Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pick and choose today from a LOT of important news and comment


Just Read It. By Bob Hall
Excerpt: Just Read It is a regular feature in which the State Journal seeks recommendations from authors, literary enthusiasts and experts, focused on the contributor’s particular genre of expertise. Bob Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts senate immediately after college. From 1983 until pulmonary fibrosis forced his retirement in October 2013, he was a successful association executive. He has 11 books in print, with the royalties going to charity. Hall, a political blogger based in Madison, is recovering from a lung transplant on December 23, 2013. Here, he chooses three books to spur thoughtful dialogue.

'Il Silenzio'...Beautiful & Haunting: "The Silence" played by a 13-year-old
 About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in "Operation Market Garden" in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall/winter of 1944. Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of "their" American soldier in a place of honor in their home. Annually, on "Liberation Day," memorial services are held for "the men who died to liberate Holland." The day concludes with a concert. The final piece is always "Il Silenzio," a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland's liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since. This year the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieuand his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of taps and was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi.

General News and Comment

Must Read: Glorified Bastards: For Western elites, Ahmadinejad is preferable to Hirsi Ali, the Castros to Cuban dissidents. By Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: Either Harry Truman, John Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson — or all of them — was supposed to have scoffed, in response to objections, something like the following, “He may be a bastard, but at least he’s our bastard.” That realist cynicism has more or less remained the same. But now the ideology has flipped. Currently, the more that authoritarian thugs abroad position themselves as anti-American, the more that we seem to glamorize them. The new presidential sarcasm is, in effect, “He may be a bastard, but at least he’s an anti-American bastard.”

Worth Reading: On Evil. By Theodore Dalrymple 
Excerpt: I have long been preoccupied by the problem of evil. Not being a philosopher, I have no satisfactory explanation of evil to offer, nor even, indeed, a satisfactory definition of it. For me, evil is rather like poetry was for Doctor Johnson: easier to say what it isn’t than what it is. All I know for certain is that there’s a lot of it about - evil, I mean, not poetry. Why? Is the heart of man irredeemably evil, or at any rate inclined to evil? What are the conditions in which evil may flourish? My medical practice, admittedly of a peculiar kind, in a slum and in a prison, convinced me of the prevalence of evil. (On the genocide in Rwanda, from his essay collection, Anything Goes. ~Bob)

Older, worth reading: Madman who starved 60million to death: Devastating book reveals how Mao's megalomania turned China into a madhouse
Excerpt: The police log is chilling. ‘Date: March 1960,’ it states, ‘Name of culprit: Zhu Shuangxi. Victims: Husband and elder son. Manner of crime: Corpses exhumed and eaten.’ You gulp in horror as you realise what this means — a woman cooked and ate the flesh of her own family. And then comes the lie — arguably part of the greatest lie in modern history. ‘Reason for crime: Livelihood issues.’ ‘Livelihood issues’? For that euphemism in the official records of Red China under Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, read famine.

Ben Carson’s Troubling Connection: For ten years, he interacted with a medical-supplement maker accused of false advertising. By Jim Geraghty
Excerpt: Mannatech has a long, checkered past, stretching back to its founding more than a decade before Carson began touting the company’s supplements. It was started by businessman Samuel L. Caster in late 1993, mere “months,” the Wall Street Journal later noted, before Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which greatly loosened restrictions on how supplement makers could market their products. Within a few years of its inception, the company was marketing a wide variety of “glyconutrient” products using many of the same tactics previously described in lawsuits against Eagle Shield, Caster’s first company. In November 2004, the mother of a child with Tay-Sachs disease who died after being treated with Mannatech products filed suit against the company in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent misrepresentation, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

There's a Big Poverty Trap in Illinois' Welfare System
Excerpt: Randolph analyzed the welfare situation for two groups -- single-parent households with two children and two-parent households with two children -- in three Illinois counties, looking at a range of welfare benefits: tax credits, food stamps and similar programs, housing assistance, cash assistance, subsidies for child care and health care benefits. What did he find?
For single-parent families, benefits could reach $47,894. For two-parent families, benefits reached up to $41,237 in value. Combined income and welfare benefits peak at a $12 hourly wage -- after that, benefits begin to drop. Single parents would have to make between $35 and $38 hourly to make up for the benefits that they lose earning at a $12 hourly rate. If a single mother working for $8.25 to $12 per hour receives a pay raise, bumping her earnings up to $18 per hour, she will end up with one-third fewer resources due to a loss of welfare benefits.

