Sunday, March 22, 2015

Israel - Four Different Views

  1. The Globe and Mail -- One Misstep Closer to a Palestinian State

    When Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted earlier this week saying there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, he may have thought he was consolidating right-wing support for his Likud party and keeping those irresponsible lefties in the Labour Party from coming to power.

    The impact of his tactics, however, has been to trigger a potentially debilitating backlash from the U.S. administration and to jump-start a Palestinian campaign for international recognition. Rather than set back the cause of a Palestinian state, his measures have brought such a state closer.

  2. WP - Fareed Zakaria -- Israel’s threat from within

    “But put aside the word games. Khamenei has recognized that the greatest vulnerability for Israel is that it has legal jurisdiction over 4.5 million Arab people who have neither a state nor a vote. That condition is virtually unique in the modern world and cannot last in a democratic society.”

  3. Real Clear Politics -- Fox News Video -- Charles Krauthammer

    "If Only Obama Would Address As Warmly The Israelis As He Does The Iranians And Their Leaders"

  4. Huffington Post -- John McCain Tells Obama To Get Over 'Temper Tantrum' On Israel

    "The president should get over it. Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President, it's time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region, which is threatening the very fabric of the region. The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reconsidering the Death Penalty

Washington Post - Missouri executed an inmate who had asked for a stay because part of his brain was removed

This argument has its origins in an accident that occurred in 1972. Clayton, who was a logger and sawmill operator, was working at his sawmill when a piece of wood broke off and stabbed into his skull. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for nine days, and he ultimately lost 7.7 percent of his brain and 20 percent of his frontal lobe, according to his attorneys.

Washington Post - How the death penalty continued its slow, steady decline in 2014

As a sign of how much of the country has shifted away from the practice, four out of five executions were carried out in just three states: Texas, Missouri and Florida. A total of seven states carried out executions, which is also significantly down from the 20 states that executed inmates in 1999.

Earlier this year, a federal judge called the California death penalty system unconstitutional, saying that the system is riddled with so many delays that it is “completely dysfunctional.”.

The Far Center - Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

In 2007, 88% of the executions worldwide occurred in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This is the company that we keep...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Clouds over Cuba Documentary
(For those who are too young to remember)

The response time to a nuclear attack is less than 10 minutes; it thus depends to a large extent on computerized information; and multiple warheads make any defense problematical. A nuclear conflagration has the capacity to not only destroy most of life on earth, but also the foundations for most of life on earth. Power politics reaches the absurdity of a foreign policy of mutual assured destruction in which nuclear power cannot be used without threatening one’s own existence and the existence of life as we know it on earth.

Why now?
(From the Introduction of Moral and Political Philosophy)

“It is difficult to imagine an adequate resolution of the global problems which have resulted from technology without a concept of universal equality and a respect for human life and our common humanity.”

“This is important, for survival, well-being, the enjoyment of individual freedom and the progress of human liberty are not inevitable. They are contingent to a large degree, on our willingness and ability as moral agents to place our free will within ethical constraints. It is indeed the self-imposed ethical or moral foundations of government that change mere obedience to the coercive powers of government into a sense of consensual responsibility for a moral duty, a just order, the common good and human rights. The coercive powers of government are also needed less when those moral values and ethical constraints are incorporated into the culture and our intermediary social institutions, such as voluntary associations, education, law, medicine, economics, science, religion, and philosophy.”

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The First Two Rules of Economics

  1. Politics precedes economics.
  2. Property is initially determined politically.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Obama’s Speech from Selma Alabama

President Obama's Selma Speech

Obama’s speech in Selma will be part of what defines him and his presidency. It is worth reading based on its own merits of eloquence and what will be its place in American history. One would wish that President Obama would project American values this well on the international stage. How much moral perfection does one need to engage in a battle of ideas and lead against genocide, ethnic cleansing, inhumanity, tyranny and terrorism without equivocation. Martin Luther King also stated that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Netanyahu's Speech Before Congress

Fox News -- Full Speech

“To be clear, it’s not just the Jews that the Iranians want to see eradicated. As Netanyahu explained, the philosophy of the Iranian regime is deeply rooted in radical Islam. 'The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America – they’re competing for the crown of militant Islam. Both [groups] want to impose a militant Islamic empire. [They] just disagree amongst themselves who will rule the empire.'”

Different views of the speech

NY Times -- Mr. Netanyahu’s Unconvincing Speech to Congress

“Mr. Netanyahu’s speech offered nothing of substance that was new, making it clear that this performance was all about proving his toughness on security issues ahead of the parliamentary election he faces on March 17.”

WP - Charles Krauthammer - Netanyahu’s Churchillian Warning

“Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Presidential Election 2016
(demographics and polling)

The demographics (see here) indicate that it would be very difficult for Republicans to win the 2016 presidential election without winning the swing states of Florida and Ohio. The only Republicans who come even close to Hillary Clinton in a Quinnipiac poll in these states are Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

Ohio: Bush vs. Clinton
Clinton 47, Bush 36
Clinton +11
Ohio: Christie vs. Clinton
Clinton 47, Christie 34
Clinton +13
Ohio: Paul vs. Clinton
Clinton 48, Paul 36
Clinton +12
Ohio: Huckabee vs. Clinton
Clinton 49, Huckabee 34
Clinton +15
Ohio: Kasich vs. Clinton
Clinton 44, Kasich 43
Clinton +1
Florida: Bush vs. Clinton
Clinton 44, Bush 43
Clinton +1
Florida: Christie vs. Clinton
Clinton 51, Christie 33
Clinton +18
Florida: Paul vs. Clinton
Clinton 50, Paul 38
Clinton +12
Florida: Huckabee vs. Clinton
Clinton 51, Huckabee 34
Clinton +17

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jeb Bush -- Two views

Time - Jeb Bush’s Sense and Sensibility

“The candidate’s grown-up tone is a breath of fresh air amid so many strident conservative voices.

Bush makes no false, egregious claims, on issues foreign or domestic. He resists the partisan hyperbole that has coarsened our politics.”

Washington Post - Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar

“If Bush's goal is to present himself as his "own man," that list of advisers undermines the point somewhat: 19 of the 21 people on it worked in the administrations of his father or brother.”

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Letter Concerning Muslim Toleration

NYTimes -- Mustafa Akyol -- A Letter Concerning Muslim Toleration

“...a Lockean tradition has long existed in Islam, buried in the late seventh century, in a largely forgotten school of theologians called the Murjites. They arose at a time of strife, when proto-Sunnis and proto-Shiites were fighting over who the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad was, and a fanatical group called the Kharijites, or “Dissenters,” deemed all Muslims but themselves to be apostates and started killing them off.

To counter this zealotry, the more urbane Murjites presented a brilliantly simple argument: No Muslim had the right to judge others on matters of faith; only God had that ultimate authority. Thus, they reasoned, all doctrinal disputes should be postponed to the afterlife, to be resolved by God. (The Quran itself supports this view: “Had God willed, He would have made you a single community”; “Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.”) This is why they were called “Murjites,” which means, 'the Postponers.'”