Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Baltimore Riots, The Problems In The Black Inner Cities, & The Failure Of Progressive Ideals (Updated)



The following is Judge Andrew Napolitano, appearing on Fox News, opining that the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the ostensible justification for the recent riots there, has not been properly handled and that the riots might well have been avoided had the Baltimore City Police Department reacted with greater swiftness. That assumes of course that the investigation could have been concluded much quicker, and I do not know if that is accurate:



Regardless, Judge Napolitano is right about what should happen going forward. Freddie Gray is owed justice. There is also no question that Freddie Gray's wrongful death was the ostensible justification for the Baltimore riots. That said, the real issues plaguing a very substantial portion of the black community, particularly those in the inner cities, go far deeper than the issue of Freddie Gray's death or police misconduct.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat majority leader, though repeating the utter canards that racism is at the root of the problems experienced by inner city blacks, in fact came close to hitting the mark from the floor of the Senate Monday:

"[T]he underlying problem [giving rise to the Baltimore riot is] that millions of Americans feel powerless in the face of a system that is rigged against them.”

Reid stressed that “it’s easy to feel powerless when you see the rich getting richer while opportunities to build a better life for yourself and your family are nonexistent in your own community.”

“It’s easy to feel devalued when schools in your community are failing. It’s easy to believe the system is rigged against you when you spend years watching what President Obama called today ‘a slow-rolling crisis’ of troubling police interactions with people of color,” he continued. “No American should ever feel powerless. No American should ever feel like their life is not valued. But that is what our system says to many of our fellow citizens.”

“No American should be denied the opportunity to better their lives through their own hard work. But that is the reality that too many face. In a nation that prides itself on being a land of opportunity, millions of our fellow citizens live every day with little hope of building a better future no matter how hard they try. We cannot condone the violence we see in Baltimore. But we must not ignore the despair and hopelessness that gives rise to this kind of violence.”

The reality is that Democrats own the inner cities as well as this nation's response to the plight of our black citizens since the start of the Great Society and the welfare state. They try to maintain the canard that the only things holding back blacks in the inner city today are rampant (conservative) racism, white police racism, and but a bit more application of government spending. The reality is that racism is absent from all but the fringes of society today, that inner city black youths have exponentially far more to fear from other black youths than from white police, and that the Great Society welfare state has not just failed a substantial portion of the black community, but actually worsened their situation over the past half century.

Several writers have addressed this issue today. The Editorial Board of the WSJ points out the obvious, that the progressive blue-city model is a failure. As to Baltimore city in particular, the authors note:

The latest figures from Maryland’s Department of Labor show state unemployment at 5.4%, against 8.4% for Baltimore. A 2011 city report on the neighborhood of Freddie Gray—the African-American whose death in police custody sparked the riots—reported an area that is 96.9% black with unemployment at 21%. When it comes to providing hope and jobs, we should have learned by now that no government program can substitute for a healthy private economy.

Then there are the public schools. Residents will put up with a great deal if they know their children have a chance at upward mobility through education. But when the schools no longer perform, the parents who can afford to move to the suburbs do so—and those left behind are stuck with failure. There are many measures of failure in Baltimore schools, but consider that on state tests 72% of eighth graders scored below proficient in math, 45% in reading and 64% in science.

At National Review, Michael Tanner notes that Maryland maintains one of the highest tax rates in our nation, as well as a very generous welfare system, a highly unionized work force, and an environment largely hostile to private business. Baltimore city itself suffers from declining population, high crime, very high unemployment, high out-of-wedlock births, and poor schools. As he concludes:

Once order is restored in Baltimore, there will be time to take stock. We can expect to hear the usual chorus about neglected neighborhoods and the need for government jobs programs or additional social spending. Instead, we should take to heart President Obama’s admonition that “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”

Big government has failed Baltimore. If we learn nothing from what just happened — if we simply go back to throwing money at the same tired old programs — it will be just a matter of time until this happens all over again."

In yet another article, Michelle Malkin makes the same point, that the left is out of ideas to address the problems in the black inner city communities beyond spending ever more money on exactly the same type of programs that have utterly failed to this point. But probably the most articulate on these issues today is Kevin Williamson writing at National Review:

St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, . . . the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. . . . Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.

Black urban communities face institutional failure across the board every day. American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?

There are people who should be made to answer for that: What has Martin O’Malley to say for himself? What can Ed Rendell say for himself other than that he secured a great deal of investment for the richest square mile in Philadelphia? What has Nancy Pelosi done about the radical racial divide in San Francisco?

. . . [The rioting] we have seen in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore is much more ordinarily criminal than political. But there is a legitimate concern here — from which no one seems to be willing to draw the obvious conclusion: There is someone to blame for what’s wrong in Baltimore.

Would any sentient adult American be shocked to learn that Baltimore has a corrupt and feckless police department enabled by a corrupt and feckless city government? I myself would not, and the local authorities’ dishonesty and stonewalling in the death of Freddie Gray is reminiscent of what we have seen in other cities. There’s a heap of evidence that the Baltimore police department is pretty bad. This did not come out of nowhere. While the progressives have been running the show in Baltimore, police commissioner Ed Norris was sent to prison on corruption charges (2004), two detectives were sentenced to 454 years in prison for dealing drugs (2005), an officer was dismissed after being videotaped verbally abusing a 14-year-old and then failing to file a report on his use of force against the same teenager (2011), an officer was been fired for sexually abusing a minor (2014), and the city paid a quarter-million-dollar settlement to a man police illegally arrested for the non-crime of recording them at work with his mobile phone. There’s a good deal more. Does that sound like a disciplined police organization to you?

Yes, Baltimore seems to have some police problems. But let us be clear about whose fecklessness and dishonesty we are talking about here: No Republican, and certainly no conservative, has left so much as a thumbprint on the public institutions of Baltimore in a generation. Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project. When will the Left be held to account for the brutality in Baltimore — brutality for which it bears a measure of responsibility on both sides? There aren’t any Republicans out there cheering on the looters, and there aren’t any Republicans exercising real political power over the police or other municipal institutions in Baltimore. Community-organizer — a wretched term — Adam Jackson declared that in Baltimore “the Democrats and the Republicans have both failed.” Really? Which Republicans? Ulysses S. Grant? Unless I’m reading the charts wrong, the Baltimore city council is 100 percent Democratic.

The other Democratic monopolies aren’t looking too hot, either. We’re sending Atlanta educators to prison for running a criminal conspiracy to hide the fact that they failed, and failed woefully, to educate the children of that city. Isolated incident? Nope: Atlanta has another cheating scandal across town at the police academy. Who is being poorly served by the fact that Atlanta’s school system has been converted into crime syndicate? Mostly poor, mostly black families. Who is likely to suffer from any incompetents advanced through the Atlanta police department by its corrupt academy? Mostly poor, mostly black people. Who suffers most from the incompetence of Baltimore’s Democratic mayor? Mostly poor, mostly black families — should they feel better that she’s black? Who suffers most from the incompetence and corruption of Baltimore’s police department? Mostly poor, mostly black families. And it’s the same people who will suffer the most from the vandalism and pillaging going on in Baltimore, too. The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do.

