Extremism or Pluralism?
The German magazine Der Spiegel had an interview today with Alain Finkielkraut, a French essayist and the son of a Jewish Pole. The interview was about the French denial or loss of itself as a civilization and Mr. Finkielkraut's lamentation about the self-inflicted circumstances which France finds itself. Among the specifics given for France's loss of self are weakness in the political class to state to the public that there is something worth applauding about French culture, no incentive for immigrants to assimilate into French culture, and the rise of right-wing political groups in France, namely the National Front. Mr. Finkielkraut described the National Front in his interview by saying that it would not be in the favorable position it is currently in "if it had not discarded the old issues of the extreme right." Apparently, judging from his following sentence, the National Front used to advocate a religiously dominated monarchy.
After Obamacare, ObamaCar Insurance?
The rollout of ObamaCare is, once again, displaying the federal government's adeptness at managing complexity -- a capability already illustrated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Amtrak (FUBAR), and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Given the extraordinary rollout of ObamaCare, it's time to start moving toward single-payer auto insurance. Here are two reasons why. First, auto insurance companies offer a mind-boggling array of pricing options. Their nationwide, indecipherable rate structure cries out for the keen, coordinating skills of the Washington D.C. central planners. Second, the spread of telematics applied to vehicle tracking will offer the federal government new surveillance and revenue enhancement opportunities. Between 1989 and 2010, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reported a national average increase of 43.3% in auto insurance rates. (By the way, the new NAIC CEO -- essentially a lobbyist job -- is former Nebraska Senator Ben "Cornhusker Kickback" Nelson.)
Iran is Now Obama’s BFF
News about events in Syria took a nosedive the moment the Russians stepped in to take on the job of destroying Bashar Assad's arsenal of poison gas. It's not as if Syrians aren't still dying. One of the few reliable journalistic enterprises, The Wall Street Journal, put Syria on its front page on December 3. "US, Allies Reach Out to Syria's Islamist Rebels." One is tempted to wonder out loud whether the US still has any allies given the way Obama has betrayed those who stuck with us through the Cold War and since, along with the Gulf State nations for whom the US has provided an umbrella of military protection. "The US and its allies held direct talks with key Islamist militias in Syrian, Western officials say, aiming to undercut al Qaeda while acknowledging that religious fighters long shunned by Washington have gained on the battlefield," reported the Journal. Translation: The US has no influence left in the Middle East and President Obama, desperately seeking "a legacy", has decided to give Iran whatever it wants even though it has essentially been at war with us since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The other night I watched a PBS special on Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938. These were carried out by Hitler's forces and non-Jewish civilians and resulted in the death of hundreds of Jews who were incarcerated and sent to concentration camps. A vast number of Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were destroyed and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were devastated. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned to the ground. I was able to find a transcript to further review the two infamous Nuremberg Laws that Hitler initiated during his rise to power. From those, more than 2,000 antisemitic laws were ratified at all levels of government, thereby sealing the fate of the Jews of the Third Reich. To my utter horror, however, I realized that these laws survived the Nazi regime and are now being implemented against Jews and Christians here and throughout the world.
Cues, Skews, Jews, & New
Gerald A. Honigman
The news report out of Ramallah on December 4, 2013 stated that senior Palestinian Arab leaders called for the same pressure to be placed presumably on Israel as was used to produce the recent "deal" over Iran's nuclear ambitions. In other words, they want the world to agree to two more alleged "peace for our time," disastrous Munich-style deals instead of one. Please recall how the first one turned out after Chamberlain's sellout of the Czechs in 1938. But I've jumped ahead, so let's step back a bit. I guess Israel did not have much choice. Despite a good argument that could be made for it to have turned down Washington's latest invitation to "negotiate," most of the world would have only blamed the Jews even more if it was a no show. President Obama has long-espoused the Saudi Peace Plan–much of which the current negotiations are based upon. Among other things, it called for a return to the '67 lines.
You Want Fries With That?
On Thursday, December 5, there were protests in more than a hundred cities across the nation directed at fast food chains, demanding an increase of the minimum wage to $15.00. Those interviewed for radio and television talked of receiving "a living wage." In his 2013 State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an increase in the $7.25 minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. It should come as no surprise that one of the President's most active supports has been the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It was identified on the liberal website, Salon.com, as "a key player" behind the strikes. Don't expect the mainstream media to ask who's behind the strikes or, if informed, ask what their agenda is. The reporting will be mostly people with sad stories. You are not likely to hear about the National Employment Law Project, a liberal activist group that, since 2000, has received more than $1 million from George Soros and his Open Society Foundations.
An Outbreak of Lawlessness
For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of constitutional norms. Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non–Supreme Court) judicial nominations. The problem is not the change itself. It's fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm. The violence to constitutional norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force -- a near party-line vote of 52-48. This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent.
Al Qaeda’s New Top Foe
Know them by their deeds, not words. Although the old-school leaders of al Qaeda still rage against the US and jihadists welcome any chance to harm us, look at who the terrorists actually kill. We're not the main target of Sunni extremists these days. Iran, along with its allies, tops the list. Of course, we cannot let down our guard and should hunt down Islamist terrorists where we can, but the focus of the "field soldiers" serving al Qaeda's most-active franchise in Syria and Iraq is on Iran's ambitions and Shia Muslims, not on us. To the horror of diplomats and theorists who've denied the role of faith in religious terrorism, we are witnesses to a regional conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims stretching far beyond the Syrian cockpit. Last month's suicide-bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, amplified the breadth of this distinctly uncivil war within Islam.
'Tis the season for giving. But when you give, do you know your money will help someone? Social workers say, "Don't give to beggars." Those who do give are "enablers," helping alcoholics and drug users to continue bad habits. It's better to give to charities that help the "homeless." I put "homeless" in quotes because my TV producers have quietly followed a dozen of the more convincing beggars after "work," and all had homes. Once, I put on a fake beard and begged for an hour. At the rate money was coming in, I would have made ninety bucks in an eight-hour day -- $23,000 per year, tax-free! I see why people panhandle. Their success, however, means that people who give them money, no matter how good their intentions, are not engaging in real charity. Giving may make you feel better, but it doesn't make the world a better place. So where should we give?
Politics Is Not a Soap Opera
Andrew C. McCarthy
The problem with the soap opera that is modern American politics is that politics is not soap opera. The object of the latter is entertainment through a daily, hokey maintenance of suspense. This necessarily requires the viewer's suspension of disbelief, particularly when it comes to the lead characters. Depending on what improbable twists and turns the plot must take to meet the demands of day-in-day-out drama, the stars of the show slip seamlessly from villain's to hero's role, from incorrigible vice to transcendent virtue. Soap fans buy in because they know it is not real. It is, to the contrary, their escape from reality. Politics is our reality. It only seems like soap opera because of the way it is covered: Right into your living room, day-in-day-out, celebrity journalists present the adventures of their fellow dramatis personae, celebrity pols.