Displaying posts categorized under

BOOKS

Scare Pollution: A Review By Charles Battig

Steve Milloy is one persistent gentleman. Combining his legal and statistical education, he has spent most of his years ferreting out the false use of statistical techniques in the field of epidemiology. He continues the same quest in his latest book Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA (2016) Bench Press. This is his sixth such book since Science-Based Risk Assessment: A Piece of the Superfund Puzzle (1995).

Just what is epidemiology? One definition: “the science concerned with the study of the factors determining and influencing the frequency and distribution of disease, injury, and other health-related events and their causes in a defined human population for the purpose of establishing programs to prevent and control their development and spread.” Milloy notes that “The key to the value of epidemiology as an investigative tool is that a researcher must be looking for a relatively high rate of a relatively rare event in a human population… Epidemiologic results are essentially correlations and, as we all learn in Statistics 101, correlations do not equate to causation.” The “devil is in the details” aphorism comes to life as Milloy exposes the EPA’s use of any minute level of correlation as evidence of statistically significant correlation to justify its definition of Clean Air standards.

Milloy’s latest book documents his multiple attempts in multiple formats to hold the EPA to basic standards of ethical epidemiologic theory and practice. His book details the quixotic nature of that quest.

An executive order by President Richard Nixon in 1970 unified federal environmental activities into a single new organization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Though the EPA was never officially organized by Congress as a presidential cabinet-level department, Nixon’s new federal bureaucracy undertook the writing and implementation of Clean Air Act (1970) laws. This unique status of the EPA as an all-powerful federal agency lacking cabinet-level status continues to the present. It has developed itself into a self-perpetuating rogue agency which defies congressional oversight attempts, as Milloy documents. From its $1 billion annual budget and 4,000 employees in 1970, the EPA expanded into a $6 billion annual budget with 16,000 employees by 1991.

Milloy began working on a variety of environmental issues involving the EPA in 1990. However, his quest for truth in statistics in identifying such impacts on human health has identified one issue at the top of the pile of EPA “malfeasance” actions. That is the matter of air quality standards.

Milloy: “When EPA began regulating PM in 1971, it regulated relatively large pieces of dust and soot that were anywhere from 25 to 45 millionths of a meter (one to two thousandths of an inch) in diameter. In 1987, EPA revised its rules to focus on smaller bits of dust and soot that were 10 millionths of a meter in diameter (about half the width of a human hair) — so-called PM10 (pronounced P-M-ten). In November 1996 under Administrator Browner, EPA proposed to regulate even smaller bits of dust and soot, particles that were 2.5 millionths of a meter in width — so-called PM2.5 (pronounced P-M-two-point-five).

A Prison Bigger Than All of Western Europe Without the Russian exile system, perhaps the greatest machine of evil in human history, we’d have no ‘Crime and Punishment.’ Bartle Bull reviews “The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars” by Daniel Beer.

In late December 1849, in the brief hour of midday winter light, 28 young Russian gentlemen were marched up the steps of a wooden platform in St. Petersburg’s Semyonovsky Square. The platform had been hung with black cloth; the prisoners were given peasant cloaks of white. Soldiers lined the snowy plaza.

It took a czarist official half an hour to read out the death sentences. At last a firing squad raised its weapons. And then, hoofbeats muffled in the snow, a young officer came galloping across the square bearing an order of clemency from Czar Nicholas.

Stripped of rank and possessions, their clothes swapped for tattered prisoner garb, the convicts were sent off in fetters on carts to Siberia. One of the young men was Fyodor Dostoevsky. With “Crime and Punishment,” “The Brothers Karamazov” and other works, he would inaugurate an extraordinary phenomenon: the glorious contribution to world literature of the Russian exile system, the greatest sustained machine of evil in human history.

