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Emily Roden

MY FIVE DAYS WITH REX TILLERSON

rex-tillersonNine years ago, I showed up to the Denton County Courthouse in Denton, Texas for jury duty and got myself picked for the job. A young girl had accused her mom’s boyfriend of sexual assault and the case was being brought to trial.

If you’ve ever served on a jury trial before, you understand the almost immediate, yet very temporary bond that ties 12 strangers together who are randomly chosen from each of their private lives in order to fulfill a very solemn public purpose.

One of our first tasks was to choose our jury foreman. Perhaps it was his business suit, his impressive stature, or his charisma, but almost everyone in that jury room suggested that this middle-aged man with greying hair was likely the most fit for the task.

“Thanks, but I decline. I’m not interested in the spotlight,” he told us. I didn’t think anything of it.

I had just bought my first BlackBerry and used my breaks to catch up on all the emails I was missing from my week at the courthouse. I recall leaving the jury room on a break with this man and remarking how busy I was and how much work I had to do. He smiled as he sat and read the paper.

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IS THE DEMOCRAT PARTY IN ITS DEATH THROES?

seal-of-dem-partySo this is how it ends — in a whimper wrapped in self-pity and recriminations.

With President Obama on the defensive at his final press conference, Hillary Clinton’s last campaign event resembling a wake, and Electoral College protests ending in total failure and farce, the Democrat Party is limping off the stage and into the political winter.

It was supposed to sit atop the national power pyramid for decades, a new paradigm of liberals, progressives, the young, the old, the unions and blacks, Latinos, Muslims and Asians.

The torch would be passed from Obama to Clinton, a liberal Supreme Court would vastly expand executive power and the regulatory state would enforce climate-change orthodoxy on all industry and elitist dictates on every American. Globalism would be the new patriotism.

But a funny thing happened on the way to one-party dominance: The people who work for a living said no, hell no. Their revolt brings Donald Trump to the White House amid hopes of a revival of the economy and of the American spirit.

Thoroughly beaten, the Dems are at their lowest point in nearly a century. From the White House to Congress to statehouses, they are on the outside looking in.  Are we witnessing their death throes as an organized political party?

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THE COLLAPSE OF THE EU EMPIRE

abandon-shipThe Italian referendum and close-shave Austrian election are symptoms of a continent that may be teetering on the brink of political disintegration.

It’s just possible that an empire may be collapsing before our eyes, as the Habsburg and Ottoman empires did before it, in or around the same neighborhood.

With the rise of nationalist parties in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Britain, the possibility that the Brussels union has fomented, rather than suppressed, nationalism can no longer be dismissed.  The European Union may be encouraging precisely what it was founded to avert.

Against this background, it is worth recalling that the leading theory among economic historians for why Europe after 1400 became the wealthiest and most innovative continent is political fragmentation.

Precisely because it was not unified, Europe became a laboratory for different ways of governing, enabling the discovery of regimes that allowed free markets and invention to flourish, first in northern Italy and some parts of Germany, then the low countries, then Britain.

By contrast, China’s unity under one ruler prevented such experimentation.  Just what the mandarins of the EU are doing now.

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TRUMP AND HEZBOLLAH-IRAN

Ayatollah Khomenei and Hassan Nasrallah

Ayatollah Khomenei and Hassan Nasrallah with the Hezbollah flag in Lebanon

Jerusalem. Israeli officials are thrilled with the national security team that US President-elect Donald Trump is assembling. And they are right to be. The question now is how Israel should respond to the opportunity they present us with.

The one issue that brings together all of the top officials Trump has named so far to his national security team is Iran.

During his video address before the Saban Forum (12/04), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he looks forward to discussing Obama’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime with Trump after his inauguration next month.

Given that Netanyahu views Iran’s nuclear program — which the nuclear deal guaranteed would be operational in 14 years at most — as the most serious strategic threat facing Israel, it makes sense that he wishes to discuss the issue first.

But Netanyahu may be better advised to first address the conventional threat Iran poses to Israel, the US and the rest of the region in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.

There are two reasons to start with Iran’s conventional threat, rather than its nuclear program.

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TRUMP IN TAIWAN

tsai-ing-wen

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

The 10-minute telephone conversation between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. president-elect Donald J. Trump on December 2  was the first such conversation between a sitting president in Taiwan and a U.S. president or president-elect since Washington broke official diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979.

