A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

Preparing for the Next Debt Fight

By 3.5.15

While the Obama administration lectures Europe about the latter’s fiscal policies, Washington continues to run deficits. The problem is bipartisan. When George W. Bush took office the national debt was $5.8 trillion. When Barack Obama took over it was $11.9 trillion. Now it is $18.2 trillion.

And these numbers will look like the “good ol’ days” when the entitlement tsunami hits in coming years. Interest alone ran $431 billion last year. As interest rates rise to more normal levels, debt payments will be one of the big spending boulders, alongside Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and military. Worse, economist Laurence Kotlikoff figures total unfunded liabilities today run about $200 trillion. But who’s counting? Certainly not the president!

A Further Perspective

Europe’s Real Time-Bomb

By 3.2.15

While Europe’s governments and financial markets have been fixated in recent months by the ongoing fiscal and political disaster otherwise known as Greece, the challenges facing one of the EU’s smallest members are, frankly, quite minor compared to what may well be Europe’s biggest looming internal problem.

The name of that challenge? In a word: France.

It’s no exaggeration to say that France is facing one of its most systematic crises since the Fourth Republic’s collapse in 1958. This time, however, there’s no man of destiny—no Charles de Gaulle—waiting in the wings to save France from itself. In fact, that’s part of France’s problem: a political class that, regardless of party, isn’t adept at imaginative thinking, especially concerning Exhibit A of France’s problems: its economy.

A Further Perspective

How Not to Fight Violent Extremism

By 2.27.15

What could the White House have been thinking? The Obama administration’s recently concluded Summit on Countering Violent Extremism was a high-profile affair, bringing together key world leaders and decisionmakers on a critical topic at a critical time. But it was also punctuated by instances of stunning tone-deafness, and a profound failure to understand the dynamics of terrorism in its many forms. 

A case in point is Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB (Federal Security Service), who was invited to Washington as the head of Russia’s delegation to the Summit. Ostensibly, Bortnikov was here to talk about “the role of the state” in Russia, and the techniques used by Russian law enforcement agencies against “foreign terrorist operatives.” The FSB noted in an official statement ahead of the parlay that “Bortnikov will inform the participants of the forum about the functioning of the Russian Federation in the national system to counter extremism, while focusing attention on the importance of the central role of the state in countering the ideology of terrorism.” 

A Further Perspective

The Unique Horror of Beheadings

By 2.25.15

War is hell. We see gruesome killings on the battlefields as a tragic result of combat. We have become sadly accustomed, even jaded, to reports of the numbers of troops and innocent civilians killed in action.

Some are blown to bits by mortar shells, barrel bombs, or IEDs. Some are shot in the head or heart and die instantly. Still others die from massive gunshot wounds received in an intense firefight . And then, there are those severely wounded who are medivacked off the battlefield only to die later on an operating table.

But, beheading is killing of a much different kind. The result is the same—a dead body, grieving family and friends. But, the means are barbaric, gruesome, grotesque. It's inhuman and inhumane. It’s intended to horrify and it does just that.

It inspires rage and calls for revenge. It becomes the catalyst for massive retaliation. Politicians promise to pursue the perpetrators to the ends of the earth and to deliver them to justice.

A Further Perspective

What’s in a Name?

By 2.23.15

The editorial writer for the Washington Post (a propaganda arm of the Democrat party) was in quite the tizzy on Wednesday morning. Islamic State (ISIS) had rounded up and beheaded 21 Egyptian Christian workers in Libya, in a sacred rite required by the Koran, that was duly recorded for posterity by an ISIS videographer. Egypt’s president Sisi was understandably put out for, though a Muslim, he regards all citizens of his country as equals. He ordered air strikes against ISIS camps in Libya, and who could blame him?

The Washington Post, that’s who. The editorial prissily complained that Sisi had bombed the wrong terrorist camp. According to the Post, the bloody assassins hailed from the Sirte camps, and Sisi had bombed the Derna camps.

Sisi’s problem, carped the Post, is his chronic failure to make distinctions amongst terrorist groups. That’s a view widely shared on the left. According to a European diplomat quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “Sisi doesn’t have credibility with…moderate Islamists [italics added].”

A Further Perspective

The Real ‘Dirty Dozen’ at the IRS

By 2.19.15

The IRS just released its “dirty dozen” list of tax scams and schemes for the American people to avoid. In addition to normal phishing and identity theft, a slew of new phone scams around the nation has caught many taxpayers off guard. Plus, unscrupulous return preparers take advantage of confused Americans, especially given that 60 percent of taxpayers need assistance figuring out all those documents, tables, and exemptions. The list also warns the less honest among us to avoid hiding money offshore, in abusive tax shelters, or with false documents. Additionally, it urges people not to falsify income or claim too much in fuel tax credits, either.

But there is an even more concerning “dirty dozen” list that the IRS wants the public to forget.

It’s been almost two years since the news broke that the IRS had been targeting Tea Party, pro-Israel, and other conservative groups — and a scandal erupted. Here are just a select few ways the IRS has mismanaged its problems and shown itself to be incompetent and untrustworthy:

A Further Perspective

Measles, Vaccines, and Autism

By 2.10.15

The current controversy over whether parents should be forced to have their children vaccinated for measles is one of the painful signs of our times. Measles was virtually wiped out in the United States, years ago. Why the resurgence of this disease now?

The short answer is that false claims, based on other false claims, led many parents to stop getting their children vaccinated against measles.

The key false claim was that the vaccine for measles caused an increase in autism. This claim was made in 1998 by a doctor writing in a distinguished British medical journal, so it is understandable that many parents took it seriously, and did not want to run the risk of having their child become autistic.

Fortunately, others took the claim seriously in a very different sense. They did massive studies involving half a million children in Denmark and two million children in Sweden. These studies showed that there was no higher incidence of autism among children who had been vaccinated than among children who had not been vaccinated.

A Further Perspective

Eric Holder’s Sorry Sense of Justice

By 2.9.15

Thursday morning’s “Building community trust” roundtable discussion in Oakland, California, with Attorney General Eric Holder, local law enforcement, elected officials, and community leaders was designed to “build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.” After brief remarks, Holder and company dismissed the press corps.

It is a courtesy, a Department of Justice spokesman explained, to allow participants to speak more candidly. And I knew that was the plan. Still, it was painful to watch as Holder spoke in favor of “body-worn cameras” for law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line and then effectively turned off media cameras that might have recorded any real dialogue, mayhap, of public officials whose polished images are on the line.

A Further Perspective

Obama Versus America

By 2.4.15

In his recent trip to India, President Obama repeated a long-standing pattern of his — denigrating the United States to foreign audiences. He said that he had been discriminated against because of his skin color in America, a country in which there is, even now, “terrible poverty.”

Make no mistake about it, there is no society of human beings in which there are no rotten people. But for a President of the United States to be smearing America in a foreign country, whose track record is far worse, is both irresponsible and immature.

Years after the last lynching of blacks took place in the Jim Crow South, India’s own government was still publishing annual statistics on atrocities against the untouchables, including fatal atrocities. The June 2003 issue of National Geographic magazine had a chilling article on the continuing atrocities against untouchables in India in the 21st century.

A Further Perspective

American Sniper vs. American Deserter

By 2.2.15

It was two years ago today that Chris Kyle, who survived four tours of duty in Iraq, was killed by a fellow soldier he was trying to help. Yesterday, I joined the millions of Americans who have made the pilgrimage to movie theaters to watch American Sniper. Like most of those millions who saw it before me, it was something I won’t soon forget.