The system that reached its apotheosis under Stalin in 1937-53 had its origins in the late 17th century. In 1708, the bishop of the city of Tobolsk, western Siberia’s gateway to the penal continent to the east, explained that diseased elements of the body politic had to be excised and discarded “in the same way that we have to remove harmful agents from the body.” For the next 250 years, Siberia, one and a half times the size of western Europe, would be the cesspit for Russia’s human excreta. Penal labor camps would kill at least 12 million exiles in Stalin’s time alone, according to the historian Robert Conquest.
The House of the Dead

By Daniel Beer

Knopf, 464 pages, $35

The exile system’s czarist heyday in the long 19th century (1801-1917), under the last five Romanov rulers, is the focus of “The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars,” by British academic Daniel Beer. Mr. Beer’s excellent book will for some time be the definitive work in English on this enormous topic.

The members of Dostoevsky’s rebellious circle were romantic socialists partly inspired by the memory of an earlier, more famous and far more romantic band of true rebels, the Decembrists. Well-bred young officers who mounted an amateurish putsch against Czar Nicholas I in December 1825, the Decembrists earned history’s love with their sincere if foolhardy reformist idealism. It did not hurt their cult that they were followed to Siberia by beautiful wives renouncing forever the soirees of Petersburg. Eventually the Decembrists settled around Lake Baikal to found libraries and establish string quartets long after the czar had cut short their sentences. CONTINUE AT SITE

Intramural GOP Strife Over Russia? Not So Fast . . . Andrew McCarthy

Judging by General Flynn’s book, the media portrayal of a rift between Senator John McCain and Trump’s brain-trust is exaggerated.
One of the first great media riffs to define the Trump administration before it even takes power blares from the news pages of today’s Wall Street Journal. The paper outlines an “intraparty split over Russia — which pits GOP lawmakers like Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham against [President-elect Donald] Trump and his national security adviser designate, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.” The “disagreement,” we’re told, is “over a basic question: How much danger does President Vladimir Putin’s Russia pose to the U.S.?”

Correspondent Paul Sonne’s report elaborates that Senator McCain’s faction “believes Mr. Putin poses a grave threat to the U.S. by undermining democratic values, flouting rules of the international order and countering American influence around the world.” On the opposite side, we are led to believe, is General Flynn. According to the report, Flynn sees Putin’s regime “as a necessary ally in the graver global conflict with Islamist extremism and a potential partner more broadly.”

The report’s sole example pegging Flynn as part of a coterie of Trump “policy makers who have pushed for closer ties with the Kremlin” is a “Russian government-sponsored trip to Moscow for an anniversary of RT, a state-sponsored television network,” which the retired general took in December 2015.

That’s an awfully thin reed on which to hang an extravagant theory . . . especially when one considers that seven months later — in July 2016, while General Flynn was on the campaign trail as a top Trump adviser — he published a bestselling book in which he places Putin’s Russia at the core of “an international alliance of evil countries and movements that is working to destroy” the United States.

The book, unmentioned in the WSJ report, is The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War against Radical Islam and Its Allies. It is co-authored with Michael Ledeen, the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former Reagan State Department adviser (and a close friend of yours truly). A distinguished historian, Dr. Ledeen has written for decades on the strategies and tactics of totalitarian governments (very much including the Soviet Union and KGB, from which Putin emerged) and their propensity to align with jihadist regimes and movements. As The Field of Fight elucidates, a particular concern of Ledeen’s, which Flynn shares, is the bond between Putin’s Russia and the Shiite jihadist regime in Iran.

Flynn and Ledeen correctly point out that Putin has a good deal to fear from radical Islamic groups operating within the Russian Federation. Indeed, Putin himself has dealt brutally with them, most notoriously in Beslan in 2004. These jihadist groups are predominantly Sunni, with al-Qaeda affiliations and a high degree of participation in the jihad against the Iran-backed Assad regime in Syria. Iran has nevertheless backed them — as it has historically backed Sunni Hamas, al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda in Iraq, an offshoot Tehran nurtured as it evolved into the Islamic State (ISIS).