And the kids in the street screaming about “inequality”? Somebody should tell them that the locale in these United States with the least economic inequality is Utah, i.e. the state farthest away from the reach of the people who run Baltimore.

Keep voting for the same thing, keep getting the same thing.

What happened to Freddie Gray demands justice. What has happened with a substantial portion of the black community over the past half century started as a tragedy, Today, in a nation as rich as ours, it has now reached the point of obscenity. It is every bit as equally deserving of justice.

Update: This from Powerline:

The Washington Post reports that a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray says he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” According to the Post, the prisoner’s statement is contained in an affidavit that’s part of an application by the police for search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest or transport.

I can’t tell for sure from the Post’s report whether the prisoner executed the affidavit or whether the affidavit is from a police officer who relates what the prisoner allegedly told him. It looks like the Post is saying it’s the latter.

It seems counter-intuitive to suppose that Gray inflicted serious bodily injury on himself. However, without knowing Gray’s state of mind at the time — e.g., was he high on drugs; was he trying to set up a claim of police brutality — it’s impossible to evaluate the plausibility of the perception that this is what happened.

In any event, if Gray’s fellow prisoner does indeed say he heard Gray banging against the walls and that Gray seemed to be trying intentionally to injure himself, this will cast doubt on claims that police mistreatment caused Gray to sustain injuries while he was in the van. Such evidence will also make it difficult to attribute Gray’s death to the police.

The Post says that “video shot by several bystanders to Gray’s arrest shows two officers on top of Gray, their knees in his back, and then dragging his seemingly limp body to the van as he cried out.” Thus, some of his injuries may be due to what happened during the arrest, while others may be due to what happened in the van.

There is also the police commissioner’s statement that officers violated policy by failing properly to restrain Gray via a seat belt while he was in the van. However, the police union is pushing back on this assertion.

The union president says that the policy mandating seat belts wasn’t emailed to officers until three days before Gray was arrested. Moreover, it was emailed as part of a package of five policy changes.

Officers should, of course, read about all policy changes. But human nature being what is, the union president’s statement that officers tend not to do so is plausible. It would be one thing if the officers who dealt with Gray had violated a longstanding, widely known policy on seat belts. It’s another if, as seems to be the case, the policy was brand new and had only just been communicated by email as part of package of policy changes.

In any event, the Post’s report suggests that the facts surrounding Gray’s unfortunate death may not be as straightforward as those who have rushed to condemn the police assert them to be. The best approach remains what it has been all along — wait for the facts before forming a judgment.







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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frightening Economic News From Europe



For better or worse, the world economy is tied together. Thus what happens in Europe or China is indeed of importance here in this nation. And what is happening in the European economy is frightening indeed. This from The Telegraph:

Here’s an astonishing statistic; more than 30pc of all government debt in the eurozone – around €2 trillion of securities in total – is trading on a negative interest rate.

With the advent of European Central Bank quantitative easing, what began four months ago when 10-year Swiss yields turned negative for the first time has snowballed into a veritable avalanche of negative rates across European government bond markets. In the hunt for apparently “safe assets”, investors have thrown caution to the wind, and collectively determined to pay governments for the privilege of lending to them.

So Europeans are expecting such a bursting bubble in their economy that they are willing to invest money and lose several percent just for the guarantee that, at the end of the time period, the majority of the corpus will still be there. That is chilling, particularly when one realizes that the European Union members are, collectively, our largest trading partner. Not only does this mean trouble on the economic horizon generally, with the cost of borrowing so low, it also means that European stock markets will be seeing a bubble forming, making any potential downturn even worse. The great European experiment in socialism may well be coming to a cataclysmic end, though you can bet your bottom dollar, literally, that the US under Obama will race to shore them up for awhile. It is not a good idea, but we may be looking at a real depression otherwise. China's economy, the other big world driver, is likewise built on smoke and mirrors. Honest to God, this is 2005 all over again, only this time there isn't enough money in the world to prop up Europe, let alone Europe and China, if they both go belly up at the same time.





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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Death of Freddie Gray & Baltimore's Race Riot (Updated)



The headline article in the Daily Mail says: Huge blazes rip through Baltimore as Freddie Gray rioters torch buildings including a nursing home, loot stores and attack police, injuring fifteen officers, as violence rages into the night. Baltimore is indeed convulsing in race riots over the death of 25 year old black male, Freddie Gray. This is reminiscent of Detroit, 1967.

A week ago, Freddie Gray died in Baltimore City Police custody. Here is what we know. Approximately two weeks ago, Baltimore City Police officers showed up near where Mr. Gray was standing in public. Mr. Gray took off running. That gave police probable cause to stop him. Mr. Gray had no outstanding warrants. When police finally caught him, they did a search and found a small knife not unlike what millions of Americans carry around on their person every day, myself included. I am still not clear if it was a valid arrest even under insane Maryland law, but I think it was. Maryland is California writ small in terms of it being a leftist cesspool these days.

Mr. Gray was in good health when he was arrested and placed in the patrol car. Something happened during transport, precisely what is not clear, nor is it clear how long it took the police to get Mr. Gray medical attention. Mr. Gray died a week later of a severed spine sustained within an hour, if not minutes, of his arrest. This could be anything from simple negligence to murder.

The police seem to be doing the right thing in their investigation of the incident, and everything is being carried out in public. There has been no delay in the investigation, nor it would seem any attempt at a cover-up. And yet, Baltimore has exploded in black riots undertaken for no other reason than an opportunity to riot, apparently. The Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has been worse than useless. She did not officially ask the Governor for help at the outset of the rioting, and indeed, went so far as to instruct Baltimore City Police to give space to the rioters that "wished to destroy."

The Mayor has gotten more than she bargained for. Thugs have turned Baltimore into a nightmare, with the more feral elements of the black community threatening anyone who isn't black. There is at least one report of a serious racial attack in Baltimore, and already fifteen police have been injured in the riots. Black street gangs have made common cause to stop attacking each other and concentrate on attacking the police. The Governor has declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.



(H/T Instapundit)

Obama and the left have spent the last six years stoking racial tensions at every opportunity. In the absence of actual racism, they must still convince blacks in our country that we America is nothing more than Selma 1954 writ large. In the nightmarish fantasy world of the left, any effort to insure the integrity of the vote is somehow racism. Applying the same standards to all Americans in whatever context is somehow racist. George Zimmerman was a racist and Trayvon Martin was an innocent youth murdered in cold blood. In Ferguson, Missouri, an evil racist cop shot an unarmed gentle giant, Michael Brown, just as he had raised his hands in surrender.

