American Spectator

  • Euthanasia Zealots Push Starvation as ‘Death with Dignity’
    It’s getting very dark in euthanasia-land. Not content with legalizing assisted suicide for the terminally ill in six states plus the District of Columbia — with Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Colombia allowing lethal jab euthanasia — and unsatiated with Switzerland’s suicide clinics to which people from around the world attend — the so-called “death with dignity” movement now is pushing self-starvation as a splendid way to die. Before I explain, two crucial distinctions. First, this essay is not about the common circumstance when a dying person stops eating as a natural part of the dying process. Nor is this essay about feeding tubes, which are deemed a medical treatment that can be legally refused or withdrawn. Rather, this essay addresses the growing advocacy in the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement and within bioethics to redefine self-starvation — known as “voluntary stop eating and drinking (VSED)” in movement parlance — as a means of attaining “death with dignity” in circumstances in which assisted suicide is illegal. Compassion and Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society, is the country’s most prominent assisted suicide advocacy organization. Uncoincidentally, is also the country’s prime promoter of VSED. Here’s how its WEB site promotes self-starvation to the elderly: Many people struggle with the unrelieved suffering of a chronic or incurable and progressive disorder. Others may decide that they are simply “done” after eight or nine decades of a fully lived life. A person may choose to control their own dying by making a conscious decision to refuse foods and fluids of any kind, including artificial nutrition and/or hydration. This option, sometimes known as VSED, can be chosen by a decisionally-capable adult who has the physical ability to eat and drink but consciously refuses foods and fluids in order to advance the time of their death. Be it noted that “advance the time of their death,” happens every time someone commits suicide. And that’s precisely what VSED is — suicide by self-starvation. But C & C pretends that forcing oneself to starve is a natural death: Death from VSED is a natural process. As death nears, breathing becomes more shallow and irregular. Moaning or “rattling” breathing may occur, but is not believed to be an indication of pain or distress. The body may change temperature and there can be discoloration in the face (flushed red, or pale with bluish or yellowish tones), as well as purple or bluish mottling in the hands or feet. Of course, none of that would be happening if the dying person took sustenance. VSED is agonizing. Starvation and dehydration may take weeks, and in addition to the above symptoms, may involve substantial and painful cracking of delicate membranes, convulsions, and other physical distress that results when a body that wants to live is denied the sustenance necessary to do so. (Again, we are not discussing patients who naturally stop eating as death approaches, a peaceful process because the body is shutting down.) Thus, C & C warns people they will require “24-hour care” from family ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By Wesley J. Smith
    21 hours ago
  • EU Copyright Directive Goes Too Far
    American companies are warning the European Union that plans to tighten copyright protections will have unintended consequences that will greatly curtail Europeans’ ability to access online content. The EU is now debating a new copyright directive, with the greatest points of contention Article 11 and Article 13. The former is dubbed the “publishers’ right,” and would force websites to pay copyright holders to use their content. The latter puts the onus of stricter copyright infringement enforcement on the platform rather than the user. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently warned that European users are at risk of not being able to watch videos on the platform if the copyright directive is implemented because the plan opens YouTube up to so much potential liability. She cited the video to the smash hit single “Despacito” as an example, pointing out the song has multiple copyrights, from sound recording to publishing rights. “Although YouTube has agreements with multiple entities to license and pay for the video, some of the rights holders remain unknown,” Wojcicki wrote. “That uncertainty means we might have to block videos like this to avoid liability under article 13. Multiply that risk with the scale of YouTube, where more than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and the potential liabilities could be so large that no company could take on such a financial risk.” The Verge noted that YouTube has heavily pushed back against the copyright directive recently, tweeting out videos from creators on the platform slamming the EU plan. Wojcicki noted that YouTube has its own system called Content ID that recognizes intellectual property, paying copyright holders if their original work is used in another user’s video. YouTube launched that system in 2007 and have spent more than $100 million fine-tuning it. “To date, we have used the system to pay rights holders more than €2.5B for third party use of their content,” she wrote. “We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale.” Richard Gingras, vice president of Google News, has expressed concerns about Article 11 of the copyright directive, arguing that it could “limit innovation in journalism.” While Gingras wrote in a recent blog post that he agrees with the principle of protecting journalists and their work, he said the EU move would have unintended consequences. The rule would require companies like Google News to reach contracts with other outlets simply to post snippets or previews of articles linked to elsewhere, what would constitute “fair use” in the United States. “This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licenses in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out,” he wrote. Gingras said that puts companies like Google News in the position of “picking winners and losers,” and he believes the rules would benefit larger outlets that would get a bigger piece of the ancillary copyright pie. “Presently, more than 80,000 ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    21 hours ago
  • The Man Who Defeated Communism
    At The American Spectator, we always agreed that it was quite fair and true to admonish our neighbors (and now our children and even grandchildren) to remember that the Soviet Union was defeated, and thus the Cold — often hot — War won by the Free World, largely thanks to three men: Ronald Reagan, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, and Lech Walesa. We thought as well, however, that you could not beat the Soviet Union before communism was exposed for what it really was, and this required an inside job. It was done by a man who took almost everything communism could throw at him — we say almost because he did not get a bullet in the neck in the basement of the Lubyanka prison — and lived to write it down — it and much besides: the whole appalling story. The 40th American president — ably aided by Lady Margaret Thatcher during those last dicey years of West vs. East, convinced the Soviet leaders that they would never conquer a coalition of free men living in free nations. The Polish Pope — John Paul II — showed them their lies and the cant with which their apologists in the West sought to cover them could not replace the faith carried by the eternal truths of the West’s great faiths. The Gdansk ironworker showed the working class they could break the chains communism put on them. These were champions, and they stood for thousands of others, indeed millions, who over three quarters of a century held their posts on the ramparts of freedom. This is another way of saying that what the Soviets represented could never have