Is Islamic Cash Keeping Daniel Silva’s Books Out of Hollywood? By David Solway

Daniel Silva is among the finest and most compelling writers in the suspense/intrigue/espionage/thriller genre in modern fiction, which has its share of brilliant or engaging practitioners—Ian Fleming (of course), John LeCarré, David Baldacci, Jo Nesbo, James Rollins, Kathy Reichs, Steve Berry, Donna Leon, Tom Clancy, Jonathan Kellerman, Mons Kallentoft, Louise Penny, P.D. James, Michael Gruber, John Burdett, Trevor Ferguson (aka John Farrow) and, yes, Dan Brown, to name a few of the most prominent. Silva is a charter member of this elect fraternity, one of the genre’s best-selling authors, whose area of expertise is the Middle East, the Palestinian terror machine, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Russian involvement in the region, the ambitions of Islamic jihad around the globe, and, of course, the efforts of Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, to counter these manifold threats.

Indeed, Silva’s knowledge of the Middle East imbroglio is second to none and his plots are invariably timely, impinging on the cultural, political, and military realities of the present day. His most recent offering, The Black Widow, may well be his most topical and profoundly analytical work. All the salient elements of the international arena, real and imagined, are there: ISIS and the caliphate; drone warfare; the dissolving border between Iraq and Syria; the disintegration of Lebanon; the collusion of Turkey; a succession of catastrophic attacks in Paris, Amsterdam, and Washington, the latter on the scale of 9/11; a feckless and narcissistic American president plainly inadequate to the burden of high office; the dysfunctional character of American and European national security; and the comparative effectiveness of the Mossad. The book and the world intersect at every point.

It is interesting to note that Silva’s novels are tailor-made for the Hollywood film industry, yet not one has appeared in the theaters. It is not difficult to see why. As in real life, his terrorists are Muslims, members of a socially protected species. When it comes to the entertainment industry, a toxic amalgam of abject pusillanimity and leftist sympathies, along with dark infusions of Arab cash, has had its predictable effect on filmic integrity and patriotic sentiment. One recalls that the movie version of Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears transforms the novel’s villains, a sect of actual Palestinian terrorists known as the PFLP, into a collection of Austrian fascists—safe, acceptable bad guys. Given their inseparable interweavings with geopolitical reality, Silva’s plots are thankfully immune to such deceptive meddling. Timorous and morally compromised, Hollywood will not violate the shibboleths of the day or offend its twin masters: progressivist culture and Islamic money. As usual, the iron grip of political correctness is, well, iron.

The same wariness is true of our literary critics who are often careful to hedge their bets. Robert Fulford, for example, a belvedere eminence for the National Post, penned a laudatory review of The Black Widow, but could not help pressing the right virtue-signaling buttons. Silva’s fascinating hero, Israeli operative and future head of the Mossad Gabriel Allon, may be “the James Bond of Israel.” Nevertheless, though sympathetic with Allon’s fight “for his country’s future existence,” Fulford considers it necessary to comment in passing that we “see everything from the standpoint of the Israelis,” as if we didn’t see everything from the standpoint of the British in the Bond novels, or from the perspective of the Americans in Berry’s works, or of the Thai in Burdett’s Sonchai Jitpleecheep series, and so on. He plainly would not have felt obliged to qualify his approval had there been any other national polity in play.

The Left In Power: Clinton to Obama The Democrats’ journey from center to hard Left. Barbara Kay

Below is Barbara Kay’s review of David Horowitz’s new book, The Left in Power: Clinton to Obama, which is volume 7 of The Black Book of the American Left, a multi-volume collection of his conservative writings that will, when completed, be the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to define the Left and its agenda. (Order HERE.) We encourage our readers to visit BlackBookOfTheAmericanLeft.com which features Horowitz’s introductions to Volumes 1-7 of this 9-volume series, along with their tables of contents, reviews and interviews with the author.

After the federal election, an African-American child asked at a family dinner if he was now “going to be treated as three-fifths of a human being.” A teacher from a rural black elementary school reported her students were asking her if they would become slaves again. A black student told a guide on an outing to the nation’s capital he was afraid the new president was “going to round up all the black people and kill them.”

Understandable, progressives might say. Considering the racism we saw expressed during the campaign and the people the president-elect has surrounded himself with, who can blame these kids for their fears?