Before 1968, when the leadership of the civil rights movement was in the hands of a Republican, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the clarion call of the movement was for a colorblind society with equality of opportunity. After the left took over the civil rights movement, they morphed the movement into one where blacks were to become a permanent victim class, a color-centric group forever entitled to special treatment and equality of outcome. Dr. King's niece, Dr. Alveda King, said in an interview yesterday that if her uncle could see the riots in Baltimore, "he would be hearbroken."

I have no doubt that she is right. The people of Baltimore and this nation have every right to be angry about what happened to Freddie Gray and to demand justice on his behalf. That is not what these riots are about. The rioters are people, many in systemic poverty, who have been fed for the past fifty years on a steady diet that they are victims, that their number one problem is white racism, and that they are entitled both to special treatment and to act out. The issues facing the lower socioeconomic strata of the black community - endemic poverty, single parent homes, horrid educational opportunities, violence and criminality - are real and pervasive, but white racism is not among them. And until the actual issues are addressed honestly, they will never even begin to be solved.

And in all fairness to the good people of Baltimore, black and white, the majority are not involved in this riot. It is a clique of thugs and young people, some of whom clearly have parents outraged at the actions of their children. Update: Indeed, indications are that at the heart of this violent rioting are elements of the groups involved in instigating the violence in Ferguson. That would not surprise me in the least. And it is to the honor of the family of Freddie Gray that they have spoken out clearly condemning the violence and rioting that occurred in the wake of Mr. Gray's funeral, and believe it to be motivated by concerns other than the death of Mr. Gray.

From Hot Air, here is a video of one Baltimore Mom delivering an epic whooping to a son she saw rioting in what Hot Air is calling the "slap heard round the world."

Updates:



That child doesn't realize it at the moment, but he has a damn good mom.

There is also another video out of a retired Army MSG facing down the rioters in Baltimore. There is no organization as fully and successfully integrated as the U.S. military. It is what our nation should be aspiring to, not the balkanization of the left.



At any rate, the problems giving rise to these riots are not something the left wants to cure. The race hustlers have already started to portray what is happening in Baltimore as an eruption of anger at racist police, just as they did in Ferguson - that even though Baltimore's Mayor, the majority of its city government, and indeed, the majority of its police force are black. It has already started with Representative Elijah Cummings, from Maryland, who recently stated:

"This whole police community relations situation . . . is the civil rights cause for this generation, no doubt about it," . . .

Cummings noted that the Maryland delegation in Congress had asked for the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation into the death of Gray.

"We've got to take this department apart and try to figure out what is wrong and what is right," he said, referring to local police.

Just sickening. So, there will be another investigation by the DOJ. Prepare for a repeat of the Ferguson scenario. No racism will be found in the arrest of Freddie Gray, though I am sure they will find negligence in his treatment, or it could even rise to the level of murder. Then there will be a disparate impact statistical analysis of incidents in Baltimore and, lo and behold, it will show a higher incidence of arrest among blacks in proportion to their representation in the city. Wait for yet another DOJ lawsuit against the city and more NAACP mailers to raise money off of racism rampant in society, as alleged in the DOJ report. And of course, the next race riot will be in the offing, blacks will continue to vote 90% for Democrats, and their plight, worse now then in 1964 when this embrace of the Democrat Party began, will not improve in the slightest.

Update: From the left wing side of the media, here are ten tweets that really need to be seen to be believed. The least offensive is from Jamil Smith stating that the rioters are merely children attempting to communicate. The most offensive are from Vox, Salon and Te-Nehisi Coates apparently in full support of the violence. On CNN, Anchorwoman Brooke Baldwin has placed the cause of these riots at not merely the feet of the Baltimore City Police, but more particularly, military veterans hired into the police force who she thinks are all too ready to do violence.

This from former U.S. Rep. and former U.S. Army LTC Allen West:

[W]hat is playing out before our eyes is the depraved spectacle of anarchy, violence, wanton criminality and an utter lack of leadership. To have the mayor of Baltimore issue a statement allowing these thugs “space to destroy” is unconscionable. Is the rioting over Gray’s death or just an excuse for the most disgusting aspect of human nature? . . .

But the fact that police officers are being injured and that three black gangs have pledged allegiance in order to attack police is beyond disconcerting. What is there to gain by destroying one’s own neighborhood? Is this the new mantra of “no justice, no peace?”

Perhaps this would be somewhat understandable if it weren’t for the recent episode in North Charleston, South Carolina where a police officer fired several shots into the back of Walter L. Scott, killing him. There were no violent riots and the officer was arrested and charged. The Scott family even went so far as to demand that Al Sharpton not come to Charleston.

But in Baltimore they’ve had to cancel a baseball game and there are warnings for people to stay away from the city. The governor has finally declared a state of emergency to activate the National Guard. But where is the mayor of Baltimore? Where is the leadership for the city? Imagine the horns of a dilemma upon which the Baltimore police find themselves. The mayor basically gave carte blanche to the criminal thugs to take the streets and the police seemingly are only employed to try and contain the “destruction.”

As of now, 15 police officers have been injured. As the NY Post reported, “Baltimore police officers were injured on Monday as rioters threw bricks, broke windows, looted businesses and burned patrol cars in violent protests following the funeral of a black man who died after he was injured in police custody. The riots broke out just a few blocks from the site of the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in northwest Baltimore and then spread through other parts of the city in the most violent demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.

Television images showed mobs of rioters jumping on top of a police car, destroying a taxi and setting two other patrol cars on fire after teenaged crowds ignored calls to disperse and clashed with lines of hundreds of police. Gangs had threatened to target police officers, local law enforcement said. Schools, businesses and train stations closed in Baltimore, a city of 662,000 people 40 miles (64 km) from the nation’s capital.”

So we are watching the result of a social media post calling for a “purge” for Monday at 3pm. But this is not just about the death of Freddie Gray, this is about something far more tragic: the breakdown of the inner city and the black community.

Where are the parents of these kids? Where are the adults and community pastors? Why are these kids responding to this call for violence instead of heading home and preparing for end of year final exams? Does anyone believe these looted businesses will be restored — therefore black unemployment in Baltimore will be even worse. Perhaps if there were a thriving job market and better opportunities, these black teens would be working in these stores, not looting them.

When I was watching the TV reports, Baltimore looked more like East Jerusalem than an American city with a proud patriotic heritage — Ft. McHenry the birthplace of our national anthem. And this is a city just some 40 miles away from our nation’s capitol — where is the leadership that demands this behavior is unacceptable?