Worth Reading: With Romney and Bush in the picture, GOP’s 2016 field gets tricky and more interesting. By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
Excerpt: Although much of the focus is on how Bush and Romney would be battling each other for a finite group of major donors, the real impact would not be on the two of them — each of whom could raise $75 million easily — but rather on the rest of the “establishment” candidates looking at the race. . Below are our rankings of the 10 candidates considered the most likely to wind up as the Republican nominee in 2016.

Croatia elects conservative in presidential election runoff. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović capitalises on discontent over economic crisis to narrowly beat incumbent Ivo Josipović
Excerpt: Croatia’s conservative opposition candidate won a narrow presidential victory on Sunday night, capitalising on popular discontent over economic decline and setting down a marker for parliamentary elections later in the year. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, a former diplomat, can expect months of tense cohabitation with the Social Democrat-led government before Croatians vote again in the general election due in late 2015.

Can Jeb Bush -- or anyone -- come up with a platform for primaries, general, and presidency? By Michael Barone
Excerpt: Looking back on my experience as a political consultant, I have argued that successful candidates for executive posts — mayor, governor, president — need to emphasize a short list (three or four) policies which will work for them in the primaries, work in the general election and, most important, work in governing. But few candidates manage to do that, because it’s harder to do than to say. Republicans are tugged to the right and Democrats to the left in primaries, after which a move to the center is awkward and often unconvincing. (I have said for years that to win the Republican nomination, you have to run far to the right. To win the Democrat nomination you have to run far to the left. The winner of the general election is the one who can scramble most successfully to the center and lie most convincingly about the positions which won the nomination. ~Bob)

De Blasio Is a Lesson New Yorkers Need to Learn. By Daniel Greenfield 
Excerpt: New York City shouldn’t exist. Its population of waiters waiting to become actors, professors waiting to write bestsellers, muggers waiting to become drug kingpins, welfare cases waiting for American Idol and cyclists waiting to become international humanitarians are the natural constituency of the left. Like every major city in the last fifty years, New York City is caught between a progressive death wish to embrace every single insane policy of the left from midnight basketball for crackheads to a 99 percent tax on everyone who has a job and the common sense competence that keeps it afloat.

Tom Steyer Could be Keeping Cash for Himself, Not Florida in 2016, 2018. By Jeff Henderson
Excerpt: Democrats in Florida and across the nation could be losing one of their biggest sugar daddies as Tom Steyer mulls over running for office in California. The California billionaire vowed to make Rick Scott pay for not believing in global warming. During last year’s election, Steyer spent more than $15 million against Scott with his Next Gen Climate super-PAC and it didn’t pay off. Even worse for Steyer, he spent big against Republican Senate candidates in key races and the GOP won control from the Democrats. No doubt about it, the election cycle was bad all the way around for Steyer. (Ah, those Democrat billionaires. Steyer was the largest individual donor in 20124, followed by George Soros. Sheldon Atkinson, the biggest GOP donor, as a distant third. ~Bob)

Romney moves to reassemble campaign team for ‘almost certain’ 2016 bid
Excerpt: Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign. Romney’s message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he “almost certainly will” make what would be his third bid for the White House. His aggressive outreach came as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Romney’s 2012 vice presidential running mate and the newly installed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — announced Monday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016. (Here’s the good news, Republicans. Mitt Romney is running to save the party from nominating Jeb Bush, and Jeb Bush is running to save the party from nominating Mitt Romney. It’s as if O. Henry moved into political coverage. -- Jim Geraghty, Morning Jolt. Though I have concerns about both, either would be a far better president than what we have now. Between them, they may suck all the air out of the room for other candidates. ~Bob)

Veterans’ Health not Worth a Stamp to Obama Administration
Excerpt: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth L. King – appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2009 – says the cost of notifying soldiers of possible exposure to toxins at Fort McClellan, Alabama is too high following the bases closure in 1999. (But at the same time, the VA, at the direction of Congress, is sending millions of veterans who don't qualify, because we live within 40 miles of a VA facility, Choice Cards to use private health care. Congress wants us to know they are doing something about the VA, even if it's an expensive waste of tax dollars. ~Bob)

