Shame on us!


The almost total absence of public mourning for an 85-year-old Christian priest whose throat was slit by Islamicist terrorists while he led prayer in a small church in Normandy, France, is a scandal.
Even the French have demonstrated less feeling for this horrendous deed than one would expect from an event which took place in the village which once hosted the trial of Joan of Arc, France’s national heroine and a saint of French Christianity.
There was no moment of silence in the U.S. Democratic Convention, not unexpected given its total avoidance of the worldwide terrorist threat. One could have expected that Pres. Barack Obama, too, would have made a special effort to acknowledge this incident, so gratuitously evil as to be virtually indescribable. But that might be charged to his continuing effort to obscure the terrorist threat by refusing to name its origin in Islam and his elaborate courting of the terrorist mullahs in Tehran.
Searching for the answer to our question is the general concern above all others of the American and European political elites to avoid any hint of criticism or Islam. To be accused of Islamophobia now is an accusation in the Establishment which ranks above all others by the moral standards of those believers in bien pensé Being “politically correct” bans any negative reference to Islam.
Not only is this errant nonsense but it is a continuing impediment to the forceful pursuit of a worldwide campaign to end Islamic terrorism. Moslems, above all, must concede that the terrorists now among us who pledge their loyalty to Islam as a religion must be confronted on that ideological score..As the crude phrase has it, not all Moslems are terrorists, of course. But all terrorists are Moslems.
What is it, indeed, that however twisted in the history and practice of Islam which can be misinterpreted, if you will, into a rational for the kind of killing of innocents that took place in Etienne du Rouvray, in an almost empty church, involving three parishioners, two nuns and a very old priest. Knife-wielding ISIS terrorists interrupted the service and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel and recorded their crime to use to attract new followers.
The truth is that much of the rationale which is constantly mouthed by our leadership about Islam simply is not true. It is not one of the three Abrahamic religions. It is a totalitarian concept which demands total adherence on the part of its believers for whatever its tenets as expressed by its largely uneducated clergy. The test of Greek knowledge which early was applied to Judaism and was a part of early Christianity was rejected almost a thousand years ago by Moslem theorists. The few Moslem voices who oppose Islamic terrorism are nevertheless reluctant to take on the problem of the political movement Islam represents.
Since its founding in the Arabian deserts, Islam has not been a religion of peace is so often stated. It has, in fact, from its origins been spread largely by the sword with the death of “non-believers” and those Moslems who have rejected its principal tenets.
The history of Europe shows how since its founding 1500 years ago, organized Islam – when it has existed – has challenged the political status of the European states. At its high points of strength, it has come near overpowering European armies and putting the West to the sword of forced conversion.
Yes, it is true, that Islam has absorbed – after its initial brutal and primitive organization among the Arabs – some of the rich philosophical background of its conquests such as from the Persians. But it remains, largely, a religion of conquest wherein now reside many, perhaps a majority, of supposed adherents who reject this concept. But it is also true that often through intimidation and intellectual confusion this vast majority refuses or fears to publicly oppose its ignominious concepts.
Until this problem of the fundamental relationship between Western societies and the peaceful Buddhist societies of Asia is addressed, there is no hope of defeating the continuing worldwide terrorist threat.
sws-07-30-16

Dumbing down?


We seem to be going through one of those periods – real or imagined – when “nothing works”.
Our digital revolution has given us a welter of new “systems” covering, seemingly, virtually all human activity. But try as we may, something almost always seems to go wrong – the internet salesperson doesn’t know they don’t ship to post office boxes so a purchase wanders around for weeks, the courier [even with his Global Position System] insists our address doesn’t exist, expensive telephone “information” gives us a wrong number, the instructions for reading our telephone messages appears to be translated from Japanese, etc., etc.
We have a terrible, frightening suspicion that the essence of American economic management which introduced our improvements on the industrial revolution may have gone too far. The essence of the system was to reduce complicated manufacturing jobs or other economic positions to a single decision. Then, poorly trained or inefficient members of the workforce could do minimum damage and the system would move on.
Digitalization has simplified, in theory, the whole process even more.
Now computers bear the burden of much of the decision-making and the individual worker just pushes a button for a single action. Thus the once vaunted role of cashier – an individual who could engage the customer, calculate the purchase or purchases, pacl them into containers, take the customer’s money or examine his personal bank check, calculate the change, and send him on his way with a generous greeting and welcome back is gone.
Today – and all signs point to even this single action going by the boards [to coin a phrase] tomorrow – is to move the items across a sensor and either take the currency offered or more likely watch anonymously as the customer swipes his xredit card on an automatic machine.
You have to wonder what are the psychol
But, ultimately, decision-making has to take place at some human level in every organization. And despite what is generally regarded as intensive training – in the so-called business schools and company programs – we have to wonder if the dumbing-down process hasn’t seeped up the salary scale.
ogical implications of this change in the cashier’s role, from celebrated multitasking expert to an anonymous robot facing the customer as he departs.
It’s all done in the name of efficiency. Take for instance the decision to move “call centers”, that is central inquiry and instruction service, overseas to cheaper wage respondents.
More than once recently we have had the maddening experience of reaching a call center in India or Timbuku or even the Philippines where the respondent was neither a native English speaker nor had a clue about American geography. After an excruciating circular conversation, mostly one-sided as the respondent overseas while speaking some kind of English answered in rote messages, a screaming session took place calling for a supervisor, who if luck were with you, was an English-speaking native back in the U.S., who immediately solved “the problem”.
We cannot believe that there is anything efficient in that whole system, and that, in fact, instead of saving money, it isn’t costing the operators in time and expenses. Wages, after all, are measured in service to the operation rather than dollars and cents [or pesos and paisa].
Bottom line: the dumbing-down process which has reduced the individual worker to one motion, one job, one idea, may well so cripple his psyche that he isn’t even very good at that one action. And we don’t even want to think about the possible destruction of a normal healthy personality this process incurs.
sws-07-29-16

The whirling dervish


Sec. John Kerry played hooky from the final session of a North Atlantic Treaty Organizationn meeting in Warsaw to attend “Hamilton” in New York City. Apparently seeing with his family and entourage the original cast of the musical was more important that concluding a NATO meeting in one of the central European states increasingly menaced by Russian Tsar Valdimir Putin. The slight to our NATO allies comes at a critical time when both Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, and other politicians and security experts, are calling for a remodeling NATO.
The Kerry escapade puts the finishing touch on a routine that begs the question of what are the responsibilities of the secretary of state and how does he fulfill them. Kerry, following in the airflow of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, is almost always on the road. His brief touchdowns are only exceeded by the flow of state press releases which clutter the same airways.
It is ironic – and a bit perplexing – that at a time when digital communications permit contact in almost every conceivable way [except touch and that is probably coming!] that the secretaries think their mission involves constant foreign travel.
This travel routine is revolutionizing the whole American diplomatic process. And there is good reason to believe that it is not for the better.
The old method of maintaining foreign relations had its flaws, of course. Political appointments handed out by newly elected presidents for elections support often went to unqualified or inattentive candidates. But, for the most part, these were to the major European fleshpots – London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, etc. – which had long and intimate relations with Washington and important lines of communication through business and cultural interests.
Then, too, there was the often arrogant attitude of the U.S. Foreign Service, the professionals in the State Department, recruited, first, through highly touted formal written examinations as well as personnel scrutiny. In the past, too often this had been a coterie from elite families and the Ivy League schools, isolating the service from the American public, and even from elected officials. Too often they became part of an international elite with interests and sometimes even attitudes closer to their foreign colleagues than to the American public they were supposed to serve.
But more recently, Madeleine Albright, who because of her foreign birth and her father’s role as a Czechoslovak diplomat and American professor of foreign affairs, already was a member of that international diplomatic elite. Albright, with the coming of faster jets and more accessible routes began to set the pattern of increasing personal visits abroad.
This Secretary-on-the-stoop role has elbowed out the ambassador on the spot, supposedly either a career professional steeped in the local political culture, or a political appointee with his own relationships. We have a strong suspicion that what happens, naturally enough, is that the local ambassador’s knowledge and reporting, gets drowned out by the parachuted-in secretary’s horseback judgments.
We can’t believe, either, that the secretary doesn’t have enough to keep him busy at home rather than gallivanting around the world. With a budget of $65.9 billion [FY 2015], 13,000 Foreign Service Officers, 11,000 Civil Service employees, and 45,000 local Foreign Service Local employees, the secretary of state has an enormous bureaucracy to police. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development [overseas economic aid] with 3,797 U.S. employees and a $35.6 billion budget [FY 2014] reports in to the Secretary. Having gobbled up the former U.S. Information Service [to its functions detriment according to many media observers], the flow of paper out of Foggy Bottom is endless and requires some supervision at the highest level.
That’s why we think there is a growing necessity for the secretary to stay home and attend his knitting rather than the near hysteria of constant foreign travel. [Those weekends in New York could, by the way, be better managed from Washington than Warsaw.]

sws-07-27-16

The coming clash with China


Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the fall of 2011 used the buzz word “:pivot” three times to announce a major shift in the Obama foreign policy, putting major emphasis on South and East Asia Asia. But the reality – as detailed in a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies commissioned by Congress – is that the Administration’s rebalance effort may be insufficient” to secure American interests. Clinton herself, in her campaign for president, has reversed her stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, one of the major diplomatic and economic initiatives after spending years working on it.

