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A Further Perspective

Canceling Hamas in Wichita

By 4.15.16

As the scenes of wanton carnage from bombings in Paris and Brussels lacerate our sensibilities, test the limits of compassion, and strike fear in our hearts about the prospects of such violence being visited once again on our own shores, our chattering classes have gone to great lengths to reassure us that the Muslim community in America is different from the Muslim community in Europe.

We are repeatedly told that Muslims in America are well off and integrated into our communal structure. The violence we see in Europe is not a function of Islamic theology but of alienation and marginalization — of Europe’s inability to integrate its Muslims.

Of course, those mourning their loved ones in San Bernardino, California might dispute that notion.

After absorbing so many Muslim refugees into their community, the people of Minneapolis might also question the underlying proposition. Having served as ground zero for the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab a decade ago, they are now America’s recruitment center for ISIS. 

At Large

Bernie and the Two Popes

By 4.15.16

Last week’s news that presidential candidate and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders would be attending a Vatican conference on economic and social issues was a bombshell for a number of reasons, revealing not only incredible political tone-deafness from Church officials but also a highly partisan reading of Catholic social teaching.

Sports Arena

Eye of the Hurricane

By 4.14.16

The Raleigh-based Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League have decided to bite hard the hand that has fed it sumptuously. To wit I take you to the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, recently signed into law by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and better known as the bathroom law. This is the bill that has made Bruce Springsteen of Born to Run fame run from North Carolina, as the bill would require people in public facilities to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender. Men are to use men’s rooms and women are to use women’s rooms. The horror!

The Carolina Hurricanes issued a statement not dissimilar to other sports teams in the state in protest of the bill, “The Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena are devoted to providing a welcoming and respectful environment for all fans. We stand against all forms of discrimination.” One is tempted to ask the Hurricanes if they really believe women would feel it was welcoming and a respectful environment at a Hurricanes game if when using the restroom, they noticed men using the same restroom as they are.

California Watch

Dumping Water in the Middle of a Drought Recovery

By 4.14.16

Sacramento 

“What would happen if the communists took over the Sahara Desert?” William F. Buckley asked during a discussion in 1972. “Nothing for 50 years. Then there will be a shortage of sand.” That laugh line can apply to any case in which the government — even a democratic one — has long-term control of a resource.

One could ask, “What happened after the California (and federal) government controlled the state’s water resources?” The obvious Buckley-esque answer: “Well, nothing much since construction of the State Water Project began in the early 1960s. Eventually, though, California started running out of water.”

Another Perspective

For Presidential Candidates: The Alamogordo Test

By 4.14.16

Either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would fail the Alamogordo Test. This could spell disastrous defeat in any general election.

What is the Alamogordo Test? I hadn’t realized it myself until I watched — with my Advanced Placement History students — a dramatization of the first atomic test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. It then struck me — with a blinding flash of insight — that this is what the American voters have been saying to us since that date:

We want a President we can trust with that terrible weapon!

This Alamogordo Test is not partisan. In 2012, Gov. Mitt Romney casually referred to Russia as “our Number One strategic enemy.” He then moved on to make other points in his foreign policy debate with President Obama. In making such an earth-shattering pronouncement almost as an aside, Romney failed the Alamogordo Test.

Churchill, it should be remembered, did not call Russia our enemy in his carefully laid out “Iron Curtain” Speech of March 5, 1946.

Freedom Watch

The War on Speech Takes an Ugly Turn

By 4.14.16

In any society, the prevailing power structure loathes dissent. It’s been this way since time immemorial — when Christians dared suggest that there might be some other path to follow than the Roman gods, for instance, or when the leading lights of the Age of Enlightenment dared suggest that science and reason ought to guide mankind.

We see the ugliest of both now combined in the most-sinister fashion with today’s War on Dissent throughout the world. That our own country was founded on the concept of protecting dissent as an essential element of revolution makes our nation’s steps in that direction all the more damning. Worse, while this has been a long-time coming, the attacks on dissenting or skeptical speech have found ever-more devious tactics in recent years.

The Public Policy

A Clear-Eyed View of the Contact Lens Debate

By 4.14.16

Editor’s Note: Debra J. Saunders is off. The following column is by Veronique de Rugy.

The intensity with which some American companies try to use the government to trick or deceive consumers is astonishing. Yet the extent to which lawmakers seem content to cater to these crony pursuits never disappoints, either. Case in point: the current attempt to protect contact lens sellers from competition at the expense of consumers.

An estimated 40 million Americans wear contact lenses. That’s a $4 billion industry. Thanks to the heavy-handed government regulation of all things health care, contacts already cost more than they should. However, if an ongoing effort to reduce competition through government cronyism were to succeed, costs might soon rise even more.

The Obama Watch

Obama’s Surge — It’s Not Against Jihadis

By 4.14.16

Here comes the surge! No, not a military surge against ISIS or an increase in the number of security personnel guarding our mass transportation hubs. Here comes the surge in Syrian refugees.

And if you live in a preferred community, as I do in Walnut Creek, California, over the next year you are going to feel its impact.

There is an obvious and shameful reason that the federal government does not bother to make communities aware of what’s coming. It knows there will be resistance. Dumping refugees into the institutional structure of a community can have dire consequences for that community.

Many of these refugees will not be English speakers and they will not possess the skills to navigate in a post-industrial, highly technological economy. Their children will weigh on the educational system. They will have medical needs — physical, psychological, and emotional — that will weigh on the medical infrastructure.

The Pursuit of Knowledge

Science of the Times

By 4.13.16

This old Jewish joke makes me cry every day. Abe is commiserating with Sam for the break-in that just cleaned out his store. But Sam is cheerful; he says this was the best time for him to be robbed. Why is that?

Sam explains: “I just marked down my entire stock 40 percent!”

This is the fate of the modern Republican Party. First they allow their principles to be devalued. Then they get robbed, but it no longer hurts very much.

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