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The Obama Watch

Only Obama Thinks Wars Are Always Optional

By 9.23.14

Some pundits are saying that President Obama has been floundering in his response to the ISIS crisis because public opinion polls show most Americans don’t want another war.

In all my 84 years, I cannot recall a time when most Americans wanted war. That is something we should be proud of. But wars are not always optional.

Even World War II — which some have called “the good war” — was not something that most Americans wanted. But the Japanese took that decision out of our hands when they bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. And Hitler removed any possible doubt when he declared war on us shortly afterward, making sure that we were in the war all over the world.

No one has promoted the dangerous notion that war is optional more than Barack Obama. He declared peace in Iraq when he pulled American troops out, and he declared victory over al Qaeda because his administration had killed bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALS). But all this make-believe has come back to haunt him, as make-believe often does.

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A Further Perspective

Cry, The Beloved Kingdom

By 9.22.14

Based on the results of the historic Scottish referendum announced on Friday, nearly half an educated electorate in a Western democracy has shown more emotional intemperance than it has reason. To follow one’s heart is one thing, but to do it at the expense of the economy and national security is quite another. Even the respected actor Sir Sean Connery, also known as Bond, James Bond, weighed in with a vacuous opinion: “Simply put — there is no more creative an act than creating a new nation.” By that relativist standard, all forms of creativity, however outlandish or exhibitionist, should be embraced for the common good. And it is ironic that Scotland, a land contributing so much to science and technology — the steam engine, penicillin, and equations of electromagnetism to name just a few — should eschew the values of the scientific method and demonstrate such self-destructive irrationality.

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The Charlie Watch

You’re a Lying, Thieving, No-Account, Low-Life Pre-vert

By 9.22.14

The Rick Scott and Charlie Crist campaigns in Florida and the groups that support each of them have an almost incomprehensible amount of money. Experts predict $150 million or more will be spent this year to influence the choice of Florida’s next governor.

Most of these millions are being spent on TV attack ads that grossly exaggerate the perfidy of the incumbent governor and of the former governor who would like his office back. (Of course it’s a real challenge to exaggerate the inconstancy and vacuousness of Crist. I’m not even sure it can be done. But perfidy is something else.)

Ads for Scott, the incumbent Republican governor, accuse Crist of doing the bidding of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein in return for campaign cash. Rothstein, and members of his law firm, gave Crist, and a lot of other candidates, a lot of money. Rothstein, a guest of the federals for years to come, bragged around that he gave money to Crist so he, Rothstein, could pick judges. And Crist did appoint Rothstein to the 4th District Court of Appeal nominating commission. But there’s no proof that Crist’s quid was ever pro quo.

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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.

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The Right Prescription

Obamacare Architect Finds Cure for Old Age

By 9.22.14

If George Washington was the father of our country, Benjamin Franklin was its grandfather. While the former was fighting the British at home, the latter was on the other side of the Atlantic securing the money and arms that kept the revolution alive. It is no exaggeration to say that, without Franklin’s indefatigable diplomatic efforts in Europe, the American Revolution would have failed. What has this to do with Obamacare? When that conflict was officially ended by the Treaty of Paris, Franklin was 77 — well past the age when key ACA architect Ezekiel Emanuel says we should all embrace death.

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Loose Canons

There’s No Confronting the Clinton Mafia

By 9.22.14

Bill has reportedly become a vegan, but Hillary is still very much the carnivore. We know her 2016 presidential campaign began the day after she lost the 2008 nomination to Obama. And we know that it’s being conducted by the same crew, using the same methods, that Bill’s campaigns and presidency were two decades ago. It’s not that the Clintons are back: they never really left.

Those methods would qualify the Clinton Family Enterprise as a mafia family if its heritage were Sicilian.

The Clinton Mafiosi playbook has many chapters, and the cover-up is a longstanding favorite. A few historical reminders are necessary for those who didn’t live through them.

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The Nation's Pulse

Welcome Back, John Sebastian

By 9.22.14

Every once in a while I am willing to go the extra mile to see a performer in concert.

In the case of John Sebastian, I went about 40 miles north. That is the approximate distance between Boston and Gloucester, Massachusetts where the former Lovin’ Spoonful lead singer performed earlier this month at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, the oldest church in Gloucester. The Unitarian Universalists are more socialist than Christian, but they sure know how to book a musical act.

Although I have been to Gloucester twice before, I somehow departed the train at West Gloucester rather than Gloucester. Fortunately, I flagged down a letter carrier from the U.S. Postal Service who was kind enough to supply me with a phone number for a cab. Say what you will about USPS. In this case, they delivered.

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Another Perspective

What Doc Savage Can Teach Us About World War One

By 9.22.14

I’ve written elsewhere about some of the basic lessons Americans should learn from our experience in the First World War. But left untouched in that piece is an almost equally important question: what can Doc Savage teach us about World War One?

Doc Savage, for the uninitiated, was a pulp fiction hero of the 1930s through the 1940s, appearing in more than a hundred and eighty novels. Though the books are very much of their time, they were reissued, starting in the 1960s, as mass market paperbacks, achieving extraordinary success, selling more than 15 million copies.

Doc and his five sidekicks were veterans of the First World War, but definitely not members of the doleful, emotionally shattered, cynical “Lost Generation” who thought that “words like glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene.”

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Enemy of the Week

Mobilizing the Big Guns

By 9.19.14

Confusion reigns. Our president has said no to a return war in Iraq and environs, some of his generals see it differently, and John Kerry is hoping to rely on Iran or CodePink or Pink Floyd. About the only think certain is that among administration representatives ISIL has emerged as the acronym of choice. Before it’s all over someone will be asking for Isilum. Or converting to it.

Happier are those who heard Joe Biden invoking Shakespeare, even if he thinks Shylock is a banker in one of the comedies. He gets things wrong with a steady consistency. In Florida the other day, his nominal boss said “the one constant is American leadership.” We’d revise that to read: “The one constant is Joe Biden’s leadership.”

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At Large

Disunion Jacked

By 9.19.14

When Scotland “voted” on union with her southern neighbor 307 years ago, English troops flowed to the border and English pounds flowed through the Scottish parliament. English force sought, unlike Hadrian, to welcome and not repel. The parliamentarians quietly voted “yes”; their constituents loudly shouted “no.”

Robert Burns eloquently agreed with the screaming sentiment of the people rather than the pols:

What force or guile could not subdue/Thro' many warlike ages/Is wrought now by a coward few/For hireling traitor's wages.

More than three centuries later, Scotsmen — rather than representatives who don’t represent — voted whether to part from the Englishmen they had so controversially joined. Enjoying about as full a democratic expression as modern times have known, and minus the coercion, Scots apparently decided that differences did not dictate divorce, after all.  

In what way, Scotsmen certainly contemplated, would untethering the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George change matters?

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