The Baltimore police are showing incredible restraint because we all know the liberal progressive media is just waiting for some unarmed — although I consider tossing a brick a projectile — black kid to get shot.

My greatest fear is that there will come a day when police basically leave the urban communities to their own devices — in other words, abandon them and let them be overrun by gangs and other perpetrators of deplorable behavior. After all, the anarchist sentiment is to not abide by the rule of law — but rather to take matters into the hands of the mob and establish the rule of mobocracy. And if there are no elected officials willing to support the police — realizing that there are bad apples in any batch — then what is the motivation for police officers to patrol those disrespectful and unwelcoming streets?

Freddie Gray tragically lost his life, we know little about how or why. What we do know is that the black community of Baltimore is not comporting itself in a manner that will garner sympathy — but rather contempt.

The joys of living in the post-racial world of the left. It is obscene, not just that a segment of the black community should be acting out like this, but that the issues actually facing their community go unaddressed.

Update: At Powerline, Paul Mirengoff makes the point that these riots are not about racism or the Baltimore City Police:

The Post’s reporting suggests that, at root, the protests aren’t about the police department (which, as noted, is not a White institution and almost certainly not a racist one). One of the protest leaders said:

Officials are not interested in bettering our neighborhoods. People are tired of their quality of life, and they’re frustrated nobody helps them. They want to be heard, and they will do what it takes.

In other words, a population grown dependent on public officials is lashing out because said officials aren’t helping them attain the quality of life they desire.

I agree that the hard-working people of Baltimore have been let down by public officials. For one thing, liberal public policy has encouraged dependence on “officials.” For another, liberal housing policy helped produce the economic crisis that hit Baltimore so hard. In addition, liberal education policy has undermined educational opportunity. And now, liberal immigration policy seems determined to bring in foreign laborers to compete for jobs with hard-working, low-income Americans.

I find it depressing to see Baltimore in such a sorry state while Washington, D.C., fueled by the federal government, flourishes by comparison.

Obama spoke up on just that topic today, claiming that if Republicans would just pass an infrastructure bill, that would solve the problems actually at the root of the rioting. The left is completely out of ideas at this point. The solutions tried since the Great Society have not simply failed, but have made matters worse, and the only option remaining for the left is to pretend that the problems plaguing inner city blacks are all external. One wonders how much longer that canard will work?





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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Watcher's Council Forum: If The Clintons Committed A Felony, What Should Be Done?



Each week, the Watcher's Council hosts a forum as well as a weekly contest among it's members for best post of the week. This week's forum question is: If the Clintons committed a felony, what should be done? I have been kindly invited to respond.

Update: The Forum is now posted. I would urge you to click the link and read all of the responses to this week's question.

The Clintons are a sordid pair around whom the stench of scandal always hangs. Those of recent vintage are the multiple issues arising from Hillary's e-mail during her time as Secretary of State and her subsequent erasure of tens of thousands of those e-mails. Another brewing scandal lies with the Clinton Foundation, a cash machine for the Clintons that does not seem to be acting as a charity and indeed, may well be at the center of undue influence on government decisions while Hillary was Secretary of State.

There is a real question whether Hillary violated criminal laws concerning the handling of official e-mails and the transmission of classified information over non-government means of communication. There are also related questions of whether the State Dept. or Hillary herself committed perjury in their responses to legal requests for information that would have required production of Hillary's personal e-mails. Indeed, the threats she created to our national security by using a private e-mail address not reasonably secured far exceed those created by General Petraeus, who was recently prosecuted for divulging classified material. This is also an issue that ties directly into Benghazi. Because of the whitewash investigation of that incident, one that did not include either Hillary or top levels of the State Department, and because we have not had access to her e-mails, we still do not know what role Hillary played during and in the months leading up to the criminally reckless event that cost the lives of our Libyan Ambassador and several others. Hillary's refusal to hand over her e-mail server for expert analysis and her attempt to address these issues with a stage managed presser before foreign correspondents have all been just jaw dropping in their shamelessness.

Yet other issues surround the Clinton Foundation, Bill and Hill's personal money machine since Bill left office. It is a charitable foundation that has taken in well over half a billion dollars, yet fed out only 15% for actual charitable work, if it can be called that. It appears that much of the Foundation money that has been doled out has directly benefited rich friends of the Clintons, and it appears that numerous foreign sources have given money to the Clintons, and then soon after found themselves the beneficiaries of favorable U.S. government actions. The most notorious of these that we know about so far is the approval of a Russian's purchase of 20% of our nation's uranium mines, an approval signed off on by Hillary in the State Dept. after several large donations to the Clinton Foundation. Then there is the fact that the Foundation has, for years, failed to disclose it's foreign donors, either in its tax returns or as part of legally required disclosures regarding potential conflicts of interest during Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State.

I doubt that there is any direct quid pro quo so in any of this so clear as to sustain a criminal conviction. But it stinks like a three day old manure pile in the hot sun. We will know far more about that in a few days, when Peter Schweizer's new book Clinton Cash is published.

So what should be done? In a society where rule of law dominates, Hillary would be face down on a table right now along with her sever, both getting a colonoscopy from FBI agents as part of an investigation similar to that of General Petraeus. The MSM seems unsure of what to do at this moment regarding Hillary, but what they aren't doing is pressing her at any point on the e-mail issue. As to the Clinton Foundation, the MSM appears to be holding its breath, waiting for Schweizer's book release, apparently afraid that even they won't be able to stem the tide.

If Hillary and the MSM have an option, they will see her skate right through until her coronation. We will never have answers about the Clinton Foundation or the many issues surrounding Hillary's e-mail. What we should have is a press treating the Clintons like Nixon and a DOJ that has already opened up investigations. Unfortunately we have neither at the moment, and there will be no investigations until 2017, if ever. Rule of law does not seem to matter to the left in this country, and so long as they hold the levers of power, it will atrophy in this nation.





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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Europe's Islamic Problem



One of the major problems that most European countries face today is a large and restive Muslim population within their individual borders that has not integrated. The great European experiment in multiculturalism has failed catastrophically, and this problem of an ever-growing and restive Muslim population in Europe is near intractable now, given the reality that Europe is at a stage where the problem is not simply immigrants who can be dealt with by repatriation if they are dangerously problematic, but second and third generation native born Muslims who are themselves failing to integrate into Western society.

Dr. Nicolai Sennels is a psychologist who works mostly with youths accused or convicted of crime in his native Denmark. That job has brought him into extensive contact with Muslim teens, a group that, along with older Muslims, commits violent crime at a rate many times greater than non-Muslim Danes. Dr. Sennels, in a very detailed and informative article, “Report from the therapy room: Why are Muslims more violent and criminal?” (provided to me by Ms. Bookworm Room), analyzes the causes of this violence, and finds the roots firmly in Islamic culture. It is of note that many of the patients Dr. Sennels dealt with are second and third generation native born Danes.

