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MY SAY: GEORGE WASHINGTON

Our first President was actually born on February 22, 1732 but he is celebrated today along with tributes to our great Presidents- Jefferson and Lincoln.

Read Ron Chernow’s outstanding biography….
Product DetailsWashington: A Life
This is his letter of August 21, 1790 to The Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island:

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

George Eliot Knew a Thing or Two About 21st-Century Politics She wrote ‘Middlemarch’ in 1872 and set it in the 1830s. It’s eerily familiar.By Allysia Finley

What can a Victorian-era novel depicting provincial English society teach us about modern politics? For starters, the more politics change, the more they stay the same.
George Eliot’s opus “Middlemarch” (1872), set in a small English town in the early 1830s, isn’t on most high school or college core reading lists. It should be. The novel’s vexing political questions foreshadow the debates taking place today.

“Middlemarch” unfolds against the backdrop of rapid industrialization and a rising middle class. At the time, only the landed aristocracy could vote. Due to urban migration—there was no redistricting to account for population shifts—cities were underrepresented. Meanwhile, the gentry controlled sparsely populated “rotten” boroughs whose voters were under their thumb.

In the novel, political agitators recruit the wealthy landlord Arthur Brooke to run for Parliament on a program of democratic reform. Eliot portrays Mr. Brooke as a frontman for the populist movement and observes that “the very men who profess to be for him would bring another member out of the bag at the right moment.”

Democratic activists choose him because he’s an empty vessel: “Mr. Brooke’s mind, if it had the burthen of remembering any train of thought, would let it drop, run away in search of it, and not easily come back again.” He’s flawed in other ways: Mr. Brooke’s opponents disparage him as “a damned bad landlord” who is “currying favor with a low set.” They make hay out of his poor treatment of tenants.

Mr. Brooke buys a newspaper, the Pioneer, and installs Will Ladislaw, a political activist, as editor to promote his campaign. Eliot describes the Pioneer as a “valuable property which did not pay.” Newspaper readership in those days was also segregated politically: “It’s no use your puffing Brooke as a reforming landlord, Ladislaw: they only pick the more holes in his coat in the [competing rag] ‘Trumpet,’ ” Tertius Lydgate tells his friend. Mr. Ladislaw retorts: “No matter; those who read the ‘Pioneer’ don’t read the ‘Trumpet’ . . . Do you suppose the public reads with a view to its own conversion?”

Dr. Lydgate is a young physician who aims to revolutionize the practice of medicine, which “chiefly consisted in giving a great many drugs.” Doctors made their money by writing prescriptions, especially for opiates. Dr. Lydgate favors a holistic treatment-and-payment model over physicians “making out long bills for draughts, boluses, and mixtures.”

However, the doctor doubts whether laws promulgated by self-interested politicians will accomplish anything in the way of reform. “That is the way with you political writers,” Dr. Lydgate tells his friend, “crying up a measure as if it were a universal cure, and crying up men who are a part of the very disease that wants curing. . . . You go against rottenness, and there is nothing more thoroughly rotten than making people believe that society can be cured by a political hocus-pocus.”

Leading From Behind: The Obama Doctrine and the U.S. Retreat From International Affairs by Herbert I London (Author), Bryan Griffin (Editor)

The eight years of the Obama Administration represented a dramatic break from the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that had held since World War II: instead of the United States asserting leadership, confronting threats to global piece, and guaranteeing the security of our friends and allies, President Obama placed his faith in multilateralism, international institutions, and in the words of his own administration, “leading from behind” in global crises. The results are evident around the globe as war and chaos engulf Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; anti-democratic forces are resurgent; and Islamic terrorist organizations are emboldened in their efforts to establish a tyrannical Caliphate. In a series of columns and commentaries over the past several years, Herb London has provided an insightful and prescient critique of the Obama Administration’s feckless, even dangerous, foreign policy. This volume collects those works, and combines them into a narrative that not only provides an important history of a president’s failed policies but also shows the incredible challenges facing the United States–and the world–over the coming decade. Leading From Behind is an indispensable resource for students and observers of international affairs.