Paul Ryan Rules Out Race for President in 2016
Excerpt: The first conservative has walked off the field before the Republican race for president has begun. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., today announced he will not run in 2016, saying he wants to concentrate on his new chairmanship of a major tax-writing committee. Ryan, a popular conservative who won his ninth House term Nov. 4, became much better known to Americans as GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential campaign. (Lierals considered him a threat--you can tell by who they demonize. ~Bob)

Senator Ted Cruz says he Would Abolish the IRS!
Excerpt: “We need to pass fundamental tax reform making our tax code simpler, flatter, fairer,” he said Monday at Heritage Action’s 2015 conservative policy summit. ”And I’ll tell you, the single most important tax reform, we should abolish the IRS.

Elizabeth Warren shuts door on presidential run. Draft Warren groups kick it back open. By Greg Sargent 
Excerpt: As I noted the other day, the folks who are urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president are paying very close attention to her use of verbal tenses. Warren has frequently cast her denials of an intention to run in the present tense — I am not running, she has said, without ruling out a run in the future — which the Draft Warren movement has taken as a reason to continue pressing her to do just that.

Inspiration from a four-year-old child

Gun News

Ten Terrifying Seconds of Police Body Camera Video Might Just Change Your Position On the Debate
Why cops are "trigger happy." ~Bob

Excerpt: All of a sudden he goes, ‘Give me all your money,’ so I started pulling out bills and everything,” Pat Coats told WRDW-TV, adding that Dempsey had a gun and was waving it around. Dempsey started to walk away with nearly $300 — but was stopped in his tracks by his own firearm.

Company to Sell Fake, Decoy Guns to People Who Want to Appear to Be Armed, but Not Own Firearms
Excerpt: It appears that a new company is set to begin selling fake guns/holsters to people who want to appear to be armed but don’t want to go through the actual hassle of owning and training with a firearm. Because we all know that you just strap a firearm to your body and all trouble will magically leave you alone forever (please not heavy sarcasm in that sentence). (A REALLY stupid idea. if you appear to be armed, the thugs will take you out first and you won't be able to defend yourself. I would go unarmed before I would carry an unloaded gun, for the same reason. ~Bob)

Excerpt: We’ve chronicled some “interesting” statements made by supporters of gun control here at Bearing Arms over the last few years. A constant note of quasi-religion mania has always hidden in their voices, and it is often instructive when they get particularly excited and they go off-script… an occurrence which almost never ends well for them, as they tend to reveal more about how they feel about the average American than they should.
The most recent example of a gun control supporter letting the mask slip is when the head of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the ironically named Leah Gun-Barrett, let her true feelings be known about gun owners after she debated NRA board member Scott Bach at New York University, and what a slip it was: ... “You can be perfectly law-abiding one moment,” said Ms. Gunn-Barrett during the debate, “and then the next moment you can be a criminal and do something criminal and wrong, like shoot up a movie theater, or kill your spouse during an argument.” Regulation of people and behavior is needed, she said, “to protect us against our own stupidity and our own irrationality.” (If you said to her, "You can be a perfectly law-abiding Muslim one minutes and the next moment you can go Jihad and k\murder innocent people," she would likely stroke out. ~Bob)

Who’s Right About Right-to-Carry?
Excerpt: If Webster sounds like a broken record, it’s because gun control supporters started pushing their firearm-phobic theory way back when turntables were still all the rage. And like a needle that won’t skip to the next groove in a scratched LP, they have continued to repeat the argument for years. Meanwhile, one state after another adopted Right-to-Carry laws without the parade of horrors gun control advocates predicted. ... Contrast anti-gunner hysteria with the reaction of Illinois law enforcement officials to their state’s new Right-to-Carry law a year after its enactment. The Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette reports that according to law enforcement officials in several communities, the law hasn’t resulted in problems.

