Wednesday, July 31, 2013


A 3,000 year old shard of pottery with text on it was found in Jerusalem.  It will be interesting to see how the debate on this shard evolves.  If it is Hebrew writing that is quite significant.


An interesting historical fact:  Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview said there were millions of lynchings in the United States from 1882 to 1968.  The Tuskegee Institute says that there were only 4,743 and one in four lynched was a white person.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Obama joked about auditing "enemies" in 2009 but now it doesn't seem like a joke.  Was it a Freudian slip?

At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor. Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Foreign Affairs argues that Al-Sisi, the Egyptian general leading the anti-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood movement, is really an Islamist.

Given the details of Sisi’s biography and the content of his only published work, a thesis he wrote in 2006 while studying at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, it seems possible that he might have something altogether different in mind: a hybrid regime that would combine Islamism with militarism. To judge from the ideas about governance that he put forward in his thesis, Sisi might see himself less as a custodian of Egypt’s democratic future than as an Egyptian version of Muhammed Zia ul-Haq, the Pakistani general who seized power in 1977 and set about to “Islamicize” state and society in Pakistan.

This is something to watch for.


A world history textbook used by the Advanced Placement Program contains one chapter on Islam and barely mentions Christianity and Judaism.  And I presume it does not deal with Hinduism or Buddhism to the extent they deserve either.

“If you don’t see it from the eyes of a parent, kids are going to take this book as gospel and believe that Christians and Jews were murderous barbarians and thank God the Muslims came along and the world is great,” he said.

For example, Workman said a reference to Mohammed and his armies taking over Medina states, “people happily accepted Islam as their way of life.”

Friday, July 26, 2013


Crazy.  The IRS is supposed to enforce Obamacare, yet the employees don't want to be under it.

National Treasury Employees Union officials are urging members to write their congressional representatives in opposition to receiving coverage through President Obama’s health care law.

Monday, July 22, 2013


World Affairs compares the data on British and US terrorists.  There are some similarities, but also many differences on who is committing terrorist acts.  For example, in America more converts to Islam commit terrorism than in the UK.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


A blog post on how America's founding fathers incorporated Old Testament laws into how militia were to organize.

The American Founders were assiduous students of history. While the well-educated among them read Roman and Greek history in the original languages, some history was well-known by almost everyone, namely the Bible. New Englanders intensely self-identified with ancient Israel—from the first days of settlement in early 17th century (Israel in the wilderness) to the days of the American Revolution, when New England’s “black regiment” of clergymen incited the Revolution as a religious duty, and described the thirteen American colonies as the modern version of the twelve confederate tribes of Israel.[1] Thus, ancient Hebrew militia law is part of the intellectual background of the American militia system, and of the Second Amendment.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


From Walter Olson at CNN:

People upset at George Zimmerman's acquittal are calling for awarding various new powers to prosecutors at the expense of protections for criminal defendants.

Maybe this would make it easier to hang a rap on some future Zimmerman. But it also would have an effect that its backers probably don't intend: increasing the number of persons convicted and sent to prison. As part of that effect, more young black men -- as well as more members of other groups -- will end up behind bars
From TalkLeft:  Criticism of Obama's reaction.
From National Review
Honesty about disproportionate rates of black crime requires acknowledging another truth as well: Trayvon Martin’s race could well have been a factor in Zimmerman’s initial suspicion of him. But that is because the known suspects in the recent pattern of burglaries in his neighborhood were black. Had Asians been breaking into homes, consistently with an elevated rate of Asian crime, an unknown Asian teen wandering the neighborhood could also have drawn the attention of a neighborhood-watch volunteer
The Hill on Florida:  Florida voted for Obama in 2012 but now it is "cesspool" of racism.
Reason on Florida's "stand your ground" law:  It seems to help both blacks and whites equally.

From the Faculty Lounge blog.

I have been struck by the frequency with which many commenting on this case, including the public on social media — but also journalists, scholars, and lawyers, all of whom should prize fidelity to facts — have made bald, confident assertions, often without citing any evidence, and sometimes in direct contradiction to the available evidence. This is all the more startling in light of the egregious editing of Zimmerman’s call to police the night of the shooting made early on in the reporting of the case by NBC, which is the subject of a defamation lawsuit by Zimmerman.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I always wondered what happened in this Delaware race in 2010.  Christine O'Donnell was doing very well against her Democrat opponent when suddenly an issue of a tax lien arose and she was forced to drop out.  Democrats win another one. . .interesting.

Ms. O'Donnell, this is Dennis Martel, special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury in Baltimore, Md. … We received information that your personal federal tax info may have been compromised and may have been misused by an individual,” he said in the January message left on her cellphone.

For Ms. O'Donnell, the message immediately raised red flags.

