Displaying posts published in

April 2017

Curtains for NEA and NEH American arts will thrive without them. By Deroy Murdock

Supporters of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities argue that the troglodyte Trump wants to return America to the Stone Age, before Washington, D.C. rescued an uncouth nation from the horrors of square dancing, axe-throwing contests, and windswept silence.

“Without the arts in America, all we have is . . . Trump,” film director Judd Apatow lamented in response to President Donald J. Trump’s plan to delete the NEA’s and NEH’s budgets of $148 million each.

“After all the wars are fought what remains are people, art, nature and culture,” actress Jamie Lee Curtis declared via Twitter. “Trump can try but he cannot cut us out of the picture.”

According to former soap-opera actor and People magazine’s 2014 Sexiest Teacher Alive, Nicholas A. Ferroni, “as far as Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are concerned, artists, musicians, dancers and performers have no value to society.”

“You don’t make a country great by crushing its soul and devastating its heart,” New York City councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said at a pro-NEA/NEH rally at City Hall. “That is what the arts are to us. That is what culture means to us. That is what the humanities mean to us.” He added: “We will restore sanity to this country.”

Amazingly enough, America was not an aesthetic backwater before President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the NEA and NEH into law in September 1965. Indeed, the generation that preceded these agencies witnessed a florescence of innovation, quality, and beauty in elite and popular culture. From Broadway to the big screen to bookstores to black-and-white TV and beyond, consider just a fraction of what Americans appreciated in the “dark days” before the NEA and NEH.

• Between the mid 1930s and 1965 — notwithstanding the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War — the American stage showcased George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

• Filmgoers in those years savored Duck Soup, Snow White, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Fantasia, Citizen Kane, Warner Bros.’ glorious Looney Tunes cartoons, Double Indemnity, Singin’ in the Rain, On the Waterfront, Bridge on the River Kwai, Some Like It Hot, North by Northwest, Lawrence of Arabia, The Manchurian Candidate, Dr. Strangelove, and The Sound of Music. Duck Soup, Citizen Kane, and On the Waterfront are in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

• Readers turned the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Justice and Accountability in Courtroom and Laboratory Unless we find and punish official corruption, there can be no rule of law. By Andrew C. McCarthy

We had to tell the judge.

It was the middle of our terrorism trial in 1995, and the Blind Sheikh’s lawyer was trying to elicit hearsay from a witness — some innocent-sounding remark the witness had heard the “emir of jihad” make. I bolted out of my seat to object. At the sidebar, I made the Evidence 101 point that if the Blind Sheikh wanted his words placed before the jury, he would need to take the stand and testify.

By then, it was obvious that he had no intention to do that. It would have meant submitting to cross-examination and being confronted with his decades of brazen jihadist rhetoric. So his lawyers fought hard to get the occasional benign statement admitted through more appealing witnesses. Ultimately we prevailed – Judge Michael Mukasey (yeah, that Michael Mukasey) ruled the testimony inadmissible.

Except . . . I was wrong. Well, truth be told, I still think I was right, but in our system, that wasn’t my call to make. When we went back to the office that night, one of my partners, Pat Fitzgerald (yeah, that Pat Fitzgerald), found a couple of cases in which the Second Circuit had theorized that this kind of “state of mind” hearsay was admissible. Once we determined there was no principled way we could distinguish our case, the next step was clear and inarguable: We had to tell the judge. First thing the next morning, we withdrew my errant objection. We showed Judge Mukasey the cases, he quite properly reversed his ruling, and the testimony was admitted into evidence.

I hadn’t thought about that story for years, probably because it was not very unusual. Okay, I hear you snickering: Andy made an argument that turned out to be wrong — nope, nothing unusual there! Fine, guilty as charged.

What I mean, though, is that our office (the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York), like the Justice Department as a whole, was very self-conscious about its traditions and reputation for probity.

