Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Series of Three Articles on US Foreign Policy Related to the Sunni

Romancing the Sunni: A US policy tragedy in three acts; Act I
Asian Times -- BY ANGELO CODEVILLA on DECEMBER 21, 2015

“To understand why hopes for help from the Sunni side are forlorn, we must be clear that jihadism in general and Daesh in particular are logical outgrowths of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s (and the Gulf monarchies’) official religion, about how they fit in the broader conflict between Sunni and Shia, as well as about how the US occupation of Iraq exposed America to the vagaries of intra-Muslim conflicts.”

Romancing the Sunni: A US policy tragedy in three acts; Act II
Asian Times -- BY ANGELO CODEVILLA on DECEMBER 23, 2015

“Daesh/ISIS attracts and inspires by combining orthodox Sunni Islam with very spectacular brutality. Inflicting pain, humiliation and death on captives or vengeance on presumed enemies has characterized some cultures. In all cultures throughout the ages, some individuals have relished these practices. Embedding brutality in ritual enhances its power to attract practitioners and to bind them to the group. Daesh/ISIS draws and inspires by dispensing the right and duty to engage in it.”

“It does so in the name of Allah with the prophet Muhammad’s own words. The methods– knives for beheadings, formulae for humiliating victims, etc. — it prescribes minutely by Sunni Islam’s authoritative Hadith. In contrast to the Nazi authorities who used to tell the Holocaust’s murderers that theirs was a somber though noble task, the Hadith spells out that those who kill and torture in Allah’s name should do so joyfully, with mirth, and that they should take pleasure in the fruits of their victories including the use of slaves, especially sex slaves.”

Romancing the Sunni: A US policy tragedy in three acts; Act III
Asian Times -- BY ANGELO CODEVILLA on DECEMBER 28, 2015

On Jan. 1, 2015, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al Sisi told Sunni Islam’s leading scholars gathered at Cairo’s Al Azhar University, its leading temple of knowledge, that they had been leading Islam on a course disastrous for itself and leading to war with the rest of the world.

He said : “ You, imams, are responsible before Allah … that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years … is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world … Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible! … I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution.”

That is reality. It is also reality that no such revolution is in the works, in part because the West continues to deal with the Sunni world by trying to appease it, romance it, seduce it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thomas Jefferson and Religious Freedom

Virginia Historical Society
Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. The third paragraph reflects Jefferson's belief in the people's right, through their elected assemblies, to change any law. Here, Jefferson states that this statute is not irrevocable because no law is (not even the Constitution). Future assemblies that choose to repeal or circumscribe the act do so at their own peril, because this is "an infringement of natural right." Thus, Jefferson articulates his philosophy of both natural right and the sovereignty of the people.

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.[4]

Christian Post
USCIRF Report Shows Islamic Countries Are Worst Violators of Religious Freedom; 12 Muslim-Majority Nations Top the List

The annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom shows that 12 of the 17 nations with the worst record of religious freedom are Islamic or Muslim-majority countries.

The trend of Islamic and communist persecution of religious denominations, particularly Christian minorities, continues, but the intensity of attacks on Christians and others has increased.

See Also

The Evil That Cannot Be Left Unanswered

International New York Times -- Roger Cohen
The Evil That Cannot Be Left Unanswered

“Across the wide area of Syria and Iraq that it controls, the Islamic State enacts its nihilistic death cult drawn from a medievalist reading of the Koran. They slit throats at public executions, butcher “infidel”’ communities like the Yazidis en masse and turn women and children into sex slaves as they build a self-styled caliphate based on oil revenue, absolutist zealotry and digital slickness.”

At the Yazidi refugee camp, Anter Halef said to me, “We no longer have a life in this world. It’s empty.” He was broken, but at least, unlike his children, he had lived his life. “ISIS has no religion,” he went on. “No sane man would slaughter a child. In one night, they killed 1,800 people.”

For evil, unmet, propagates. To allow Islamic State to consolidate its hold over territory and minds over the coming year is to invite, or at least to accept, an inevitable replay of the Paris or the San Barnardino slaughters. It is to accept that the Syrian debacle will worsen for another year. And that, in turn, will further exacerbate the anxiety and fears on which nationalist, often Islamophobic politicians in Europe and the United States thrive.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Follow the Money

WSJ -- Kimberley A. Strassel
Justice’s Liberal Slush Fund
Legal settlements are being used to funnel millions to left-wing activists like La Raza.

This scandal comes courtesy of the Justice Department, which for 16 months has engaged in a scheme to undermine Congress’s spending authority by independently transferring dollars to President Obama’s political allies. The department is in the process of funneling more than half-a-billion dollars to liberal activist groups, at least some of which will actively support Democrats in the coming election.

It works likes this: The Justice Department prosecutes cases against supposed corporate bad actors. Those companies agree to settlements that include financial penalties. Then Justice mandates that at least some of that penalty money be paid in the form of “donations” to nonprofits that supposedly aid consumers and bolster neighborhoods.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

ISIS and Religious Persecution

RealClearPolitics -- Michael Novak
The Tragedy of Christian Persecution

“If you are going to read only one book on the most massive violations of religious liberty -- happening today, even as you read this -- or you feel it's your duty to read only one thing in solidarity with this immense suffering, Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy by George J. Marlin is the one to keep at hand.”

“The chairman of Aid to the Church in Need covers eight nations of the Middle East, from Turkey to the Sudan, in some painful detail. Behind this detail, lie many hundred thousands of Christian families faced with instant death (or sexual enslavement) or two other choices (1) renounce their hard-won historical faith and submit to the authority of Allah, or (2) enter intodhimmitude, that half-life of paying fines for just being allowed to live and of keeping one's faith completely private, invisible and silent.”

“Then, summarizing the findings of the Muslim director of Yafa Center for Study and Research, Nasry lists five aims of terror in Islam. In cruelly brief form they are: (1) to punish infidels for unbelief (2) to frighten infidels into keeping their treaties with believers (3) to be a definitive tool of divine might. Q8:12 "I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite them above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them." (4) to cut as a two-edged sword: striking fear into infidels, and protecting believers from their evils and (5) to put an end to oppression, tumult, and division. Fr. Nasry applauds those who try to bring Islam "up-to-date, but regrets that they have so far been very broadly rejected.”

