Friday, December 19, 2014

Today's important political news and conservative comment

General News and Comment

Must Read: Obama’s Cold War Replay: The president seems keen to repeat the seminal 20th-century conflict—except this time, the U.S. loses. By Mona Charen
Excerpt: Whereas previous presidents had conceived of the U.S. world role as, at least in part, to uphold human rights and individual liberty, the Obama administration let it be known early on, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that we would not raise human-rights issues with China, for example. We would instead focus on “the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.” Human rights have not interested this president, though he makes his share of gaseous declarations about “who we are” and who we are not. When millions of Iranians poured into the streets demanding liberty, Obama coldly turned away. He couldn’t spare a word of support for the people of Iran, because he was the president of the nation that had aided a coup 60 years ago! He would instead keep stretching out his hand to the regime that hates us. Their hatred is justified, after all ... It’s a good thing that Alan Gross and 53 political prisoners have been freed. But the way it was done makes it look to the world that holding a gun to America’s head (in the form of taking hostages, which the Taliban have also learned) works wonders

Worth reading: Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack. By Mike Fleming Jr.
Excerpt: As it begins to dawn on everyone in Hollywood the reality that Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyberterrorist act perpetrated by a hostile foreign nation on American soil, questions will be asked about how and why it happened, ending with Sony cancelling the theatrical release of the satirical comedy The Interview because of its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. One of those issues will be this: Why didn’t anybody speak out while Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were embarrassed by emails served up by the media, bolstering the credibility of hackers for when they attached as a cover letter to Lynton’s emails a threat to blow up theaters if The Interview was released? George Clooney has the answer. The most powerful people in Hollywood were so fearful to place themselves in the cross hairs of hackers that they all refused to sign a simple petition of support that Clooney and his agent, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, circulated to the top people in film, TV, records and other areas. Not a single person would sign. Here, Clooney discusses the petition and how it is just part of many frightening ramifications that we are all just coming to grips with. (This is a very sad day for this nation. An insane tinpot dictator from a country that cannot feed itself and basically is hell on earth can not just hack into something in the West, but, far more importantly, can by simple verbal threats make an entire industry back down from exercising their basic freedom. And then on top of that, no one in Hollywood, no one in the hotbed of passionate denouncers of government authority, has the nerve to simply sign a petition of support for the hacked company? Talk about craven cowardice! I find this unbelievable even for the pantywaist Hollywood Liberals, they are a disgrace to themselves, their industry, the nation. George Clooney is a real Liberal, and I disagree with him on a number of things, but I have full respect for his integrity. He must be the last one left in the industry worthy of respect. --Del)

LEAKED: Kim Jong-Un Death Scene From ‘The Interview’
http://conservativebyte.com/2014/12/leaked-kim-jong-un-death-scene-interview/
Watch it--defy the North Korean Commies and the cowardly movie chains. ~Bob

North Korea’s intimidation of Hollywood cannot go unanswered. Washington Post Editorial
Excerpt: THE CYBERATTACK on Sony Pictures Entertainment has taken an even more disturbing turn. First it demonstrated how cyberthieves can raid a company’s most valuable trade secrets. Now it has escalated into a blatant terrorism threat by a group linked to North Korea and an assault on the freedom of speech directed from a capital of totalitarianism. Both the cyberattack and the coercion are unacceptable and cannot go unanswered.

Romney Comes Up With a Unique Idea For Sony’s ‘The Interview’ That Could Save Thousands of Lives. By Dave Jorgenson 
Release it on line for free & ask for $5 contribution to fight Ebola. I like it. ~Bob.

The violent, repressive future that the cancellation of ‘The Interview’ promises is already here. By Alyssa Rosenberg 
Excerpt: On Wednesday, after a group of hackers who call themselves the Guardians of Peace threatened terrorist attacks on screenings of “The Interview,” James Franco and Seth Rogen’s action comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Sony Pictures pulled the movie from distribution and said that it has no plans to release it through video on demand. The consensus is that we’ve lost something important here, although there’s some question about whether we should be angry at North Korea (if the country is, in fact, behind the Guardians of Peace) for weaponizing the hack or at Sony for exhibiting cowardice in the face of threats.

