Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Not Shining Sterling

The National Basketball Association has just banned an owner for life after he was recorded making vile, racist statements. The NBA is a private entity and can do whatever they want to Donald Sterling, but when government and public universities prohibit controversial speech, they are violating the First Amendment. In their quest to enforce politically-correct speech, state universities, colleges, and even junior colleges have even prohibited distribution of copies of the US Constitution, and their speech codes too often bear the hallmarks of fascism. I could care less what people do in their voluntary associations and am fine with the commissioner's stand against Sterling, but I am absolutely opposed to government and tax-subsidized "educators" attempting to suppress speech. The First Amendment exists precisely to preserve our freedom to say controversial things. Speech that does not cause a ruckus does not need any such protection. You only need the protections afforded by the First Amendment when what you declare makes others uncomfortable. Non-controversial speech stands on its own merit without the need for protection.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Tornado Watch

The destruction wrought by the swarm of tornadoes is fearful to behold. We humans, who are so often gripped by hubris, now should see how vulnerable we truly are. Even "safe rooms" are not necessarily safe when debris is hurled at unbelievable force right through their doors. In situations like these storms, we call out to the Lord for protection. There are many now in need across Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee and we must help them as best we can. Beware of fraudsters and relief scams and stick with trusted charities in your efforts to help. None of us is so powerful that we no longer need prayer and those hurt by the tornadoes need our aid and our prayers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Syria Slaughterhouse

The BBC managed to have an intrepid reporter and camera crew make their way into Aleppo, Syria. The carnage in that once glorious city is unimaginable. Neither side is blameless, but it seems that Assadists are intent on killing every man, woman, and child in the areas that rebels control. The actions of those backing Assad are not military or defensive but a grotesque collective punishment that randomly targets and terrorizes. This is not a tactical approach to winning a battle but bears all the hallmarks of a war crime. Unfortunately, the most effective force fighting Assad has a nihilistic mentality that mirrors al-Qaeda ideology and has also committed crimes against humanity against those perceived as Assad supporters but also against Syrian Christians who had no part in the fight. There is no way for outsiders to pacify Assad without leaving a force of Sunni fanatics in his place. When both sides manifest evil in their conduct and a fair peace is impossible, the best the world may achieve is to maintain the status quo which means prolonged civil war.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Diminishing Life's Sanctity

CBS had their Sunday morning news show do a story on how La Crosse, Wisconsin has managed to persuade ninety-six percent of residents to prepare advance end of life directives. These directives are not aimed at preserving or extending the sacred gift of human life, but about giving physicians and other so-called "care providers" a road map to terminate old or medically-compromised patients and legal cover for when they implement this pathway toward hastened deaths. If care is denied, how can it be presumed that the care if it had been given might not have prolonged the patient's life while preserving at least some functionality and quality of life. The mindset evinced here is that of the death panel in action. It is about saving money and opening intensive care bed space at the expense of the most vulnerable. It is a sort of medical predation, not aimed at a euthanasia to ease the pain of patients but at prematurely ending what still could be viable, even enjoyable lives. We are becoming a society that does the medical equivalent of setting the elderly adrift on ice flows because they are too much of a burden, and this negates the meaning of civilization and steals the singularly precious gift the Lord has blessed us with- that being LIFE!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Honor Our Commitments?

The Ukraine made the mistake of giving up the nuclear arsenal that was left behind when the Soviet Union collapsed in exchange for security commitments, including a treaty signed with the United States. The Ukrainians should not have believed America because we do not have a record of keeping our promises. The Federal government signed treaty after treaty with American Indian tribes, only to ignore or break the treaties when abiding by them became inconvenient. Ask South Vietnam what America's signatures and pledges mean. Oh, sorry you can not because it was conquered and absorbed by North Vietnam, so now there is just Vietnam because the US broke our promises. Security assurances made by previous American administrations mean little. Obama's pledges about protecting other nations mean absolutely nothing.

