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Mona Charen: The Inconvenient Truth

Robert-Byrd

The unsinkable Representative Charles B. Rangel appeared on C-SPAN over the weekend. Why unsinkable? Well, in 2010 the House of Representatives censured the New York Democrat by a vote of 333 to 79 (when the body was still majority-Democratic) for violating 11 ethics rules and “bringing discredit to the House.” The New York Times called it a “staggering fall” for the senior Democrat. But fall/shmall, he’s since been reelected and will retire at his leisure.myth-sq

While chatting with Brian Lamb, Rangel dropped a few falsehoods as casually as cigar ash. This isn’t to pick on Rangel; he’s just illustrative. His assertion — that the Republican and Democratic parties “changed sides” in the 1960s on civil rights, with white racists leaving the Democratic party to join the Republicans — has become conventional wisdom. It’s utterly false and should be rebutted at every opportunity.

It’s true that a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, shepherded the 1964 Civil Rights Act to passage. But who voted for it? Eighty percent of Republicans in the House voted aye, as against 61 percent of Democrats. In the Senate, 82 percent of Republicans favored the law, but only 69 percent of Democrats. Among the Democrats voting nay were Albert Gore Sr., Robert Byrd, and J. William Fulbright. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Pay Attention to Other People’s Nightmares, Because They Might Be Contagious’

An F/A-18 Hornet takes off for northern Iraq, Aug. 18. AFP/Getty Images

An F/A-18 Hornet takes off for northern Iraq, Aug. 18. AFP/Getty Images

ISIS Makes Liberals Rediscover the Necessity of Hard Power

Bret Stephens writes: So now liberals want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, and maybe Syria as well, to stop and defeat ISIS, the vilest terror group of all time. Where, one might ask, were these neo-neocons a coupleNEO-NEO of years ago, when stopping ISIS in its infancy might have spared us the current catastrophe?

“Are we going to fight terrorists over there—or are we going to wait for them to come here? “

Oh, right, they were dining at the table of establishment respectability, drinking from the fountain of opportunistic punditry, hissing at the sound of the names Wolfowitz, Cheney, Libby and Perle.

And, always, rhapsodizing to the music of Barack Obama.

Not because he is the most egregious offender, but only because he’s so utterly the type, it’s worth turning to the work of George Packer, a writer for the New YorkerOver the years Mr. Packer has been of this or that mind about Iraq. Yet he has always managed to remain at the dead center of conventional wisdom. Think of him as the bubble, intellectually speaking, in the spirit level of American opinion journalism.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Fear of Disorder

green-disorder

Greens engage in rituals to allay their anxieties

 explores an interesting topic in a Reason article: Environmentalism and the fear of disorder. The quest for order is not exclusive to environmentalist food worriers, or obsessive recyclers. If we look for the mirror image of this, on the other end of the ideological spectrum, it would probably be found in the disorder-phobic elements of the prepper movement. A similar effort to achieve a feeling of personal control, to have “influence over their environments and the world in general that provides similar perceptions of an orderly world.”

I’ve had discussion about this with our Hong Kong Bureau Chief, a polymath with an interest in self-sustaining, grid-failure-proof home remodeling (not crazy if you live in a hurricane zone) and who predicted that there are fortunes to be made for those who can market effectively to this notion of personal control in a disorderly world.

Unlike the anti-vaxer, anti-science Left, prepper concerns aren’t necessarily irrational, or even paranoid. Our own Federal Government has web pages filled with advice encouraging citizens to take measures to be prepared for storms, earthquakes, power outages, and so forth. Things that aren’t imaginary. Things that kill, maim, and disrupt human populations worldwide every year. And that doesn’t even cover the valid concerns over a threat of an EMP attack.

On a personal note, I’ve met a hard-core, full-scale, exquisitely-armed, hyper-informed prepper. Instead of thinking he was nuts, I found him to be realistic, self-deprecating, and engaging. Light-hearted about his obsession, disciplined, trained in survivalism (from a previous career in the military) a hobbyist in gourmet food storage, an expert in lethal and non-lethal self-defense, a vintage wine collector, and an informed conversationalist. I came away thinking my own pampered, clueless urban sensibilities were irrational, and unrealistic, not the other way around.

Similarly, being mindful of food labels, or seeking organic and fresh over processed or unhealthy foods is not necessarily irrational or fear-driven behavior. But Baily’s on to something.

