Saturday, September 05, 2015

Today's Tune: Future Islands - The Chase (Live on The Letterman Show)

Free Kim Davis

By Jack Cashill
September 5, 2015

Kimberly Davis (Carter County Detention Center)

"I'm glad the court sent a strong message that you have to follow the law," said Timothy Love of Kentucky, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage. The strong message that U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning was to send Kim Davis to prison.  Davis, the county clerk of Kentucky’s Rowan County, boldly refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple.

Love’s comment raises at least two interesting questions.  One is this: when did the left develop this affection for following the law?  Regarding drugs, immigration, debt repayment, occupying stuff, shutting down stuff, and even burning down stuff, progressives have proudly and openly defied the law and encouraged others to do the same.

Classify this sudden outbreak of good citizenship as routine leftist hypocrisy.

The second and more salient question is one that Davis herself has raised: “Under what law am I authorized to issue homosexual couples a marriage license?”

In a letter to his supporters, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee clarified the decision by Democrat Davis.  “The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law,” said Huckabee.  “They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same-sex marriage, Kim does not have the Constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples.”

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton referred to the judiciary as the least dangerous branch of government.  He argued that under the Constitution, judges would possess “neither force nor will, but merely judgment.”  The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution further restrained the judgment of the federal judiciary.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” reads the amendment in unmistakably clear prose.  The Founding Fathers obviously made no provisions in the Constitution for same-sex marriage.  In fact, they made no provisions for marriage at all.  Laws on marriage age, eligibility, blood tests, witnesses, divorce, and the like were reserved to the states.

The impasse in Rowan County developed because the United States Supreme Court dramatically exceeded its mandate.  In Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that legalized same-sex marriage, Judge Anthony Kennedy all but acknowledged as much.  “While the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change,” he observed, “individuals who are harmed need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.”

The Constitution does more than “contemplate.”  Article 5 spells out the process for amending the Constitution with commendable precision.  Given that the full-scale legalization of same-sex marriage would do something unprecedented – namely, undermine, even criminalize, the traditional practice of the nation’s dominant religion – a constitutional amendment would have seemed the way to go.  As bad as Roe v. Wade is, it did not make anyone do anything that violated his or her faith.

As I argue in my new book, Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism, undermining faith is the driving impulse of the same-sex marriage movement.  The progressive activists pushing it have no real interest in gays and even less in marriage.  Their interest is in subverting the traditions that undergird America, none more consequential than Christianity.

In his greater wisdom, Kennedy cared not to know this.  He thought the gay marriage issue too urgent “to await further legislation, litigation, and debate.”  He worried about the “pain and humiliation” gay couples would suffer if denied a right that even President Obama opposed as recently as three years ago.

While running for president, in fact, Obama championed not only traditional marriage, but also the Constitution.  As he argued in Audacity of Hope, that august document “encouraged the very process of information gathering, analysis, and argument that allows us to make better, if not perfect, choices, not only about the means to our ends but also about the ends themselves.”

As to people of faith like Kim Davis concerned about “the ends themselves,” Kennedy told them not to worry.  “The First Amendment,” Kennedy wrote, “ensures that religions, those who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.”

A federal judge has sent Kim Davis to prison for sticking to the principles Kennedy promised to protect.  However, since no relevant legislature has codified any sex marriage laws, no legislature has had the chance to codify any exceptions for people of faith.

So Judge Bunning did what the left and the media expected of him: he improvised by sending Davis to prison.
One would think, though, that if the Fourteenth Amendment safeguards gays from suffering the “pain and humiliation” of being denied marriage, the First Amendment should certainly protect practicing Christians, Muslims, and Jews from the pain and humiliation of being denied their very freedom.

“Further legislation, litigation, and debate” just might have sorted this all out.

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There’s a Whole Arsenal of Smoking Guns in the Clinton E-mail Scandal

The very existence of her illicit server means she broke the rules.

By Jonah Goldberg — September 4, 2015
Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Every time the State Department pulls out a new fistful of Hillary Clinton e-mails like Richard Dreyfuss yanking a license plate out of a shark’s belly in Jaws, someone declares that there’s “no smoking gun!”

I’ve written before about how shouting “There’s no smoking gun!” is a non-denial denial. Ask a cop. When a murder suspect immediately exclaims, “You have no indisputable evidence I murdered my boss!” instead of, “I didn’t do it!” it’s a good sign that the suspect thinks he covered his tracks, not that he’s innocent.

Fellas, if your wife asks if you’re having an affair, respond by saying, “You have no proof!” See if she takes that for a denial.