See also:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Another result of the corruption in the Chicago Democratic political machine

The Corrupt System That Killed Laquan McDonald
The Atlantic -- Conor Friedersdorf

In short, Chicago does an atrocious job of identifying and disciplining bad cops. And this failure appears to have directly contributed to the wrongful death of McDonald—Van Dyke had 18 civil complaints filed against him, but had never been disciplined. “The Independent Police Review Authority, the civilian board that handles the most serious cases, doesn't take into account previous complaints against the same officer when investigating a new one,” according to a Tuesday editorial in the Chicago Tribune. “11 officers racked up a combined 253 complaints that resulted in a single five-day suspension. Come on. What does it take to flag a problem cop?”

If police shooting video had been released sooner, would Emanuel be mayor?
Chicago Tribune -- John Kass

Would Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been re-elected if voters had seen the video of Laquan McDonald's execution?


Rahm would have lost the election. Why? Because he would have lost Chicago's black vote.

"No," said the alderman, meaning no, Rahm would not have won the election. "But you already knew that. Why are you asking us?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

American Universities Begin to Implode

American Universities Begin to Implode
Real Clear Politics -- Dennis Prager

“For over half a century, American universities, with few exceptions, have ceased teaching and begun indoctrinating. In the last few weeks, this downhill spiral has accelerated. The university is now a caricature of an educational institution. It is difficult to come up with an idea or policy that is more absurd than the ideas and policies that now dominate American campuses.”

“The University of California, once an elite public institution, now circulates a list of "microaggressions" that students and faculty must be careful to avoid lest they engage in racism and bigotry. Some examples: "There is only one race, the human race." You read that right. The denial of the significance of race in favor of the primacy of the individual and the affirmation of the equality of all human beings -- one of the noblest achievements of liberal Western society -- is now officially listed by the University of California as a racist statement. It is a pure expression of moral inversion.”

America’s higher education brought low -- WP - George Will

“People who are imprecisely called educators have taught, by their negative examples, what intelligence is not.”

The Yale Problem Begins in High School
HeterodoxAcademy -- Jonathan Haidt

“After the first dozen questions I noticed that not a single questioner was male. I began to search the sea of hands asking to be called on and I did find one boy, who asked a question that indicated that he too was critical of my talk. But other than him, the 200 or so boys in the audience sat silently.”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kunduz Hospital Tragedy

Not just a tragedy but also a lost opportunity to declare and covey our values

ABC News -- LUIS MARTINEZ -- 'Human Error' Cited in Mistaken US Airstrike on Kunduz Hospital

The accidental bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital in Northern Afghanistan was a tragedy. This is especially so because Doctors without Borders represents in practice the primary moral concept of our government of equality understood as a respect for human dignity and our common humanity.

President Obama says that we have to fight radical terrorists with better ideas and values. Our government, the academics, the media, and even those running the presidential primaries, however, have focussed almost entirely on freedom rather than equality understood as a respect for an inherent personal dignity and our common humanity. What a lost opportunity to describe and garner global support for Doctors without Borders and to convey our primary value of equality.

My work The Moral Foundations of United States Constitutional Democracy: An Analytical and Historical Inquiry into the Primary Moral Concept of Equality can be freely accessed at www.moralfoundations.com See Also the my blogs on the following:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

"NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be..."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Gene Hackers

The Gene Hackers
A powerful new technology enables us to manipulate our DNA more easily than ever before.
The New Yorker -- MICHAEL SPECTER -- Annals of Science --NOVEMBER 16, 2015 ISSUE

A technical but very informative article on the research in genetics.

It didn’t take Zhang or other scientists long to realize that, if nature could turn these molecules into the genetic equivalent of a global positioning system, so could we. Researchers soon learned how to create synthetic versions of the RNA guides and program them to deliver their cargo to virtually any cell. Once the enzyme locks onto the matching DNA sequence, it can cut and paste nucleotides with the precision we have come to expect from the search-and-replace function of a word processor. “This was a finding of mind-boggling importance,” Zhang told me. “And it set off a cascade of experiments that have transformed genetic research.”

With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

There Should be Zero Tolerance for Heroin in Law Enforcement

Cleveland.com -- Jeremy Pelzer
Ohio's heroin epidemic gets national exposure in new '60 Minutes' segment

“A record 2,482 Ohioans died of drug-related deaths in 2014, according to preliminary statistics from the Ohio Department of Health. About half of those deaths – 1,177 – involved heroin, which many addicts have turned to as a cheaper and more available alternative to prescription pain pills.”

When I was an orthopedic resident in New York City from 1969 until 1973 there was a heroin epidemic. The police station in the South Bronx was called “Fort Apache” because it was surround by crime and and communal decay. It was the subject of the movie Fort Apache: the Bronx. Ten years later President Carter visited this area which had burned out and been abandoned and the police station at that time was known as “the little house on the prairie.” A study during that time showed that a mainline heroin addict committed 250 felonies a year to support such their drug habit. Heroin addicts discard their needles and make parks and public green spaces for children unsafe. There were 1,177 heroin related deaths in just Ohio in 2014. There is a very clear health hazard with the risk of AIDS and hepatitis. The emergency rooms are now commonly treating infections and abscesses from heroin injections. There should be zero tolerance for for heroin in law enforcement for a heroin epidemic will destroy individual lives and and it has the potential to destroy a community.

Opinions Gradually Changing in Ohio on the Death Penalty

Columbus Dispatch
Worth the trouble?
Problems surrounding the death penalty show no sign of abating

"But how about the argument that the death penalty is just too difficult to impose and trying to make it work uses up too much time, energy and money to be worthwhile?"

Death Penalty Information Center
Florida Acquits Death Row Inmate

“On October 12, 2015, the Circuit Court for Pascal County, Florida, entered a judgment of acquittal and the Florida Department of Corrections released Derral Hodgkins from custody after the Florida Supreme Court denied the prosecution's motion to reconsider its June 18, 2015 decision acquitting Hodges of all charges in the stabbing death of his former girlfriend.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz is Far from the Center

Politico -- By Burgess Everett
How McConnell outfoxed Ted Cruz
Cruz can't get the best of the GOP stalwart.

“The breaking point came in July, when Cruz called McConnell a liar for holding a vote on the Export-Import Bank, which many conservatives vehemently oppose.

Even then, McConnell bit his tongue, quietly urging senators not to take the floor in his defense, wary of giving Cruz a bigger platform for his GOP primary run.”