That was not because we were all upright, altruistic types — though I like to think most of us were. It had a lot to do with self-interest. Nothing damages a government lawyer’s reputation more than having a conviction in a big case reversed because of some prosecutorial error; and no error more invites reversal than depriving an accused of the constitutional right to present his defense.

Then there’s the big picture. See, there are a lot of judgment calls in litigation, which means there is no shortage of temptation to pull a fast one, since we always want to win the case at hand. But there are lots and lots of cases. When a prosecutor develops a reputation for trustworthiness in the courthouse, that helps on all the judgment calls in all the cases. In addition, when a judge clearly respects the prosecutor, that makes an impression on the jury. People fully expect defense lawyers to fight zealously for their clients; they expect prosecutors to fight fairly. It thus matters whether the sense conveyed by the judge is that the prosecutor is playing it straight or seems slippery. Plus, it is the law that the prosecutor must reveal arguably exculpatory evidence and must speak up when a legal error has been made, especially an error by the prosecutor. Most law-enforcement-oriented people grasp that enforcing the law includes doing so when the law cuts against you — which the criminal law tends to do against the government, thanks to the presumption of innocence and due-process rules that are a model for the world.

Most law-enforcement-oriented people grasp that enforcing the law includes doing so when the law cuts against you.

France: A Guide to the Presidential Elections by Soeren Kern *****

“What poses a problem is not Islam, but certain behaviors that are said to be religious and then imposed on persons who practice that religion.” — Emmanuel Macron

“Those who come to France are to accept France, not to transform it to the image of their country of origin. If they want to live at home, they should have stayed at home.” — Marine Le Pen

“It [France] is one nation that has a right to choose who can join it and a right that foreigners accept its rules and customs. — François Fillon

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for a massive increase in public spending, a 90% tax on anyone earning more than €400,000 ($425,000) a year, and an across-the-board increase in the minimum wage by 16% to €1,326 ($1,400) net a month, based on a 35-hour work week.

Benoît Hamon has promised to establish a universal basic income: he wants to pay every French citizen over 18, regardless of whether or not they are employed, a government-guaranteed monthly income of €750 ($800). The annual cost to taxpayers would be €400 billion ($430 billion). By comparison, France’s 2017 defense budget is €32.7 billion ($40 billion).

Voters in France will go to the polls on April 23 to choose the country’s next president in a two-step process. The top two winners in the first round will compete in a run-off on May 7.

The election is being closely followed in France and elsewhere as an indicator of popular discontent with mainstream parties and the European Union, as well as with multiculturalism and continued mass migration from the Muslim world.

If the election were held today, independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has never held elected office, would become the next president of France, according to most opinion polls.

An Ifop-Fiducial poll released on April 21 showed that Macron would win the first round with 24.5% of the votes, followed by Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-establishment National Front party, with 22.5%. Conservative François Fillon is third (19.5%), followed by Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon (18.5%) and radical Socialist Benoît Hamon (7%).

If the poll numbers are accurate, the two established parties, the Socialist Party and the center-right Republicans, would, for the first time, be eliminated in the first round.

In the second round, Macron, a pro-EU, pro-Islam globalist, would defeat Le Pen, an anti-EU, anti-Islam French nationalist, by a wide margin (61% to 39%), according to the poll.

Nevertheless, most polls show that the race is tightening, and that two candidates who up until recently were considered also-rans — Fillon, who has been mired in a corruption scandal, and Mélenchon, who has performed well in recent presidential debates — are narrowing the lead that Macron and Le Pen have over them.

An Elabe poll for BMFTV and L’Express released on April 21 showed Macron at 24%, Le Pen at 21.5%, Fillon at 20% and Mélenchon at 19.5%.

The numbers indicate that neither Macron nor Le Pen can be absolutely certain they will proceed to the May 7 runoff. It remains to be seen if the April 20 jihadist attack on three policemen in Paris will bolster support for either Fillon or Le Pen, both of whom have pledged to crack down on radical Islam, and both of whom are competing for many of the same voters. Adding to the uncertainty: Some 40% of French voters remain undecided.