Other writers have noted an anxious purity obsession on fringes of the left–and even in thgas-mask-camerae mainstream Left–that equals or exceeds the craziest paranoid right-wing John Birchers, anti-Semites, and fluoride-obsessed Dr. Strangelovean purity cultists of yesteryear. A key difference is, William F. Buckley purged the extremist elements nearly half a century ago.

Though new strains appear, in various forms (progressives seek them out and artificially elevate their perceived influence, in a political effort to make them appear emblematic). In mainstream conservatism, vigilant resistance and steady inoculation against the influence (or annoyance) of anti-democratic or apocalyptic extremist strains is an ongoing project that mostly succeeds.

A case can be made that the Left has yet to do this. Marx-TVAside from some half-hearted, insincere efforts, the Left hasn’t even disavowed their radical Marxist, Maoist, neo-Stalinist elements. On the contrary, they’re free to openly celebrate them, in academia, entertainment, popular culture, and government. Modern Marxists easily get lucrative jobs in the Department of Labor, tenure at prestigious Ivy League colleges, positions of influence at HHS, HUD, and the DOJ. Our elite institutions shower them with fame, and awards. The Left hasen’t purged or effectively reigned in the anti-vaccination, anti-science, anti-Semitic, isolationist, enviro-alarmist elements in their ideological camp. On the contrary, environmentalism is now the largest and most dominant religious ideology in the western world.

Interesting article. See the full text here.

 writes:

Why do people recycle and buy organic foods? According to Marijn Meijers and Bastiaan Rutjens, a couple of social scientists at the University of Amsterdam, they do it to realize a sense of personal control stemming from their fear that disorder is increasing in the world. Technological optimists, meanwhile, are more likely to eschew the comfort of such rituals.global-warming-myths-bailey-book

[Bailey's book "Global Warming and Other Eco Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death" is available at Amazon.com]

To be fair, that’s not exactly how the two researchers interpret their study, which was published in the August European Journal of Social Psychology. But as we shall see, it is not unreasonable to construe their results that way.

A popular new psychological model, compensatory control theory, argues that people are highly motivated to perceive the world as meaningful, orderly, and structured. When people perceive the world as being less orderly, Meijers and Rutjens explain, they strive to compensate for the anxiety and stress this produces. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Former Deputy CIA Chief: Islamic State ‘Most Complex Terrorism Problem I Have Ever Seen’

The CornerAndrew Johnson: Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell called the Islamic State’s rapidly growing strength and control of territory in Iraq and Syria “the most complex terrorism problem that I have ever seen.”

While he said “there are no magic bullets” for dealing with the situation, he offered a potential strategy on Face the Nation. First, the United States must work towards taking the controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, which will require a political solution with the former’s government; doing so in Syria will likely be notably more difficult…(more) NRO


There Are No Wars to End All Wars: Why Barbarism Endures

Progressives can’t wish away human nature.

Charles C. W. Cooke writes: H. G. Wells’s famous prediction that the First World War would be the “war to end all wars” was met with skepticism by the British prime minister. “This war, like the nextBarbarism-Endures-ISIS war,” David Lloyd George quipped in the summer of 1916, “is a war to end war.” History, he sighed, is not shaped by wishful thinking.

 “The lessons of history endure, because human nature never changed.”

– J. Rufus Fears

Two decades later, Lloyd George would be proven right. And yet, in the intervening period, it was Wells’s sentiment that prevailed. The horrors of the trenches having made rationalization imperative, a popular and holistic narrative was developed. The Great War, Woodrow Wilson quixotically argued, had finally managed to “make the world safe for democracy” and, in doing so, had served an invaluable purpose. Henceforth, human beings would remember the valuable lesson that had been written in so much blood, coming together in mutual understanding to, as Wells rather dramatically put it,“exorcise a world-madness and end an age.” And that, it was thought, would be that. Read the rest of this entry »


Jonah Goldberg: ‘If the view of the human rights community is that it is simply useless to describe ISIS as evil, than what good is the human rights community?’

JamesD

For CNN.com, James Dawes writes:

Is ISIS evil?

The problem with that question is that the answer is as easy as it is useless. Yes, ISIS is evil and must be stopped. Saying so over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them…(more)

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg tried to shame those who are trying to think seriously about ISIS. In a recent tweet, he mocked the attempt to understand ISIS in its social and political context, suggesting that we should focus instead on one fact: “They’re evil. They do obviously evil things for evil ends.”