A Really Bad Day for Freedom. By Steven Bucci
Excerpt: Freedom took a beating yesterday. America rolled over in the face of two of its longest standing adversaries, and we didn’t even get anything in return. North Korean despot Kim Jong Un and Cuba’s Raul Castro are probably exchanging celebratory emails as we speak after the one-two punch they landed on Obama’s America.
Obama says Sony made 'mistake' in nixing movie release, vows US response to cyber-attack
Excerpt: President Obama said Friday he thinks Sony "made a mistake" in choosing not to release "The Interview" in the wake of the devastating hacking attack which he blamed on North Korea, while vowing that the U.S. "will respond." ... "We will respond," Obama vowed, while offering no details on what that response might entail. (I'm guessing a #PleaseDon'tHackUs hashtag on Twitter, maybe a strongly worded note, followed by an apology, a bow and an effort to blame Bush or the Koch Brothers. That would be BO's idea of a "proportional response." What should a proportional response to Pearl Harbor have been for FDR? ~Bob)

Obama Does Not Have the Authority to Lift Embargo on Cuba
Excerpt: But exchanging three hardened Cuban spies for him establishes a wrong moral and legal equivalency. Worse, extending recognition to Cuba’s dictatorial regime harms U.S. national interests and fails to advance freedom in Cuba. or grant amnesty. Or attack Libya. But who will stop him as long as the democrats in the senate won't vote to convict--and they won't. They have nullified the checks & balances in the constitution for partisan reasons. ~Bob)

Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout. Washington Post editorial
Excerpt: On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

Excerpt: The three Cuban spies traded to the Castro regime in exchange for American contractor Alan Gross and a U.S. spy went far beyond the usual political or economic espionage carried out by foreign agents. In fact, the Communist agents were engaged in detailed reconnaissance against U.S. military bases in south Florida, and fed information to the Cuban government that resulted in the murder of four American citizens. (Obama calls killing Americans "Time off for good behavior." ~Bob)

Note to Jeb Bush: Watch This 10-Year-Old Explain Common Core to Her School Board: ‘It Stinks.’ By Kelsey Harkness
Excerpt: “Because it stinks,” the fourth-grader told school board members Monday night in Montclair, N.J., during a meeting on the national standards.

How Naïve is Elizabeth Warren?
Excerpt: Unfortunately, Warren’s populist outrage and calls to break up Citigroup and other mega-banks are ultimately misguided, naive, and contradictory. Like too many progressives, she’s against cronyism except when she’s for it—and she’s supremely confident that if only she and her rag-tag band of reformers were calling the shots, government regulators would never, ever bend to the will of special interests. ... One thing that leftist historians such as Gabriel Kolko and public-choice libertarians such as Nobel laureate James Buchanan agreed on is that regulatory bodies are routinely and perhaps inevitably “captured” by the very people and businesses they’re supposed to oversee. (Notice this is from liberal Daily Beast. --Ron P.)

Excerpt: President Barack Obama unveiled a new U.S. policy toward Cuba on Wednesday as part of a deal that brought American Alan Gross home in exchange for three convicted Cuban spies. As he has done so often in the past, Obama tried to channel the perspective of America’s enemies and critics, as if his job were to act as a neutral mediator instead of defending U.S. interests and values. In the course of his address, Obama told American ten major lies, both of omission and commission.

Excerpt: I want to believe the free trade rhetoric. I want to believe that any type of relaxation of the embargo would benefit the Cuban people. I really do. But I don’t, and here’s why.
Cuba’s economy is not normal by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it actually has two economies: the dollar economy, and the peso economy. Americans who are allowed to visit get to participate in the dollar economy, and only the dollar economy. Cubans who live there are required to participate in the peso economy, and only the peso economy. The markets are completely segregated.

Excerpt: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding reports that President Obama is set to dramatically change U.S. policy toward Cuba following the release of Alan Gross, an American who was held hostage by the Castro regime in Cuba for five years: ... “The President’s decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable. Cuba’s record is clear. Just as when President Eisenhower severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Castro family still controls the country, the economy and all levers of power. This administration’s attempts to loosen restrictions on travel in recent years have only served to benefit the regime. While business interests seeking to line their pockets, aided by the editorial page of The New York Times, have begun a significant campaign to paper over the facts about the regime in Havana, the reality is clear. Cuba, like Syria, Iran, and Sudan, remains a state sponsor of terrorism. It continues to actively work with regimes like North Korea to illegally traffic weapons in our hemisphere in violation of several United Nations Security Council Resolutions. It colludes with America’s enemies, near and far, to threaten us and everything we hold dear. But most importantly, the regime’s brutal treatment of the Cuban people has continued unabated. Dissidents are harassed, imprisoned and even killed. Access to information is restricted and controlled by the regime. That is why even more than just putting U.S. national security at risk, President Obama is letting down the Cuban people, who still yearn to be free.

People Immediately Noticed ‘Revolting’ Image Caught in Background of Photo Featuring American Freed From Cuba
Excerpt: It’s not the view from his attorney’s office that’s catching people’s attention — it’s the photo of notorious and murderous Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

Epic Marco Rubio Smack Down of Reporter’s Question On Cuba [Video]. By Javier Manjarres
http://shark-tank.com/2014/12/19/epic-marco-rubio-smacks-down-of-reporters-question-on-cuba-video/
Excerpt: Sen. Marco Rubio: We have a poll every two years in this state, its called elections. As far as I can tell, everyone of our members of Congress that’s been elected in those districts agrees with my position, and I with their position on this issue. Where is the pro-embargo, or anti-embargo congressperson from the very district you said was polled? I think that’s the ultimate poll.