Whether or not Clinton makes it to the presidency, what is becoming increasingly clear is that China, itself, is headed for a crash which will not only threaten her Communist regime but the U.S. – and its allies – ability to deal with it.

A similar breakdown of the Chinese state occurred in the 19th Century. But in the heyday of European colonialism and American expansion into the Western Pacific, it came piecemeal. And however catastrophic for the Chinese people, its effects largely were relegated to the sidelines of world history.

But in the 21st century, as China and its 1.3 billion people again appear likely to crash, a failed state with all its new and intimate trade and political relation ships to the rest of the world will also be catastrophic for its partners.

The signs of the approaching crisis are not that hard to discern. But precisely because they carry such weight, they are being studiously ignored in Washington’s political corridors in favor of much more publicized domestic and international events.

The evidence for a prediction of a Chinese crash is stark:

Xi Jinping, China’s Communist Party head and chief of state and government, is failing in his attempt to make himself an all-powerful reincarnation of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. His increasing repression, despite the new environment of the digital revolution with its pervasive social media, been Maoist in its aspirations. But a recent conference on China’s growing economic, political and social problems sponsored by Xi’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang dramatically excluded Xi’s participation. It was immediately seen that contrary to a general perception abroad, the struggle within the Party for control continues, to the detriment of governance in a time of rising economic and political crisis.

That crisis arises from the fact the raison d’etre of the regime stripped of its Marxist ideology in all but name, has been sensational economic growth, is under siege. The increasingly suspect Chinese statistics claim its gross national product is still growing at 6.7 percent, a long way from 2003 to 2008, when annual growth averaged more than 11 percent,

But this growth is at the cost of a rapidly escalating debt. Beijing borrowed its way out of the 2007-8 world financial crisis with a massive stimulus program. The ratio of such continued borrowing is rising rapidly. This year it has taken six yuan for every yuan of growth. China’s money supply is now 73 percent higher than in the United States, an economy about 60 percent larger. Furthermore, that debt is being incurred disproportionately by the giant inefficient state enterprises through their Party allegiance rather than the small but entrepreneurial semi-private sector. China’s export oriented economy is not as virtually all informed observers suggest ranging toward domestic consumption, and the political season makes it almost certain the U.S.] new administration, whichever candidate wins, will move toward curbing Beijing’s violations of fair trade.

Meanwhile, whether as a result of its growing influence on government or as an attempt to detract from domestic issues, Beijing is pursuing a more and more aggressive foreign policy. Sensing the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce overseas American committeemen’s, it has ploughed ahead with flimsy claims to shoals in the South China Sea thousand miles from its Mainland. By militarizing them at a rapid rate, it has openly challenged that most hallowed of I.S. foreign policies, freedom of the seas, straddling athwart one of the world’s most important waterways.

It appears unlikely that either of these three trends will be reversed in the near term. Not only do they threaten U.S. interests, but those of China’s neighbors – whether a rearming Japan, or the more vulnerable Southeast Asians whom Beijing attempts to dominate one by one. Again, whether by direction or at their own initiative, Chinese naval and air units are challenging the U.S.in international waters. The likelihood of a clash, perhaps one that cannot be managed short of war, appear likely in the offing.

sws-07-24-16

Plugging, common sense and precision


It was inevitable, of course, that when The Digital Revolution spawned The Information Revolution, it would simultaneously open up The Misinformation Revolution.
If anyone, anywhere, anytime – except perhaps in China – can gap on the internet and pontificate, a great deal of what is there is bound to be even worse than nonsense, but poisonous. The only defense is a resort to history, which seems to have gone out of style as an academic discipline, and common sense.
Here are cases in point:
The CN-NPR war against the candidacy of Donald Trump, whatever your own views about The Donald, constantly harps on the theme of the minority vote which they conclude he will not receive. Mebbe. But it is well to remember that in the past – with the enormous exception, granted, of 2008 and 2012, and for obvious reasons — was never a major factor in elections. Even registered black voters notoriously did not vote, and the Mexican-Americans in the southwest, less half as much as they. It remains to be seen if Pres. Barack Obama’s face, and the incredibly honed digital machine his supporters built, has reversed these historic trends.
Speaking of Hispanics. There are none. There are Americans who language in their household – or perhaps their only language in parts of the Southwest – is Spanish, properly Castellano. But, for example, antagonism between Mexico and Cuba in the Spanish Empire was the feud to end all feuds. That carried on among their progeny in the U.S. The Florida and New Jersey Cuban minorities, because of the flight of many of them and their antagonism to the Castro regime, have in the past been Republican with notable exceptions, e.g. Bob Menendez, Democrat, New Jersey (2006–Present), Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey’s 13th district [993-2006]. The flirtation with Raúl Castro of the Obama Administration is likely to end the erosion which was taking place among younger Cuban Americans in recent years. Puerto Ricans is the largest Spanish-speaking minority in Florida; they cannot vote in federal elections in Puerto Rico. They tend to be Democrats because of the long affiliation the first popularly elected governor of the Rican Commonwealth Luis Muñoz Marín local social democratic party was tied to the Democrats’ New Deal on the Mainland. California Mexican-Americans, when they vote tend, to be indeed solidly Democratic, but the Bushes and the current governor, Greg Abbott, has cut heavily into their formerly Democrat base. By the way, all speak Spanish but most Mexicans will admit – unless they come from their own Caribbean coast, e.g. Tampico – that they have great difficulty understanding Cubans and Puerto Ricans’ Spanish.
The Trump campaign keeps trumpeting a “fact”; the candidate earned more votes than any GOP primary candidate in history , they argue, in his primary race with 17 opponents whom he liquidated [or did more or less so until Ted Cruz’ ghost showed up at the third day of the Republican convention]. The “fact” is indisputable, but in no small part explained by another fact: the current estimate of the U.S. population is 322.48 [not counting an unknown number of illegals], more than double the 163.03 million estimated in 1954. Obviously, what is considered the minority political party – kept under an Electoral College handicap by the huge and continuing Democratic majorities in New York and California – has gained spectacularly? With an unprecedented number of candidates all salivating at the possibility of running against a “third Obama administration masquerading as Hillary Clinton, that impetus would have been even stronger. There was large numbers of Democrats and independents, in the states where registration can be changed easily, switching their party affiliation to Republican to take part in the free-for-all.
The CNNers and NPRers are trumpeting the divisions of the just ended Republican Convention, again, as the first time ever, etc. In fact, in the modern era both political parties have been coalitions of regional forces – often at ideological loggerheads with one another but both more interested in power than more egests. The Talking Heads ignore, for example, the fact that the Democratic Party which ruled [under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman] for two decades was a coalition of segregationists [“The Solid South, Dixiecrats, etc], highly personal urban political “machines [Tammany in NYC, Hague in Jersey City, Daley in Chicago and Pendergrass in Kansas City – from which Truman, himself emerged], the AFL-CIO unions, socialists and Communists, and FDR’s “kitchen cabinet” of academic advisers. Furthermore, vice presidents – to “balance” ticket geographically – virtually disappeared with FDR’s firing of Henry Wallace, an Iowa and agricultural society icon, in 1936. [I know; I was writing editorials in my hometown weekly supporting Wallace and the AFL-CIO Political Action Committee!] So-called platform committees in both parties have been irrelevant in terms of influencing the candidates’ policy but simply a combat ring for battling. Party apparatchiks.
So what’s the lesson here? Obviously, don’t believe everything The Talking Heads say with great authority. [It’s something of a delight to listen to one noted female star that has suddenly blossomed into an expert on the Mideast!] Remember, — at least for the time being –Google, and there are dictionaries, the Britannica, to check them out. But most of all maintain your own skepticisms – everything on the Internet is not The Word!
sws-07-21-16

