Special Report

Special Report

Defeating ISIS the World War One Way

By 9.26.14

Many people, even alleged conservatives, blame the West when it comes to explaining Islamic terrorism. If it wasn’t the crusades, it was the end of World War One, when Winston Churchill and T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia), among others, carved up the map of the modern Middle East.

But if the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine (eventually Israel) were a cause of movements like ISIS, why was the region relatively quiescent after the First World War? Indeed, Lawrence, in 1922, predicted that even among the ever restless Arabs, there would “be no more serious trouble for at least seven years,” which, in those territories for which Britain was responsible, proved broadly true. In 1935, he wrote to Robert Graves, “How well the Middle East has done: it, more than any other part of the world, has gained from the war.”

Special Report

Anti-Semitism, Death, and the Left

By 9.25.14

Erev Rosh Hashanah. First day Tishrei (first month of the Jewish year), maybe it is a coincidence. The paper of record happens to carry a lot of Jewish-related news, none of it cheerful. Israeli army officials reported the IDF located the murderers of three teenagers – the crime that started the chain of events leading to last summer’s Gaza war – and killed them in a brief gun battle. Not the sort of thing you want to cheer on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a day that among other thing celebrates the beginning of God’s plan.

Are Jews the witnesses of this plan, the guinea pigs? Maybe both. You have to wonder. It is okay to wonder. Job did. He refused to complain, but he wondered, or how would we have his story? What are humans for? To obey the law and walk a righteous path through life? Or to murder one another?

Special Report

Ross Relations After Ferguson

By 9.24.14

I have to say it was an email I never expected — from a producer for PBS television asking me if I’d like to participate in a televised town hall-style special in St. Louis, Missouri, hosted by Gwen Ifill, on the subject of race relations in “America after Ferguson.” (The show will air this Friday night at 8 PM EDT on PBS stations across the country. Record it and watch!) Apparently, the producer had read my American Spectator article, “Ferguson on Fire” and thought that I’d be a good representative of a “conservative” viewpoint without being a “bomb thrower” and without coming across as racist.

I agreed, of course.

It turned out that I was the only invited panelist (out of ten) who was overtly not a liberal, participating in front of a room full of several hundred people (almost all PBS-watching liberals) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri—St. Louis.

Special Report

Gridiron or Street, Our Gladiators Are Under Siege

By 9.22.14

Besides a selfish sense of schadenfreude, what do we gain when our gladiators lose?

This is a question I’ve asked myself these past few weeks. Another question might be more appropriate, however. Where, as Americans, did we develop this demanding, and sometimes suspiciously manufactured “outrage” that requires culpability of third parties for what inherently is complicated human behavior?

Make no mistake about it, I’m not defending the actions of a few wayward athletes who got caught doing some things that most likely far more of us do in private. Were it not for the advent of ubiquitous cameras and Americans’ new and confusing penchant for texting every thought they have into the unsecure “cloud,” we’d probably never know of these few, and Mr. Goodell could run his organization on that fine line that teeters between gladiator and barbarian without public interference.

Special Report

News of the Future — Moderate Syrian Rebel Edition

By 9.18.14

Mosul, Iraq, October 8, 2014 — Multiple sources have confirmed that Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) forces, part of the “moderate” rebel groups recently trained and armed by the Obama administration, have defeated three small groups of ISIS fighters — with perhaps 25 to 40 members of the terrorist organization killed in each battle — on the outskirts of Raqqa, the Syrian city thought to be home to ISIS leadership. In his daily briefing, a smirking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Today’s victories conclusively prove that the president’s critics were operating from ignorance and partisanship, and not in the best interests of the United States and the region.” President Obama is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday to discuss this rare Middle East success for his administration.

Special Report

Joan Rivers, Outpatient Surgical Centers, and Admitting Privileges

By 9.15.14

The comedian Joan Rivers died on September 4. She had undergone a “routine procedure,” an endoscopy, for an examination of her vocal chords, on August 28 at what is termed “an ambulatory surgical center” for outpatient surgery. She experienced cardiac arrest, was taken by ambulance to a hospital, put into a medically-induced coma, and then on life support. Her death has prompted public discussion of ambulatory surgical centers. For example, PBS’ NewsHour broadcast such a story on September 12.

Special Report

Mideast Christians, Israel, and Why Ted Cruz Got Booed

By 9.12.14

Senator Ted Cruz’s vigorous affirmation of Israel, which provoked boos from a conference for persecuted Mideast Christians on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., has created a growing controversy. Unfortunately, the strife is unlikely to help either Israel or besieged Christians threatened by ISIS, among other dark forces.

The controversy flows partly from the very different historical journeys of American Christians and Mideast Christians. As the conference keynoter, Cruz was barely a few minutes into his remarks before telling the packed hotel ballroom that Israel was a friend to Christians, prompting a growing chorus of jeers. “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” he declared before hastily quitting the podium, startling much of the audience. A cleric restored calm by leading the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer.

Special Report

Who Are We At War With, And Who Is A Threat?

By 9.9.14

We in the West have been coming to wrong conclusions in answering the above questions.

Our “war” confusion is that we aren’t necessarily at war with countries and/or terror groups whose leaders have declared war on us. Thus the Islamic Republic of Iran established in February 1979 by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has avowedly been at war with the West ever since. As a result our policies are constrained by the perception that we are not at war with such adversaries. And so now with Islamic State — IS, ISIS or IL — of whom the Obama administration now says that they are not yet a threat to the homeland.

Special Report

Commemorating Shame and Triumph

By 9.5.14

Lynne Cheney’s new biography of James Madison debuted just in time for the commemoration of the fourth president’s greatest humiliation. Two hundred years ago the British burned nearly all of official Washington, which had been left virtually defenseless by Madison’s appointees. Madison himself, after watching the quick defeat of mostly inexperienced U.S. militia at the Battle of Bladensburg, escaped on horseback initially to Virginia, in search of his wife and his government.

Special Report

Paul Ryan’s Way Forward

By 9.3.14

One thing I’ve always appreciated about Paul Ryan is that he looks you straight in the eye when talking about matters of policy and politics — though clearly he enjoys the former more than the latter. Whether you agree or disagree with Ryan, it is impossible, once you’ve met him, to doubt his sincerity, his good intentions, and the fact that his opinions are grounded in knowledge and introspection that are uncommon in most Americans, much less most members of Congress.

If it sounds like I’m something of a Paul Ryan fan, I plead guilty; I have been ever since meeting him in 1999 during his first campaign to represent Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, including his hometown of Janesville, in Congress. He is the same person today that he was 15 years ago, just with a higher profile, particularly since being selected as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, and a lot more responsibility as chairman of the House Budget Committee — and likely future chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for setting American tax policy.