The reactions ranged worldwide, from consternation at Trump’s breaking with longstanding policy to hopes for deeper relations between the United States and the democratic island nation.

Most analysis of the call overlooks a crucial component: Tsai’s own calculations and the domestic reaction on Taiwan.  That’s what we’ll discuss here.

As is often the case, little effort was made to analyze why Taiwan’s first female president, in office since May 20 and brought to power in January via democratic election, was willing to place a call that, if Trump picked up at the other end of the line, was certain to spark some controversy.

Even less was said about reactions in Taiwan, particularly its 23 million citizens, who far too often in the rare instances of international attention are denied a voice of their own – as if all of them were little more than insentient subjects to the implacable waves of history or the dictates of decision makers in Washington and Beijing.

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THE FIVE LESSONS OF TRUMP

teachers-trumpWhat can Republicans learn from Trump’s victory? The biggest lesson is that the old way of politics is dead. McCain and Romney showed that twice. Now Trump has shown how Republicans can actually win.  Here are five ways. 1. Find Your Natural Base The GOP is ashamed of its base. It doesn’t like being associated with the very voters who made 2016 happen. Its autopsy last time around searched for ways to leave the white working class behind. There’s a party that did that. Their symbol is a jackass. They just lost big because they ran out of working class white voters. The Democrats have tried to manufacture their base using immigration, victimhood politics and identity politics. The GOP has wasted far too much time trying to compete on the same playing field while neglecting its base.

Trump won by doing what the GOP could have done all along if its leadership hadn’t been too ashamed to talk to people it considered low class because they shop at WalMart.

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TRUMP TARGETS IRAN

endtheirandealIn the US and around the world, people are anxiously awaiting US President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement of his choice to serve as secretary of state. There is no doubt that Trump’s choice for the position will tell us a great deal about the direction his foreign policy is likely to take. But the fact is that we already have sufficient information to understand what his greatest focus will be.

Trump’s announcement last week that he has selected Marine General James Mattis to serve as his defense secretary is a key piece of the puzzle. Mattis has a sterling reputation as a brilliant strategist and a sober-minded leader.  Yet, in 2013, Obama summarily removed Mattis from his command as head of the US Military’s Central Command  -- because of his opposition to Obama’s strategy of embracing Iran.

That opposition is part of why he’ll be Trump’s SecDef.  Trump is interested in ending the war that the forces of radical Islam started with the US not on September 11, 2001, but on November 4, 1979, with the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.

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SANCTIMONY, INC.

Time was, leftists complained of rigged elections, the media paid attention to dirty tricks, and conservatives cared more about results than rhetoric.

Donald Trump, in characteristically haphazard fashion, said he thought the election might end up “rigged” (if he lost).  Therefore, he would not endorse the November 8 result if he found that fear confirmed — unless, of course, in Jacksonian fashion, he managed to win.

All hell broke loose, from both the Left and “principled” conservatives, that Trump’s allegations had somehow undermined the American electoral process itself.

Not likely.

“Selected, not elected” was a Democrat talking point after the 2000 Bush victory. In a speech two years after that election, a now sanctimonious Hillary Clinton echoed those “selected” charges against the Bush presidency.

Al Gore became unhinged.  For years, the former vice president could not speak publicly without screaming in vein-bulging style, and seemed to be obsessed by George W. Bush in Carthago delenda est fashion.  The Crazed Sex Poodle is angrily campaigning with Hillary now.

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IS OBAMA ON IRAN’S SIDE OR AMERICA’S?

Mullah Obama?

Mullah Obama?

Off the coast of Yemen and at the UN Security Council we are seeing the strategic endgame of Barack Obama’s administration. And it isn’t pretty. 

In the last ten days, Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen have attacked US naval craft three times in the Bab al Mandab, the narrow straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. The Bab al Mandab controls maritime traffic in the Red Sea, and ultimately control the Suez Canal.

Whether the Iranians directed these assaults or simply greenlighted them is really beside the point. The point is that these are Iranian strikes on the US. The Houthis would never have exposed themselves to US military retaliation if they hadn’t been ordered to do so by their Iranian overlords.

The question is why has Iran chosen to open up an assault on the US?  Iran’s game is clear enough. It wishes to replace the US as the regional hegemon, at the US’s expense.