But here’s the thing. There is a smoking gun. In fact, there’s a whole smoking arsenal. The problem is that the standards for what counts as a smoking gun keep changing.

Nearly everything Clinton has said in her defense regarding her secret server has been a lie. Among the minor lies: her claim that she set up the server so she could use a single device. (She had two.) Her claim that the State Department was saving her e-mails to staff. (It wasn’t until 2010.) Her claim that she erased tens of thousands of e-mails because they included, among other things, her e-mail correspondence with her husband. (Bill Clinton doesn’t use e-mail.)

Hillary Clinton said she never solicited e-mail from her lugubrious political hatchet man, Sidney Blumenthal. The latest e-mails show that she was in near-constant contact with him, encouraging him to keep his various reports coming. Blumenthal was barred from getting a job at the White House, so Clinton set him up at her charity–cum–super PAC, the Clinton Foundation.

The more important lie: She said she never received or sent classified information. “I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material.”

Note: This was not an off-the-cuff statement. She said this while reading from notes, after consulting with her campaign team and her lawyers, in a ballyhooed press conference in March at the United Nations.

And it was a lie. When the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community confirmed in July that she had sent classified material, Clinton “clarified” her carefully prepared lie by saying that what she meant was none of the e-mails she sent or received were marked classified at the time.

#share#This left out the fact that the whole point of the secret server was that it was hidden from the officials whose job is to designate documents as classified (and to keep it all hidden from Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional oversight). It’s like setting up an illegal still and then claiming none of the moonshine you sold was marked “illegal.”

But the deceit goes deeper. Most people can be forgiven for not understanding the difference between classified documents and classified information. A classified document is marked “Top Secret” or some such. But people who work in government understand that lots of information is classified simply by virtue of the kind of information it is.

My National Review colleague Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, has been setting his head on fire trying to get the mainstream media to take note of this fact. He points out that according to an executive order issued by President Obama, all “foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security” and is therefore presumed classified. Clinton routinely ignored this rule. That’s not just my opinion. A study by Reuters found that “Clinton and her senior staff routinely” ignored these rules.

“Here’s my personal e-mail,” Clinton told Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who then proceeded to convey numerous private conversations he had with foreign leaders.

The Washington Times reports that Clinton’s unsecured e-mails contained spy-satellite information about North Korea’s movement of its nuclear assets. This sort of information is universally recognized as top secret and is normally subjected to draconian safeguards. There is no way Clinton didn’t know this.

All of these — and many other — facts would have counted as “smoking guns” if they had been divulged immediately after Clinton’s U.N. press conference. But Clinton, with the help of her praetorian defenders in the media, keeps moving the goalposts.

Still, all of this ignores the biggest smoking gun of them all: her illicit server. It’s sitting in plain view, its smoke visible to anyone with eyes to see.

— Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. He can be reached by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2015 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Migrant to Mexico Defends Trump, Denounces Ramos

Humberto Fontova | Sep 04, 2015

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos asks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a question about his immigration proposal during a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa.

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos asks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a question about his immigration proposal during a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa. CHARLIE NEIBERGALL AP

