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Special Report

Hollande’s Churchill Moment

By 11.19.15

“The news from France is very bad and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune. Nothing will alter our feelings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.”
—Winston S. Churchill, 4 June 1940

With every murderous threat to civilization we are asked: “Where are our Churchills?” There isn’t one, and we should not expect one. Churchills are rare. They appear in extremis. The threat in 1940 was, if this is any consolation, more serious than the threat today.

There are however ways to look at the problem as Churchill did, learning from and applying his approaches—which seem to figure in the thinking of French President François Hollande, a partisan socialist suddenly become the de facto leader of the Free World. Churchill implored his countrymen “not to fall below the level of events.” M. Hollande has risen to the level. Mr. Obama has not, but events may have a way of floating him along with them.

Another Perspective

Syrian, Go Home

By 11.19.15

President Barack Obama wants the United States to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year — but in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks and reports that one of the terrorists may have had a valid Syrian passport with a stamp from Greece, more than half the governors in this country, a mostly Republican group, are opposed. They fear that a jihadi will embed with fleeing refugees. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, “Security comes first.”

The governors’ protests are wrongheaded — and not just because they lack the legal authority and manpower to stop refugees from crossing over their state lines. If the Islamic State group wants to orchestrate a terrorist attack on the homeland, it most likely would bypass the two-year refugee application process and instead smuggle its suicide killers over the porous American border or send in radicalized recruits posing as tourists with their European passports like the five dead Paris attackers who have been identified. Or the Islamic State could concentrate on subverting young men living in the United States; think of foiled New York subway suicide bomber Najibullah Zazi or the murderous Boston Marathon bombers.

Special Report

Missing Syrians and An All-Too Present President

By 11.19.15

First, a little inside baseball — at my own site The Hayride, which is a political blog mostly covering events in Louisiana, this is the busiest week in our six-year history and Tuesday was far and away the busiest day. And what drove that traffic was a story, originally reported by WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge that we picked up on, about a Syrian refugee dropped into Baton Rouge and settled there by Catholic Charities who decided to take his destiny, and his whereabouts, in his own hands.

The migrant in question apparently chose to link up with family in the Washington, D.C. area, and after initial reports that he was missing, Catholic Charities and the Louisiana State Police took pains to inform the public that there was no cause for alarm. And there is no reason to believe that isn’t true.

Ben Stein's Diary

What’s Happened to Racism?

By 11.18.15

I am getting to be a pretty old guy. I just had my 71st birthday. There are some terrible things about getting old. You have to get up often in the middle of the night. You get tired walking through the airport. Instant romance becomes a sad joke.

But you do get a sense of perspective, and that used to be worth something.

For example, in my generation, growing up in Maryland and DC, we had a darned good idea of what racism was. My elementary school, beloved Parkside, in an almost unbelievably beautiful setting, was segregated. Black children, or “colored” as they were usually called, were barred by law from attending.

The only black man on the premises was the janitor, Willie, a kindly old fellow endlessly sweeping the halls.

The buses in Maryland were segregated and blacks sat in the back. The buses in DC had only just been integrated and they still had a faded white line separating the formerly all white parts of the bus from the black parts. Older black people usually made their way to the back.

Special Report

Who Wants to Win?

By 11.18.15

French parliamentarians and senators put on a show of unity when President François Hollande addressed them in congress assembled Monday to amplify his call to arms.

Eight terrorists were killed last Friday night, in a well planned operation which centered on a famous concert hall on the boulevard Voltaire called the Bataclan (which translates roughly as the whole shebang), in the funky east side République neighborhood. Simultaneously there was an attack at the big stadium, Stade de France, in the northern suburban department of Saint Denis.

The Islamic State attack killed 129, wounded hundreds.

There has been little mention in the press that the Bataclan was long Jewish-owned and managed; just recently it was sold to a non-Jewish business syndicate. The quaint old place was often used, pro bono, for assemblies and events in support of Israel. Anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists, who in recent years have been increasingly recognized as legitimate in France and other European countries, urged boycotts of the concert hall and threatened its erstwhile owners.