Since Obama entered office nearly eight years ago, Iran’s record in advancing its aims has been of uninterrupted success.  Is this an accident on Mr. Obama’s part, sheer incompetence, or is it something far far worse?

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WHY NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THE TURNOVER OF THE INTERNET

IspieonUThere's been a lot of concern recently about the “takeover of the Internet.”  Yesterday (10/17), news reports broke that the lawsuit of four states suing the US for the Internet turnover has been dropped.

Here’s why not to worry about it.  There’s something else to worry about instead.

The organization being handed to an “international body” is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

ICANN  runs the DNS system that allows you to type in something like mysite.com, rather than something like 237.57.364.1. The root servers that people talk about keep track of all those numbers and names.

So, could the international group play ugly games with ICANN? It's possible, of course, but unlikely.  ICANN really isn't very important anymore, save for political bragging rights. Here are some of the reasons why:

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GLOBAL WARMING VERSUS GLOBAL GREENING

[This is Matt Ridley’s full lecture delivered Monday, 10/16, at the Royal Society of London, the oldest – founded in 1660 – and one of the most prestigious institutions of science in the world.  Ridley’s lecture will likely be considered the currently definitive refutation of the fraudulent doomsday science of Man Made Global Warming. –JW]

Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley

I am a passionate champion of science.

I have devoted most of my career to celebrating and chronicling scientific discovery. I think the scientific method is humankind’s greatest achievement, and that there is no higher calling.

So what I am about to say this evening about the state of climate science is not in any sense anti-science. It is anti-the distortion and betrayal of science.

I am still in love with science as a philosophy; I greatly admire and like the vast majority of scientists I meet; but I am increasingly disaffected from science as an institution.

The way it handles climate change is a big part of the reason.

After covering global warming debates as a journalist on and off for almost 30 years, with initial credulity, then growing skepticism, I have come to the conclusion that the risk of dangerous global warming, now and in the future, has been greatly exaggerated while the policies enacted to mitigate the risk have done more harm than good, both economically and environmentally, and will continue to do so.

And I am treated as some kind of pariah for coming to this conclusion.

Why do I think the risk from global warming is being exaggerated? For four principal reasons.

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LES DÉPLORABLES – THE REVOLT OF THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT

LesDeplorablesHillary Clinton’s comment that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” -- a heck of a lot of phobia for anyone to lug around all day -- puts back in play what will be seen as one of the 2016 campaign’s defining forces: the revolt of the politically incorrect.

They may not live at the level of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” but it was only a matter of time before les déplorables—our own writhing mass of unheard Americans—rebelled against the intellectual elites’ ancien régime of political correctness.

To repeat: “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”

Those are all potent words. Or once were. The racism of the Jim Crow era was ugly, physically cruel and murderous. Today, progressives output these words as reflexively as a burp.

What’s more, the left enjoys calling people Islamophobic or homophobic. It’s bullying without personal risk.

Donald Trump’s appeal, in part, is that he cracks back at progressive cultural condescension in utterly crude terms. Nativists exist, and the sky is still blue. But the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t phobic about a modernizing America. They’re fed up with the relentless, moral superciliousness of Hillary, the Obamas, progressive pundits and 19-year-old campus activists.

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NOT BEING EVIL IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH

[Skye’s comments on the Forum re the HFR last week (07/01) are so insightful many TTPers requested they be a full article.  We are happy to comply]

A TTPer asks, “Skye, your doubts on Trump (e.g. on tariffs and trade) are justified but a little more substance would help for an observer who retains an open mind on the subject.   What is evil?   This visceral distrust (of Trump) may be justified but what is the alternative Biden, Clinton and 2 to 3 Supreme Court justices?”

I don’t think that Trump is evil (unlike Hillary).  I do believe that he is mistaken about many things, and most importantly about what it would take to get him elected.  He is a prisoner of his own egotism.  His belief that his name can replace campaign funding with a billion dollars is what will give us those ‘Crats and their Supreme Court nominees.  I am obviously very unhappy with that prospect.

4 to 8 years of Clinton II are likely to create a lot more desperation. I do not want to see voting from the rooftops with .338 Lapua ballots.  That almost always ends very badly. 