won a free election; and indeed they never did. Opposing communism required temporal weapons, but weapons of the spirit as well. For there was a mental fight that had to be won, the fight William Blake alluded to in “Jerusalem.” That was the fight for freedom against tyranny. The great, the overweening and desperately seductive tyranny had a name: communism. And just as it took many, over decades, to resist and finally exhaust and defeat the Soviet tyranny and confound its imperial ambitions, it took years and decades to defeat the ideas — the ideology if you prefer — on which it was based. And if there was one champion who defeated communism, who demonstrated the rot at its core, it was a man born a hundred years today, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. There is a reason the Americans who defeated the other aggressive tyranny of the last century, Nazism, referred, often as not, to “Godless Communism.” That was a fair and accurate description of the enemy, just as Godless Nazism would have worked to designate the savage criminals who took over Germany in 1932. Solzhenitsyn concurred. He could conceive of a private resistance without God against the evil system, but he came to believe that neither an individual man nor a nation could survive without reference to a supreme being, in his case the deity of ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By Roger Kaplan
    21 hours ago
  • From Ho-Ho-Ho to No-No-No
    The Nebraska principal’s classroom Christmas ban teaches America: Political correctness hasn’t gone crazy; it always was. If ever there was a season for reflection, this is it; and if ever there was a reason for reflection, this would-be overreach is it. Both reflections show the distorted image political correctness wants for America. A new school principal went too far by allowing her own principles to go too far. In Elkhorn, Nebraska, Manchester Elementary School’s new headmaster, aiming to master hearts as well, sent a now nationally infamous memo to her school outlining do’s and don’ts for Christmas. Her biggest don’t: Christmas itself. And that “don’t” has landed her and the public school system in a pile of do-dos. Writing “we have varied religious beliefs in our school, and it is our job to be inclusive,” she aimed at inclusivity by excluding Christmas. Although she stated “I feel uncomfortable that I have to get this specific, but for everyone’s comfort I will,” she got more specific than Santa’s naughty-or-nice list. Only on Principal Grinch’s list, just about everything was naughty. Covering everything Christmas from head to mistletoe, she reeled off anything remotely connected — not just to Christianity, but the season itself. These included: Santas or Christmas items; Christmas trees; singing Christmas carols; playing Christmas music; Christmas-related books; making Christmas ornaments; candy canes (because its “J” shape stands for Jesus); red/green items, Christmas videos/movies and characters thereof; and (my personal favorite, because I was wholly unaware of their proselytizing threat) reindeer. Among the things on the shorter Santa-sanitized list were: Gifts to students; snowmen, snow women, snow people (shockingly, transgender snow people were not listed); gingerbread people; sledding; polar bears and penguins (was PETA consulted on this?); scarves, hats, earmuffs, and boots (Imagine the celebrations these would trigger!); and snowflakes. Of course, “snowflakes.” Because isn’t that what we are really talking about here: Those precious precocious souls who melt on contact with the great unenlightened rest of us? Every year at this time we encounter this seasonal stupidity, the apparent goal of which is to make everyone else as miserable as they are. So they seek to ban Christmas… but only for the best of reasons, of course. For Principal Grinch it was vital that the school be “inclusive and culturally sensitive to all our students.” Except of course to those Christian ones, or any others who were just looking to have a little fun. Interestingly enough, the banned items appear aimed only at Christianity. There do not appear to be any items pertaining to Hanukkah, though it is also celebrated in this season. And if there are no other items banned from other religions — or similar diktats were not sent out in their seasons — then it raises the question of exactly how diverse the school in fact is: Specifically, is it so much so that Christmas was really a threat? Or is the point really aimed at restricting just one religion? But why let the obvious get in ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By J.T. Young
    21 hours ago
  • Comey, Careless and Corrupt
    Drunk on his own self-deluded rectitude, James Comey has become one of the most insufferable voices on the Left. He teaches “ethics” at William & Mary, but it is hard to imagine a more unethical FBI director than one who signs off on the most invasive spying warrants imaginable without bothering to verify them, or even know their rationale. That came out in his shameless testimony last Friday in closed session with Congress. It was clear from his slipshod testimony that he hadn’t even read the FISA warrants he approved. He breezily acknowledged that the Steele dossier, which formed the basis of the alleged justification for spying on Trump officials, was unverified. He said he didn’t know Steele was paid by the Democrats to assemble it. Asked if he should have known, he shrugged and said that he didn’t consider that an important piece of information. Obviously coached, he said that Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI investigation into alleged Russia-Trump collusion, derived from a tip delivered by an “allied nation,” a pompous reference his lawyer told him to use to amplify the significance of Alexander Downer’s shallow, entrapping, and non-conclusive conversation with George Papadopoulos. He played dumb about the bald political biases of his subordinates, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, and professed ignorance of Bruce Ohr’s relationship with Christopher Steele. He claimed not to know that Strzok, who told his mistress the FBI would “stop” Trump’s candidacy, had drafted the document launching Crossfire Hurricane. Somehow Comey managed not to know anything about the FBI’s most important case from the summer of 2016. He said that he hadn’t troubled himself to read the originating documents for Crossfire Hurricane and couldn’t be bothered to find out the agency’s claimed “predicate” for it. As for the FBI’s most important “source” for Crossfire Hurricane, Christopher Steele, he showed no curiosity about him either, though Comey’s lawyer obviously coached him enough to repeat the sanitizing fable that Steele’s dirt-digging continued earlier work by Fusion GPS for Republicans. Comey claimed not to know that Hillary’s law firm paid Fusion GPS, but confidently stated that Republican money launched the “dossier” project, which is a falsehood. The Steele project was separate from Fusion GPS’s work for anti-Trump Republicans during the primaries. How did Steele’s dossier get to the FBI? Comey plumb didn’t know! Did the FBI confirm his information? Comey couldn’t remember. Had he studied, before signing, the Carter Page warrant application that gave the FBI the power to rifle through Page’s life, both past and present? Nope; Comey didn’t think that necessary, though he did hear from someone that Page was supposedly working for the Russian government. Did he know that Steele had been dropped by the FBI for disseminating his paid opposition research on Trump to anti-Trump reporters? No, Comey didn’t, and wasn’t sure to this day if that had happened. Don’t you feel relieved to know that FBI directors take such care with your civil liberties? Unbelievable. That Comey can talk about his “conscience” while so casually ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By George Neumayr
    21 hours ago
  • Afghanistan: What’s in a Victory?