Friday, April 25, 2014

About to Strike

When ethnic Russians are killed in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will unleash the full might of Russia's armed forces on those who have spilled Russian blood. Are the Russians in the right? In the realpolitik world, moral judgement is much less important than military force. Militarily, the Ukraine is a featherweight amateur in a brawl with a heavyweight champion. Do you see neighboring Poland (or any other country) offering to send in troops to help defend the Ukrainians? Certainly not, because no other country wants to antagonize Putin when they know he has the winning hand. If the Ukraine cracks down on the Russian separatists, it will trigger a bloodbath and spell the end of the Ukraine as an independent country. If the Ukraine does not act to restore sovereignty, it will forfeit the east of the country which will voluntarily rejoin Russia or be a nominally independent country that will actually be no more than a Russian satellite state doing Moscow's bidding while pretending autonomy from both Kiev and Russia. This situation is the most complex dilemma faced by Europe since the end of World War II, even more than Bosnia and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia because during the time of the Soviet Union, the Communists authorities salted the Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians and though their papers may say they and their descendants are Ukrainian, they are Russian through and through and are loyal not to Kiev but to Putin.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Asian Trip Disaster

Barack Hussein Obama has managed to anger Red China, the nation that holds more of America's debt than any other foreign country. Obama is making empty pledges that under his administration, the United States will continue to defend the territorial claims of other countries over areas also claimed by the People's Republic of China. Obama's words are only bluff, but Red China may not take it that way. I am not sure that Obama would defend Japan, the Philippines, or any other "ally" in Asia, but I am sure the People's Republic as our major creditor has the capacity to cripple America economically, and since the huge majority of our consumer goods are imported from Red China, that if the Communist leadership takes umbrage at Obama's clumsiness (indeed, even stupidity), that China could ruin the lives of ordinary Americans by withholding cheap exports much more easily than the US could inflict pain on China. America now relies on Red China but the People's Republic does not stake their survival or even their prosperity on the United States.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Will Netanyahu Fall?

With pressure from the right in his coalition including from within his own Likud Party to cease concessions to the recalcitrant Palestinians, Benyamin Netanyahu may not remain in power in Israel very long. He is also facing threats from leftist partners in his coalition who threaten to dissolve the government if Netanyahu leaves the peace process. With the left and right having mutually exclusive agendas, it is hard to envision how Netanyahu could placate both. Likud can not muster enough mandates to govern on their own, and if Likud fractures with those on the right within that party leaving because they realize Palestinians will never accept the existence of Israel as a "Jewish state", Netanyahu will be replaced as Prime Minister unless he cobbles together a government out of other parties whose disparate interests he can mollify in other ways. The best way to preserve the Zionist ideal might be to have a new government of the right emerge without Netanyahu in it. The worst outcome would be if a government forms led by peace at almost any price leftists like Tzipi Livni and Lapid who might pretend to be security-conscious by keeping Netanyahu as Prime Minister while only really allowing him to be a figurehead, which former allies of Netanyahu in the hawkish camp might allege is already going on now.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Biden Code

If no nation or people is ever permitted to "occupy" territory claimed by another nation or people as Vice President Joe Biden just contended in Kiev, then the US must start by evacuating all our nationals from Hawaii. Then, the US should withdraw Americans from Puerto Rico, Guam, and the parts of the Virgin Islands that America "occupies". Then, we better give Alaska back- to the Russians or the "First Peoples"- not sure which. Then US citizens who are not of aboriginal origin in the Lower Forty-eight ought to start packing. There are First Nations that colonists and immigrants displaced that under Biden's logic need to be given their land back and that would amount to just about everyplace America has ever planted the flag. How would Obama and Biden characterize "Manifest Destiny", the concept of conquest without which there would be no United States of America? I am in no way endorsing Russia's actions regarding the Ukraine, but they are not unusual in the course of human history which has always been marked by conflict and the resultant carnage that conflict brings. Let us hope that further bloodshed can be avoided and that Putin is done grabbing disputed land.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Next Move

The Ukraine does not have sufficient military resources to prevent Russia from asserting her will in the Eastern Ukraine. The residents of the area in question are about equally divided between ethnic Russians, who were brought there during Soviet times and native Ukrainians whose ancestors were there for centuries. Several ethnic Russians were killed in a firefight that broke an Easter truce. The Russians assert that Ukrainian nationalists were behind the checkpoint attack. The Ukrainians contend that Russia may have staged the attack as a pretext for further aggression. Which side is right makes less of a difference ultimately than which side can muster the most armed force, and in this case, Russia could take all of the Ukraine in a matter of a few short weeks and suppress most resistance within months if Vladimir Putin sees that to be in Russia's national interest and orders an attack.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Plague of Paganism