I would love to read of as many other possibilities as smart TTPers can imagine.  We need to consider as many alternatives as possible from as many minds as possible.  A productive first step would be to stop wasting effort arguing about the relative qualities of Trump and Hillary.  Of course, the latter is truly horrific, but unless the former undergoes an unexpected sea change with respect to campaign funding actions, we will be stuck with the latter.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 04/29/16

I happen to be a big fan of Carly Fiorina. I thought she was scapegoated at HP. I thought she was about as good a U.S. Senate candidate as anyone could reasonably ask of a first-timer, especially running in California. She has shown herself remarkably knowledgeable on an extraordinary range of issues, right on most of them, and courageous throughout.

But it’s not my job to tell you what I want to be true: I’m here to tell you what I honestly think. And Ted’s picking Carly for VP just one day after his Northeastern nightmare gives me enormous pause.

On a more positive note, fears have run high that the #NeverTrump movement and those Trump supporters who say they’ll never vote Republican if he’s not the nominee are in a GOP suicide pact. But there’s a factor everyone’s leaving out that makes all of this irrelevant, and greatly improves the eventual Republican nominee’s chances.

Speaking of Trump, his assault on the delegate system — which so far has provided him with 200 more delegates than he would have under the proportional system he claims to prefer — is growing into an assault on the American Constitutional order. This has…consequences. 

Oh, and Obama’s bare-knuckled threat against Britain? It’s backfiring, big time.

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NEVER MEANS NEVER

So, the conventional wisdom goes, the pressure is now on #NeverTrump.

The logic goes something like this: now that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, #NeverTrump supporters will stab Trump in the back if they don’t support him. We must all unify behind the authoritarian con man who believes in precisely zero conservative principles; if we don’t, we’ve betrayed the country.

There’s enough irony there to overwhelm you.

There is a certain irony to the fact that triumphant Trump supporters who have been touting the strength of their candidate for months – who have, in fact, suggested that those who don’t support Trump are unnecessary vestiges of an outdated philosophy – are now preemptively declaring their candidate a loser, and blaming others in the process.

There’s also irony to the notion that Trump can openly proclaim that if he doesn’t win the nomination, his voters will stay home – yet if his opponents say the same, they’re the traitors. Thus the Trump Cult has defined the enemies of the godking.

But let’s put the irony aside, and examine whether there’s a continuing argument for #NeverTrump.

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WHO CARES IF THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES?

There he was, stripped bare and standing in the middle of the debate stage.

Donald Trump was eviscerated in last Thursday’s debate (2/25). Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz took turns pummeling the founder of Trump University with his own words, his own history, and delivering body blow after body blow.

It was more than enough to convince any thinking person he was not a serious candidate for president. But Trump isn’t your typical presidential candidate. He’s Barack Obama-light, in every sense of the term.

What does Donald Trump stand for? What will he do if elected? What core conservative principle will he advance?

If you’re being honest, the answer to each of those questions is you have no idea.

Don’t feel bad, neither does he.

That’s not entirely true. He was fairly unambiguous about one thing he’d like to do: change the law so he can sue newspapers. When it comes to solutions to the nation’s problems, Donald Trump is the equivalent of a constitutional dumpster fire; and that’s just fine to his worshipers.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 02/26/16

 

Brilliant, or Too Little Too Late?

GOPdbate2016This week: South Carolina and Nevada; debate wrap-up; is Trump inevitable, and is Ted dead? (Answer: not necessarily.)

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Also, Trump's big endorsements, Hillary's dangerous Hispanic defections, the geopolitical earthquake of U.S. oil exports, the very real possibility of Brexit and what might come next, and Republican spines reappear in the Supreme Court fight. All this and a lot more in this week's Half-Full Report.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 02/12/16

The loser:

HillaryThis week: the magnitude of Hillary’s debacle in New Hampshire, the defection of women and young people to Sanders, Cruz’s frugality, Rubio’s fragility, and Jeb and Marco’s “War on Women”: their call to draft teenage girls. Also, Cruz’s status as a natural born citizen defended by none other than James Madison and George Washington (no kidding: it’s definitive), “the most right-wing Supreme Court in U.S. history” (or its opposite), “rapefugees”, and the hidden cost of socialism: this one will leave you unsure whether to rage or to cry.

It’s all right here, in this week’s Half Full Report.

