Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali, a true American original who made the whole world stand up and watch, is dead at 74

By Mike Lupica
June 4, 2016
Front page of the New York Daily News for June 4, 2016, eulogizing Muhammad Ali.
We kept watching him that night in Las Vegas, in October in 1980, slumped on his stool between rounds, watching Larry Holmes take round after round from him, watching and waiting for there to be a round or at least a moment when Muhammad Ali would be young again, when no one could decide whether his hands were even faster than his feet.
This should have been the end of it for him, a 60th fight in a parking lot at Caesars Palace, against an opponent who was still young, and too long, and too good. Ali was dehydrated that night in Vegas, and it would be reported later that the athletic commission in Nevada had ordered him to the Mayo Clinic before that fight with Holmes, for a neurological examination. It showed, among other things, that at the age of 38, closer to 39 than 38, he had difficulty with something as basic as hopping on one leg. This man who once floated like a butterfly, and stung like a bee.
Ali would fight one more time, in 1981, in the Bahamas, against Trevor Berbick, and lost in 10 rounds. But the last shot at the title, the last doomed chance for him to once again be heavyweight champion of the world, was against Holmes. He was old, and he was weakened from thyroid medication he’d taken to lose weight before the fight, and you could see that night that Holmes not only didn’t need his whole game, he refused to use it.
“I never go all out when a guy is hurt,” Holmes said later. “And Ali was hurt.”
But even the way he looked that night, old and slow and tired, Ali still could not make you forget what he was like when he was young, when he really could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee and call himself prettier and better than everybody else. He could never take away the memories he gave us, when he was as great a star as sports has ever produced in this country.
There was Babe Ruth before him and then Michael Jordan later, DiMaggio and Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and Tiger and LeBron and Brady and Manning and Serena and anybody else you care to put on the list.
Nobody was ever bigger than Ali was. In so many ways, he was the first completely modern sports star.
Now he is gone at the age of 74, this man whose talent was as loud as he was and who spent the last three decades of his life quiet, because Parkinson’s took everything from him. It is impossible it didn’t take his own memories. Just not ours.
He first won the title in 1964 and won it for the third time in 1978, from Leon Spinks. He fought with his own government, because he said he didn’t have a quarrel with the Viet Cong, fought against the haters who hated that he had become a Muslim and called him a draft dodger, and wanted to send him to jail for draft evasion. He was stripped of his title, and lost four years out of what should have been such a splendid prime. But then he came back, and finally there was the night in 1971 when it was finally him against Joe Frazier for the title. There had been other moments at Madison Square Garden, the old one and the new one. Willis Reed had limped out to play Game 7 one night a few years before. But there had never been a night quite like Ali-Frazier I, which ended up with Frazier putting Ali down with a left hook that seemed to come from lower Manhattan.
Maybe that was the night when people fully realized how tough Ali was, that he was more than a dancer and jabber and even a poet. Because he got back up after taking that punch. Then he came back and beat Frazier by a decision in Ali-Frazier II, also at the Garden, in January of ’74. And he still hadn’t fought the two most famous fights of his life yet, against George Foreman in Zaire in the fall of ’74, when he finally came off the ropes and thrilled and dazzled the world again.
Finally, of course, there was the Thrilla in Manila, a fight and a night that defined both him and Joe Frazier, Frazier’s trainer, the great Eddie Futch, finally throwing in the towel before the 15th round. Now we knew, for all times, how tough both of them were.
“Man, I hit him with punches that would bring down the walls of a city,” Frazier would tell Mark Kram after that fight was over for Kram’s piece in Sports Illustrated, one of the most beautiful pieces of writing in the history of sportswriting. “Lawdy, lawdy, he’s a great champion,” Smokin’ Joe Frazier said.
This was a fight that was for the championship of each other, once and for all. In all of most meaningful ways, this was the most famous heavyweight fight of them all. And Muhammad Ali, the former Cassius Clay, the kid with the big voice and bigger smile out of Louisville, out of the ’60s, said this when it was over:
“It was like death. Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.”
Now he is gone, after more than 30 years of Parkinson’s, the disease stealing that voice, and all of his physical grace. After all the noise, and bright lights, and controversy and even the meanness he showed to Frazier when he called him a gorilla; after all that, Muhammad Ali, of all people, lived out his life in quiet, until his body finally gave out for good in Arizona on Friday.
He was a child of the ’60s, and always childlike, but a proud man of conviction, and a total and complete American original, one who changed everything in sports, for all the stars who would follow him. Even when he could barely light the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996 because of shaking hands − because Parkinson’s had even made those hands weak − he could still do what he had always done:
He made the world stop and he made the world watch. And, with the world watching, so much older than his years, he made us remember what he was like when he was young, and the greatest of them all.