Obama lies about Iran


A secret codicil now reveals that Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s vaunted nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran is at least in part a fraud.
On the first anniversary of the agreement, Obama again claimed the agreement he made with the Persian Islamicists was successful in “avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”
The newly discovered secret agreement, however, indicates that critical points in the publicized executive agreement which Obama refused to put through the treaty process with the Congress, are less than claimed or non-existent.
The new document makes Obama’s claims much less than originally announced. The agreement was signed by all the five countries that participated with the U.S. in its effort to keep the Tehran mullahs from moving to a nuclear weapon and being able to deliver it.
But Obama’s agreement, the until now secret document release, permits the Tehran mullahs to proceed with various aspects of their weapons production in a much shorter time frame than originally claimed for the agreement. :
Iran can as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — begin to replace its mainstay centrifuges to produce fissionable material. The agreement had been presented as a 20-year accord.
These new centrifuges could be up to five times more efficient than the little over 5,000 machine it is now restricted to use. That would permit Tehran to produce bomb fuel at twice its current rate.
Because of the efficiency of the new machines, instead of a year, the mullahs could now make a decision to make a bomb and produce it in six months. In the original agreement, it was estimated that it would take them a year as the “break out” time needed.
The UN Atomic Energy Agency now claims Tehran is adhering to the agreement it made with Obama and the major powers just a year ago. But this is the same UN agency which failed earlier to report Iran’s nuclear fuel activity. That clandestine activity at the Iranian installations was reported by Persian exiles in Iraq and later confirmed by the UN agency.
. The document which had been secret until now was obtained by the Associated Press from undisclosed sources. The AP claims its authenticity has been confirmed by several other also undisclosed informants who are expert on atomic issues or the Persian scene.
Before going into recess last week, the Congress passed legislation imposing new sanctions on Tehran for continuing publicly announced development and testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The program, the White House admits, can only be meant to carry atomic warheads. It was not part of Obama’s nuclear agreement with the mullahs.
The legislation also prohibits the White House from continuing to buy heavy water, a raw material used in producing nuclear weapons. The White house has rationalized this contribution to the income of the world’s leading state terrorists as removing an ingredient for possible bomb-making. It remains to be seen if Obama will veto it and if the hawks in the Congress can override his veto with the aid of security-minded Democrats.
The effect of the revelations has intensified the mystery of Obama’s efforts, seemingly, to reach some sort of overall Mideast modus operandi with the Tehran mullahs. It came on the heels of the Administration releasing a 28-page document, part of the original report on the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., indicating complicity of some Saudi elements – perhaps officials – in the attack.
Why this highly formerly classified document was released now has not been disclosed by the Administration. But it has added to the concern among America’s traditional Sunni allies in the region of the growing Persian strength through expansion of cooperation with its allies on the Mediterranean. Hamas in Gaza [originally a creature of the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood from which most of the terrorist organizations have emerged] and Hizbollah, a Shia terrorist group now dominant in Lebnaon, are now full-blown allies of Tehran’.
It is time for the Obama Administration to reveal its Mideast strategy which has reach crisis concern to both Washington’s traditional Arab allies and to Israel.
sws-07-20-16

The Turkish model is dead


The effects of Turkey’s secularist hiccup last week when for the most part junior military tried to overthrow the regime will be long-term, inimitable, and disastrous for the U.S. and Afro-Asia.
For almost a hundred years, Turkey’s effort to modernize from the top down has been a possible model for much of the non-industrialized world. Mustafa Kemal, the country’s victor in the civil war which destroyed the old Ottoman multicultural empire, set out to “Europeanize” the country, shearing off its former leadership as the clerical as well as political Islamic world.
For Washington, Ataturk’s successor regime has been a bulwark, with its second largest North Atlantic Treaty Organization. army [more than half a million] holding up the eastern wing of the alliance. During The Cold War it was Ankara’s forces backed by U.S. land, sea, and air bases that prevented further Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. This has come at an enormous price [$4 billion by 1997 in direct aid] in American aid; as late as July this year an argument was continuing over a $26-billion package including grants and loan guarantees.
The selection of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party [AKP] in 2003 opened the floodgates to a new competitive economy replacing at least in part Ataturk’s state capitalism. Remittances from Turks overseas [three million in Germany alone], foreign investment and an ambitious overseas tied-aid program of its own, seemed to be fulfilling Kemal Pasha’s aspirations, making it the fastest growing economy in Europe at more than 10% annually.
Despite Erdogan and the AKP’s ambiguity on permitting Washington to move forces through Turkey during George W. Bush’s 2002 Iraq War – or perhaps precisely because of it – soon after his election Pres. Barack Hussein Obama began to court Erdogan. Obama apparently saw Erdogan as a moderate Muslim democrat who could help him stabilize the Middle East. In a 2011 interview Obama named Erdogan, along with Germany Chancellor Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, as one of the five world leaders with whom he had the strongest bonds. They exchanged frequent calls and the U.S. president commiserated for 45 minutes on the death of Erdogan’s mother.
But a flagging economy and Erdogan’s growing grasp for power as he moved into the presidency in 2012 has clouded the picture. A well-known quotation – whether true or apocryphal – describes Erdogan’s politics: “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.” Long before the attempted coup, he had unmercifully purged the senior military – the guardians of Ataturk’s secularist state — installing his own men. He also packed the judiciary and has more journalists in jail than any other regime. His threats since the failed coup to go even further with repressive measures and his own new constitution look like an old Mideastern pattern.
But worse still has been his pandering to Islamic elements, especially rural Anatolia where his conservative views are most popular. How far toward an Islamic state will Erdogan go is now an open question? Earlier critics who pointed out Turkey did little to curb the flow of Syrian and other refugees to Western Europe – a million last year alone to Germany. In fact, he used the refugee flow to blackmail Merkel into a huge new aid program and a laissez-passer for Turkish citizens in the European Union. Other EU members may demur, particularly France, with its opposition coming to a head in October is stronger after the massacre last week on the Riviera. .Erdogan already has used any criticism of his regime in Western Europe and the U.S. as evidence for his frequent charges of foreign intervention.
Talk among Erdogan supporters of establishing Sunni Islam as the state religions have been knocked down by Erdogan himself. But he always has flirted with radical Islamic terrorists. Gaza’s Hamas [the cause of his break with Israel] has openly operated as has Erdogan’s sympathy for Hizbollah [even it is Shia] in its fight against Basher al-Assad in Syria. That makes him less than a reliable ally in Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s effort to “degrade and [eventually[destroy” Daesh [ISIS or ISIL]..
Not only is the Turkish model gone, but there is every reason to question its future role as a NATO member..[Erdogan temporarilly closed the joint U.S.-Turkish NATO Incirlik air base, only 80 miles from the Syrian border, which Obama has been using in his low level war against Daesh.] Such moves could cripple an already limping alliance, successful as NATO.was for half century in the defeat of Communism.
sws-07-18-16

The Islam debate


The most difficult political and cultural debate since the decision of the Western alliance to destroy fascism in 1939 or the American decision to help resurrect Europe in 1945 has begun.

The discussion will be an intense examination of Islam and its role in the modern world.

It is an argument fraught with danger, not only for Islam, but for the democratic liberties of religion, free speech and economic well being of an increasingly interrelated world.

One could well argue that the debate is well underway, sotto voce. Certainly Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo speech was, if not the opening, one of the curtain raisers. Obama, in essence, extended the hand of friendship to the Moslem world. As part and parcel of his message, he not only accepted responsibility as he saw it for past American aggression against the Moslem world. But he denigrated, in the eyes of most American and international historians, the unparallel magnanimity of a rich and powerful U.S. since the end of World War II..

Even most Americans are unaware of the vast outpouring of U.S. resources, overwhelmingly private but official as well, which helped rehabilitate post-World War II Europe, and then went on to attempt, however unsuccessfully, the uplifting of what was then called “the third world” of poverty and ignorance in the pre-industrial societies.

But for many reasons – not the least the unrest produced by the beginning stirrings of modernity – the Arab and Moslem world beyond it went into a revolutionary period of upheaval and violence. It is a vast exaggeration to blame this movement from Dakar to Zamboanga on the decision of the Bush Administration to topple one of the most ruthless and cruel dictatorships the world has seen in Iraq’s Sadam Hussein. Likewise, the Obama decision to abandon the Iraqis to their own machinations with the sudden and complete withdrawal of American power only added to the tumult.

What is basic to the argument is the very nature of Islam.

The continued repeating of the cliché that Islam is a religion of peace does not alter the fact that history proves otherwise. The Arab acceptance of Mohammed’s preaching, according to their own and what other accounts we have, led immediately to warfare. Islam, first against Medina Jews who refused to accept Mohammed as the messiah, but thereafter, spread by the sword through the Middle East, crushing ancient Christian and other beliefs,. Tenets from forced conversion to death for those who Moslem believers who reject the faith are still part and parcel of the Moslem ethic and in the hadith, the literature surrounding Mohammed’s life, times and values.