Real Clear Politics -- By Mark Salter
What Ted Cruz Really Stands For

“Then again, I can’t recall any senator who was as nearly universally loathed by his colleagues as Cruz. There have been others who weren’t likeable. There were plenty who were self-interested and who preened and blustered as often as Cruz does—and who routinely elicited senatorial smirks and rolled eyes. There have been senators who frequently forced their colleagues to cast difficult and unpopular votes. And, of course, there is a long list of senators who ran for president and treated the Senate floor as a campaign stop. (And for some of them it worked). But no senator in my memory did all that with such abandon and was disliked with as much intensity as is Ted Cruz.”

National Review -- ELIANA JOHNSON
When Cruz Makes His Move, Watch Out

“Cruz has proved to be an ambitious and serious campaigner, devoted to doing the hard and unglamorous work required of presidential candidates.”

Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Interesting Juxtaposition

States Scramble for Drugs Used in Executions, Causing Delays

“death-penalty states are finding it harder to carry out executions as they struggle to obtain and properly use limited supplies of ever-changing combinations of suitable drugs.”

California governor signs bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide SACRAMENTO, CALIF. | BY SHARON BERNSTEIN

"There is a deadly mix when you combine our broken healthcare system with assisted suicide, which immediately becomes the cheapest treatment," said Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley. "The so-called protections written into the bill really amount to very little."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Capital Punishment's Fatal flaws

Aljazeera America -- Lauren Carasik
Glossip case highlights capotal punishment's fatal flaws

In denying his request for a reprieve on Sept. 28, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals was deeply divided. Three judges held that new evidence merely expanded on previous theories and did not warrant overriding the principle of final judgment. The panel’s remaining two judges supported a stay of execution and a hearing on Glossip’s innocence, with one arguing the state would not be harmed by a delay and that it had “no interest in executing an actually innocent man” and the other lamenting that his “trial was deeply flawed.” As his defense attorney Don Knight said, “We should all be deeply concerned about an execution under such circumstances.”

“Glossip’s conviction rested almost entirely on the testimony of Justin Sneed, a 19-year-old drug addict who worked at a hotel owned by Barry Van Treese, in exchange for room and board. Sneed confessed to murdering Van Treese but avoided the death penalty by implicating Glossip, a manager at the hotel, as the crime’s mastermind. Glossip was first convicted and sentenced to death in 1998, but the verdict was overturned on appeal in 2001 because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, including his attorney’s failure to show the jury the tape of Sneed’s interrogation, which would have provided ample fodder to impeach his credibility — an obvious blunder. Glossip was found guilty at a second trial in 2004 and sentenced to death again after his lawyers inexplicably failed to present the evidence whose egregious omission justified overturning his previous conviction.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Climate of Blaming America First does not Provide a better Global Vision

The Orange County Register -- Joel Kotkin
Becoming America the not-so-beautiful

“Virtually all the leading reformers in our history – Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, the Roosevelts and Martin Luther King – couched their proposals in terms of fulfilling American ideals. Throw out the ideals, and those who originally formed them, and we lose the precious ability to meld our traditions with change. We are left simply with a postmodernist battle of interest groups, with no unifying or moderating principle.”

The Los Angeles Times -- Joseph J Ellis
Op-Ed -- The Founding Fathers: Demigods or scoundrels?

“In the case of the founders, such disavowals also provide therapeutic opportunities to transform U.S. history into a morality play with a ready-made cast of villainous dead white males, thereby obviating the need to encounter history's ironies and paradoxes or to comprehend its intractable tragedies.”

International New York Times -- GARDINER HARRIS and ERIC SCHMITT
Obama’s Call at U.N. to Fight ISIS With Ideas Is Largely Seen as Futile

“This means defeating their ideology,” he said. “Ideologies are not defeated with guns. They are defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision.”

Equality as an Affirmation of our Common Humanity
James Rutherford -- The Far Center Blog

“We are missing a defining opportunity in the history of the moral and political philosophy of the liberal tradition; first, by not defining our primary moral value as equality, understood as a respect for the dignity and worth of our common humanity; and second, by not defining our government as a constitutional democracy, which is the only way to convey both the substantive and the procedural concepts of equality that it incorporates.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Widespread Corporate Corruption is Just the Cost of Doing Business

If we are not going to bring criminal charges in these types of cases then personal fines or rescinding bonuses should maybe be part of these settlements.

Huffington Post -- Steven Brill
America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker

“It’s their cost of doing business,” the analyst added, perhaps unintentionally echoing the view of one senior J&J lawyer who told me that the cases against his company are the unavoidable price of dealing with a litigation system easily abused by those targeting big corporations.

“True, eight of the other nine largest pharmaceutical companies in the world have settled federal claims over the last decade related to allegations similar to what Johnson & Johnson was accused of in selling Risperdal”

Houston Chronicle -- Tom Hays and Tom Krisher, Associated Press GM will pay $900 million over ignition switch scandal

“The twin agreements bring to more than $5.3 billion the amount GM has spent on a problem authorities say could have been handled for less than a dollar per car. Those expenses include fines, compensation for victims and the recall of millions of vehicles.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Republican Primary Rules May Favor Donald Trump

International New York Times

Party Rules to Streamline Race May Backfire for G.O.P

“If Mr. Trump draws one-third of the Republican primary vote, as recent polls suggest he will, that could be enough to win in a crowded field. After March 15, he could begin amassing all the delegates in a given state even if he carried it with only a third of the vote. And the later it gets, the harder it becomes for a lead in delegates to be overcome, with fewer state contests remaining in which trailing candidates can attempt comebacks.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Guardian
Patrick Kingsley Migration correspondent, Mark Rice-Oxley and Alberto Nardelli
Syrian refugee crisis: why has it become so bad?

“It is hard to find definitive reasons, but conversations with Syrians across the migration trail and a survey of recently available data suggest a mixture of the following.”

BBC News -- Michael Stephens
Migrant crisis: Why the Gulf states are not letting Syrians in

“For example, citizens in the UAE and Qatar number a little over 10% of the resident populations in their respective countries. The vast majority of residents are transitory economic workers.”

Real Clear Politics -- Thomas Sowell
The Past and Future of the Refugee Crisis

“No nation has an unlimited capacity to absorb immigrants of any sort, and especially immigrants whose cultures are not simply different, but antagonistic, to the values of the society in which they settle.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

llinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York

Market watch -- Sue Chang
Unlucky lottery winner gets IOU from state of Illinois

Of the 50 states, Illinois ranked dead last in fiscal health, according to a report in July from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

“Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York rank [as] the bottom five states, largely owing to low amounts of cash on hand and large debt obligations,”

What else do these states have in common?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Death Penalty Ruling May Pave Way for National Abolitionists

ABC News -- PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press

Connecticut Court Strikes Down State Death Penalty

A sweeping decision this week by the Connecticut Supreme Court that found the death penalty no longer meets society's evolving standards of decency could be influential across a nation that is increasingly questioning the practice, legal experts said.

