Special Report

Special Report

Exorcizing Latin America’s Demons

By 2.28.14

Given Venezuela’s ongoing meltdown and the visible decline in the fortunes of Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner, one thing has become clear. Latin America’s latest experiments with left-wing populism have reached their very predictable end-points. There is a price to be paid for the economics of populism, and no amount of blaming nefarious “neoliberals” can disguise cruel realities such as food-shortages, electricity-blackouts, endemic corruption, the disintegration of rule of law, utterly insecure property-rights, and wild inflation — all of which have helped Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador achieve the ignominious distinction of being categorized as “repressed economies” in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.

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Evangelical Malaise and Determination

By 2.27.14

Over 3,700 Evangelicals gathered over the last several days in Nashville for the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) annual convo amid emerging threats in America to religious liberty and public expression of orthodox Christianity.

It was the first NRB I’ve attended since 1984 (!), when I staffed a display booth as a college intern. In those days, many prominent, politically engaged tele-evangelists were riding high, active at NRB, and, with many Evangelicals, hopeful that the Reagan presidency might coincide with spiritual renewal in America. President Reagan in fact addressed NRB that year, though regrettably I did not see his speech, which hailed the “spectacular” growth of Christian media. Many Evangelicals had only recently emerged from the Evangelical sub-culture and were clearly excited about their opportunity on a larger societal stage.

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The Indefensible Defense Budget

By 2.25.14

The President wants to shrink the U.S. Army back to its size in 1940.

Yes, 1940. The year before America was forced into the Second World War.

But that’s just the starter for this budgetary disaster.

In its new budget proposal for the Department of Defense, the Administration also intends to eliminate the A-10 ground support aircraft — the plane that does so much to support U.S. forces under fire.

Instead, the President has retrenched into that traditional bastion of defense spending — prioritizing the legacy projects of Admirals and Air Force Generals.

The Navy protects its carriers and the Air Force protects its high tech-high cost ascendancy.

Let’s be clear. America needs aircraft carriers, though we could make do with 10. We also need air superiority fighters — though we could make do with a few less. But if the last ten years of war have taught us one thing with certainty, it’s that we can’t make do without a significant ground forces capability.

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Ukraine’s Testament

By 2.20.14

Is Ukraine on the verge of civil war? Or is the Putin-backed Yanukovych government’s attempted crackdown on a strong and resilient opposition of many thousands of protesters and countless other sympathizers more like the Jaruzelski communist government’s imposition of martial law against Solidarity in 1981 or the Soviets’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 or the Red Army’s massacre of Hungarians in 1956? History moved slowly, but by 1989-1991 it was clear which side in the end had prevailed, and it wasn’t the Soviets.

History now is moving faster. Emboldened by Putin’s instructions, Yanukovych on Tuesday attempted to rid central Kiev of its opposition encampments. The brutality backfired, literally as they say, as the determined and resourceful opposition reverted to an uncanny scorched earth policy to stay put. Had it been just these “terrorists” he was up against, Yanukovych might have continued his assault through Wednesday. Instead, late in the days he announced he’d reached a truce of sorts with the opposition. The standoff in central Kiev continues.

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Choosing Fish Over Farmers

By 2.19.14

Climate change ranks as one of the greatest threats to civilization, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. His recent doomsday speech in Indonesia put weather in the same category of menace as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The speech reached levels of alarmism that would have made Al Gore proud. Kerry had “half of Jakarta underwater” by the end of this century.

The claim of catastrophic, man-generated climate change is as factually certain as the law of gravity, said Kerry. Yet he provided no evidence for what he calls an easily demonstrated fact. He simply made appeals to the authority of the scientific priesthood: “When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond.” Of course, that 97 percent figure isn’t scientific. That Kerry would fall back on this propaganda reveals what constitutes a fact in his mind.

After itemizing the apocalyptic consequences of failing to treat catastrophic climate change as a certainty, Kerry let drop that his case could serve in the end as a noble lie. Even if we are wrong, he said, we are right, since all the huffing and puffing will have stimulated cleaner living.

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I Will Not Respect the Lie

By 2.18.14

Compared to their screaming, feverish responses following the July acquittal of George Zimmerman, the relative calm — which is not to imply rationality — of liberals’, and particularly black liberals’, reactions to Saturday’s Michael Dunn “loud music” murder trial verdicts allowed many of their worst traits to be seen more clearly.

From attacking the jury because of the critics’ own misunderstanding of the law, to suggesting that there will and should be “outrage around the country” if Mr. Dunn’s jury could not read a verdict on the charge of first-degree murder, to using the results to claim that America is an inherently and permanently racist nation, the left proves once again that neither facts nor reason can trump their desire intentionally to divide our nation by sowing the bitter seeds of anger and mistrust.

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Surrender

By 2.13.14

Surrender
Surrender
But don’t give yourself away
(Lyrics from “Surrender“ by Cheap Trick)

In his first (and last) appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) immediately and repeatedly agreed with Leno when the now-retired host suggested that Republicans were to blame for the October 2013 government shutdown.

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All I Want for Christmas

By 2.11.14

If I were asking Santa now for a year-end present (assuming I were not too naughty during the intervening months, and that Santa might take a request from a Jew), it would be an end to the non-stop barrage and tedium of news stories about gays, lesbians, and their “rights” and challenges and achievements in 21st-century America.

As it stands now, the torrent of headlines is enough to make you think that every news outlet in the country is a subsidiary of the Washington Blade.

Over the weekend, newspapers, websites, and news broadcasts breathlessly announced new policies of the Justice Department regarding how the DoJ will treat same-sex married couples in matters which involve the federal government.

At a Saturday night speech in Manhattan, Attorney General Eric “What Black Panthers?” Holder announced that he will “formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.”

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Marriage Week: There’s Lots to Celebrate

By 2.10.14

This week Americans honor National Marriage Week, coinciding with Valentine’s Day, the international holiday for lovers. There’ll be lots to celebrate — romance, fidelity, tying the knot and the lifelong commitment that marriage entails.

This year it might also be worth taking special note of the fundamental role that monogamous marriage has played in the creation of peaceful civilizations and even in the evolution of humanity itself.

In my new book, Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, I take note of two recent major developments in anthropological and sociological theory:

• Monogamous marriage has played the key roll in creating the relatively peaceful civilizations of Western Europe, India, China and the other Confucian cultures of the Far East. It’s counterpart in marriage arrangements, polygamy, on the other hand, creates cultures that are violent within and without, eternally unstable and at war with other cultures.

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Finally, a Conservative Leader

By 2.6.14

In the middle of 2013, a French journalist asked me who I thought was today’s outstanding center-right head of government. After a few moments’ thought, I responded: “She died in April. Requiescat in pace.”

Looking around the world, the search for what might be called a full-spectrum conservative government leader was, until recently, a depressing exercise. On many issues, Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron seems positively ill-at-ease with most of his own MPs (and certainly grass-roots Tories) who are more-than-a-few clicks to the right of him. Across the Channel, most European center-right governments are pursuing policies best described as marginally-less-social-democratic than those of the left. In Latin America, the picture is equally disheartening, especially after Michele Bachelot’s return to the Chilean presidency, following what some regard as a mediocre performance by the hitherto-governing center-right administration.

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