A complicating factor, of course, is that the fundamental Islamic concept that the Koran, the store of Moslem teaching, is the word of Allah, the supreme being. Even though there has been historical research indicating at least some of the Koran predates Islam, that fundamental of the Moslem creed is basically different from both Christianity, Judaism and most other religions which accept even their holy writ as created by others. Thus the cliché that all three religions are “Abrahamic” and based in “the book’ is erroneous as is the Moslem claim that at times sanctifies certain relationships with others ‘of the book”, such as marriage. From almost the beginning of Judaism, and certainly of Christianity, exegeses of sacred texts has continued, although at times considered heresy and punished, It was this tradition which eventually led Martin Luther to success in his Reformation of the medieval Catholic Church and its Catholic Counter-Reformation which produced modern Christianity..

Today no matter how much non-violent Moslems refute the accusations that the Islamic terrorists – a name Obama and his associates refuse to use – have their roots in Islam, there is considerable contradictory evidence. Furthermore, there is also evidence that in recent terrorist episodes in the U.S., family members or other Moslems had information about the preparation for these outrages but either were sympathetic or intimidated into remaining silent. Some traditional concepts continue unreformed; for example, that Moslems who lie to nonbelievers are excused from moral stigma if the deed can be ascribed to fostering the fortunes of Islam..

There are numerous spokesmen today calling for a “ Moslem Reformation”. But they work at the margins of Islamic society and rarely have a foothold in the mosques, the halls of prayer, where inforunately too much of the recent violence has been plotted. Unquestionably, U.S. authorities responsible for the defense of the American people as their first and foremost responsibility, will have to servile domestic Moslem circles for possible terrorists in hiding. They certainly will have to examine as carefully as possible new migrants where agents of the terrorists may well be entering the U.S. as they have Western Europe as they have been publicly instructed to do.

. The bounds of this surveillance will have to be carefully monitored by human rights organizations. But if they are to assume that it is not necessary, as seems to be the case with the venerated but increasingly ideological National Association of Colored People [NAACP], then their role will not only restricted but useless. There are guidelines that might be adduced from the long fight against Communist penetration during The Cold War. But there is no way that the necessary pursuit of terrorism can be avoided unless and until there is an administration in Washington which is willing to declare an all-out war and is successful in destroying their sanctuaries to reduce “the victories” of the Mideast terrorists which unfortunately continue to draw malcontents and deranged adherents.

sws-07-15-16

The only strategy


Originally posted on June 13, 2016 |

While the authorities continue to sort out the career of Omar Mateen, the killer who perpetrated the greatest mass killing in American history, U.S. strategy remains confused.

There never has been a question of the enormous potential for Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] to inflict suffering on Americans and other Westerners. The world has rarely seen such naked brutality. But alas! it is that dramatic aspect of the Daesh cult which attracts psychopaths, particularly from the Moslem world, to its colors, even attracting other terrorists. Its weapons in the fight with U.S. authorities are formidable. As its followers sometimes boast, it believes in death not in life as do its victims. Suicide bombers are an almost invincible enemy. Relying on old Moslem concepts, it justifies any deceit of non-believers if it can be rationalized as promoting Islam, something no other religion condones.

The infinitely complicated arguments over how to go after suspicious individuals who may be hidden terrorists has dominated the headlines and the conversations about a breakdown in American security. But in the end, proposed reforms are insufficient to prevent other attacks such as these
That is because the U.S. could not be a more attractive target for the Islamic terrorists. An open society, the first thing to acknowledge is that there are tens of thousands of potential American targets like the gay nightclub in Orlando.

It is true, of course, that there were ”mistakes” in handling Mateen when he came under official U.S. scrutiny. But as FBI spokesmen have admitted, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of potential Mateens in this country, and thousands more who could be infiltrated with relative ease given our immigration problems and the opportunities afforded through worldwide commerce and tourism.
There is, of course, a strong argument for tightening up our security procedures.

But the reality is that were we to move beyond a certain line in addressing the issue of suppressing terrorists among us, we would emasculate our hard fought civil liberties, the essence of the American political system. That, of course, is precisely what the Moslem terrorists intend: to create an atmosphere of such suspicion and repression that the whole concept of American liberty which they detest would be lost.

Pres. Barack Obama and Democratic Party presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton avoid the use of the words Islamic terrorists and any other attributes that associate these acts with the religion of Islam. They may have a very pragmatic argument for doing so; that is, official association of terrorism with the religion of Islam may encourage new anti-Western sentiments among its 1.2 billion adherents around the world.

But if so, their logic is at fault. We opposed Nazism despite the assumption that there were millions of “good Germans” who opposed it. We went through the long Cold War opposing Soviet Communism even though we hoped that true Russian autocracy and its European culture were being suppressed. After those battles were won, internal opponents of the dictatorships more often than not, were quick to concede that their position was strengthened by Western resolve.

Today we face a similar totalitarian opponent; Islam is not only a religious belief but it has always been indivisible from an attempt to create an authoritarian political regime. Even Mohammed, its founder, was a chief of government.

Pres. Obama has said U.S. strategy would “contain and dismantle” Daesh. In fact, ISIS has continued to grow, spreading its influence to other regions, and enlisting the support of radical Moslems everywhere.

The only strategy that the U.S. can successfully pursue is to go after ISIS in the same way the U.S. and its allies destroyed the Nazis and then Communism. It calls not only for an effective repression of Daesh but in a dramatic fashion that matches its own challenge, a strategy that calls on all our resources to destroy Islamic terrorism at its roots and quickly. That may not destroy the Islamicists’ concept. But anything less will lead to a long and debilitating struggle in which the priceless freedom of American life will be eroded and eventually destroyed.

sws-06-20-16

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sin


We have been waiting, rather impatiently, for some credible explanation for why the recent interview with The New York Times Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg did not take place. Or we would have settled for a denial. Or in the final absence of a satisfactory explanation, simply an explanation that it was a conversation with an old intimate of the Justice that was never intended for publication.
Where to begin to indict Justice Ginsberg for her lack of judgment, protocol or respect for that most holy of American institutions, the Supreme Court of the United States?
It is an old and honorable tradition, one of that has all the support of logic and a respect for law, justices and our institutions, that serving members of the highest court in the land do not discuss their deliberations, their views or the basis of their votes on issues. Bader Ginsburg has always been a show horse, far too ready to lecture in the public forum when she might have been attending to her torts.
But there is only one place for the justices’ views on the law: that is in the briefs which the Justices are permitted to write, either jointly in agreement with other justices, in dissent against other justices, or indeed, as impendent presentation of their legal views on particular cases which often as not may involve consideration of past verdicts of their colleagues on the Court.
The selection of justices for the high court is as serious a proceeding and duty as the president has as in the highest executive, elected by all the people, in the country. That selection and the approval – or disapproval – by the senate of his choice is a thorny political process. The fact that the Republican majority has held up approval of Chief Judge Merrick Garland., Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia who died suddenly earlier this year is not unprecedented. The reason for the Republicans’ reluctance is no secret; Scalia represented the keystone of the conservative majority in most decisions. Liberal Democrats in the same Senate majority position had done the same in the past. But given Garland’s generally highly respected qualifications for the bench, the Republicans might have been on firmer ground had they at least held hearings on his nomination and examined his past expressed views as well as his credentials.
In part, the Founders were less specific about the duties of the judiciary, the third and equal branch of government which they identified. This may have been in part because of their wariness about the threat that lifetime appointments – the only ones in government – might threaten a judicial ascendancy against the legislative and executive functions. In fact, the Founders less clearly defined the duties of the highest court and it could be argued that “judicial supremacy”, the right of the highest court to rule against the constitutionality of a law, arose as much by the action of strong chief justices in the early 19th century than by constitutional fiat.
The process reached a constitutional crisis in the mid-1930s after the wildly popular president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had won an avalanche in his second term election in 1936. FDR had his most loyal Congress supporters introduce the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. — dubbed by its opponents as the “court-packing plan”.
Roosevelt was attempting to circumvent a strictly constitutional majority of the Supreme Court which had repeatedly struck down some of his more drastic efforts to boost a Great Depression economy. Indeed, some of these proposals – with 20-20 hindsight – were anathema to the U.S. political system, arising as they often did from FDR’s kaleidoscope of advisers, ranging on the right and left from admirers of then new Europe fascism to the Soviet Union Communism.
Then, as now, the court was dominated by older personalities, most clinging to their seats on the Court. Roosevelt’s plan would have permitted him to appoint an additional justice to the Court,, up to a maximum of six, for every member of the court over the age of 70 years and 6 months. FDR and his advisers argued that since the Constitution had not stipulated the number of judges but had been decided by law, it was within the Congress [at his instance] to change the numbers.
But public opposition to Roosevelt’s proposal – including by his own curmudgeonly vice president, John Nance Garner, defeated the legislation. But through the ordinary attrition of age, a more friendly court came into view. It was pyhric victory for Roosevelt, loosing him support even among other members of his own party. But what it may have done was the enshrine the sanctity of the Court including its prerogative acquired in the 19th century to strike down legislation as “unconstitutional”, against the fundamental gurantees of the founding document. In reality it established judicial supremacy among the three separate elements of government which the Founders had conceived, setting up the uniqueness of the American Republic. [Britain, from whom so much of American politics descends, has continued to preserve “parliamentary supremacy”, the ultimate authority of its elected representatives, a divergence that has marked continued debate among Britain’s former colonies, such as India.]
It is against this background that Bader Ginsburg’s remarks must be judged. She has not only violated her own obligations to the Court, but she has perhaps set a bad precedent for other justices to follow. Bringing the Court into the political process for election of the new president is intolerable. Not only are we owed an apology by the 83-year-old Justice Bader Ginsburg, but her early retirement would be a welcomed solution to the disaster she has created.

