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A Further Perspective

After Paris Attacks, ‘Experts’ Say All Religions Are Violent

By 1.16.15

Two events recently transpired that forced mainstream media to address a question they habitually dodge: Is Islam intrinsically violent? First, on New Year’s Day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi—a world leader, and a Muslim—did the unthinkable when he publicly asserted that Islamic texts and thinking have made the Muslim world a scourge to humanity. The MSM ignored it until, as if to prove his point, Muslim gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” killed a dozen people in its attack on the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris.

Two separate editorials—by the New York Times and CNN—responded by purportedly tackling the question of whether Islam is inherently violent in the context of the Paris attack and Sisi’s speech.  Both quoted me as responding in the affirmative—and both instantly dismissed my partially presented views in “straw-man” fashion.

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Media Matters

Conservative Group Targets Comcast/NBC

By 1.15.15

The 65-page letter is addressed “Dear NBC Affiliate Owner.” The sender: the Conservative War Chest, with spokesman Michael Flynn signing the letter. The group has most recently been advertising in GOP Senate races around the country in the 2014 election cycle, as seen here.

The subject: Comcast/NBC Universal, now in the middle of a merger bid with Time Warner, and the larger issue of “the corruption of American journalism.” There is also a two-minute video, found here. Comcast/NBC is accused of acting as a “leftist Super Pac sponsoring millions of dollars worth of attack ads disguised as ‘news’ that seek the political oblivion of conservatives and the Republican Party.” It also calls on Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to mobilize the GOP against the Comcast/Time-Warner merger.

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Buy the Book

‘Treasure Planet’ Is a Delightful Mashup

By 1.15.15

“Well, I suppose a human being isn’t the best judge. You humans do it differently from us. We are not kind. But deep down you are utterly ferocious on a level we Kzin can’t reach. All the truly frightful things you can’t face, you let your subconscious handle. That’s how you beat us. Only you don’t see it, you won’t let yourself see it; you fool yourselves into thinking there’s something nice at your core. But down there in the id, you have a monster lurking, little Peter. You can’t see it, but I can.”

If you were to hold a cutlass to my throat and force me to name the greatest adventure story ever written, I’m pretty sure I’d have to say Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. I’ll never forget how much I loved it as a boy; how deeply satisfying it was at a primal level. Better yet, it still works when I return to it as an adult. Other great adventure books were written before and have been written since, but Treasure Island just rings true. It’s hard to imagine a way to make it better.

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In Memoriam

Walter Berns: Teacher, Scholar, Inspiration

By 1.15.15

Walter Berns, professor emeritus of government at Georgetown University and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, died Saturday, January 10, 2015, at the age of 95. Commentators have noted that the coincidence of his death with that of Harry Jaffa, a fellow Straussian with whom he often disagreed, evokes the providential timing of the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. For me, however, Mr. Berns — as all his students respectfully called him — was a providential figure for altogether different reasons.

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The Presidential Spectator

Reagan’s Inaugural Words: An Inspiration and Warning for Today

By 1.14.15

It doesn’t seem like it’s been thirty-four years.

But on January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President of the United States as the new First Lady and millions of Americans looked on. The words of his inaugural address are full of timeless truth… and perhaps are even more powerful today than when they were first uttered.

Like today, the America of 1981 faced economic challenges including unemployment, inflation, a growing deficit, and challenges abroad. Reagan’s speech inspired the American people to believe — not in some vague notion of “hope.” Rather, he inspired us to believe that we could courageously face those problems and solve them. When he said the nation was not, as some claimed, “doomed to an inevitable decline,” it was as if that Carter-induced malaise lost some of its power.

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The Health Care Spectator

The CDC’s Severe Case of Mission Confusion

By 1.14.15

With flu raging through 46 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking center stage, advising the public and physicians. How much can you believe? Until last year, polls showed the CDC was the most trusted federal agency. But then the CDC bungled its response to Ebola. That was a wake up call, because the CDC has been fumbling its most important jobs for several years. The agency has a severe case of mission confusion.

Domestic Preparedness: After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress instructed the CDC to launch a State and Local Preparedness program and build a Strategic National Stockpile to prepare for bioterrorism or a disease outbreak. But the CDC has left us woefully unprepared, according to the AP. “A mediocre outbreak” could overwhelm the system, said Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University.

When Ebola struck, the stockpile was already out of essential gear like waterproof gowns. They ran out during the 2009 swine flu threat. The CDC didn’t even order more until October 2014, with Ebola in full swing.

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The Obama Watch

What Was the President Thinking?

By 1.14.15

If there were one word to describe President Obama’s behavior in office, particularly in foreign affairs, it might be “detached.” It is hard to know his thought process in not attending the massive rally against Islamist jihad and anti-Semitism in Paris earlier this week — when 40 world leaders including President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas took to the streets of Paris to protest the barbarism of those forces. They joined up to three million people according to a French media estimate. One can only speculate as to President Obama’s reasoning, but some logic might go like this:

Those world leaders are not my peers. I have no peers. I am the president of the United States. I do not walk arm in arm with anyone. I do not like those optics. I will not compete on the world stage with other heads of state. I am not Charlie either. I am Barack Obama. Je suis Barack Obama.

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The Current Crisis

Why Are There No Lefties on Talk Radio?

By 1.14.15

This column over the years has been interested in liberalism in a special way, as a coroner is interested in a corpse in a special way. Specifically I have been interested in the pathologies that laid the patient low. What precisely has been the cause of death?

The coroner asks what made a robust fellow a corpse. Was it a remorseless cancer or a tragic accident? Was it Huntington’s disease or something else, possibly, simple alcoholism? In the case of the liberal, the cause of death was almost certainly a massive overindulgence. Simply stated, the liberals attempted too much. They even attempted to solve problems that were not conventionally understood as problems. After all, there were no plausible solutions, for instance, for the elimination of poverty, which in America amounts to relative deprivation, not destitution. How can we solve a citizen’s relative deprivation?

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Another Perspective

The Divided West

By 1.14.15

The White House’s decision to avoid the Paris rally against last week’s jihadist killings conforms to its relaxed attitude toward radical Islam. Candidate Obama in 2008 had argued that George W. Bush lost the world’s esteem by overreacting to the jihadists. Obama promised to regain that respect by approaching the problem with more calm. He in effect pledged to treat the problem as manageable and marginal. With a little more “dialogue” and “understanding,” it would go away.

This remains Obama’s attitude, which must have contributed to the White House’s view of the Paris rally as insignificant. Eric Holder, who was in Paris at the time, didn’t even show up for it, which is also fitting, since he has never been able to bring himself to consider radical Islam a motive for terrorism.

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Political Hay

Washington’s Next Two Years: More Fissures, More Fights

By 1.13.15

Congress needed just one month to preview Washington’s next two years. The federal spending bill completed in December showed how fractious Obama’s relations with Congress will be for the remainder of his presidency. This fractured nature goes beyond partisan politics, and into ideological divides as well.

The recent legislation to fund the government showed the fault lines now arcing through Washington following November’s midterm elections. Despite such legislation’s routine nature, and with the president and leaders of both parties supporting it, passage proved a struggle.

In the House, where partisan passions are more exposed, the bill narrowly passed 219-206. Despite their majority, Republicans could not manage it on their own, as 67 of their members voted against it. Despite their president’s support, Democrats could muster just over one third of their members for it.

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