Funny: 38 Caliber Circumcision

Obamacare/Government Healthcare News

Excerpt: Utah Governor Gary Herbert and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory have asked President Obama to allow them to include work requirements in their Medicaid programs. Work requirements were critical to the success of welfare reform in 1996 and would also change Medicaid from a dependency-trap to a true safety net. The best way to achieve it would be through legislation, not relying on executive action. A new study I’ve written for the National Center for Policy Analysis explains how including Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of safety-net reform, instead of keeping health care in its own silo, would greatly improve the federal welfare state for both recipients and taxpayers. Fortunately, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has proposed reforms to the federal safety net that could include Medicaid and CHIP.

FDA Testing Needs Reform
Excerpt: Potentially life-saving drugs spend years undergoing FDA review, limiting ill patients' ability to access what might be miracle treatments. In a new report, Lindsay Boyd of the Beacon Center of Tennessee explains what FDA regulation has done to drug access. ... In 1951, there were just 1,000 staffers working for the FDA. Twenty years later, the agency had 6,500 employees. It now costs from $500 million to a whopping $2 billion to get a drug to market. There is less drug development today than there was in 1962. Since 1970, patients have had to wait more than 10 years for new, and potentially life-saving, drugs.

"You're Greener than Gore" News

Senate Advances Keystone Bill, but Something Conspicuous Happened During the Vote With Mary Landrieu Gone. By Pete Kasperowicz
Excerpt: More than thirty Senate Democrats on Monday voted against the idea of starting work on a bill to approve the Keystone oil pipeline, even though no Democrats at all objected when a similar vote came up in November, when considering the bill was seen as a way to keep Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in the Senate.

Religion of Peace News

40 World Leaders in France Stand Up for Freedom Against the Terrorists. One Major Figure Was Missing.
Excerpt: The massive crowd included more than 40 world leaders, but President Obama was nowhere to be found. (He was too busy studying the Keystone Pipeline, as he has for six years. ~Bob. Why Didn’t Obama Join the World Leaders’ March for Free Expression and to Oppose Islamism? Because He Thought It Was ‘Leaders Only’ -- Jim Geraghty, Morning Jolt)

New Year's Irresolution. By Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: President Barack Obama's absence from the great gathering in Paris of national leaders from other countries, to show their solidarity with France in its opposition to Islamic terrorists, was another sign of the Obama administration's continuing irresolution in the face of terror.
Even the recent courageous message of Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, calling on his fellow Muslims around the world to "revolutionize" the interpretation of Islam, to make it more compatible with peaceful relations with other peoples, put no steel in the spine of Barack Obama.

Obama spent his day watching NFL playoff football
Excerpt: Ah, now I understand why Obama didn’t make it to Paris for the unity rally. He was busy wasting his day watching both NFL playoff football games. Tomorrow is yet another busy day for Obama. He will host the San Antonio Spurs at the White House for winning the 2014 NBA championship. Talk about your priorities. What a smack in the face to those (and their families) who died at the hands of Muslim terrorists this past week.

Obama AWOL in Paris: Message to America, allies is we don't care. By Douglas E. Schoen
Excerpt: Sunday, President Obama morally abdicated his place as the leader of the free world.
His decision to stay home instead of standing side by side with French President Hollande as millions marched in Paris in solidarity with the slain journalists of Charlie Hebdo in opposition to radical Islam – an enemy fiercer than we have seen in decades – sent a clear message to the world: Obama just doesn’t care.

Obama's Paris snub wasn't an oversight. By Byron York
Excerpt: The uproar over whether President Obama or another top administration official should have attended the massive unity rally in Paris has obscured an important point about the White House's reaction to the latest terror attacks in Europe. The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.

Obama and Paris: The Real Hornet’s Nest. By Jim Geraghty, Morning Jolt
The simplest explanation -- and one that doesn’t contradict option three -- is that President Barack Obama doesn’t really want to put his personal stature and credibility on the line to support something like Charlie Hebdo. Since those awful attacks, we’ve witnessed a lot of allegedly intellectual leftists offer versions of “the attacks were terrible, but--” and then explaining why Hebdo was offensive, hate speech, an unnecessary provocation, foolish, etc., and imply that the magazine isn’t really worth defending and that the world would be a better place if these immature, impudent cartoonists would stop making fun of one of the world’s great religions. There’s very little evidence to suggest that Obama disagrees with this progressive intellectual reaction, that while satire of Islam is theoretically legal, the consequences of enraging Muslims is too much trouble and risk to be worthwhile. We saw this in the response to Hebdo before, and the infamous YouTube video that the administration cited as a scapegoat for the Benghazi attacks. To a lot of progressives, while depicting Mohammed or mocking Islam shouldn’t be banned, it should be discouraged, and a presidential appearance at that rally and march is too close to an official endorsement.