Obama’s Guantanamo politics feeds terrorism


Nothing so exemplifies Pres. Obama’s failed foreign policies and his attempts to usurp Congressional power than the mess that the White House has created at Guantanamo.
Obama promised in his 2008 campaign speeches that he would close the prisoner-of-war camp which the Bush Administration had created in the American Naval Base in southeast Cuba. The oldest overseas American base, originally leased from Havana after the U.S. liberated Cuba in the Spanish-American War in 1899, it has become an object of dispute since the advent of the Castro Communist dictatorship. The Bush Administration in its undeclared war against the stateless terrorists, first Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and then Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, had used the facility for imprisoning and interrogating prisoners.
Obama has claimed, with little or no evidence, that “Guantanamo” had become a rallying issue for recruiting anti-American terrorists. He repeatedly expressed — the last time early this year in another message to the Congress — that he wants to close it down and transfer its prisoners to Mainland federal prisons. Congressional opposition to both goals has been fierce, even including some Democrats – -particularly those close to possible federal institutions that might be used.
The Castro government has demanded that Guantanamo be returned as part of the Obama Administration’s reestablishing diplomatic relations and attempting to normalize contacts after a half century of the U.S. attempting to isolate the Cuban dictatorship. So far, the White House has refused.
The 45 square miles of rocky, cactus-speckled hills and jagged coastline along a pristine blue-green bay filled with manatees and dolphins continues even with the latest digital communications to have strategic value for the U.S. Navy. As a self-contained town of 4,200 American service members, their families and a small army of mostly Jamaicans and Philippines contract workers, “Gitmo” is still seen as extending the Navy’s reach.. Coast Guard and Navy ships regularly refuel while serving on missions in the Caribbean, allowing such sea craft to extend their counter-narcotics trafficking operations and expand their rescue of commercial shipping..
Despite Congressional opposition, Obama not only has not instituted military courts to try Guantanamo prisoners but instead has been releasing them to various countries. They would ostensibly assure Washington that the prisoners would not return to combat. In some cases, the recipient governments have given less than firm guarantees but instead on humanitarian grounds have released their charges. Opponents of Obama’s policy see his steady release of prisoners as his way of evading Congress’ expressed wish that the facility continue to hold what would normally be prisoners-of-war held under international law were the U,S. engaged in fight with another sovereign government.
As of January 2016, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [ODNI], 676 detainees Obama has transferred out of Guantanamo Bay. U.S. Authorities have confirmed 118 have returned to terrorist activities, while another 86 are suspected of doing so. Abdul Qayyum Zakir, released by the U.S. to Pakistan authorities, became head of the revived Taliban but was ousted in 2014 in a struggle among the top leadership.Mullah Abdul Kayum Sakir, another of the released prisoners,has been reported participating in the struggle for leadership in Afganistan. As early as 2004, former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that detainees had hidden their real identities from interrogators, convincing them they were harmless to secure their release. There is also evidence that some of prisoners who had only marginal relations with the terrorists have been further radicalized in prison before their release to foreign governments.
There seems to be little doubt that the Obama Administration has minimized the use of possible intelligence from Guantanamo prisoners. And by releasing growing numbers, it is strengthening the leadership of the very terrorist organizations the White House has just announced it is sending an additional military increment of some 500 soldiers to fight.
sws-07-11-16

Obama and race


There was a general expectation among Americans that the election of a president with a black face would improve race relations, a continuing and profound anomaly in the freest of nations. There was even a suggestion that particularly in the academic and media communities that hope was one of his most attractive qualifications of Barrack Hussein Obama for office.
That this expectation has not been fulfilled shluld not come as a great surprise after an examination of the President’s background. America’s legacy of slavery is a deep and complex one. The very fact that legal segregation of the races was only abolished in the lifetime of many voters is one indication. Furthermore, prejudice against color is a universal failing,even in countries where there are a majority of colored peoples in Asia and as well as other European societies, and even in Africa itself. In a certain vein, color consciousness has become enshrined in literature and folklore.
There was also the fact that Barack Hussein Obama did not come out of what could be called the mainstream of American black life, even though more and more successful professionals have escaped it, in the ghetto. Obama himself was abandoned at an early age by his black Kenyan Moslem father, and when his mother remarried, it was to an Indonesian, and he was in fact reared by his wife grandmother. [He has even written that she expressed fear of black youths in her daily comings and goings to work as a bank official.]
Nor was Obama’s later experience as a community organizer among blacks in the South Chicago ghetto very educational. He was largely unsuccessful in his efforts – encouraged by a radical leftwing Jewish mentor – because he failed to establish intimate relations with the area’s black Christian ministers, almost the only political and social structure in the ghetto.
In office Obama has co impounded this lack of symbiosis with the black community despite the usual formal relationships with black political organizations that every president takes on, certainly once in office. His almost immediate offhand comments on racial incidents are not only no elucidation of the problem but generally confusing. Naively. Acknowledging that he does not know the facts of the incident, he nevertheless goes right ahead almost immediately to make a false analysis of the episode..
That he has inferentially endorsed the whole “Black lives matter” organization is part and parcel of this misunderstanding of the nature of the racial problem. He apparently is totally ignorant or disregards that this radical anti-white organization is based on the lie that an innocent black life was mistakenly taken in a shooting in Seminole County February 26, 2012. After a 16-hour jury deliberation, George Zimmerman, the white charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old black, Trayvon Martin, was acquitted. The jury had a majority of blacks and Hispanic Americans. Yet Obama continues to treat the incident as a violation of black civil rights.
Obama is certainly correct in labeling the continued difficulties of black Americans with prejudice and discrimination. But, as former New York City Rudy Guillini has insisted, Obama and other black leaders refuse to grapple with the high level of crime in the black population which is at the root of much of its violence and the high level of arrests and imprisonment.
Nor has Obama taken ntervened in his own native city of Chicago where dozens of black youths in gang warfare are shot by other blacks every week. The fact that Mayor Rahm Enmanuel, also a native Chicagoan, was former chief of staff to Obama’s White House makes the situation all that more poignant. In fact, there are signs the level of violence is rising. On a not untypical weekend Four men were killed and at least 62 others, including three children, were wounded in shootings across Chicago over the Fourth of July holiday weekend,.
There is no question that national leadership is missing in a period of heightened racial tensions. Given Obama’s strong prejudices a, there is little hope that it will be forthcoming in the next few months before he leaves office. Hopefully, voters will take this important question into their consideration of the president they will elect in November.
sws-07-10-16