What the pundits miss about Donald Trump

Most of the media have recognized that those who are being supported in the Republican primary polls are outsiders, such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. This is understandable, when Congress has an approval rating of much less than 20%.

What is not generally recognized is that almost all of Trump’s policies whether on immigration or the Middle East are someway tied into improving the economy and increasing jobs. This is also the major concern of the voters in the presidential election.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

North Korea

WP -- Blaine Harden -- Can we believe all the horrors described by North Korean escapees?

“Perhaps the greatest value of these new memoirs is to show the nuttiness of life under a family dictatorship that survives by spying upon, terrorizing and imprisoning its 24.9 million people, many of whom are chronically malnourished.”

Yahoo News -- North Korea threatens imminent strikes against South, warns US

“North Korea on Saturday threatened South Korea with "indiscriminate" military strikes unless it halts cross-border propaganda broadcasts, and issued fresh nuclear weapons warnings against the United States.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Donald Trump has published his immigration policy

Donald Trump has published a white paper outlining his immigration policy.

It can be viewed or downloaded here.


This is one of the more aggressive policies to on issues related to immigration and it will surely be a center of discussions in the primary election campaigns and debates.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

John Kasich

A lot of attention has been paid to the remarkable success of Donald Trump in the polling for the Republican primary election. I think that the best explanation for this success is to simply look at not only the approval rating of the policies of President Obama with the Republican primary voters, but also the dismal approval rating of the Congress, which is often in single digits, with all of the voters.

I think that the ability of Gov.john Kasich to make it into the top 10 in the polls for the 1st debate, however, should also be receiving more attention. I think that Gov. Kasich will climb in the polls and do well in the initial primaries the better he and his policy positions are known. His experience and the success of his record both in Congress and as Governor of Ohio can match or exceed that of all of the other contenders. He general approach of pragmatism and a goal of just making things better and going in the right direction should resonate with a lot of the electorate and especially with the independent voters and even some Democrats. This is true at least in Ohio. The demographics also indicate that the Republicans cannot win the national presidential election without winning both Florida and Ohio. I would predict that Governor Kasich will be one of the last ones standing in the Republican primary elections and that he will be on the Republican ticket for 2016.

Turkey and the Kurds

Spiegel Online- By Maximilian Popp and Christoph Reuter
Erdogan's Cynical Game: Is Turkey Creeping Toward Civil War?

“Turkish President Erdogan claims to be battling the terrorist Islamic State, but in reality he is mainly fighting against the Kurdish PKK militia. By doing so, he has shown that he is willing to derail the peace process in his country for the sake of clinging to power.”

“But Erdogan's true intentions quickly became clear. He wanted to use the opportunity to fight what he and the other hardliners in his party felt was the greater evil: the PKK. This has created an absurd situation in which Turkey is now striking at both IS and its most effective and toughest opponents.”

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why Is Obama Going After the Kurds?

Real Clear Politics -- By Caroline Glick Obama Strikes Again

Erdogan has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. He is sectarian and thus in opposition to the Kurds and Israel. He has aspirations of changing the Constitution to give him more authoritarian power.

“The YPG’s victories similarly enhanced the Kurds’ standing inside Turkey itself. In the June elections to the Turkish parliament, the Kurdish HDP party won 12 percent of the vote nationally, and so blocked Erdogan’s AKP party from winning a parliamentary majority.”

“Without that majority Erdogan’s plan of reforming the constitution to transform Turkey into a presidential republic and secure his dictatorship for the long run has been jeopardized.”

“Then, too, Erdogan has called on AKP lawmakers to begin criminalizing their counterparts from the HDP. Kurdish lawmakers, he urged them, must be stripped of their parliamentary immunity to enable their arrests.”

“As Erdogan apparently sees things, by going to war against the Kurds, he will be able to reestablish the AKP’s parliamentary majority. Within a few weeks, if the AKP fails to form a governing coalition – and it will – then new elections will be held. The nationalists, who abandoned the AKP in June, will return to the party to reward Erdogan for fighting the Kurds.”

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Quick Preview of the Start of World War III

What Russia's newest ICBM looks like when it takes off.

Power politics reaches an absurdity in which that power cannot be used without mutual assured destruction and the destruction of most of the foundations for life on earth. The alternative is a moral consensus based on a respect for human dignity and our common humanity. This can be based on the concept of universal equality, the UN Declaration of human rights or medical ethics. Even in the face of current atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and genocide our leaders have not been capable or inclined to put forward these values.

“The Yars and Topol-M, along with America's own state-of-the-art ICBMs, the LGM-30G Minuteman-III and UGM-133 Trident II, are stark reminders that mutually assured destruction continues to define nuclear warfare, despite various nuclear arms treaties. It's easier to add more warheads to an ICBM than to build a missile defense system that can effectively shoot down those additional warheads, meaning there isn't much either side can hope to do once a nuclear power decides to launch—except fling off their own set of ICBMs and irradiate the other side of the globe as well.”

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Stealing $500 is a felony.

A settlement for fraudulent behavior which cost billions of dollars is just the cost of doing business.

Rolling Stone -- Matt Taibbi
Eric Holder, Wall Street Double Agent, Comes in From the Cold
Barack Obama's former top cop cashes in after six years of letting banks run wild.

“Here's a man who just spent six years handing out soft-touch settlements to practically every Too Big to Fail bank in the world. Now he returns to a firm that represents many of those same companies: Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, to name a few”.

“Holder doesn't look it, but he was a revolutionary. He institutionalized a radical dualistic approach to criminal justice, essentially creating a system of indulgences wherein the world's richest companies paid cash for their sins and escaped the sterner punishments the law dictated.”

Previous Blogs on this topic

Judge Thomas on the Declaration of Independence

Whether or not you agree with Justice Thomas's opinion in the same sex marriage case, his opinion is worth reading. This is important because at a time when not only autocracy but an inhuman carnage and ethnic cleaning are being not only practiced but promoted in world affairs, the United States has had trouble conveying our own values in a battle of Ideas.