The problem is, these anecdotes did not arise from the 2016 election, but from the 2000 election. No reasonable person can believe George W. Bush is or ever was a racist.

Yet, just as in this election, incredulous that their preferred candidate might lose, there were many irresponsible progressives in 2000 who filled their children’s heads with this damaging nonsense and much other nonsense besides.

In 2004, after his hotly contested narrow loss to Bush, Gore told audiences that Bush had won by stealing a million black votes, even though not a single case of black voter fraud was uncovered by civil rights organizations. The left never really loses an election; elections are stolen from them. Sound familiar in 2016?

I found the anecdotal material above in a column, “How Leftists Play the Race Card,” in the recently-issued seventh volume of David Horowitz’s Black Book of the American Left, The Left in Power: Clinton to Obama.

What Horowitz calls a “climactic place” in his series, this volume was released before the election that against all odds brought Donald Trump to power. Reading it under the assumption Hillary Clinton was going to be the incoming president produces a markedly different response from reading it today.

I know, because I read half before and half after. In my mind it is almost like two different books, as I experienced first despair at all the wrongheadedness and corruption Horowitz’s columns reminded me of that were likely to continue, followed by triumphant elation at the knowledge that the Obama-and-Clinton kakocracies were well and truly behind us.

I see in some of these writings prescience where I might have seen wishful thinking. For example, in his 1997 column, “Conservatives need a heart,” Horowitz addresses the “confusion in conservative ranks.” Conservatives, he writes, have demonstrated three tendencies in their polemics: the “leave us alone” mentality of those advocating for less governmental regulation and intrusion; the emphasis on family values and the re-moralization of society; and the federalists, wanting more power returned to the states. What is missing, Horowitz says, is “a conservatism committed to national greatness.”

It took a while for the American people to internalize the source of their discontent, but that is what has just happened. Volume VII delivers a great deal of satisfaction to right-of-center readers in combing over the glowing ashes of all that has been found wanting in the Clinton-Obama nexus, and why.

“The Left in Power: Clinton to Obama” traces the history of the Democratic Party from center – to hard left. From the muscular anti-communism, civil rights and balanced budgets of JFK, the Dems came to embrace the Marxist agenda of the nanny state, identity politics and retreat from foreign-affairs leadership.

In a word, the party shifted from classic liberalism to progressivism, a benign locution to deodorize the uncomfortably redolent Marxism that greases the wheels of the party’s mission. Under the aegis of Bill and Hillary Clinton (it was never less than a presidential partnership) and Barack Obama, the administration became stacked with far leftists.

Outgoing President Obama (“outgoing”: it dances trippingly off the tongue) marinated his entire pre-presidential life in Islam apologism and the politics of progressivism. Mentored by communists, he came to power with a negative view of America’s history and distrust of the nation-state as a vehicle for human progress. Conversely he held an exaggerated and largely uncritical respect for America’s enemies, like Cuba and Hamas, but Iran especially.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton took lifelong inspiration from the writings of political guru Saul Alinksy (1909-72), whom students of left-wing radicalism in the U.S. will remember as the American version of Machiavelli. Horowitz devotes a long essay, “Rules for Revolution” in Part III of this book (the original pamphlet form of this essay has been distributed and sold to more than three million people).

Alinsky wrote the book Rules for Radicals, a how-to manual for revolutionaries, which emphasized strategies of deception rather than open confrontation as the best way to advance a Marxist revolution in the U.S. Don’t sell your agenda as socialism, he urged, sell it as “progressivism” and “social justice.”

Alinsky’s strategy was to work within the system while accruing the power to destroy it. Many of the student radicals who went on to influential political careers were well-versed Alinsky acolytes. In fact, in 1969, a certain Wellesley College student named Hillary Rodham wrote an admiring 92-page senior thesis on Alinsky, likening him in cultural stature to Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King Jr. Barack Obama followed Alinsky’s rules with assiduous attention when he worked for ACORN as a community organizer.