National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg responds:

…Dawes gets just about everything wrong here — and in the rest of his essay. For starters I didn’t “mock the attempt to understand ISIS in its social and political context.” Rather, I mocked those who try to understand ISIS without acknowledging the most salient moral fact: They’re evil. Here’s my full tweet.

The rest of the piece is just a string of question begging assertions and strawmen wrapped in a lot of self-congratulatory intellectual preening about his willingness to do the serious thinking others won’t do…(read more here)

Read the rest of this entry »


Michio Kaku: ‘We are Now Entering a Golden Age of Neuroscience’

We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of previous human history.WOD-Neuroscience

“There may come a day when the Internet might be replaced by a Brain-net, in which emotions, sensations, memories and thoughts are sent over the Internet.”

Michio Kaku writes: More than a billion people were amazed this summer when a 29-year-old paraplegic man from Brazil raised his right leg and kicked a soccer ball to ceremonially begin the World Cup. The sight of a paralyzed person whose brain directly controlled a robotic exoskeleton (designed at Duke University) was thrilling.51lK1s4Ex0L._SL250_

[Check out Michio Kaku's book "The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind" at Amazon.com]

We are now entering the golden age of neuroscience. We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of previous human history.

A blizzard of the new technologies using advanced physics—resulting in scans and tests we know as fMRI, EEG, PET, DBS, CAT, TCM and TES—have allowed scientists to observe thoughts as they ricochet like a pong ball inside the living brain, and then begin the process of deciphering these thoughts using powerful computers. Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin D. Williamson on Barry’s Good Idea: Police Interactions Should All be on Video

Ferguson-Police-Stop

National Review‘s Kevin D. Williamson writes:  Barack Obama once had a good idea, or at least half of one: As the president himself pointed out in his recent remarks on the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., during his time in the Illinois state legislature he backed a law requiring that police take video of interrogations and confessions. Here’s a better idea: Capture all police interactions on video.end-is-near

[Kevin D. Williamson's book - "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome" is available at Amazon]

Doing so can make an important difference in how incidents such as the Brown shooting are understood. Consider the case of Erin Forbes, who was shot dead by police in the Philadelphia suburbs in circumstances similar to those of Mr. Brown.

Conflict, Chaos, and Confusion in Ferguson

Conflict, Chaos, and Confusion after dark. Ferguson isn’t a monster, it’s just ahead of the curve. 

Erin Forbes was a young black man who was shot by a police officer while unarmed. (Mostly unarmed — more on that in a bit.) Like Mr. Brown, he had robbed a convenience store not long before the shooting, taking a small amount of money from the cash register. Like Mr. Brown, he did not have a criminal record.

Thought-Police-on-Patrol

 Just what those musket-clinging enlightened founders warned us about: Permanent armies on the streets.

“The deployment of armored vehicles by small-town police departments responding to domestic disturbances is un-republican and ridiculous.”

But there are differences, too. Mr. Forbes was not from a poor, heavily black community where relations with the police were difficult. Mr. Forbes was, in fact, from a solid, upper-middle-class family. His mother was a professor of African-American studies at Temple University, and he himself had been a soldier in the U.S. Army. His family lived in the suburbs, and he sometimes attended the Presbyterian church in Gladwyne, home of the seventh-wealthiest ZIP code in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: College Eliminates All Violence On Earth by Renaming its Student Paper

College Newspaper Can’t Be Called ‘The Bullet’ Anymore Because It’s Too Dangerous

newspaper-no-bullet

“The editorial board felt that the paper’s name, which alludes to ammunition for an artillery weapon, propagated violence and did not honor our school’s history in a sensitive manner.”

NRO‘s Katherine Timpf:

A Virginia university has decided to stop calling its newspaper “The Bullet” over concerns that the name was so insensitive and inappropriate that it could even make people violent.

The University of Mary Washington’s 96-year-old newspaper will now be called The Blue and Gray Press. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] GlobalPost CEO: James Foley’s Murder ‘Cannot Go Unanswered’

“I would say this: Something needs to be done to respond to this brutal murder. I think we have to take a stronger stand with the Islamic State.”

Via The Corner:

GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni told MSNBC he is confident that the U.S. government “tried very hard,” and he has communicated with officials since Foley was kidnapped in November 2012. In light of Foley’s death, though, the government must do more, he said.

“I would say this: Something needs to be done to respond to this brutal murder.”