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WHY HILLARY WON IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

This is not one of those stupid, contrarian takes where I’m saying something just for shock value just to get clicks. Make no mistakes – Hillary Clinton may have lost by about 20 points last night, but she emerged from New Hampshire as the biggest winner of the night, and it was not close.

Let’s make one thing clear: Hillary Clinton does not give a crap about Bernie Sanders, or about losing this election last night. Bernie Sanders wins one group of voters in the Democrat party: white liberals. Moving forward through Super Tuesday, those voters will be extremely hard to find.

Clinton is going to beat Sanders by 30 points in South Carolina and probably by about as much in Nevada. Super Tuesday will feature a bunch of Southern states that Bernie Sanders is going to lose his shirt in. This was the first, and last, primary that Bernie Sanders will win (or even come close to winning).

Hillary Clinton is already looking forward to the general election, as she should. She knows good and well that she will likely lose that contest against any contest not named Donald Trump. It’s not just that Trump polls the weakest against her out of anyone in the field (although he does) – it’s the more important metric (at this point of the race) of favorability.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 02/05/16

The winner:SenTedCruz

Believe it or not, the New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. So it probably matters to fully grasp the fallout from Iowa first.

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In the aftermath of Monday’s shellacking, the one and two percenters started dropping like flies ...

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You have probably heard a lot about the Carson flap in Iowa, in which Cruz staffers sent out an email repeating a CNN story that seemed to indicate Carson was done. While the Carson flap has indeed hurt Cruz somewhat, Iowa has helped him more.

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It’s worth noting that Trump did not err in skipping the Fox News debate. It was a gamble, and it certainly would have paid off much better if Rupert Murdoch had caved, leaving Trump the master of the deal and even the media (“if he can negotiate that, he can negotiate anything!”).

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A COOL CURE FOR THE CLIMATE CHANGE SCAM

Let me tell you the worst thing about the climate change scam.

It’s not the lies, not bullying, not the perversion of the scientific method, not the establishment cover-ups, not the needless scaremongering, not the wasted money, not the nannying overregulation, not the destroyed wildlife and ruined countryside, not the stymied economic growth — bad though all these things are.

No, the worst thing about the climate change scam is that the people making money out of it are the scum of the earth.

It is now the biggest ripoff scam in world history, pulling in $1.5 trillion per annum — not a penny of which goes to anything remotely useful. It is a Potemkin industry, a racket, a form of state-sanctioned organized crime.

Could there be a way to get back some of the money stolen from us by our governments to be spent on their cronies at Solyndra and BrightSource or thrown casually into grants for junk science research like “ocean acidification” or squandered on shysters at tainted institutions like NASA, NOAA and the Royal Society or wasted on anti-capitalist bureaucracies like the EPA and the Department of Energy and Climate Change?

Finally, there is.

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ACHIEVING AN AMERICAN RESTORATION

Under President Barack Obama, the United States has been fundamentally transformed. From the land of the free and the home of the brave, seven years into the Obama presidency, America acts like the land of the overregulated and the home of the risk averse.

In the Middle East, the new America is treacherous, and pathetic. It is despised by its allies and scorned by its enemies. America’s spurned allies are making their peace with its global self-destruction. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t praying that America will come to its senses.

Unfortunately, history cannot wait forever. Time is running out. Incremental change simply will not do. The world is changing too quickly and dangerously for a hesitant successor or one that fails to recognize that the entirety of Obama’s foreign policy must be rejected from the outset.

And so, before the first votes are cast in the 2016 presidential election, who among the candidates has the courage and the competence to enact a counterrevolution in American foreign policy?

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A LEGACY OF INFAMY

Polls confirm that Obama is the most polarizing president in recent memory. There is little middle ground: supporters worship him; detractors in greater number seem to vehemently dislike him.

Why then does the president, desperate for some sort of legacy, continue to embrace polarization?

A few hours before delivering that State of the Union, President Obama met with rapper Kendrick Lamar. Obama announced that Lamar’s hit “How Much a Dollar Cost” was his favorite song of 2015. The song comes from the album To Pimp a Butterfly.

 The album cover shows a crowd of young African-American men massed in front of the White House. In celebratory fashion, all are gripping champagne bottles and hundred-dollar bills; in front of them lies the corpse of a white judge, with two Xs drawn over his closed eyes.