Muhammad Ali was ashamed of this one mistake
June 4, 2016

(Getty Images)
A world without Muhammad Ali seems inconceivable.
We knew it was coming, but it still hit like a Sonny Liston jab – The Greatest, dead at 74.
Of all the stars of last century, none shone brighter, dug deeper or loomed larger in the public consciousness.
He was as good a heavyweight boxer as we have seen. He was the first man to win the world heavyweight championship three times. His conversion to Islam and refusal to serve in Vietnam made him an icon. Culturally, there is no athlete more important.
His engaging, playful personality, his smile, his rhymes and his wit that captured hearts, and made him the most beloved athlete in history.
Yet Ali could be extraordinarily cruel.

‘He’s the other type of Negro’

Joe Frazier, his fiercest rival, died in 2011.
Ali and Frazier go together like heads and tails, yin and yang. Their rivalry was highly flammable, and they brought out the best in each other.
But if Frazier brought out Ali’s best in the ring, he brought out his worst outside of it.
There was a dark side to Ali, best written about by Mark Kram in the searing Ghosts of Manila where he takes to task those who mythologised the man – like the writer Norman Mailer and broadcaster Howard Cosell.

GALLERY: The life and times of Muhammad Ali

During Ali’s feud with Frazier, which lasted until the latter’s death, he taunted him mercilessly – about his looks, his intelligence, for being an ‘Uncle Tom’.
“He’s the other type Negro, he’s not like me,” Ali once told an interviewer.
“That’s what I mean when I say Uncle Tom – I mean, he’s a brother, one day he might be like me, but for now he works for the enemy.”
The comments hurt Frazier to his core.

Revelling in Ali’s misfortune

Although there were periods of d├ętente after their careers, Frazier’s dislike of Ali burned inside him all the way to the grave and he seemed to take pride in the fact Ali suffered health problems in later life.
“I sent him home worse than he came,” Frazier said.
“Him and me had three fights – he won two of them, I won one.
“But if you look at him now, you can see who won them all. Me.”
In later years, Ali was contrite.
“I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn’t have said. Called him names I shouldn’t have called him,” Ali said.
“I apologise for that. I’m sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight.”
The taunting of Frazier was Ali’s most savage, but it was by no means unique. He used to berate and belittle his opponents at every opportunity, all in the name of ‘promotion’.
Boxing gave everything to Muhammad Ali, but it exacted a price in return.

The last laugh

In the cruellest of ironies, he of the razor-sharp wit and scything tongue was rendered mute for the last 20 years of his life.
But while articulating his thoughts was problematic due to his Parkinson’s Syndrome, his sense of humour was as quick as ever.
In a 1990 appearance on the Phil Donohue Show with Frazier, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton, Ali was asked if he felt boxing and all the punches to the head contributed to his condition.
Quick as a flash, he pointed to Frazier. “He took more than me,” Ali said.
There could be no denying boxing’s effects on Ali – listen to the rapid-fire speech patterns of the pre-1970 model compared to the one before his disastrous 1980 fight with Larry Holmes.

The epitome of greatness

In his prime, pre-1967, he was supernatural.
He had speed and grace and the reflexes of a Formula One driver.
When he came back, after his three-year ban for refusing to fight in Vietnam, he was stoic and wily – getting by with toughness and fox cunning as the physical gifts of his youth fell away.
His greatest rivals – Norton, Foreman and Frazier – all came along once Ali had reached the top of the hill and begun the long, slow ride down the other side.
After retiring, his status as a generational spokesperson grew as his physical condition deteriorated.
His lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996 remains an indelible image in the minds of those who saw it – Ali’s trembling arm in one final show of strength.
Now, The Greatest has finally fallen silent.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Film Review: 'The Nice Guys'