Excerpt: They really, really hate us. George Orwell wrote a morning “Two Minutes Hate” session into the daily life of his dystopia in 1984. One blogger notes that 2,000 of Rachel Maddow’s facebook fans wished that Ted Cruz would fall into an open elevator shaft. What would he have made of the hyperventilating hatred that liberals display against conservatives? Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf reports on a hate manifesto published by the chair of University of Michigan’s Department of Communications. Republicans “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.” wrote Prof. Susan Douglas. “So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.” (Nicely put together. But they don't hate us just because we know they are silly, thought I suppose that might be part of it. They hate us because we are an offense to their passionate belief in that different world where the sky is green and a decent society has all equal results and there is no one with whom you cannot open a dialogue and resolve all perceived conflicts. It's where no society has anything superior or inferior about it as compared to any other, all deserve/demand equal respect, and everyone understands that all morality is relative, that since the USA held some citizens in camps during WW2 we had no moral superiority to the Germans for their having camps they held people in at that time. It's where only Caucasians are capable of being racists, and everyone who is poor in our society is that way solely because of some heritage of ill treatment, manipulation, exploitation, and oppression by the fat cat White, Christian capitalists. That we dare to take issue with such beliefs makes us the evil ones, to be despised and yes, hated. And held down, removed from power, and forced to pay a much higher fraction of our wealth to support the less fortunate (as defined, of course, by those of deeper intellect and higher morality). I hope this helps clarify things. --Del)

Worth Reading: Video: Exposing the White House's Dumb 'Executive Action' Numbers Game. By Guy Benson 
Excerpt: Contrary to Republican claims, they say, Obama has issued significantly fewer executive orders than his predecessors from both parties over the last century. The goal is to paint critics as hypocritical, foolish, and blinded by irrational opposition. Many journalists seem to have swallowed Team Obama's story whole. But not USA Today reporter Gregory Korte, or Fox News' Ed Henry, who challenged White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the president's math, exposing the cynical and contradictory "rules" by which the administration has been playing in order to sustain their misleading claim:

U Michigan Department Chair: We Should ‘Hate Republicans:’ A professor explains that studies show the GOP is bad. By Katherine Timpf
Excerpt: A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly. ("Stop the Hate," as a liberal family members says when I send him anything that disagrees with his views, thus attacking me as a "hater." ~Bob)

Worth Subscribing To. Freedom. By Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File
Excerpt: Dear Reader (including you feckless, sniveling crapweasels hiding under your desks at Sony), Freedom makes a lot of things harder. It is more difficult to raise children of good character in a society that tolerates and often celebrates bad character. It is often harder to build big and important things in a society where everybody gets a vote. That’s why so many people of a “pragmatic” bent have always looked longingly at evil countries where the people are less of an impediment to “getting things done.” Fighting climate change, if that’s your thing, is much tougher when everyone has private property rights. Fighting a war is more difficult when dissenters get to have their say. Maintaining a guild and the wages that go with it is harder when you have free competition. ... The North Korean economic model isn’t attractive even to the vast majority of hardcore Marxists. Breadlines are one thing, but eating bark and grass is too grim even for a Bryn Mawr sociology professor. ... But, hey, let’s say it all works out. Let’s say that the policy of constructive engagement -- so vilified by the Left when applied to South Africa -- succeeds beyond our wildest dreams in Cuba.
                                                       
Harvard professor on Religion and Democracy

The Leader vs the Lackey: UAB's Ray Watts could learn a lot from BSC's Charles Krulak. By Kyle Whitmire
Excerpt: If you hang out late at the Birmingham-Southern College library Thursday night, you would be forgiven if you might for a second think you saw an elf. It has become a tradition now that a diminutive man with a ruddy face and a green pointed cap pushes a cart stacked with cookies, offering them to the students cramming for final exams. Santa's helper? He used to be the Commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The cookie thing he started doing years ago, when visiting Marine duty posts before Christmas. Next May, Charles Krulak, or "The General" as students call him, will retire as president of BSC, a college that, when he came to it four years ago, was on the brink of collapse. The college had suffered the double-whammy of incompetent leadership under the previous president, David Pollick, and the Great Recession reducing its endowment by nearly half. (What a great story! The contrast between a real leader with his focus on the job and the people and an overpaid bureaucrat. In a way this is symptomatic of the ills of our society. We need leaders, not bureaucrats, competence at actual tasks rather than at politics and showmanship. --Del)

There They Go Again. By Erick Erickson
Excerpt: With metronomic precision each year the national press corps begins running columns by “religion scholars” who wish you to know that Jesus Christ is a fictional character. Mind you, no newspaper of note in the world is brave enough to run a similar story about the Prophet Mohammed. The latest comes from a “lecturer in religious studies” from Australia named Raphael Lataster. The Washington Post felt compelled to run this so the godless heathens in Washington, D.C. can continue on with no consequence.