Following are the main policy positions of the top five candidates:

9 Reasons President Trump Is Right To Cut The EPA By Tyler O’Neil

When President Donald Trump announced his proposed budget last month, he included a large cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Naturally, cries that his administration is waging a “war on science” ensued. But in all honestly, the EPA really could use some trimming.

Staff scandals wracked the EPA throughout President Obama’s tenure, and when the government “shut down” in 2013, only 7 percent of EPA staff were considered essential.

Here are nine reasons why cutting the EPA, as Trump has suggested, is not such a bad thing after all.
1. 15,000 non-essential workers.

When Texas Senator Ted Cruz famously ended the world by “shutting down the government” in 2013, Obama’s EPA revealed just how much fat there was to trim. As Reuters reported toward the end of September, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take one of the biggest hits of any federal agency if the government shuts down this week, operating with under 7 percent of its employees, according to guidance issued by the agency.”

That’s right — less than 7 percent of the EPA’s staff were deemed “essential.” The EPA “said its plan for dealing with a shutdown would classify 1,069 employees, out of 16,205, as essential. These employees would continue to work if Congress fails to secure a budget deal by midnight Monday to avoid disruption to federal funding.”

By the Obama EPA’s own logic, 15,136 of the agency’s 16,205 employees were not “essential.” That suggests a great deal of wiggle room.

Coincidentally, many employees have seemingly singled themselves out by their own behavior.
2. Watching porn, six hours a day.

In 2014, the EPA inspector general uncovered “a high ranking EPA official” who “admitted to watching between two and six hours of porn per workday.”

Worse, the employee kept his job, which pays $120,000 per year. As EPA Facts reported, “The employee is still receiving his $120,000 salary, continues to have access to EPA computers, and has recently received performance bonuses, according to testimony at yesterday’s Oversight Committee hearing on the EPA.”

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think that kind of behavior should be acceptable for a high-ranking government official.
Is President Trump Launching a ‘War on Science’?
3. Hiring friends and family as paid interns.

Here’s another stellar example of above board work at the EPA. Renee Page, director of the EPA’s Office of Administration “hired 17 of her family members and friends as paid interns,” the Daily Caller reported in 2014. “She also paid her daughter — who also works at the EPA — from her agency’s budget account.”

Interestingly, “instead of being punished, Page received a prestigious Presidential Rank Award in 2010, for which she got $35,000 in cash.”

It’s all about who you know, am I right?

Mattis in Israel: ‘Bad People Can Dominate’ If All Religions, Ethnicities Don’t ‘Band Together’ By Bridget Johnson see note please

What drivel and blather from Mattis….rsk

Defense Secretary James Mattis said in Israel today that Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day marked beginning at sunset Sunday, is a reminder “that if good people don’t band together and work together across all religious and all ethnic lines, then bad people can dominate.”

Mattis, the first Trump cabinet member to visit Israel, had meetings in Jerusalem with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman.

In their joint remarks, Rivlin hailed Mattis as “a real soldier — “every one of our former generals are respecting you so much,” he added — and noted Israel is “surrounded by more than five armies; every one of them is fighting the other one, no one of them is really feeling a lot of sympathy to the state of Israel.”

“You know that we are facing a lot of challenges. And the need to understand that in the Middle East, there are no shortcuts. No shortcuts,” the president stressed. “Everything — every challenge is an opportunity. Never the less, some of the challenges should be handled.”

Mattis said “military to military relationship… has always been good” between Israel and United States, “but I will just tell you that we intend to make it the strongest ever and work with all our friends in the region and elsewhere in terms of security.”

“We have two fundamental threats here: one is from terrorism, the other is from Iran,” he added. “And we cannot allow those threats to break apart the human connections between those of us who are committed to peace and prosperity and tolerance for each other.”

In remarks before sitting down with Mattis, Netanyahu praised the Defense secretary for being “clear and forthright” on the threat posed by Iran.

