A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

Hillary Clinton’s Phantom Menace

By 6.11.15

Hillary Clinton has a new crusade. The Democrats’ only name female candidate for president sees “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.”

In a speech at Texas Southern University, Clinton also charged, “Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.” She called on “Republicans at all levels of government with all manner of ambition to stop fearmongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they’re so scared of letting citizens have their say.”

Fearmongering? To listen to Clinton’s remarks, you would think that power-drunk authorities are turning away millions of citizens at the voting booth. She even called out GOP presidential hopefuls by name. When Rick Perry was governor of Texas, Clinton charged, he enacted a law “that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters.” It was a law requiring photo IDs, struck down by one federal judge but stayed by two higher courts.

A Further Perspective

Who Lost Iraq?

By 6.9.15

After the pro-Western government of China was forced to flee to the island of Taiwan in 1949, when the Communists took over mainland China, bitter recriminations in Washington led to the question: “Who lost China?” China was, of course, never ours to lose, though it might be legitimate to ask if a different American policy toward China could have led to a different outcome.

In more recent years, however, Iraq was in fact ours to lose, after U.S. troops vanquished Saddam Hussein’s army and took over the country. Today, we seem to be in the process of losing Iraq, if not to ISIS, then to Iran, whose troops are in Iraq fighting ISIS.

While mistakes were made by both the Bush administration and the Obama administration, those mistakes were of different kinds and of different magnitudes in their consequences, though both sets of mistakes are worth thinking about, so that so much tragic waste of blood and treasure does not happen again.

A Further Perspective

America Is Transitioning

By 6.5.15

Do you ever get the surreal feeling you live in a movie? Today feels a bit Some Like It Hot, very Victor Victoria, considerably Juwanna Mann even.

“The Pentagon, shamefully, has yet to rescind anachronistic personnel guidelines that prohibit openly transgender people from joining in the military, labeling their condition a ‘paraphilia,’ or perversion,” the New York Times editorial board informs. “The policy has forced thousands to serve in silence, repressing an essential part of their identity.”

The fog of war is about to get foggier.

The Old Gray Lady (maybe time to administer the Crocodile Dundee Test) cites an “absence of common-sense leadership on this issue by Pentagon leaders” and claims “America’s closest allies have been pragmatic and enlightened” regarding transgenders in uniform.

A Further Perspective

Seattle’s Big Dig Still Isn’t Digging

By 6.3.15

Look on the bright side, Seattle! If the big-bore tunnel to replace highway 99 has to be scrapped, the cement-reinforced completed remnant may make a perfect bomb shelter should North Korea’s mad dough-boy of a dictator ever act on his threats to bomb the West Coast.

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I could do.

Seattle’s tunneling project is an arranged marriage for Seattle. Seattle’s voters rejected the project the one time it was on the ballot, but elected officials, playing the parental role, saw what was best, and arranged the union anyway.

The dowry promised was a new waterfront for the core of downtown, a bonanza of development possibilities, with parks, condos and car-free views all in the mix. Sadly, however, the marriage has yet to be consummated. The drill just keeps getting stuck.

A Further Perspective

The Thing Is, Lots of People Don’t Trust the Government

By 6.2.15

Do I trust the federal government? Hell no. President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice is happy to spend years investigating a foreign soccer organization for corruption and former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert for allegedly paying off a blackmailer — but not the alleged blackmailer — yet ignores big concerns. The feds have done next to nothing about the IRS targeting of conservative political groups, other than to defend IRS official Lois Lerner’s creative use of the Fifth Amendment when she refused to answer questions from House investigators. And when Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked in 2013 whether the government was collecting data on millions of Americans, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said no. Shortly thereafter, Edward Snowden leaked information that showed Clapper had lied. The very fact that leaker Snowden had been given top security clearance made the intelligence community appear reckless and incompetent.

A Further Perspective

There’s Something for Everybody In Denny Hastert’s Indictment

By 6.2.15

Last week in a rather surprising development, the Justice Department handed down an eight-page indictment of the former Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert of Illinois.

Hastert, it appears, didn’t just build a political narrative out of his time as a high-school wrestling coach. From the indictment and reporting subsequent to it, Hastert may have sexually abused one or more students in his care. The indictment concerns a pattern of bank withdrawals the former congressman and current $2 million-a-year earner as a DC lobbyist made in order to pay off someone in either compensation or blackmail for “prior bad acts.” Hastert was making frequent withdrawals just below the $10,000 mark upon which federal reporting requirements rest, and that alerted his bankers and the FBI. Questioned about the withdrawals, Hastert said they were because he didn’t trust the banking system.

The indictment says Hastert was trying to pay his counterparty in either a blackmail or compensation arrangement some $3.5 million, and had satisfied some half of that figure before the hammer fell.

A Further Perspective

Exchanging Obamacare for Patient Freedom

By 6.1.15

At issue in the U.S. Supreme Court case of King v. Burwell is whether people who purchased insurance on an Obamacare exchange that is not “state-based” are eligible for premium subsidies. The plaintiffs in the case maintain that Obamacare allows subsidies to flow only to exchanges established by a state government. If the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, look for over 7 million people in the 37 states without state-based exchanges to lose their subsidies.

At the same time, look for panic to break out on Capitol Hill and in state capitals. Politicians from affected states won’t be eager to face voters in 2016 who lost their subsidies and, likely, their insurance altogether.

A Further Perspective

Their Morals and Ours

By 5.31.15

In an article on these pages last week I wrote about Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Badejo’s distress at the Obama-Clinton policy of supplying the Nigerian government with the weapons and intelligence necessary to fight Boko Haram if and only if the administration were permitted to export to Nigeria what the Bishop described as a “cultural imperialism that threatens to erode our cultural values.”

A Further Perspective

Ruthless Trials Show Iran Can’t Be Trusted

By 5.29.15

“We have police. They arrest girls or women for having bad hijab or not being covered enough. But it’s not that we live with the police in our head. You know?” Those famous last words were pronounced by Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian journalist, in an interview alongside her husband, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian — who is a dual Iranian-American citizen raised in California — for CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” in 2014. Bourdain offered that the Iranians he met were super-friendly people with a strong sense of hospitality.

Rezaian and Salehi now have the police in their heads. Six weeks after the interview, Iranian authorities stormed into the couple’s home and arrested them and a freelance journalist. For 10 months, Rezaian has been confined in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, unable to communicate with the world. On Tuesday, he went to trial — a secret tribunal really, as his wife, mother and editor were not allowed to attend — on what appear to be trumped-up charges. His lawyer, Leila Ahsan, is not allowed to talk to the media about what happened in court.

A Further Perspective

The Damage Has Already Been Done by Iran Nuclear Negotiations

By 5.28.15

The Obama Administration’s quest for a deal at all-costs with Iran has already greatly strengthened the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism even though prospects for a deal look bleak. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei demanded the immediate lifting of sanctions when the final deal is signed and along with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard insisted there will be no inspections of military sites — two deal breakers that should be unacceptable even to President Obama.    

Less powerful Iranian diplomats have recently stated there could be inspections of military sites, but the Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard along with other hard liners hold true power in the country.

The prospects of a deal passing the United States Congress also look extremely bleak. 

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