    The United States used to win wars. Today, however, the United States military has been mired in the War in Afghanistan since 2001 — with no hope of winning. Not only has the war gone on without resolution, but the once-unquestionable dominance the United States military exerted in the country has been degraded to such a point that the American-backed central government in Kabul is likely going to fall to the Taliban once the last American troops leave the country. During a Thanksgiving phone call to the troops, President Donald J. Trump — a long-time critic of the War in Afghanistan — put an airman in Afghanistan on the spot when he demanded to know how “things were looking” in Afghanistan to the low-ranking officer. After much fumbling, the airman gave the standard Pentagon line: the Taliban is a tough opponent and has retaken ground the Americans previously liberated from them, but that good old-fashioned can-do spirit of the American military would push the United States to victory. Of course, the airman’s response is understandable: he is not of a rank — and not in a position — to give his honest assessment (especially when speaking to the president on a public phone call). Also, he doesn’t want to risk his position by going against the Pentagon grain. But, talk to most people who’ve previously served in Afghanistan and you’ll get the truth. Even among those who insist that the United States has strategic reasons for remaining in Afghanistan, most will concede that the conflict has been terribly mismanaged. Writing in his 2005 book, America’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between the United States and Its Enemiesthe geostrategist George Friedman claimed that the United States was so militarily powerful that it no longer needed to win in a decisive manner the way that it defeated the Axis Powers in the Second World War. Friedman urged readers to accept that so long as America did not lose the War in Afghanistan, it actually won the conflict. Such thinking is endemic among the Washington punditariat. It’s also a telltale sign that the “experts” don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about. The threat that brought the United States to Afghanistan was al Qaeda first and their nominal allies in the Taliban second. According to Steve Coll’s recent history of the War in Afghanistan, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistanthe Taliban were willing to abandon al Qaeda so long as they were given a role in the postwar government of Afghanistan within a few weeks of the American invasion of Afghanistan. Yet, the George W. Bush administration took a hardline view of the Taliban and conflated them with al Qaeda (much as it conflated Saddam Hussein with al Qaeda beginning in 2003). Because of this, it drove the Taliban across the border to Pakistan and hardened the Taliban’s resistance quotient immeasurably. (When you leave an enemy no avenue of escape, they become fanatics.) In so ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By Brandon J. Weichert
    21 hours ago
  • The Coming Collision
    With Nick Ayers’ withdrawal as prospective chief of staff to the president, the way opens for a candidate who will swear on his mother’s grave to do just one thing: namely, on the first day of the job, seize Donald Trump’s cell phone — the one on which he tweets — and throw it out the window. Then, whenever the President opens his mouth to speak without a text, he, the chief of staff, will straightway stuff a gag into the boss’ mouth. A quiet Donald Trump — however doubtful that prospect— would do more for the Trump presidency than the Trump who is playing a dangerous game by putting his own visceral reactions and, shall we say, thoughts at the center of practically everything. Three recent events make plain the need for this drastic, if highly improbable, remedy. 1. The presidential rant last Friday about former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom Trump takes to be “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” Oh, yeah, sure, Mr. President: That’s how you come to head the world’s biggest publicly traded energy company: by flunking long division and drooling when you read aloud. Does Trump think a single American should take seriously such a low-grade insult? Equally to the point, will the voters bestow on him a raspberry or a back pat for a stupid statement made… 2. Just as the windup of the Mueller investigation draws nigh, and a pro-impeachment faction of the Democratic Party pants with anticipation, and a leading House Democrat, Adam Schiff, hints at a retirement present for the president — criminal indictments for…whatever. It would be dumber than dumb to predict the outcome of these various entanglements, but I’d hope it is obvious that a respected, if not necessarily incandescent, reputation can help an accused party by making his accusers look like a lynch party from the Klan. Public respect can confer the benefit of the doubt at a hard time. That is what any president needs when the Amalekites lay siege to him — an edge in public regard. Does Trump look like a candidate for adoration? 3. Well. Not the kind of adoration many a George H. W. Bush eulogist last week bestowed on a president known and celebrated for decency. The tone of the eulogies could be taken, and was, as indirect rebuke to a still-living president with accomplishments under his belt, but despite that, negative ratings in the polls: 43.4 job approval average, as reported by Real Clear Politics, and a disapproval average of 52 percent. How come? Well, guess. An intelligent and very conservative lady told me at a party the other night she follows Trump on Twitter just to see how outrageous he can get. Nothing seems to surprise her anymore. She and others — I do not say they are Republicans or Democrats; I say they are Americans — blame Trump for pitting particular constituencies against other particular constituencies, making life in these United States more violent and ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, December 11, 2018By William Murchison
    21 hours ago
  • A Government Shutdown? Bah Hambug
    Congress may be more Scrooge than Santa this year if it keeps delaying a funding solution that will keep the federal government from partially shutting down for Christmas – and beyond. A continuing resolution passed in September was scheduled to expire on Dec. 7, but Congress extended the deadline to set the new budget to Dec. 21 due to the funeral of former President Herbert Walker Bush. It won’t be an easy thing for Congress to agree on a budget during the next two weeks, especially with the contentious fight between President Trump and Democratic leadership. Trump wants $5 billion to build the wall on the border with Mexico, while Democrats – who will take control of the House next year – want to spend much less, beefing up border security instead. Congress also intends to take up several more measures during the final days of the lame-duck session, including passing a new farm bill, possibly punishing Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and drafting a bill to provide protection for special counsel Robert Mueller. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters that the fewer things added to the slate, the better chance funding has of passing. “I’d rather deal with appropriations, for the most part, and keep legislation off anywhere I can,” he said. Some cynics might view a government shutdown as a Christmas blessing, but in reality it’s bad for the economy. The 16-day shutdown in October 2013 cost the American economy an estimated $24 billion, according to Standard and Poor’s. That equates to 0.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Furloughed employees receive back pay when they return to their jobs after Congress agrees on funding, so it’s not as if taxpayers get a break – instead, they get to pay federal employees to sit in their recliners and watch “Days of Our Lives.” The post A Government Shutdown? Bah Hambug appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    1 day ago
  • Hush Money and Impeachment
    I have written before on the matter of President Trump and the pole dancer with the two implants. The matter is not his proudest life achievement, and what has transpired offers a potent life lesson for all. From all accounts, Mr. Trump has a very wonderful wife who regularly has stood by him publicly over the years through thick and thin, is profoundly intelligent and exceptionally accomplished both in language mastery and in corporate enterprises, has a pleasant appearance, seems to do well with her stepchildren, and has borne him one of her own, a fine young fellow. To the degree that the matter of the pole dancer with the two implants now has become an obstruction in Mr. Trump’s life and yet one more excuse by which cynically dishonest and hypocritical Democrats can try subverting his excellent Presidential agenda, it is a shame. Plenty of shame to go around on this one. Let us be clear, though, on what the Left media do not report or explain. By all accounts, Donald J. Trump, notwithstanding his eccentricities and thin skin when attacked even by utter nonentities beneath his station, took a turn in his life as he got serious about running for President. He found, perhaps to his surprise, that his strongest support comes from Christians, devout Catholics, and Orthodox Jews, that his conservative policy positions and traditional legislative goals indeed resonate with the religious. He has connected with serious Christian pastors, and he has been warmly received by mainstream normative Orthodox rabbis. In time, he has come to address Liberty College, still finding his footing when quoting the Bible (“Two Corinthians” versus “Second Corinthians”), has become a great defender of prayer and freedom of the pulpit, and a defender of religious freedom in general. Presidential Candidates Campaigning for One-Night Stands By all accounts, the matter surrounding the pole dancer and the implants is not comparable on any level to what Americans have had to experience with comparatively recent Presidential candidates like Gary Hart, Ted Kennedy, and John Edwards, or President Bill Clinton who actually have used Presidential runs, or their possibilities, or the ascent to such office as leverage to get playmates when the wife is not watching. Leaving aside Clinton’s Arkansas-days shenanigans with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and the rape of Juanita Broaddrick, he later abused and harassed Kathleen Willey when he became President. And two other words need no elaboration, not even an inserted hyperlink to Wikipedia: “Monica Lewinsky.” For Gary Hart — Donna Rice. For John Edwards — Rielle Hunter nee Lisa Jo Druck and baby. For Ted Kennedy — Chappaquiddick. By contrast, from the moment he began running for Presidential office, Donald Trump has had one woman in his life, Melania. On this issue of personal character, he clearly got responsible and became serious. Yes, there have been the tweets and the maddening verbal broadsides — insults back and forth, whether with one or another accuser from the past, a painfully shameful audio recording ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By Dov Fischer