Vote Fraud News

Two Pa. Legislators Indicted for Voter ID Bribes in a Case the State AG Refused to Prosecute. By Hans von Spakovsky
Excerpt: A grand jury convened by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has indicted two Democratic state legislators for accepting bribes in exchange for voting against a voter ID bill, among other legislative actions. The grand jury findings also represent a withering rejection of the unjustifiable behavior of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who shut down the three-year investigation that caught state Democratic legislators on video and audio tapes taking bribes. Williams stepped in and successfully prosecuted the case.

Jail Time for Election Fraudster … and a Local Community Embraces the Fraud. By Jason Snead
Excerpt: Opponents of reforms intended to improve the security and integrity of the election process are constantly peddling the narrative that election fraud is a nonexistent problem. But they should turn their attention to Benton Harbor, Mich., where the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a local liberal activist, has just been convicted of election fraud—again. Pinkney was convicted on five counts of forgery for illegally changing the dates on voter signatures on petitions that were being circulated to recall the town’s mayor, James Hightower. ... Inside the courtroom, Pinkney, now on his 12th felony conviction, was labeled a habitual offender and sentenced to a minimum of 2 1/2 years behind bars. Outside the courtroom, a crowd gathered—not to denounce Pinkney and his fraudulent election tactics, but to condemn the supposed “kangaroo court” that just put the community organizer behind bars.

Gun News

Excerpt: It might not get the news coverage it deserves with everything else going on at the moment, but the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati against a federal gun law is a very big deal. The court held that the federal ban on gun ownership by people who have been committed to a mental institution is an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment. Rulings of that caliber (if you’ll pardon the pun) don’t come down all that often. The previous instance was the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling against Washington D.C.’s firearms ban in 2008, which those on both sides of the gun control debate would agree was a very big deal.

Australian Lawmaker: Our Gun Control Laws Created a ‘Nation of Victims.’ By Fred Lucas
Excerpt: The hostage situation at a Sydney cafe proves that Australia has become a “nation of victims” because of its stiff restrictions on gun ownership, an Australian lawmaker said. Sen. David Leyonhjelm of Australia’s Liberal Democratic Party said the siege by the lone jihadi-inspired gunman this week would have been less likely if Australians were free to arm themselves

Excerpt: Police say Isai Robert Delcid, 18, was shot and killed by the resident's grandson. His brother, 22-year-old Carlos Delcid, was arrested later Tuesday night. “They heard some noises, saw an individual at the back of the residence trying to come into their house,” said Lt. Eric Brady of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police. ... During the call, a young man can be heard in the background. "I said who is it and he wouldn't stop," the teen says. "“He broke my grandma's window so I shot three times.” ... Police say the brothers were reportedly trying to break into the home when a 14-year-old, who was visiting his grandmother, shot Isai Delcid. Delcid was pronounced dead at the scene.

APD: Man shoots, kills would-be burglar
Excerpt: Police said a homeowner shot and killed a suspected burglar Tuesday morning in the 600 block of Torretta Drive. Albuquerque police said the man tried to break into two homes.

Race Card News

Not by me--I'd be afraid he'd wreck my car as he did the country. I use the VA valet service--all valets there are white folks. Alert Eric Holder.

No, Not Bah! Humbug! Just Ugh! By Andy Weddington
Excerpt: Tis the season of 'peace on earth, good will towards men' and protests against the police continue (in regard to the deaths of [Blacks] Michael Brown - Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner - New York City, NY at the hands of [White] police officers performing their duties).

Michelle Obama Cheats at Race Cards. From The Patriot Post
Michelle Obama twisted her tale about a trip to Target to add her two cents to the White House's long-running race-bait narrative. In an interview with People magazine, Michelle said, "[T]he only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf, because she didn't see me as the first lady; she saw me as someone who could help her." Michelle first told the story on The David Letterman Show in 2012, except in that version she said the person asked for her help reaching something "because she was short." The customer didn't ask for help because she confused her with a store clerk, but because Michelle was tall -- and Michelle even said "I felt so good" helping her. But now she has a race narrative to spin -- because she hasn't done anything for anybody as first lady.

Black Writer: 'Racial' Cop Stories That Didn't Make the Cut. By Larry Elder 
Excerpt: In 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops – and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops. ... That this “epidemic” is imaginary can be demonstrated by the recent stories that never became national news.
In Mobile, Alabama, a black cop shot and killed an unarmed white teenager. As with Michael Brown, the Alabama teen was later found to have been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting. The teen had also recently taken a hallucinogen, and was so stoned he thought he was on fire – and literally took his clothes off. Nude – and obviously unarmed – he was still later shot by the cop. Despite public pressure, a Mobile grand jury decided not to indict the black police officer, believing he acted in self-defense. Not national news.