To sum up Dr. Sennels observations:

1. Muslim culture sees anger, aggression and even violence as appropriate responses to challenges or criticism.

2. Muslims are more likely to be insecure, and thus driven to anger, aggression and violence by anything they perceive as threatening their honor, including slights to their religion.

3. Muslim culture promotes a victim mentality as opposed to a sense of personal responsibility.

4. Muslims discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims.

5. The extreme repression of women in Islam leads to a variety of dysfunctions, as well as a the very high incidence of homosexuality. Among the dysfunctions are bestiality, pedophilia, and rape ideations. This also fuels aggressive behavior in Muslim men.

6. While many believe that poverty is the primary cause of antisocial behavior among Muslims, the reality is the opposite. For Muslims in Denmark, it is antisocial behavior that leads to poverty. [To add my own note to that observation, most terrorists do not come from impoverished backgrounds, but from the middle class of Muslim society, something which the left regularly refuses to acknowledge. Doing so would mean making judgments about a non-western culture, and moreover, challenges the left's core belief that economics, and more particularly economic redistribution, is the penultimate answer to the world's problems.]

7. There is little emphasis in Islamic culture on knowledge and education outside of the Koran. This lack of respect for education severely limits opportunities in life for many Muslim immigrants in the West.

8. The prevalence of inbreeding among Muslims also has a significant impact on many aspects of immigrant lives, not the least of which is the inability to integrate because of a lack of education.

9. It is a canard to claim that criticism - whether under the rubric of "stigmatization," or, I will add, "Islamophobia" in the West - leads legitimately to feelings of victimization by Muslims and causes them to lash out.

10. In order for Muslims to integrate into Western society, they must want to integrate, they must be in an environment that allows for it, and they must have the capacity to integrate into a society whose values are very much at odds, in many ways, with Islamic teachings. Rarely, it seems, are those three conditions present, particularly in Europe where immigration has been so heavy, and the welfare state such, that Muslims tend to congregate in enclaves. Mr. Sennels then includes this nugget, which gives some sense of both the cause of and the degree to which lack of Muslim integration in European countries is predicated on a socialist welfare state:

First we have to ask ourselves: why should Muslim immigrants want to integrate? They can live their culture, receive enough money, and have a full functioning social life within their Muslim communities without even learning our language or even working. We have Muslim schools, Muslim parallel societies and even Muslim nursing homes. Muslim graveyards have existed for years, so even after death Muslim immigrants do not need to be close to non-Muslims.

After discussing in detail the facts summarized above -- and if you doubt his conclusions, I would urge you to read his article in its entirety -- Dr. Sennels gives his proposed solutions to the problems he has identified. They are sufficiently serious and worthy of consideration that I include them below in full:

Muslim immigration to the West is the greatest sociological and group psychological experiment in World History. The experiment is clearly going wrong, and statistics and facts show us that the problems are accelerating.

Any good scientist with common sense would in such a case start by putting the experiment to a complete halt: Stop Muslim immigration and cut citizenships to resident Muslim immigrants and refugees. Non-Western immigrants and refugees who have not yet attained Western citizenship should only be able to continue their life in our Western countries as long as they can support themselves and are not convicted of any violent crimes. There is nothing wrong with asking unpleasant guests to leave a party.

Our social workers and welfare system have to realize that we are dealing with people for whom cultural and religiously defined restrictions and consequences are the prime tools for regulating peoples’ behaviour.

In general we have to make it so practically difficult and economically unbeneficial not to integrate that immigrants who do not want to or are not able to integrate will find it more tempting to seek their happiness somewhere else. Denmark has an excellent law on repatriation – state sponsored emigration: Immigrants receive up to 15,000 Euros (20,000 USD) if they are willing to give up their citizenships or permanent residence permits and move home to their country of origin. They can also receive economic help for medicine in up to one year and support for buying equipment used for establishing a business in their home country.

Pedagogic strategies, police work, integration projects and social welfare checks are therefore wasted if we are not strictly consequential. Economic social help should be given to people who display social behaviour – it should not support anti-social lifestyles and be a leash so long that the destructive or unintegrated individuals only realize their unwelcome and islamonauseating behaviour when it is too late.

Another important Danish law that hopefully will inspire the rest of Europe is to limit the Child Support from the state to only include the first two children (the country’s average). In Denmark, this has meant that Danish families and well integrated immigrant families can still manage to have more than two children if they wish so — because they work, etc. Less successful immigrant parents will have to think twice, though, before they start or import big families – that by the way in most cases inherit the parents” lack of integration. Economic pressure should also consist of much better control of taxes and VAT in shops suspected or reported of cheating. It should not be possible to move to our countries and live from on Child Support or unpaid taxes to the government.

Muslim organisations and leaders should be able to prove that they are so-called moderate. This should include that they publicly renounce and disclaim any violent and racist passages in the Islamic scriptures, and acknowledge the freedom of women and speech, rule of secular laws, etc. Preaching the Quran as being the truth and stating Muhammed to be an excellent example of good behaviour is telling people to break the law. Islam has to adapt if it wants to be legal according to our constitutions.

Unfortunately we will also need to create laws that will affect the privacy of the general public: We need to install sufficient amount of surveillance equipment (cameras etc.) in areas with serious problems with crime and violent attitudes towards the authorities. Violent habitual offenders should wear a GPS device for a specific periods after being released, so that the police are able to track and follow the convicts.

It goes without saying that we of course should fight the spread of sharia, cancel all present and future attempts of islamization, reassert our own cultural values and do what is necessary to reinstall and secure peace and the rule of secular law in the Muslim ghettos – effectively.

Finally, we need to free the Muslim women. The freedom of the women is our best tool against any kind of aggressive or backward religious tendencies. Female social workers should have regular meetings with the women from immigrant groups that are known for suppression of women (primarily the Muslim groups of immigrants). In this way we have a chance of making sure that the women are safe, free and know their rights to repatriation, to move to a women’s shelter, to contraception, etc. If their men do not like this kind of interference, they are free to leave the country: We will not accept that a medieval view of women takes root in our societies, and we will fight traditional Islam by freeing the Muslim women.

If we do this, we should have a fair chance to integrate the remaining Muslims, minimize their pressure on our democracy, protect the feeling of safety and social coherence in our societies, and keep our welfare systems to a satisfying degree.

Besides actively fighting organisations and regimes that threaten our existence or way of living, our foreign policy must aim at diminishing the population growth in the poor countries. Overpopulation is a cause for conflicts about space, food, pure drinking water, pastures, areas for cultivation, and other important resources. It is also a strain on the environment and climate. It is impossible to create the necessary infrastructure, educational system and a sufficient amount of jobs in overpopulated countries — which of course leads to poverty.