Read more here:
“I cover many issues in many countries,” (Univision’s Jorge Ramos to CNN’s Brian Stelter 8/25/2015)
“I’ve never ceased to be Mexican. I have two passports, and I vote in elections in both countries. (Univision’s Jorge Ramos, Time Magazine, 1/2/2013.)
“Then why your silence on the thousands upon thousands of Cubans that are arrested, beaten, extorted and deported by migratory officials of YOUR country, Mr Ramos?” Rafael Alejandro Hernandez, 8/28/2015)
Rafael Alejandro Hernández is a young Cuban lawyer living in Mexico who knows from firsthand experience what migrants to Mexico go through. Last week he unloaded on Jorge Ramos:
“Mr Ramos, you as Mexican citizen have no moral authority whatsoever to criticize U.S. immigration policy.”
“You claim to be a journalist not a politician. But Mr Donald Trump threw you out only because you were impertinent and completely out of line. Your behavior was shameful. In fact you weren’t even asking a question. You were making outright declarations. Some journalist!
“Every week thousands of Cubans migrants to Mexico are arrested, beaten, extorted and swindled by the Mexican gov. in collusion with the Castro tyranny!But I’ve never heard you utter a peep against the Mexican government over this, Mr Jorge Ramos! And you claim to be a proud and vocal Mexican citizen, Mr Jorge Ramos!
“Why not come to your Mexico and try telling President Pena Nieto that deporting Cubans to Castro means they’ll live in a prison. Why not practice what you preach, Mr Ramos?
“You denounce the U.S.–a country that opened its doors to you, yourself, sir–but you refuse to utter a peep against your native Mexico, that deports Cubans not because they’re delinquents–but as a matter of policy.
“I’m speaking to you as someone who was jailed for 49 days in a Mexican prison for migrants and freed only after a hunger strike where I almost died.
“Next time you attend a Trump press conference you might ask permission to speak, and wait your turn like all the others. And since you seem to like to talk without permission, Mr Ramos, come to Mexico and try that stunt!”
In fact, Mexico can be quite hospitable to political migrants. Much depends on their political orientation and –especially--the official palms they grease. Take Leon Trotsky, who found brief asylum in Mexico from January 1937 until August 20th, 1940 when a Stalinist-agent named Ramon Mercader snuck into his house and smashed an ice-ax into his skull.
And take a Cuban criminal named Fidel Castro who in 1955 linked up with an Argentine hobo named Ernesto Guevara in Mexico City. Minus this historic hook-up everything points to Ernesto (shortly known a “Che”) continuing his life of a traveling hobo, panhandling, mooching off women, staying in flophouses and scribbling unreadable poetry. Instead this thoroughly unimposing vagabond and psycho named Ernesto Guevara had the magnificent fortune of linking up with modern history's top press agent, Fidel Castro, who for going on half a century now has had the mainstream media anxiously scurrying to his every beck and call and eating out of his hand like trained pigeons.
Fidel and Raul were in Mexico putting together a guerrilla band to invade Cuba and overthrow Batista. With the financial help of his wealthy Cuban backers of the time, Castro hired a Cuban Korean war veteran named Miguel Sanchez to train this guerrilla band. None of the trainees had the slightest combat-experience so their extra-curricular curiosity on the matter did not surprise Sanchez.
But one of the trainees struck Sanchez as bit strange, especially the gleam in his eye regarding the act of killing. “How many men have you killed?” this trainee constantly asked Sanchez. “What does it feel like to kill a man?”
“Look Ernesto (he was not yet known by his moniker “Che,”)” Sanchez would reply. “It was a war. I was in combat. It wasn’t a personal thing. Most soldiers don’t make it a personal thing. You aim at an enemy uniform and pull the trigger. That’s it.”
“But did you ever come upon a wounded enemy and kill him with the coup de grace?” A wide-eyed Ernesto Guevara would continue. “What did it feel like? I want to know what it feels like.”
“It became obvious to me that the man who would shortly become known as “Che” wanted to kill for the sake of the act itself,” recalled Sanchez later from exile in Miami, “instead of-- as in the case of most others, and this includes Fidel and Raul Castro themselves—as a means to an end. That end for Castro, of course, was absolute power,” Sanchez quickly recognized. “His power lust fueled his killing, and it didn’t seem to affect him one way or the other. With Ernesto Guevara, however, it struck me as a different motivation, a different lust.”
“On Sundays in Mexico I would often dine with Guevara and his Peruvian wife, a great cook,” recalls Sanchez. “Ernesto was a voracious reader and loved poetry. I’ll never forget his favorite poem “despair” by Jose de Espronceda.
“I love a sullen-eyed gravedigger crushing skulls with his shovel!
I would love to light the flames of a holocaust which spreads devouring flames that pile up dead and roast an old man until he crackles
What pleasure! What Pleasure!”
“Ernesto Guevara would close his eyes dreamily and recite it from memory during all of my visits, even at the dinner table, recalled Sanchez.

“He went into convulsions for a while and was finally still, gloats Che Guevara in his Cuban diaries. He was lovingly describing the death agonies of a bound Cuban peasant he had just shot in the temple with his pistol. “Now his belongings were mine.” (Unwittingly here Che Guevara defines Communism in a nutshell: cowardly murder and theft.)

Another item Sanchez recalls about Ernesto Guevara was his constant belittling of his hosts: Mexicans. “These Mexicans are nothing but a rabble of illiterate Indians,” Che Guevara often snickered.

Friday, September 04, 2015

4 reasons why independent bookstores are thriving

By Jessica Hullinger
September 1, 2015

Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, North Carolina (

BookCourt, a family-owned bookstore in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood, has been in the same location for 34 years, longer than most residents. It's also probably longer than anyone predicted, because a few blocks down, a Barnes & Noble looms on the corner.

Inside BookCourt, however, business is bustling. Customers inquire about titles they're searching for. Kids quietly play in the children's section. "Are you hiring?" one girl asks the clerk.