Black police chief ripped by black leaders for asking for support for cop shot by black man. By Howard Portnoy
http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/12/18/black-police-chief-ripped-black-leaders-asking-support-cop-shot-black-man/
Excerpt: In the hierarchy of lives that matter, you have blacks on top, most other people in the middle, and at the bottom, just below the potato peelings and rat excrement, you have cops — especially cops of pallor. That would explain the abject lack of sympathy for Baltimore police officer Andrew Groman, who was shot in the line of duty.

Excerpt: You just can’t make this stuff up. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction, especially when the federal government decides to get involved at the local level where it does not belong. A case in point is racial gerrymandering in Alabama. In an attempt to comply with the Voting Rights Act, the Alabama Legislature created several majority-minority districts—districts in which the population of blacks is so high that black candidates are guaranteed to win state and local elections. Sounds good if you are black and a Democrat, right? Apparently not. The Alabama Democratic Conference and the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus have filed suit against the state of Alabama because some of the racially gerrymandered districts drawn to protect blacks apparently contain too many blacks.

Obamacare/Government Healthcare News

Governor abandons single-payer health care plan. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he won't seek single payer health care in 2015
Excerpt: Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb, Shumlin said. The measure had been the centerpiece of the Democratic governor's agenda and was watched and rooted for by single-payer health care supporters around the country. (Progressives fantasy comes face to face with economic reality. Reality wins--again. ~Bob)

Excerpt: Shumlin has been advocating a “single payer” medical care system in Vermont for some time. (For those who aren’t fluent in Progressive NewSpeak, that essentially means “government-run Socialized medicine paid for by your taxes”.) It was planned to go into effect in 2017. However, Shumlin has now thrown in the towel on single payer. It’s not going to happen. Hey, you don’t suppose the fact that paying for it would have required an 11.5% payroll tax – plus an additional income tax of up to 9.5% – had anything to do with that, do you? Plus the fact that a report prepared for the governor on Vermont’s proposed single payer system indicated that implementing single payer medical care would not save money?

"You're Greener than Gore" News

New York Fracking Ban Will Cost the State Jobs, Revenue
Excerpt: Despite the fact that fracking is lowering energy costs and raising American GDP -- with an ICF International study estimating American consumers saved from $63 billion to $248 billion in 2013 alone due to fracking -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) plans to prohibit racking the state of New York. Erica Orden and Lynn Cook of the Wall Street Journal report that New York has had a fracking moratorium since 2009, but the ban would officially keep 12 million acres of resource-rich Marcellus Shale from being developed. As a result, New York will lose out on the economic benefits that its neighbors have reaped from shale drilling: Pennsylvania, which also lies atop the Marcellus Shale, has received over $2.1 billion in state and local taxes from energy companies due to the shale boom. From the first quarter of 2010 to the beginning of 2014, Pennsylvania saw its energy employment rise from 13,059 jobs to 28,229 jobs. Average salaries in Pennsylvania for energy-related jobs is $93,000 annually, much higher than the state's average $40,000 salary. (Thos tax dollars would help the poor and those jobs the working class, folks the heartless democrats claim to care about. ~Bob)

Customers Face High Energy Prices Thanks to European Climate Agenda
Excerpt: Despite 18 years of no global warming, European nations have continued to push a climate change agenda, to the detriment of consumers, writes Sterling Burnett of the Heartland Institute. ... Climate change policy has been extraordinarily expensive for Europe:
From 2004 to 2013, EU states spent $882 billion on renewable energy projects. By 2030, Germany -- whose citizens face some of the highest energy costs in all of Europe -- could alone spend $1 trillion transitioning to renewable energy. Electricity prices in Europe are twice that of the United States. Relative to Europe, the U.S. manufacturing -- operating with lower energy prices -- saved $130 billion in 2012.

Religion of Peace News

My questions on torture: When is violence justified? By Robert A. Hall
A shorter version of the column was published in the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison in August of 2007. It drew some comment in Madison at the time... ~Bob. Torture *does* work, but it must be done right. See the "Legion del Cid" series by Tom Kratman. Seeing the people plummeting from the towers on 9/11 forever removed from me any care of what it takes to get information out of those things. --Comment Posted on my Blog. {I've read and highly recommend the series, which starts with A Desert Called Peace. ~Bob)