As Millions March, German Newspaper Firebombed After Publishing Mohammad Cartoons. Guy Benson 
Excerpt: Several stones and an incendiary device were thrown through the window of the archive of the regional tabloid daily, the Hamburger Morgenpost, early on Sunday morning. The paper had splashed three Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the Paris massacre, running the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” (Expect a NYT's editorial excusing their cowardice, entitled, "Morganpost had it coming." ~Bob)

The Official Apologist for Murder and Terror for The New York Times: Nicholas Kristof #CharlieHebdo
Excerpt: On the day when journalists were massacred in Paris, while blood still ran wet where they had fallen, and as eye witnesses described the killers' shouts of "Allahu Akbar" – "Allah is great" – the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof asked the world not to judge the killers too quickly: most urgently, he said, don't jump to the conclusion they are Muslims.

Excerpt: Charlie Hebdo isn't backing down! Defying the jihadists, the French weekly published millions of papers lampooning Mohammed. As Hebdo well knows, this is dangerous business, given that hundreds of millions of Muslims actually support killing those who 'defile' their pedophile founder.

Jihadists praise Paris attacks
Excerpt: In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, several jihadist groups have released statements lauding both the murders and the terrorists responsible. Jihadists within al Qaeda's international network as well as those linked to the Islamic State have commented on the massacre. Several of the statements below were first obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Freedom of speech or provocation? By Dr Firoz Osman. The Star
Excerpt: France won’t accept anti-Semitism yet it tolerates cartoons offensive to Muslims,
Johannesburg - Years of taunting, insulting and humiliating caricatures of the revered Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), immigrants, blacks and Muslims by the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine has resulted in what the French authorities have long warned against – an explosion of violence leading to the tragic deaths and injuries of 17 people. President Hollande described this attack as an assault on secular French values, democracy, freedom of speech and expression, condemning “Islamic terrorists” for perpetrating these heinous crimes. But the bloodbath in Paris has nothing to do with freedom of speech or with Islam.

From a blog reader
Are people beginning to realize that maybe Islam is the problem, or is it still at least partly the Jew's fault? --GS. (Partly? And, no, that isn't Israel's fault is, like global warming and high speed rain, an non-negotiable part of the Progressive Church's Confession of Faith. ~Bob

Nigerian Slaughter Dwarfs Paris Atrocities
Excerpt: While the world remained transfixed on the atrocities perpetrated by radical Islamists in Paris, a far more extensive slaughter was being conducted in Nigeria. The African Islamofascist terrorist group Boko Haram killed as many as 2,000 people in horrific attacks on northern Nigerian villages that left bodies scattered as far as the eye could see.

Excerpt: The west is in a holy war with militant Islam, our God against their God. The trouble is, we don’t believe in our God, so we can’t see the situation truly. When I say “we” don’t believe in our God, I’m not, of course, talking about those who have thought the matter through to its core, those who have gone beyond straw-man smack-downs in which Biblical Literalism takes on Scientific Materialism, those who understand that there can be no rational claim to objective good without the existence of a Supreme Good, and who know that evil is evil everywhere, no matter what the culture, what the time. I’m talking instead about those who have been swept away by the prejudices of the age, who wallow in the vague sense that “science” has somehow disproved “religion,” that we’re beyond all that faith stuff now. I’m talking about those who are still in some kind of adolescent-versus-Daddy argument with a medieval authority that no longer exists, or are rebelling against some doctrine they don’t like and haven’t taken the time to understand. I’m talking about our political, journalistic, academic and entertainment elites. Who are fools, as most of us know. (What a great job at clarifying the contrasts between Judao-Christian heritage and fundamentalist Islam. The way you serve your God depends on the vision you have of Him. As someone famous said, worshipping a cruel god tends to produce cruel men. PS--And here's a link to a video from four years ago, that somehow seems to be quite useful today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKerbOi_mrI#t=185 --Del)

France sends 10,000 troops across country, protecting hundreds of Jewish sites
Excerpt: France deployed 10,000 troops at Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites in an unprecedented security boost Monday as authorities remained on high alert after last week’s deadly attacks in Paris. The extraordinary measures marked the first time such a large military force in France has been used in civilian protection, and brought the latest images of troops on Western streets — scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and later attacks in London and Madrid.