"We're doing very well," says Andrew Unger, who has been an employee at the store for three years. "We don't like people coming in and saying 'Oh you guys are suffering so much,' because we're not."

BookCourt is one of thousands of independent bookstores in the U.S. that are thriving long after analysts predicted their demise. In the early 2000s, big box stores were expected to steamroll the indie bookseller, marking the end of these cozy reading corners. Indeed, for a while, it looked like this was coming to fruition. Between 2000 and 2007, more than 1,000 independent bookstores across America closed their doors.

But then, things changed. In 2011, Borders filed for bankruptcy. Barnes & Noble's attempts to jump on the e-reading bandwagon with its Nook reader have mostly flopped. Between 2009 and 2014, the retailer closedmore than 60 stores and this year plans to close another 13.

Meanwhile, independent bookstores are enjoying a revival. From 2009 to 2014, the number of independent bookstores has increased by 27 percent, according to the American Booksellers Association. Sales at independent bookstores are outpacing the growth of book sales in general.

"Bookstores are here to stay," proclaimed Michele Filgate for BuzzFeed.Thad McIlroy, a publishing analyst based in Vancouver and San Francisco, calls it the indie bookstore renaissance. But what's behind the comeback? What are independent bookstores doing right, and what can other Main Street retailers, from clothing stores to coffee shops, learn from their resilience? Here, four secrets to their success.

1. They offer an experience

While independent bookstores can't compete with Amazon or big box retailers on price or selection, the truth is they don't have to. That customers keep coming back despite other available options suggests they aren't looking for a bargain. They're looking for an experience, and the more unique, the better. "Indeed, that's all that remains is the retail experience they have going in," says McIlroy.

"I definitely wanted to create an experience," says Josh Spencer, owner ofThe Last Bookstore, which has become a bit of a tourist destination since it opened in downtown Los Angeles in 2009. "I thought, people aren't gonna come just to buy books, because they can buy them on Amazon." Wandering around his shop is an adventure. Odd bits of architectural flair garnish the stacks. There's a tunnel made entirely of books. In one section, the bookends are all delightfully arranged by color. People walk in to indulge their curiosity, and hopefully walk out with a book.

"You see it a lot on Tumblr or Instagram," says Katie Orphan, a manager at The Last Bookstore. "We've had a really wonderful advantage in that our store is not just a place to pick up whatever book you need but it's also a place that people go for the experience of having come here. You get a unique experience with a bookstore you can't get online. That has been a really valuable part of the store for us."

Booksellers have the added benefit of dealing in goods that many people have a nostalgic craving for. "There's a resurgence of and a consciousness of having a physical book," says Unger. "People talk about books as things to have, which I don't think they did 10 years ago. I think were seeing a lot of people coming in who want to be a part of that. They want to be in a store that sells real books."

2. They curate and recommend in a human way

The well-read employee is one of the most valuable resources bookstores offer. They know the store's unique collection inside out and can help a customer find a book just for her — in a nuanced way that's very different than Amazon's machine-generated recommendations. That kind of human-customized shopping experience is hard to find, and creates loyal customers. "You cannot invent an algorithm that is as good at recommending books as a good bookseller," John Green, author of The Fault in Our Starstold BuzzFeed. "And that's the secret weapon of the bookstore — is that no algorithm will ever understand readers the way that other readers can understand readers."

Unger says a good bookseller knows when to tell someone they shouldn't buy a particular book because it isn't right for them. "If they want somebody who knows books and has a relationship to whatever book they might be looking for or they wanna talk about it, we have that," he says. "We have a lot of that."

3. They're diversifying their offerings

Books may be their bread and butter, but many indies are adapting to the changing landscape by selling other stuff, too. At The Strand in Manhattan, 15 percent of the store's revenue now comes from things that aren't books: stationery, bags, T-shirts, and postcards.

"There's no reason to be a purist," says McIlroy, "but there's every reason to say, 'Well customers are coming in, what is it we can offer them that they'll give us cash for and make them like coming in here more than they did the day before?'"

4. They foster community

Author readings, kids events, and panel discussions all help make the independent bookstore not just a place to buy books, but a place to commune and exchange ideas. Unger says BookCourt hosts 30 events a month that bring in hundreds of people. "For so many families in Brooklyn, this is kind of like their living room," he says. "We can be a store that's a reflection of the community, supported by the community, and we can be a meeting place for people. On the weekends, this is always the place where people meet before movies. And we can rely on that."