Meltdown at the EPA And not the nuclear kind: The agency’s junk-science promoters are flipping out. By Julie Kelly

In his recently released and timely book, Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA, author Steve Milloy says this about the Environmental Protection Agency:

The EPA has over the course of the last 20 years marshaled its vast and virtually unchallenged power into an echo chamber of deceptive science, runaway regulations and fatally flawed research derived from unethical human experiments. The EPA’s conduct runs the gamut from subtle statistical shenanigans to withholding key scientific data, from seeking to rubberstamp baseless research data to illegally spraying diesel exhaust up the noses of unsuspecting children and other vulnerable populations.

Milloy, who runs the website JunkScience.com, has chronicled the scientific and bureaucratic abuse at the EPA for two decades, and he is thrilled by President Trump’s plans to finally reform the EPA. “I can think of no agency that has done more pointless harm to the U.S. economy than the EPA — all based on junk science, if not out-and-out science fraud,” Milloy told me. “I am looking forward to President Trump’s dramatically shrinking the EPA by entirely overhauling how the remaining federal EPA uses science.”

It looks like the EPA will be the agency hardest hit by the Trump sledgehammer. For eight years, President Obama used the agency as his de facto enforcer of environmental policies he couldn’t pass in Congress even when it was controlled by his own party. If Obama was the climate-change bully, then the EPA was his toady, issuing one regulation after another aimed at imaginary polluters who were allegedly causing global warming. Jobs were lost, companies were bankrupted, and an untold amount of economic growth was stymied out of fear of reprisals from this rogue agency. The courts halted many of the EPAs most overreaching and unlawful policies initiated by Obama — such as the Clean Water Rule and Clean Power Rule, two regulations aimed at farmers and coal producers. Unsurprisingly, people in these sectors voted heavily for Trump.

Trump officials and Congress are ready to make major changes in the EPA. A leaked memo written by Trump’s EPA transition team details how the new administration wants to tackle shoddy science at the agency. The memo asserts that the EPA should not be funding scientific research, and it must make any data publicly available for independent scientists to review. It also said that the agency must eliminate conflicts of interest and bias from the science advisory process.

The administration also put a freeze on most contracts and grants, pending further review by incoming staff. A good chunk of the EPA’s $8.3 billion budget is spent on grants to universities and units of government; its 2017 budget for state- and tribal-assistant grants was nearly $3.3 billion. The agency also has nearly $6.4 billion in outstanding contractual obligations to dozens of companies across the country, dating back to 2001. These will get much-needed scrutiny over the next several months, and Milloy insists it’s a necessary step:

The EPA uses tax dollars to fund its friends and allies, who tend to be political activists and “political” scientists. There has been no effective oversight of the EPA because Republicans have lacked the numbers and often the will to challenge the all-powerful EPA.

Kermit Gosnell, America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer A riveting new book tells his disturbing story. Mark Tapson

Masked by innocuous language like “pro-choice” and “reproductive care,” and protected by a media conspiracy of silence, the grim reality of abortion rarely surfaces in our cultural awareness, as it did with the recent undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s moral vacuum. But a new book about the chilling crimes of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, America’s most prolific serial killer, highlights that ugly reality in an even more horrifying but compelling fashion.

Part true-crime investigation, part social commentary, part courtroom drama, and part journey into the banality of evil, Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer was written by investigative journalists and filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, well-known for their controversial documentaries FrackNation and Not Evil Just Wrong, as well as a play called Ferguson drawn entirely from testimony about the shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson. The husband-and-wife team have also miraculously crowdfunded a feature film based on the Gosnell story (it raised more money than any film project in Indiegogo history), directed by conservative actor and Twitter gadfly Nick Searcy (Justified), with the screenplay written by novelist and political commentator Andrew Klavan.

McElhinney begins the book with a confession that she had “never trusted or liked pro-life activists”; she resented the “emotional manipulation” of their demonstrations – until she began researching the Gosnell story, a process so “brutal” that at times she wept and prayed at her computer, not only over Gosnell’s evil but over “the reality of abortion” even when it’s performed properly and legally. Writing the book changed her dramatically, and it’s not an overstatement to say that reading this book will have the same effect on many readers as well.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell might still be butchering babies today if it weren’t for the dedication of a Philadelphia narcotics investigator named Jim Wood who followed up a lead about Gosnell’s lucrative illegal prescription scheme. The lead led to a raid on Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic in February, 2010, where investigators discovered shockingly unsanitary conditions and incompetent, untrained assistants, as well as improperly medicated post-abortion patients sleeping or sitting together under bloodstained blankets, a few in need of hospitalization. The procedure room was even filthier. Fetal remains were found throughout, in empty water and milk jugs, cat food containers, and orange juice bottles with the necks cut off. One cupboard held five jars containing baby feet, which Gosnell apparently severed and kept for his own amusement.

Unfazed by the presence of the FBI, Dr. Gosnell proceeded to perform an abortion in the middle of the raid. When he was done, Gosnell sat down with the investigators and ate dinner while still wearing torn, bloody surgical gloves (his staff later reported that Gosnell normally ate during his abortions). He pointed out one of the cats that roamed the clinic, which reeked of cat urine, and casually said it had killed 200 mice there. The only time his cool, casual demeanor slipped was when he realized that the staff were telling detectives about his habit of manipulating ultrasound readings to falsify fetal ages, in order to perform late-term abortions well after the state’s legal limit. Detectives also would later learn that Gosnell’s practices included killing babies that were born alive by plunging scissors into the backs of their necks and snipping the spinal cords.

ANDREW HARROD REVIEWS “ISIS DEFECTORS: INSIDE STORIES OF THE TERRORIST CALIPHATE”

This book provides compelling insight into ISIS on the basis of interviews with the group’s defectors, but ultimately fails to substantiate its thesis that ISIS lacks Islamic legitimacy.

“Islam according to ISIS has no basis in the actual scriptures” of Islam. So wrote the authors of the new book ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. While the many interviews with Islamic State defectors – including their brutal eyewitness accounts of the group’s atrocities – do provide compelling reading, this volume often suggests a more agnostic assessment of the militant group’s Islamic legitimacy than the authors may have intended.

Terrorism researcher Anne Speckhard and former Turkish police detective Ahmet S. Yayla wrote the book while leading the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, an “action-based, interdisciplinary research center working on psychosocial, cultural, political, economic, ideological and technological topics impacting global peace and security.” The book’s translator-assisted interviews demonstrated the authors’ belief that “disillusioned ISIS defectors who tell their authentic stories about life inside the Islamic State are the most influential tool to counter ISIS’ robust propaganda.” Deserters – who spoke to Yayla in southeastern Turkey and to Speckhard from Istanbul and Washington, D.C. via Skype – said that ISIS (or Ad-Dawlah, which in Arabic means “the state”) “does not represent Islam. Ad-Dawlah are kafirs [unbelievers].”

According to the book’s authors, their view of the Islamic State’s “perfect young candidate” as a naïve, believing Muslim who is unfamiliar with his or her religion, is contradicted by what they are often told about the ISIS fighter sharia indoctrination. Yayla said that he was surprised to find that a certain well-educated law school student’s critical thinking and training did not keep him from admiring his ISIS mentor, a Jordanian sheikh and former university English professor. That student and his fellow ISIS recruits actually admired the militant who taught them. “Ad-Dawlah chooses very high-level teachers who are well educated in shariah,” Yayla said, adding that those in the militant group are often looked at as having “very good characters.”

Similar admiration came from a former high school teacher and senior Islamic State commander in Raqqa, Syria the de facto capital of the group’s caliphate. Commenting on the group’s foreign fighters, he said, “I looked at the mujahideen and saw them as heroes – like the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. [They] always talk about Allah, Prophet Muhammad and jihad … the life hereafter and more divine things, [while] alcohol, gambling – vices were all banned.”

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.