To play the old “what if” game that is necessary in the bewildering age of Obama: what if President George W. Bush had invited to the White House a controversial country Western singer, and declared that the singer’s hit song was the president’s favorite in 2008, from an album whose grotesque cover had a crowd of NASCAR-looking, white redneck youth bunched up with an African-American official dead at their feet?

And what if the next day, Bush told the nation that he regretted not being able to bring the country together? Would there have been media calls for Bush’s impeachment?

Tearing the country apart is the unfortunate legacy of Obama—and it will continue in Pavlovian fashion until January 2017.

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THE SAD SHAMEFUL SPECTACLE OF SARAH PALIN

With great fanfare, former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Tuesday this week (1/19) endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States.

Mr. Trump has spent much of his life endorsing (and living) socially liberal causes. Although he now says he is pro-life, he’s on the record multiple times as “very pro-choice.” He is in favor of government health care that is even more comprehensive than Obamacare. He’s had four bankruptcies that hurt countless people and businesses. In short, he’s no conservative.

Why then would the Queen of the Tea Party movement stand up for him? Because Mr. Trump is the show. The spotlight shines where ever he goes and Sarah Palin loves, indeed craves, the spotlight.

Former Gov. Palin has made a fortune in the seven years since she and Sen. John McCain lost to Barack Obama, and more power to her for it. But in the year 2016 the shine has worn off, the novelty is gone, while she is still hungry for the attention, the fame and the money.

She is so hungry in fact, that she prioritized Donald Trump, her springboard back into relevance, ahead of her own suicidal son.

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THE CALIPHATE CURVE

Islamic Supremacist organizations like ISIS can be graded on “the Caliphate Curve.” The Caliphate Curve is based on how quickly an Islamic organization wants to achieve the Caliphate. What we describe as “extreme” or “moderate” is really the speed at which an Islamic group seeks to recreate the Caliphate. ISIS is at the extreme end of the scale, not because it tortures, kills and rapes, but because it implemented the Caliphate immediately. The atrocities for which ISIS has become known are typical of a functioning Caliphate. The execution of Moslems who do not submit to the Caliph, the ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery of non-Moslems are not aberrations. They are normal behavior for a Caliphate. This behavior is not a temporary aberration, but dates back to Mohammed’s men raping and enslaving non-Moslem women and young girls as a reward for fighting to spread Islam. The Moslem Brotherhood is on the moderate side of the Caliphate Curve not because it doesn’t want to bring back the Caliphate, it does, or because it doesn’t want to subjugate non-Moslems, it does, but because it wants to do so gradually over an extended period of time using modern political methods.

But whether you take the long road along the Caliphate Curve or the short one it still ends up in the same place. Everyone on the Caliphate Curve agrees that the world, including the United States, must be ruled by Moslems under Islamic law and that freedom and equal rights for all must come to an end. This is why ISIS is in some ways our least dangerous enemy.

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GREENIE ELECTRIC CARS ARE GOING EXTINCT

No one wants to buy electric cars, Bloomberg reports (1/06):

“Americans bought just 102,600 such vehicles in 2015, a 17 percent decline from the previous year, according to researcher Autodata. Nissan Motor Co. sold 43 percent fewer of its all-electric Leaf and General Motors Co. reported an 18 percent drop for its Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in model that’s driven by an electric motor and has a gasoline engine to recharge its batteries.”

And who can blame them?

Apart from being poky and tinny and smug and expensive and utterly useless for long distances, electric cars are also terrible for health and the environment, as even environmentalist Bill Gates has recognized.

This is the glory of the untrammeled economic system: it is the collective product of million upon million voluntary decisions by free individuals. No economist, no government functionary could ever replicate this system through management or regulation because they could never hope to gain access to the complex and ever-changing data which informs all these consumer decisions.

But that’s never going to stop Obama from trying, is it? Last night (1/12) in his thankfully final SOTU, he blathered on about how “we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy.” That was just after he took credit for “gas under two bucks a gallon.”

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WHAT IF THE NEXT PRESIDENT BEHAVES LIKE OBAMA?

How will the country wake up from its coma in 2016 to reality in 2017?

In the next 12 months, the lame-duck, legacy-starved Obama administration will double down on its executive orders, bureaucratic fiats, and circumvention of the law. Obama will seek to fundamentally transform America, contrary to law, effecting change in ways he was not able to by adhering to the law.

The media, as it has the past seven years, will not only ignore the illegality, but also rationalize and commend it.