“She was definitely killed because she was Jewish.” By Robert Spencer, JihadWatch.org
Excerpt: CNN has a video interview here with Sophie Bramly, whose cousin Elsa Cayat was the only woman killed in the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris. “You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews…” Qur’an 5:82

Europe’s Immigration Problem: Its unassimilated populations — often openly hostile to their host countries — continue to grow. By Rich Lowry
Excerpt: The case of France is stark. Roughly 12 percent of its population is foreign-born, about the European average, according to the Migration Policy Institute. But it also has a particularly high percentage of descendants of immigrants. Because of France’s colonial history in Algeria and other countries in the Maghreb, many of them are Muslim. It has the largest Muslim population of any Western European country, both in absolute numbers and in percentage terms.

The man who attacked a Kosher grocery store in Paris, killing four hostages and a policewoman in violent support of the jihadis who attacked the office of Charlie Hebdo, declared allegiance to ISIL. In a YouTube video, he said, "What we are doing is completely legitimate." With al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula allegedly funding and directing the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office, the Director General for MI5 (British intelligence) made a rare appearance to warn, "A group of core al-Qaida terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West." The Canadian Prime Minister also didn't mince words about the threat of Muslims waging jihad against the West: "They have declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance." But the United States, the home of the free and land of the brave, is still waffling on whether the Paris attacks were perpetrated by jihadis. U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said, "First, I think, again, there are a lot of unknowns here. We're certainly not jumping to conclusions." Heaven forbid she call a spade a spade.

Excerpt: In response to the massacre of the staff of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the French-language Canadian newspaper Le Journal Montréal included a connect-the-dot picture of "Mohammed" in today's issue so that its readers can "draw" their very own Mohammed cartoon.

Once to Every Man and Nation. By James Russell Lowell
Once to ev'ry man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side; 
Some great cause, some great decision,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light. 
Tho' the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Tho' her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong; 
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.
(There are many, longer versions of this great song-poem. ~Bob)

Terror Victims Take Palestinian Authority to Court
Excerpt: The Palestinian Authority could face $1 billion or more in damages if a federal jury in New York finds it liable for a series of terrorist attacks in Israel which killed and injured American citizens. The attacks took place between 2001 and 2004. According to the civil complaint, the terrorists were either on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority or the Palestine Liberation Organization. Their families later received martyr pay and other forms of support from the Authority. (They won't win. It's in the Progressive Constitution that the courts may not make non-PC rulings. ~Bob)

Ridiculing Islam Starts at Home. By Burak Bekdil
Excerpt: He has an explanation for why Turks should not celebrate the New Year: "[A verse in the sura] Maida tells Muslims not to make friends with Jews and Christians. This [commandment] also means that Muslims should not adopt their traditions." The logic is simple: If a Muslim celebrates the New Year s/he will have adopted a Christian tradition and will have made friends with Christians and therefore have sinned. (Don't tell President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the Turks still have Sunday as the week's official holiday!) All the same, despite their restless efforts, the Turks still lag far behind the Saudis in ridiculing Islam. As Raymond Ibrahim at the Middle East Forum notes, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, the country's highest religious authority, recently said "There is nothing wrong with girls below 15 getting married."

On Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Attorney General Eric Holder, "Is the U.S. at war with radical Islam?" Holder replied, "Well, I certainly think that we are at war with those who would commit terrorist attacks and who would corrupt the Islamic faith in the way that they do, to try to justify their terrorist actions." The administration always tries to define Islamic faith as "peaceful," seeking to separate jihadis from "legitimate" Islam. But either way, Holder says, we're winning. "[W]e have decimated core al-Qaida," he said, repeating a tired refrain, "and I think we have decreased if not eliminated their ability to do the kinds of things that they did on September the 11th." He then pointed again to "lone wolf" attacks as the future. He's probably correct that the types of attack we've seen in Paris, Australia and Canada, as well as Fort Hood and Boston, are indeed the future -- as opposed to flying airliners into buildings -- but that doesn't mean these jihadis are "lone wolves." On the contrary, they are united by radical Islam. On a final note, the Obama administration couldn't even be bothered to acknowledge our oldest ally, France, by sending a representative to the weekend rally in Paris -- and Holder was in Paris for an anti-"violent extremism" summit. So they coddle enemies and snub allies. Par for the course.

