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    Why does George Soros try to destabilize the West ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd August 2016 (All posts by )

    George Soros is a Hungarian born billionaire who seems to be funding a lot of malicious mischief around the world. Why ?

    Soros was born in Hungary in 1930.

    That Wiki article is very favorable to Soros and does not mention a few things.

    There is considerable discussion of Soros’ role under the Nazis.

    It has been alleged that he was a collaborator. Apparently, he did admit doing some things that could be criticized although the role of a 14 year old is pretty weak.

    It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a — a very personal experience of evil.

    KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this [Christian] protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

    Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.

    KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

    Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.

    KROFT: I mean, that’s — that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

    Mr. SOROS: Not — not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t — you don’t see the connection. But it was — it created no — no problem at all.

    KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

    Mr. SOROS: No.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Politics | 27 Comments »

    Trump and the Disconnected Elites.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Peggy Noonan has an excellent column today suggesting she understands why Trump is popular with the non-elite countrymen (and women).

    She discusses Angela Merkel and her invitation to Muslims to invade Germany.

    Last summer when Europe was engulfed with increasing waves of migrants and refugees from Muslim countries, Ms. Merkel, moving unilaterally, announced that Germany would take in an astounding 800,000. Naturally this was taken as an invitation, and more than a million came. The result has been widespread public furor over crime, cultural dissimilation and fears of terrorism. From such a sturdy, grounded character as Ms. Merkel the decision was puzzling—uncharacteristically romantic about people, how they live their lives, and history itself, which is more charnel house than settlement house.

    Germans are unhappy about the behavior of Muslim men, the majority of the immigrants.They are not happy.

    The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), now the third-most popular political party in Germany, adopted a manifesto calling for curbs to migration and restrictions on Islam. The document calls for a ban on minarets, Muslim calls to prayer and full-face veils.

    May 2. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, revealed that around 90 “predominately Arabic-speaking” mosques in Germany are under surveillance. He said they involve mostly “backyard mosques” where “self-proclaimed imams and self-proclaimed emirs” are “inciting their followers to jihad.” He called on moderate Muslims to work with the government to fight extremism and defend the constitutional order. Maaßen was speaking ahead of a security conference in Berlin at which he said that his agency we receiving on average four terror alerts every day: “The Islamic State is committed to attacking Germany and German interests.”

    Missus Merkel is unmoved.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Germany, Immigration, Trump | 27 Comments »

    Is Trump Losing It ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th August 2016 (All posts by )

    This has been a “bad week” for Trump. What it has been is a week of unrestrained hatred by the left wing media.

    First there was the the saintly Khan family, which is being lionized by the left. The son was killed by a car bomb by another Muslim. Donald Trump opposed the Iraq War.

    Mr Khan also has been accused of being a Muslim Brotherhood agent.

    Khan is a promoter of Islamic Sharia Law in the U.S. He was a co-founder of the Journal of Contemporary Issues in Muslim Law (Islamic Sharia). Khan’s fascination with Islamic Sharia stems from his life in Saudi Arabia. During the eighties Khan wrote a paper titled Juristic Classification of Islamic [Sharia] Law. In it he elucidated on the system of Sharia law expressing his reverence for “The Sunnah [the works of Muhammad] — authentic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).” A snapshot of his essay can be seen here:

    I don’t know how valid this is but he is certainly a supporter of Islam and is attributing to Allah, Trump’s “mistakes.”

    The father of martyred United States (US) soldier Captain Humayun Khan, Khizr Khan, has on Thursday said that the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is unacceptable to the US. He said that Allah makes people like Trump to make mistakes to discredit them in public eyes forever, reported Dunya News.

    The Khan imbroglio was not the only controversy. Nude photos of Trump’s wife, Melania, appeared all over the internet. This began during the primaries, which Trump attributed to Ted Cruz.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Trump | 41 Comments »

    The forgotten history of Hillary Clinton

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th July 2016 (All posts by )

    This was posted on facebook as a comment to a WSJ piece on her campaign strategy.

    Dick Morris, former political adviser to President Bill Clinton: If you happen to see the Bill Clinton five-minute TV ad for Hillary in which he introduces the commercial by saying he wants to share some things we may not know about Hillary’s background, beware as I was there for most of their presidency and know them better than just about anyone. I offer a few corrections:
    Bill says: “In law school Hillary worked on legal services for the poor.”
    Facts are: Hillary’s main extra-curricular activity in ‘Law School’ was helping the Black Panthers, on trial in Connecticut for torturing and killing a ‘Federal Agent.’ She went to Court every day as part of a Law student monitoring committee trying to spot civil rights violations and develop grounds for appeal.

    Was this true ? Snopes has a sort of rebuttal.