Common sense and Hillary Clinton


Hillary Clinton is the stormy petrel of American political life. Arguments about her and her ideas and position in the current scene are virtually endless. They also are argued generally at a high intensity in the greatest heat of conflict. But in the breach, a relatively common sense approach to her and her reputation has been lost.
The question of Hillary Clinton’s role in American society even exceeds her attempt as the presumptive Democratic Party candidate for America’s highest elected office in November. As the first female with the possibility of reaching the highest office in the land is a landmark in the long fight for equal rights for women in the U.S. and throughout the world. That attention will be again enhanced by a newly announced investigation of her use of e-mail correspondence by the Department of State, and the threat of Congressional Republicans to continue similar hearings.
Many, perhaps most, Americans might well be tired and bored with the discussion of how Clinton used her e-mail service during her years as secretary of state, and ready “to move on” as her supporters have asked. But, in fact, the tedious arguments over the e-mails are at the heart of the examination of Clinton’s personality and her role in American life.
The technicalities of the discussion, however, sometimes ignore common sense considerations of the whole environment in which it is held. For example, the importance of an e-mail addressed to the secretary or one emanating from her office or her assistants to others, may well exceed their nominal importance. In the complicated world of international relations and America’s relationship to its allies and its adversaries, it can well be argued that any subject is important which reaches the eyes of the fourth in line for succession to the U.S. presidency in time of emergency. Whether, for example, the secretary is aware of an incident or a subject in a foreign country could be of utmost importance to that or another country.
Whether Clinton’s disregard for the sanctity of secrets in classified documents was studied or “reckless neglect” is in the legal context irrelevant. The law which attempts to protect state secrets or portions of them warns that penalties for violation of it are similar, whether executed consciously by the violator, or whether something done without specific regard. That argument is an important part of the reasoning by FBI Director John Comey in closing the agency’s investigation of Clinton’s e-mail issue. He emphasized that there would be no call on the Justice Department prosecutors to initiate an indictment or a to presen it to a grand jury whether to return an indictment.
One of the most controversial issues in any official investigation – such as that conducted by Comey and the FBI – of Clinton is to what extend her public statements are to be included in any final analysis. Comey was adamant that Clinton had not lied in her testimony to the FBI contradicted earlier statements, although it is something of a puzzle why the Director himself was not involved in the several hours of questioning. But he was equally clear that the FBI had not considered the hours of testimony and reams of printed coverage of her statements.
Politicians, in the American political arena, are given a certain amount of leeway in defining what is truth and exaggeration. This is less than a formal cynicism as a part of what most Americans have always regarded as the “show business” aspects ot their political process. It is perhaps what has helped Americans – with the notable exception of the Civil War and with its huge loss of life — avoid the bitter extended political conflicts which have characterized European politics and brought on centuries of continual warfare.
Ultimately, if as now seems probable, Clinton is her party’s candidate for president in November, it will be the voters who will decide on her character not excluding the many contradictions in her statements which Comey and others have laid out in detail.
sws-07-08-16

Newspeak II


George Orwell, the brilliant political writer and philosopher of the 1950s, saw the possibility we might drift into a seductive totalitarian society. Orwell wrote that it would be with the help of a new language; “Newspeak” he called it.. That development, he prophesied, would require a new tongue disguising truth with subtle elisions from word to word, concept to concept, in a simplistic fashion that would be easily propagated. The new language was to become the common speech by 1950 preparing the way for the new homogenized tyranny that would descend by 1984.
Orwell’s timetable, mercifully, has turned out to be very wrong. We may still float into that gruesome emasculating society – decades later than his fiction predicted. Many pessimistic observers see many signs of the drift he outlined. But if the timetable is off, have we not begun to develop that remarkable language he hypothesized for the new authoritarianism? It turns out our public figures are so taken by their own egos that they can spin monstrous lies into accepted truth before our very eyes using much of the same old tired phraseology..
John Comey’s almost five-hour testimony to a Congressional committee on his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s alleged violation of the laws protecting national secrets is a dramatic illustration of the trend. The accusation that Comey, with his highly publicized reputation for probity and integrity, cannot easily be set aside. He may, indeed, have simply succumbed to Washington’s intricate political intrigues and is, so to speak, letting Hillary off the hook
But in his almost five hours of testimony before a Congressional committee, Comey mercilessly parsed every word. In the process, he was able to determine that Clinton – a woman who has already occupied highly and significant roles in U.S. political life — was nevertheless wanting in “technical sophistication” about guarding government classified material. He was able to draw a distinction between “reckless disregard” for the literature of American security and “extremely careless” handling of such material which is prohibited in the language of the law. Even a dictionary isn’t much help in making these not very perceptive distinctions between the words and their meanings.
Comey used this language as an escape from what many saw as the logical progression which had followed his revelations of the FBI investigation into whether Clinton had indeed violated the law protecting national security. After citing all the reasons why Clinton had violated the restrictions on access to these classified documents – including the possibility that by destroying some of the thousands of e-mails on her non-government servers she had committed an obstruction of justice – Comey made a convoluted argument for why he would not proceed with any action against her,. That included the argument that there was no “intent” to violate the law, always an extremely booby trapped discussion involving what is usually an even more ambiguous question of “motive”. He even more cleverly argued that although the law involved had existed for decades, the number of people successfully prosecuted under it was minimal. [But, Mama, Joe is doing it!]
At the same time, Comey has chosen to completely disregard the text of the law that specifically does not rule out inadvertence or lack of knowledge of it to free the violator of incrimination. That, of course, brings the whole logical argument back to the level of the language that is being manipulated.
This growing elitist language is being created at the time that the common speech of most Americans, and the rest of the English-speaking world, is becoming less and less specific and more given to trendy pieces of slang, quickly discarded for the next ones. These are often a popluar advertisement for a consumer product.
It also suggests why the growing separation of a self-appointed elite in Washington, New York and Los Angeles and much of the rest of the population is growing. That, in turn, had produced the somewhat amorphous but highly energized political revolt represented by Donald Trump and his “movement”. The Trumpets are reacting to what they perceive, somewhat incoherently, as oppression by a favored elite with their hands on the levers of power.
That division of opinion it is to a considerable extent inchoate, a reflection of the growing language differences between the two poles in the body politic. Furthermore, the polarization is increasingly self evident in all aspects of American life – once despite the earlier lower level of communication and transportation and equally massive numbers of immigrants – a much more homogenous society.
As the Trump phenomenon has indicated, however vague this new cultural divide is – or is recognized – it will have an enormous influence on future events in the fast moving world of the U.S. in the rest of the 21st century. It acts as a spur and indeed a complement of the enormous digital revolution affecting all aspects of American life through the increasing use of technology at every level of modern life.
sws-07-7-16

Comey, the FBI – and America – take a hit


For the first century of its history, the United States avoided having a national police force. The Founders, for the most, had eschewed the whole issue when under pressure from Thomas Jefferson [and nevertheless his slave-holding Virginia constitutions] adopted that colony’s Bill of Rights as the first amendments to the federal constitution. The Virginia code’s tenth measure was to reserve all other rights and prerogatives not specifically named as federal functions to the individual states and their electorates. That was intended to head off the tyranny of a federal police power which like the British parliament had oppressed the American colonists.
Finally toward the end of the 19th century, a number of scandals – one involving the state government of Oregon – forced Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, acting on the 1887 statutes regulating interstate commerce, to set up an investigative service. In theory, it reported to the attorney-general – who contrary to current misinterpretations of constitutional law is a political office, a member of the president’s executive council [cabinet], and not an independent, judicial organization. Gen. Charles Joseph Bonapart, a collateral Baltimore descendant of the Little Corporal – created it on Roosevelt’s orders after Congress had denied him the authiority to incorporate other federal policing activities — for fear of creating a secret police.
The FBI’s first serious activity was pursuit of the 1910 Mann act against involuntary prostitution. It took on new life with enforcement from 1932 of the ill-starred alsohol prohibition act, when its name was officially changed to the Bureau of Federal Investigation. It was under J. Edgar Hoover, a uniquely endowed and politically astute veteran of the earlier agencies, who directed the FBI through an incredible career from 1924 to 1972. Hoover, for the most part avoiding party politics, gave the FBI its legendary reputation in oursuit of the big city criminal syndicates of the 1930s. And with the advent of World War II, the Agency took on a new role investigating terrorism after 9/11 and the Patriot Act.
Today the FBI’s mandate derives from Title 28 of the United States Code, Section 533, which authorizes the Attorney General to “appoint officials to detect and prosecute crimes against the United States.” But it is other federal statutes which give the FBI responsibility to investigate specific types of criminal activity. By giving the director a ten-year sinecure, unlike any other federal appointee, an effort has continued to make it an independent agency, even if quartered in the executive under an elected president and his appointive attorney-general.
James Brien Comey, Jr. was sworn in as FBI director on September 4, 2013 for a full ten-year term.on the basis of a distinguished career as a prosecuting attorney. In several instances, he had distinguished himself by prosecuting former political colleagues. And many long-term observers of the Agency hoped for another extended tenure by a politically astute professional director.
Comey’s test has come with the politically explosive issue of the transgressions of Hillary Clinton, firstly through her use of personal e-mails for whatever proprietary reasons. The even larger issue of the Clintons’ use – probably with the complicity of her husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton — of a multi-billion foundation awaits in the wings.
Dozens of public officials – one of the latest and most well known, of course, Gen. David Howell Petraeus – have been convicted, ushered out of office and served prison sentences for just such violations of security. Mrs. Clinton is revealed in the e-mails, reluctantly turned over to investigators by her office and the State Dept, that she purposely chose to remove this traffic from its security restrictions. Whether, indeed, foreign intelligence agencies hacked into them remains obscure, but common sense tells us that any subject matter reaching the eyes of a secretary of state, makes them of high security value. Whether or not they were formally labeled as “classified” is largely irrelevant.
Comey has acknowledged all this in his statement announcing there will be no prosecution of Hillary Clinton. Furtheremore, to our consternation, he has acknowledged that another person in a similar situation might well be prosecuted for the same infringement of security.
“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences, Comey announced’ “To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
Yet, Comey offers no explanation for his decision. It is not untoward, then, that the general public must now conclude that it is Hillary Clinton’s prominence, her candidacy for the presidency and her denials of earlier admissions of malfeasance, which have led to this “decision”
This is a very sad day for Comey’s reputation, for the FBI and for the attempts to uphold the morality of American politics.