Such hubs are beloved and fiercely defended by the locals they serve. When the Rizzoli bookstore in Manhattan was forced to close because the building's owners wanted to demolish it, customers rallied and started a petition to get the building classified as a landmark to prevent demolition. The petition failed, and the store reopened elsewhere, but that kind of attachment to a retailer is rare and rooted in a strong sense of community.

"Every store has its own reason why it survives," Unger says. "Every store has a different way of going about it. One thing we're just really grateful for is there's a community here that wants us to be here and so they make sure we're able to be here."


It’s not the age of the Koran but its contents that cast doubt on Islam.

September 4, 2015

Pieces of a Koran which might be older than Muhammad discovered in Birmingham

Pages from the recently discovered manuscript (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
The media is abuzz with news that a portion of the Koran, which Muslims believe was first recited by their prophet, Muhammad, may actually predate Muhammad himself.  Many seem to think that such news will have a large impact on the Muslim world and make Muslims rethink the veracity of their faith.
Thus Tom Holland, a British historian, asserts, “It destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged.  And that, in turn, has implications for the historicity of Mohammed and his followers.”
A Koranic manuscript consultant at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Dr. Keith Small, is more emphatic and “told the Times that if the dating is confirmed, as he believed would happen, it could raise serious problems for Islam,” since “This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition.  The history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised.”
Nonsense.  This recent discovery, far from threatening “the edifice of Islamic tradition” or “rais[ing] problems for Islam” is currently being used all around the Muslim world in support of Islam, for a number of reasons.
First, the carbon dating is not radically incongruous with Islamic dating.  It indicates that the text was written sometime between 568 and 645.  Muslim tradition holds that Muhammad lived between lived 570 and 632, and that the Koran was collated and finalized around 650. 
In other words, if the text was written anytime from 610-645—a full 35 years that fall within the range of the carbon testing—it poses no problems for Islam, for Muslims believe that Muhammad began receiving “revelations” or theayat that became the verses of the Koran when he was forty.  All it would mean is that, instead of believing that the Koran was collated in 650, portions of it were written down a few years earlier.  
Hardly a thing to rock the faith of most Muslims.
In fact, there is very little that Western scholars and scientists can do or say about Islam that would have much influence on the Islamic mindset.  The fact is, over centuries, lots of things have emerged that should put the veracity of the Koran and Islam to the test—whether the plausible suggestion that Muhammad never existed, certainly not the Muhammad of Islamic tradition, or whether the fact that the Koran, which says of itself that it is written in “pure Arabic” (see 12:2, 13: 37), has several Syro-Aramaic words in it.  Or perhaps that the Koran says, very literally, that the sun sets in a pool of dark mud (18:86).
Science doesn’t hold much weight with the modern Islamic mindset—not when it contradicts the Koran.  The earth is round?  So say the lying infidels, responded the late Saudi grand mufti, Bin Baz: if the Koran says the earth is flat (88:20), the earth is flat!
Interestingly, even in the West, if people come to believe that the Koran predates Muhammad, it won’t matter much: we will still be told to respect Islam; after all, Muslims believe it.  Whether one rejects the prophethood of Muhammad—the definition of a non-Muslim—or whether one rejects traditional Islamic chronology it’s the same conclusion: Islam is a false religion.
The problem here is that we are dealing with reciprocal projection—the Western mentality projecting its appreciation for reason onto Muslims, and the Muslim mentality projecting its own subversive methods onto the Other, the Infidel, the sworn enemy.  Westerners may think this will have an impact on Muslim faith because they know it would have an impact on their own.  Conversely, Muslims, who from the start have built their faith on casting doubt and aspersions on the faiths of others, are convinced that any Western claim, scientific or otherwise, that casts doubts on the origins of Islam is merely the latest infidel conspiracy theory. 
After all, was it not Muhammad himself who taught that the texts of Judaism and Christianity—the Bible—are corrupt and fraudulent.  Is it not obvious, Muslims are thinking, that the infidels will turn this argument on us by saying the Koran is of dubious authenticity? 
If reason was a cornerstone of Islamic thinking—it was laid in its grave by the ulema in the 10th century—Muslims would have lost faith in Islam a long time ago (many have and do but remain nominal Muslims due to fears of the apostasy penalty).  
It’s not the age of the Koran but its contents that speak against its veracity.  
A book that calls for savagely killing all who do not submit to its authority; that calls for beheadings, crucifixions, and mutilations; that justifies theft, extortion, and the sexual enslavement of “infidel’ women and children; a book that calls for everything ungodly but claims to have been written by God is false on principle.  Carbon dating is irrelevant.
But of course, while Western academics, politicians, and media can openly discuss this issue of the Koran’s dating—after all, it’s “scientific”—criticizing the Koran from a moral point of view, which is what’s needed here, remains unthinkable (remember: morality is relative in the West).  
And so, when all is said and done, the mantra that “Islam is peace” will continue to be chanted mindlessly in the West.  
 Tags: IslamkoranMediascience

The murder spike in America’s cities is part of the Obama legacy

By Ed Rogers
September 3, 2015

With headlines about the growing murder rate in our cities becoming more and more prevalent, the contours of the 2016 campaign may be coming into view.  I can see smart GOP campaigns in 2016 taking a three-prong approach to attacking their Democratic opponents. Republican candidates will talk about strengthening our weak economy, reversing the embarrassment of our decline in influence abroad and introducing a plan to put an end to the raging crime wave currently occurring in American cities across the country.
The spike in murders could be every bit as corrosive for the Democrats as our economic woes and foreign policy failures. Simply put, fear of crime could drive turnout up for Republicans and down for Democrats. No one who is worried about crime in their neighborhood or about crime coming to their neighborhood should think that electing more Democrats anywhere to any office is the solution.
The completely unprepared Barack Obama, who was elected to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer, set the tone early in his presidency with a bias that was – at best – skeptical about the police. And his fellow Democrats either remained silent or joined the chorus when radicals in their own party called for less incarceration, fewer arrests and a pullback of police presence in high-crime communities. Well, you reap what you sow.  The spike in murders and violent crime is an issue of the Democrats’ own making. And, oh by the way, pandering to government unions for endorsements isn’t the same as supporting cops on the streets.
The Post’s Courtland Milloy wrote an interesting piece, “We’ve ignored a reason for homicides of blacks: Look at the enemy within.”  Incredibly, Milloy quotes THE Eric Holder talking about violence in 1994, when Holder said, “Crime is generated by a lack of values that has gone largely unaddressed in our nation as a whole and in the black community in particular.  Soaring unwed birthrates, absentee fathers, an aversion to work, an unwillingness to embrace societal standards and time-honored discipline – all these factors have contributed to the problems we must now confront.”  If a Republican said that today, we know how the Democrats would howl.  More than two decades later, speaking as Attorney General under President Obama, Eric Holder was blaming “systemic racism” and “cycles of poverty, crime and incarceration” for the same problem.  Milloy argues those two statements are not contradictory, but I think it shows how the Democrats have capitulated to the most shrill voices in their coalition and adopted the denial and lack of accountability that has been a staple of the Obama Administration.
What we are seeing is the crescendo of the Obama stewardship of race relations in America. It is a fair question to ask if President Obama and the Democrats have contributed to the targets being placed on the backs of police officers everywhere. The naïve community organizer has ushered in the unintended consequences of a police pullback in many American cities. And the reality is, many of these American cities – such as Baltimore – are wholly owned by the Democratic party. ‎
As Insiders know, bad gets worse. And we don’t know how much worse crime rates are going to get. But I can imagine that we will need to spend billions on countermeasures to reverse this troubling trend and to make up for the damage done by the neglect of police and the bias against police action under President Obama.  This is a vivid part of the Obama legacy that cannot be denied.
The economy is slow.  America is reeling abroad.  Murder is rampant at home.  The Democrats cannot make an affirmative case on any front.  Their only chance to win in 2016 is to make the Republicans unacceptable via vicious, negative attacks. With all their baggage and lack of credibility, it’s hard to imagine how the Democrats will pull it off.  But Election 2016 is going to get ugly.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Author: The Real Watergate Scandal Was the ‘Trashing of Our Constitution’