Less than a minute has passed, in “The Nice Guys,” and the first guitar riff has barely begun, when the wah-wah pedal is applied. That, of course, is official confirmation that the movie takes place in the nineteen-seventies. So is the typography of the opening credits: soft curves and candy stripes, as seen in “Boogie Nights” (1997). Like that great film, “The Nice Guys” starts in Los Angeles, in 1977, though the chronology tends to swerve. Our heroes, Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling), pass a billboard for “Jaws 2,” which didn’t come out until the summer of 1978. And, at a rooftop party, a band plays “September,” by Earth, Wind & Fire, which was released even later. Still, we get the point: this is historical drama, dating from the groovacious period.
Healy and March are buddies, although they would hotly deny as much. At their initial meeting, one hits the other in the face, but no lasting grudge is borne, for the movie, directed by Shane Black, aims at being a comedy thriller: a delicate hybrid, founded on the belief that hitting people in the face is intrinsically funny. That happened a lot in “48 Hrs.” (1982), say, where Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy resolved their differences with a tempest of punches. After half an hour of “The Nice Guys,” however, you want to ask, Where are the differences between Healy and March? What needs resolving? Aren’t they both—not to cast judgment—balls of slime?
Well, Healy means muscle. If you object to someone, you hire Healy, and he pays the someone a visit and dissuades the daylights out of him. Crowe wraps the muscle in a layer of sad flab, and some of his lines have the sourness of late Chandler (“Marriage is buying a house for someone you hate”), but the film lets him rot only so far. March is a mite more respectable, being a private investigator with a license. On the other hand, he has the yellower belly, crying like a baby when hurt. He’s also a lush and a goofball, and Gosling gets to make a frequent fool of himself—falling off balconies, or struggling to control a loaded pistol and a lit cigarette while sitting on a toilet with his pants down. This is done with panache, yet Gosling, like Crowe, is less a natural comedian than a lonely brooder, and you can imagine an alternative version of “The Nice Guys” in which the same characters, in a similar plight, would hardly raise a smile.
Again, as in “Boogie Nights,” the adult-film industry provides the stained backdrop to the story. The demise of Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), whom March politely describes as a “porno young lady,” ignites a search for another woman, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who was mixed up in the same trade, and who happens to be the daughter of a senior official in the Justice Department (Kim Basinger). March and Healy join forces to follow the trail, partly for money but also because, you never know, two losers might make a winner.
Wafting through “The Nice Guys” is the gust of a good idea. Plenty of films have dealt with California’s oil boom, and “Chinatown” took care of the water, but what about the stuff we breathe for free? What sort of corruption lies in store for our lungs? Healy and March come across an anti-pollution protest, with kids lying around in gas masks, and unwittingly turn into eco-dicks, uncovering fraud among carmakers. What seems clear, as the climax unfolds at an auto show, is not that the movie has lost the plot but, rather, that too many pieces of plot—the craving for clean air and for dirty pictures—have spoiled any hope of cohesion. Other superfluities include a dream sequence with a giant bug, which suggests that Black left the set for a day and handed over his duties to the ghost of William S. Burroughs.
So, with logic thrown to the smoggy winds, no standout villain, no romance, no twist of the calibre that Black provided in “Iron Man 3” (2013), and, glummest of all, no spark between Basinger and Crowe (who smoldered together in “L.A. Confidential”), why see this film? Partly because of the leading men, but mainly because of a girl. An Australian actress named Angourie Rice plays March’s daughter, Holly, who is thirteen. People try to remove her from the action, sending her home or stashing her in the trunk of a car, but she keeps coming back, and no wonder. Holly is the conscience of the movie, and the wisest soul in sight, yet she’s neither a prig nor a smart-ass. When her father asks, “Am I a bad person?,” she replies, without hesitation, “Yes.” Likewise, she says to his partner, who is about to kill someone, “Are you a good person?,” and thereby stays his hand. All this is done with a shrug or a semi-smile, and her airy self-possession makes the film a true homage to the seventies, for whom does Rice resemble if not Jodie Foster—the Foster whose annus mirabilis, 1976, gave us “Taxi Driver,” “Bugsy Malone,” “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane,” and Disney’s “Freaky Friday”? I like to think of Foster watching this movie and fondly recalling the time when she took on the world—the grownups, nasty as well as nice—and won the day.