Then comes 2017.

If a Republican is elected president, what will the media and its liberal sympathizers do should the next chief executive decides to follow the Obama modus operandi?

When Obama issued executive-order amnesty and non-enforcement of immigration laws, the media kept silent, happy that the noble end of open borders justified any means necessary to achieve it. In 2017, we will have a precedent that any American president can simply build a wall, close the border, and deport whomever he finds in violation of federal law.

Or, also taking his cue from Obama, he might allow individual municipalities to nullify federal laws as they see fit: The Endangered Species Act null and avoid inside Salt Lake City? Gay marriage illegal within the city limits of Mobile? Gun control mandates too much of a hassle for those living in Laramie? Texas towns free to burn coal as they please?

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AMERICA’S FASCIST UNIVERSITIES AND JEWS

The foundations of American Jewish life are under assault today in ways that were unimaginable a generation ago. Academia is ground zero of the onslaught. The protest movements on campuses are first and foremost anti-Jewish movements.

In the past month, for example, students channeling Hitler Youth at Hunter College in New York demanded that all supporters of Israel be kicked off campus. A member of the UC Santa Barbara student council was told he could not vote on an anti-Israel resolution because he was Jewish.

In a recent column, Dennis Prager noted that “the American university is now closer to fascism than to traditional liberty.” Prager is right, of course. But the fascist takeover of American academia will not affect all Americans equally.

Jews are the greatest victims of this state of affairs. That’s because there is an intrinsic link between Anti-Semitism and the Fascism of the Left.

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HOW THE LEFT WILL LEARN TO LOVE ISIS

The West doesn’t really want to defeat Islamic terrorism.

It responds to terrorism while ignoring the ideology. And then it roots around for “root causes” that coincidentally turn out to all involve progressive policy priorities like economic inequality and global warming.

The left sees Islamists as an anti-colonialist minority lobby rather than theocratic supremacists. Moslem Brotherhood front groups, like Communist front groups, are willing to use “useful idiots” on the left. But rather than forming a common front, Communists and Islamists hijack left-wing causes and make them their own.

So, for example, Moslems turn #BlackLivesMatter protests into anti-Israel campaigns

Can the Islamic State evolve into another Soviet Union? Yes, it could – and how often did we see American leftists take the side of Moscow or its proxies like Castro’s Cuba against the US?

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CHINA DOOMS PARIS

“The fact of the matter is that there’s a reason why you have the largest gathering of world leaders probably in world history here in Paris. Everyone else is taking climate change seriously.” Barack Obama.

Like a lot of the president’s statements on climate change this isn’t true. In fact there are lots and lots of people in the world who know it’s a hoax. And among them happen to be the ruling elite of the most significant carbon emitting nation of them all: China.

We know this because of a devastating report, The Truth About China, released today (12/02) by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, written by one of the West’s leading experts on the Chinese environmental economy, Patricia Adams.

She reveals that the China has no intention whatsoever of sacrificing economic growth by reducing its carbon dioxide emissions. So it’s going to be fun to watch the Chicoms strangle the Paris COP-21 conference in its crib and Obama pretends he sees nothing.

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WHY DOES RYAN WANT OBAMA TO CONTINUE CONTROLLING OUR KIDS’ EDUCATION?

After seven years of rule by decree by President Obama's Chicago crony Arne Duncan, why are Republicans about to reauthorize the federal government's authority over the nation's public schools?

And why is the new speaker, Paul Ryan, rushing a 1,059-page bill, dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to a floor vote tomorrow (12/02) when the text was released just yesterday (11/30)?

The ESSA’s purpose is to replace Bush II’s "No Child Left Behind," which expired at the end of his second term. For seven years, Obama has governed the nation’s public schools without Congressional authority.

For some mysterious reason, Speaker Ryan wants to give that authority to Mr. Obama in the twilight of his presidency, and serve up a new law that will control public education long after Obama leaves office.

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THE OBAMA DELUGE

Many observers of American politics still do not quite grasp that Obama will end his presidency by seeking to get his opponents’ goat — and that his resentment will lead to some strange things said and done.

Insidiously and inadvertently, Barack Obama is alienating the people and moving the country to the right. But, counterintuitive as it seems, that is fine with Obama: Après moi le déluge.