Our development aid to the third world should not be given to their often corrupt governments. Instead it should be given directly to the citizens following the same model as the Nobel Prize winning micro credits: E.g. One dollar per day if one has no or one child, half a dollar per day if one has two children and no money if one starts a big family. In this way the parents do not need to give birth to a lot of children hoping that at least one of them will be so successful that he or she can support the parents when they get too old to work. The parents will then be economically capable to give their children proper education and nourishment (malnutrition harms the development of the brain) which can create the educated middle class that is the motor in all successful societies.

Hungry, poor and uneducated people are usually bad democrats and easily become tempted by the cornucopia of simple explanations and promises offered by political Islam. Putting a lid on the population explosion and thereby focusing on long term solutions for limiting poverty and raising the educational level are necessary tools in fighting the growing religious fanaticism in the Third World. This again will lessen the amount of internal and international violent conflicts in those areas, thereby minimizing the flow of refugees and immigrants to the West.

The many threats and dangers resulting from illegal immigration, including crime, terror, negative economic consequences, social unrest and a general decrease in social coherence, makes it imperative that states and supranational institutions such as the EU and UN secure our national borders and the borders of Europe effectively.

Thankfully, America, with its relatively small population of Muslims and much better track record of integration, is not experiencing the degree pf problems of Europe. But if something radical is not done in Europe to address this problem posed by a lack of integration, it is hard to see how this issue will be resolved in the long term by anything other than bloodshed.





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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Depressing Math Of The Electoral College



Earlier, Ms. Bookworm Room shared an American Thinker article with me, The Only Election 2016 Prediction Tool You Will Need. In it, the author makes the point that Democrats very much have the edge in the math of the electoral college at the moment. There are a number of states that have voted for a Democrat for President in every election since at least 1992. They are:

California (55)
Connecticut (7)
Delaware (3)
Hawaii (4)
Illinois (20)
Maine (4)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
Michigan (16)
Minnesota (10)
New Jersey (14)
New York (29)
Oregon (7)
Pennsylvania (20)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
Washington (12)
Washington, D.C. (3)
Wisconsin (10)

It takes 270 votes in the Electoral College to win the Presidency. Assuming the above states remain true to form, that means the Democrat nominee for President starts out with a base of 242 votes in the electoral college, needing to pick up only 28 more to win the Presidency. All the Democrat would have to do is win Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, to put that candidate over the top. Or if they lose Florida, there are still numerous combinations of other states that could put that candidate over the top.

Hillary awaits her coronation. So very depressing.





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Country Roads, L's and R's




H/T American Digest

As Gerard Van Der Luen opines at his site, "kooky, korney, . . . and kompletely charming." Agreed. The entire Far East is a pretty amazing place, with all the very worst and best of humanity. And also, it is a place with very different linguistics.

It took me a few years to get to where I could speak the Korean language with any sort of fluency. Koreans and Japanese have a much harder time with English, I think, because some of the sounds are, well, so foreign. In Korean, they have a letter that is a combination of R and L. To pronounce it properly, you have to form your mouth to make an "R" sound and then slur to make an "L" sound. It is very similar to Japanese which, though it uses a character syllabary rather than an alphabet, uses the same R and L combination in it's speech. For Koreans and Japanese, it is very difficult to make a distinct "R" sound or a distinct "L" sound. That's one of the reasons Americans fighting in the Pacific sector in WWII would always use passwords with "R's" and "L's" in them.

At any rate, it's one of the reason Japanese and Korean children, making an effort to speak English words, sound so cute, as in the video above. On a related note, for years, my son, who spent his early childhood in Korea thought that his name, Scotty, was pronounced Su-Kotty.

At any rate, here is another very cute video from the orient - this one from Korea of a little girl who will one day be a true trumpet prodigy.



No group of people do cute like the Koreans and Japanese. I wish I could find a video of Dana Carvey's skit where he is overcome by cuteness . . . it would be appropriate here.





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Friday, April 17, 2015

Hillary: Trustworthy? Authentic? Vote Vagina?

From a pac, America Rising, a well done montage on the issue of Hillary's trustworthiness:



(H/T Legal Insurrection)

From Charles Krauthammer, who is a bit cynical about Hillary's authenticity

See Hillary ride in a van! Watch her meet everyday Americans! Witness her ordering a burrito bowl at Chipotle! Which she did wearing shades, as did her chief aide Huma Abedin, yielding security-camera pictures that made them look (to borrow from Karl Rove) like fugitives on the lam, wanted in seven states for a failed foreign policy.

There’s something surreal about Hillary Clinton’s Marie Antoinette tour, sampling cake and commoners. But what else can she do? After Barack Obama, she’s the best-known political figure in America. She has papal name recognition. Like Napoleon and Cher, she’s universally known by her first name. As former queen consort, senator and secretary of state, she has spent a quarter-century in the national spotlight — more than any modern candidate.

She doesn’t just get media coverage; she gets meta-coverage. The staging is so obvious that actual events disappear. The story is their symbolism — campaign as semiotics. . . .

And finally, Nancy Pelosi adopts the position that the issues don't matter; we should all vote for Hillary because . . . vagina. Well, I guess we will soon find out whether identity politics trumps concerns for leadership in this nation. Can Hillary deliver the woman vote? Can Bill deliver the other woman vote?

That said, there is at least one woman already on record as saying that she will not be voting Democrat ever again:







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Wolf Bytes - The Hillary Follies



Hillary

Hillary Clinton is trying to coast her way below the radar to a coronation. The last thing she wants is to answer questions about her record and qualifications. Her journey of a 1,000 miles (love the Maoist symbolism there) road trip to Iowa was about as phony as one could get. What makes it all the more sickening is that the mainstream press isn't all over this. They are playing along.

This from Megyn Kelly and Marc Thiessen - Is Hillary Clinton running a phony campaign?

KELLY: So the real people, like the whole listening tour so she can understand real ordinary people. Apparently she's really going to only understand people who work for Planned Parenthood and drove around Vice President Joe Biden and were Democratic campaign operatives.

THIESSEN: No, exactly. This was supposed to be -- they specifically decided to launch this campaign with a listening tour to listen to ordinary Americans. So she pulls in with the Scooby van into a Chipotle where there are actual real Americans there. And she puts on the big sunglasses to try to avoid being recognized. But then when she goes to a coffee shop where she is supposed to meet ordinary Americans, they're planted Democrat operatives. They're fake real Americans. I mean, she actually staged a coffee shop visit.