“We have common values and also common dangers. The common dangers are based on the twin threats of militant Islam, the Shiite extremists led by Iran, the Sunni extremists led by Daesh,” Netanyahu added. CONTINUE AT SITE

Come to Me, My Mélenchony Baby By David P. Goldman

The surge in support for ultra-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon to 19% in the French presidential polls — from just 11.4% on March 13 — shows how dangerous the French political situation has become.

Most of Mélenchon’s gain came at the expense of the candidate of the governing Socialist Party, Benoit Hamon, who shows less than 8% support in the latest polls. When the ruling party’s candidate polls in single digits, something nasty is at work.

With 25% undecided before Sunday’s first round elections, the jump in support for a candidate who calls for a 100% tax rate on the rich indicates a nasty polarization in French society. There are two risks. One is that National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Mélenchon win the first round, giving France a choice between an extreme right and extreme left who agree about leaving the European Union. Both also are friendly with Moscow. The other is that Le Pen will face either the traditional conservative Francois Fillon or the synthetic centrist Emmanuel Macron, with the likelihood that the left will support Le Pen rather than — as in the past — obediently align itself with the center in order to defeat the National Front. A Le Pen victory would mean the end of Europe’s institutions as we know them.

The “centrist” candidate, former economics minister Emmanuel Macron, is a 39-year-old technocrat whose principle attraction is the fact that he hasn’t ever run for office and is not tainted by association with the existing parties. The default scenario has Le Pen and Macron winning the first round, and the body politic uniting behind Macron to stop Le Pen in the second round. That could go pear-shaped.

Macron is pure bubble; if the bubble pops, right and left could unite with some elements of the Establishment to put Le Pen in power. She is the only candidate to warn about the danger to French society posed by Muslim migrants. But she also wants to take France out of the European Union, which would mean the end of the EU. The main winner in that case would be Putin. If I were French I would at least consider voting for Le Pen; as an American, I hope she loses as a matter of pure American strategic interest. The best outcome from an American standpoint would be the victory of the conservative Catholic free-marketeer Francois Fillon.

There are two sources of French rage against the country’s complacent and corrupt Establishment. The first is security. As Soeren Kern noted at the Gatestone Institute April 18:

An Ifop poll found that 71% of French people believe the security situation in France has deteriorated during the past five years; 93% believe the terrorist threat remains high; 60% said they do not feel safe anywhere in the country; and 69% believe there are not enough police and gendarmes. The poll also found that 88% support deporting foreigners convicted of serious crimes, and 81% support terminating social assistance to parents of repeat offenders.

A quarter of French teenagers are Muslims, and one-third of them hold fundamentalist views.

The second is economic. Youth unemployment in France stands at 22.4%. Globalization has not been kind to French industry (unlike German industry, which dominates key niches in manufacturing).

Trump Derangement Syndrome sends NYT’s David Brooks off the deep end By David Zukerman

Once upon a time, David Brooks was considered the house conservative at the New York Times. But in his April 21 New York Times column he put President Donald J. Trump on a list of “strong men” that includes Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Mr. Brooks noted that Erdogan has “dismantle[d] democratic institutions and replace[d] them with majoritarian dictatorship.” The Times columnist went on to assert: “While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries….” Mr. Brooks, however, does not elaborate, explain or elucidate the nature of the alleged violations.

But when it comes to discussion of President Trump, Never Trumps like David Brooks feel no need to place their anti-Trump views on a foundation of fact. For Trump-haters, the truth is in the accusation. And so, comparing President Trump to Turkey’s Erdogan, Mr. Brooks does not set forth the democratic institutions dismantled by Mr. Trump, nor does he provide evidence of the “majoritarian dictatorship” that was constructed during the first 100 days of the Trump administration. How could he, there being no such dismantling, no such dictatorship here?