By sheer force of his personality, Obama has managed to lose the Democrat Senate and House. State legislatures and governorships are now predominantly Republican. Obama’s own favorable ratings rarely top 45 percent.

In his mind, great men, whether Socrates or Jesus, were never appreciated in their time. So it is not surprising that he is not, as he presses full speed ahead.

Obama certainly has doubled down going into his last year, most recently insisting on letting in more refugees from the Middle East, at a time when the children of Middle Eastern immigrants and contemporary migrants are terrorizing Europe.

What remaining unpopular executive acts might anger his opponents the most?

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OBAMA WANTS TO DEFEAT AMERICA, NOT ISIS

The truth is, Obama has no plan for containing ISIS, much less defeating it. Nor is he planning to get one any time soon. That’s because Obama doesn’t win wars. He lies about them.

Obama and his political allies believe that crime can’t be fought with cops and wars can’t be won with soldiers. The only answer lies in addressing the root causes, which means blaming Islamic terrorism on everything from colonialism to global warming. It doesn’t mean defeating it, but finding new ways to blame it on the West.

The unspoken idea that informs his strategy is that American power is the root cause of the problems in the region. Destroying ISIS would solve nothing. Containing American power is the real answer. Obama does not have a strategy for defeating ISIS. He has a strategy for defeating America.

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WHY ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF WAR

"He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist." Koran 61:9

Islamic violence is a religious problem. Islam derives meaning from physical supremacy, so war becomes an act of faith. To believe in Islam, is to have faith that it will conquer the entire world. And to be a true Moslem, is to feel called to aid in that global conquest, whether by providing money to the Jihadists or to become a Jihadist.

The fulfillment of Islam depends on the subjugation of non-Moslems so that violence against non-Moslems become the essence of religion.

Anything that suggests Islam is not absolutely superior becomes blasphemy. When Moslems explode into outbursts of violent rage over seemingly petty things like a cartoon or a video, it is because to them, any loss of face for Islam is the worst kind of blasphemy because it challenges its supremacy. Truth and power in Islam are identical. It is not a religion of the oppressed, but of the oppressors. Jihad is the force that gives Islam meaning. It is the deepest expression of faith.

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THE INVISIBLE ENEMY OF RADICAL ISLAM

As the cleaning crews were mopping up the dried blood from the stage and the seats of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, a depressing act appeared on stage in distant Iowa.

Saturday night (11/14) the three contenders for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination took to the stage in Iowa for a debate. The moderator asked them whether they would be willing to use the term “radical Islam” to describe the ideology motivating Islamic terrorists to massacre innocents. All refused.

Like her former boss, President Barack Obama, former secretary of state and Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton not only refused to accept the relevance of the term. Clinton refused to acknowledge what radical Islam stands for.

But of course, it is easy to understand what motivates Islamic terrorists. They tell us all the time. They want the world to be run by an Islamic empire. When they are in charge, they will kill, subjugate, convert or enslave all non-Muslims, except Jews. The Jews will be obliterated.

The operational consequences of America and the West’s refusal to acknowledge the nature of the forces waging war against it have been disastrous.

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HUMANITY’S BEST DAYS IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE

Munk Debate, Toronto, 6 November 2105

I took part in a Munk debate on 6 November, in which Steven Pinker and I argued that "humanity's best days lie ahead" while Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Botton argued against us. It was entertaining.

Here's the text of my opening statement:

Woody Allen once said:

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

That’s the way pretty well everybody talks about the future.

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THAT SCIENCE NEEDS GOVERNMENT SUPPORT IS A MYTH

Innovation is a mysteriously difficult thing to dictate. Technology seems to change by a sort of inexorable, evolutionary progress, which we probably cannot stop—or speed up much either. And it’s not much the product of science.

Most technological breakthroughs come from technologists tinkering, not from researchers chasing hypotheses. Heretical as it may sound, “basic science” isn’t nearly as productive of new inventions as we tend to think.

The linear dogma so prevalent in the world of science and politics—that science drives innovation, which drives commerce—is mostly wrong. It misunderstands where innovation comes from. Indeed, it generally gets it backward.

 For more than a half century, it has been an article of faith that science would not get funded if government did not do it, and economic growth would not happen if science did not get funded by the taxpayer. This is a myth. In fact, there is still no empirical demonstration of the need for public funding of research and that the historical record suggests the opposite.

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