Most Americans are or have been in a holy season and are offering up heartfelt prayer, but too many worship at the altar of money, or the altar of celebrity, or ridicule the God of nature by nature-worship devoid of the Lord. We have atheist activists trying to chase God from the public square. The United States is moving ever further away from the Providential underpinnings that framed our founding. When we need God the most as a nation, Americans seek Him the least. Some even mock the Divine. The cure for what ails America and the world the most would be greater Faith.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Environmental Holy Day

A "holy day" has emerged for those who disdain the Lord and instead worship "mother earth". This Earthday holiday, which will fall on April nineteenth, is hilarious. Instead of a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue, a "green believer" can worship at the nearest tree. (Hopefully at the base, otherwise, the parishioner might fall off.) Perhaps, instead of baring the soul to a priest, the supplicant can confess his sins against gaia to a Keebler elf in the nook of a tree. I can hear the confessional now: "Before dusk, I turned on a light and last Monday, I did not carpool". I can see the penance too. On the coldest day of winter, you must set your heat no higher than fifty-eight degrees, even though you will end up wearing four sweaters. On days where the temperature passes one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, you must walk six miles to and from work. Your self-sacrifice will save the earth, except of course, in the overall scheme of things, what any individual does or does not do, has no measurable impact on the climate whatsoever. People did not create the earth, and it is the height of hubris to think that our everyday actions can save or destroy the planet.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mount Everest Disaster

I will never understand why some feel the need to conquer mountains, but once again, lives have been claimed by the world's tallest peak in an event where as many as thirteen sherpas were killed. Obviously, anyone attempting to surmount Mount Everest is assuming a risk. For those native to the area, the peak is a mixed blessing, as climbing and the tourism associated with it has provided a livelihood to many, but over the course of the years, so many mountain guides have died, unknown to most of the world and mourned little outside their families. The mountaineers with deep pockets will still come, and there will always be those who live in relative destitution who will risk their very lives to serve them. Is that exploitation? Maybe, but many of those deep-pocketed client climbers have succumbed too, up there on the mountain.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dereliction of Duty

A stunning allegation has been made in the South Korea tragedy that the captain was among the first people to abandon ship. If this is true, the captain's actions are beyond negligent. With so many teens aboard for the adult responsible for their safety to flee to save himself and leave them to the fate of drowning is a criminal act. It is unforgivable. Perhaps some of the more than two hundred missing have found air pockets in the stricken vessel and may yet be saved, but after all these hours have elapsed that does not seem likely. To read that passengers were ordered to remain where they were on the ship for thirty minutes after the event began and to read that only one lifeboat was deployed (the one the captain was on), while more than forty life vessels were available but not used to save others on the ferry is absolutely heartbreaking. If the allegations are true and hundreds have died needlessly, the ferry captain must never see the light of day as a free man again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

South Korea Tragedy

South Korea has just suffered the worst maritime disaster in her history. Most of those missing in the water are high school students. Those in the flower of youth who should have so much life ahead of them have had it washed away. Almost three hundred people who were aboard are unaccounted for and presumed dead. Let us hope that more survivors may be rescued from the ferry. Today, our prayers should be with South Korea.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boko Haram Murders

Awful carnage has once again been inflicted in Nigeria. This time a bombing has killed at least seventy at a bus station in Abuja. When jihadists detonate a bomb in a place widely visited by the public, they are virtually certain to kill men, women, and children. The explosion killed Christians and animists, but also took the lives of faithful Muslims. This act is not part of "holy war" but of random, nihilistic violence. Those who have perpetrated this terror must be rooted out, and more important, the warped ideology behind them must be denounced by decent people everywhere and condemned by Imams as an unforgivable act.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Overland Park Murders

An unimaginable horror befell innocents in Overland Park, Kansas. A white separatist attacked people outside the Jewish Community Center and then drove a short distance to continue the attack outside the Village Shalom retirement community. A grandfather and his grandson died in the initial attack and an elderly woman was killed in the second assault. The assailant was reputed to be shouting "heil Hitler" as he was taken into custody. The shooter has now been identified as a former leader of the virulently Jew-hating Ku Klux Klan. Let us pray for the victims and for swift and certain justice for the cold-blooded murderer. It is sad that the authorities and Jews themselves have to be ever vigilant wherever they (we, as I am Jewish) gather.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ukraine Strikes Back