On March 9, 2010, the day she revealed her plan to run for the Senate in a press release, a tax lien was placed on a house purported to be hers and publicized. The problem was she no longer owned the house. The IRS eventually blamed the lien on a computer glitch and withdrew it.


Different individuals have raised the issue of whether democracy is dead in America.  This is a quite serious charge especially coming from such respected persons.

Justices Souter and O'Connor.

President Jimmy Carter in Der SpiegelAmerica has no functioning democracy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A black man with a pistol permit in Rochester, New York shoots and kills a white teenager who threatened him when he caught them stealing from neighbors' cars. . .the jury finds that he shot the white youth in self-defense.  I don't think I will see this on the evening news.


This trial is getting stranger and stranger.  A black male juror was evidently eliminated from the jury pool because he watched FOX news!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


An interesting picture allegedly showing Zimmerman's great-grandfather--he was black-skinned.

More on race at Gateway Pundit.

William Saletan:  Trayon Martin--His death wasn’t about race, guns, or your pet issue. It was about misjudgment and overreaction—exactly what we’re doing now to the verdict.

Monday, July 15, 2013


From al-Arabiya.  A number of visions are being seen.

Protesters in Cairo’s Rabia al-Adawiya Square believe they have seen the light.

In a show of support for Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Mursi, a preacher giving a sermon at the Square this week told the crowds of a miracle.

In the speech, broadcast on Egyptian satellite channels, the preacher said the Angel Gabriel had been spotted among the crowds at the pro-Mursi Square.


Alan Dershowitz, liberal Harvard law professor, criticizes the prosecutor in the case in very strong language.

She submitted an affidavit that was, if not perjurious, completely misleading. She violated all kinds of rules of the profession, and her conduct bordered on criminal conduct. She, by the way, has a horrible reputation in Florida. She's known for overcharging, she's known for being highly political. And in this case, of course she overcharged. Halfway through the trial she realized she wasn't going to get a second degree murder verdict, so she asked for a compromised verdict, for manslaughter. And then, she went even further and said that she was going to charge him with child abuse and felony murder. That was such a stretch that it goes beyond anything professionally responsible. She was among the most irresponsible prosecutors I've seen in 50 years of litigating cases, and believe me, I've seen good prosecutors, bad prosecutors, but rarely have I seen one as bad as this prosecutor, [Angela] Cory.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Daniel Johnson writes in Standpoint about the decline in historical consciousness and the impact it has on society and culture.

What has become problematic is the assumption that general historical knowledge, an informed consciousness of our past, is the essential framework for Western civilisation. It is the decline of history in this sense that lies behind the heated debates about the teaching of history at school and university. The loss of such a temporal dimension has brought about a profound change in the outlook of the West: a loss of organic connection, not only with those who came before us, but with our place in the world. Clive James memorably described this phenomenon as "cultural amnesia", and Eric Voegelin adopted the theological concept of "anamnesis" to describe our attempts to preserve transcendent memories.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


David Francis, Fiscal Times.  Obama's problems:  Poor crisis management, lack of preparedness, reactive and not-proactive and the list could go on.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to needle Washington over Snowden
  • European allies have taken the lead in Syria and Libya 
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai humiliated the White House by pulling out of peace talks unexpectedly
  • Even Obama’s Africa trip was eclipsed by the health of Nelson Mandela and the return of George W. Bush to the public eye

  • Quinnipiac Poll:  People think Obama is trustworthy, honest, etc., but on foreign policy his numbers drop.

    American voters give President Barack Obama a negative 40 - 52 percent approval for the way he is handling foreign policy, his worst grade ever on that score. The president's overall job approval is a negative 44 - 48 percent, little changed from a 45 - 49 percent rating May 30.


    An excellent essay from Michael Totten recognizing the academics, journalists, and he, himself, got things wrong in Egypt regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.  Unfortunately Washington got it wrong as well and is now facing serious policy ramifications.

    I think it’s safe to say everyone, regardless of their political orientation and what they got right and wrong a year ago, was surprised by how quickly Egypt rejected the Brotherhood. The United States government has sound reasons for not describing what happened as a military coup, but that’s what it was. The rest of us shouldn’t kid ourselves. Yet it’s clear that the coup was a popular one. Morsi ended up more hated than Hosni Mubarak, and he achieved that dubious honor in one year instead of in thirty.

    That ought to make American liberals rethink the notion that the Brotherhood is democratic and moderate. And it ought to show American conservatives that Muslims are perfectly capable of rejecting political Islam whether or not they’re secular Jeffersonian democrats. The Muslim Brotherhood might recover somewhat if the next government fails as badly as Morsi’s, but then again it might not.


    Patterico reports on an interesting quote from Lois Lerner--the IRS administrator taking a lot of heat for going after the Tea Party.   The quote indicates how the IRS was going to intimidate universities .

    Lois Lerner, the IRS’s director of tax-exempt organizations who is overseeing the investigation, says many schools are rethinking how and what they report to the government. Receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS, she says, is a “behavior changer.”