In his column, “Candidate of the Left,” Horowitz reminds us of Obama’s lies that were swallowed uncritically by his starry-eyed followers. Who were they? “[E]very anti-Israel, anti-American, pro-Iranian communist in America is supporting Barack Obama; every pro-Palestinian leftist, every Weatherman terrorist…all Sexties leftists and their disciples…every black racist follower of Louis Farrakhan…every ‘antiwar’ activist who wanted us to leave Saddam in power and then lose the war in Iraq; everyone who believes that America is the bad guy and that our enemies are justly aggrieved; every member of ACORN, the most potent survivor of the Sixties left…along with al-Jazeera and Vladimir Putin and the religious fanatics of Hamas and the PLO.”

Examples of Obama’s lies? One was that he really had no idea who Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of 20 years, was, because the optics of friendship with “a racist, Jew-hating, terrorist-loving acolyte of Minister Farrakhan” didn’t look so good. Another was that unrepentant Weatherman Bill Ayers was not just “a guy in the neighborhood” as Obama claimed. Obama launched his campaign for a senate seat in Ayers’s living room, it was Ayers’s father who was responsible for Obama’s job at the Sidley Austin law firm, and it was Ayers who “hired Obama to spend the $50 million Ayers had raised to finance an army of anti-American radicals drawn from ACORN and other nihilistic groups to recruit Chicago school children to their political causes.”

But the lie that will never lose traction as the others did, because it affected so many Americans, was “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Obama lied about his healthcare plan, because, as Horowitz has often stated, “[t]he first truth about progressive missionaries is that the issues they fight for are not the issues. What drives all their agendas is the fantasy of a social transformation that will lead to a paradise of social justice.”

And therefore, as MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber explained, “This bill was written in a tortured way…[because] if you make it explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, okay? Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” Lack of transparency has been the hallmark of Obama’s reign and both Clintons’ entire political careers.

Treason the Easy Way Howard Schneider reviews “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee.

In December 2000 Steven Carr, a special agent in the FBI’s counterintelligence unit in Washington, D.C., received a parcel from the bureau’s New York City office. It contained stolen American military secrets that had been passed on to the New York FBI by an informant in the Libyan consulate. The secrets had been mailed to the consulate along with encrypted cover letters from an individual who, the bureau would conclude, clearly worked in an American intelligence organization. The letter-writer offered to supply Libya with more secrets in exchange for money. Carr was assigned the job of finding the anonymous renegade. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets” is an excellent, highly engrossing account of the search for a man who was cunning, avaricious—and a dreadful speller.

The FBI’s target turned out to be Brian Patrick Regan, a most improbable traitor: He was a former Air Force master sergeant whose last assignment before retiring from the military was at the National Reconnaissance Office, a secretive agency “responsible for managing the nation’s spy satellites.” Regan was born in 1962 and raised on Long Island by strict Irish Catholic parents. His life was troubled from an early age because he was dyslexic. His behavior and speech were peculiar, and even his “friends” mocked and harassed him. But he had a gift for “spatial intelligence” and a “knack for stealth” (as a teenager he burglarized a neighbor’s house). He also cultivated a desire to overcome his problems and make something of himself. When he was a high-school senior, he cheated on a military aptitude test and scored high enough to allow him to enlist in the Air Force. After basic training he was assigned to study signals intelligence and analysis, and notwithstanding his past shoddy schoolwork, he succeeded, working harder than he ever had to master his lessons. As an intelligence analyst, Mr. Bhattacharjee writes, he discovered that his disability was actually an advantage: Dyslexics’ “global view helps them make connections between disparate pieces of information and recognize patterns in data that might elude more linear thinkers.”

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell

By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
New American Library, 292 pages, $27

Over the next two decades, Regan married, had children and earned modest promotions in the Air Force while being educated in modern spycraft. He participated—from the Pentagon—in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. In 1993 he received his last promotion, to master sergeant, and won a medal for “outstanding leadership.” The following year, he started work at the National Reconnaissance Office. It seemed, to his family and childhood acquaintances, as if Regan had made a success of his life.