The Ukraine evicted Russian agitators from some government buildings yesterday. In asserting their sovereignty (and even in upholding order and the rule of law), Ukraine is unfortunately making a strategic blunder, because any force they employ against the separatists will be used by Putin as a provocation to invade and take large swathes of Ukrainian territory (if not the whole of the country). The Ukraine might have made a better decision to simply cut off the access of the occupiers to electricity and running water. By physically retaking the buildings, Ukrainian authorities have provided pictures for Putin to show Russia of ethnic Russians being abused. The Russian people are already inflamed and are committed to protecting their brethren across what most Russians believe is an artificial boundary. Most Westerners have no idea how dangerous Vladimir Putin is or how far Russia is willing to go to reunite what Russians consider to be their territory.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Just a Correction?

Are US stocks merely experiencing a correction or are we reentering recession (or even economic depression)? What tools are left to our central planners after quantitative easing and the Obama stimulus have failed? Will a leader emerge to pull government out of our wallets and off the backs of small business? You know Reagan is well and truly dead when you have almost all the Republicans in Congress acting like a doormat under our socialist leader. Barack Hussein Obama does not care about free market solutions to our economic problems or traditional concepts of the free enterprise system. To the extent that he cares about the economy at all, his concern is to enrich himself and his cronies and to expand the power and reach of labor unions that have backed him. Obama wants to cultivate dependency on government because that grows the power of the Democrat Party and his own power, but any improvement to the plight of or in the lives of the American people under Obama is purely incidental.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Calling the Crash

I saw economic dislocation around Nashville and described it in yesterday's column. I sensed that US markets might not have much upside in the immediate future. Sadly, American stocks did indeed plummet yesterday. I see no reason for optimism today either, but I will say certain stocks are apparently undervalued. For those stocks to really rise, both the US House and Senate should be in Republican control to help rein in the blunderer-in-chief throughout the rest of his term. If Yellen tapers off quantitative easing, it would also suggest renewed confidence by the Fed that markets no longer need propping up, thereby allowing market forces to return and permit the natural rise that will eventually happen when the heavy hand of government stops meddling and warping our markets. Real recovery will not be easy as the hole our politicians and central bankers have dug for us is deep, but we are a resilient nation. It is folly to leave our children and grandchildren unrecoverable debt, and it is equally stupid to continue to devalue our own currency. The solution is simple- have the government spend less, regulate less, and tax less- then we will all have a more prosperous future.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nothing but Hope

Looking at empty storefronts at a local shopping mall, I wonder where the recovery is. I remember when Jimmy Carter was running for reelection that Ronald Reagan asked pointedly: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Can we say now that we are a stronger, safer nation than we were when George W. Bush was President? Is America's level of employment better or worse than when Bush was managing the country? Is the world more stable now after Obama fostered and encouraged the Arab Spring? Is Russia more or less of a threat now? Barack Hussein Obama's bill of goods has me much less hopeful about the future of the United States.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Allegiance to Russia

Many ethnic Russians reside in the Eastern Ukraine, and it is natural that they would want citizenship in what they consider their "Motherland". Even a few ethnic Ukrainians believe that they might prosper more under Moscow's rule than home rule. Are Russian intelligence operatives ginning up the protests? I would assume they are, but that does not mean that Russia has no natural constituency in the Ukraine. I think we may see more of the Ukraine rejoining Putin's Russia because Ukraine is not strong enough on its own to prevent it, and there is not sufficient mettle in the West to stop Putin from moving aggressively. I am not even certain that if Russia entered the Baltic States that Obama would use force to contain Russia's imperial ambition.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Maybe Next Year

Kentucky Wildcat basketball fans are heartbroken today. I sincerely doubt that the same cast of superstar underclassmen will be there next season to vie for another chance at the title. The best players are "one and done" and off to earn their fortunes in the National Basketball Association. Do I fault the players who rarely come from affluent backgrounds for going for the money when they are good enough that the NBA comes calling? Do I fault the University of Kentucky and John Calipari for recruiting the best players that are eligible to play college ball? If the stars only stay a year and follow the money into professional basketball where they make as much in a season as a wealthy American accumulates in a lifetime, has anyone been exploited? I would contend that everyone benefits except Kentucky's opponents. If the players are truly interested in obtaining a higher education, they can take courses during or after their playing career, which even for the best of the best, is fleeting. To the rival coaches who imply what Calipari has done is less than ethical- how many Wildcat superstars spurned you to go to Lexington?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Real Moral Courage