Afghan National Police: More than $300 Million in Annual, U.S.-funded Salary Payments Is Based on Partially Verified or Reconciled Data
Excerpt: After 9 years of effort, an electronic human resources system has still not been successfully implemented. Reports have disclosed inflated police rosters, payments being made to more police personnel than are authorized in particular locations, and police personnel receiving inflated salaries. 20 percent of ANP personnel are at risk of not receiving their full salaries because they are paid in cash by an MOI-appointed trusted agent, where as much as half of these payments are possibly diverted. U.S. officials confirmed that over the past year they accepted, without question, all personnel totals provided by the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

Michigan Public School Board Allows Muslims to Pray. By Frank Camp
Excerpt: According to an article from The Christian Post, certain public schools in Michigan have begun to allow prayer in school. I know what you’re thinking. This is outrageous! Isn’t that against the law?! Keep calm, ye separation of church, and state crusaders, for it is not Christians or Jews who are being allowed to pray, but Muslims. Whew! You can all go back to watching today’s Daily Show.

CENTCOM Twitter Gets Hacked By ISIS During Obama Speech on Cyber Security. By Katie Pavlich 
Excerpt: A series of tweets were sent out with sensitive information about U.S. military strategy toward North Korea and China. The tweets also threatened military personnel and their families. UPDATE: The information that was posted on the account has been verified by intelligence sources as real information hacked directly from CENTCOMM, meaning this wasn't simply a hack of a Twitter account, but against CENTCOMM itself. (Very timely warning. I just purchased "Lazarus Man," a new thriller by Chet Nagle, a naval aviator and former CIA agent, about Cyberwar. I greatly enjoyed his previous novels about terrorism, "The Iran Covenant" and "The Woolsorters Plague," though they are quite frightening. ~Bob)

Good to see: Moroccan-born mayor of Rotterdam tells fellow Muslims who do not appreciate the 'freedoms' of living in the West to 'pack your bags and f*** off' on live TV 
Excerpt: Ahmed Aboutaleb, who arrived in the Netherlands aged 15, spoke out in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last week. Appearing on live television just hours after the shootings, Mayor Aboutaleb said Muslims who ‘do not like freedom can pack your bags and leave’. Labour politician Ahmed Aboutaleb, a former journalist who was appointed mayor of the Dutch city in 2008, is known for his straight-forward stance on integration.

We never learn: Meet the shadowy figure recruiting for the Islamic State in Afghanistan. By Dan Lamothe
Excerpt: Several reports in the last few days suggest that the Islamic State is now recruiting in southern Afghanistan, the spiritual heart of the Taliban and the site of fierce combat between U.S. troops and insurgents in recent years. At the center of it: a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee who led a Taliban unit before the U.S. sent forces into the country in 2001. (Note to troops: If you capture a jihadist, some politician will eventually let him out to kill your brothers. If you kill him, no problem in the future. Dead terrorists have a zero recidivism rate. ~Bob)

Obama’s Lying Pawn: Watch This Chick Bob & Weave Trying To Avoid Saying Islam Is Our Greatest Threat
Excerpt: Filling in as guest host on “The Kelly File” Monday night, Martha MacCallum pressed State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on why the Obama administration is seemingly reluctant to declare that radical Islam is the biggest threat currently facing the United States.

Obama Sides With Muslim Brotherhood In Islamic Reform Debate [VIDEO]. By NEIL MUNRO
Excerpt: The president of the United States has somehow put himself on the opposite side of an Islamic theological debate from the Muslim president of Egypt. President Obama has aligned himself with revivalist groups — including the Muslim Brotherhood — that are trying to promote traditionalist Islam, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has begun championing Islamic modernizers.