But all was not well. His posting to the NRO was like a return to his dismal past: Regan’s new colleagues, smarter and better educated than he was, quickly noticed his intellectual idiosyncrasies and treated him with disdain. Moreover, “with a take-home income of less than $40,000 a year, he was . . . in dire financial straits.” His marriage was also eroding. And so early in 1999, a year from retirement, seething with resentments and bitterness, he decided to prove, at least to himself, that he was smarter and more proficient than the world ever imagined: He would sell military secrets to enemy states, earn millions of dollars—and get away with it.

As it turned out, stealing classified material was shockingly simple. Since Regan had the proper clearances at the NRO, he had access to Intelink, a supposedly highly secure network restricted to intelligence agencies. With “ridiculous ease . . . [Regan] was able to print and copy a vast number of classified documents,” Mr. Bhattacharjee writes—over 20,000 pages (including duplicates), as well as CD-ROMs and videotapes—though he repeatedly misspelled search terms (“Libia,” “Lybia”). He “walked out of the NRO building, day after day, with classified materials hidden in his gym bag.” Ironically, Regan’s reputation as something of an oaf meant that his fellow workers paid no attention to what he was doing. After he retired from the Air Force in August 2000, he was hired by the defense contractor TRW—which sent him back to work at the NRO in what was essentially his old job. And so he continued to steal documents from Intelink.

Regan’s goal was to acquire classified material that would be of great interest to certain enemy states—Libya initially and eventually Iraq and China. (He thought that Russia leaked too much information about American traitors.) He stored some of his cache in a credenza at work and in public lockers. But the most sensitive secrets were buried in 19 packages in two parks in Virginia and Maryland. If the authorities discovered what he was up to, these hidden stockpiles would, he believed, serve as bargaining chips for leniency.

In mid-November 2000 Regan mailed the Libyan consulate three packages containing examples of the kind of material he was willing to provide for the price of $13 million. His cover letters and instructions were in code, but he provided decoding advice in the same package. This is puzzling. Regan didn’t seem to consider that if the authorities obtained the parcels they would have clues to trace the traitor. Which is exactly what happened. A few weeks after Regan sent his packages, a mole in the consulate conveyed them to the FBI, and they ended up on the desk of Special Agent Carr. CONTINUE AT SITE

Black Slaveowners- A Review By Janet Levy

It is widely believed that slavery in 19th-century America was the exclusive province of whites. However, as historian Larry Kroger reveals inBlack Slaveowners, free black people in the United States owned slaves, fought for their right to do so and had little sympathy for abolition.

A five-year investigation of federal census data, wills, mortgages, bills of sale, tax returns and newspaper ads from 1790 to 1860 provided the foundation for Koger’s examination of black slave masters in the Palmetto state, culminating in his illuminating book, Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave

It is widely believed that slavery in 19th-century America was the exclusive province of whites. However, as historian Larry Kroger reveals inBlack Slaveowners, free black people in the United States owned slaves, fought for their right to do so and had little sympathy for abolition.
A five-year investigation of federal census data, wills, mortgages, bills of sale, tax returns and

Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860(McFarland, 1985). Charleston City, in which 72.1% of African-America households owned slaves, was a valuable primary documentation source. Records that survived the Civil War indicated the existence of 260 black slave masters.

This well-sourced book, which contains lengthy appendices of federal census data and well over 600 citations, represents an earnest attempt to examine a difficult and complex topic that too few have addressed: the phenomenon of black slaveowners.

According to Kroger’s comprehensive and well-researched volume, black slave owners lived in every Southern state that allowed slavery and even Northern states, including Maryland. The practice of black slave ownership was widespread and stretched from New York to Florida to Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. According to the 1830 federal census, free blacks owned 10,000 slaves, including in New York City eight free blacks who reportedly owned 17 slaves. Many black slave owners were large planters who raised cotton, rice, and sugar cane. Many inherited slaves from relatives or white kinsfolk who transported them from Africa to the New World.

As the economy of Charleston City expanded in the early 19th century, many free blacks were able to buy slaves, making the city the center of black slave holding in South Carolina. Between 1820 and 1840, most free black heads of households in Charleston owned slaves. Freed slaves in business customarily used slave labor, hired slaves out for a fee to non-slave owners or used slaves as collateral to secure loans. Former slaves bought slaves for economic benefit in a society in which slavery was an acceptable form of labor. They had no qualms about using slaves and were well assimilated into the white slaveowner culture. Often, free blacks purchased enslaved kinfolk to buy their freedom.

It was common in 19th-century South Carolina for the mulatto offspring of a white slave owner to be manumitted, educated, and made beneficiaries in a father-child relationship with the master. They were perceived as the legitimate heirs of the slave owner and thought of themselves as slave masters who legitimately used the labor of their father’s slaves. Kroger explains how divisions in the black community were delineated by skin tone, with lighter-skinned blacks enjoying higher socioeconomic status. He cites documented evidence from the state census of 1850 that indicated that 93.1 % of Negro slave owners were mulattos and 90% of their slaves were dark-skinned blacks.

Have Public Intellectuals Ever Gotten Anything Right? They didn’t see 9/11 coming.They also missed the 2008 crash, the Arab Spring, Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump. Daniel Johnson

In the 20 years or so since the term “public intellectual” became current, the members of this self-appointed club seem to have learned nothing from their failure to predict the collapse of communism or make sense of its aftermath. They didn’t see 9/11 coming, nor the 2008 financial crash, nor the Arab Spring. In the past two years they missed the emergence of Islamic State, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and, most recently, Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump.

Not all public intellectuals have been wrong about all these events, of course, but their consensus has been so misguided so often that the public they claim to enlighten might recall the biblical image of the blind leading the blind.

Frank Johnson, the late editor of the London Spectator, once asked: “What exactly is a public intellectual?” His answer was mischievous: “Is it the same principle as a public convenience? Excuse me, officer, I’ve been caught short conceptually. Could you direct me to the nearest public intellectual?”

The volume of essays “Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits?” makes only tentative stabs at an answer. Michael C. Desch, the editor, quotes a number of definitions of which the best seems to me to predate the concept. Some 70 years ago, Lionel Trilling—one of the greatest examples of the species—lauded “the impulse to insist that the activity of politics be united with the imagination under the aspect of the mind.”

Alas, such an impulse is not much in evidence here. Rather, what we have is a collection of conference papers animated less by any concern for the commonweal than by the self-importance of the modern academy. The subtitle of the book indicates the narrowly institutionalized limits of the authors’ conception of the intellectual life. For them, a public intellectual is either a professor or a pundit, and very often a professorial pundit.

Yet most of the intellectuals in the history of Western civilization who would have met Trilling’s definition have been neither professors nor pundits. Many have been poets: From Dante to Goethe, from Homer to T.S. Eliot, poets have exercised a profound influence on political thought. That, after all, is why Plato sought to ban them in his “Republic.” Yet poets, and indeed men and women of letters in general, are conspicuous by their absence from this book.

MY SAY: IMAGINE THE CHUTZPAH OF DONALD TRUMP

The Diplos, the pundits, the headlines, the “calumnists”are all so upset. Imagine the gall of Donald Trump to appoint an ambassador to Israel who actually likes the country!

The title of the posting is actually amusing: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

How about that? “extraordinary ” and “plenipotentiary”…..

A note to those who “console” themselves by claiming that David Friedman’s policies will be completely subject to the will of Donald Trump:

definition of plenipotentiary –

a person, especially a diplomat, invested with the full power of independent action on behalf of their government, typically in a foreign country.
2.having full power to take independent action.

They would obviously prefer plenipotentates like Martin Indyk who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2001,who were strident critics of Israel and would use harsh threats to force Israeli concessions to every and all Palarab demands. In his own words : he boasted to the Washington Post (2-24-97) that he saw his job in Israel as similar to “a circus master” who “cracks the whip” in order to “get [the animals] to move around in an orderly fashion.”
That animus is truly extraordinary!
Hooray for Donald Trump!