And from Stacy McCain: Her Fakeness, Hillary Clinton

The point isn’t so much that Democrats are being brought in by the campaign as “plants” at these events, but rather that the media are playing along and pretending that the events (and the people at the events) are “spontaneous.” That is to say, the media are just there to provide free campaign publicity for the Democrat.

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer is reporting that Hillary took a giant magnet to her hard drive to hide e-mails that would identify her partners in lesbian affairs. To be honest, given the National Enquirer's role as the sole media outlet to expose John Edwards, I don't discount that.

In other articles, Heather Willhelm writes that The Clinton Campaign Is Even Creepier Than You Think. Buzzfeed points out that Hillary Clinton's reference to the "immigrant experience" of her grandparents is a lie. Only one of her grandparents was an immigrant, and he came to this country as a child. In her first campaign speech in Iowa, she called for limiting freedom of speech. And then, this multi-millionaire, in order to show that she is one of the people, left Iowa and flew coach to NJ, "toting her own" luggage. As Bookworm Room points out, this is shades of Jimmy Carter, who used to try to show his bona fides as a regular American by toting an empty suitcase on board planes.

Hillary is a trainwreck. One blogger describes her as Nixon in a pantsuit, but I think she is a thousand times worse than Nixon ever thought of being.

Hillary Clinton has much to answer, about the e-mail scandal, about Benghazi, about her record as Secretary of State. She also should be weighing in on the critical issues of the day, in particular this Iran abomination and Obama's unconstitutional attempt to legislate in regards to millions of illegal aliens. Anyone know where she stands on any of that? This is a travesty.

The War On Religion

I've pointed out, countless times, that socialism seeks to deconstruct Western civilization and rebuild it in its place a utopian world. One element of that effort is to war on religion and religious institutions, including marriage. This from Daniel Greenfield, The Deconstruction Of Marriage:

The only question worth asking about gay marriage is whether anyone on the left would care about this crusade if it didn't come with the privilege of bulldozing another civilizational institution. . . .

The left's deconstruction of social institutions is not a quest for equality, but for destruction. As long as the institutions that preceded it exist, it will go on deconstructing them until there is nothing left but a blank canvas, an unthinking anarchy, on which it can impose its perfect and ideal conception of how everyone should live.

Government and the Economy

The left sees government central player in the economy, regulating it, picking winners and losers, with government spending as perhaps the single most important part of the economy. It inevitably creates an environment of high taxes and stifling regulation. Conservatives see the government's only function in an economy as establishing a framework based on laws that promote free market competition while protecting all of us from fraud and theft.

Allen West points out the failure of the most recent attempt in New York to draw investment into a state that is very much run according to the economic theories of the left.

As reported by Townhall.com, “Governor Andrew Cuomo was all too proud to unveil his Start-Up NY program in the Empire State. They called it a ‘game changer’. The ingenious program offered tax-free environments to tech and manufacturing companies for 10 years if they worked with state colleges and universities. It was supposed to boost entrepreneurism and create thousands of jobs throughout the state. Yet, one year later, the most New Yorkers have to show for it is emptier pockets.”

“The ubiquitous Start-Up NY promotional campaign has cost taxpayers $53 million since the program’s inception in late 2013, while it has led to $1.7 million in private investment so far, state records show. The state spent $47 million on the ads alone since the program started in December 2013, and the total cost included production expenses and other marketing efforts through last month, according to Empire State Development Corp. In July, the agency said $28 million had been spent on the ads.”

So what is the result from $53 million spent — $47 million on the ads alone with a program that has been operating for about a year and a half?

“The state has spent $697, 368 per job so far. These grisly numbers come in after the governor made several pledges across the state that jobs were going to start pouring in. Seventy-two in Albany, 123 in Western New York, he said. His promises have been mostly air thus far. Perhaps even more embarrassing for the governor, however, is the fact that New York has just come in dead last for economic competitiveness, as ranked by The American Legislative Exchange Council.”

As Mr. West points out, government's don't create jobs. They can only kill them with taxes and regulation.

France

And finally, Stacey McCain has a damning indictment of France:

. . . The French are a nation of degenerate swine. They are the nation that gave the world Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Monique Wittig. Do French men behave like animals on public transportation? Do they treat all women like whores? Sure. It’s part of French culture. You know, like wine, socialism, defeat, surrender, hating Jews and collaborating with Nazis. France: An entire nation that’s worse than Massachusetts.

I could not have said it better.





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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Standing In The Presence Of Evil: Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp



The photo above is of a mass grave in the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. The camp was liberated by the British Army 70 years ago today on April 15, 1945, an act that is being commemorated in the news today.

NPR has the story of Bergen Belsen Through The Eyes Of Its Liberator. The Daily Mail has an article, Through The Gates Of Hell, that includes never before seen photos taken by British soldiers in 1945. Another article recounts the personal story of a survivor of the camp, "We Did Not Know The Horror To Come." Billie Halliday, a British expatriate, tells of the horrors he saw at Bergen Belsen in Langley veteran saw best and worst of humanity in WWII. Dennis Kilcommons, a journalist, discusses his own visit to Bergen Belsen forty years ago, an event that impacted on him in precisely the same way as my own visit there, discussed below, impacted on me.

Bergen Belsen was a spoke in the wheel of the Final Solution, Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews in Europe. The method was to gather Jews and other enemies of the state into concentration camps run by members of Hitler's praetorian guard, the SS. Jews not murdered en mass in the camps were to be worked to death, forced to labor while on starvation diets.

The Third Reich's Final Solution resulted in the murder of six million Jews, an event the world would later label the Holocaust. There were others sent to these concentration camps as well to suffer the same fate as the Jews - Gypsies, Eastern Europeans, homosexuals, political prisoners and captured Soviet soldiers. Five million of them also died in the Nazi concentration camps.

Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp was located in north central Germany. It was one of the less notable of the Nazi concentration camps. The camp did not have a Doctor Mengele to conduct sadistic experiments upon the inmates. Nor was the camp the scene of mass execution in gas chambers like at Auschwitz. Murder on an industrial scale at Bergen Belsen was much slower, though by no means less cruel, horrific, or evil than at the other camps. At Bergen Belsen, murder was brought about by systematic starvation and disease allowed to run rampant.

When the British liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, they brought in film crews and photographers to document the living hell that they found. The War Office tasked famed director Alfred Hitchcock to turn the footage into a documentary that, only years later, was released to the public. The first half hour of the documentary deals with Bergen Belsen, the second half hour with other camps, as well as Nazi execution of prisoners in the face of advancing American and British troops:



I am not Jewish. I had studied World War II in school, of course, and I was well aware of the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. I had seen the pictures and read the stories of Dachau and Auschwitz. But, as a young man, the horror and revulsion I felt was purely on an intellectual level.

I wasn't even aware of Bergen Belsen until I found myself, two decades ago, driving past it while on assignment in the area. I had some time to spare, so we went into the site.

