Saturday, August 30, 2014

In Search of a Strategy

Obama isn't the only one who needs a coherent approach to the worldwide jihad. 

S’long, Jeet

September 8, 2014 Issue

We know Derek Jeter by heart, so why all this memorizing? The between-pitches bat tucked up in his armpit. The fingertip helmet-twiddle. The left front foot wide open, out of the box until the last moment, and the cop-at-a-crossing right hand ritually lifted astern until the foot swings shut. That look of expectation, a little night-light gleam, under the helmet. The pitch—this one a slow breaking ball, a fraction low and outside—taken but inspected with a bending bow in its passage. More. Jeter’s celebrity extends beyond his swing, of course, but can perhaps be summarized by an excited e-mail once received by a Brearley School teacher from one of her seventh graders: “Guess what! I just Googled ‘Derek’s butt!’ ”

This is Derek Jeter’s twentieth and final September: twenty-seven more games and perhaps another hundred at-bats remain to be added to his franchise record, at this writing, of 2,720 and 11,094. He’s not having a great year, but then neither are the Yanks, who trail the Orioles by seven games in the American League East and are three games short of qualifying for that tacky, tacked-on new second wild-card spot in the post-season. It’s been a blah baseball year almost everywhere, and, come to think of it, watching Derek finish might be the best thing around.

Jeter has just about wound up his Mariano Tour—the all-points ceremonies around home plate in every away park on the Yankees’ schedule, where he accepts gifts, and perhaps a farewell check for his Turn 2 charity, and lifts his cap to the cheering, phone-flashing multitudes. He does this with style and grace—no one is better at it—and without the weepiness of some predecessors. His ease, his daily joy in his work, has lightened the sadness of this farewell, and the cheering everywhere has been sustained and genuine. Just the other day, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon groused about the rare sounds of cheering offered up to Derek by his customarily sleepy attendees.

At every stop, there have been replays of Jeter’s famous plays and moments up on the big screens—the no-man’s-land relay and sideways flip to nab the Athletics’ Jeremy Giambi at the plate in the 2001 American League Division Series; that horizontal dive into the Yankee Stadium third-base stands against the Red Sox in 2004. I don’t expect further dramatics—he’s forty and often in the lineup as d.h. these days—but closings have been a specialty of his, and it’s O.K. to get our hopes up one more time. I’m thinking of the waning days of the old Stadium, in 2008, when Derek’s great rush through September carried him to the top of the all-time career hits list at the famous crater, each fresh rap of his coming as accompaniment to the deep “Der-ek Je-tuh!” cries from the bleachers that the new restaurant site has pretty well silenced. The next year, up there, he passed Lou Gehrig for Most Yankee Base Hits Ever. Two years after that, he delivered his three-thousandth career hit: a home run that touched off a stunning five-for-five day at the Stadium against the Rays.

All right, I’ll settle for one more inside-out line-drive double to deep right —the Jeter Blue Plate that’s been missing of late. It still astounds me—Derek’s brilliance as a hitter has always felt fresh and surprising, for some reason—and here it comes one more time. The pitch is low and inside, and Derek, pulling back his upper body and tucking in his chin as if avoiding an arriving No. 4 train, now jerks his left elbow and shoulder sharply upward while slashing powerfully down at and through the ball, with his hands almost grazing his belt. His right knee drops and twists, and the swing, opening now, carries his body into a golf-like lift and turn that sweetly frees him while he watches the diminishing dot of the ball headed toward the right corner. What! You can’t hit like that—nobody can! Do it again, Derek.

It’s sobering to think that in just a few weeks Derek Jeter won’t be doing any of this anymore, and will be reduced to picturing himself in action, just the way the rest of us do. On the other hand, he’s never complained, and he’s been so good at baseball that he’ll probably be really good at this part of it too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, William Wilberforce

August 29, 2014

255 years ago, a "force" was born into this world. The aptly named William Wilberforce would prove to be instrumental -- not just in ending legalized slavery in England, but sparking unprecedented social reform in the Western World, and also in setting a framework for future generations to follow his path of persistence, faith and sacrifice for others.
Wilberforce still inspires generations of social reformers and political leaders over two and a half centuries since his birth.
Wilberforce has lessons for pro-lifers. One of the most important is an acute understanding of the obstacles that block success and how to combat them -- an understanding of the nature of social evil and the forces that sustain it. The campaign against slavery was much more complicated and difficult than portrayed in the familiar movie, Amazing Grace. While the movie is stirring, it provides only a snapshot of Wilberforce's taxing campaign, just the first 20 years of Wilberforce's campaign against the slave trade, from 1787 to 1807.
Wilberforce's work took more decades, including the next 25 years of his struggle against slavery itself (not just the trade of slaves), which was not abolished by Parliament until 1833, years after Wilberforce's retirement from Parliament and just a few days before his death. And after the full abolition of slavery in 1833, the struggle took many more years to effectively enforce the laws on the high seas and throughout the British Empire.
There were no silver bullets, though there was healthy (sometimes heated) debate about the right solution to the obstacles and the right road to success.
Wilberforce battled tremendous odds throughout his life. His greatest virtue was perseverance in the face of constant illness and many setbacks, while mastering political rhetoric and seeking cordial relations even with his most strident adversaries. Strategically focused, he combined long-term goals with short-term objectives. These included limiting the slave trade and reducing it as much as possible, and then regulating slavery (through e.g., registry laws) before it could realistically be prohibited.
One urban legend that needs to be dispelled is that Wilberforce "repented" of his "instrumentalism," or step-by-step approach. There's no historical record of this. The fact is that Wilberforce pursued abolition of the slave trade and the full abolition of slavery along with short-term objectives that would limit it. It was not either/or; it was both/and.
This unfortunate myth is apparently based on one passage from Wilberforce's diary: After the 20 year fight against the slave trade (1787-1807), Wilberforce and his allies refocused on the full abolition of slavery itself.
They encountered tremendous obstacles, domestic and foreign. In his book Amazing Grace, author Eric Metaxas writes that
Britain's horrendous domestic situation in 1818 prompted [British Foreign Minister] Castlereagh to strongly advise Wilberforce against pushing for emancipation just then. But Wilberforce was unhappy about waiting. That April, feeling ill, he poured out his feelings in his diary: 'I feel more and more convinced of the decay of my own faculties both bodily and mental and I must try to husband the little that remains. Alas how grieved I am, that I have not brought forward the state of [the] W. Indian slaves.' His guilt over the situation grew when the next day, again obviously sick and weak, he fumbled an opportunity to bring the subject up at a meeting of the African Institution...
This disappointment, during one of his recurring illnesses, hardly suggests repudiation of his strategy. In fact, a great victory that advanced governmental involvement in the fight against slavery was a law that at first may have seemed incremental.
When England was a war with France, Wilberforce's allies quietly put forth a bill that would allow the Royal Navy to commandeer the cargo of foreign ships captured. This innocuous bill allowed Britain to seize the cargo of slave ships that sailed under a number of national flags.
Writer David Perrin observed, "This meant that, over a period of time, English slave-traders were deprived of their ships and profits...This disabling of the slave trade meant that they could not pay off their supporter-MPs. Hence, Wilberforce's legislation to abolish the slave trade eventually passes in 1807."
Wilberforce's prudence and success should inspire us. Prudence is practical wisdom, which requires deliberation about concrete opportunities and obstacles in the specific context of our day. Under great pressure, Wilberforce discussed and debated tactics and strategies with a spirit of humility and goodwill. That may be the most important lesson that we can learn from him.
And we will follow the example of one of the greatest heroes ever born. Happy Birthday William Wilberforce, and thank you for living a life that exhibited timeless lessons.
Jeanneane Maxon is Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel for Americans United for Life. Clarke Forsythe is senior counsel at Americans United for Life and author of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade.

Rotherham’s — and England’s — Shame

The Muslim men who tortured more than 1,400 girls are criminals.
So are the authorities who covered it up. 

Lower corporate tax rates. Now.

By Charles Krauthammer
August 28, 2014

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler
The Obama administration is highly exercised about “inversion,” the practice by which an American corporation acquires a foreign company and moves its headquarters out of the United States to benefit from lower tax rates abroad.
Not fair, says Barack Obama. It’s taking advantage of an “unpatriotic tax loophole” that hardworking American families have to make up for by the sweat of their brow. His treasury secretary calls such behavior a violation of “economic patriotism.”
Nice touch. Democrats used to wax indignant about having one’s patriotism questioned. Now they throw around the charge with abandon, tossing it at corporations that refuse to do the economically patriotic thing of paying the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.
Odder still because Democrats routinely ridicule the very notion of corporations as persons. When Mitt Romney suggested that corporations were people in 2011, Democrats mocked him right through Election Day. In the Hobby Lobby case, they challenged the very idea that corporations can have religious convictions. Now, however, Democrats are demanding that corporations exercise a patriotic conscience. Which is it?
Moreover, corporations have an indisputable fiduciary responsibility to protect their shareholders’ interest. Surely Walgreens betrayed this responsibility when it caved to administration pressure and canceled its plans to move its headquarters to Switzerland. The inversion would’ve saved it billions of dollars. Its cancellation caused an instant 14 percent drop in Walgreens shares.
But the Democrats’ problem is deeper. Everyone knows why inversions are happening. America’s 35 percent corporate tax rate is absurdly uncompetitive. Companies are doing what they always do: try to legally lower their tax liabilities.
What is maddening is that the problem is so easily solved: tax reform that lowers the accursed corporate rate. Democrats and Republicans agree on this. After the announcement of the latest inversion, Burger King buying Tim Hortons and then moving to Canada, the president himself issued a statement conceding that corporate tax reform — lower the rates, eliminate loopholes — is the best solution to the inversion problem.
It’s also politically doable. Tax reform has unique bipartisan appeal. Conservatives like it because lowering rates stimulates the economy and eliminating loopholes curbs tax-driven economic decisions that grossly misallocate capital.
The appeal to liberals is economic fairness. By eliminating loopholes, tax reform levels the playing field. Today, the more powerful companies can afford the expensive lobbyists who create the loopholes and the expensive lawyers who exploit them. Which is why the nominal corporate tax rate is 35 percent but the effective rate for some of the largest corporations is about 13 percent.
So why not attack the inversion problem with its obvious solution: tax reform? Time is short, says Obama. He can’t wait. Instead, he wants legislation to outlaw inversion.
No time? Where has he been? He does nothing about tax reform for six years (during two of which Democrats fully controlled Congress), then claims now to be too impatient to attempt the real solution. Instead he wants to hurry through a punitive anti-inversion law to counterbalance the effects of our already punitive tax rates.
This is nuts. But amusing, given that a major financier of the inversion-célèbre of the day, the Whopper-to-Canada deal, is none other than Warren Buffett, Obama’s favorite plutocrat.
Buffett’s demand that the rich be required to pay more taxes made him a hero to the president. In 2012, Obama repeatedly held up Buffett as a champion of economic justice. What does Obama say today about his 2012 class-war comrade in arms — now become, by Obama’s own lights, an economic traitor?
And more such Benedict Arnolds are being minted every week. One of the reasons for the recent acceleration of inversions is that corporations want to move before Obama outlaws it, locking them into America’s anti-competitive corporate tax rate.
The Wall Street Journal cited a Buffett confidant as saying he likely wouldn’t have backed a deal like Burger King if it were purely for tax reasons. Indeed, there are other considerations that can always be invoked. Which makes some of the contemplated anti-inversion proposals even more absurd: They would outlaw only those mergers done for tax reasons. How do you prove motivation? Lie detectors?
A real political leader would abandon this sideshow and actually address corporate tax reform with a serious revenue-neutral proposal to Congress. There would be hearings, debate, compromises. We might end up with something like the historic bipartisan tax reform of 1986 that helped launch two decades of nearly uninterrupted economic growth.
But for that you need a president.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Rotherham Rapes’ Muslim Connection

Political correctness prevented authorities from recognizing the community’s sexual-abuse problem. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kenneth Timmerman On "The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi"

By Sarah Jean Seman
July 19, 2014

Kenneth Timmerman has reported from the Middle East for 35 years. He was one of the first journalists on the scene after Iranian terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.
When the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi left four Americans dead, Timmerman recognized the pathetically inadequate coverage.
“Iranians have been killing us for the past 30 plus years and the U.S. government has never done a thing,” Timmerman told Townhall. “I think it’s about time we stood up to the Islamic fascist government in Iran and made it clear that their continued murder of American citizens will not be tolerant any longer and we will make them pay a price for it.”
Timmerman utilized his contacts from the Middle East and his knowledge from time spent reporting on the ground in the countries to write “Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi.” Last week, Timmerman joined me for an exclusive interview.
Q: You write in the book that the Benghazi attacks were a culmination of a shift in U.S. policy that was set in motion by President Obama. What were the key moving points that led up to what happened in Benghazi?
Timmerman: The administration right in the beginning set off on a path to quote “improve relations with the muslim world.” This was an announced policy shift, it included also, an outreach toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. Obama claimed, inaccurately, that the Bush administration had no diplomatic contacts with the Iranians when, in fact, there had been 28 high-level meetings between Bush administration officials and the Iranian government that led to nothing.
Obama came this new stated policy and put it into effect immediately. He goes to Istanbul in April, he invites the Muslim Brotherhood to Washington to the White House for secret meetings also in April of 2009. In June, shortly after his speech at Cairo University, the pro-freedom demonstrations erupted in Iran after their failed, or stolen presidential elections, and there were 3 million people in the streets of Iran holding up signs in English: “Obama are you with us?” and he showed, very quickly, that he was not, and he was on the side of a radical Islamist regime in Tehran, rather than the people of Iran.
Fast-forward from there, to the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, the ousting of Mubarak in Egypt, and ultimately the ousting of Gaddafi, and what you have is a systematic reversal of American policy. The shift goes to essentially enhance radical Islamist regimes around the world, or to create them, as happened in Egypt and later in Libya. And that, I think, is what led directly to the Benghazi attacks. It showed weakness, and in the Middle East and the Muslim world, where I’ve been reporting from for the past 35 years, weakness invites attack.
Q: How did your knowledge of the Middle East add to the book?
Timmerman: Many of the players I know personally; I’ve met them, I’ve interviewed them. I’ve been to most of the countries that I describe. I was in Libya, witnessing Gaddafi’s submission to the United States in 2004. We actually got his weapons of mass destruction loaded onto a ship in Tripoli Harbor while I was there in March of 2004; brought back to the United States, both the uranium enrichment centrifuges and his ballistic missiles. This was a tremendous victory for the Bush administration.
Gaddafi also cut off his support for international terrorist organizations, and he truly did. He was an ally in the global War on Terrorism, he was cracking down on the al-Qaeda fronts in his country, and he was accepting Libyans that we had detained (either in Gitmo or Pakistan, or elsewhere) in his jails and treating them relatively humanely. And I can say that, because Chris Stevens was going into the jails to actually interview these prisons to make sure that they were not being tortured.
Gaddafi had become a de facto ally in the war against global terrorism and what do we do in response? We throw him over, in exchange for the terrorists we were trying to fight.
Q: Do you think Obama’s actions result from design or ignorance?
Timmerman: This was a policy of conviction on the part of the president and his closest advisors. He believed, for whatever reason, that the United States was at fault. That the hostility towards the United States that led to the September 11, 2001 attack was America’s fault and that we had to correct the image that we presented around the world, by kowtowing to dictators, by kowtowing to Islamic fundamentalists, and by pretending that radical Islam was as acceptable don’t know, democratic socialism in Europe.
Q: You discuss how former White House press Secretary Jay Carney played a part in the cover-up, and even more recently he criticized the GOP for politicizing Benghazi. What is the proper response to that claim?
I’ve notice that Jay Carney has since resigned, perhaps because telling lies on a daily basis just got too much for him. We only know the bare minimum of the facts, of what happened in Benghazi, that’s why I wrote this book.
I am only one person. I did not have big think tank people behind me, I did not have any major news organization behind me. I did have 35 years of experience in the Middle East and a pretty large rolodex of contacts. I went to defectors for the Iranian terrorism organization, for example, to ask the fundamental question: “Was Iran engaged at all in Benghazi?” The information that came back was astonishing. That should have been accessible to other reporters and other researchers, as well as to the U.S. government. I found out, also through my contacts, about an absolutely astonishing arms smuggling operation out of Libya to radical jihadi groups around the world, that appears to have been authorized, or at the very least explicitly tolerated, by John Brennan, who at the time was the president’s counterterrorism advisor. That is in violation of so many U.S. statutes it’s hard to number them on my hands and my feet.
Q: What would you like to see moving forward?
Timmerman: It’s time to tell the truth. It’s time to get the facts out. It’s time for the American people to understand and be told, authoritatively, that what happened in Benghazi was a state-sponsored terrorist attack by the Islamic people of Iran. And it’s time for the U.S. government to stand up to that very uncomfortable truth and do something about it.