Mr. Brooks recognizes “the collapse of liberal values at home,” citing “fragile thugs who call themselves students [who] shout down and abuse speakers in a weekly basis.” But are these illiberals to be found under the banner of Trumpism — or under the banner of the totalitarianism of left?

Mr. Brooks goes on to cite a study suggesting that only 57 percent of “young Americans” (age range not provided) are committed to democracy, compared to “91 percent in the 1930’s….” What is the source of this declining commitment to democracy: student Republicans, or students influenced by leftist professors? Mr. Brooks does not say. For David Brooks, apparently, critical thinking about political trends does not require precise analysis; anti-Trump innuendo will do.

I challenge David Brooks to point to any instance of political repression attributable, today, to conservatives on college campuses. I challenge David Brooks — or any of the Trump-detesting columnists at The New York Times (and aren’t they all?) — to explain how it is, that if President Trump is the American version of Kim Jong-un, the New York Times is still publishing?

The threat to the American spirit of liberty is not to be found among conservatives, or in the corridors of today’s White House. The threats to democracy, to free speech, to the free flow of information, are to be found on the left side of the political divide, from neo-totalitarians who, like the execrable Howard Dean, would limit free speech to persons who agree with the political biases of leftists — with the encouragement of Never Trumps in the media like David Brooks, who lack the ability to distinguish a duly-elected American president from the brutal dictator of a totalitarian state.

Mainstream media bungle Russia…again By D.H. Miles

It is predictable, if not horrifying, that leftist-elitist Time magazine would print an article on the dangers of uranium falling into the wrong hands – and nowhere mention Bill and Hillary Clinton’s role in enabling the Russians to lay claim to 20% of American uranium from mines in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Texas.

Did the editors at Time forget that it was Hillary’s State Department who granted approval of the uranium sale to a Canadian firm middleman who then sold it in 2009 to the Russians in Kazakhstan – the world’s second largest holder of uranium?

Was it sheer coincidence that at about the same time the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in donations from the Canadian company, Bill Clinton received a nice speaking fee of $500,000 from Putin and the Russians for enabling the deal?

Finally, the Clinton-enabled transfer of uranium from the U.S. to Kazakhstan (controlled by Putin since 2010) is actually underscored by the article that Putin released to Pravda on January 22, 2013. In open mockery – for it was the month Hillary was leaving the State Department – Putin taunted Hillary (and the Obama administration) before the entire world by announcing that Russia now controlled 46% of the world’s uranium and the U.S. only 3%.

The headline, however, was doctored by the U.S. It did not read, as reported, “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World,” but rather (in the original Russian):

Putin’s Open Mock of Hillary: “Russia Controls Energy Weapons”

Can it be that Time’s interests are not to educate, enlighten, and warn Americans about terrorist dirty bomb threats to our country and to our soldiers abroad – but rather to conceal these threats from Americans? Does P.C. stand for “political censorship” of truth?

Enough said.

The Iranian Nuclear Agreement Should Not Be Extended By Sarah N. Stern

As I write these words, the Iranian nuclear agreement that was brokered by the Obama administration is sitting on President Trump’s desk. It requires presidential certification of compliance every 90 days, and the president is deliberating on whether or not to certify.

My answer is an emphatic, unqualified, and resounding “No”.

Firstly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear regulatory agency, has already certified that Iran has been out of compliance with the deal. The most recent IAEA report specifies that Iran has already exceeded its limit of heavy water under the agreement. Heavy water can use unrefined uranium as a fuel, shortcutting the expensive process of enriching uranium to rapidly produce a nuclear bomb. This is happening, as we speak, in Arak.

Beyond that, since the deal was struck in July of 2015, Iran has conducted as many as 14 missile tests, in brazen defiance of UN Resolution 2231.

Then there is the process of verification, which is inherently flawed. Anything that Iran deems as a “military site” is, according to Iranian leadership, off limits to inspectors. These include those “military sites” which we don’t even know about. That means that the IAEA’s means of obtaining critically important information is via a letter certifying compliance written by the government of Iran. That is akin to releasing murderers and rapists from prison and having them certify in a letter that they are no longer committing murder and rape.