Library of Law and Liberty - Ken Magugi
Confederate flag waving at the Supreme Court

“Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built. The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”

Real Clear Politics -- Rich Lowry
What Clarence Thomas Can (Still) Teach George “Sulu” Takei

As Thomas writes, “Our Constitution — like the Declaration of Independence before it — was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from — not provided by — the State.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Supreme Court Ruling Won’t Stop Search for Execution Drugs

Time -- Josh Sanburn

Supreme Court Ruling Won’t Stop Search for Execution Drugs

Breyer and Ginsberg oppose the death penalty

"Death penalty opponents, however, found one thing to applaud on Monday. In a lengthy dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the justices called into question the entire death penalty system and whether it violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Breyer wrote that the delays involved in actually executing death row inmates along with the arbitrariness of sentences over the last few decades has led to the practice of capital punishment in the U.S. to be unconstitutional." “Justice Breyer asked, ‘How long are we going to have this conversation?’ By any measure, we’ve essentially abandoned the death penalty as a society,”

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Different Views on the Supreme Court’s Decision on Same Sex Marriage

The Atlantic -- Andrew Sullivan

It is Accomplished

“But some things you know deep in your heart: that all human beings are made in the image of God; that their loves and lives are equally precious; that the pursuit of happiness promised in the Declaration of Independence has no meaning if it does not include the right to marry the person you love; and has no force if it denies that fundamental human freedom to a portion of its citizens.”

SCOTUSblog -- Ryan Anderson

Symposium: Judicial activism on marriage causes harm: What does the future hold?

“This ruling will likely cause harm to the body politic: to constitutional democratic self-government, to marriage itself, to civil harmony, and to religious liberty.”

SCOTUSblog -- Erwin Chemerinsky

Symposium: A landmark victory for civil rights

“The Court’s decision striking down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage will be regarded as a landmark ruling advancing equality and liberty. It is the Court playing exactly the role that it should in society: protecting those who have been traditionally discriminated against and extending to them a right long regarded as fundamental.”

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Confederate Flag

The Atlantic -- Ta-Nehisi Coates

What This Cruel War Was Over
The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

"It is difficult for modern Americans to understand such militant commitment to the bondage of others. But at $3.5 billion, the four million enslaved African Americans in the South represented the country’s greatest financial asset. And the dollar amount does not hint at the force of enslavement as a social institution. By the onset of the Civil War, Southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the “free society” of the North."

Chicago Sun Times -- Mary Mitchell -- Mitchell: South Carolina moves to shed itself of symbol of 'hurt, pain and humiliation'

I disagree strongly with those who claim the Confederate Flag is not a racist symbol. Slavery was a racist institution, and the manifestation of white supremacy.

Washington Post -- Karen Tumulty and Robert CostaOnce politically sacrosanct, Confederate flag moves toward an end

The banner was long considered politically sacrosanct in the South, at least among conservative whites. It now appears that a rush is on to banish it, along with other images that evoke the Confederacy and sow racial divisiveness.

The Daily Beast -- Jack Hunter -- The ‘Southern Avenger’ Repents: I Was Wrong About the Confederate Flag

Putting people before an agenda or broad prejudices puts us all in a much better place. It can, and should, make us repentant of our past behavior. It did for me.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Maybe the primary campaigns won’t just be dull

Fox news -- Jeb on the Tonight Show

Fallon noted that "Tonight" had a lot of younger viewers, and wondered what type of message Bush would offer them.

"I think we need high, sustained economic growth so they can get jobs," he replied.

“Fallon wondered what his message would be to older voters.

"I think we need high, sustained economic growth," he said. "To them, I would just say it louder."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hillary and Jeb both declare they are candidates.

WSJ Blog -- Dante Chinni -- Why Clinton will be Hard to Beat

“...five charts, showing why she remains formidable—and where she has potential vulnerabilities.”

CBS -- Dante Chinni -- Jeb-Bush-previews-2016-campaign

"You can improve the life of people, whether it's in the programs for the developmentally disabled, or changing our economy, or fixing our higher education system," the former Florida governor added added. "All of these things can be fixed. “

Friday, June 12, 2015

An election in Turkey turns back President Erdoğan’s march to authoritarian rule.

NewYorker.com -- BY DEXTER FILKINS -- The End of the Erdogan Era?

"As he grew stronger, Erdoğan constructed a cult of personality about himself, which made him stronger still. He dominated the news, often appearing on television several times a day, commenting on or inserting himself into seemingly every question in public life."

NYTimes -- AP -- Turkey's New Parliament Features 4 Key Parties

Four parties will dominate Turkey's 550-seat parliament following Sunday's elections. Here is a sketch of each political force.

  • Justice and Development Party
  • Republican People's Party
  • Nationalist Movement Party
  • People's Democratic Party

Saturday, June 6, 2015

College Politically Correct Dogmas Reflected in AP US History

Real Clear Politics -- Peter Berkowitz -- College Board's Reckless Spin on U.S. History

By obscuring this nation’s founding principles and promise, the College Board’s U.S. history guidelines will erode the next generation’s disposition to preserve what is best in the American political tradition.

Scholars Concerned About Advanced Placement History -- Letter Opposing the 2014 APUSH Framework

The new framework is organized around such abstractions as “identity,” “peopling,” “work, exchange, and technology,” and “human geography” while downplaying essential subjects, such as the sources, meaning, and development of America’s ideals and political institutions, notably the Constitution. Elections, wars, diplomacy, inventions, discoveries—all these formerly central subjects tend to dissolve into the vagaries of identity-group conflict.

WSJ -- Lynne Cheney -- The End of History, Part II -- The new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam focuses on oppression, group identity and Reagan the warmonger.

If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

President Ronald Reagan, speech at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1987

“But when I looked closer to see the purpose for which the quotation was used, I found that it is held up as an example of “increased assertiveness and bellicosity” on the part of the U.S. in the 1980s. That’s the answer to a multiple-choice question about what Reagan’s speech reflects”.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Four Views of the Tragedy in Iraq

All agree that backing Maliki was a mistake

WP -- By Ali Khedery July 3, 2014 -- Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq

“The crisis now gripping Iraq and the Middle East was not only predictable but predicted — and preventable. By looking the other way and unconditionally supporting and arming Maliki, President Obama has only lengthened and expanded the conflict that President Bush unwisely initiated.”

WP -- Fred Hiatt -- Iraq’s tragic ‘unraveling’

“She was heartened by the narrow victory of a nonsectarian electoral bloc — and dismayed when the Obama administration nonetheless backed, in the post-election scramble to form a government, the divisive, Iranian-backed prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.”

WP -- Marc Theisen -- Obama’s Iraq Disaster

“When Obama took office he inherited a pacified Iraq, where the terrorists had been defeated both militarily and ideologically.”