Iran’s Theater of Operations in Latin America By Janet Levy

In Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America (Lexington Books, 2014) authors and global security experts Joseph Humire and Ilan Berman elaborate on Kelly’s position with a collection of essays that provides an alarming look at Iran’s penetration of Latin America. That activity began in 1979 as part of Iran’s overall strategy to seek global power and develop nuclear weapons. Latin American experts featured in this revealing volume detail how Iran’s infiltration of Latin America has been pursued under the cover of commercial activities and cultural exchanges and has been aided by an alliance and shared militancy with the Latin American Left. The experts maintain that, over more than three decades, Iran has been able to forge strong economic, political, and strategic links to the region.

As the authors explain, Iran began its strategic infiltration of Latin America in 1982. International proxy groups exported Muslim revolutionary ideas using a global network of embassies and mosques under the cover of legitimate commerce and diplomatic, cultural, and religious associations. In this way, the Islamic regime concealed its intelligence activities, claimed diplomatic immunity and gained access to backdoor channels and local governments. Iran’s operatives traveled throughout the region unifying and radicalizing Islamic communities and recruiting, proselytizing and indoctrinating young Latin Americans.

Editor Joseph Humire recounts that in 1983 the regime sent an emissary, Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian cleric, as a commercial attaché to set up a trade agreement with Argentina, ostensibly to supply halal-certified meat to the Islamic Republic. Rabbani, who in 1994 would become the primary architect of a terrorist attack in Buenos Aires, fostered alliances with local Shiite Muslims, as well as radical activists who wanted to shift power away from democratic alliances and U.S. influence. Trade with Iran helped these activists buy political patronage to advance authoritarian rule and enabled them to funnel mass social spending into their countries and influence elections. As Islamic terrorist entities such as Iran’s proxy, Hizb’allah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) moved into the region, they joined with local radical groups such as FARC and Shining Path in their anti-Americanism and hatred of Jews and Israel.

The authors explore how, with a large Muslim population in place spewing hatred toward Israel, attention focused on the largest Jewish population in South America, the 230,000 Jews in Argentina. In 1992, a Hizb’allah-linked terrorist group claimed responsibility for bombing the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. In 1994, Hizb’allah committed the deadliest bombing in Argentine history when it bombed the AMIA Jewish community center also in Buenos Aires, killing 89 people and injuring hundreds.

The essay collection insightfully examines the role of Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. After becoming president in 1999, he forged a close relationship with Iran and hailed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizb’allah, as a hero. He also demanded criminal prosecution for Israel’s leader, Ariel Sharon, and President George W. Bush for mass murder. Chavez was able to help Iran overcome the hurdles of economic sanctions and engage in both licit and illicit commercial activity, including acquisition of strategic minerals for nuclear weapons development, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Chavez filled his cabinet with Islamists and became a close partner with then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to the authors, during this period Iranian influence in Latin American countries increased significantly.

Chavez worked closely with Fidel Castro, the first leader to recognize the Islamic republic and to invite Iran to open in Havana its first Latin American embassy. Together, Chavez and Castro sponsored a socialist “Bolivarian Revolution” to establish a “new world order” in which Latin America was part of a global revolution, not unlike the one in Iran. In 2004, they founded the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or ALBA.

In Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, the authors examine how, over a decade, ALBA grew in strategic importance in Latin America and helped cause the backsliding of democratic reforms in the region. ALBA’s goal was to create a Latin American coalition under Venezuelan and Cuban rule using non-state actors and transnational organized crime to bring about a post-American world. In 2010, Iran and Syria were admitted to the organization as observer states. Chavez worked with Iran and Hizb’allah to train his military in asymmetric warfare, the use of insurgency forces against established armies. Iran financed an ALBA military training school in Bolivia, as well as Hizb’allah training centers in other countries. Hizb’allah became heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering in the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. It made millions of dollars, sending cocaine from Mexico and Columbia to the Middle East and Europe. Hizb’allah used its presence in Latin America to raise money for its global operations from the Lebanese and Syrian diasporas and to recruit, indoctrinate and proselytize among the Latin American population.