    2 days ago
  • Of Course Trump Will Be Impeached
    Since Robert Mueller and his revanchist inquisitors filed their sentencing memoranda on the President’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, the Democrats and their friends in the legacy media have been squealing with undisguised glee. They clearly believe that it marks the beginning of the end for an “illegitimate” presidency. Never mind that the filings contain no evidence of criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and any foreign entity, an odd omission for a “Russia Probe.” Forget that payments of hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal aren’t in and of themselves illegal. Trump’s enemies believe that impeachment is now inevitable. And they’re right. But this has nothing to do with the ridiculous Mueller probe. That farcical “investigation” is, and always has been, nothing but a stalking horse. The event that guaranteed Trump’s impeachment was the November election in which the Democrats “harvested” a majority in the House. Nancy Pelosi discouraged the use of the “I” word by her accomplices during the final months of the midterms, but there was never any doubt that it would be the number one item on the Democrat agenda if she managed to get her hands on the Speaker’s gavel again. Nor does Pelosi much care that Mueller hasn’t uncovered anything resembling “high crimes and misdemeanors.” How can anyone claim that the Special Counsel hasn’t uncovered anything when his sentencing memorandum refers to contacts with Russian nationals during early 2016 involving a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow? On this abortive project, Mueller makes no claim that these contacts were illegal, and the deal fell through before Trump ran for President. Well then, how is it possible to deny that there was collusion when the memo cites overtures by other Russians who wanted to meet the candidate and establish “political synergy”? Cohen didn’t follow up with the “trusted person” who made this cryptic offer, and this character never got near Trump. Alright, is it really plausible that the payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were somehow within the bounds of the law? Yep. To begin with, such payments aren’t a crime at all — and they certainly don’t reach the level of a “high crime.” According to the law, they are just as legal as paying these two people to be quiet about Trump’s affinity for fast food. Nor does it rise to that level even if candidate Trump directed Cohen to make the payments and the cash came out of campaign funds. This is not, of course, what we are hearing from bloviating political hacks like New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who claims that such actions are impeachable: They would be impeachable offenses. Whether they’re important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question.… Certainly, they’re impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the President became President, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. Fraudulently obtaining office? What is Nadler talking about? This novel legal concept has no basis in statutory or constitutional law. Nor is there any such ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By David Catron
    2 days ago
  • Uneducated: Why American Education Is Fundamentally Flawed
    The United States is in the midst of an educational crisis. Test scores are plummeting, education spending is unsustainable, and the vast majority of American students are ill-prepared to thrive in the high-tech workplace of the future. Given this sorry state of affairs, the question arises: How did the American education system, once the envy of the world, fall into such a decrepit state? Like most things in life, the answer is actually quite simple: The United States education system no longer prizes and cultivates its most talented students, and the American education system has become a bloated, bureaucratic leviathan that misallocates resources at a colossal level. Neglecting the Gifted It seems like common sense: the hard-working, productive, intelligent employee is promoted, while his less hard-working and not-as-smart office mate stays put. Yet, in an astounding and absurdly naïve decision, the American education system has all but abandoned this fundamental model for success. In essence, American schools operate on the idea that students’ feelings trump their intellectual abilities. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a universal dumbing-down of the curriculum, and a reluctance to distinguish the intellectually gifted students from their common peers. For now, this insane notion of treating one and all the same is mostly limited to the classroom. However, in other aspects of academia — sports, clubs, talent shows, etc.— this lack of emphasis on superior ability and achievement is also creeping in. Ever hear the cliché that “everyone gets a trophy”? It is no longer a cliché, it is real. Unfortunately, shielding students from the reality of life, which is that some are more talented than others, is putting the United States at a huge disadvantage in the increasingly hypercompetitive global economy. In fact, Sally M. Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut contends “that our nation’s talented students are offered a less rigorous curriculum, read fewer demanding books, and are less prepared for work or postsecondary education than top students in many other industrialized countries.” When the best and brightest American students aren’t challenged or offered stimulating and career-enhancing programs, mediocrity becomes normalized and the United States becomes weaker. Even more appalling is that this phenomenon is taking place completely by choice. Chester E. Finn, Jr. laments in National Affairs that “The American education system is not producing enough high achievers to sustain the country’s long-term well-being in an internationally competitive world. It is important to note, however, that our problem is not that we lack smart children; it’s that gifted students are not being given the tools they need to realize their potential and compete.” Yes, we are holding ourselves back by catering to the lowest common denominator rather than highlighting superior ability and achievement. Why is the American education system ignoring its most talented students and jeopardizing the nation’s future? Part of the answer might lie in the fact that American educational doctrine focuses more on rescuing lagging students at the expense of advancing the gifted. In other words, American educators are more interested in the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By Heartland Institute
    2 days ago
  • What Is Putin’s Game?
    Between America’s most dangerous adversaries — Russia and China — it’s a toss-up which is the single most dangerous. The threat an adversary poses is best gauged by determining its intentions and capabilities. That analysis makes China, which has much greater capabilities than the Russian Federation, the greater danger. We have to add to the measurement of those nations’ capabilities and intentions the personal characteristics of those nations’ leaders and their governments, the nation’s proximity to America’s vital national security interests, and the difficulty in determining the nation’s intentions. The scale tips in favor of Russia because of the nature and personality of Vladimir Putin. The late Walter Laqueur’s book Putinism is a study of both the man and the government he has formed around him. History is replete with military dictatorships and monarchies that ruled by a claim of divine right. As Laqueur demonstrates, the Putin government is neither of those kinds of autocracies. It is a government of the “siloviki” and, while it may not be unique in history, it is unique today. The siloviki are politicians who Putin promoted to power from their careers in Russian intelligence agencies. Putin was a KGB colonel before the KGB promoted him to political power. He has surrounded himself with a clan of former GRU, KGB, and other intelligence agency “graduates” who are the only people he trusts to govern with him. The siloviki are allied with the Russian oligarchs who enrich the siloviki while they enrich themselves. In short, Putin’s government is an autocracy of, by, and for the siloviki. Putin and his government are profoundly anti-American and anti-Western. He, and they, are aggressors and opportunists. That means they will exploit any opportunity to thwart American action and will create those opportunities whenever and wherever they can. Putin is a patient man but his patience is not inexhaustible. He understands that Europe and America are passing through a time of great psychological and cultural weakness. He also understands that Russia is economically weak. Because of that, Putin is playing a short-term game while trying to extend it by any means he can. All of that is the context in which Putin’s actions must be seen. Together, his context and actions can lead us to discern Putin’s ultimate goals. One of the few constraints on Putin is NATO’s mutual defense commitment. Since NATO was created, the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation, has tried to split the alliance apart. That Putin continues to pursue that goal is no surprise. But the ease at which the Europeans enable him do it increases the threat Russia poses. Treaty violations are no greater constraint on Putin than they were on his Soviet forbears. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty bans both Russia and the United States from possessing nuclear-capable missiles that have a range from 300 to 3,400 miles. The Russians have developed and deployed precisely that sort of weapon, the 9M729 cruise missile. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that because of ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By Jed Babbin