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was really brave, and he paid the ultimate price for his convictions. Winston Churchill had moral clarity and beyond that, a prescient vision of what later did actually come to pass. Ronald Wilson Reagan stood up for freedom and backed down the expansionist intentions of the Soviet Union. Margaret Thatcher had many of the same gifts. I think Rick Santorum possesses the same traits as the aforementioned heroes. Other potential leaders may emerge with the wisdom and courage so badly needed today. Let us hope we are discerning enough to recognize and elect such leaders.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Timorous Western Leaders

If a Hitler or Stalin threatened to rise again, the leaders of the Western democracies today would lack the backbone to oppose the rising monster. It is amazing that so many craven cowards could be elected simultaneously. Leaders who now run the "free nations" of the West are trapped in their own political correctness. That is why Russia is different. Putin could not care less about Western sensitivities. Putin is no physical coward either- it is evident even though he has engaged in some staged spectacles- that Vladimir has "guts". If Vladimir Putin wants to become a conqueror beyond the Crimea, can you name the Western leader with the spine to stop him?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Brave Afghans

Millions of Afghans have risked and are risking their lives to participate in a vote under threat of death from the Taliban. Now, we must see if the representatives they vote in are equally as courageous or seek a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. You can never make concessions to the Taliban because they have no desire for peace but will gladly use any negotiation to advance jihad. These Taliban want to turn the world back to the time of Mohammed and will not cease violence when everyone on earth follows the Koran the same way they do. There can never be a true peace with Wahhabi fanatics, but if those fighting them maintain their resolve, the Taliban may yet be vanquished.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The New Afghanistan

The worst possible outcome for Afghanistan, the nation that the US liberated from the Taliban, may be about to happen. That would be the return of the Taliban, who sponsored and shielded al-Qaeda, to power in that fractured country. Even allowing these brutal terrorists into a coalition government is unthinkable. If these religious fanatics are included and have any role in running Afghanistan, then all the Americans who have been killed there, all of our allies from other countries, who have laid down their lives, will have died for nothing. All the treasure we have spent to free Afghanistan will have been squandered, and all of the freedom-loving Afghans who joined America to fight back these atavists will be in mortal peril as the Taliban will avenge themselves against "collaborators". Nation-building may be a foolhardy concept, but in Afghanistan where that country was a failed state, a sanctuary for jihadist terror, and a haven for al-Qaeda, America had to act. Once the US committed blood to the enterprise, we should have had the will to see it through.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Full Accounting

The number of enrollees into the Affordable Care Act that Obama has been crowing about may have been wildly exaggerated. How many of those who signed up were among the uninsured when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law? How many of those sign-ups were the previously medically-insured whose policies were deemed "substandard" by the administration and therefore cancelled due to Obamacare itself? How many folks were previously eligible for Medicaid but only just signed up? That seven million signees were needed and seven million one hundred thousand signed up according to Team Obama is quite the coincidence. Obamacare's popularity or the lack thereof will become manifest in the upcoming elections.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Ground Trembled

Chile sustained a massive temblor of at least 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale. The strength of this earthquake is enormous. We must pray for the people afflicted, and we should give aid to reputable relief organizations. This quake was actually hundreds of times more powerful than the 5.1 magnitude quake that struck California, and it is a testament to Chile's earthquake preparation and precautions that only five souls have been lost so far. Remember aftershocks often claim lives as well and that Chile will need time and help to recover.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Free Money Forever

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will continue quantitative easing for the foreseeable future, supposedly to foster job creation. This "easy money" is a continuation of the strategy of her predecessor Ben Bernanke. Did robust employment flow from Bernanke's policies? Obviously not, there would be no need for Yellen to boost employment if Bernanke had been successful. So why should a continuation of a failed policy suddenly work now? Certainly, institutional and high end investors have profited mightily from the Federal Reserve's lack of discipline in recent years, but at some point, the chickens will come home to roost, first with inflation and then perhaps with hyperinflation. With the fiscal and monetary policy of Obama and Yellen, prosperity is in the bag. Unfortunately, thrift and industry no longer provide access to that bag, but dole dwelling parasites (who the rest of us now work for) and crony capitalists are allowed to reach right into that bag in the dependency state and culture of corruption under which we now live.