other writers on Paris terror, Jeb Bush, IRS scandal

Other Writers

The new jihad in France

Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing for the Wall Street Journal : The terrorist attack in Paris on Wednesday — with 12 people killed by masked men yelling Islamist slogans — has been a long time coming.

After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., Western counterterrorist experts probably feared European radical Muslims more than they did Islamic militants in the Middle East. Since the early 1990s, when Algeria's savage war between the military junta and Islamists began to spill over into France, the French internal-security service, now known as the Direction central du renseignement intérieur, or DCRI, began to ramp up its capacity to monitor Muslim militants.

On Nov. 27, 2001, France's premier counterterrorist magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguière, was pessimistic about "autonomous" jihadist cells in Europe and North America that "don't need to receive orders to pass into action." The Iraq War added to this widespread anxiety. Many believed that the Anglo-American invasion would provoke a maelstrom of holy warriors against the West.

It didn't happen then. But it may be happening now.

The lethal attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo — which has made a specialty of mocking both sides of the too-much-Islam-in-Europe debate, and in 2012 famously published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — probably isn't a lone-wolf affair. But it may represent what Mr. Bruguière feared: native jihadist cells that can act independently of foreign terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda or Islamic State, but may act in concert, and certainly in sympathy, with these groups.

Jeb Bush gets good news

Jonah Goldberg, writing for National Review : Jeb Bush is starting the new year with a smile. Former Arkansas governor and, until last weekend, Fox News host Mike Huckabee announced he would "explore" running for president.

By the way, these "exploration" announcements are yet another example of the government encouraging politicians to lie. Exploratory committees disguise the fact that a candidate is running about as well as glasses conceal Superman's real identity. They require a willful suspension of disbelief on the part of everyone watching. Politicians like this loophole because it drags out the time in which they are allowed to conceal their donors and provides another round of headlines when they "formally" (and inevitably) announce their candidacies.

This is all to say Huckabee isn't "exploring" the question of whether he's running any more than Bush is. Bush wouldn't resign from all those corporate boards and Huckabee wouldn't walk off the Fox stage — or any stage — unless they'd already decided.

Huckabee's announcement is good news for Bush for an obvious reason: The more crowded the right side of the Republican field, the clearer it will be on the left.

No, Bush isn't a left-winger. He was a very conservative — and very successful — governor of Florida. But within the microcosm of the GOP primary electorate, he's on the left, for want of a better term.

One such better term would be one we hear a lot these days: the establishment. On the right there's a lot of debate about what it means to be "establishment" — but whatever the definition, Bush's picture goes next to it in the dictionary.

Get answers on IRS scandal

Joshua Gelernter, writing for the Weekly Standard : Confirming a new attorney general is near the top of the new Senate's to-do list. The power not to confirm the president's nominees is near the top of the Republicans' new consignment of political clout. Needless to say, without the White House, the GOP can't implement their preferred policies, but they can use the confirmation process for quid pro quos. They should focus on the president's AG nominee, Loretta Lynch, and they should refuse to confirm her until she commits to appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate the IRS.

So long as the Justice Department is controlled by the Obama administration, it's going to obstruct any investigation that might embarrass the White House. So the Republican Senate can hold hearings — on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the keeping-your-doctor fiasco, the outing of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan (remember that?), and any other cover-up it's inclined to try to unravel. But the IRS's persecution of Americans of a particular political stripe is far and away the most important scandal of the bunch. It's the defining corruption of the era.

As things stand, the Republican caucus is gearing up to grill Lynch on immigration; enforcement of immigration law is expected to be her principal litmus test. Which is fine, but in the short term, the IRS targeting is more important.