Cortney O'Brien | Aug 09, 2015

Richard Nixon has been tarnished in the minds of many Americans, his name forever tethered to that infamous scandal known as “Watergate.” One author, however, is on a mission to exonerate the 37th president from the ordeal, and the trial that resulted in his resignation. In his new book, The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot that Brought Nixon Down, Geoff Shepard, who worked on Nixon's defense team, offers never-before-seen evidence behind what he says was a detailed plot to evict him from office.
“Time and time again, document and document, it unwinds Watergate,” Shepard told Townhall. “I think of the book as Watergate’s Watergate. That the real scandal was the trashing of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights in the successful effort to drag Nixon from office to realign political power.”
Shepard dedicates several pages of his book talking about collusion. Collusion between the presiding judge in the Watergate trial, John Sirica, and the prosecution:
“John Sirica is a disgrace to the federal judiciary,” Shepard said. “What he did – and it’s documented in the book – at least a dozen instances of secret meetings between that judge and Watergate prosecutors and other interesting people. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand the judge isn’t supposed to get together with one side before the trial and work stuff out. And Sirica did it all the time.”
Collusion between the prosecution and congressional officials:
“The special prosecutor was secretly assuring court and congressional officials that Nixon had personally approved to pay another blackmail,” he said. “They were wrong. They couldn’t prove that. Turns out to be the opposite. But we didn’t know (those of us on President Nixon’s defense team) they were making this secret accusation. If Nixon had known that’s what they were saying about him he never would have resigned. Nixon wasn’t a quitter and he knew he hadn’t done that. But we didn’t even know about the accusation.”
And the concealment of significant documents:
“Watergate prosecutors took the government files with them,” Shepard explained. “This is not unlike having a private server and deciding later how many documents you’re going to destroy. These are government documents and they should have stayed at National Archives and then subject to review with researchers like me. But three of the key prosecutors took their files.”
So, why such a group effort to bring down the president?
Shepard said the left’s disdain for Nixon began when he was a congressman in the 1940s and brought down Soviet spy Alger Hiss, who was regarded as a leftist hero. Since then, the author explained, the liberal elite has considered him a target.
“And what happened in Watergate if you look at it in retrospect, the eastern liberal elites got control of the special prosecutor’s office, and they had a power to prosecute,” Shepard said. “They criminalized prosecution. They staffed the place with all of their friends.”
“If what I disclosed in this book…if this stuff would have been known at the time, Nixon would have never have resigned,” Shepard said. "He wouldn’t have had to resign. And his senior aides couldn’t have been convicted in the Watergate trial. What the book documents is that they cheated. The other side was so eager to run Nixon out of office that they cheated.”
The author is hoping, however, that his book will work to reverse Nixon's tainted reputation.
Shepard pointed to similar battles being waged against conservative leaders today. Chris Christie’s “bridgegate” scandal, the far-fetched indictment of Gov. Rick Perry, and the labor unions’ forced recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), just to name a few.
“My conclusion at the end of the book is that we have to stop this,” he said. “The GOP have got to learn what’s happening to them and stand up and say this isn’t going to happen again. We’re going to go back-old topic, brand new disclosures, and study and learn what they did. And there has to be a court ordered investigation. There are people still around that participated in the secret meetings with the judge.”
You can read more of Shepard’s research on Watergate and the “real” scandal and find out why he wholeheartedly believes the following:
“We were robbed of a great president.”

The ultimate Watergate tragedy: But for collusion, Nixon would have survived

- - Monday, August 10, 2015
President Richard Nixon holds a White House news conference on March 15, 1973

Each August I relive the Watergate tragedy, in which I had a small speaking part. As a young lawyer on President Nixon’s defense team, I transcribed the smoking-gun tape that ended his presidency.
In classic Greek drama, a prominent hero (but not necessarily a virtuous one), somehow offends the moral order, and is punished way out of proportion to that offense. The hero’s fall is not due to personal vice or depravity, but to some error in judgment or frailty — a fatal flaw. The attraction for the audience is watching the hero’s valiant but ultimately unsuccessful struggle to avoid his predestined demise. In the end, however, the audience is left with an overwhelming sense of waste.
So it was with Richard Nixon. A commoner, without movie-star good looks, without help from a wealthy family, and without the advantages of an Ivy League education, Nixon had risen to the pinnacle of political power through dedication and hard work — only to fall dramatically and in public disgrace.
Having heard the smoking-gun tape the very afternoon the Supreme Court had ordered its release, I knew Nixon’s end was at hand weeks before it came to pass on Aug. 9, 1974. But it unfolded like a slow-motion train wreck and there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it.
I’m sure Nixon’s end was entertaining for his many opponents, but it was gut-wrenching for those of us who had labored long on his behalf.
The tape was to be released on Monday evening, Aug. 5. The president had decided to await reactions before deciding on his next steps. I feared the entire White House staff would feel compelled to resign. They had worked so hard, believing in him against mounting evidence to the contrary, and now they would be undercut completely. Incoming President Gerald Ford might be left with no staff at all.
At my urging, Nixon’s chief of staff called an all-hands-on-deck meeting just before the tape’s release. “Difficult news is about to come out,” they were told by Alexander Haig, “but you must not overreact. You must stay at your posts for the good of the country.”
The public’s reaction was overwhelmingly adverse, and the president lost any remaining support in the Congress. Nixon was anything but a quitter, but it was clear that his Republican Party would be devastated at the November polls if he remained in place. On the evening of Aug. 8, in an address from the Oval Office, he announced his intent to resign the following day.
His many opponents were ecstatic.

