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The War on Terror Spectator

The Middle East’s Christian Diaspora

By 7.15.14

Anyone who obtained too much power in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had two choices: join the Ba’ath Party or die. Joseph Kassab, a medical researcher at the University of Baghdad, chose a third option—flee to the United States. Thirty-five years later, he describes his success here as “an American dream story.” But he is a Chaldean Catholic, and he worries for the fate of his people, the Christians of Iraq.

“Do we want our people to leave Iraq? The answer is no,” he told TAS. “Our ancestry in Iraq goes back 2,000 years before Christ.”

The Christian population of Iraq, which has its roots in the ancient Assyrians who embraced Christianity in biblical times, numbered 1.3 million before 2003. Over the next decade, nearly a million Christians fled to neighboring countries. Many who became refugees fled to the West if they could.

Most joined the Chaldean Christian community in Michigan, which began in the 1870s. They had helped build the automobile industry, saving factory wages to bring family members to the land of opportunity. The Detroit community of Chaldeans now numbers 200,000 and has associations for every profession from pharmaceutics to CPAs.

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Political Hay

No U-Turns

By 7.15.14

The Netflix documentary Mitt ought to be required viewing for American voters, and particularly the low-information types who cast their ballots for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election. Mitt chronicles the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and in it one can see the effects a long and grueling presidential campaign can have on a candidate and his family.

One can also see the chasm between who a man really is and what he’s portrayed to be by his political opponents and the media. The Romney in Mitt is a man America would happily choose as its president: successful in business, faithful to God, blessed with family, easygoing with friends, and possessed of the intelligence and skill to serve in a high executive role. He’s funny and down to earth. The Romney clan is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

He’s a man you can root for.

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Cesar Chavez: Anti-Immigration to His Union Core

By 7.15.14

Call it the whitewash of Cesar Chavez. Yes, that Cesar Chavez: the late farm worker unionizer (he died in 1993) honored repeatedly by President Obama. The man the Left loves to name drop for his role in organizing all-those grape and lettuce and melon pickers in the day.

But there is a considerable twist to the story. In fact, Cesar Chavez believed ferociously in the border of the United States — because that border protected his union. So ferociously did he hold this view that the New York Times ran a story detailing an accusation that the union Chavez founded, the United Farm Workers, set up a 100 mile “wet line” to keep “wetbacks” and “illegals” — yes, all of those are Chavez’s words — out of the United States. So let’s go back in the time machine to the period when Chavez was rocketing to fame.

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Play Ball

In Midseason Form

By 7.15.14

With the 85th MLB All-Star Game set to be played tonight at Target Field in Minneapolis, we have reached the midway point of the 2014 baseball season. Actually, we’re well into the second half of the season as MLB teams have played nearly 100 contests in a schedule of 162 games. In any case, here is my assessment of the 2014 season thus far and how my predictions have fared.

AL East                   W   L    PCT      GB
Baltimore Orioles     52   42   .553      ___
Toronto Blue Jays     49   47   .510      4.0
New York Yankees    47   47   .505      5.0
Tampa Bay Rays        44   53   .454      9.5
Boston Red Sox         43   52   .453      9.5

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The Nation's Pulse

Defending Washington

By 7.14.14

Washington, D.C. has always been under attack, rhetorically. But twice it was militarily attacked, with presidents at the scene of combat, and the anniversaries of each are this summer.

This past weekend was the 150th anniversary of Confederate General Jubal Early’s July 11-12, 1864 attack on Fort Stevens on what is now Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C. He had virtually snuck up on the nation’s capital with a nearly 15,000 man army, when Washington’s defenses had been stripped bare by General Grant’s siege at Petersburg.

General Early first arrived at the city’s northern boundary ahead of his troops and spied “feebly manned” defending forts and claiming to see the Capitol dome. Much of his army behind him was bedraggled and exhausted from the extreme heat and dust as they meandered down what is now Rockville Pike through suburban Maryland.