WP -- Fareed Zacharia -- Fareed Zakaria: Who lost Iraq? The Iraqis did, with an assist from George W. Bush

“The first answer to the question is: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lost Iraq.”

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Five Reasons that the Death Penalty will be Abolished

Time -- David Von Drehle -- The Death of the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment in the United States

Tsarnaev is in no danger of imminent death. He is one of more than 60 federal prisoners under sentence of execution in a country where only three federal death sentences have been carried out in the past half-century. A dozen years have passed since the last one.

The shift is more pragmatic than moral, as Americans realize that our balky system of state-sanctioned killing simply isn’t fixable. As a leader of the Georgia Republican Party, attorney David J. Burge, recently put it, “Capital punishment runs counter to core conservative principles of life, fiscal responsibility and limited government. The reality is that capital punishment is nothing more than an expensive, wasteful and risky government program.”

The Justices all know that the modern death penalty is a failure. When they finally decide to get rid of it, “evolving standards” is how they will do it.

The facts are irrefutable, and the logic is clear. Exhausted by so many years of trying to prop up this broken system, the court will one day throw in the towel.

(five reasons why)

Wikipedia -- Capital Punishment

"Many countries have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. Since World War II there has been a trend toward abolishing the death penalty. 36 retained the death penalty in active use, 103 countries had abolished capital punishment altogether, 6 had done so for all offences except under special circumstances and 50 have abolished it in practice because they had not used it for at least 10 years or were under a moratorium"

"In the European Union member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment.[4] The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, also prohibits the use of the death penalty by its members.

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted, in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014[5] non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition "

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nebraska abolishes the death penalty

NY Times -- Nebraska abolishes the death penalty

"Opponents of the death penalty here were able to build a coalition that spanned the ideological spectrum by winning the support of Republican legislators who said they believed capital punishment was inefficient, expensive and out of place with their party’s values, as well as that of lawmakers who cited religious or moral reasons for supporting the repeal. Nebraska joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning the death penalty."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ISIS Expands

CNN -- ISIS is 'everywhere' in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra

"We consider this ... a culture battle for humanity and all the world," Abdulkarim said. "Palmyra is very important in the minds of the Syrian people and also the international community. Now we are very afraid."

Palmyra's Theater

Intn’l NY Times -- How ISIS Expands

"A central goal of the Islamic State is expansion. This week, the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took over key cities in Iraq and Syria. It aims to build a broad colonial empire across many countries. A year after announcing its expansion goals, it is operating or has cells in more than a dozen countries."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Just the cost of doing business

USA Today -- 5 banks guilty of rate-rigging, pay more than $5B

"Once again the actual perpetrators and criminal architects of the fraud scheme will avoid criminal liability," said Gurulé, now a University of Notre Dame law professor. "While the payment of these large fines may help to reduce the federal deficit, such penalties will do little to change the pervasive culture of corruption that currently exists in the banking sector. Real change will only occur when corrupt bank officials are indicted, convicted and sent to prison for their crimes."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Decreasing Support for the Death Penalty

Reuters.com - Conservative Nebraska moves toward death penalty repeal

“But in a two-hour debate, state lawmakers said they have turned against the death penalty for a number of reasons. They cited religious reservations, the difficulty the state has in obtaining drugs used for lethal injections, the arbitrary application of the penalty to some murderers and not others, the specter of wrongful convictions and the emotional exhaustion of the families of crime victims who endure decades of appeals by death row inmates.”

Huffington Post -- Kim Bellware Nebraska Lawmakers Vote To Repeal The Death Penalty With Veto-Proof Majority

Republican abolitionists have criticized the death penalty as being out of step with conservative values of fiscal responsibility, protecting life and limiting the role of government.

The Atlantic The Death Penalty Becomes Unusual

In 2012, only 59 of the 3,144 counties in America actually sentenced people to be executed.

The last ever public execution in the United States, 1936.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Death Penalty -- Should it be reconsidered?

Three different perspectives on the the death penalty.

The Atlantic (June 2015) -- Jeffry E. Stern -- The Cruel and Unusual Execution of Clayton Lockett -- The untold story of Oklahoma's botched lethal injection—and America’s intensifying fight over the death penalty

From the chemical room, the paramedic heard someone say, “He’s trying to get off the table!”

The Supreme Court decided to consider the challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal-injection method. Oral arguments were scheduled for April 29, the one-year anniversary of Lockett’s death. Warner’s co-complainants have been granted stays until the Court decides the case or Oklahoma changes its execution method. Then–U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that all states stop executions, at least until the Court issues its ruling.

That decision is expected in June.

Int’n NY Times -- Death Sentence for Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Unsettles City He Tore Apart

To the amazement of people elsewhere, Bostonians overwhelmingly opposed condemning the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to death. The most recent poll, conducted last month for The Boston Globe, found that just 15 percent of city residents wanted him executed. Statewide, 19 percent did. By contrast, 60 percent of Americans wanted Mr. Tsarnaev to get the death penalty, according to a CBS News poll last month.

The jury was “death qualified” — each juror had to be open to the death penalty; anyone who opposed it could not serve. In that sense, the federal jury did not reflect the general population of the region. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty for state crimes in 1984 and has not carried out an execution since 1947.

BBC News -- Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's ex-leader, sentenced to death

Morsi has rejected the authority of the courts.

An Egyptian court has pronounced death sentences on ousted president Mohammed Morsi and more than 100 other people over a mass prison break in 2011.

The death sentence was also condemned by Amnesty International, which said it had become a tool "to purge the political opposition"

See also from The Far Center - Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jeb Bush -- on Common Core and Immigration

Governor Bush describes a moderate position on common core and immigration in an interview with Megyn Kelly

Fox News Video -- Megyn Kelly’s interview of Jeb Bush

“The simple fact is we need higher standards. They need to be state driven. The federal government should play no role in this, either in the creation of standards , content or curriculum.”

“As it relates to in-state tuition, it passed this year. A conservative Republican legislature led by a very courageous Speaker of the House, Will Weatherford passed this and the governor signed it under law. It didn't happen under my watch, but I supported that. Because if you've been here for an extended period of time, you have no nexus to the country of your parents, what are we supposed to do? Marginalize these people forever?”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jeb Bush -- An Important and Perhaps Pivotal Speech

Governor Bush shows some depth and gravitas in conveying

Christian values and their importance in Western Civilization.

The Federalist -- Mollie Hemingway Jeb Bush Defends Christianity And Religious Freedom. Good For Him.