Sports Arena

Stadium Security Post-Paris

By 11.18.15

As bleak and barbaric a night as it was in Paris on Friday the 13th, it could have been worse. Islamic terrorists struck in multiple locations in the City of Lights and succeeded in temporarily bringing one of the world’s finest cities to its knees. One of the locations targeted was an 80,000 seat sports stadium (Stade de France) that, at the time, had an international soccer match ongoing, with thousands of spectators, including French President François Hollande. Shortly after the match began, a terrorist wearing a vest filled with bolts and explosives was detected trying to gain entry by a security guard while being frisked. Police suspect the original plan was to detonate the pack inside the stadium, sending a panicked crowd stampeding into the streets where two more suicide bombers awaited to set off their devices. If ISIS had succeeded in penetrating Stade de France that night, not only would the death toll have been exponentially higher, they even would have had an opportunity to assassinate a major head of State.

Free Market Accountability Project

A Patently Absurd Rule Falls

By 11.18.15

If you want to know how ridiculous patent lawsuits can get with our current system, consider the following: Imagine you went to trial for murder, on a transparently trumped up charge. However, when you tried to plead “Not Guilty,” the Judge slapped you down, saying you had to ask his permission first and instead entering a guilty plea before you ever got a chance to present evidence.

Random Thoughts

America in Very Serious Trouble

By 11.18.15

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Some financial institutions may be considered “too big to fail,” but contemporary Western society may be too frivolous to survive. The Romans had bread and circuses to keep the masses passive and unthinking. We have electronic gadgets, drugs, and pornography. Like the Roman Empire, we too may decline and fall. What happened in Paris may be just the beginning.

With the “global warming” zealots predicting catastrophic consequences over the next century, I wonder if anyone has studied how accurate five-day weather forecasts turn out to be.

Cheap shots at the police by politicians and the media are in fact very expensive, in terms of the human lives that are lost when the effectiveness of law enforcement is undermined. The sharp increase in murders in Baltimore, New York, and other places where the police have been trashed shows how expensive.

It is bad enough to hear someone boasting about his past achievements. What is truly repulsive is hearing someone boasting about the future achievements he thinks he is going to have, as Donald Trump does repeatedly.


Cardinal Wuerl’s Embassy Row Penthouse

By 11.18.15

Walking through the posh neighborhood of Embassy Row in October, I stumbled across a scoop: that Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl lives in a penthouse atop a mansion priced north of $40 million.

That Embassy Row mansion is the Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish. As I approached the mansion, across from the elegant Russian Cultural Center, I wondered if it contained a chapel. Curious, I walked inside. On the first floor, I walked past posters touting open-borders propaganda (“Ten Myths About Immigration” and so on) and saw signs for a leftist outfit called the “Washington English Center,” which offers language and job services to immigrants, legal and illegal.

Not finding the chapel on the first floor, I looked for a priest to direct me to it. I found one, or maybe I didn’t. A man with dyed hair and an ornament in his ear, sporting a priestly collar of an unspecified denomination, was standing near the stairs. “Where is the church?” I asked him. “It is on the second floor,” he replied. “Cardinal Wuerl lives in a penthouse on the third floor,” he added with a grin.

The Current Crisis

Hillary Takes All Cakes

By 11.18.15

So it has come to this. The party that once nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman to win the presidency—the party that once nominated men of the stature of Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey to contest the presidency—is now left with the Three Stooges vying for the highest office in the land. There they stood on a stage in Des Moines, Iowa last Saturday night. The Republican Party had put up eight plausible presidential candidates on a stage on November 10. They even had a second tier debate a few hours earlier featuring candidates who did not make the cut but who could each trounce any of the Democrats’ Three Stooges in the 2016 election. Ladies and gentleman, you heard it first here. The 2016 results are in.