There was nothing left of the original buildings at Bergen Belsen by then. All of the camps buildings had been burned and leveled by the British in 1945. There were several buildings built on the site since to house memorials to the 70,000 Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, and other people who were murdered there. There were mementos in glass cases and thousands of horrible pictures lined the walls. It was indeed heartbreaking to see. And there were some exhibits given over to the most famous of the Bergen Belsen's victims, Czech painter and writer Josef Čapek and the sisters, Margot and Anne Frank.



At some point, I stepped outside the memorial buildings and began to wander about. I came upon a series of about twenty rectangular grass plots raised up about a foot off the ground, each neatly lined by brick. They varied in size, but the largest I recall was about maybe 9 or 10 yards wide by maybe 20 yards long. Each plot had its own plaque standing next to it.

I wandered over to one plot and read the plaque. I don't remember the exact numbers on that first plaque, but I remembered it said something like "7,000 people buried here." I wandered to the next plot and read its plaque, and so on and so on. The smallest of the mass graves held the remains of about 1,500 people; the most was over 10,500.

As I read the plaques at each of these tiny mass graves, that is when the horror of it all became real. That is when I fully comprehended the evil that was committed there, and was able for the first time to comprehend the magnitude of its scale. There were no more numbers written on pages of books or pictures on a wall. These were tens of thousands of people, murdered and tossed one on top of another into the smallest possible holes imaginable; tens of thousands of murdered people but a few feet below where I stood. Most were not soldiers, but simple men, women and children who had done no wrong; vibrant people with families, people with lives that could have enriched the world. That moment of realization has haunted me ever since.

What is evil? Moral relativists will say that there is no such thing as evil, but they are are naive fools. No one who visits Bergen Belsen can come away believing that. Evil is easy enough to spot, just hard to articulate. The dictionary defines it as "profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity." I think that close enough. I certainly saw that at Bergen Belsen and, there, for the first time in its presence, understood it.

I don't think many people truly do - understand evil that is. It is hard until you see it first hand and feel its effects on a visceral level. Many of the WWII generation who are now dying off understood this evil. Many of them saw it first hand. They ended the genocidal evil that was Nazi Germany. And famously, they said "Never again." We should all thank God that they did.

Enough.

Update: I had originally included here a "palate cleanser," video of an Auschwitz survivor, the now 90+ year old Adolek Kohn, and his family who returned to that worst of concentration camps and made a tongue in cheek dance video. The brilliant Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret has informed me that the video is seen by some Auschwitz survivors as offensive. I have no desire whatsoever to offend any survivor of that particular hell. If you wish to see the videos originally posted, the dance video is here, and the back story of the man is here.

Evil cannot win unless we let it. The lesson of Bergen Belsen is that, under no circumstance can we let it. We would be well to remember that in our dealings with Iran, a country equally as evil and genocidal as Hitler's Nazi Germany.





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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

OPEC Squeals Over U.S. Oil Production



OPEC today is squealing like the guy in the love scene in Deliverance. OPEC recently issued a March, 2015 Bulletin dealing with the mayhem being wrought among member countries because of low oil prices brought about by oversupply in the world oil market. And at the end of the bulletin, if identifies the culprit:

We are often reminded that in today’s multilateral world, where continents, regions and countries are increasingly becoming interconnected, there is little room for unilateral action, especially in the vast and intricate world of commodity trading. Today, operating purely through self-interest is quite simply frowned upon. As the old adage says, a problem shared, is a problem halved.

Yet, when it comes to the supply of petroleum, there is a stubborn willingness of some non-OPEC producers to adopt a go-it-alone attitude, with scant regard for the consequences. These parties consider producing to the maximum as being the norm. To them, rationalizing the development of one’s precious natural resources in keeping with market demands appears to be an alien concept.

This same self-interest and unilateral thinking could not be more apparent today with the advent of the ‘game-changing’ tight oil, which has taken the market by storm over the past few years. Make no mistake — this unconventional source is a great and welcome addition to the world’s potential oil wealth. But the timing of its exploitation is certainly questionable. The facts behind the market oversupply speak for themselves.

Fact: OPEC crude output has been stable over the last nine years. Production has averaged 30 million b/d, with zero growth.

Fact: Over the same period, non-OPEC production — led by the US and Canada — has surged by 6.3m b/d. In 2014 alone, growth was measured at over 2m b/d compared with 2013.

Ahhh, sweet music.

Actually, this complaint raises several interesting issues.

One, oil production in most, if not all twelve members of OPEC, which includes such U.S. allies as Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, is state controlled or controlled through a quasi-government agency. For those nations, oil revenue is the entire lifeblood of their economy, just as it is the case of non-member Russia. They produce little else of value on the world market. When the price of oil drops too low, most of the enemies or our nation are in deep economic trouble. It is in our strategic interest to drive oil to a low price and keep it there.

Two, fortunately, this is not an issue that, at the moment, lies in Obama's hands to regulate. In the U.S., oil production is a private enterprise. The government has no way to control the quantity of oil produced, particularly that taking place on private lands, where the majority of production is taking place. As long as Americans can make a buck doing it, the oil will flow and the production will increase. Our evil oil producers are in fact responsible for the one foreign policy success under the Obama administration.

It should also be noted that this oil boom is what saved our nation from an outright depression after 2007 and has allowed the Obama administration, wholly without justification, to claim that their economic policies have had some beneficial effect. Since Obama came in office, fracking, through 2013, has added "$75 billion to state and federal revenues and an additional $283 billion to the gross domestic product."

So the bottom, keep fracking and let's keep OPEC squealing like pigs. It's good for America, and the music they sing is just so pretty.





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Cruz & Rubio

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz was interviewed by PJM at the NRA Convention yesterday:



Meanwhile, the latest Republican to enter the race, Marco Rubio, has an op-ed in today USA Today, on the anniversary of the assassination of Republican President Abe Lincoln:

. . . Lincoln was perhaps the most transformational figure in our history. He had the courage to measure America as it was against America as it was intended to be, and to recognize the terrible distance between our founding ideas and the reality of slavery.He aspired to reform government to empower all our people equally, to break the powerful hold slaveholders had over Washington and to break the chains of slavery itself.

By demanding America live up to its calling as a nation where our rights come from God, and where government exists to protect those rights without prejudice, Lincoln took it upon his generation to test, as he put it, "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived or so dedicated, can long endure."

In the century and a half since, America has proven that it can, in fact, endure. Each generation after Lincoln's has carried on the tradition of bringing America one step closer to its founding ideal of equal opportunity for all. The result has been the rapid spread of the American Dream — a Dream that in its short history has transformed millions of lives and altered the course of human events. . . .

Do read the whole thing. It is a good op-ed.





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