“No place where the message reaches, no heart that it touches, is ever the same again. And across our own civilization, what a radically different story history would tell without it. Consider a whole alternative universe of power without restraint, conflict without reconciliation, oppression without deliverance, corruption without reformation, tragedy without renewal, achievement without grace, and it’s all just a glimpse of human experience without the Christian influence.”

Bush said “there is no more powerful or liberating influence on this earth than the Christian conscience in action.”

“From the standpoint of religious freedom, you might even say it’s a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother – and I’m going with the Sisters.”

WP -- Kathlen Parker -- Jeb Bush’s eloquent defense of Christianity

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech

Kirsten Powers -- The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech

Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left's forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the "illiberal Left" now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view. Powers asks, "What ever happened to free speech in America?"

TheDailyBeast -- Book review -- How Liberals Ruined College

“College should be a place of new ideas and challenging views. Instead, liberals have made it a place of fear and intimidation.”

“Close to 60 percent of the four hundred–plus colleges they surveyed “seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students.”

“The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baltimore -- A deeper look

Money alone has not and will not fix the problems which are not unique to Baltimore.

Things that money alone cannot fix:

  • It’s important to have a father in the home or a mentor. Statistics also show that two young people who finish high school and get married before having children seldom end up in poverty.

  • The worst thing that city government can do to a poor neighborhood is to lower expectations. The “broken window” effect described by James Q. Wilson in the 1980’s was the basis of the concepts used by Mayor Giuliani to turn around New York City. Combating what can only be described as bureaucratic neglect in these areas can begin with code enforcement such as mowing overgrown properties and boarding up or tearing down vacant houses. Much of the cost of this can be placed as an assessment on the property of the absentee owners and recovered. I have been there and done that in Columbus, Ohio in the early 1980s. We reduced the code violations in a section of the city from 50% of vacated properties to less than 9%. It is not a matter of money or manpower, but a matter of political will.

  • Illegal drugs are a major contributing factor to the decline of inner city neighborhoods. Drugs are the cause of much of the violence and, along with poor schools, a cause of the flight of middle class families. When I was an orthopedic surgical resident in the Bronx area of New York City in the early 1970’s, I saw a community essentially implode and destroy itself with a heroin epidemic (see the movie “Fort Apache the Bronx”). Studies at that time showed that mainline heroin addicts committed 250 felonies each a year to support their habit. Discarded needles destroy all of the public green spaces. The place to begin is a zero tolerance for heroin which can also be well justified as a health policy related to AIDS and hepatitis and deaths from overdoses.

  • The teacher’s unions have been at least a part of the problem with the inner city schools. The results for those inner city children who have been able to go to charter schools have generally been better.

  • Perhaps ironically, I think that it can be argued that one of the things that could be done to improve both the issues of police misconduct and the perceptions of injustice in the inner cities would be for more states to abolish the death penalty.

WP -- Michael S. Rosenwald and Michael A. Fletcher -- Why couldn’t $130 million transform one of Baltimore’s poorest places?

“Sandtown-Winchester is crumbling, and there is little to suggest that two decades ago visionary developer James Rouse and city officials injected more than $130 million into the community in a failed effort to transform it. Instead there are block after block of boarded-up houses and too many people with little hope.”

Breitbart.com -- Krauthammer: Baltimore’s schools are a failure of liberal ideology.

“After talking about the problem of fatherlessness in Baltimore, Krauthammer said, “the other issue is the terrible schools, and the idea that they have been deprived of money is preposterous. Baltimore the second highest per-capita spending on students in the country……The public schools are rotten. What the parents need is school choice.”

NY Times - Thomas B. Edsall - Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America

“The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.”

“The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.”

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

4 Perspectives on the fall of Saigon 40 years ago.

WSJ -- William McGurn -- When America Loses a War

The real lesson is that bad things happen when the U.S. loses or walks away from a war.

In the 40 Aprils that have come and gone since, Vietnam has become shorthand for a political orthodoxy built on the idea that American military intervention overseas creates more problems than it solves. This thinking feeds an entire industry pumping out tedious lectures about “The Lessons of Vietnam.”

Still, the most obvious lesson of Vietnam is the one hardly ever acknowledged: the terrible price paid—human as well as strategic—when America loses a war.

Foreign Affairs Winter (1991/92 issue) -- George C. Herring
America and Vietnam: The Unending War

“Why did the United States invest so much blood and treasure in an area so remote as Vietnam and of so little apparent significance? Why, despite its vast power, did the United States fail to achieve its objectives? What were the consequences of the war for Americans-and for Vietnamese?”

Foreign Affairs -- Nov/Dec 2012 -- Fredrik Logevall
What Really Happened in Vietnam

“The Saigon government, meanwhile, was crippled from the outset by three principal shortcomings that no amount of U.S. intervention could overcome: professional military inferiority, endemic corruption, and insufficient popular support.”

Quartz -- Matt Phillips
Vietnam, ruled by communists for 40 years, is now the No. 1 fan of capitalism on the planet

Much like China, Vietnam remains an authoritarian country today. And it’s communist, too, but in name only. Things have changed a lot over the last 40 years. According to a recent Pew Research survey, Vietnam today has the single most positive views on capitalism of any country, with an enthusiasm that is even more widespread than in Germany, India, or the United States.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two views of events in Baltimore

National Review -- Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making

“American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic”

“The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do.”

American Prospect -- In Baltimore, Police Thuggery Is the Real Violence Problem

As officials call for peace and nonviolence, perhaps the police could heed some of that same advice.

In 2014, police killed more than 100 unarmed people.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nebraska Reconsidering the Death Penalty

Townhall.com -- Nebraska Legislature’s Vote Signals Growing Conservative Support for Ending Death Penalty

“If there is one thing conservatives hate, it’s a failed government program that gives the state power it shouldn’t have. In recent years, however, there is one government policy many conservatives continue to rally behind even though it wastes millions in tax payers’ hard-earned dollars, puts innocent lives at risk and fails to keep Americans safe: the death penalty.”

“Fortunately, the tide is beginning to turn, and more and more lawmakers, scholars and pundits on the right side of the aisle now recognize that its bad policy to give an all-too-fallible government the power to execute its own citizens.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hillary, Bill, and the Clinton Foundation

International NY Times -- Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company

“Uranium investors’ efforts to buy mining assets in Kazakhstan and the United States led to a takeover bid by a Russian state-owned energy company. The investors gave millions to the Clinton Foundation over the same period, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office was involved with approving the Russian bid.”

“Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.”

NYmag.com -- The Disastrous Clinton Post-Presidency

All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Are there double standards?