Worth Reading: Are Drone Strikes More Defensible Than Torture? By Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: There are lots of hypocrisies surrounding the recently released executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. But they pale in comparison to the current Democratic silence about President Barack Obama’s policy of targeted drone assassinations. Since 2004, drones have killed an estimated 2,400 to 3,888 individuals in Pakistan alone, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London. An estimated 345 to 553 individuals in Yemen have been killed in drone strikes over the same period. The BIJ reports that the Obama administration has “markedly stepped up the use of drones. Since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the CIA has launched 330 strikes on Pakistan – his predecessor, President George Bush, conducted 51 strikes in four years.” (I support the drone strikes, but it's hard for me to believe that being waterboarded is worse than being turned into pink mush by a drone--along with any non-combatants who happen to be next to you. ~Bob)

When the big news isn't news. By Paul Greenberg
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/greenberg121814.php3
Excerpt: The bipartisan Constitution Project's fair and thorough examination of the same subject, released last year, ran 602 pages and went over the same ground and more. That investigation was co-chaired by the judicious Asa Hutchinson, who was a congressman then and is now the governor-elect of Arkansas. Agree or disagree with the Constitution Project's conclusions, its authors interviewed witnesses on all sides of the issue, unlike those who wrote the Senate committee's report. By this week, the big story in the news was the latest hostage-taking, this time in Australia. Now that's torture -- and real news. Faux news, like this one-sided report out of a Senate committee, doesn't stay news long.

Interesting: New FBI Hate Crime Stats: Another Blow to Islamist Fictions. By David J. Rusin
Excerpt: The FBI's newly released hate crime statistics for 2013 offer a fresh example of how reality refuses to conform to the dubious narrative of widespread Muslim victimization at the hands of American bigots. As in previous years, most hate crimes were not religiously motivated, most religiously motivated hate crimes were anti-Jewish, and Muslims suffered fewer total incidents than many groups and fewer per capita than gays or Jews. Anti-Islamic crimes did not involve greater violence than others and have not become more frequent. A glance at the details: (I've always said that if 17 Christian fundamentalists had hijacked 4 Egyptian airliners, murdered their Muslim crews and flown 2 of them into the highest office buildings in Cairo, killing thousands of Muslims, the reaction, not only in Egypt but in all Muslim countries, would be rioting, rape and murder of Christians by the tens of thousands, looting of their homes and businesses, burning of all churches (in those Moslem countries allowing churches). What we did in response to 9/11 was next to nothing. They did more in response to a few cartoons. --PM From a liberal Jewish friend and former legislator. ~Bob)

Excerpt: The State Department today announced that it has added an Egyptian jihadist group and a senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ideologue to the US government's list of specially designated global terrorists. The Egyptian group, Ajnad Misr ("Soldiers of Egypt"), is a "violent extremist group that splintered from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM)," which is also a "designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global entity."

John Holmes made me do it: Muslim Scholar Blames Porn for Jihad. By John Rossomando
Excerpt: Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif., blamed pornography for the proliferation of jihadist violence during a Georgetown University panel discussion Monday about the status of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. ... After George noted that intelligence agents routinely find sexually explicit materials on laptops belonging to captured jihadists, Yusuf offered a theory in which young men "become deeply defiled" by the pornography habits and blame the West for providing the corrupting influences. They turn to jihad for religious purification and redemption. (Not their fault they have no self control--it's a Muslim thing. ~Bob)

Excerpt: Daniel Zemel first visited Israel fresh off his bar mitzvah, in 1966. A bookish Jewish kid from Chicago, Zemel had a love for Israel inherited from his grandfather, Rabbi Solomon Goldman, a friend of Albert Einstein’s who was president from 1938 to 1940 of the then left-leaning Zionist Organization of America. With the other members of his Jewish education group, the 13-year-old Zemel spent two weeks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. He lunched in cafeterias with the kibbutzniks he idolized, ate frozen treats on the beach and climbed a lookout tower, peering into Jerusalem’s still forbidden Old City. A year later, Zemel was ecstatic when Israeli forces captured everything he had surveyed and beyond, including the Temple Mount, the West Bank and Gaza, in the Six-Day War with Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Over the decades, as Israel matured and began to wrestle with the occupation, Zemel did, too. He visited Israel again and again, as a college student, a rabbinical student and an assistant rabbi in Minnesota. (A liberal's (from the NY Times) buildup of Hillary Clinton's bona fides reveal that she has and will say just about anything to achieve power. Cordially, Larry Greenberg)

Muslims Must Save Islam from Islamists. By Tarek Fatah
Excerpt: It seems there is no respite for the ordinary Muslim. Barely a day goes by when news of fresh atrocities by our coreligionists isn't in the headlines. Most of the world's billion-plus Muslims wouldn't dream of killing in the name of Islam, but enough do to form a critical mass that has put us on a collision course with the rest of humanity. The Sydney siege by an ISIS-inspired jihadist had barely ended when the horrific news of a Taliban massacre killing 140 children at a Pakistani school shocked the world.