New ISIS Video Features Kid Executioner
Excerpt: A new ISIS propaganda video features a child executing two alleged Russian spies.
The child executioner, known as Abdullah, looks no older than 11 or 12. ... The terrorist organization’s propaganda arm, Al-Hayat Media, has produced several videos in the languages of particular Muslim populations, including Indonesian and German. Russian-speaking jihadis, including those from Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, have been featured in previous videos, including November’s “A Visit To Mosul” and “Race Towards Good.” (Why do they do this type of thing? Because it wins them support among Muslims. ~Bob)

When Turks Die, Intention is in the Eye of the Beholder. By Burak Bekdil
Excerpt: Exactly 582 days after the raid on the Mavi Marmara, on December 28, 2011, the Turkish Air Force bombed a group of mostly teenage villagers from Uludere (Roboski in Kurdish), in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey. Mistaking them for pro-independence Kurdish terrorists, they killed 34 civilians. December 28, 2014 was the third anniversary of what the Turkish collective memory bitterly recalls as the "Uludere incident." Fifteen months after the Uludere incident, the Turkish parliament's Human Rights Examination Commission approved a report drafted by a sub-commission assigned to examine the controversy over the killings. The Uludere report concluded that the investigations produced no evidence that the attack was intentional.

Piss Christ Image Finally Removed by AP after Islamic Terrorist Attack in Paris
Excerpt: For 26 years, the Associated Press has posted the offensive image titled Piss Christ. Supposedly a work of art, the image is of a crucifix in a jar of the photographer’s urine. Many Christians and Christian organizations have complained to the Associate Press telling them that the image is offensive, denigrating and blasphemous, but AP justified posting the image claiming it was art. However, the same Associated Press staff refused to post any of the political cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, like those published in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo that led to the Islamic terrorist attack that killed a dozen people. (Well, offending Christians and Jews isn't dangerous; offending Muslims gets you killed. ~Bob)

Islam Gets Special Treatment. By Dennis Prager
Excerpt: Since 9/11, the Western world's academic, media, political elites have done their best to portray Islam in a favorable light, treating it very differently from all other religions. Criticism of every doctrine, religious or secular, is permitted, often encouraged. But not of Islam. Only positive depictions are allowed.

True, this: Doomed to remember more dates in infamy. By Wesley Pruden
Excerpt: A headline in London exclaims that what happened in Paris "has galvanized France." Well, that's good, so far as it goes. Galvanized can be a good thing only if the galvanizee stays galvanized. The record is not encouraging. September 11 galvanized the world, a date that, like December 7, would live in infamy. In the wake of September 11 a leading newspaper in Paris proclaimed that "we are all Americans now." President George W. Bush, standing in the ruins of the World Trade Center, with wisps of smoke and ash curling at his feet, promised to avenge the blood and bone of the 3,000 Americans who perished on a day with a harvest of dead to rival that at Antietam or Pearl Harbor. We know how all that turned out, galvanized or not.

Is Paris burning? By Cal Thomas
Excerpt: The late Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times, Paul Conrad, frequently used religious symbols to illustrate his point of view. Conrad drew the ire of some readers whenever he used the Star of David or a cross in his drawings. Letters to the editor denounced him, but to my knowledge no one showed up at the newspaper to kill him. This is the difference between radical Islam and other faiths. Jews and Christians have been targets of persecution, but with rare exceptions in modern times those faiths do not encourage, or tolerate, murder in the name of God.

How the West Destroyed Libya. By Raymond Ibrahim
Excerpt: The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years. At one point while talking about Libya, Herland firmly asserted that: "In a just world, the political leaders in the West, that have done such atrocities towards other nations and other cultures, should have been sent to the Hague [International Criminal Court], and judged at the Hague, for atrocities against humanity."

Islamic State of Tripoli announces kidnap of 21 Christian “Crusaders.” By Robert Spencer, JihadWatch.org
Excerpt: The jihad war against the indigenous Christians of the Middle East continues, courtesy of the Islamic State’s Libyan arm. From the looks of these photos, these are not Western “invaders,” but Christians from the area. But keep this quiet: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” — Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013

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://www.amazon.com/Coming-Collapse-American-Republic-prevent/dp/1461122538/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304815980&sr=1-5 For a free PDF of Collapse, e-mail him at tartanmarine(at)gmail.com. Hall’s eleven books are listed here:

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