“I’m not an expert — I don’t know what exactly should be done — but this brutal murder of an American citizen cannot go unanswered,” he said…(read more)

National Review Online


A Neutral Guide to Net Neutrality

Stephanie-Crets-portraitFor SingleHopStephanie Crets writes: Net Neutrality has been the topic of intense conversation recently, as the FCC solicits and considers public comments about how to regulate Internet traffic. We’ve put together the overview below to help you understand the issues and players that influence the way we use the Internet daily for business, research, entertainment, and social activities.nanotube.computerx299

Net Neutrality Overview

Net Neutrality refers to the idea that all data on the Internet should be treated equally by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For most of the Internet’s history, ISPs generally did not distinguish between the various types of content that flow through their networks, whether web pages, email, or other forms of information. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the few ISPs that tried to block certain types of data faced strong opposition from consumers, tech companies, and regulators.

With the rise of bandwidth-heavy services such as Netflix, ISPs have increasingly sought to sell more bandwidth, or “fast lanes,” to companies willing to pay for it. Other traffic would move through their networks at a slower pace.

An FCC History of Net Neutrality

The term “Network Neutrality” (later shortened to Net Neutrality) was coined by legal scholar Tim Wu in a 2003 study of potential ways to regulate the Internet. Over the last decade, the FCC has tried multiple times to enforce “guiding principles” in support of Net Neutrality. Read the rest of this entry »


Rare Photo of Pundit Planet Co-Founder

co-founder

Our co-found and Editor-At-Large. Though this snapshot looks vintage, it was actually taken fairly recently, around 2007, back when he had a bit less gray hair, and long before he had a 3-D printer. But his hobbies are essentially the same. He’s currently heading up our Hong Kong Bureau, where his time and space doesn’t allow for recreational rocket building, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy this archival snapshot as a winsome reminder of a cherished pastime.

 


Jonah Goldberg: ‘In Ferguson, the race to be wrong, it seems, isn’t a sprint but a marathon’

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson

Legions of activists and commentators have convinced themselves that we know exactly what happenedgpoa-stamp

The events in Ferguson, Mo., have launched a familiar spectacle: the race to be wrong first.

[Jonah's book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is available at Amazon]

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American man, was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The Washington Post had more on the story about what one witness called an “execution-style slaying”:

“Lawyer Freeman Bosley Jr. said Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown’s, has told the FBI shaprton-fingerthat Officer Darren Wilson confronted the two because they were walking in the middle of the street.

“Al Sharpton, with decades of racial ambulance-chasing under his belt, insists that “America is on trial” in Ferguson. Of course he does.”

“Wilson cursed at the pair and ordered them onto the sidewalk, Bosley told The Washington Post. When they refused to comply, he said, the officer grabbed Brown’s throat through the window of his cruiser, pulled out a pistol and shot him.

dorianjohnson_chrishayes

Wilson then chased Brown, shot him in the back and shot him five to six more times as Brown’s hands were raised, Bosley said.”

“There also seems to be a bipartisan desire to make President Obama part of the story…Obama, as is his wont, took the bait…”

An autopsy commissioned by the Brown family suggests that account is not true, at least in regard to the most incendiary charge. None of the bullets fired at Johnson entered his body through his back. That hardly means Wilson was justified in shooting Brown even once. Nor does it necessarily mean Wilson is a murderer. The simple fact is we don’t know.

obama-ferguson-news-tv

“…His comments Friday were defensible on the merits, but what was the point? He clearly mollified no one and exposed himself, once again, to being dragged along by events.”

The rush to condemn Wilson’s conduct and the gallop to martyr Brown may have set land-speed records. The New Yorker, like numerous outlets, reported that Brown was walking to his grandmother’s home when confronted by Wilson. A video released from the by turns hapless and devious Ferguson Police Department alleges that he was actually walking from a thuggish and brazen shoplifting of a box of cigars from a convenience store. Read the rest of this entry »


Secular Stagnation Is a Cover-Up: Failed Keynesian Policies Have Blocked Growth

American-dreamers

 “A new Wall Street Journal poll finds that three out of four Americans think the next generation will be worse off than this generation. So long American Dream.”

Editor’s note: Larry Kudlow is economics editor of National Review. Stephen Moore, a frequent contributor to National Review, is chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

keynsian-model-retro

For National Review OnlineLarry Kudlow & Stephen Moore:kudlow_rectangle

John F. Kennedy campaigned for president in 1960 by belittling Dwight Eisenhower’s three recessions and declaring, “We can do bettah.” He was right. In the 1960s, after the Kennedy tax cuts were implemented, prosperity returned, the economy grew by almost 4 percent annually, unemployment sank to record lows, and a gold-linked dollar held down inflation.