Hamas's International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar. By Yaakov Lappin
Excerpt: In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

Hamas Deputy Leader Says Iran Ties Repaired
Excerpt: A top Hamas leader says the terrorist group patched up relations with Iran after a breach over Syria's civil war. "I believe that bilateral relations between us and the Islamic Republic of Iran are back on track," Hamas deputy political leader Mousa abu Marzook told Reuters. ("We're good now. Back to killing Jews and Christians." ~Bob)

Syria conflict: 230 bodies 'found in mass grave' in Deir al-Zour
Excerpt: The bodies of more than 230 people believed to have been killed by Islamic State (IS) have been found in a mass grave in eastern Syria, activists say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they were thought to be members of a tribe that fought the jihadist group in Deir al-Zour province in the summer.

ISIS beheads 150 females, including pregnant women, for refusing to marry terrorists
Excerpt: Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights, in a statement released, said that the women in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar were attacked by the Islamic State terrorists and were later buried in mass graves in Fallujah.

Worth Reading: How to fight the lone wolf. By Charles Krauthammer
Excerpt: The lone wolf is the new nightmare, dramatized and amplified this week by the hostage-taking attack in Sydney. But there are two kinds of lone wolves — the crazy and the evil — and the distinction is important. The real terrorists are rational. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, had been functioning as an Army doctor for years. Psychotics cannot carry that off. Hasan even had a business card listing his occupation as SoA (Soldier of Allah). He then went out and, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” shot dead 13 people, 12 of them fellow soldiers. To this day, Hasan speaks coherently and proudly of the massacre. That’s terrorism.

Nigeria Teeters on the Brink: 8 Terrifying Trends: Boko Haram's violence is now on par with ISIS. Is anyone in D.C. paying attention? By Patrick Poole
Excerpt: For much of its five-year long insurgency in Nigeria costing thousands of lives, Boko Haram enjoyed no sanction by the U.S. government. That changed just over a year ago when they were finally designated a terrorist organization by the State Department. That notwithstanding, Boko Haram continues to expand its terror campaign across the north of the country, now controlling an area the size of Maryland. (It has been a sad commentary on the world that 200+ young girls were abducted by the brutal killers of Boko Haram so long ago now, and there was never really anything significant contributed by the outside to the government of Nigeria in trying to find and free the girls. Yes, that government is a classic case of the incompetence and corruption of too many African countries, but we might have hoped for a lot more serious efforts to help than have been seen so far. Now it's just sliding further downhill every month, and could very conceivably wind up destabilizing the entire country, and after that, who knows what else? Here is a chance for the US to show real leadership, but so far there's been no trace of that. Maybe in 2015 we can hope for better? --Del. Did nothing about the abducted girls? Del, Michele Obama tweeted a picture of herself looking sad and holding a #BringBackOurGirls sign. For the Obama Administration, that's right up there with Democrat Harry Truman ending WWII with the A-Bomb. ~Bob)

Show me your shocked face: Hamas Diverting Reconstruction Material to Rebuilding Terror Tunnels
Excerpt: Hamas is rebuilding its network of underground infiltration tunnels damaged in the war with Israel this past summer, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing an Israel Radio account. Cement and building materials allowed into Gaza to help rebuild after the summer war with Israel is being used instead for tunnel rebuilding, the report said. The United Nations brokered an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure construction material is not exploited by Hamas for rebuilding the tunnels that Israel destroyed during the war. The oversight program that would enable the rebuilding of approximately 60,000 Gaza homes was launched in mid-October and appears to be suffering from significant failures.

News from NATO Ally: Turkey-based Hamas Leader Well Known to US Law Enforcement
Excerpt: The Turkish operation may be the most active in plotting terror attacks. And the man who runs that base, Saleh Al-Arouri, has risen to prominence as a result. Al-Arouri has been linked to a series of terrorist plots and attacks primarily aimed at West Bank targets, an area where the terrorist group hopes to regain strength and popular support. As a new Investigative Project on Terrorism report on Al-Arouri shows, while his infamy may be relatively new, his efforts to help Hamas foment terror date back years and are well known among American prosecutors and investigators.

Mount Sinjar: Islamic State siege broken, say Kurds
Excerpt: Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are claiming their biggest victory yet against Islamic State (IS) militants. They say they have broken the IS siege of Mount Sinjar, where thousands of Yazidis and other displaced Iraqis have been trapped since August.

