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Congress’s Duty to Lead

By 8.26.14

While President Obama dithers, Congress needs to act against ISIS. House and Senate leaders should reconvene Congress this week, and take the unprecedented step of authorizing military action against ISIS and then requesting Obama’s signature. Customarily, a president takes the first step, presenting a draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force (similar to a declaration of war), then negotiating with Congress on the goals and scope. But Obama’s intentions are unknown, so Congress should seize the initiative.

The world is waiting for an American response to the beheading of James Foley and ISIS’s explicit threats to attack this country and raise its flag over the White House. Delay and ambivalence — hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy — will discourage allies and embolden the enemy. Congress can step in, while sparing a reluctant president from having to expend political capital on war. After all, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility for declaring war.

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Main Street U.S.A.

Our Own Way — That’s All We Want

By 8.26.14

The modern world has greater, more terrible problems than the Scottish independence movement. But the movement’s — well — movement helps show why some of our problems are the size they are.

To wit: The age of individualism — our own age — licenses everybody alive to suppose his own notions are The Answer. To Whatever. We get along as well as we do only because many see the license itself as bogus.

Not so the brainless wonders of the Scottish independence movement, who are hoping the voters of Bonnie Scotland, in a special election next month, will declare for separation from the United Kingdom. The idea of a divorce for no reason whatever — no good reason — makes no sense. But it’s a very modern way of analyzing things.

Yes, let’s just go off and do things our own way — because our own way is, in the circular reasoning of the modern age, our own way.

As for the vote in Scotland next month, I exercise my right as a Scot in residence across the great water (because of the irreversible choices of long-dead ancestors) to declare myself: Nae!!! Nivver!!! The haranguers for independence are daft. Their little Highland fling deserves to fall flat.

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The Public Policy

Facts vs. Visions

By 8.26.14

The political left has been campaigning against the use of force since at least the 18th century. So it is not surprising that they are now arguing that heavily armed or aggressive police forces only inflame protesters and thus provoke violence.

Statisticians have long warned that correlation is not causation, but they have apparently warned in vain.

There is no reason to doubt that heavily armed police in riot gear may be more likely to show up where outbreaks of violence are expected. But when violence then breaks out, does that prove that it was the appearance of the police that caused it?

I strongly suspect that people who travel with armed guards are more likely to be murdered than people who do not travel with armed guards. After all, they are not paying to have armed guards for no reason.

If so, should we conclude from a higher murder rate among people with armed guards that having armed guards increases your chances of getting murdered? Shall we also conclude from this that we the taxpayers should no longer pay to have Secret Service agents guarding our presidents?

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The Nation's Pulse

Jesse Jackson and the Renewed Fight to Racialize America

By 8.26.14

What if James Foley, the journalist kidnapped and murdered by ISIS — had been black? Would he have still been killed?

If Juan Williams, a black man, were on a Fox News Sunday panel with the white Bob Woodward, Laura Ingraham and Karl Rove, all discussing the events in Ferguson, would the panel still be a “white panel”?

Was 9/11, which killed hundreds of blacks and Latinos, a racist attack?

We’ll never know the answer to the first question — although we know for a fact that the Rev. Jesse Jackson got headlines and television coverage aplenty years back by securing (along with the then-unknown Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan) the 1984 release of a captured Navy pilot in Syria who was black. 

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At Large

Goodbye to All That Central Planning

By 8.26.14

What can you say about a sixty-four year old central planning apparatus that died? That it was vestigial? One may look to India on how to try to dismantle Big Government.

In a bold move, India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, recently fired the Planning Commission, a central planning body established in 1950 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Replacing it, he envisions a think-tank that would engage in free market philosophy and strengthen the role of India’s many states. He has created an on-line forum asking for suggestions on what the replacement should look like.

The Planning Commission, chaired by the prime minister, had consisted of various cabinet officials and experts, many of whom were economists. Its mission was principally to allocate resources to foster Indian development, formulate Five-Year Plans, and assess progress against those plans. The Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time reports that the current Five-Year Plan comprises over 1,000 pages.

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At Large

The Fight for Civilization

By 8.26.14

Going through my library recently I came across a small, rather battered blue book: the 1943 edition of The Last Enemy by Richard Hillary, addressed to my mother, then on Army service as a nursing sister, “With love from Dad.”

Dad? My grandfather? I remembered him as a serious, white-haired old gentleman, Sir Frank Gibson, long-time mayor of Fremantle, Member of the Legislative Council, patron, president or committeeman of innumerable clubs and societies, Knight of St. John.

He had made a considerable sacrifice, I later realized, to pay my school fees after my father died, but I had never been sure he approved of me, and I had always vaguely, though I now know quite unjustly, felt that he disapproved of “love,” or any other emotion.

Still, those simple words suggested to me that The Last Enemy was something special.

It was. Once very well known, it remains a classic which should not be forgotten, and whose message is as relevant today as when it was written.

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Special Report

Counter-Insurgency Intensifies — Again

By 8.25.14

The attack against the top commanders of Hamas’ military wing, reported in the Jerusalem Post over the weekend, underscores one of the key elements of a counter-revolutionary war: kill the insurgents; and in particular, kill their chiefs.

There will always be variations based on time and place, but in essence we know what must be done to suppress the savage wars of the post-colonial era that we are still living in more than half a century after the sun set on the British Empire.

You must eliminate the commanders of the terror bands that seek to replace the post-colonial regimes. These, as often as not are composed of incompetent thieves with no respect for their own countrymen. This gives the insurgents an initial claim to the moral high ground, which they quickly squander by showing they are little more than political mafias, using the populations they claim to represent as hostages and expendable props for propaganda purposes.

Second, you must flush the foot-soldiers out of their hiding places — get the fish, if one may refer to an old maestro of the genre, out of the water.

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The Right Prescription

Obamacare Isn’t Going Away as Campaign Issue

By 8.25.14

In an obvious attempt to help the Democrats preserve their Senate majority, the “reporters” of the legacy news media have been hard at work promoting a new Obamacare meme. The Los Angeles Times assisted in the launch of this propaganda campaign early this month with a piece titled, “Obamacare loses some of its campaign punch for Republicans.” The evidence provided by the article’s authors in support of this claim consists primarily of a July study involving GOP advertising: “The percentage of broadcast television ads focused on Obamacare dipped in the spring, according to a study conducted by Kantar Media/CMAG.”

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The Environmental Spectator

Frying Birds in Midair

By 8.25.14

At the most modern solar power plant in the world, researchers are now saying the magnified sun rays are setting birds on fire in midair — by the thousands. They call them “streamers,” because of the smoke plume that is quite visible as they ignite and plummet to earth. Stories of the scorched birds were so widespread that alert investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to visit the plant — built by BrightSource Energy near the California/Nevada border. The Feds watched in horror as they saw an average of one “streamer” every two minutes.

Coincidentally, the company is asking California regulators to approve an even larger version of the solar plant, and the Feds are — predictably — urging the state to halt the application until more Feds can conduct more studies.

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The Nation's Pulse

Jeff Buckley: The Eternal Life of Grace

By 8.25.14

On August 23, 1994, Columbia Records would release Gracethe debut album of Jeff Buckley.

It would prove to be his only fully completed album.

On May 29, 1997, while in the midst of recording his follow up album in Memphis, Buckley disappeared after taking a spontaneous swim fully clothed in the Wolf River. His body was found nearly a week later. An autopsy revealed no drugs and only a nominal amount of alcohol in his system. Buckley was 30 years old.

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