    Hillary Rodham (as she was known then) wasn’t a lawyer then, either: She was a Yale law student, and like many of her politically-minded fellow law students who saw the latest “trial of the century” taking place just outside the main gate of their school, she took advantage of an opportunity to be involved in the case in a minor, peripheral way by organizing other students to help the American Civil Liberties Union monitor the trials for civil rights violations. Her tangential participation in the trial in no way helped “free” Black Panthers tried for the murder of Alex Rackley

    So the description credited to Morris is correct.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Current Events, Politics | 6 Comments »

    The Leftward Shift at Fox News.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 19th July 2016 (All posts by )

    I have not been a big fan of Fox News but it was the only source of relatively neutral political reporting on TV for years. Some years ago, Charles Krauthammer famously said, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes found a “niche market ” with 50% of the population.

    I said some years ago that the genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting — half the American people. The reason Fox News has thrived and grown is because it offers a vibrant and honest alternative to those who could not abide yet another day of the news delivered to them beneath layer after layer of often undisguised liberalism.

    What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.

    A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn’t even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.

    Now, in a trend that has become depressingly common, the heirs of Murdoch are taking over and shifting the programming left. Roger Ailes has been named by a disgruntled ex-employee in a fairly laughable sexual harassment suit. Carlson was fired and then, after being fired, sued alleging harassment.

    Ailes, predictably, dismissed the charges as false.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Leftism, Media, Politics, The Press | 24 Comments »

    The Coup Attempt in Turkey.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th July 2016 (All posts by )

    The attempted coup d’etat in Turkey has failed and the repercussions will follow.

    Edward Luttwak has an important column on why it happened and why it failed.

    The failure was so sudden and the coup was so poorly organized that some have questioned whether it was a false flag operation.

    A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces.
    Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a ‘parallel structure’ to overthrow the state.
    Erdogan has called on US President Barack Obama to extradite Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania.

    Erdogan has requested the US turn over the imam who has been living in Pennsylvania. Why ?

    Luttwak has a pretty good explanation.

    The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was left free to call out his followers to resist the attempted military coup, first by iPhone and then in something resembling a televised press conference at Istanbul’s airport. It was richly ironic that he was speaking under the official portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey’s modern secular state, because Erdogan’s overriding aim since entering politics has been to replace it with an Islamic republic by measures across the board: from closing secular high schools so as to drive pupils into Islamic schools to creeping alcohol prohibitions to a frenzied program of mosque-building everywhere — including major ex-church museums and university campuses, where, until recently, headscarves were prohibited.

    When we were in Istanbul ten years ago, Hagia Sophia, the original Christian church that has been converted to a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, was being converted to a museum.

    INSIDEHAGIASOPHIA2

    The huge panels of calligraphy were being removed and, beneath the panels, the workmen were finding that the previous workmen in 1453 had carefully preserved the mosaics being covered, possibly anticipating the city would be retaken by the Byzantines.

    Mosaic at entrance

    Few of the mosaics survived but a few could be seen. That one is above a door into the church.

    Will the restoration continue under Erdogan ? I wonder. I also wonder how many tourists there will be to see it if it continues.

    More from Luttwak.

    Erdogan has been doing everything possible to dismantle Turkey’s fragile democracy: from ordering the arrest of journalists who criticized him, including the outright seizure and closure of the country’s largest newspaper, Zaman, to the very exercise of presidential power, since Turkey is not a presidential republic like the United States or France, but rather a parliamentary republic like Germany or Italy, with a mostly ceremonial president and the real power left to the prime minister. Unable to change the constitution because his Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have enough votes in parliament, Erdogan instead installed the slavishly obedient (and mustachioed) Binali Yildirim as prime minister — his predecessor, Ahmet Davutoglu, had been very loyal, but not quite a slave — and further subverted the constitutional order by convening cabinet meetings under his own chairmanship in his new 1,000-room palace: a multibillion-dollar, 3.2 million-square-foot monstrosity (the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet), which was built without authorized funding or legal permits in a nature reserve.

    I think Turkey is lost to the West and modern civilization. I saw those angry young men when we were entering mosques, like the Blue Mosque, where they kept angry and careful watch to see that we took off shoes and women wore head scarves. Now, they are running the country,

    Posted in Islam, Middle East | 15 Comments »

    What the Hell is going on ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th July 2016 (All posts by )

    Brig-4

    I have been ruminating about the Hillary case since the Bill and Loretta meeting at the Phoenix Airport last weekend.

    What is going on ?

    The meeting was a big secret and no reporters were supposed to be there. However, a local TV station was at the airport.

    The temperature was 115 degrees. Bill Clinton was alleged to be playing golf but HE DID NOT DO SO. He was meeting with a donor.

    Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

    Sources tell ABC15 Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.

    Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.

    ABC15 asked Lynch about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department.

    I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” said Lynch.

    She made some risible remark about discussing golf and grandchildren. She had no children, let alone grandchildren.

    This story stinks to high heaven.

    Then Comey had his short announcement. CNN, of course, loved it.

    Comey last navigated politics this turbulent in 2004, when he was deputy attorney general and he was at the center of a dramatic showdown with the White House over a surveillance program ordered by President George W. Bush. Comey and other Justice Department and FBI officials threatened to resign in the dispute, and Comey, a Republican, emerged a hero to the political left.

    This is a lie. Comey was hip deep in the controversies of the Bush Administration and not in an impartial way.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Law Enforcement, National Security, Politics | 5 Comments »

    Government is Failing. At Everything.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st July 2016 (All posts by )

    Today, Daniel Henninger has a pretty good column on Brexit.

    The Wall Street Journal is not exactly on board with the “Leave” vote or certainly with Trump but this is pretty good.

    The vote by the people of the United Kingdom to separate from the European Union was actually Brexit the Sequel. The first Brexit vote took place 35 years ago in the United States, with the election of Ronald Reagan, who carried 44 states.

    Reagan, in his first inaugural address in 1981, could not have been more explicit about what his election stood for: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

    Brexit is shorthand for “government is the problem.”

    Liberal intellectuals have mocked Reagan for reducing his theory of government to a bumper sticker. But he elaborated on the idea with words that would have fit in the Founders’ debates:

    “We have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

    Reagan is being misrepresented by a lot of Republicans these days. They don’t remember what a radical he was in GOP eyes back in 1976. I do.

    Why even George Will thought he was too radical in 1976.

    In a November 12, 1974 column appearing in the Washington Post on a potential 1976 challenge by Reagan to incumbent Establishment GOP President Gerald Ford, (titled “Ronald Reagan, the GOP and ’76”), Will wrote of Reagan: “But Reagan is 63 and looks it. His hair is still remarkably free of gray. But around the mouth and neck he looks like an old man. He’s never demonstrated substantial national appeal, his hard core support today consists primarily of the kamikaze conservatives who thought the 1964 Goldwater campaign was jolly fun. And there’s a reason to doubt that Reagan is well suited to appeal to the electorate that just produced a Democratic landslide. If a Reagan third party would just lead the ‘Nixon was lynched’ crowd away from the Republican Party and into outer darkness where there is a wailing and gnashing of teeth, it might be at worst a mixed course for the Republican Party. It would cost the party some support, but it would make the party seem cleansed.”

    Will certainly has a way with words. The Administrative State has come to the end of its usefulness, if it ever had any.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Islam, Military Affairs, Terrorism, Trump | 16 Comments »

    The Preference Cascade is Building.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Brexit

    The Brexit vote in Britain has rocked the country with elites and immigrants most affected.

    The vote to “Remain” was a majority in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in London and several other large cities with large “immigrant” populations.

    Protesters are planning to march to London’s Shard building to demonstrate against the ‘racist’ and anti-migrant rhetoric of the EU Referendum campaign.

    The march, announced in a Facebook post by the Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, was due travel from a park in Whitechapel to the headquarters of New Corporation next to the Shard at 6pm.

    All is proceeding as expected.

    The decision has prompted a large market selloff, which will probably persist until the effects are better understood. Those campaigning to “Remain” have used various threats and predictions of doom, so the immediate result is not unexpected. Of course, the political left is hysterical at the idea that voters don’t want to be governed by remote elites.

    On Thursday British voters willfully walked off a cliff when they decided to leave the European Union. The “Brexit” victory is a defeat for Britain, Europe and the global economy.

    Tens of millions of Britons voted for isolation — to go it alone — rather than for cooperation. The European Union just lost a sixth of its economy, roughly akin to Florida and California seceding from the United States. The impact on the British economy could be catastrophic. Europe’s unified stance against a reemerging and aggressive Russia will be splintered.

    Who could imagine that people would not want a thousand bureaucrats in Brussels, or for that matter Washington DC, micromanaging their lives ? Well, I know someone.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Elections, Europe, Immigration, Trump | 37 Comments »

    Does the Establishment GOP Want to Win This Election ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th June 2016 (All posts by )

    trumpflag

    I’m starting to wonder if the Republican Party, that is the institutional party not the voters, really wants to win the election if it means accepting Trump as the nominee.

    I was skeptical at first when it looked like Trump was not collapsing of his own weight.

    About December, he began to look like there was a real chance of winning.

    Now, after months of whistling past the graveyard of Trump’s seemingly inexorable rise and assuring themselves that his candidacy will collapse as voters come to their senses, a CNN poll released Wednesday showing Trump now lapping the field has the GOP establishment in full meltdown mode. The survey shows Trump with nearly 40% of the primary vote, trailed by Ted Cruz at 18%, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio tied at 10%, and the also-rans (including great GOP hope Jeb Bush) limping along far behind.

    I am not a Trump supporter but I am intrigued at the steady progress he is making toward success.

    I am still not that enthusiastic but it seems that he has attracted a large following of people who might be motivated enough to elect him president. The Republican Party seems horrified by the prospect.

    This talk of ousting Trump as the nominee seems more likely to be a big flashing public signal to Trump to get his act together right away. (The smart lefty writer John Judis thinks Trump’s scripted speech Tuesday night is a sign he got this message.) If you were really going to depose Trump from being the GOP nominee in Cleveland, I’m not sure you’d go big with lots of public chatter about it as you’re seeing right now.