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013


    While many countries condemned the NSA spying, many were cooperating with it to gather information on people.

    Snowden’s recently quoted remarks on the NSA—“They are in bed with the Germans just like with most other Western states,” he told Der Spiegel—has brutally undermined Chancellor Merkel’s posturing. But far more devastating, I think, is this from Snowden:  If the NSA is ordered to target an individual, it sucks up every bit of his data, he said, “So the target’s computer no longer belongs to him. It more or less belongs to the US government.”

    Tuesday, July 09, 2013


    One just needs to look at the flowchart to wonder how in the world Obamacare is going to work. For other looming problems in its administration, read the summary at Hotair. I don't recall any piece of legislation ever having these kinds of looming issues--of course it was passed with congressmen reading it.  And in 3 years they still have not figured out how to deal with smokers.   Hotair asks:  If the Obama administration is this incompetent at running its highest priority, just how badly are they bungling everything else?


    From the Hill:  Both Democrats and Republicans are not impressed with Obama's presidential leadership.

    Monday, July 08, 2013


    From Foreign Policy:

    The offices of a Dallas law firm representing a high-profile State Department whistleblower were broken into last weekend. Burglars stole three computers and broke into the firm's file cabinets. But silver bars, video equipment and other valuables were left untouched, according to local Fox affiliate KDFW, which aired security camera footage of the suspected burglars entering and leaving the offices around the time of the incident.

    With everything happening with Benghazi, the NSA, and other intrigues in Washington, this does look very suspicious.

    Last month, her lawyers told The Cable that the department tried to intimidate her into silence. "They had law enforcement officers camp out in front of her house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate herself," claimed Schulman.


    From the Sacramento Bee:

    Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

    At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

    This happened in "liberal" California which supposedly stands for all things progressive. The South had a history of this in the last 100 years and was heavily criticized (and rightly so).  I wonder if California will be held up to the same criticism as southern states were?

    Read more here:

    Saturday, July 06, 2013


    From the Guardian.  

    When asked directly if there was any evidence that Snowden had cooperated with any intelligence service or American adversary, the administration and Congress declined to provide any. The office of the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, declined to comment for this story. The Justice Department and the House intelligence committee didn't even respond to inquiries.

    By all means, consider Snowden a hero, a traitor or a complex individual with a mixture of motives and interests. Lots of opinions about Snowden are valid. He is a necessarily polarizing figure. The information he revealed speaks to some of the most basic questions about the boundaries between the citizen and the state, as well as persistent and real anxieties about terrorism.


    A chart from the BBC detailing European abortion laws.  Many of them look stricter than those in  the United States.  The Texas legislature is currently battling over an abortion bill, but the law supported by pro-life activists in Texas does not seem any more restrictive than those in Europe.

    Here is a clip of pro-abortion activists chanting "Hail Satan" as they try to drown out "Amazing Grace" being sung by pro-life activists in Texas.

    Friday, July 05, 2013


    Obama has been deciding what laws he wants to enforce and what ones he chooses not to enforce.  This may give him a lot of influence over policy now, but what happens in the future when future presidents decide to do this?  America will no longer be ruled by law (and certainly Congress) but by a "dictatorial" president.  And would Democrats want a Republican president doing this?

    Mickey Kaus who lost in a Democrat Senate Primary in California a few years ago writes that Obama may just as easily ignore the "E-verify" clause in the new immigration bill the Senate is considering.

    Obama has unilaterally decided to suspend Obamacare’s mandate for employers after receiving business complaints;Don’t you think he’ll also decide to suspend the Senate Gang of 8′s mandate that employers use “E-Verify” (to screen new employees for legal status) when he receives similar business complaints?

    And Mario Loyola at the National Review writes about Obama's disregard for enforcing laws he does not like from a more theoretical perspective.

    During the presidency of Barack Obama, we’ve learned something about our Constitution that we did not know: The president can simply refuse to enforce whatever laws he doesn’t like. Not as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, mind you, but in general, as to whole categories of people.

    First it was DOMA, in a sop to the gay lobby. Then it was the immigration laws, which the president has decided not to enforce against young illegal immigrants. Now it’s the crucial employer-insurance mandate in Obamacare, which is “suspended” for a year, because the president feels like it. I say “crucial” because, absent the employer mandate, the official estimate of how much Obamacare is going to cost, and how it’s going to affect the number of uninsured, is no longer valid


    From The Hill -- a non-partisan newspaper on Capitol Hill.  If a non-partisan newspaper finds this many problems, it is legislation that was very poorly thought out.  Unfortunately it will probably be the "little guy" who pays the price.


    From Foreign Policy.  A discussion of the problems Egypt faces and will face and also a critique of the failures of Obama's foreign policy in Egypt.  The critique can also apply to other situations and even other administrations.  U.S. foreign policy is in serious trouble in the Middle East.