The next morning, he said goodbye to his staff in the East Room, his family at his side. He urged us not to lose faith, to continue the struggle without him — and above all, not to hate. Only if you start to hate, he warned us, do your opponents really win.
Then it was out to the South Lawn, where the presidential helicopter waited to whisk him to Andrews Air Force Base, to board Air Force One for the final flight to California. His resignation took effect at noon. Somewhere over St. Louis, Nixon was no longer president, and Air Force One became just another government-owned airplane.
It was the first and, hopefully, the only presidential resignation in our nation’s history. But it seared my soul, and I’ve spent many of the intervening years trying to understand how everything went so wrong.
Four decades later, I’ve begun to appreciate what the real tragedy was. In one of the ultimate ironies of political history, it appears that the smoking-gun tape has been totally misunderstood, that the president need not have resigned, and that he was actually driven from office — and his senior aides imprisoned — through highly improper actions of judges and Watergate prosecutors.
Documents I’ve recently uncovered in the National Archives tell a tale of secret meetings, secret memos and secret collusion that will shock many Americans and that constitute flagrant violations of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights that will shock many Americans.
The smoking-gun tape, for example, does record the president concurring in the suggestion that they ask the CIA to tell the FBI not to interview two individuals, but the goal was not to thwart the FBI’s Watergate investigation. It was to protect the identities of prominent Democrats who’d made confidential contributions to Nixon’s re-election committee.
Don’t take my word for this; take John Dean’s. In his recent book, he flatly states that, but for the misunderstanding, Nixon “might have survived to fight another day. In short, the smoking gun was shooting blanks.”
These new revelations should provide insight and entertainment for those in the audience during the Watergate tragedy. And those who were so cheerful may have cause to reconsider.
• Geoff Shepard, a member of President Nixon’s White House staff from 1969 to 1974, is the author of “The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy and the Plot That Brought Nixon Down” (Regnery, 2015).

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The 'Birmingham Koran' fragment that could shake Islam after carbon-dating suggests it is OLDER than the Prophet Muhammad

30 August 2015

Discovery: Fragments of what is believed to be the world's oldest Koran. Several historians have said it could even predate the Prophet Muhammad 
Discovery: Fragments of what is believed to be the world's oldest Koran. Several historians have said it could even predate the Prophet Muhammad 

Fragments of the world's oldest Koran, found in Birmingham last month, may predate the Prophet Muhammad and could even rewrite the early history of Islam, according to scholars.

The pages, thought to be between 1,448 and 1,371 years old, were discovered bound within the pages of another Koran from the late seventh century at the library of the University of Birmingham.

Written in ink in an early form of Arabic script on parchment made from animal skin, the pages contain parts of the Suras, or chapters, 18 to 20, which may have been written by someone who actually knew the Prophet Muhammad - founder of the Islamic faith.

The pages were carbon-dated by experts at the University of Oxford, a process which showed the Islamic holy book manuscript could be the oldest Koran in the world.

The discovery was said to be particularly significant as in the early years of Islam, the Koran was thought to have been memorised and passed down orally rather written.

But now several historians have said that the parchment might even predate Muhammad.

It is believed that the Birmingham Koran was produced between 568AD and 645AD, while the dates usually given for Muhammad are between 570AD and 632AD.

Historian Tom Holland, told the Times: 'It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged - and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions.'

Keith Small, from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, added: 'This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven.

However, these claims are strongly disputed by Muslim scholars, with Mustafa Shah from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London also telling the paper: 'If anything, the manuscript has consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran's origins.'

The Prophet Muhammad is thought to have founded Islam sometime after 610AD and the first Muslim community was founded in Medina in 622AD.

During this time the Koran was memorised and recited orally but Caliph Abu Bakr, the first leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad's death, ordered the Koranic material to be collected into a book.

The final authoritative written form was not completed until 650AD under the third leader Caliph Uthman.

Professor Nadir Dinshaw, who studies interreligious relations at the University of Birmingham, described the discovery as 'startling'. 

When it was found last month he said: 'This could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam.
'According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur'an, the scripture of Islam, between the years AD 610 and 632, the year of his death.

'At this time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, the revelations were preserved in 'the memories of men'.

'Parts of it had also been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels.

'Muslims believe that the Koran they read today is the same text that was standardised under Uthman and regard it as the exact record of the revelations that were delivered to Muhammad.

'The tests carried out on the parchment of the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly afterwards.

'These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Koran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.'