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Special Report

A World Cup to Hold On To

By 7.14.14

Unlike our friend Aaron I was happy to watch the entire, riveting World Cup finale, and not only because my wife cut short her shopping to get back home in time to watch it with me. The two of us and the World Cup go back a ways. The night before our wedding we watched Poland lose to Argentina in Buenos Aires in the opener of the 1978 tournament. We’ve had better luck since then than the Polish national team.

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A Further Perspective

Cheating at the Sochi Olympics Alleged

By 7.14.14

Reports in the press, including AP and New York Times, indicate that pop violinist Vanessa-Mae may have been unwittingly implicated in a cheating scandal during the qualifications for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Miss Vanessa-Mae herself is not accused of wrongdoing; rather, Slovenian Ski Association officials say that four of their racing officials faked results in the grand slalom, Vanessa-Mae’s event. They suspended the officials and are passing the dossier to public prosecutors. Vanessa-Mae finished last in the event at Sochi, which was actually one by a Slovenian.

The matter would be a cause for laughter and tut-tutting, with both sports and music chroniclers agreeing that the silly episode is in keeping with the character of a pretty, vain, ditzy 35-year old musician whose prodigies as a child were channeled into the kind of insipid pop classical performances that are used in airports to lull travelers or the noise you hear in the toilet stalls of big hotel chains.

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Loose Canons

Irrelevant in War

By 7.14.14

Much of the reporting on the fighting between Israeli forces and those of the Hamas terrorist network describes various parts and parties as “increasingly irrelevant.” It’s a term that is generally applied well, but not widely enough. It deserves greater breadth and judgment in its application. There are those who are highly relevant, increasingly irrelevant, and entirely irrelevant. Let’s begin with the last category.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was increasingly irrelevant to the possibilities of renewed war, but with the formation of his “reconciliation” government with Hamas terrorists, Abbas has been demoted to utter irrelevance. He has no power to speak for the Palestinians, no ability to enter into a cease-fire agreement with the Israelis. His powers are a nullity: he can make noises in the international press, which should ignore him. It would, but for the fact that the media would have to admit Abbas’s irrelevance in reaching out to interview the Hamas leaders. It is, for now, more consistent with the media narrative that Palestinians are victims and Israelis evildoers, to keep up the pretense that Abbas is still a leader of his people.

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Fault Is Not Israel’s

By 7.14.14

Back in L.A. I miss Sandpoint but the heat there was a killer. Just murderous. Except at night roaring across the neck of the lake on my Cobalt. That part of the day has a perfect climate.

Well, no lake here in Beverly Hills, but I do have my dog, Julie Goodgirl. And I have my swimming pool. Julie often just jumps in and swims alongside of me, an almost perfect event.

I had lunch today at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel with a very smart friend whom I will call P. Some of the local gentry are boycotting the hotel. The reason is that the owner of the hotel, whom I believe is the Sultan of Brunei, endorses Sharia Law. That kind of law is extremely tough on women and gays. So Hollywood people are boycotting the hotel.

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Another Perspective

The Case for Ex-Im Bank

By 7.14.14

The Export-Import Bank of the United States, more commonly known as Ex-Im Bank, is fighting for its life, now that its eighty-year-old charter is up for renewal by Congress. The new leadership and conservative wing in the House of Representatives view Ex-Im Bank as an entitlement for private enterprise, an example of corporate welfare and so-called crony capitalism. But before overreacting, Congress should consider the facts about Ex-Im Bank’s mission to support American jobs, its performance, and the possible consequences of its demise.

In view of systemic bad credit practices, the economic meltdown, and the destruction of part of Wall Street in 2008, there is no shortage of sniping at anything with “bank” in its name, or for that matter, anything resembling a harbor for the one percent. When he was a presidential candidate, Barack Obama himself called Ex-Im Bank an example of corporate welfare, although in 2012 when he extended its existence for two years, he emphasized the need for American export competitiveness.

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