    For example, Michael Mukasey a former Attorney General, has written a pearl clutching op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about Trump’s feud with the judge in the Trump U case.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Politics, Trump | 25 Comments »

    To Stop the Train.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th June 2016 (All posts by )

    I have been using the analogy of pulling the cord to stop the train when it is headed for the cliff, even if you don’t know what happens next. I see that Richard Fernandez has now adopted the analogy.

    I don’t see Trump voters as doing anything noble or particularly courageous but it is a risk and many of us are willing to take it.

    Fernandez uses the example of Torpedo Squadron 8 which was a factor in the success of the US Navy in the Battle of Midway. John Waldron did not sacrifice his men and his own life voluntarily but he had a mission and he carried it out in spite of everything that stood in his way. The fighters of Fighting 8 that were supposed to provide cover got lost in the confusion. According to Alvin Kernan’s book The Unknown Battle of Midway: The Destruction of the American Torpedo Squadrons, other pilots nearly attacked the leader of Fighting 8 after the battle.

    Fernandez uses the sacrifice of Waldron and Torpedo 8 as a metaphor for the 2016 election while remembering the crucial battle fought 74 years ago today.

    While the path leading to the present is disputed, no one appears to deny America has now arrived in a critical place whose abnormality is most evident in a contest between two presidential candidates neither of whom is widely supported by their nominating parties. None of the two candidates is actually expected to solve the multiple foreign policy and domestic crises currently besetting the country. In fact one candidate may have helped cause many of the current problems while the other’s main attraction is that he may function as a demolition charge which will clear out the roadblocks that have paralyzed America.

    If political columnist Ron Fournier is right about this election cycle, it is less about achieving incremental policy change than precipitating a radical institutional change. In that case the current unpopularity contest can be seen as an deliberate process to increase instability by hoping the worst man wins, not in order to continue the status quo but to tear things down and start afresh.

    I think it is more important to stop the trends initiated by Obama and the increasingly radical Democrats than to attempt any serious foreign policy initiative.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, History, Military Affairs, Politics, Trump | 13 Comments »

    Memorial Day

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th May 2016 (All posts by )

    MIkeMedals

    I don’t remember much of the Second World War although I was alive for all of it. I can remember being taught some of the WWII songs, like “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Mairzy Doats.”

    Most of the friends and relatives of military age went in and most returned after it was over. Not all did and the man in Bud Kerrison’s squadron who sent me the medals in the photo, was shot down and killed before I received them.

    theSalute

    Here, I am saluting Bud Kerrison before he went overseas. He had completed bombardier training. He served in the North African Theater and flew 50 missions, from June 1943 to January, 1944. He served in The 301st Bomb Group, 352nd Squadron.

    His B 17 was named by the pilot, “Spirit of Phyllis” after his girlfriend or wife and also after an earlier plane that had crash landed in England, named “Phyllis.”

    Bud's plane

    There is “Phyllis” after the crash landing in England.

    When the war ended, the guys all came home and my parents had parties for them.

    Saloon

    That is one of the parties in 1946. My father is behind the bar and Bud Kerrison is also behind the bar with Pat Neary who would later marry a friend of Bud’s named Frank Flanagan. Frank stayed in Chicago after that although his father had been Chief of Detectives in Philadelphia. Pat’s father was an Inspector in the Chicago PD so they were a police family. I have previously recounted the story of Frank.

    Well, we all get old. Bud did too and is gone now.

    BudKerrison

    There he is with his kids who are now all grown. I would love to have been able to take him up in a B 17 as I did my son for a birthday present a few years ago.

    B 17 nose and Joe

    There’s Joe in what had been Bud’s “office” as Dana Andrews described in in the pivotal scene of “The Best Years of Our Lives. “

    Posted in Military Affairs, Personal Narrative | 13 Comments »

    What has happened to Venezuela?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st May 2016 (All posts by )

    venzuela

    Venezuela is in the news as the country cannot even buy paper to print money.

    This all goes back to 1998 when Chavez was elected by the people.

    He was an army officer and had previously attempted to overthrow the government, a coup that failed.

    in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

    Venezuela is an example of The Curse of Natural Resources.

    The idea that resources might be more of an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in debates in the 1950s and 1960s about the economic problems of low and middle-income countries.[3] The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in mineral resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. An influential study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner found a strong correlation between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.

    Venezuela is only the latest and worst example. The history is depressingly familiar.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, International Affairs, Leftism, Public Finance | 55 Comments »

    What is going on in Syria ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Rhodes

    Our feckless president has been lecturing the US public about various topics he considers important but what has actually been going on ? We do know that a Navy SEAL named Charles Keating was killed in Iraq.

    (CNN)When a team of less than a dozen U.S. military advisers came under attack in Iraq Tuesday from more than 100 ISIS fighters, Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was part of the force sent in to rescue them.

    All the advisers made it back. Keating, a decorated combat veteran and star athlete who decided to enlist after the 9/11 attacks, did not.
    Providing new details Wednesday about the operation that took the life of the grandson of prominent financier and World War II pilot Charles Keating Jr., Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that the clash between ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces the advisers were assisting was “a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently.”

    That’s Iraq, where Obama pulled out all US forces but is now sneaking a few back in, hoping no one notices.

    In Iran, Obama’s foreign policy “advisor” named Ben Rhodes, admits it was all a lie.

    “I immediately developed this idea that, you know, maybe I want to try to write about international affairs,” he explained. “In retrospect, I had no idea what that meant.” His mother’s closest friend growing up ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which then published Foreign Policy. He sent her a letter and included what would wind up being his only piece of published fiction, a short story that appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal. It was titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back.” The story still haunts him, he says, because “it foreshadowed my entire life.”

    From writing short stories, Rhodes now writes fiction as national policy.

    Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

    Is the policy that Rhodes writes working ? Better not to know.

    Iran has been supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. They have spent a lot of money and lives defending him against his people and the Russians. How is that working out ?

    The Russians are back in Palmyra, which the ISIS types tried to destroy.

    The orchestra played pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach and two Russian composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in a second-century Roman amphitheater, the set for a 2015 film produced by the Islamic State that featured the execution of 25 people.

    The contrast was intended to underscore what Russia sees as its underappreciated role in helping Syrian forces liberate Palmyra from zealots and fighting on the side of civilization against barbarism.

    The Russians were so eager to make that point that they flew a group of reporters from Moscow to Syria and then bused them to Palmyra to see the performance. The production, attended by a heavily guarded V.I.P. guest list, was broadcast live on Russian state television.

    Does Obama know about this ? Probably not. Ash Carter seems to be running foreign policy these days.

    Rhodes’s opinions were helpful in shaping the group’s [Iraq Study Group] conclusions — a scathing indictment of the policy makers responsible for invading Iraq. For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

    One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob.

    How is Iran, Obama and Rhodes ally, doing ?

    They seem to be having trouble as they are recruiting child soldiers, as they did in the Iraq-Iran War.

    Iran’s regime has done this before. During the Iran-Iraq War, which killed around a million people between 1980 and 1988, the Basij recruited thousands of children to clear minefields.

    After lengthy cult-like brainwashing sessions, the poor kids placed plastic keys around their necks, symbolizing martyrs’ permission to enter paradise, and ran ahead of Iranian ground troops and tanks to remove Iraqi mines by detonating them with their feet and blowing their small bodies to pieces.

    Children have been fighting in wars as long as there have been wars, but shoving them into the meat grinder in the 21st century is a war crime expressly prohibited and sometimes even punished by all civilized governments. The International Criminal Court in The Hague, for instance, convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of war crimes in 2012 for “conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.”

    The Basij is a paramilitary branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, and it’s commanded by the iron-fisted head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It’s mostly used for internal repression and provided many of the shock troops who brutally suppressed non-violent demonstrations during the Green Revolution in 2009.

    Why are they now going back to the tactics of 1988?

    “Second,” he continued, “the war in Syria and keeping the dictator Bashar Assad in power is so crucial for the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei that he is willing to pay any price for this objective. In February in a meeting with the families of the regime’s forces who were killed in Syria, Khamenei said that if we did not fight in Syria, we would have had to fight with our opposition in major Iranian cities. Resorting to the tactic of mobilizing teenagers only leads to one conclusion, the mullahs are facing a deadly impasse in Syria.

    So, the Russians seem to be winning and the Iranians are losing and who does Obama ally with ?

    Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency. “It’s the center of the arc,” Rhodes explained to me two days after the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was implemented.

    And some people think Trump will be a foreign policy disaster.

    Posted in Current Events, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Obama | 12 Comments »

    The Trump Preference Cascade is Moving Along.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th April 2016 (All posts by )

    rally

    Earlier in the year, I predicted that a preference cascade is forming around Trump.

    “This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
    issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

    We are in a similar period right now. No one wants to put a Trump bumper sticker on their car because it seems an invitation to vandalism.

    Siva is accused of slashing the tires of a Ford Focus and pouring yogurt into the car’s open sunroof while it was parked at a Gig Harbor Fred Meyer.

    Police say Siva told them he attacked the vehicle because of the Trump sticker on the rear bumper. Siva allegedly told police he considered the sticker a “hate symbol” and vandalizing the car “improved the community.”

    The victim of the crime is considered to be at fault because his bumper sticker was a “hate symbol.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Immigration, Trump | 79 Comments »

    Why Importing Foreign Doctors May Not Solve the Shortage.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th April 2016 (All posts by )

    MoS2 Template Master

    The coming doctor shortage that I have previously written about might be dealt with as Canada did with theirs some years ago, by importing foreign medical graduates. Britain has adopted a similar plan as thousands of younger doctors plan to leave Britain.

    How is the plan to import foreign doctors working out ?

    Not very well.

    Nearly three-quarters of doctors struck off the medical register in Britain are foreign, according to shocking figures uncovered in a Mail on Sunday investigation.
    Medics who trained overseas have been banned from practising for a series of shocking blunders and misdemeanours.
    Cases include an Indian GP who ran an immigration scam from his surgery, a Ghanaian neurosurgeon who pretended he had removed a patient’s brain tumour, and a Malaysian doctor who used 007-style watches to secretly film intimate examinations with his female patients.

    First of all, foreign medical schools are often limited in real experience and students often graduate with nothing beyond classroom lectures.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Education, Health Care, Immigration, Medicine | 15 Comments »

    New Developments between Israel and the Saudis.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Saudi Egypt

    Obama has pretty much abandoned the Sunni Arabs in the Middle East in favor of Iran. This has been noticed, of course, and some new alliances may be forming.

    Egypt’s April 9 announcement of the transfer of two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabian sovereignty came as a complete surprise to many in the Middle East. The only country that was not surprised was Israel. A top-level official in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on April 12 that Israel had been privy to the secret negotiations.

    The islands have a history that is interesting.

    These islands originally belonged to Saudi Arabia, which transferred them to Egypt in 1950 as part of the effort to strangle Israel from the south, and prevent the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from taking control of them. Israel embarked on two wars (the Sinai War in 1956 and the Six Day War in 1967) for navigation rights in the Red Sea. It took over these islands twice, but then returned them to Egypt both times. Now events have come full circle, and the Egyptians are returning the islands to their original owner, Saudi Arabia.

    And Israel is privy to the negotiations and approves.

    In the past, several proposals were raised regarding regional land swaps, with the goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The framework is, in principle, simple: Egypt would enlarge Gaza southward and allow the Gaza Strip’s Palestinians more open space and breathing room. In exchange for this territory, Egypt would receive from Israel a narrow strip the length of the borderline between the two countries, the Israeli Negev desert region from Egyptian Sinai. The Palestinians, in contrast, would transfer the West Bank settlement blocs to Israel. Jordan could also join such an initiative; it could contribute territories of its own and receive others in exchange. To date, this approach was categorically disqualified by the Egyptians in the Hosni Mubarak era. Now that it seems that territorial transfer has become a viable possibility under the new conditions of the Middle East, the idea of Israeli-Egyptian territorial swaps are also reopened; in the past, these land swap possibilities fired the imaginations of many in the region. In his day, former head of Israel’s National Security Council Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland led a regional initiative on the subject. But he was stymied by Egypt.

    Moving Gaza away from Israel would solve the rocket problem and the terrorist problem.

    In light of America distancing itself from the region and the cold shoulder that Egypt has received from Washington in recent years, Saudi assistance and Israeli support to Egypt are viewed as critical to Sisi’s continued grip on the regime. And to complicate the situation even more, we can add the reconciliation attempts between Israel and Turkey; these have continued for many long months in marathon negotiations between the sides.

    A highly placed Israeli official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Egyptians don’t want to see the Turks in the Gaza Strip, and are strongly opposed to a rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara.

    The Turks may have enough trouble with Syria and the Kurds to keep them busy. Meanwhile, a new alliance may be appearing as Obama arms Iran.

    Another factor may be the new Israeli natural gas supplies.

    There are even more interesting possibilities.

    On this background, a revolutionary concept has been floated recently regarding the establishment of artificial islands opposite Israel’s coast; these would host the state’s main infrastructure facilities. The idea was proposed by two close Netanyahu associates. One is Shaul Chorev, who until recently headed Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee and was a former brigadier general in the navy, and the other is Zvi Marom, founder and chief executive of the Israeli technology firm BATM Advanced Communications. Netanyahu worked under Marom after Netanyahu lost the 1999 elections; since then, the two are considered to be close associates.

    The artificial-island proposal contains an additional, even touchier idea: the option for civil nuclear energy in Israel.

    Interesting times in the Middle East now that Obama has abandoned the Sunnis and Israel.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama | 1 Comment »

    A pretty good analysis of Trump/Cruz by Rush Limbaugh.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th April 2016 (All posts by )

    cruz-cheating

    I usually don’t listen to Limbaugh as the timing doesn’t work for me. I did come across this transcript and it seems to be pretty accurate as to what is going on.

    The party is never going to write themselves out of control of this process. So when that happens, oh, panic sets in! So reason that Trump ends up here with essentially a 22% bonus in delegates is because the Republican Party set it up so that the front-runner gets bonuses for being the front-runner, ’cause they thought they were gonna be in charge of who the front-runner ended up be.

    They wire it or try to in a lot of ways. The problem is, they’re working four years in advance and they’re always basing rules on what went wrong the last time.

    Rule 40 was directed at Ron Paul in 2012.

    The problem now is to stop Trump. How to do that ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Politics, Polls | 28 Comments »

    Feminism and Victimhood Culture.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    We are living an age when any reference to women runs the risk of violating the “victimhood” rights of feminist women.