sws-07-05-16

Caesar’s wife


One of the most ancient parables in Western culture is the tale of Caesar’s wife. For those who have forgotten or escaped a classical education, the story goes that after the death of his first wife in childbirth [when he also lost his son], Caesar chose to marry again. Having reached the heights of the Roman Republic as Pontifex Maximus, the elected chief priest of the state religion, Caesar’s new wife would play a collateral role.
To acquire the necessary helpmate, Caesar turned to Pompeia, whose family like his had fought on the losing side in the Roman civil war of the 80s B.C. Following protocol for the Roman gentry, Pompeia was honored with a banquet and celebration as the “grand goddess”, a celebration attended only by women of high ranking families.
But a young male patrician named Publius Clodius, apparently in an effort to seduce Pompeia, managed to enter the charmed circle disguised as a woman,. When he was discovered, he was put on trial. But he was not convicted despite all Caesar’s efforts.
However, Caesar refused to accept the verdict He divorced Pompeia, declaring publicly that “my wife ought not even to be under suspicion.” Caesar’s call on the appearance as well as the reality of stringent morality has given rise to the daily proverb, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion!”
Leaving aide for the moment all the other accusations of corruption and perfidy thrown at Hillary Clinton, the fact that she is running for the highest office in the land requires the invocation of “Caesar’s law”. A corollary to Caesar’s law is that the higher an individual in public life reaches for office, the more stringent should be the requirements that he fulfill the appearance as well as the proof of incorruptibility. Public morality, even with all its inadequacies through the ages, remains the bulwark of democratic government and its institutions.
There is no doubt that former Pres. Bill Clinton has further muddied the waters – whether with or without the collaboration of Attorney-General Loretta Lynch. Both as lawyers and current or former holders of high public office, would have had to know that any contact between them would be open not only to scrutiny but to condemnation. That Ms. Lynch now publicly acknowledges that it was a mistake to have met with the spouse of a subject of FBI investigation, and that she would not do it again [were she given the opportunity]. It is further complicated by the possibly Bill Clinton may become a co-defendant in the affair of the Clinton Foundation and its donors and, again, the appearance of their attempts at influence the affairs of government through the Clintons. It is more than conclusive that neither courted nor abided by Caesar’s Law.
It will take a Solomon, to invoke another icon of Western jurisprudence, to know where adequate and correct public policy now leads. As Ms. Lynch has said publicly, her meeting with Bill Clinton has cast a shadow over the whole process of investigation of Hillary Clinton’s activities. The refusal, thus far, of Ms. Lynch to exclude herself from participation in the whole investigation as a minimal step in the right direction, is incomprehensible. The Clintons’ defenders who point to the fact Ms. Lynch’s deputy is also an Obama appointee is beside the point.
Indeed, one of the first steps toward righting this sinking moral and legal ship is the appointment of a widely accepted public figure with a judicial background to take on the role of special prosecutor in this affair. Nothing less would remove it from the nest of intrigue and conflicting interest which this Administration has brought to it.
sws-07-03-16

Abortion always with us


The latest Supreme Court ruling on the issue of abortion is only another stop-gap in the continuing debate, perhaps the most profound, in our public discussion of social issues.

The court has rule that Texas abortion clinics at risk of being closed by a restrictive state law will remain open and some of those shuttered will probably be able to reopen. But opponents of abortion said they plan to defend those laws in the interest of women’s health, while shifting to pursue new laws to protect fetal health.

We believe that while the court’s decision may have been judicious in itself, the whole concept of this important moral as well as political issue should not be decided in the courts.

The place to decide when, where and how abortion is to be permitted under the overall constitutional decision of the high court that it is a part of our freedom to choose is in the legislative assemblies. That might well be decided at the lowest possible level where those who take a personal and determined position on the issue are best heard.

Debates in the various state assemblies on how individual states should handle the problem are the best way to go forward. That is where we have to the best of our abilities in this democracy a hearing for the voice of the people.

The Texas law struck down by the courts reviewed the case of 41 abortion clinics before the law was with only 19 remaining. Ten more of these would have been forced to close had the high court allowed the law to stand.

Advocates of more tolerant abortion procedures expect some clinics to reopen, especially those in rural areas far from other providers. Nevertheless the reopening process is likely to be slowed by licensing, rebuilding and hiring. An organization advocating more liberal abortion law, the Guttmacher Institute, estimates that about half the women in the South live in counties without abortion clinics, 53% in the Midwest, with an overall 38% nationwide.

Five other states have enacted laws that require abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements like the Texas law. They are Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee, where the law was temporarily blocked by a judge, according to the New York-based Center for Reproductive Right.

Advocates of more liberal abortion rights maintain that the requirements for health standards proposed by these laws are a subterfuge for banning or making abortion more difficult. They may well be right. But the fact remains that a high standard of health requirements for abortion clinics has to be maintained and that it might be argued, equally truthfully, that those demanding their abolition are indeed neglecting minimum women’s health standards.

The argument and its ensuing legal battles has hardly begun. Abortion opponents said they were searching for ways to defend laws similar to the Texas measure. They also plan to shift the focus of their debate to restricting access to abortion based on fetal health. An example of this approach might well be a 20-week abortion postponement based on fetal pain, or bans on second-trimester abortions they call “fetal dismemberment.”

These are complicated and delicate technical questions as well as posing moral isdelimmas for both the proponents and the opponents of abortion.

We believe that abortion, like all destruction of life in any form, is a critical moral issue and one that can only be treated with the most careful consideration. That, we believe, must be done by the largest part of our population that can be induced into participating in the debate. And that, we believe, requires that it be done at the lowest level of government and regulation, either the state, or even county and city government. Until that is done, judicial fiat is a continuing obstruction to justice in one of the most important moral issues of our time.

sws-06-28-16

Obama’s Mideast muddle


The U.S.’ strategic position in the Middle East is becoming increasingly muddled by internal conflicts in the Obama Administration’s strategy.
For one thing, Washington finds itself engaged in a conflict with the Russians through surrogates in the complex Syrian civil war. Moscow supports the regime of Basher al Assad whose ruthlessness against its internal enemies now seven years ago turned popular peaceful demonstrations into an escalating armed conflict.
Obama gave tepid support, if from time to time withdrawing behind red lines he had drawn. to a small democratic position to al Assad. But it has been virtually annihilated in the growing conflict against the regime led by various terrorist groups, including Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] and al Qaeda. The most recent episode has been a devastating attack by Russian aircraft on a splinter of the democratic moderates ostensibly supported by Washington. The growing success of Daesh in Syria, of course, becomes a problem on the larger screen for Washington who is still pondering how to curtail its growing worldwide influence, including on so=called American “lone wolf” terrorists.
A minor crisis ensued when the Russians a few days ago bombed a group of anti-al Assad rebels backed by Washington. Moscow, apparently attempting to avoid a more open conflict with the U.S., claims its bombers were not informed adequately about the nature of the largely civilian population it attacked. But that seems a lame excuse given the access of the Russians not only to al Assad’s intelligence but the increasingly active participation of the Tehran mullahs, now cozying up to the Russians.
The U.S. position, too, is becoming less transparent and more committed with its alliance to the Saudis who support rebel Syrian groups. Inferentially, the U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry’s solution, a negotiated settlement which would see the departure of al Assad, seems further away than ever. Negotiations among all the parties in Geneva have achieved little more than a further definition of their varying positions.
The American position has become even more confused with the denunciation of the earlier aspects of the problem by a memorandum signed by 51 career foreign service officers. Leaked to the mainstream media, it blames the Obama Administration for refusing to pursue a policy of destruction of the al Assad regime. Aside from a violation of the unspoken code of ethics among career appointees to contain their opposition to policy within official channels, the memo seems tries to shut the barn door after the horse had long been stolen. That may have been a solution early on in the Syrian Civil War, but with al Assad at least temporarily improving his position with growing Russian and Iranian assistance, it hardly seems an answer to the present difficulties.
Critics of the American diplomats’ position point out it offers no solution to the current military impasse. The danger, of course, is that Vladimir Putin, up against European and American opposition in his seizure of Crime, and efforts to dominate Ukraine, and his threats to the Baltic States, may overplay his hand. A further escalation by Russian forces in Syria, with the likelihood they could defeat al Assad’s internal opposition, would help solve the growing problem of Islamic terrorism, a threat to Moscow as it its to other powers. But it would likely require an American response rather than see the Russians – with their new Tehran mullahs’ assistance – reestablish a strategic hold in one of the Mideast’s most important states.
The Russian threat, in part, has already forced the Israelis – on not very good terms with the Obama Administration – into a series of personal negotiating trips to Moscow by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How far Netanyahu is coordinating these negotiations with the Obama Administration isn’t altogether clear. Nor is the Chinese position, although of lesser importance, apparent.
One thing does seem obvious. The Obama Administration is rapidly losing any ability to influence the outcome of the Syrian civil war. With so many players – and such enormous potential impact on its Arab neighbors – that becomes another major defeat for Obama’s foreign policy and another hot potato he is leaving for his successor next year, whoever he may be and however qualified to deal with the situation.
sws-06-26-16

Special Relationship II


Back in 1887 the famous poet and storyteller Oscar Wilde quipped: ‘We [English] have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language’. We got another example of this malediction in the blah-blah-blah which has attended Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. What is most apparent to all but the Talking Heads is that London’s negotiating a two-year exit from the EU will result in a revival not only of the vestiges of empire – as much legend as reality – but a renewed emphasis on the Anglo-American alliance, “the Special Relationship”
Like so much of traditional diplomacy, Pres. Barrack Obama and his former secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gave that relationship short shrift. Obama, imbued with the Left’s religion of anti-colonialism – a view of the world which is not only unrealistic but ignores the actual relationship of the Metropoles of Britain, France, Italy, and once Germany, to their 19th centuries acquisitions. True, they were exploitive relation ships but they also accelerated the arrival of at least portions of modernism to pre-industrial societies.
As Obama’s attempts to “transform” American foreign policy have either miscued or collapsed over the last seven-plus years, his attempt to derail the historic relationship between the U.S. and Britain has also gone astray. Common language, shared democratic values and concepts, special interests throughout the work, have made a working relationship between Washington and London an irreplaceable part and parcel of U.S. internationalism.
The combination of Obama’s war on this tradition, his buffoonish attempt to influence British voters on withdrawal from the EU which boomeranged, and the U.S.’ expanding interests in the post-World War II world have tended to eclipse that relationship. That illusion was enhanced when London seemed to be throwing in its lot with the movement for a united Europe, one which had been a special project of American strategy for a half century, but not always with its final destination in view.
Now, the latter project is in deep trouble. Few Europeans want to face the reality of German domination as by far the largest and economically the most powerful of the EU states. That will halt the perfectly “logical” calls by Berlin that the EU must go forward to further political integration or collapse. But the French, once Germany’s twin partner in European unity, in a miraculous and real transformation, are for the first time abandoning dirigisme, French promotion of economic planning and control by the state, under the pressure of the competitive drive of “globalization” is being abandoned – and that under a socialist government! The concept had defined the distinctive character of French politics, inherited in part from its royal and multi-republican past, and which it had passed on to the Brussels Eurocrats it had largely supplied and still dominated.
London ‘s withdrawal — although it will continue to bargain for special trading and other economic rights inside the EU, whatever it means in the short-term — means a return to Britain’s diminished but continuing role as a world economic power. The good sense and good luck that kept Britain out of the EU’s now faltering monetary union means that once again, in parallel with the dollar, sterling will resume an stronger international character.
London’s City, which was ceding its role to Frankfurt and Zurich, will be reinvigorated in the longer term by the British withdrawal. That role of London as the world’s second financial center after New York will be felt all the way through the Middle East oil countries [with their traditional ties to the Colonial Office] to Hong Kong and beyond. [What the Japanese will do with their heavy investments in British manufacturing as a base for the EU remains to be seen. But it would not be the first time that Japanese business has had to make major adjustments to its successful formula for being the only non-European power to have made it to First World status].
The revival of the Special Relationship will have new and totally different aspects – again, despite Obama’s original high-priced energy policies, the U.S. and its Shale Revolution has put a new floor under world energy prices. It is one the Mideast producers can meet, of course, but not without cutting back on their enormously spendthrift policies of the past. It could well be that Special Relations II will see the U.S. as Britain’s major supplier of energy and energy technology for development of its own shale resources, environmental freaks notwithstanding.
Prime Minister David Cameron may have to go as a sacrifice on the altar of City business interests and the universal “internationalization” panacea which has dominated both U.K. and U.S. politics under his Conservatives – as well as the Democrats in Washington. And that may introduce new uncertainties along with some disturbing personalities.
But the dye is cast: Special Relationship II has begun with the British voters’ decision that they wanted autonomy and not collaboration at too high a price in cultural values with a Continental bureaucracy and its economy That bureaucracy, too, is now fatally wounded and events will lead to new and likely unpredictable changes in Paris, Berlin,.Brussels and the other EU capitals.
sws-06-24-16

Hollywood’s version


Olliver Stone, true to his past performances, appeared at the Cannes Film Festival this week, denouncing his colleagues as creatures of their respective political regimes. His own credentials of opposition to his government – and the politics of most of his American public – were enhanced as he came bearing his own new film on Edward Snowden, the CIA defector who has taken refuge in Moscow. Stone went on a not unusual tirade with a fiery denunciation of both presumptive candidates for president, and then even took a swipe at his former favorite politician Barrack Obama, saying “I don’t know that he’s a man of conviction.”
Stone’s Tinseltown is not only a geographic location in Southern California, but it is a state of mind by a group of gifted artists who often traffic not only in bizarre interpretations of reality but pure fiction. No one excels more at it than Olliver Stone. If something is conventional wisdom, no matter its history and proven validity, Stone takes exception to it. That leads him into strange interpretations of modern life, even if they are often dramatically talented and effective cinema.
One of Stone’s latest flirtations with reality is a series of interpretations of modern Russian history. It reminds us all too bitterly of a time when many of Hollywood’s favorite stars admired and adopted the international Communist interpretation of life and events then flowing out of Moscow. When they came under censure in Washington, they often denied their official political agenda or took the way out through the guarantee of American civil liberties which most denied existed.
Stone appears now convinced that Vladimir Putin, the ruthless authoritarian leader of the Russian Federation, is somehow a misunderstood figure in American eyes. Stone is prepared to forgive Putin’s steady erosion of the Russian civil society. But he goes further to suggest that the widely accepted belief that Moscow’s seizure of the Crimea was an instance of pure international aggression. And the Russians’ continued infiltration and attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian regime in its eastern provinces is really an American plot.
As the old saying goes, Stone certainly has a right to his own opinion of these and other political matters, but he does not have a right to his own facts. For example, Stone has become an ardent supporter of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych And he was reportedly working on a so-called documentary that will tell what he calls “the dirty story” of Yanukovych’a overthrow in what he sees as a “coup” organized with the help of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency. Stone reported he had spent hours interviewing Yanukovych in Moscow for the project, in addition to digging up several [Russian?] “police officials,” all of whom believe “foreign elements” were responsible for the violent Maidan protests in Kiev that culminated in last February’s overthrow of the Russia-backed president.
The pitch of this and other such scenarios is not exactly a new one. Stone has attributed prowess to the CIA for any number of revolutions and overthrows of regimes, more than even some of its most stalwart supporters might wish it actually had had the ability to pull off. Not the least of his plots is one which has a group of American opponents of John J. Kennedy plotting his assassination with the help of the CIA.
The Ukrainian plot’s plot which Stone has peddled is that the overthrow of an ugly, oppressive and corrupt and intensely unpopular Ukrainian regime was really the work of foreign agents, notably, of course those of the CIA. “The Maidan Revolution” which has become the envy and a potential model for many of the world’s oppressed peoples, is for him just another of those bad American-led adventures which have dominated the post-World War II era, whether in Chile or elsewhere. Stone appears to accept the Russian government’s suggestions that the regime change was a “color revolution” funded by foreign governments, notably the U.S., and Putin’s publicly expressed concern that something like it might come to his own authoritarian regime.
Stone has found support in the most obvious place. He has become a great admirer of Putin after the two met in Moscow last fall. Putin, Stone has said, “represents a different point of view that Americans don’t want to hear”. That seems more than an understatement of what is a rather well known geopolitical fact, but apparently news to anyone north of Hollywood Boulevard.
sws-06-23-16