“It would be hard to conceive of a worse set of policy prescriptions than the ones Larry Summers and his Keynesian collaborators have conjured up.”

But today many leading economists are throwing up their arms in frustration and assuring us that 2 percent growth is really the best we can do.

Barack Obama’s former chief economist Larry Summers began this chant of “secular stagnation.” It’s a pessimistic message, and it’s now being echoed by Federal Reserve vice summerschair Stanley Fischer. He agrees with Summers that slow growth in “labor supply, capital investment, and productivity” is the new normal that’s “holding down growth.” Summers also believes that negative real interest rates aren’t negative enough. If Fisher and Fed chair Janet Yellen agree, central bank policy rates will never normalize in our lifetime.

“These measures have flat-lined the economy. It’s as simple as that.”

Unfortunately, Americans seem to be buying into this dreary assessment. A new Wall Street Journal poll finds that three out of four Americans think the next generation will be worse off than this generation. So long American Dream.

But secular stagnation is all wrong. It’s a cover up for mistaken economic policies that began in the Bush years and intensified during the Obama administration. Read the rest of this entry »


[CHART] Keeping Score: Which Dictator Killed the Most People?

dictator

Source: Gawker

 


SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: ‘Please Delete HealthCare.gov E-mails with White House’

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: During the first week of HealthCare.gov’s troubled launch, Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told an agency spokesperson to delete an e-mail exchange with the White House and the Departmentsmdg-tv2 of Health and Human Services, according to new records released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Right on cue, when the going gets tough, the Obama administration proclaims it can’t find the documents.”

– Committee Chairman Fred Upton

This development comes just a week after CMS’s admission that Tavenner had probably deleted e-mails that may be public record — “in order to stay below the agency’s Microsoft Outlook email size limit,” wrote MSNBC, which broke the story on August 7.

But today’s letter from the House committee to Tavenner says: “One of the e-mails in this production shows that you directed a subordinate to delete an e-mail communication featuring a number of White smidgen-rep-PFaPHouse representatives. This e-mail is an October 5, 2013, communication in which you forwarded a discussion with White House representatives to the Director of Communications for CMS with the message: ‘Please delete this email- but please see if we can work on call script.’”

[Also see - SCRATCH THAT! IRS Tech Said Lerner's Hard Drive WASN'T Damaged]

The committee concludes: “This contradicts the letter [CMS recently] sent to the National Archives, which explained that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails.” Read the rest of this entry »


[IMAGE] William Adama: There’s a Reason You Separate Military and the Police

military-police-separation


Make Cops Wear Cameras

The Butcher:

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown conceals his/her identity on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)g

FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 13: A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown conceals his/her identity on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Nick Gillespie moment

Originally posted on TIME:

Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri, by police. Eric Garner, a 43-year-old New Yorker, dies from a police chokehold. John Crawford III, 22, shot and killed by police in a Walmart outside of Dayton, Ohio.

Enough is enough. Each of these incidents has an unmistakable racial dimension—all of the victims were black and all or most of arresting officers were white–that threatens the always tense relationships between law enforcement and African Americans. As important, the circumstances of each death are hotly contested, with the police telling one story and witnesses (if any) offering up very different narratives.

Brown’s death in particular is raising major ongoing protests precisely because, contrary to police accounts, witnesses claim that he had his hands up in the air in surrender when he was shot. The result is less trust in police, a situation that raises tensions across the board.

View original 441 more words


Analysis: Washington is Divided Because it has Abandoned Federalism


Israel Outflanks White House on Strategy

bibi-obama

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, looks on as President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in MarchBloomberg News

JERUSALEM—WSJAdam Entous reports: White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.OG-AC312_gazala_D_20140813175922

 “We’ve been there before with a lot of tension with us and Washington. What we have now, on top of that, is mistrust and a collision of different perspectives on the Middle East. It’s become very personal.”

The munitions surprise and previously unreported U.S. response added to a string of slights and arguments that have bubbled behind the scenes during the Gaza conflict, according to events related by senior American, Palestinian and Israeli officials involved.

[See photos and maps surveying the destruction in Gaza.]

In addition, current and former American officials say, U.S.-Israel ties have been hurt by leaks that they believe were meant to undercut the administration’s standing by mischaracterizing its position and delay a cease-fire. The battles have driven U.S.-Israeli relations to the lowest point since President Barack Obama took office. Read the rest of this entry »


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