    2 days ago
  • Juan Cole Invents a Peaceful Quran
    In a November 27 address at Georgetown University’s Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole discussed his new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. His sympathetic audience of about forty in ACMCU’s conference room included ACMCU Professor John Voll, Georgetown University imam Yahya Hendi, and the former Foreign Service Officer Benjamin Tua, a persistent Israel critic. As Georgetown professor and ACMCU founder John Esposito moderated, Cole discussed his findings on “peace in the Quran and early Islam.” “I am swimming against the stream here,” he said, “as that isn’t the word that comes to mind for most people with regard to Islam.” Yet his elaborated revisionist history was unconvincing. Cole explained his dubious thesis that any violent characteristics in Islam involved an ex post facto recasting of Islam’s supposedly peaceful seventh-century prophet Muhammad. During the Abbasid caliphate (750-1258), “when the classical Arabic-Muslim corpus of work about Islam was formulated,” Muhammad’s biographers “wrote down his biography in such a way as to militarize it.” “It is very stark, if you follow the Quran itself as your primary source, how different it is from these later times,” Cole stated. Later Bedouin converts supposedly supplanted the benign teachings of this imagined, little-followed prophet Muhammad with Bedouin warfare traditions. Early Arabic poetry “is all about raiding; how the great warriors are able to raid and they are able to defeat their enemies,” Cole noted. These Arabs “wake up in the morning, and they get drunk on wine, and they go off berserk to the battlefield.” After Muhammad’s death in 632, this “Bedouin ethos of raiding took over to some extent in early Islam,” so “you have to make a big distinction between the life of Muhammad and the later group.” Cole contrasted that in “Arabic culture a haram was a sanctuary. It was a place of peace” where pagan Arab tribes would gather during special religious pilgrimages under agreed prohibitions of violence. “A lot of the Quran is taking the side of these practices of sanctuary, of creating a zone of peace where the tribes can’t engage in their blood feuds.” In particular, Muhammad’s Banu Hashem clan managed Mecca’s Kaaba shrine, so that his origins were a “peacemaking clan, a clan that is in charge of the sanctuary and in charge of enforcing peace and mediating.” Cole supported this skewed perspective with cherry-picked Quran verses while ignoring fundamental questions about whether Islamic doctrine supplants peaceful, chronologically earlier Quran verses with later warlike ones. Illustrating his points with slides, he interpreted Quran 7:19-25, on Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, as man’s descent into violence. To correct the resulting introduction of sin, “in the Quran the solution is everybody has to be a peacemaker.” Tellingly, Cole’s exegesis omits this same chapter’s less savory verses. Quran 7:80-84 tell of Sodom’s divine destruction with its attendant condemnation of homosexuality. Quran 7:166 describe Jews as “apes, despised and rejected” while Quran 7:179 condemns non-Muslims as “like cattle.” Cole similarly whitewashed Quran 48’s ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, December 10, 2018By Andrew Harrod
    2 days ago
  • The Stench From Scranton
    In 2017, homosexual activists celebrated Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, for allowing a heretical priest to speak at a Catholic university in his diocese. “A Catholic college and Pennsylvania bishop are the latest public supporters of Fr. James Martin, SJ, after they refused to concede to right-wing activists who wanted the priest disinvited from a scheduled speaking appearance,” burbled a press release from New Ways Ministry, an LGBT group that seeks to change the Church’s moral teachings. “Conservative activists had targeted Misericordia University for inviting Martin speak at the winter commencement this December of the school located in Dallas, Pennsylvania…. This latest show of support from Bishop Bambera and Misericordia University is significant because they stood directly against the very groups to which church officials have frequently conceded, and conceded to the detriment of the church. Their defense will help grow the positive impact on the church that Martin’s book has had, even as the book and its author have drawn criticism from all sides.” Orthodox priests in Scranton enjoy no such liberty to speak their minds under Bishop Bambera. Nicknamed “Bambi” by some of his priests for his role in enabling a gay clergy, Bambera is known for harassing faithful priests who tell the truth about the pederasty scandal in the Church. One such priest contacted me recounting the harassment he received after delivered a homily in which he lamented the neutralizing effect Pope Francis had on the feckless U.S. bishops’ gathering in Baltimore, a sermon his congregation greeted with applause. “I received nothing but positive feedback,” he said. But word of the sermon critical of Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops got back to Bambera, who dispatched an aide to chew the priest out. Bambera’s Vicar of Clergy, Fr. Jeffrey Walsh, button-holed this priest at a November priests’ gathering to tell him that he was “out of line” to give such a homily. “He went on to tell me that ‘the bishop thinks’ that I am ‘being divisive,’” according to the priest. “I told him that the faithful deserve to know the truth. He fired back stating it is okay to say things like that in the midst of fellow priests but that it was inappropriate to speak like that in front of laypeople. I was shocked at his comments. It is okay to speak the truth to priests but not to the lay faithful?” This priest said it is not the first time he has been harassed by Bambera for telling the truth about the sorry state of the Church under cowardly and heterodox leadership. Last year he had a similar experience after he criticized the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for failing to defend the Church’s teachings. Bambera called him into his office and reprimanded him. “He called me a disappointment.” Then Bambera sang the “praises of the USCCB,” the priest recalled. “The people in this diocese deserve to know the truth. Many priests will be able to relate to this sad experience. [Bambera] ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, December 9, 2018By George Neumayr
    3 days ago
  • Father Jenkins Doesn’t Seem to See the Problem
    The world needs a university that graduates men and women who are not only capable and knowledgeable, but who accept their responsibility to serve others — especially those in greatest need.”— Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. As the father of a 2018 grad, I think Father John Jenkins gets it right with this quote posted on the University of Notre Dame website. Helping to serve those in greatest need should be a priority for all Catholic institutions because those in greatest need are often powerless to defend themselves. Pedophilia is by definition an abuse inflicted by a person in power over a child. The sexual harassment of students in seminaries hinges on a similarly perverse dynamic. Yet when Father Jenkins spoke about ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the infamous abuser of children and students, in an exclusive interview with Crux Magazine on November 5, he seemed to abandon his spiritual mandate to defend the innocent and the vulnerable. “There’s a tendency, and I don’t think it’s a helpful tendency in this kind of situation, to turn the perpetrators into monsters,” Jenkins said. “[The tendency is] just to imagine that they are thoroughly corrupt people, but the problem is that it’s not true. It’s a part of their lives that is deeply problematic, but another part that is not. And that’s why it’s so hard to identify the problem, and sometimes, that person doesn’t seem to see the problem.” Dissembling about the sexual abuse of children is playing with fire for a college president who is entrusted with the lives of 8,500 undergraduate students. That Father Jenkins and McCarrick both wear a collar, further complicates the matter. McCarrick was a prolific Catholic fundraiser and friend of Notre Dame where he introduced Father Jenkins to the well-heeled and eventually received an Honorary Degree in 2008. Father Jenkins personal history with McCarrick and subsequent defense of his behavior reek of the clericalism and reflexive loyalty that even the most permissive U.S. bishops have vocally denounced. It might be helpful to look at a different case study to serve as a benchmark for Father Jenkins behavior. In April 2018 Notre Dame rescinded Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree after his conviction on three felony charges of sexual assault. But Father Jenkins says that he won’t rescind Theodore McCarrick’s degree until due process has been served — knowing full well that McCarrick will not face a criminal proceeding. Even for those concerned with victim rights this justification must strike an uncomfortable chord. It has become public record that over the years the Catholic Church has paid multiple settlements to McCarrick’s victims — a seemingly decisive admission of guilt. Apparently, Father Jenkins is hanging his reputation as a moral leader on a procedural technicality. He says that he’s waiting on the Vatican to schedule a canonical trial for the 88-year-old serial abuser. But that day may never come and the sexual abuse of children by McCarrick is a crime much closer to Notre Dame than the egregious wrongdoings perpetrated by Bill Cosby. The Crux interview ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, December 9, 2018By John Singleton
    3 days ago
  • Bush Funeral Raises Question: Who Will Speak for Trump?
    Washington Who will speak for President Donald Trump at his state funeral, far in the future though it should be? That must be what the 45th president was thinking as he sat in the front pew at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush. Bush was eulogized by a man of words, a foreign world leader, a onetime ally in Congress, and his eldest son — Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and son and former president George W. Bush. Is there a scribe who will praise Trump for his leadership and his rhetoric? Here’s a hint. In January, Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote, Trump: The Art of the Deal, wrote in the Guardian that the 45th president is “significantly angrier today: more reactive, deceitful, distracted, vindictive, impulsive and, above all, self-absorbed” than when Schwartz worked on the 1987 book. A world leader? Well, Trump has developed warm relations with tyrants like Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean chairman Kim Jong Un and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, so there are some strongmen who might want to speak for Trump. But after Trump’s taunts to NATO, it is hard to imagine the leader of a long-term ally who will look back fondly on Trump’s tenure. Is there a political colleague who would say, as Simpson said of Bush, that the late president was a true friend, who stood by him in tough times, and whom “you would’ve wanted on your side”? Consider the fate of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump fired after the midterm elections. Trump never forgave Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump in the 2016 primary, for recusing himself from the Russian probe. Sessions learned the hard way that loyalty is a one-way street in Trump world. So scratch public figures with solid reputations. At best, Trump probably could rely on praise mainly from political hit men, who hitched a ride with the only Republican who would let them near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. At least Trump can count on one of his sons to speak highly of him. Donald Jr. and Eric clearly are attached to their father. Ditto daughters Ivanka and Tiffany. (We’ll leave Barron out of this discussion, as he is a minor.) But it is hard to imagine any of Trump’s children extolling his kindnesses to strangers, even political foes. The Bush family showed kindness toward Trump who had ridiculed “low energy” Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primary, trashed Dubya for the Iraq war and even mocked Bush 41’s signature “thousand points of light,” telling a rally this summer that he prefers “Make America Great Again.” This kindness was much more powerful than the snub of Trump and pointed barbs directed at him at the memorial service for Sen. John McCain in September. The McCain clan let it be known Trump was not welcome at the National Cathedral service. McCain’s eulogizers used the occasion to disparage Trump — ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, December 9, 2018By Debra J. Saunders
    3 days ago
  • Congress, Not Trump, Is Responsible for America’s Debt
    President Donald J. Trump doesn’t care about the nation’s debt, according to that paragon of truth known as the Daily Beast. The article in question claims that Trump’s view on the concern about the rising debt crisis was, “I won’t be here” when the whole thing comes crashing down. For the record, as with most of these reports, the claims are entirely unsourced. Yet, they do gel with other statements that supposed White House insiders have made about the president’s view on the national debt. In his recent book, Fear: Trump in the White HouseBob Woodward describes a scene early in Trump’s presidency in which his then-senior economic adviser, Gary Cohn, met with Trump in the Oval Office. During that meeting, Trump insisted that the Federal Reserve should print more money to offset America’s onerous debt problem. Cohn shot the president down, according to Woodward (for his part, Trump denies everything in the book). Even if it were true, that shouldn’t matter. The president does not control the country’s purse strings: Congress does… and that should frighten you. Fact is, the president has attempted to mitigate the debt crisis. He did campaign on the issue. Though, to be fair, he was not anywhere near as vocal on the matter as other Republicans have been (many of those Republicans previously campaigned on this issue in order to win their congressional seats and then never address the matter until the next election cycle, when they need votes and talking points). In fact, Trump campaigned not as an austerity man but as a man who could better manage America’s massive welfare state (which accounts for the overwhelming majority of America’s debt) and he vowed to increase the already-massive defense budget. Those who expected Trump, who in another life was proud to be called the “King of Debt,” to be a man of austerity did not understand either what Trump was saying on the campaign trail or what the 62 million Americans who voted for him in 2016 wanted. Still, as even the recent Daily Beast article concedes, in the words of presidential spokeswoman, Hogan Gidley, the president has taken action to reduce some of the debt load in the country “including in [Trump’s] first budget that actually would’ve balanced [the budget] in 10 years, a historic, common-sense rescissions proposal.” Naturally, this was but a start. And, by the time the proposal worked its way through the Republican-controlled Congress earlier this year, between the tax cuts last year and the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed this year, the deficit was blown up again and the debt was massively expanded. When Trump leaves office, there is set to be a “hockey stick”-like increase in the national debt that could trigger the collapse of the American economic system. Think about this, though: if Congress ultimately controls the purse strings, and the debt has been piling up since the Reagan years, how is this all of a sudden Trump’s problem? If Congress has been talking about this matter since the 1980s, why hasn’t it ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Saturday, December 8, 2018By Brandon J. Weichert
    4 days ago
  • The Best in Japanese Poker Poetry
    The form is simple, but the message is often deep. The haiku, a famous type of Japanese poetry, only consists of 17 syllables, with three lines made up of five, seven and five syllables. Apparently, when poker players aren’t sitting at the tables many of them spend their time coming up with poker haikus, as I have read many funny ones on various forums and blogs over the years. Evidently, you can form a haiku for about any situation in poker, as these bursts of poems deal with everything from how you can’t ever seem to win with queens or kings to how much poker pro Phil Hellmuth cries when he loses. So print these out, stick them in your pocket and use them for mediation — or at least some solace — when you find yourself in some of these situations. A lament of queens: In poker and life Two broads seem like good fortune But will leave you broke A lament of kings: Do pocket kings win? Always an ace on the flop I should just muck them A hand shakes and shakes As my opponent looks down. Can I lay down kings? Trepidation about bluffing: Went all in with rags He is reaching for his chips My fate is at hand On bad calls: Why did I call him With middle pair, no kicker? It was not a bluff On catching up: I paired my kicker His chair is now empty seat Victory is luck A gutshot straight draw My card comes on the river Poker gods love me On trapping opponents: Yes I have the nuts Check, must hide my emotions You’re all in? Thank you Of tiring tales: A bad beat story That my friends don’t want to hear. I know a forum… On a dream situation: World Series, heads up Turn gives me the holy nuts He moves all-in – call! A discourse on Hellmuth (circa Tournament of Champions 2004): I was beat by Duke Was outplayed by everyone But I still whined loud About everyone’s favorite hand, “The Hammer”: 7-2 off suit Who would have ever thought that The boat was coming? The post The Best in Japanese Poker Poetry appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    5 days ago
  • What I Learned Over Lunch With the Real Jamal Khashoggi
