Ricky Greenfield, publisher of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger from 1994 until this year died on April 16, 2014. He was my dear and treasured friend for decades- a man whose wisdom, kindness, wit, cheer and affection enlivened every conversation when we spoke every week. Ricky was the most unusual man. His love of Israel, Zionism […]
When recently asked what she was most proud of from her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton replied that the office was like a “relay race.” “When you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton,” she said. Mrs. Clinton was unable to cite any specific achievement, though she did make the rather dubious claim that “I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense.”
Even some of her most ardent admirers couldn’t figure out a good answer to the question about her greatest achievement, during a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” As Ed Morrissey of Hot Air noted, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard raised the question of what accomplishments make Hillary the most qualified Democrat to be the next president. John Heilemann said he would wait for her next book to come out to help inform him how to answer that question, while Chuck Todd rambled on about Secretary Clinton’s reticence to get publicly involved in controversial issues, and playing a quieter role, thus preventing her from being able to claim any great achievements.
But the legacy of Hillary Clinton is turning out to be one of incompetence, bungled efforts, chicanery and outright scandal. Her most famous words have become, “What difference at this point does it make?” referring to how the four brave Americans died in Benghazi in September of 2012. And a number of other scandals have followed her, both from before and during her tenure as Secretary of State. The latest is about $6 billion in contract dollars that the State Department lost track of over the last six years.
According to the Inspector General report:
There was a lack of paperwork: of 115 contracts sampled from the U.S. Mission in Iraq, 33 could not be produced.
There was missing documentation: the Bureau of African Affairs couldn’t provide complete files for any of the eight contracts requested.
There were conflicts of interest: a $52 million contract was awarded to a “company owned by the spouse of a contractor employee performing as a Contract Specialist for the contract.”
Payments were sent when they weren’t supposed to be: $792,782 was sent to a contractor “even though the contract file did not contain documents to support the payment.”
Contracts were even hidden: “The related contract file was not properly maintained and for a period of time was hidden…This contract was valued at $100 million.”
Judicial Watch today released a new batch of internal IRS documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the agency refused to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to May 2013.
The newly released IRS documents contain an email exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller discussing plans to work with the DOJ to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities. The exchange includes the following:
May 8, 2013: Lerner to Flax
I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s -saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.
I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…
May 9, 2013: Flax to Lerner
I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?
Who is Harrison J. Bounel, and might the name suggest something about possible Obama ID fraud?
To be sure, healthcare.gov’s failure to verify Obama’s identity implies nothing whatsoever as to whether ordinary citizens should question it.
Undoubtedly, the system glitch represents nothing more, and nothing less, than yet another instance of racist computers conspiring against Obama.
The Harrison J. Bounel controversy revolves in part around the fact — contested by no one — that a personal information database, housed in yet another presumptively racist computer, linked Obama’s Hyde Park Chicago home address and SSN with the name “Harrison J. Bounel.”
So what’s going on?
In order to maximize the prospect of arriving at the truth, let us turn to the decidedly non-racist Snopes folks for the answer, since they are surely the premier debunkers of “crazy” conspiracy theories related to Obama’s identity:
An item from February 2013 resurrected the claim that Barack Obama was using someone else’s Social Security number, this time a SSN supposedly belonging to one Harrison J. Bounel:
Who is Harrison J. Bounel? According to the 2009 tax return submitted by President Barack Obama, he’s the President of the United States….
This claim stems from nothing more than the observation that a search of a personal information database back in 2011 showed that the name “Harrison J. Bounel” had been mistakenly cross-indexed with Barack Obama’s home address and Social Security number. (This type of error is common in such databases and has since been corrected.) Aside from that temporary erroneous entry, there is no evidence whatsoever that Barack Obama ever used the name “Harrison J. Bounel” as an alias, or that Barack Obama’s Social Security number was originally issued to someone by that name.
Snowden and his allies threaten to bring about the greatest peacetime defeat in the West’s history. His is not a noble crusade. It is sabotage and treason
Anyone who has seen The Bourne Identity, or the many similar Hollywood films, finds the Edward Snowden saga familiar. A heroic fugitive insider is hunted by a rogue government agency. As the credits roll, our man on the run is vindicated, thanks to a combination of media coverage and belated congressional scrutiny. He gets the girl. The villains go to jail.
It is easy to go along with that narrative, particularly for journalists. We instinctively side with David, not Goliath. We thrill to the idea of disclosing secrets. We flinch at any constraint on press freedom. We may have little chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize (for which Snowden has been nominated) but we certainly cheer his chances.
I disagree. Snowden is at best a self-indulgent “useful idiot” and at worst a traitor. His theft and publication of secret documents is anything but heroic.
His accomplices deserve censure and probably prosecution. The applause they have received reflects astonishing naiveté and hypocrisy. A whistleblower needs to show clear and convincing evidence of abuse, and limit his breach of confidentiality to matters that concern it. Snowden did not.
The documents published do not show the National Security Agency as a rogue agency. He has not found a single deliberate breach of Americans’ privacy. Like other bits of government, the NSA makes mistakes and chafes against its constraints. It is in need of reform. But Snowden has shown no sign of systematic, gross wrongdoing, or of contempt for judicial, legislative and political oversight, by the NSA.
The Snowdenistas, as I call them, say they have sparked a vital debate. It is good to discuss how electronic meta-data should be stored (by governments and by companies). But this is a limited benefit. It does not justify the catastrophic damage done to our intelligence agencies and diplomacy.
The Snowdenistas have published material which has no
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in itself, but an overdose of arrogance makes it infinitely more so. Doubt that? Just lend an ear to the oracular pronouncements on global climate by those whose greatest skill is not comprehension but a talent for hogging the microphone.
Quadrant Online contributor Steven Kates passionately set down the dichotomy between those who create and those so riven by envy that they would bring it all down. True enough, but how did we get to this point? It is hard to be definitive but, leaving aside the fanatics, I think so-called experts have played a part in warping the minds and feeding the prejudices of those who in normal course would have relied on their common sense to guide them.
Unfortunately these days experts abound and are vocal. The common man and woman are intimidated lest they commit a faux pas by disagreeing with the received wisdom of experts. Take evolutionary theory. How many children, now adults, have been exposed to that diagram showing man emerging by serendipity through numbers of incarnations from his ape-like ancestors? Now don’t get me wrong. Evolution seems beyond much question except, perhaps, to religious nuts who think the Earth is 6000 years’ old. But, but … evolution based on sheer chance; on random mutations and natural selection? It simply doesn’t pass the sniff test. Only very clever people could believe it in that form without there being much more compelling evidence.
Climate change is the latest tablet of stone. Tell us again, experts, why the warming between about 1975 and, say, 2005 was attributed absolutely to man-made CO2 when it warmed by nearly as much between 1910 and 1940? And why did it cool between 1940 and 1975, when CO2 was rising, and why has the global temperature remained broadly constant since around 2000? I don’t get it.
Those who engage in purely academic debate can remain aloof. Those who want to turn our economic life upside down because of their theories have a duty to get down and dirty on our terms and explain (and re-explain) their case ad nauseam.
Many economists have a theory. They, too, have turned economic life upside down; literally so. The theory, originating with Keynes, is that spending money creates wealth. That’s curious. You might say, with your powers of common sense, ‘it has never worked for me.’ Put that aside and follow the theory and see where it leads.
How do you replace a heritage of assimilation and civil liberties with diversity and repression of free speech? First, promote the mere giving of offence as subject to prosecution. After that, count on professional panderers like Bob Carr to agree that ethnic voting blocs need those special protections and, of course, lots of handouts.
In a recent essay at Quadrant Online I described how the debate over Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act reveals some of the inner workings of the multicultural industry. I argued that 18C is being contested the way two desperate combatants might fight over a dropped sword. The mostly Anglo critics want to beat the sword into a plough share in the name of free speech. The multicultural brigade want the sword for its original purpose, as a weapon to protect their ethnic groups and cosmopolitan values from what they see as a racist white Australia. The fight over 18C is really about group power and the inverted ethnic hierarchy on which multiculturalism is based.
This interpretation is confirmed by an ABC report of a new lobby dedicated to the defence of section 18C, mentioned in my earlier comment. Formed in November, 2013, the group is nicknamed the “United Nations of Australia”. The most recent meeting took place in Melbourne on the April 10. It brought together leaders of the Indigenous, Arab, Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Greek and Armenian communities. Their goal is to retain Section 18C, which prohibits statements that “insult, offend, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of race. The group is explicitly ethnic in makeup and agenda. Excluded from the meeting was any representative of the large Anglo contingent of the pro-18C lobby. And, of course, no one had thought to invite a representative of white Australians vilified in the media, discriminated against in employment, airbrushed from school curricula, excluded from multicultural forums and assaulted by ethnic gangs.
The central place of tribal interests in the defence of section 18C is further evidence that ethno-cultural diversity has multiple costs, which I reviewed in Quadrant. Diversity reduces social cohesion, welfare rights, foreign aid, democracy, equality, governmental efficiency and, in most countries, economic growth. It is the second strongest predictor of civil conflict after lack-of-democracy. Unfortunately, diversity also tends to undermines democracy itself by dividing society into competing ethnic camps. In Australia the multicultural lobby is willing to trade the civil liberty of free speech to gain state censorship of the majority.
As another Passover begins, the echoes of “Once we were slaves and now we are free” and “Next year in Jerusalem” resound briefly and then fade into the background noise of everyday life. We can board a plane tomorrow and fly off to Jerusalem. Some of us are already there now. But will that make us free?
Since Egypt we have become slaves again, lived under the rule of iron-fisted tyrants and forgotten what the very idea of freedom means. And that will likely happen again and again until the age ends. What is this freedom that we gained with the fall of a Pharaoh and the last sight of his pyramids and armies?
Freedom like slavery, is as much a state of mind as a state of being. It is possible to be legally free, yet to have no freedom of action whatsoever. And it is possible to be legally a slave and yet to be free in defiance of those restrictions. External coercion alone does not make a man free or slave, it is the degradation of mind that makes a man a slave.
What is a slave? A slave is complicit in his own oppression. His slavery has become his natural state and he looks to his master, not to free him, but to command him. Had the Jews of Egypt merely been restrained by physical coercion, it would have been enough to directly and immediately smash the power of the Egyptian state. But their slavery was mental. They moaned not at the fact of slavery, but at the extremity of it. When their taskmasters complained to Pharaoh, it was not of slavery, but of not being given the straw with which to build the bricks.
The worst slavery is of the most insidious kind. It leaves the slave able to think and act, but not as a free man. It leaves him with cunning, but not courage. He is able to use force, but only to bring other slaves into line. And most hideously, this state of affairs seems moral and natural to him. This is his freedom.
George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled “Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths.” The subtitle is “School Discipline Rates Must Be ‘Proportionate.’” (http://tinyurl.com/mxnlg9h). Let’s examine some of the absurdity of the Obama administration’s take on student discipline.
Last January, the departments of Justice and Education published a “guidance” letter describing how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. Its underlying threat is that if federal bureaucrats learn of racial disproportionality in the punishments meted out for misbehavior, they will descend upon a school’s administrators. If schools cannot justify differentials in rates of punishment by race or ethnic group, they will face the loss of federal funds and be forced to undertake costly diversity training.
The nation’s educators can avoid sanctions by adopting a racial quota system for student discipline. So as Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, predicts, “school officials will either start disciplining students who shouldn’t be, or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be.” I can imagine school administrators reasoning this way: “Blacks are 20 percent of our student body, and 20 percent of suspensions this year have been of black students. In order to discipline another black student while maintaining our suspension quota, we will have to suspend some white students, whether they’re guilty or not.” Some administrators might see some injustice in that approach and simply ignore the misbehavior of black students.
Leef cites Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, who wrote in City Journal (http://tinyurl.com/9k648fj) that “the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students.
Brandeis’ Surrender to the Brotherhood on Ayaan Hirsi Ali — on The Glazov Gang
This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by Dr. David Wood, the host of the Trinity Channel’s live talk show, “Jesus or Muhammad?” He has been in more than 40 public debates with Muslims, and he runs the website AnsweringMuslims.com.
Dr. Wood discusses Brandeis’ Surrender to the Brotherhood on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and takes us behind the scenes of a university’s shameless surrender to Sharia: