A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

On the Ground in Israel

By 8.4.14

British Airways flight 164 paused on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The Boeing 777 awaited final clearance for takeoff when the alert came over the phone. The “Red Alert” app screams with an alarm whenever Israel detects a rocket launched from Gaza. The alert read: “Rockets Launched: Tel Aviv.”

Just a week earlier, a similar rocket was allowed to land near an open field near the country’s only international airport, prompting the American Federal Aviation Administration to order U.S. carriers to halt all flights.

A few minutes after the latest rocket warning, BA 164 took off as planned. There would be no closing of the airport this time. The Iron Dome defense system worked. Not long after, however, another rocket was fired into the city of Kiryat Gat. This time, it got through. A house was destroyed and a civilian killed.

A Further Perspective

Ceasefire: Under What Grounds?

By 8.1.14


We have all been here before. The same movie reruns every few years; only the names are changed to protect the guilty. It features a battle between two squads, two teams, two cultures. One side in this conflict is comfortable with its own identity and does not change names with the seasons: Israel. The other guys are chameleons, adopting new aliases, new tactics, new tricks, but always committed to the maximum in indiscriminate damage: Hamas, Hizbollah, PLO, PFLP, Al Qaeda, Fatah, Islamic Jihad.

A Further Perspective

Obama’s Part-Time Nation

By 7.31.14

Vice President Joe Biden recently declared that America's jobs picture is outstanding — historically exceptional, on the plus side.

“Businesses are hiring at historic rates,” Biden stated, “with 52 consecutive months of net private sector job growth."

President Obama reiterated the same point in a recent speech in Delaware. “Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months,” he declared.

“By almost every economic measure,” Obama continued, “we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office.”

These upbeat assessments about jobs and the performance of the U.S. economy, regrettably, aren’t backed up by the facts or shared by the American public.

A recent Gallup survey, for instance, shows 56 percent of Americans saying the economy is getting worse while 39 percent said the economy is improving.

In his July 13 article, “Full-Time Scandal of Part-Time America,” U.S. News & World Report editor in chief Mortimer Zuckerman provided a more realistic portrayal than Biden and Obama of the actual state of the U.S. economy.

A Further Perspective

The Quirks of the Nanny State

By 7.30.14

Under the nanny state, what qualifies as a risk is often perplexing. Its champions usually see risks everywhere, from climate change to oversized sugary drinks to cupcake parties in public school classrooms. They press for more and more safety and healthy regulations in every area of life, demanding that society err on the side of caution. But when topics such as over-the-counter abortifacients and drug legalization come up, proponents of the nanny state suddenly change their tune. Risks are downplayed and freedom is extolled.

The New York Times, which normally favors hyperactive legislation and regulations for imaginary risks, has adopted a dismissive attitude about the real risks of marijuana use. Its editorial board has pronounced marijuana a “substance far less dangerous than alcohol” and declared that pot “addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.” It continued, “Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the ‘Reefer Madness’ images of murder, rape and suicide.”

A Further Perspective

Hillary’s the One — Until She’s Not

By 7.30.14

Early in the 2008 presidential election season, I was invited to attend a luncheon and panel discussion on the upcoming election at the magnificently restored Willard Hotel. The event was sponsored by one of the large law firms in Washington. Law firms don’t do this kind of thing where I used to practice. But this is the Imperial City.

A Further Perspective

Keep China Off Our Carriers

By 7.28.14

Describing his approach to dealings with the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War, President Reagan famously warned, “Trust, but verify.”

A version of that wise caution should be used in dealing with the increasing efforts by the Chinese Navy to cultivate more cooperative military relationships, particularly in seeking greater access to U.S. aircraft carriers: “Cooperate, but very cautiously!”

China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli recently urged his counterpart U.S. Admiral Jonathon W. Greenert to bring the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier based in Japan, to a mainland Chinese port and allow the crew of the newly commissioned Chinese carrier to take a tour. Asked for his reaction to that request, Admiral Greenert replied, “I’m receptive to that idea.” 

Excuse me, but not so fast, Admiral. Let’s go slow on exploring cooperation with the Chinese navy.

A Further Perspective

Gutting the First Amendment

By 7.17.14

Supporters of campaign finance laws have been apoplectic since the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate political ads in Citizens United. Having lost another big case this year in McCutcheon v. FEC, they now want to write their views directly into the Constitution.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would let government limit contributions to candidates and spending by and on behalf of them. The House will take up a similar proposal soon. To see where this amendment would lead if enacted, consider that the law in Citizens United prevented a group from distributing a film that criticized Hillary Clinton during her last presidential bid. During arguments in the case, the government’s lawyer admitted that the law could apply to books as well.

At the core of this effort is the very dangerous view that freedom of speech isn’t an inalienable individual right—a right to say what you want regardless of what others think—but a privilege that we exercise at the sufferance of “the public.”

A Further Perspective

Lawsuits and Impeachment

By 7.15.14

Whenever Democrats are in real trouble politically, the Republicans seem to come up with something new that distracts the public’s attention from the Democrats’ problems. Who says Republicans are not compassionate?

With public opinion polls showing President Obama’s sinking approval rate, in the wake of his administration’s multiple fiascoes and scandals — the disgraceful treatment of veterans who need medical care, the Internal Revenue Service coverups, the tens of thousands of children flooding across our open border — Republicans have created two new distractions that may yet draw attention away from the Democrats’ troubles.

From the Republican establishment, Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced plans to sue Barack Obama for exceeding his authority. And from the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, former Governor Sarah Palin has called for impeachment of the president.

Does President Obama deserve to be sued or impeached? Yes! Is there a snowball’s chance in hell that either the lawsuit or an impeachment will succeed? No!

A Further Perspective

Cheating at the Sochi Olympics Alleged

By 7.14.14

Reports in the press, including AP and New York Times, indicate that pop violinist Vanessa-Mae may have been unwittingly implicated in a cheating scandal during the qualifications for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Miss Vanessa-Mae herself is not accused of wrongdoing; rather, Slovenian Ski Association officials say that four of their racing officials faked results in the grand slalom, Vanessa-Mae’s event. They suspended the officials and are passing the dossier to public prosecutors. Vanessa-Mae finished last in the event at Sochi, which was actually one by a Slovenian.

The matter would be a cause for laughter and tut-tutting, with both sports and music chroniclers agreeing that the silly episode is in keeping with the character of a pretty, vain, ditzy 35-year old musician whose prodigies as a child were channeled into the kind of insipid pop classical performances that are used in airports to lull travelers or the noise you hear in the toilet stalls of big hotel chains.

A Further Perspective

Our Boring Secular Consensus

By 7.11.14

In 1839, the future saint Jeanne Jugan gathered a group of women and girls, and began administering care to the poor of Rennes, France. One-hundred and seventy-five years later, Jugan’s group, Little Sisters of the Poor, has apparently become something far more sinister. That’s according to the reliably irrelevant National Organization for Women, which recently included the sisterhood on its “Dirty 100” list of groups that have been “using religion to justify discrimination, deny women’s equality.”