    Wednesday, July 03, 2013


    July 3, 2013 and there is revolution in Egypt.  Where is Secretary of State John Kerry?  . . .on his yacht!  I am presuming he is on is telephone of skyping to stay up with events.

    Update 7/5/2013:  The State Department reverses its early denial--Kerry only on boat for a brief period of time.


    From Debkafile

    Middle East sources report that the army chiefs led by Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rejected the American proposal.

     Obama promised to back steps taken by President Morsi to show he is “responsive to the opposition’s concerns,” while Gen. Dempsey asked Egyptian generals to moderate their stand against the Muslim Brotherhood. The underlying message was that if they failed to do so, Washington might reconsider its $1.3 billion annual military assistance package which is the main source of income for the armed forces.

    Heartened by the US president’s vote of support, Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic allies, rejected the army’s ultimatum for resolving the country’s deadly crisis, saying it would sow confusion and ran contrary to the Egyptian constitution.

    From Foreign Policy

    The tip of the spear for U.S.-Egypt diplomacy, Patterson's June 18 speech discouraging street protests has come to symbolize the administration's inability to recognize the potency of Egypt's liberal opposition. "Some say that street action will produce better results than elections," Patterson said. "To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical."

    It is hard to understand why the administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood's rule in Egypt (it certainly doesn't support Christian rule in America) when so many Egyptians of all stripes were opposed to it.  And if one googles Egyptian protest signs, there were a number of anti-Obama signs appearing in the streets of Cairo.  But I am afraid the worse is to come.

    It is interesting that Wednesday's coverage on CNN ignored the situation until noon and Al-Jazeera ignored events until 1 PM.  This was a significant international crisis.  Fox was on it.


    This is an interesting study of a German politician who sued T-Mobile for 6 months of the metadata that was stored on his phone.  You can follow the politician's movements around the country.  It raises a lot of issues of what the NSA is able to find from all of the phone data that it has collected on people and politicians.  And as the article points out it doesn't include the internet data which the NSA was also collecting.

    Tuesday, July 02, 2013


    This is not the best way to build a stable country.  A "vicious patronage" system exists. It is not a pretty picture.

    Just about any American who’s spent much time in Afghanistan will tell you that the biggest challenge we faced there wasn’t the insurgency, but the culture, specifically the “old boy” patronage networks and expectations of bribery that have wasted untold millions of American taxpayers’ money.

    Afghanistan often looks like a vicious circle: we haven’t succeeded in establishing a reasonably stable democracy because of corruption and patronage networks, which are fed by American contracts, which are necessary to set up the institutions for a democracy.

    Monday, July 01, 2013


    Powerline They miss Bush in Africa.  Bush spent more fighting HIV/AIDS than Obama has.  I am not sure the media will bring this out.


    An historian argues that Hollywood helped Adolf Hitler with his propaganda efforts.  This is a subject that I will be watching to see how Urwand's book is reviewed. The New York Times quotes some critics, but it also indicates there are documents supporting Urwand.  Harvard Press did publish it and it is not noted for publishing "conspiracy" literature.

    But now a young historian says that in the years before the war, Tinseltown was marching to a very different tune. Ben Urwand, 35 has written a book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact With Hitler, in which he cites documents that prove, he says, US studios acquiesced to Nazi censorship of their films actively cooperated with the regime's world propaganda effort.


    I have not followed this controversy in detail, but Paula Deen was skewered by Matt Lauer on the Today Show (NBC) for her racial comments and corporations like Walmart and the Food Network began dropping her products from store shelves.  But the media does not seem to be as upset with Alec Baldwin's presumably homophobic rant. I was wondering if Matt Lauer would skewer Baldwin just as he had Deen? I can think of a number of reasons the Lauer and the media might be treating them differently:  1) Deen is a "Southern" woman and presumably is part of "redneck" culture or 2) Baldwin is part of the Hollywood elite and one of "them."

    Will CapitolOne drop Alec Baldwin as other corporations have dropped Deene?  Baldwin has apologized, but so did Deen with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. ABC raises the issue of is it fair that Baldwin dodges the backlash that in my opinion Deene faced.

    Update 7/2/2013.  Article from the Daily Beast.

    On a surface level, an old white woman from Georgia who looks like someone who could be racist admitted to saying something racist, and a hot-tempered, middle-aged man who looks like someone's homophobic father said some incredibly homophobic things about a man. Dig a little deeper, however, and things aren’t that cut-and-dry. Or, as Benjamin Franklin famously put it, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do.”


    This is a bit of a shock.  The leftist Nation wants to impeach Obama because of all of the NSA and other government agencies looking into the lives of private citizens. But the conservative Daily Caller is not ready to call for impeachment.  One would have  thought it would be just the opposite.