It's okay, it's in the Qur'an: Squalid homes of freed slaves
Excerpt: Police have released images of the squalor that they say 10 alleged slave-workers had to endure in Rochdale after two men were charged and three others arrested in connection with enslavement and trafficking offences. ... As a result of the warrants Mohammed Iqbal (51), of Belmont Way, Rochdale, and Najum Mohammed Iqbal (40), of Harrison Close, Rochdale, were both charged yesterday with knowingly requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour. (The Qur’an has Allah telling Muhammad that he has given him girls as sex slaves: “Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty.” (Qur’an 33:50)
Muhammad bought slaves: --Robert Spencer, JihadWatch.org. See:

*****

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam Veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. He is the author of The Coming Collapse of the American Republic. http://tiny.cc/g02s4 For a free PDF of Collapse, e-mail him at tartanmarine(at)gmail.com. Hall’s eleven books are listed here: http://tinyurl.com/o4nu65u. His blog of political news and conservative comment is www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My questions on torture

When is violence justified?
Robert A. Hall

(A shorter version of the column was published in the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison in August of 2007. It drew some comment...)

The question of when violence is justified has intrigued and stumped philosophers for millennia. With our country involved in a “war on terror,” it is unfortunately a practical question that confronts those whom we elect to represent us. And our own values will be challenged as we personally take action, even by voting, or make the choice not to take action.

Let us put aside the red state-blue state polemics which for political advantage picture the opposition as either brown-shirted neo-Nazis intent on establishing a Fourth Reich in Amerika, or as Al Qaeda sympathizers who will allow any number of Americans to be slaughtered, as long as they can score points against Bush. Let’s stipulate that decent and patriotic people can reasonably differ over these questions, depending on their values and worldview.

Let’s also stipulate that in any of the scenarios below, two unintended outcomes are within the realm of possibility. First, your action may be ineffective. You could shoot at the terrorist and miss. Second, you may be wrong. That presumed-terrorist coming at you with a blood-dripping knife, may be shouting, “God is Great” because he had an epiphany and is planning to hand you the knife and beg forgiveness.

With those thoughts in mind, let’s look at some possibilities, which 9/11 taught us are, alas, all too possible.

1. A terrorist who has just shot five people turns toward you with his gun. You also have a gun. Are you justified in killing him? Here we lose the pure pacifists, who believe violence is never justified, and may God grant their certitude is never put to this test. But most people believe that killing in self-defense is morally justified.

2. The terrorist is turning not toward you, but towards a five-year-old girl. Are you justified in killing him to save her, even though you might be wrong? Pacifists will still be of the opinion that you must let the child die, but most of us recognize that the right of self-defense extends to protecting the life of an innocent third party.

3. The terrorist has a knife rather than a gun, and is advancing on the child. You can save her by shooting him in the knee. Should you do so? Certainly anyone who said you were justified in killing him would find wounding him less objectionable than killing him. Even some of the less squeamish pacifists might be willing to make the trade off of hurting a guilty person to save an innocent person.

4. The terrorist is your prisoner. You know that he has planted a bomb in a school, which will go off in two hours, killing dozens of children, but you don’t know what school, and he refuses to talk. He may well talk, however, if you shoot him in the knee, to avoid the agony of being shot in the other knee. Should you shoot? It’s the same action as above, but now you can save a dozen children. Let’s be clear here, though—if you shoot now, you are guilty of torture in anyone’s book.

5. Suppose there is no bomb, but you know if your prisoner talks, he will lead you to other terrorists you know are plotting to murder innocent people. Do you save their lives by shooting him in the knee? How do you weigh their lives against your scruples about torture? For those who say torture doesn’t work, reportedly the information that foiled the Al Qaeda plot to blow up a dozen airliners from the Philippines was obtained from a terrorist under brutal torture by Philippine security forces. Do you wish they had not done so, at the cost of perhaps 3,000 more innocent lives?

6. Let’s say you have a terrorist prisoner, and some time. Instead of inflicting agony by shooting him in the knee, you can use what’s called “coercive interrogation,” actions short of permanent physical harm. Things like sleep deprivation, humiliation, isolation, standing for long periods, serving him food prohibited by his religion, perhaps even “water boarding,” where the sensation of drowning is created to make him talk. Some good people consider this torture, other good people do not. Would you order this, or will you accept responsibility for perhaps allowing many innocent people to die?

The administration said “yes” to this question. The opposition, free from the specter of living with the results, has said no. Remember our stipulations: you might be wrong and this prisoner actually has no useful knowledge, or your efforts to get it might fail.

Remember also that the 3,000 people who died on 9/11, including small children on those planes, all had loved ones who are devastated. And the thousands who lived because at least two plots to blow up multiple airliners were foiled also have people who cherish them.

Be very glad you are not a government official, an intelligence officer or a 22-year-old sergeant in Iraq, faced with these decisions in real life. They must make real decisions, with real consequences, in real time; it’s not a newspaper exercise where the choice doesn’t lead to agony and death for someone.

Suppose the innocent life to be saved is your son or daughter, your wife or husband, your mother or father. I have the prisoner here, who has the information that will save the life of the person you love the most. He won’t talk. What are your orders, sir?


Robert A. Hall  of Madison, WI is a Marine Vietnam Veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.