And the Iranians gave their own soil samples from Parchin, where explosive nuclear tests took place. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho compared this to the NFL allowing a football player to mail in his own urine samples as part of a drug test.

Thanks to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo, we now know of the existence of multiple secret side deals made with the Iranian regime.

We know that the deal was not even allowed to be voted upon as a treaty because Mr. Obama made an end-run around the U.S. Constitution, as well as around the Congress, by going first to the UN, and then presenting it to Congress as a fait accompli.

We also know that the deal that the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, voted on, was more than 1000 pages long, while the agreement that we saw in the United States was only 159 pages long.

The reason the agreement is so utterly flawed is that President Obama was hell-bent on securing this deal as his foreign policy legacy. He basically refused to acknowledge the Iranian government for what it is: an apocalyptic, messianic regime that believes that destroying Israel and America will bring about the coming of the 12th Imam, (the Shia Messiah). Equipping this sort of regime with nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States, Israel, and to the Sunni Arab nations, as well as much of Europe.

We recall that President Obama began his first administration on an apology tour to the Muslim world, and had a difficult time articulating a belief in American exceptionalism. And we know that even until his last day in office, Obama vehemently refused to articulate that radical Islamic terrorism exists.

Mr. Obama and his ilk sees all the worlds actors as morally equal. There is no distinction between those who would obliterate entire innocent populations so that their theology or political entity would reign supreme, and those who would never even entertain such a thought. Such a world view makes one incapable of acknowledging that certain nations, such as the United States, Israel, Britain, etc., are morally capable of possessing a nuclear bomb, because they are responsible enough to use it only for morally correct reasons, and other nations, like Iran, are not.

We know that the Obama administration had absolutely no qualms about deceiving the American people about Iran’s intentions. We recall that Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, in a May 5, 2016 article in the New York Times magazine, openly boasted of manufacturing the belief that Iran’s new leadership was more “moderate,” and thus willing to make, and keep, a nuclear deal with the U.S. and the West.

Russian Military Planes Crowd the U.S. for a Fourth Day U.S., Canadian fighters intercept long-range bombers By Ben Kesling

WASHINGTON—Russia flew long-range combat aircraft near American airspace for the fourth consecutive day, the Pentagon said Friday, marking the first such string of incursions since 2014, but prompting little concern from the White House.

American and Canadian jet fighters intercepted a pair of Russian “Bear” long-range bombers in international airspace near Alaska on Thursday, said John Cornelio, a spokesman for North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad. The interception was the latest incident between American and Russian aircraft, coming amid tension between the two powers over Syria and other issues.

At a press briefing Friday, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration is aware of the situation but said it isn’t unusual.

“As long as those are conducted in accordance with international protocols and rules, then that’s obviously — but we monitor everything,” Mr. Spicer said. “Any further comment on that I would refer to the Department of Defense.”

U.S. military officials declined to speculate about Russia’s motives for the flights, which came amid an increase in tension between the two countries following U.S. cruise missile strikes earlier this month targeting Syria’s military aircraft. Syria and Russia are allies.

Asked to comment on the flights, Russia’s U.S. embassy pointed to a Defense Ministry statement carried earlier this week in government-controlled media.

“All flights of the Aerospace Force were carried out and are carried out in strict accordance with the international rules of using the airspace over the neutral waters without violation of borders of other states,” the statement said.

In the latest incident, two U.S. F-22 jets along with two Canadian CF-18 Hornets, scrambled Thursday to meet a pair of Russian Tu-95 bombers which were in international airspace near the coasts of Alaska and Canada, Mr. Cornelio said.

“Those aircraft identified and intercepted two Russian bombers and stayed with them until they departed the identification zones,” he said. “It’s the fourth day in a row that we’ve seen Russian activity in our air defense identification zone.” CONTINUED AT SITE