Stealing $500 is a felony. Defrauding the public of billions of dollars and paying a large settlement or fine is just the cost of doing business.

Jon Stewart -- Fraud City

The Fiscal Times - The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta’s Crazy Teacher Cheating Case

“If you don’t remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that’s probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Religious Persecution of Christians and the Silence of Obama

Consider that Kirsten Powers is a liberal columnist who usually supports Obama. Obama refuses to recognize radical Islamic terrorism by name but has near silence on the tragedy of the persecution and ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.

USA Today -- Kirsten Powers: Christians thrown overboard left to drown by Obama

“If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested? When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can't seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.”

“Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded.”

Victims ask that Tsarnaev’s life be spared

LATimes -- Victims ask that Tsarnaev’s life be spared

Death or life in prison for convicted Boston Marathon bomber

“They say they worry that long death-row appeals will only remind them of the bombings and block their healing process as victims.”

“Among those asking that Tsarnaev's life be spared are Martin Richard's family; Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, two newlyweds who each lost legs in the explosions; and the sister of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the manhunt leading to Tsarnaev's capture two years ago.”

"If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant," Kensky and Downes said in a statement Sunday. "However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ISIS -- an essential article for understanding this terrorist organization

Spiegel Online -- The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State

An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State's takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating.

“Thousands of well-trained Sunni officers were robbed of their livelihood with the stroke of a pen. In doing so, America created its most bitter and intelligent enemies.”

Bakr was merely modifying what he had learned in the past: Saddam Hussein's omnipresent security apparatus, in which no one, not even generals in the intelligence service, could be certain they weren't being spied on.

“The plan would always begin with the same detail: The group recruited followers under the pretense of opening a Dawah office, an Islamic missionary center. Of those who came to listen to lectures and attend courses on Islamic life, one or two men were selected and instructed to spy on their village and obtain a wide range of information.”

“IS has little in common with predecessors like al-Qaida aside from its jihadist label. There is essentially nothing religious in its actions, its strategic planning, its unscrupulous changing of alliances and its precisely implemented propaganda narratives. Faith, even in its most extreme form, is just one of many means to an end. Islamic State's only constant maxim is the expansion of power at any price.”

“True to Haji Bakr's plan, the phase of infiltration was followed by the elimination of every person who might have been a potential leader or opponent.”

“As the West's attention is primarily focused on the possibility of terrorist attacks, a different scenario has been underestimated: the approaching intra-Muslim war between Shiites and Sunnis. Such a conflict would allow IS to graduate from being a hated terror organization to a central power.”

“In such a case, IS propaganda about the approaching apocalypse could become a reality. In its slipstream, an absolutist dictatorship in the name of God could be established.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians.

Fox News -- White House condemns ISIS video that purportedly shows killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

“In the video released Sunday, Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians. The attack widens the circle of nations affected by the group's atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.”

Yet more reasons to reconsider the death penalty

Yet more reasons to reconsider the death penalty

Boston Globe Op-ed -- Denise and Bill Richard - To end the anguish, drop the death penalty

“But now that the tireless and committed prosecution team has ensured that justice will be served, we urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close. We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.”

‘We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.”

“We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.”

WP -- FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”

The Far Center -- Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Republicans push for a permanent aristocracy

WP -- Republicans push for a permanent aristocracy

“On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” with plans to bring it to a vote on the chamber floor Wednesday — Tax Day. It is an extraordinarily candid expression of the majority’s priorities: A tax cut costing the treasury $269 billion over a decade that would exclusively benefit individuals with wealth of more than $5.4 million and couples with wealth of more than $10.9 million.”

Never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot. There is no chance this would survive a veto and it just reinforces the Democrats campaign argument that they are the party concerned about the middle class and income inequality. The Republicans position should instead be that the Democratic policies over the last six years have not helped the middle class and even lead to more income inequality.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hillary and the Liberal Way of Lying

WSJ -- Hillary and the Liberal Way of Lying

How the Clintons pioneered the methods by which Obama sold his Iran deal.

“To you and me, the Clinton lies were statements demonstrably at variance with the truth, and therefore wrong and shameful. But to the initiated they were an invitation to an intoxicating secret knowledge.”

“What was this knowledge? That the lying was for the greater good, usually to fend off some form of Republican malevolence. What was so intoxicating? That the initiated were smart enough to see through it all. Why be scandalized when they could be amused? Why moralize when they could collude?”

Iran deal. An honest president might sell the current deal roughly as follows.

“My fellow Americans, the deal we have negotiated will not, I am afraid, prevent Iran from getting a bomb, should its leaders decide to build one. And eventually they will. Fatwa or no fatwa, everything we know about their nuclear program tells us it is geared toward building a bomb. And frankly, if you lived in a neighborhood like theirs—70 million Shiites surrounded by hundreds of millions of Sunnis—you’d want a bomb, too.”

“Yes, we could, in theory, stop Iran from getting the bomb. Sanctions won’t do it. Extreme privation didn’t stop Maoist China or Bhutto’s Pakistan or Kim’s North Korea from building a bomb. It won’t stop Iran, either.”

Remember, however, that every single republican candidate in the last presidential election also stated they would not let Iran get a nuclear weapon with no explanation about the risks or how they would do that. They also all stated that they would not accept raising even a dollar of taxes even if this was offset by 10 dollars of cost savings in the budget. Pandering in politics is not constrained to only one party.

Monday, April 13, 2015

WSJ - Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions

Wall Street Journal - Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions

Egypt’s grand mufti on ugly distortions of Islam masking a hunger for power and bloodshed.

“These groups have the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses that don’t fit their claims. They declare unilateral war against both Muslims and non-Muslims who don’t share their barbarous mentality. They completely disregard the Quranic conception of human brotherhood and peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

More reasons to reconsider the death penalty

NY Times -- The Supreme Court’s Death Trap

“The number of death sentences imposed last year, 72, was the lowest in 40 years. The number of executions, 35, was the lowest since 1994, less than half the modern peak of 98, reached in 1999. Seven states, the fewest in 25 years, carried out executions.”

“California has the country’s biggest death row, with more than 700 inmates. Many more of them die of natural causes — two since mid-March — than by execution. Last July, a federal district judge, Cormac J. Carney, concluding that California’s death penalty had become “dysfunctional,” “random” and devoid of “penological purpose,” declared it unconstitutional; the state is appealing.”

Washington Post - Alabama inmate free after 30 years on death row. How the case against him unraveled.