Pilgrims and the Roots of the American Thanksgiving By Malcolm Gaskill

http://online.wsj.com/articles/pilgrims-and-the-roots-of-the-american-thanksgiving-1417029561?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories English settlers of the 17th century were a diverse lot, and they became Americans despite themselves Dr. Gaskill is professor of early modern history at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K. This essay is adapted from his new book, “Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans,” published this month by Basic […]

Iran Celebrates ‘Great Victory’ Because ‘Americans Have Clearly Surrendered’ By Andrew C. McCarthy

http://pjmedia.com/andrewmccarthy/2014/11/26/iran-celebrates-victory/?print=1 Fifth love letter’s the charm? President Obama’s most recent capitulation in sham “negotiations” over Iran’s nuclear program is his agreement to a seven-month delay in the deadline for a final settlement, which was to have been this past Monday. As the president must know, this delay gives the revolutionary jihadist regime everything it needs: […]



In 1940, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York, like many synagogues, held a special service for Thanksgiving. It included traditional Hebrew prayers, the singing of the national anthem, and a speech by the lieutenant governor of the state. The congregation’s rabbi, Joseph Lookstein also composed a special prayer (in English) for the occasion:

We pray sincerely for America and the ideals of democracy and freedom that are here enshrined. May she be strong to withstand all the currents that assail her and all the forces of evil that would invade her sacred precincts. A tower of light to her own citizenry, may she cast a steady beam and light up all the dark areas of the world and show to a perplexed and straying humanity the path of freedom, of life, and of peace.

Amen! Happy thanksgiving to all!


“Lessons from Ferguson, Part II” By Sydney Williams


The waiting is over. It is hard to imagine a jury with a more difficult task than that had by the twelve people on the St. Louis County Grand Jury who decided Monday evening not to indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown last August. Over twenty-five days, the Grand Jury had heard more than seventy hours of testimony from sixty witnesses. They considered five possible charges, ranging from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter. They spent two days deliberating the charges. They were not sequestered so were fully aware of the momentous nature of their decision. They had to withstand extraordinary political pressure, both direct and implied. The easy way out would have been to indict and pass on the job of determining guilt or innocence to a trial jury. But they adhered to their responsibility of sifting through all the information and material and decided that there was not enough evidence for a court case to go forward.

Following the announcement of the jury’s decision, President Obama said that the decision of the Grand Jury should be respected, as they are the only ones who have heard and seen all the evidence. He was right. (I just wish he had spoken the same way back in August.) Mr. Obama quoted a letter from Mr. Brown’s father who called for peaceful demonstrations. (Throughout this episode, Mr. Brown senior has been the one adult in the room.) Unfortunately Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Brown’s words were not heeded by those in Ferguson. Riots broke out. Shots were fired. A dozen buildings were burned. Cars were burned and flipped.

It was obvious that the police in Ferguson decided not to protect the property of those whose stores were looted and destroyed, and whose cars were damaged. They attempted to keep some semblance of order, but apparently were more concerned about the backlash from the media and the black community, which may have been wise. But sadly, that property destruction reflects what Matthew Arnold would have called our experimenting with “low culture,” the doing as one likes without regard to one’s community. Disrespect for others characterizes today’s society.

History tells us we should always be fearful of government that uses force unlawfully and capriciously. African-Americans feel targeted, in part because of history, but also because crime and murder are more common to them than others. Facts support their fears. The death rate for blacks in inner cities is ten times that of whites. According to the FBI, there were 12,664 murders in the U.S. in 2011, of which 6,329 were blacks. But 90% of those killings were black on black.

The focus of black leaders should not be on revenge; instead they should ask, why? Why is there so much hatred? How can that energy be redirected toward productive purposes? What can be done to improve schools and provide more and better jobs? What about the social changes in our culture? Have declines in two-parent families and increases in unwed motherhood played roles? (In 1950, 9% of black families with children were headed by a single parent. Today, over 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers.)



Two FBI special agents were shot at a barricaded home just miles from the protest-wracked St. Louis suburb of Ferguson early Wednesday, police said. One was struck in the shoulder and the other in the leg while assisting the University City Police Department in serving an arrest warrant in north St. Louis County, the FBI said in a statement. Their injuries were non-life threatening.

The incident occurred at 2:53 a.m. local time (3:53 a.m. ET). The shooting was “not directly related to the Ferguson protests,” according to the FBI. It was unclear whether it was linked to the shooting of a University City police officer on Monday. Authorities in St. Louis County have been dealing with violent demonstrations protests after a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.



American policy toward Iran, with the failure of the just concluded talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, now centers in large part on two issues. Without Iran coming clean about the dimensions of its nuclear program, we remain uncertain whether Tehran is seeking to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons, similar, for example, to what North Korea has accomplished. But if we believe Iran is in fact pursuing a nuclear weapons program, we either (1) work with our allies to end such a program or (2) we decide we will eventually have to live with an Iranian nuclear weapons capability.

That in turn puts on the table a serious question: what is the deal that works to achieve our goal of eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons program activity as well as precludes Iran from moving quickly in that direction should it decide to do so? If such a deal is possible, why have not the Iranians grasped it? Versions of it have been repeatedly laid on the table.

Prospects for a deal remain elusive, to say the least. The US has made most of the concessions in the talks with Iran including major ones during this last round of negotiations. What Iran has agreed to are steps that are largely reversible and have not in any significant manner rolled back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, according to top American experts who laid out the landscape in a JINSA Gemunder Center Iran Task Force conference call.

Given the grave implications of concluding Iran has no desire to negotiate a reasonable deal on its nuclear program, many will once again shy away from such obvious implications and again grab hold of the lever of American diplomacy to convince Tehran not to go forward with and negotiate an end to whatever nuclear program they have.

Perhaps it might be useful to examine our own assumptions as to why might Iran be seeking nuclear weapons. Too often we concede that while Iran may indeed have or is pursuing nuclear weapons, they are doing so largely in reaction to a hostile US policy. Others supportive of continued diplomacy–ratcheted up of course as newly as “energetic” or “aggressive”– assert Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon–yet–but if we don’t pursue a diplomatic solution they surely will.

McCulloch’s Decision Not to Recuse Himself Was Appropriate By Andrew C. McCarthy

The claim that St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch should have recused himself from the investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown is legally meritless, even if it fits the race-charged narrative urged by many who wanted Officer Darren Wilson to be indicted for murder.

McCulloch’s detractors call his motives and thus his professionalism into question by citing the fact that, when he was 12, his father, a police officer, was shot and killed by an African American kidnapper. By this logic, the county prosecutor should recuse himself from just about every county prosecution: (a) the police, to whom he is said to be too close, are involved in virtually every criminal case, and to do their jobs objectively, prosecutors must be able to pressure them to get the truth and ensure that defendants get due process; and (b) black people, against whom he is (baselessly) said to harbor a ill will, are involved in many criminal cases in St. Louis.

The actual recusal rules are not built on ancient history and implied racism. They encourage the prosecutor to do his job unless there are specific, concrete reasons to question his professionalism in a particular case. McCulloch had no particular connection to either Mr. Brown or Officer Wilson. The fact that he did not see a racialist narrative of the case as dictating his participation in the case is a sign of mental health, not a basis for his removal.

More specifically, McCulloch, a Democrat, has been overwhelmingly elected county prosecutor seven times since 1991 – in St. Louis County, the population of which is nearly one-fourth African-American. It is standard operating procedure for county prosecutors to investigate allegations of police misconduct or public corruption in their own counties. That is a not-insignificant part of what they are elected to do.

Besides, as Missouri’s attorney general, Chris Koster, pointed out, Governor Jay Nixon, another Democrat, had the power to remove McCulloch. He chose not to because there was no compelling legal basis for it. McCulloch, furthermore, did not handle the case directly; it was assigned to at least two of his subordinates (one of whom, AG Koster explained, is African American). Obviously, this does not mean McCulloch recused himself — he was still the boss, and how the case was handled was ultimately his call.

OPEC KO’d : American Oil and Natural-Gas Production Have Shot Ahead in the Last Decade. By Robert Bryce

Tomorrow in Vienna, the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet once again to jawbone about oil prices.

But here’s the reality: OPEC is no longer a price maker, it’s a price taker. The price of oil is no longer being set by the cartel, it’s being set by U.S. drilling companies producing oil from shale deposits. And those drillers are thriving largely because of three key advantages, ones that I call the three Rs: rigs, rednecks, and rights.

Before I explain how the three Rs have neutered OPEC, let me state the obvious: The oil produced by the organization’s members still matters. OPEC supplies about 30 million barrels of oil per day, or about one-third of global demand. But OPEC today consists of Saudi Arabia and the eleven dwarves.

Sure, the now-bankrupt Venezuela is agitating for production cuts. (It always is.) And Iran, which needs to have oil sell for about $140 barrel to balance its budget, wants higher-priced petroleum. But Saudi Arabia is the only OPEC member with significant spare production capacity. And the Saudis appear happy with a price of about $75 per barrel.

They can afford to be content. Saudi Arabia is flush with cash, with over $1 trillion in the bank, according to various estimates. Further, Saudi Arabia owns refineries with a total capacity of 2.5 million barrels of refined products per day, and it recently announced a major expansion. By owning refineries, the kingdom can exploit the crack spread — the difference between the price of crude and that of refined products, like gasoline, diesel fuel, and Jet A fuel — and in doing so, more easily monetize its own sour crude (which sells at a discount to the Brent and WTI markers).


Henry Waxman’s Republican Heir Jason Chaffetz hopes to land the kind of blows that Darrell Issa hasn’t been able to. By Eliana Johnson

Jason Chaffetz, with his mop of curls, warm demeanor, and broad smile, has sold himself to colleagues and to the press as a strong conservative, sure, but one with a softer side.

The incoming chairman of the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who lobbied aggressively for the position for months, has said his committee would be different from the one run by his predecessor, California representative Darrell Issa. He’s fond of telling reporters that the committee’s ranking member, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, is a friend. Unlike Issa, he says, whose hearings were often punctuated with dramatic shouting matches between Issa and Cummings, he won’t let business get personal. He also says he’ll do oversight on less-controversial issues, rooting out “bad apples” in the bureaucracy and reforming the U.S. Postal Service.

Or that’s how Chaffetz’s pitch went. But his Democratic counterparts and future targets should know this: He’s been preparing for this role for years under the tutelage of one of Washington’s most formidable investigators, former Oversight chief Henry Waxman.

During his term atop the committee, the irascible Democrat from California used knowledge and savvy accrued over decades in Washington to redefine congressional oversight in the modern era. In fact, it was Waxman who added the term “Oversight” to the committee’s name and responsibilities — it had previously been the Committee on Government Reform.

As the chief investigator of the Bush administration between 2007 and 2009, Waxman’s tenacity won him grudging respect even from his political opponents. His success was, even to his critics, undeniable, while investigations in the Obama years have been high on drama and lower on results. If Chaffetz manages to emulate his mentor, that’s about to change.

Chaffetz, who is now entering his fourth term in Congress, says he sought out Waxman when he arrived in Washington in 2009. “I just proactively went up and shook his hand and said I care about this and I admire what he’s done,” Chaffetz says. “Although I disagree with him on just about everything,” Chaffetz says, Waxman is “passionate about [Congress as an] institution, the process by which you do oversight, and the elements and keys to success.”


Illegal executive orders reward illegal immigration.

Like many Americans, I appreciate the plight of billions of people throughout the world who would like nothing more than to find themselves in the United States, where they could enjoy a much higher standard of living and wonderful opportunities for advancement.

It certainly seems like a compassionate thing to offer them legal status in America and the opportunity to pursue their dreams. It should first be considered, however, that we have millions of people already mired in dire poverty in our inner cities, rural townships, and places such as Appalachia who would certainly appreciate a helping hand before we extend one to foreigners. The same principle is seen when you board an airplane and hear the announcement, “In case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Put yours on first, and then administer help to those around you.” There are many around us already in need of help.

According to President Obama, only those 5 million or so illegals who have been in America for five years or more will benefit from his largesse. He indicates that they will not be eligible for health care and other benefits. Obviously, this fits right into the same category as his promise: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Once illegals have legal status, it will be difficult to deny them any of the multitudinous entitlements that are freely distributed throughout our society. Also, we must remember that illegals who have been here for less than five years only have to claim that they have been here longer than that in order to collect goodies. In effect, instead of helping 5 million people, we probably will be aiding at least twice that many.

Even this would not be a problem if we had plenty of money, but the sad fact is our national debt is approaching $18 trillion. If you paid that back at a rate of $1 billion per day, it would take nearly 50 years. Many powerful nations before us have met their fate through fiscal irresponsibility. What makes our leaders think we are immune from the destructive forces of a shaky financial foundation?