A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

An Ideological Victory Over the Castro Brothers Is Not Enough

By 12.23.14

It is quickly becoming an article of faith among those who favor ending the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba that their opponents are economic illiterates. The more we can penetrate our long-time Caribbean adversary with iPhones and other technological marvels, the sophisticates patiently explain, the more Fidel Castro’s communism will cease to appeal.

Ending the embargo is really “a Trojan horse for democratic capitalism,” they say.

But suppose what the opponents of economic reconciliation intuitively understand is that the problem with Cuba is not communism, an ideology whose popular appeal collapsed almost two decades ago with the Berlin wall, but gangland rule. Suppose that what they recognize in the Cuban leadership is a ruthless regime which has no trouble with the erosion of its professed ideology as long as the final result is greater power, more wealth, and the appearance of legitimacy.

A Further Perspective

The IRS’s School Bond Dodge

By 12.22.14

There was a time when many a school board threatened to cancel the football season or disband the school band when its members sensed the voters might vote against the latest school bond measure. The threats were usually idle ones, but they often galvanized enough voters to put the issue over.

Voters are probably more savvy now and don’t fall this trick, but the head of the Internal Revenue Service, Commissioner John Koskinen, apparently doesn’t think so. When Congress last week, by way of the “Cromnibus” budget bill, reduced the IRS’s budget by $346 million (to a measly $10.9 billion), Mr. Koskinen wrapped the old School Bond Dodge in new clothing and announced that the budget cuts could very well result in delayed mailing of income tax refund checks. Not only that, but taxpayers who call in with questions will probably be dealt with by automatic telephone messages instead of human beings. (You know that drill: “All of our agents are busy with other customers.”)

A Further Perspective

A Thankless Task

By 12.17.14

No doubt a fear of accusations of “Islamophobia” explains the astonishing fact that the Sydney jihadist was not on any terror watch list, an omission that baffled the country’s prime minister. An open jihadist from Iran, Man Haron Monis had committed a series of offenses before this week. “How can someone who has had such a long and checkered history not be on the appropriate watch lists and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community,” said Tony Abbott. “These are questions that we need to look at carefully and calmly and methodically.”

Australia’s security knew he was a threat but gave him a wide berth anyways, which is what one would expect in a political climate that punishes public figures for viewing the problem of radical Islam too clearly.

Abbott has been criticized for not taking “attacks on Muslims” in Australia seriously enough. Almir Colan of the Islamic Council of Victoria told the press in recent months that Abbott, despite his assurances to Muslim Australians that they belonged to “Team Australia,” needed to show greater sensitivity to them.

A Further Perspective

We Need the CIA ‘On That Wall’

By 12.16.14

The tragic events of September 11 prompted a close reexamination of our national intelligence capabilities and the entire national security apparatus. That examination was long overdue. The final report of the independent 9-11 Commission identified wholesale flaws in the collection, dissemination, and use of intelligence data, and recommended a major overhaul of the CIA/FBI/NSC triangle. It recommended a detailed plan of action to facilitate the exchange of information to “connect the dots” more effectively. By all accounts, that ambitious plan is being executed.

Now comes Chapter 2 in the ongoing debate over the role of the CIA in our national security program. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on secret interrogations and torture of suspects by the CIA from 2001-2007 is a chilling reminder of what takes place behind the label, “CLASSIFIED,” particularly when the interrogation is delegated to government contractors. Whether it’s labeled illegal “torture” or legal “enhanced interrogation techniques” is immaterial. It’s clearly not who we are as Americans, it’s not what we do. I am ashamed. We all should be.

A Further Perspective

Tortured Reasoning

By 12.16.14

Critics and defenders of the harsh interrogation methods applied to captured terrorists can argue forever over whether those methods were “torture.” But any serious discussion of a serious issue — and surely terrorism qualifies as serious — has to move beyond semantics and confront the ultimate question: “Compared to what alternative?”

If you knew that there was a hidden nuclear time bomb planted somewhere in New York City — set to go off today — and you had a captured terrorist who knew where and when, would you not do anything whatever to make him tell you where and when? Would you pause to look up the definition of “torture”? Would you even care what the definition of “torture” was, when the alternative was seeing millions of innocent people murdered?

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent release of a massive report on the CIA’s severe interrogation methods, used against captured Islamic terrorists, has set off a firestorm of controversy. It is hard to see what benefit the United States of America gains from releasing that report. But it is painfully obvious what lasting damage has been done to the security of Americans.

A Further Perspective

The Breathless Left

By 12.10.14

In recent weeks, members of the Left, seeking to defame police departments, have hurled around the term “murder” with ease. They are eager to leave the public with the impression that police officers are targeting black males. It is “open hunting season on black men,” says PBS host Tavis Smiley.

What the Left calls “murder,” a sane society would call justified self-defense or accidental killing. Even in the Garner case, no evidence exists to establish that the police officers, not all of whom were white, acted out of racial animus. Nor is it clear that the accused police officer’s actions amounted to manslaughter. The grand jury may have concluded that the officer’s actions, while flawed, didn’t rise to the level of manslaughter.

A Further Perspective

Is Law Optional?

By 12.9.14

The fiasco of Rolling Stone magazine’s apology for an unsubstantiated claim of gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house — and the instant rush to judgment of the university administration in shutting down all fraternities, when those charges were made — should warn us about the dangers of having serious legal issues dealt with by institutions with no qualifications for that role.

Rape is a crime. It belongs in a criminal justice courtroom. And those found guilty belong behind bars for a long time.

What could possibly have led anyone to believe that college professors or campus administrators should be the ones making decisions about charges of criminal acts that can ruin the lives of the accuser or the accused?

Many years ago, the late William F. Buckley said that he would rather be ruled by people with the first hundred names in the Boston phone book than by a hundred Harvard professors. Having spent more than half a century on academic campuses across the country, I would likewise rather have my fate decided by a hundred Americans chosen at random than by a hundred academics.

A Further Perspective

Ferguson in Black and White

By 12.4.14

The debate about the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson got heated on NBC’s Meet the Press on November 23 in an exchange between former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Michael Eric Dyson, an African-American academic, Princeton Ph.D. in religion, political analyst for MSNBC, and a professor of sociology at Georgetown University.

“We’re talking about the exception here,” contended Giuliani, regarding the shooting in Ferguson.

The real issue is “the fact that 93 percent of (murdered) blacks in America are killed by other blacks,” Giuliani asserted. “I would like to see the attention paid to that, that you are paying to this.”

About the complaint of heavy police presence in black communities, Giuliani said “white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 to 75 percent of the time.”

Dyson, responding, said “this is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir.” 

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The Search for Racism

By 12.3.14

The self-appointed champions of “civil rights” render the term racism increasingly meaningless. Where juries see self-defense, they see homicidal racial animus. They turn aggressors into victims and demand that society accord the victims the status of heroes, deserving of memorials in public schools, a suggestion that the White House recently touted for Michael Brown.

A desire for power, not justice, is driving their protests. Their willingness to commit injustices during the protests underscores their lack of interest in justice. They are perfectly willing to harm innocent people for the sake of attaining power. “No justice, no peace” is just a slogan for new injustices. It is a slogan that leads to everything from looting and burning down buildings to disrupting traffic with “die-ins” to throwing police officers in prison for acts of self-defense.

It is not that the Ferguson protesters have a good end but select bad means to achieve it. Their end isn’t even good. It is simply raw power, and if they got it, they would use that power to commit fresh injustices.

A Further Perspective

Opinions Versus Facts

By 12.2.14

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Soon after the shooting death of Michael Brown, this 285-pound young man was depicted as a “gentle giant.” But, after a video was leaked, showing him bullying the owner of a store from which he had stolen some merchandise, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed displeasure that the video was leaked. In other words, to Holder the truth was offensive, but the lie it exposed was not.

Many people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses to the fatal shooting gave opposite accounts of what happened. Some even gave accounts that contradicted what they themselves had said earlier.

Fortunately, the grand jury did not have to rely on such statements, though some in the media seemed to. What the grand jury had, that the rest of us did not have until the grand jury’s decision was announced, was a set of physical facts that told a story that was independent of what anybody said.