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The news this morning carried an article about Bill Gates investing in land to build a “smart city” in the Arizona desert. It got me to thinking about the word “smart” being used to advance progressive policies.

People who like new-urbanism like to promote “smart-growth”.  The problem with this type of talk is that it makes the unspoken assumption that opposing ideas are by definition, “dumb”.  Hillary Clinton used to talk about “smart power”, the obvious unsaid statement being that other ways of projecting power were the result of ignorance. This came from a person who supported toppling both the Iraq and Libya invasions, against the 2007 surge of American troops, and oversaw the mistake-ridden aftermath in Libya. It takes some nerve to talk about “smart power” after all of those decisions.

I met a whole lot of so-called “smart” people in law school. Some really were smart. Some were merely book-smart. Some were industrious overachievers. And a few, I wondered what they were doing there.  As noted in the famous Fredo and Michael scene in Godfather II, even stupid people hate being considered stupid.

Describing policies as “smart” sounds smug, self-satisfied, exclusive and in a democratic society that depends on the votes of the many, well … kinda dumb.


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President Trump has announced he is not going to attend the White House Correspondents Association Dinner this April. Some mainstream journalists have said that the dinner is a relic that should be discarded. I respectfully dissent on both counts.

It’s not news that the President’s relationship with much of the mainstream press is seriously dysfunctional. He distrusts journalists and they distrust him. This contrasts with the veritable fandom that greeted the last President.

For decades, the WHCA dinner has offered one night when a president and his erstwhile tormenters could lay down their arms, have a meal and a little fun before returning to battle the next day. That appears to be more needed than ever this year. It is ironic that this is the year some media folks are saying it should end. During the Obama years, the dinner was just one more opportunity for hero worship. NOW, when the President and the press are at each others’ throat, is when the dinner serves a purpose.

Rather than have the President skip the dinner, the WHCA should consider having a comic who is less likely to lambaste Mr. Trump. Most major comics these days seem to feel it is their moral duty to ‘speak truth to power’ by ripping President Trump (and this after leaving the President Obama virtually untouched for eight years). Someone like Adam Carolla or Bill Burr is likely to spray comic abuse upon the whole room, rather than raining down exclusively on Mr. Trump. If the Association is graceful enough to invite a fair-minded comic and the President finds the grace to attend, it may do the town and the country some good.

– 1TF

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On December 5, 1931, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Savior was destroyed on the orders of Soviet Premier Jozef Stalin. The idea was that a “palace” or museum in honor of socialism would be constructed in its place – “reason” taking the place of “superstition”. The German invasion stopped Stalin’s construction of the museum, and it was never restarted.

Those of us concerned about the decline of the church in the West can take some solace in this episode. Stalin overtly attempted to destroy the church in his country and to depress it throughout Eastern Europe. In the end, some who saw the destruction of the cathedral as children would live to see the end of not only Stalinism but Communism itself, with all its attendant religious persecution.

And what sits in the spot of that old cathedral now? A new one.

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For the past few months, Democrats have enjoyed telling Republicans, “You brought this on yourselves” in regard to the Trump nomination. Never mind that most Republicans opposed him. Had there been a runoff between Trump and anyone not named Cruz, Trump may well have lost. The story went that by constantly opposing the President and encouraging allowing voters to think that the impossible was possible (ie. one could enforce a Republican agenda even with a Democrat in the White House), the GOP set itself up for takeover by a demagogue who would promise voters anything.

The Democratic establishment, meanwhile, actively chose someone it knew roughly half the country disliked and distrusted. There is a good reason for the distrust – from cattle futures to the travel office to discrediting Bill’s paramours to the private server, Mrs. Clinton has shown a propensity for playing by her own rules and then playing the victim when she’s caught. Now, it’s the emails again. FBI Director Comey’s announcement reminded voters of why they have strong reservations about Clinton’s candidacy: she is excessively secretive and she and her husband don’t tell the truth.

In pushing her candidacy anyway, when you knew all this – even to the point of gaming the system to ensure her weak campaign’s victory over Bernie Sanders – Democrats, you really did bring this on yourselves. There were more likable, more trustworthy – and yes, more competent – options than Mrs. Clinton. But a combination of identity politics and fear caused you to choose this hopelessly divisive person as the one you wanted to rule over the country. When her campaign proved poor and Sen. Sanders’ stronger than expected, leaders of the DNC had to tilt the playing field to ensure her victory. Now – after literally decades of people weighing in saying they don’t trust her – you appear surprised that people still don’t trust her. The fact that she’s running against a terribly flawed candidate doesn’t wash her own sins away.

Hillary Clinton is locked in a tight election against the weakest candidate the Republicans have put up in modern times. She has no one to blame but herself. And Democrats, you have no one to blame but yourself for backing such a flawed candidate. You brought this on yourselves.



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Damon Linker’s article in “The Week” on the chances of Hillary Clinton winning a mandate is the triumph of hope over experience. Mr. Linker writes Mrs. Clinton is likely to have a mandate based purely on the percentage of people voting for her. I respectfully disagree. Clinton won’t have a mandate – “Not Trump” will have a mandate. Clinton hasn’t run on her policies; she has largely disappeared from the campaign trail and let Trump slit his own throat.

Think about Clinton’s TV ads. How many are positive visions based on her policies? Compare that with how many are about Trump. Mr. Linker says that “Not Trump” people could have voted for Johnson or Stein or McMullin. He neglects the idea that many have (incorrectly in my opinion, but they have it), that this is a binary choice – that a vote for one of the minor candidates is effectively a “half-vote”, and that only a vote for Trump or Clinton is a full vote against the other major candidate.

Virginia already has some experience on this. Terry McAuliffe won the governorship over Ken Cuccinelli in 2013 in a remarkably nasty and expensive campaign. But McAuliffe didn’t win a mandate; “Not Cuccinelli” did. McAuliffe can’t get his priorities through the legislature, because the Republicans hold it and everyone knows McAuliffe has no mandate.

“Not Trump” is a strong candidate this year. Hillary Clinton is not. “Not Trump” will have a strong mandate. Hillary Clinton will not.




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Back in the Spring, I compared the Left’s reaction to Indiana’s religious protection law to the French Revolution. It appears that was just the appetizer. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the Left is out in force seeking the spoils of war. A recent scan of the newspapers indicates that liberals are moving on to new territory. One Time magazine column is on legalizing polygamy, another ( from a New York Times religion columnist no less) was a recommendation to end the tax exclusion for non-profits including churches. Another wanted to end tax exclusion only for churches who didn’t support gay marriage. In recent years, conservative predictions that this kind of thing would happen were scoffed at by the left with charges of conservative hysteria. Well, turns out once again, conservatives were right to worry. Together with the calls for getting rid of any vestiges of the Confederacy (not only the battle flag, but now monuments, names of schools, etc.), it is evidence that many on the Left simply don’t like us on the Right and now that the tide is high for them, they mean to make us pay.

Two articles that caught my attention today were by Richard Cohen and Peter Beinart. They’re both usually good writers, even if I usually disagree with them. But today, neither could muster much grace. Cohen thought Republicans had failed in part because they had been “wrong” on every social issue. Not incorrect, not mistaken. Wrong, in a way that made it seem he thought us bad people. I was sad he included abortion in the mix. Cohen used to be more thoughtful on that issue, thinking he may have gone too far in supporting it as a matter of sexual freedom in his earlier days. Alas, he appears to have backslid; it’s always remarkable to me now people can be so cavalier about the untimely death of others.

As for Mr. Beinart, he accused Republicans of lacking empathy, utterly unaware of the irony that he and his fellow Jacobins have shown virtually none toward this country’s more traditional citizens in the past couple of weeks. I would remind Mr. Beinart that the vast majority of both conservatives and southern citizens are good, open-minded, caring people (and represent a large portion of the guardians of our society (military, police, fire, etc.)). The fact that none of the Presidential candidates fell in line after the Supreme Court decision shouldn’t surprise anyone. Did the Democrats fall in line and accept Citizens United? No, they still thought it was wrong and vowed to fight it. It’s once again different rules for different parties.

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Several major nations including the US are engaged in talks with Iran to supposedly halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  Reports indicate that a deal may be at hand.  The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is deeply concerned that this deal will be a bad one for Israel.  Word is the deal only hold Iran back for ten years – and that’s if Iran keeps its word, which appears unlikely.  Iran is keenly interested in getting its economic sanctions listed.  Once those are lifted, Iran may well look for an excuse to get moving again, which would unleash a nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia.

A quick word for those Americans, especially those on the left, who find Mr. Netanyahu’s views incomprehensible:  First, understand that, while the US has strategic depth in dealing with Iran (ie. we’re so big, Iran couldn’t destroy us no matter what), Israel doesn’t have that comfort.  Two large bombs hit Tel Aviv and western Jerusalem and the Israeli state as we know it is done.  It will be cold comfort to survivors if the US responds to an Iranian attack; nuclear strike on Iran won’t get Israelis their country back.  Second, I recommend watching the film Operation Thunderbolt about the hijacking of an Israeli airliner in 1976.  The plane lands in Uganda; the non-Israeli hostages are released, but the Israelis are held, and Israeli commandos have to storm the plane.  Before the raid, the commando leader makes an impassioned speech about how Israel is alone and that they must help themselves.  They storm the terminal, kill the hijackers and  rescue all but three hostages, but the commando leader is killed.

Know that the story is true.  And know that the slain leader was Yonatan Netanyahu – Bibi’s brother.

This isn’t some academic exercise for Netanyahu or for Israel.  They feel alone and vulnerable; they simply cannot accept a deal that they believe Iran will easily circumvent.  They live in a dangerous neighborhood and are always two nuclear bombs away from extinction.  That’s why Netanyahu is the way he is on Iran.  It may seem difficult, but it’s utterly rational.

Now as for why he acts like he does regarding the West Bank settlements?  That one’s a bit harder to understand.


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