    Like all murders, Jamal Khashoggi’s was an evil deed. Should the United States respond to it with a major disruption in relations with Saudi Arabia? No — emphatically no. Far from being indifferent to Khashoggi’s fate, I was deeply anguished by his murder. I once had the pleasure of a lengthy, cordial, and fascinating conversation with Khashoggi. The occasion was an international public relations conference in Dubai in March 2012. I took the last open chair at one of the luncheon tables, and it happened that the man seated at my right was Jamal Khashoggi. He was a very charming and powerful person. Whenever I read the endless reports of his savage murder I shudder with horror, and I remember his pleasant voice and the merry twinkle in his eyes. He enjoyed his life and his work. I also remember who and what he really was. He was the scion of one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia and a tremendously privileged member of the Saudi power structure. In Saudi Arabia he was well known as a sometime writer and editor for newspapers and a television news presenter. In the rest of the world, it was no secret that he was from time to time one of the closest advisers to the head of the Saudi state intelligence and secret police apparatus. In authoritarian states, it is not unusual for persons like Khashoggi to perform both roles. In Saudi Arabia there is no free and independent news media. It is profoundly misleading, therefore, to call Khashoggi a mere “journalist,” because under Western eyes that term is meant to describe someone who works at least mostly in freedom and independence from state control. Jamal Khashoggi’s entire career in Saudi Arabia, when he was not working directly for the head of the fearsome national intelligence agency, involved writing, editing, and broadcasting for media enterprises owned or controlled by the government and members of the Saudi royal family. All of his writings and utterances, no matter how nuanced they may have been calculated to appear or sound, were completely controlled by strict Saudi government dictate and censorship. This is how effective influence operations work. When I sat with Khashoggi we compared stories of our own careers. I told him I had been first a newspaper writer, then an appointee in the State Department and a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. When Khashoggi and I met, I was working as a speechwriter for the CEO of Aramco, the Saudi oil company. He needed no introduction for me; I already knew the outline of his previous career. He told me enthusiastically about his upcoming project. Khashoggi had been assigned to establish Al-Arab, a new, Saudi-controlled television news network that was intended to compete with Qatar’s enormously successful Aljazeera. It was to be headquartered in the island country of Bahrain, just a half-hour’s drive over the King Fahd Causeway from Aramco headquarters in Saudi Arabia. Its placement in Bahrain would be for “greater ease ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Joseph P. Duggan
    5 days ago
  • This Is No Drill
    The first bomb fell a little before morning colors and by the time the attack was over, less than three hours later, the U.S. Navy had lost almost all of what it considered its capital ships. These were the battleships, one of which had blown up when a Japanese bomb penetrated a magazine where powder for the ship’s main batteries was stored. What is left of the U.S. Arizona still lies on the bottom, in the mud of Pearl Harbor. There is a monument built over the ship’s ruined hull, with the names of her dead — 1,117 of them — inscribed on one wall. You can look down into the water and see the spectral outline of the ship’s hull. It is a tomb, of sorts, holding the remains of 1,102 of those Arizona dead. Small red and blue ribbons, made by oil still leaking from the ship’s bunkers, drift in the water over the ship’s carcass. All of the eight battleships that were in port on that Sunday morning were hit. The Oklahoma took nine torpedoes and rolled over, trapping many of its crewmen below decks where they began banging on bulkheads to get the attention of potential rescuers. The sound of that tapping haunted the men trying to get to those survivors and eventually 32 were rescued. Many more were not. Of the 2,335 who were killed in the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, 429 were from the Oklahoma. Aboard West Virginia, three crewmen were similarly trapped. They found an air pocket where they huddled and waited for rescue. It did not come. It was not possible to get to the men who continued their tapping. They had a calendar and they crossed off each day once they had survived it. When their bodies were found, long after the attack, that calendar showed they had lasted sixteen days before they ran out of air. The Oklahoma was so badly damaged that it could not be repaired and returned to service. The other battleships, to include West Virginia,were repaired and sent back to war. West Virginia took part in the last battleship action in history when the U.S. “crossed the T” of a pitifully meager Japanese force in the battle of Surigao Strait. The Japanese believed that they had won a splendid and complete victory at Pearl Harbor. They had achieved utter surprise and they had broken the backbone of the United States Navy which, without battleships, could not challenge the Japanese for control of the Pacific. So, its leaders believed, that for many months, even years, Japan could consolidate the empire it had seized — or soon would, as in the case of the Philippines — and be secure against any challenge by sea. However, in war, it sometimes seems there is nothing so uncertain as certainty. The Japanese had won a splendid victory but… Among other things, they had gone after the wrong objective. They wrecked the battleships at Pearl Harbor by launching attacks from six aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy had ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Geoffrey Norman
    5 days ago
  • A Shambles in Texas
    James David Younger is a six-year-old boy. He lives in Dallas. By most accounts he’s a healthy, reasonably well-adjusted boy who is caught in the middle of an ugly divorce case between his parents. Based on court documents, one might begin to understand why that divorce sprang up. It seems that James’ mother, Ann Georgulas, has taken a rather unusual position about James’ future and has sued — successfully so far, to the horror of many — in a Texas court… to make James into something other than a six-year-old boy. Brianna Heldt at Townhall.com sums up the situation well… A Texas father is fighting in court for the right to see his son after being charged with child abuse by his ex-wife “for not affirming James as transgender.” Court documents indicate that the 6-year-old boy only dresses and identifies as a girl when he’s with his mother, who enrolled him in his first-grade class as “Luna.” But James’ father claims that when the boy is with him he consistently wears boy’s clothing, “violently refuses to wear girl’s clothes at my home,” and identifies as a boy. The father has reportedly been legally prohibited from talking to his son about gender and sexuality from both scientific and religious perspectives, and from seeking to dress his son in boys’ clothes. Instead, he is required to offer both girls’ and boys’ clothing, although he claims that his son consistently refuses to wear dresses. And according to a report by The Federalist, the mother “is also seeking to require him to pay for the child’s visits to a transgender-affirming therapist and transgender medical alterations, which may include hormonal sterilization starting at age eight.” James was reportedly diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a gender transition therapist that was chosen by his mother, who is a pediatrician. The therapist’s notes reveal that James chose to identify as a girl when in therapy sessions alone with his mother, but as a boy when alone in sessions with his father. By all accounts of neighbors and family friends, when James isn’t around his mother he chooses to live as a boy. For some reason, the mother’s insistence that her son is a girl is given weight by the courts. This is as much a five-alarm fire emblematic of cultural decline and political emergency as is possible to outline. The idea that a six-year old would be given agency to decide something so permanent as the entry into the process of a sex change when that six-year old isn’t even showing evidence of such a preference on a 24/7 basis is beyond absurd, it’s horrific. And yet that’s where we are. The Younger case represents the confluence between the deficiencies of American family law, which has passed beyond the normal familiarity with the position of the mother and is now actively in opposition to fathers’ rights, the idiocy of political correctness in servitude to whatever left-wing cultural aggression is in fashion, and the outright hostility to the norms of Western ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Scott McKay
    5 days ago
  • Comey and the FISA Warrant Hillary Bought
    James Comey uncorked the whopper earlier this year that he still “didn’t know for a fact” Hillary Clinton financed the infamous dossier of Christopher Steele — an epic lie reminiscent of his denial, leaked through James Clapper and other stooges, that the FBI spied on Trump Tower, even as warrants to spy on Trump Tower sat on his desk! Comey is set to meet with Congress on Friday, testimony sure to be riddled with the weaseliest of evasions. According to the Hill’s John Solomon, House Republicans are aware of emails showing that the FBI and Justice Department knew damn well that the FISA application to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page rested on partisan and flawed opposition research purchased by the Democrats. The House Republicans are calling on Trump to declassify those e-mails. Comey is implicated in the emails, reports Solomon: Just before Thanksgiving, House Republicans amended the list of documents they’d like President Trump to declassify in the Russia investigation. With little fanfare or explanation, the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), added a string of emails between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to their wish list. Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years. The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier. The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured. So Comey knew that at least someone inside the Justice Department thought the application tainted and signed it anyways. Hillary, in effect, was purchasing a FISA warrant against her opponents, and the FBI went along with it. Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s name for the espionage against the Trump campaign, was supposed to be her October surprise, but it fell flat, though not for lack of trying on the part of Team Hillary, both inside and outside the Obama administration. In the weeks before the election, John Brennan at the CIA, Peter Strzok at the FBI, Jonathan Winer at the State Department, among others, were leaking mentions of the Trump-Russia investigation to the press, which Hillary aides like Jennifer Palmieri then picked up and disseminated, passing off their own self-generated oppo research smears as objective news items. That is of course to be expected of a ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By George Neumayr
    5 days ago
  • The Weekly Standard’s Suicide
    Reports indicate that The Weekly Standard soon joins Life, Look, Calling All Girls, Hit Parader, George, and Oui on the great newsstand in the sky. (Perhaps loyal “readers” find Oui on some lower-elevation newsstand.) Death by internet seems a tempting obit but it does not capture the self-inflicted nature of the magazine’s demise. Like the obituaries of others who “died suddenly at home” at 23, an accurate death notice for the Standard requires some reference, however oblique, to the magazine killing itself by rebuffing its lifeblood, conservative readers. The notion of a “Never Trump” publication appealing to a mass conservative audience during The Donald’s reign seems a difficult trick to pull off. The Standard sought to walk this tightrope by transitioning from Bill Kristol, now a familiar talking-head to MSNBC viewers and 140-characters-or-less-wordsmith to Twittericans also following Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Paul Krugman, to the able and less alienating Stephen Hayes as editor seemed a last-ditch survival gambit. But the magazine’s convoluted identity, aiming for that sliver of conservative America still not sold on a tax-cutting scourge of political correctness who appoints solid judges to the Supreme Court, unsurprisingly did not attract much of an audience. Perhaps the magazine planted the seeds of its end much earlier. The Standard realized its ambitions in Iraq and thereby propelled its demise. After the failure of its ideas in action in Mesopotamia discredited the crusader-state refrain found in its pages, the Standard’s dream turned into a nightmare. Conservatives slowly drifted away from the muscular foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration and the magazine so closely identified with it. It influenced the powerful, and then it influenced readers to read elsewhere. One might venture to the magazine’s founding for reasons for its eventual demise. One of its competitors noted at its founding that “it seems altogether possible that did NATIONAL REVIEW not exist, no one would have invented it. The launching of a conservative weekly journal of opinion in a country widely assumed to be a bastion of conservatism at first glance looks like a work of supererogation, rather like publishing a royalist weekly within the walls of Buckingham Palace. It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” The founding editorial admitted, “NATIONAL REVIEW is out of place, in the sense that the United Nations and the League of Women Voters and the New York Times and Henry Steele Commager are in place.” Contrast William F. Buckley’s words with Bill Kristol’s inaugural article in The Weekly Standard. Titled “President Powell?” on the cover, the piece speculated over the flavor-of-the-month potential presidential candidacy of General Colin Powell. “And so the most respected Public figure in America joins the Republican party,” Kristol celebrated. “That continues to worry some conservatives, who fear his influence on the GOP. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Dan Flynn
    5 days ago
  • A Just-So Story: How This Brooklyn Rabbi Got Into Country Music
    In my last article I wrote on the need for climate change and diversity on American college and university campuses to counter and offset the truly “McCarthyite” suppression of ideas and opinions that now poison the contemporary American college and university experience. Inter alia, I also discussed some of my interest in country music. And, yes, no list can be complete without Johnny Cash (“Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” “Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues”), Waylon Jennings, a whole bunch more Merle (“Sing Me Back Home,” “Lonesome Fugitive,” “Mama Tried”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight”), Reba, Hank, Jr. (“A Country Boy Can Survive”), more Willie and Alan Jackson and George Strait, tons of stuff from “Alabama” (“Born Country,” “My Home’s in Alabama,” “Forty Hour Week for a Livin’,” “Mountain Music,” “Pass It on Down”) — and my favorite quirky group, “Confederate Railroad” (“Trashy Women,” “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind,” “Elvis and Andy,” “She Never Cried,” “She Took It Like a Man”). That last group probably now is banned by the P.C. Police because of their name; if you never have heard their stuff, find them on YouTube: sometimes funny, sometimes wacky, and they really hit home with me on “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind.” OK, also Joe Diffie. And I could go on. So, for those who wonder, here’s the back story, the Rudyard Kipling on “How the New York Rabbi Got into Country Music”: It is 1994. In a “Bizarro World” reverse-variation on the opening theme scene of the Beverly Hillbillies, my former wife and I packed our three daughters — then ages 13, 12, 11 (yes, “Irish triplets”) — into our Ford Taurus station wagon, and we set off from L.A. to Louisville for my year of clerking for the Hon. Danny Julian Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. At first we were listening to CBS news stations and some talk radio as we worked our ways north-eastward ho through Nevada and Arizona. As we drove farther east, now through Utah, the kids begged us to play radio music stations with stuff they like. So, to pacify them and win their eternal love — and to deter them from annoying each other in the back seat through two more states — we desperately caved. We started playing their music, and after a few dreadful songs with even more dreadful lyrics, my wife and I looked at each other: “Holy cow! This garbage is what they listen to? All day, every day? Yikes!” So we started fumbling with the radio dial. At the time we knew less country music than the Prophet Habakkuk. We found one of Utah’s various country music stations — and soon thereafter we were in Laramie, Wyoming, where they also have a country music station or two… — and we encountered our first Garth Brooks song. Gorgeous lyrics, haunting melody, profound life meaning: “The River.” As we both heard that song, en route to Kentucky, a place we did not know, for me to begin a new career in law practice after a decade in ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, December 7, 2018By Dov Fischer
    5 days ago