    What is “Victimhood?” It was explained by two sociologists in 2014.

    We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

    The “Honor Culture” requires that one avenge insults to preserve honor. The law and third parties are avoided and this culture is typical of areas where law and authority is mostly absent. A classic example is the American West in the Age of the Frontier. As law and authority became available, the culture gradually changed to one of The Culture of Dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling. Lawyers have made this culture ubiquitous, even in war.

    Now, we have a new phenomenon.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Feminism, Morality and Philosphy, Personal Narrative, Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Government, the things we do together.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 6th April 2016 (All posts by )

    cal

    Barack Obama is fond of describing government this way.

    As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative – their drive, hard work, and creativity. But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones – that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them.

    That was a reaction to Romney’s criticism of his silly comment.

    I prefer the quote attributed to Washington.

    “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

    Now, we see a new imposition.

    The Department of Labor says its so-called fiduciary rule will make financial advisers act in the best interests of clients. What Labor doesn’t say is that the rule carries such enormous potential legal liability and demands such a high standard of care that many advisers will shun non-affluent accounts. Middle-income investors may be forced to look elsewhere for financial advice even as Team Obama is enabling a raft of new government-run competitors for retirement savings. This is no coincidence.

    Labor’s new rule will start biting in January as the President is leaving office. Under the rule, financial firms advising workers moving money out of company 401(k) plans into Individual Retirement Accounts will have to follow the new higher standards. But Labor has already proposed waivers from the federal Erisa law so new state-run retirement plans don’t have the same regulatory burden as private employers do.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Capitalism, Economics & Finance, Public Finance | 7 Comments »

    The Doctor Shortage revisited.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st April 2016 (All posts by )

    33 - Lister

    I have previously written posts about a coming doctor shortage.

    They assume that primary care will be delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They are probably correct as we see with the new Wal Mart primary care clinics.

    The company has opened five primary care locations in South Carolina and Texas, and plans to open a sixth clinic in Palestine, Tex., on Friday and another six by the end of the year. The clinics, it says, can offer a broader range of services, like chronic disease management, than the 100 or so acute care clinics leased by hospital operators at Walmarts across the country. Unlike CVS or Walgreens, which also offer some similar services, or Costco, which offers eye care, Walmart is marketing itself as a primary medical provider.

    This is all well and good. What happens when a patient comes in with a serious condition ?

    The health policy “experts” have been concerned to train “lesser licensed practitioners” and have pretty much ignored primary care MDs except to burden them with clumsy electronic medical record systems that take up time and make life miserable.

    I repeatedly ask medical students if they would choose a career in primary care if it would completely erase their student loan debt. A few hands go up, but not many. In fact, for a while now, the federal government has dedicated millions of dollars to repaying loans for students who choose primary care. Yet residency match numbers show that the percentage of students choosing primary care is not increasing. Though loan forgiveness is a step in the right direction, medical students realize that by choosing a more lucrative specialty, they can pay off their loans just fine.

    I proposed years ago, a health reform that resembled that of France where medical school is free. It could be arranged that service in primary care, low income clinics would give credit against student loans. Nothing happened. Except physician income has declined. And tuition has increased.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Education, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Medicine | 19 Comments »

    Unions and Robots.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th March 2016 (All posts by )

    port

    California has now decided to impose a a $15 per hour minimum wage on its remaining business economy.

    Denial of consequences is an important part of left wing philosophy.

    “California’s proposal would be the highest minimum wage we have seen in the United States, and because of California’s sheer size, it would cover the largest number of workers,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center. “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”

    Implicit in all the assumptions is the belief that employers will not adjust by reducing the number of minimum wage employees they have.

    The UC Berkeley estimate also includes some who earn slightly more than the lowest wage and stand to benefit from a ripple effect as businesses dole out raises to try to maintain a pay scale based on experience, Jacobs said.

    If Brown’s plan passes, 5.6 million low-wage workers would earn $20 billion more in wages by 2023, according to the UC Berkeley analysis. It assumed no net jobs would be lost as businesses look to trim costs.

    The experience in other places has not been positive.

    Even a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, has cautioned recently that “a $15-an-hour national minimum wage would put us in uncharted waters, and risk undesirable and unintended consequences.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Politics | 27 Comments »

    Another step for Craig Venter.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th March 2016 (All posts by )

    cell

    I have previously posted about Venter’s work with synthetic organisms.

    While I was digesting this new material, Craig Venter was making the Gene VII book obsolete. He set up a new company to compete with the Human Genome Project The result is well described in The Genome War by James Shreeve who was given access to Venter but less to the government funded project. This year, Venter’s autobiography was published and his plans for the future are described.

    The links are at the original article which is from 2007.

    Now, his group has progressed to a synthetic bacterium.

    Using the first synthetic cell, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 (created by this same team in 2010), JCVI-syn3.0 was developed through a design, build, and test process using genes from JCVI-syn1.0. The new minimal synthetic cell contains 531,560 base pairs and just 473 genes, making it the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media. Of these genes 149 are of unknown biological function. By comparison the first synthetic cell, M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 has 1.08 million base pairs and 901 genes.