This bigoted radical doesn’t deserve a ‘feminist artist’ award

June 1, 2016
Angela Davis (Stanley Leung)
Angela Davis is neither a feminist nor an artist. But that doesn’t matter, apparently, to the Brooklyn Museum.
The museum’s Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art, together with Gloria Steinem, will honor Davis Thursday as a “Feminist Scholar Activist for Social Justice,” and as “an iconic figure … a vocal champion in the fight for economic, racial, and gender Justice.”
New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, will welcome those who will have paid up to $3,500 to join the reception, program and dinner.
It’s true the Sackler Center has honored other non-artists, including Anita F. Hill, Connie Chung, Johnetta B. Cole, Chief Wilma Mankiller, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Faye Wattleton — and Miss Piggy! More than half its honorees have, commendably, been women of color.
However, other than the acquisition of Judy Chicago’s great feminist work, “The Dinner Party,” the center hasn’t exhibited other major feminist artists (Nancy Azara, Mary Beth Edelson, Nancy Grossman, Joan L. Roth, Sylvia Sleigh) — a fact I find puzzling, if not offensive.
Not as puzzling as honoring Angela Davis.
Who is Davis? She’s a Communist and a supporter of the Black Panther Party as well as homicidal British Black Power cult leader Michael X and the Soledad Brothers — who were acquitted of a prison guard’s murder in 1970.
That year, Davis was arrested and jailed for having bought the gun used in the Soledad Brothers’ escape attempt: an attack in open court in California, which led to a shootout with the police and resulted in the death or injury of six people. She was eventually found not guilty.
Davis has enjoyed massive support from the global left. When she was released from prison, she visited Cuba, then Russia, where she was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. She spoke against racism in America and became a glamorized spokeswoman for Communism as a solution for black Americans and for oppressed people of color everywhere.
Look, this was the ’60s and ’70s; people — including myself — did and said things like this and were considered heroes. Then we learned about all the Communist gulags and about Islam. Some of us grew up.
But ’60s-style heroes are back in force. What’s new: They’ve taken their show to the Middle East, where they’re again backing totalitarianism and terrorism.
Davis is often featured on the anti-Israel hate site Electronic Intifada, calling for an end to alleged Israeli “racism” and “apartheid.” She has named the “dismissal of Palestinians” as “reminiscent of Jim Crow days,” and has called for “black-Palestinian solidarity.” Davis is a leader of the anti-Israel BDS movement, together with actor Danny Glover, author Alice Walker and Cornel West (who’s advising Bernie Sanders). Davis is the lead signatory on a statement of “solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle.”
Davis experienced her first visit to “Palestine” (with other “scholars of color”) as a “nightmare . . . the wall, the concrete, the razor wire everywhere conveyed the impression that we were in prison.” Deftly, she compares the jailing of black Americans with the jailing of Palestinian . . . terrorists. She tells her audiences that if they support BDS, “Palestine will be free.”
In the guise of anti-racism, Davis is a bigot — an activist Jew-hater. In her lectures, she doesn’t condemn Jordan or Egypt for their anti-Palestinian actions, nor does she fault the many Arab and Muslim countries that have systematically refused citizenship and even employment to Arab Palestinians.
Davis doesn’t talk about the anti-black racism of Arabs or about the practice of real gender and religious apartheid in Muslim countries. She doesn’t even fault the Palestinian leadership for torturing and executing its gays and dissidents or for forcibly veiling and subordinating Palestinian women. A real feminist would do so.
Real feminists wouldn’t be honoring such a figure.
In early May, 100 activists and artists staged a protest at the Brooklyn Museum about “displacement both in Brooklyn and Palestine.” This demonstration was organized by the Decolonial Cultural Front and Movement to Protect the People.
No one mentioned the relentless Palestinian terrorism against Israeli Jewish civilians — or the enormous “displacement” and murder of Christians by Arab Muslims, or the “displacement” brought about by indigenous civil wars among Muslim Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis and Syrians, a “displacement” that threatens the stability and viability of the Western world.
I doubt they will demonstrate against Angela Davis.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies, author of 16 books and of four studies about honor killing and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Socialism for the Uninformed

Testing easy assumptions against facts reveals uncomfortable truths.

By Thomas Sowell — May 31, 2016
Bernie Sanders with Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Jane Sanders (Pioneer Press)

Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous. But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or in other countries around the world that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.
The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?

But people who attribute income inequality to capitalists’ exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a standard of living for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the Left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

When Senator Sanders cries, “The system is rigged!” no one asks, “Just what specifically does that mean?” or “What facts do you have to back that up?”

In 2015, the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they could have rigged it better than that.

But the very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and for other bright ideas of the political Left.
How many of the people who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage have ever bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed? More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers — sometimes known as “everybody,” with their assumptions being what “everybody knows.”

Back in 1948, when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16- to 17-year-old black males was under 10 percent. But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 through 1994. In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.

The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can’t move up the ladder if you don’t get on the ladder.

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think that the cost of their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue coming in to the government. Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

None of this is rocket science. But you do have to stop and think — and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is © 2016 Creators Syndicate Inc.


The administration urges foreign financial institutions to fund the Iranian terror machine.

June 2, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of Iran in Vienna, Austria, on November 23, 2014, before the two begin a one-on-one meeting amid broader negotiations about the future of Iran's nuclear program. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Iran, the nation that has built a well-deserved reputation as the world’s premier state-sponsor of terrorism has a new lobbyist and he is none other than U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Since the Obama administration inked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in January, Kerry has been busying himself with ensuring that European banks start doing business with the Iranians. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only has the United States and its European allies agreed to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the administration is now encouraging the private banking sector to do the same. It appears however, that their intense lobbying efforts are being received with a healthy dose of skepticism.
HSBC’s chief legal officer, Stuart Levey confirmed that Kerry had requested that HSBC start opening its banking doors to the Iranians and transact business with them. Levey criticized Kerry’s misguided initiative noting that the U.S. still maintains other non-nuclear related sanctions against the Islamic Republic and that doing business with Iran runs the risk of running afoul of those sanctions. HSBC has had prior negative experience with the U.S. Treasury and Justice departments. In 2012, the bank was forced to fork over $1.9 billion to U.S. authorities to settle allegations involving money laundering for Mexican drug barons. 
Levey also noted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls large swaths of the Iranian economy, has been slapped with sanctions by both the U.S. and Europe because of the central role it plays in illicit regional and international activities. Doing business with Iran will almost certainly result in facilitating IRGC operations. Adding to the uncertainty, Iran has over the years developed a penchant for hiding money, engaging in shady deals and money laundering thus making it difficult, if not impossible for banking institutions to engage the Iranians in legitimate business transactions without being complicit in their illegal dealings. 
Kerry has assured the banks that they have nothing to fear if they perform their due diligence but banking representatives have expressed other legitimate concerns. Iran is one of the most corrupt nations on the planet and ranks poorly in the categories of transparency and ease of doing business. Banking institutions and large businesses are naturally reluctant to deal with such an opaque entity. 
Practical matters and banking concerns aside, it is disturbing to witness the zeal in which Kerry is conducting his lobbying campaign on behalf of an enemy country whose national pastime involves chants of “Death to America” and “Down, Down U.S.A.” Even more disturbing is the fact that despite signing the JCPOA, Iran continues to act in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 which calls on Iran to cease all research and testing activities relating to its ballistic missile program. 
Since the conclusion of the Iran deal, the Islamic Republic has test-fired eight ballistic missiles. The Iranians boasted that some of their missiles were capable of reaching targets 1,200 miles away. Israel is only 1,000 miles away from Iran placing it well within the target radius. Emblazoned on the side of at least one test-fired missile was an ominous threat; “Israel must be wiped out from the face of the earth.” 
The Iranians are continuously attempting to increase the range and accuracy of their ballistic missiles. Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program has only one aim, to deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). That apocalyptic prospect does not seem to worry Kerry who seems more interested in propping up the Islamic Republic rather than ensuring that it lives up to its international obligations and stops behaving like a pariah state. Indeed, in an effort to prevent derailment of the JCPOA, the administration asked the Iranians not to publicize their launches. Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program doesn’t seem to bother the Obama administration so long as the Iranians keep their activities below the radar. 
Iran’s nefarious undertakings extend far beyond its illicit ballistic missile program. The IRGC, the group that runs Iran in partnership with the ayatollahs, represents the life-blood of Hezbollah. Both Hezbollah and the IRGC are engaged in a full-fledged operation to destabilize the region. From Syria to Yemen, Iranian and Hezbollah operatives are fomenting chaos and bloodshed with the aim of establishing a Shiite arc extending from Iran through Syria and Lebanon as well as securing control of two of the region’s most important chokepoints, the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.
Hezbollah’s main source of funding comes from Iran, which trains, arms and pays the salaries of its operatives. Its other sources, though minor in comparison to Iranian assistance, include drug trafficking and extortion. Last week, Adam Szubin, the acting Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, noted that Hezbollah was “in its worst financial shape in decades.” It’s hard to take that near-comical boast seriously in light of the $150 billion cash infusion the Obama administration injected into the anemic Iranian economy. It’s hard to imagine that Iran will spend any of that money on improving the quality of life of its citizens and promoting human rights. Iran will almost certainly channel a large portion of those funds to its proxy stooges in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.
Kerry’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Iran in connection with the banking industry will make Iran’s ability to transfer funds to these terrorist groups less difficult. The lengths to which the Obama administration will go to indulge the Iranians is beyond shocking, it’s frightening. But we should expect no more from an administration that expressed gratitude to the Islamic Republic after its naval pirates kidnapped and humiliated 10 American sailors when their craft encountered mechanical difficulties in the Arabian Gulf. Sadly, the Obama administration continues to lose the trust of its allies, while emboldening its enemies and has given new meaning to the term appeasement.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Never #NeverTrump: Hillsdale's Larry Arnn

By  (@HUGHHEWITT)  5/29/16 5:02 PM
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters as he arrives to appear with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a fundraising event in Lawrenceville, N.J. on May 19, 2016.(Mike Segar/Reuters)
Larry Arnn thinks Donald Trump can beat Hillary Clinton.
That matters because Arnn is easily among the handful of most influential conservative intellectuals in the country. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, "the Lantern of the North" I call it, having swiped that designation from Elgin Cathedral, which lies in ruins in the north of Scotland. (It was first burned — and much ofElgin with it — in 1390, by the Wolf of Badenoch. "This was the name given to Alexander Stewart, the younger son of Robert II." "The Bishop of Moray, Bishop Alexander Bur," Undiscovered Scotland tells us, "had caused [the Wolf] to to be excommunicated for marital infidelity, and this was his way of getting even.")
No one has burnt Hillsdale College to the ground, though some fiery words were aimed at Arnn for his decision to join me in Switzerland throughout the long and bitter GOP primary campaign. Like me he has never been #NeverTrump and in fact dispatched a large team of his Hillsdale students to plumb Donald Trump's writings and speeches to see if constitutional apostasy was anywhere to be found.

The student search parties came up empty. Of course Trump departs from Free Trade orthodoxy, which has been a fixture of the GOP since Reagan's rise, and Trump is less adventurous when it comes to the use of American military power, but that can be squared with Cap Weinberger-like restraint.
Arnn, part of the official Churchill biographical team for years with Sir Martin Gilbert and a life long student of Lincoln, is very slow to exile anyone from the conservative movement in America if that individual hasn't sinned against constitutional norms.
And Trump hasn't. Yet. He may be "Jacksonian" in temperament as Walter Russell Mead has written, but he hasn't articulated anything other than fealty to the Framers' forms.
Many fear Trump cannot be trusted in this regard. "Power shows the man," Arnn replies, quoting his beloved Aristotle.
Arnn is often at Hillsdale's D.C. stronghold, its "Kirby Center" on Capitol Hill. He has many students and friends among the Capitol's powerful. Among them are three of conservatism's brightest stars: Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Mike Lee. If Arnn is not against Trump, many conservatives ask of the #NeverTrump band, why are you so adamantly so?
The answer is simply "Fear of what Trump might do with the vast powers of be White House." To which Arnn replies that surely Hillary Clinton would put those powers at the service of an ever expanding regulatory state. A very, very strong point that.
Many hope that Trump will take concrete steps to allay the fear that animates #NeverTrump. Those steps are obvious and many.
If Trump were to name Cotton his veep, and say former Sen. Jon Kyl his secretary of defense and Joe Lieberman to State while anointing very publicly Lee or Paul Clement to be Justice Scalia's replacement — not one of a list of 11, but THE certain nominee — Arnn would find himself surrounded by scores of similarly situated "influencers," and Cleveland would become a genuine celebration, not a signing of an elaborate truce.
Now Arnn's is somewhat lonely ground to occupy, but Hillsdale has often been a lonely place, especially when apparently every single one of its male students left to join Mr. Lincoln's Army a long time ago. It's a serious place, and it's president is a serious man. Trump should listen to him. And the #NeverTrump forces should as well.
Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law, and author, most recently of The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second "Clinton Era." He posts daily at and is on Twitter @hughhewitt.