    A paper describing this research is being published in the March 25th print version of the journal Science by lead authors Clyde A. Hutchison, III, Ph.D. and Ray-Yuan Chuang, Ph.D., senior author J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and senior team of Hamilton O. Smith, MD, Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D., and John I. Glass, Ph.D.

    This is huge news and will take years to develop.

    The most surprising result of their work—and perhaps the most sobering one for the rest of the field: The team still doesn’t understand what 31 percent of the essential genes do in even the simplest organism, to say nothing of a human genome. It’s a development Venter called “very humbling.”

    “We are probably at the 1 percent level in understanding the human genome,” said Clyde Hutchison III, a distinguished professor at the Venter Institute.

    That lack of knowledge isn’t standing in the way of entrepreneurs. Biology has been “hot and heavy” since the development of a molecular tool that makes gene editing easy, Hutchison explained. Scientists might be able to remove disease-causing genes or even determine a baby’s eye color. This technology, known as CRISPR/Cas-9, has alarmed many inside and outside the research community, who fear it may be used on the human genome before its effects are understood, with unforeseen results.

    If he does another public seminar, I hope my friend Bradley can get me a ticket. I am now reading Lewin’s Genes XI, although he seems to be no longer the editor.

    I hope I can wade through it. Sometimes, as knowledge progresses, it becomes simpler. I hope so.

    “These cells would be a very, very useful chassis for many industrial applications, from medicine to biochemicals, biofuels, nutrition, and agriculture,” said Dan Gibson, a top scientist at both Venter’s research institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics Inc. Ultimately, the group wants to understand the tiny genetic framework well enough to use it as a biological foundation for more complex organisms that could address many of the world’s ills. Once each essential gene’s function is identified, scientists can build an effective computer model of it; from there, they can simulate how best to go about “adding pathways for the production of useful products,” they wrote.

    I will be following this story closely, if I can only understand it.

    Posted in Book Notes, Miscellaneous, Science | 5 Comments »

    What I Saw at the Revolution.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st March 2016 (All posts by )

    Zulu Dawn

    News from the front today. First, Glenn Reynolds explains where Trump came from.

    The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless.

    Bingo !

    Now, we have Act Two. Will Hillary’s “Thin Blue Line of rust belt states hold ?

    Lt William Vereker, on a routine patrol from the British camp at Isandlwana looked down into the Ngwebeni valley to find it boiling with the hitherto unseen main Zulu Army of 20,000 men.

    As in 1879 the political scouts are rushing back to inform the camp of the unanticipated development. Shocked but still undaunted, the pundits remain confident that the threat can be stopped by the Democrat “Blue Wall” in the industrial and upper Midwest. There, media artillery and the technologically superior liberal ground game are expected to hold the line against the angry white voter.

    Read the rest, as Glenn says.

    Now, we have the horrified GOPe. To Peter Wehner, Trump is the scary black face in the forest.

    It is stunning to contemplate, particularly for those of us who are lifelong Republicans, but we now live in a time when the organizing principle that runs through the campaign of the Republican Party’s likely nominee isn’t adherence to a political philosophy — Mr. Trump has no discernible political philosophy — but an encouragement to political violence.

    Mr. Trump’s supporters will dismiss this as hyperbole, but it is the only reasonable conclusion that his vivid, undisguised words allow for. As the examples pile up, we should not become inured to them. “I’d like to punch him in the face,” Mr. Trump said about a protester in Nevada. (“In the old days,” Mr. Trump fondly recalled, protesters would be “carried out in a stretcher.”)

    OMG! What happened to “hit back twice as hard!” or “Bring a gun to a knife fight?” Rudeness will not be tolerated in the GOPe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Immigration, Islam, Leftism, Politics, Trump | 32 Comments »

    An update to growing up in Chicago.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Last summer I posted a couple of columns on growing up in Chicago in the 1940s.

    My family history is a story of Chicago as my mother was born there and her parents met in Aurora, a suburb where my grandfather’s sister ran a boarding house. My grandmother lived there while working as a supervisor in a corset factory after she had moved to Chicago from Canada. My grandfather, Joseph Mileham, was a railroad engineer, the equivalent at the time of an airline pilot. My father’s family were farmers and lived 60 miles from Chicago. He and my mother met in Chicago when they were both working at a music company. They had a typical long Depression courtship which included a trip to California by my mother after she lost her mother and brother the same year, 1926.

    My growing up was an almost idyllic childhood, although of course it had its moments.

    The house I grew up in is shown here.

    paxton

    That photo was taken a few years ago. I took a more recent one a few years ago and the owner of the house, a black guy about 35, came out to see who I was. He insisted on taking me on a tour. He was quite proud of it. He asked if I could send him photos of the house when we lived there. Here are a few more of them.

    Now, that neighborhood was the subject of a feature story in the Chicago Tribune today.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »