Saturday, December 03, 2016

Trump couldn’t have made a better pick than Gen. Mattis

December 2, 2016
Image result for trump mattis
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
I'm lucky enough to know Gen. James Mattis slightly. Just well enough to trust him unreservedly with our military and our nation’s security.
The president-elect could not choose a better man to be our next secretary of defense. Not just because Mattis is a battle-hardened Marine with a remarkable combat record. And not just because he has a mind of remarkable clarity and is, without question, the best-read general of his generation.
I trust Mattis because he’s a man of character. His public image is of one rough-and-tough Marine, but the man I’ve encountered is, above all, one of integrity. His code of honor is so out of fashion one has to reach back to a Victorian vocabulary: He has a noble spirit.
And he’s a genuine patriot, not a shouter with his eye on the next chance. He will do what’s right, not what’s expedient. And he will never go along with anything he believes might harm our country.
In addition to plenty of dirty-boots experience in the Middle East and a deep knowledge of history, Mattis has another great qualification: He wasn’t looking for a job. He was happy in retirement, studying, helping his fellow Marines and contributing thoughtfully to our national security behind the scenes.
The last time I heard from him — a bit before the election — he mentioned that he was glad to be west of the Rockies. A Washington, DC, post was not part of the plan.
This matters. In an age of sycophants and clawing ambition, it’s a splendid prospect to have a classic patriot who’s willing to sacrifice to serve (as Mattis already has for four decades in uniform).
Our most underrated president of the last century, Dwight D. Eisenhower, didn’t want anyone in his Cabinet who actively sought the position. He wanted successful men from various walks of life who would have to leave successful careers and contented lives to come to Washington and run a department ethically.
For Gen. Mattis, the position of secretary of defense wouldn’t be just another inside-the-Beltway badge to add to his resume. The greatest danger would be that he would prove too honest for DC.
Yet another quality Mattis would bring to the office — a vital one — is that he’s a superb listener. He’s not quick to speak, but when he finally does have his say, his words show command of the subject under discussion.
And he uses words with the same economy as a rifleman uses bullets: no wasted rounds.
What would the nation get with Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense? Integrity. Deep knowledge. Courage, both moral and physical. Humility. Decency. Vision. A steely sense of duty. Fiscal responsibility. A natural leader of men.
In short, character.
Inevitably, we’ve heard complaints from the left about the “danger” of generals in high government positions, with the suggestion that they’ll take us into wars. But it hasn’t been the generals who’ve gotten us into our recent conflicts or failed to resolve them.
For the last 16 years, we’ve seen civilians with no military experience launch ill-considered wars and impulsive interventions without considering the second- and third-order effects. Generals, by contrast, are reluctant to send our troops to war — they know the complexity and the cost.
Mattis has a long list of military accomplishments, but I suspect one of the experiences that cut deepest came in 2004, in Fallujah. After a week of brutal, successful combat his Marines stood within 48 hours of a clear-cut victory over a terrorist army. And the Bush administration lost its collective nerve, calling a halt just short of the finish line.
I watched the tragedy unfold from northern Iraq, where I was a guest of the Kurds. And we all said the same thing to each other: “We’ll have to go back and finish this.” And we did, in less than a year.
Having seen his Marines die, only to be denied victory at the 11th hour because the global media was howling, must’ve been terribly painful for Mattis. One of the many reasons he’s so widely respected in military circles is that he understands, contrary to academic pronunciamentos, victory is not only possible, but essential.
Mattis not only fights the good fight — he fights to win. With him as our next secretary of defense, the United States of America would win.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Today's Tune: The Rolling Stones - Ride 'Em On Down

Review: The Rolling Stones Reinvigorate the Blues on 'Blue and Lonesome'

December 2, 2016
Image result for rolling stones blue and lonesome
On April 7th, 1962, three young Englishmen obsessed with American blues met for the first time, at the Ealing Jazz Club in London. Two of them – singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards from an aspiring combo, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys – were attending a performance by the local blues scene's leading troupe, Blues Incorporated, led by guitarist Alexis Korner. The third man, guitarist Brian Jones, was playing with Korner's group, under the pseudonym Elmo Lewis. Three months later, on July 12th, Jagger, Richards and Jones made their live debut as the Rollin' Stones at the Marquee Club, with bassist Dick Taylor, later of the Pretty Things, and pianist Ian Stewart, who would become the Stones' devoted road manager and true-blues conscience.
Between those spring and summer landmarks, Jagger also did time with Blues Incorporated in a lineup that included the Stones' eventual drummer Charlie Watts, singing imported electric-Chicago standards such as "Got My Mojo Working," a 1957 single by Muddy Waters, and a late-1955 recording by Jimmy Reed's guitarist Eddie Taylor, "Ride 'Em on Down." Fifty-four years later, on Blue and Lonesome, Jagger turns back to that Taylor stomp, chewing on the words – descended from a starker Delta blues, "Shake 'Em on Down," codified on a 1937 release by Bukka White – like a favorite meal as the air gets thick with Richards and Ron Wood's sniping guitars and Watts' rifle-volley snare fills.
Recorded last December in just three days with co-producer Don Was at British Grove Studios in the London suburb of Richmond – almost spitting distance from the site of the Crawdaddy Club, where the Stones played a life-changing 1963 residency – Blue and Lonesome is the band's first all-covers studio release since the 1964 U.K. EP The Rolling Stones, and the Stones' first pure, straight blues record ever. It is also the working lineup of the world's biggest blues band – with Wood in his 41st year as the new boy and bassist Darryl Jones as Watts' co-anchor since 1993 – doing what comes naturally in a dozen songs mostly associated with sweet home Chicago: Reed, Howlin' Wolf, singer-guitarist Magic Sam and especially harp master Little Walter, with four of his Fifties and Sixties singles here.
There is deep South too. The brash London whelps that covered bayou bluesman Slim Harpo's 1957 B side "I'm a King Bee" on their debut album and named a live LP in honor of the flip ("Got Love If You Want It") have a romping good time with "Hoodoo Blues" by Harpo's contemporary, Lightnin' Slim. And there is a thrilling, unexpected stop, with slide guitar from fellow pilgrim Eric Clapton, at the Louisiana intersection of blues and soul in Little Johnny Taylor's "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing." The Stones were actually working closer to the older Delta, covering Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" on Sticky Fingers, when Taylor's single was a Top Ten R&B hit in 1971 on the Ronn label out of Shreveport. But Jagger's freewheeling phrasing is the good-time relish of a man who has been writing cheatin' songs all of his life but knows when he's got the gold standard in front of him.
The Stones first heard these songs as foreign language – the lust and trials of older, hardened men. That rough weather now fits the Stones – including Wood, who did his apprentice time in London R&B mods the Birds and on bass for the Jeff Beck Group – like a suit off the rack at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market. In "Just Your Fool," a Checker Records 45 for Little Walter in 1962, Watts presses the beat like a forced, precision march under the chug and spike of Richards and Wood's guitars. "Blue and Lonesome," from a 1965 Little Walter single and caught here in a single take, opens with a rush of power-chord sustain, then drops into tense strut marked with jittery bursts of slalom guitar, Jagger cutting in with seething confrontation, especially on harp. Jones originally played that instrument in the Stones, but Jagger grew into their secret weapon. His hearty, supple attack and exclamatory accents are as exciting and decisive as Richards' bedrock ways on guitar.
Made on impulse, as a much-needed break during other studio work, Blue and Lonesomeis a monument to muscle memory. Solos are brief and tight, evoking the honed-punch effect of the original recordings. The running highlight throughout the album is the churning ensemble bond: the hot-plate jump of the guitars over the chasing rhythm in the Little Walter sprint "I Gotta Go"; the feral, stalking tension in Magic Sam's "All of Your Love" as Jagger tears at the title lyric like an upper-octave Howlin' Wolf.
Blue and Lonesome is not a record of mere returning, a look back at how it all started. The Stones were already big time when some of these songs were released by the originators including Howlin' Wolf's 1966 threat "Commit a Crime" and Magic Sam's defining version of "All of Your Love" on his 1967 landmark, West Side Soul. In fact, the younger Stones couldn't have tackled Jimmy Reed's 1957 lament "Little Rain" like the slow, advancing storm here. Watts comes in like stoic resignation, on brushed snare, under rolling clouds of guitar; Jagger fires lightning streaks of harp. It's barely a song – six lines of determined yearning and time running out. But it is dense with lesson, a reflection of the grip and wisdom that, for every bluesman, only comes with miles and age.

The Rolling Stones' New Blues: Inside Their Roots Revival, Bright Future

November 16, 2016

September 1965. Charlie Watts steps to a microphone in a smart sport jacket, introducing "one of our favorite numbers" to a packed Dublin theater. The 24-year-old drummer heads back to his modest kit, and the Rolling Stones tumble into Howlin' Wolf's "Little Red Rooster," Keith Richards' duh-dunt-dah-duh riff battling Brian Jones' spiky slide-guitar runs. And a thousand Irish teenage girls greet each Chess Records guitar stab with crescendoing, this-song-is-so-fab shrieks. (Later, the audience will embark on an actual riot, storming the stage, which just makes it a typical Stones tour stop.)
Ten months earlier, the band had somehow managed to push that raw take on 12-bar Chicago blues atop the U.K. singles chart (though U.S. radio refused to play it, suspecting that the lyrics' prowling rooster was not, in fact, a bird). "Little Red Rooster" is apparently still the only traditional blues ever to hit Number One in the U.K. "It's crackers," Mick Jagger says five decades later, on a late-October day in Manhattan, pondering that achievement, recalling those screams. He laughs. "You know, it's crazy. I mean, that was a weirdo thing, 'cause we could've done anything at that time and it would've been Number One. That was the point." He's wearing a white button-front shirt with a subtle blue pattern and teensy black trousers that are probably the same waist size as his checkered pants on that Irish stage 51 years back. He looks his age, sort of, except not at all.
As with all the Stones' early blues recordings, Jagger says that "Red Rooster" was done "out of love." "We were kids," he says, "and we were proselytizing. The Beatles, to some extent, did the same – they talked about the music they loved, which was always, like, soul music." The Stones' music was rooted more firmly in their influences, however, and they went further in honoring them. In May of '65, they strong-armed the U.S. teen TV showShindig! into hosting Howlin' Wolf himself, with the Stones sitting at the besuited, six-foot-three, 275-pound 55-year-old's feet as he bellowed "How Many More Years," jumping in place and eliciting some improbable adolescent shrieks in his own right. "When those blues records came out," says Jagger, "they were, in a sense, for their audience, pop music. They would play it like we would play Kendrick Lamar. To me, take away the genres for a minute and it's all pop music."
Now, the Stones have circled back to the blues, with Blue & Lonesome, a (mostly) live-in-the-studio collection of 12 songs originally performed by the likes of Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and, again, Howlin' Wolf. It's the first Stones album to have zero Jagger-Richards originals; even their debut had a couple of attempts at songwriting. Recording Blue & Lonesome was easy – it took all of three days. "It made itself," says Richards. As Ronnie Wood points out, however, it's also the product of "a lifetime's research, really."
Figuring out when and how to release it was trickier. "I'm saying to the record company," says Jagger, "'Can you make this pop music if you want? Is it marketable?'" The album came out of sessions that were supposed to be for an LP of Stones originals, still in its early stages. Jagger wondered whether they should wait to get that one finished, maybe release them together.
But then again, the last time the Stones managed to finish a studio album was back in 2005, with A Bigger Bang. "The record company probably said, 'Well, the other one's never gonna come,'" Jagger says, twisting those lips of his into an outsize grin. " 'We might as well put this one out.' I don't blame 'em. I probably would have done the same thing. 'Cause, 'Now I got something, might as well put it out.'"
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words

November 28, 2016
Related image
Khalid Sheik Mohammed (AP)
What is it like to stare into the face of evil? James E. Mitchell knows.
In his gripping new memoir, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell describes the day he was questioning Khalid Sheik Mohammed, when the 9/11 mastermind announced he had something important to say. “KSM then launched into a gory and detailed description of how he beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,” Mitchell writes. Up to that moment, the CIA did not know KSM had personally carried out the murder. When asked whether it was “hard to do” (meaning emotionally difficult), KSM misunderstood the question. “Oh, no, no problem,” KSM said, “I had very sharp knives. Just like slaughtering sheep.”
To confirm his story, the CIA had KSM reenact the beheading so that it could compare the features of his hands and forearms to those in the video of Pearl’s murder. “Throughout the reenactment, KSM smiled and mugged for the cameras. Sometimes he preened,” Mitchell writes. When informed that the CIA had confirmed that he was telling the truth, KSM smiled.
“See, I told you,” KSM said. “I cut Daniel’s throat with these blessed hands.”
This is the pure evil Mitchell and his colleagues confronted each day at CIA “black sites.” “I have looked into the eyes of the worst people on the planet,” Mitchell writes. “I have sat with them and felt their passion as they described what they see as their holy duty to destroy our way of life.”
The world has heard almost nothing from KSM in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, but Mitchell has spent thousands of hours with him and other captured al-Qaeda leaders. Now, for the first time, Mitchell is sharing what he says KSM told him.
Mitchell is an American patriot who has been unjustly persecuted for his role in crafting an interrogation program that helped stop terrorist attacks and saved countless lives. He does not shy from the controversies and pulls no punches in describing the interrogations. If anything, readers may be surprised by the compassion he showed these mass murderers. But the real news in his book is what happened after enhanced interrogations ended and the terrorists began cooperating.
Once their resistance had been broken, enhanced interrogation techniques stopped and KSM and other detainees became what Mitchell calls a “Terrorist Think Tank,” identifying voices in phone calls, deciphering encrypted messages and providing valuable information that led the CIA to other terrorists. Mitchell devotes an entire chapter to the critical role KSM and other detainees played in finding Osama bin Laden. KSM held classes where he lectured CIA officials on jihadist ideology, terrorist recruiting and attack planning. He was so cooperative, Mitchell writes, KSM “told me I should be on the FBI’s Most Wanted List because I am now a ‘known associate’ of KSM and a ‘graduate’ of his training camp.”
KSM also described for Mitchell many of his as yet unconsummated ideas for future attacks, the terrifying details of which Mitchell does not reveal for fear they might be implemented. “If we ever allow him to communicate unmonitored with the outside world,” Mitchell writes, “he could easily spread his deviously simple but potentially deadly ideas.”
But perhaps the most riveting part of the book is what KSM told Mitchell about what inspired al-Qaeda to attack the United States — and the U.S. response he expected. Today, some on both the left and the right argue that al-Qaeda wanted to draw us into a quagmire in Afghanistan — and now the Islamic State wants to do the same in Iraq and Syria. KSM said this is dead wrong. Far from trying to draw us in, KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States “turned tail and ran.” He also said he thought we would treat 9/11 as a law enforcement matter, just as we had the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen — arresting some operatives and firing a few missiles into empty tents, but otherwise leaving him free to plan the next attack.
“Then he looked at me and said, ‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’” Mitchell writes. “KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.” He was not able to do so because al-Qaeda was stunned “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”
But KSM said something else that was prophetic. In the end, he told Mitchell, “We will win because Americans don’t realize . . . we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”
KSM explained that large-scale attacks such as 9/11 were “nice, but not necessary” and that a series of “low-tech attacks could bring down America the same way ‘enough disease-infected fleas can fell an elephant.’ ” KSM “said jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States” and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws” until they were strong enough to rise up and attack us. “He said the brothers would relentlessly continue their attacks and the American people would eventually become so tired, so frightened, and so weary of war that they would just want it to end.”
“Eventually,” KSM said, “America will expose her neck for us to slaughter.”
KSM was right. For the past eight years, our leaders have told us that we are weary of war and need to focus on “nation building at home.” We have been defeating ourselves by quitting — just as KSM predicted.
But quitting will not bring us peace, KSM told Mitchell. He explained that “it does not matter that we do not want to fight them,” Mitchell writes, adding that KSM explained “America may not be in a religious war with him, but he and other True Muslims are in a religious war with America” and “he and his brothers will not stop until the entire world lives under Sharia law.”

Castro’s greatest victory

By Caroline B. Glick
November 28, 2016
Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, right, and P.L.O leader Yasser Arafat join hands following the P.L.O. closing speech at the final session of the 7th Non-Aligned Summit conference, March 13, 1983 in New Delhi. (AP)
The Palestinians are loudly mourning the passing of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. PLO chief and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered flags in the PA to be flown at halfmast on Sunday to honor Castro.

They are right to celebrate him.
The Cuban Communist dictator, who murdered tens of thousands of his own people, imprisoned tens of thousands more, caused a million Cubans to flee their homeland and transformed an island paradise into a water enclosed prison was a key ally of Palestinian terrorists in their war to destroy Israel.
Castro’s support for the PLO and its longtime terrorist master Yasser Arafat spanned five decades. Castro’s secret police, the DGI, trained Palestinian terrorists both in Cuba and in the Middle East.

According to the CIA, several hundred Palestinian terrorists were trained in Cuba in the 1970s. Cuban trainers also worked with the PLO in Algiers and Damascus and later in training terrorists from around the world at PLO training camps in Lebanon in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Military training in terrorist tactics wasn’t the only way that Castro helped Arafat. He also provided the PLO with diplomatic cover and political guidance. Palestinian terrorists, including Arafat, began routinely visiting Cuba in the early 1960s. Castro welcomed the formation of the PLO in 1964. His military and intelligence officers met with Arafat and other senior Palestinian terrorists in Algiers and Damascus as early as 1965.

In 1974 the PLO adopted the Phased Plan for the annihilation of Israel. The Phased Plan committed the PLO to a piecemeal strategy of destroying Israel rather than calling for the terrorist group to work with Arab states to destroy Israel in an all-out war.

According to the Phased Plan, the PLO committed to take control over every inch of territory under Israeli control that it could and use those areas as launchpads for expanding the war whose ultimate goal was Israel’s eradication.

Shortly after signing the initial Oslo peace deal at the White House in September 1993, Arafat told an audience at a mosque in South Africa that the Oslo process was the first step toward the implementation of the Phased Plan.

The Phased Plan was trumpeted by the Soviet bloc and their supporters in the Western Left as a sign of PLO moderation. Following its adoption, with Soviet support and Cuban sponsorship, the PLO began winning major diplomatic battles over Israel.

Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly later in 1974 where he spoke with a gun strapped to his hip. The PLO was then granted “observer status” at the UN.

Arafat paid a triumphant visit to Havana following his UN appearance where he was warmly greeted by Castro. The next year, the General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 defining Zionism as a form of racism. Cuba was the only non-Arab state to sponsor the resolution.

Resolution 3379 set the stage for the diplomatic war against the Jewish national liberation movement and the Jewish state that has raged ever since.

Cuban partnership with the PLO was part of a larger political war waged through Third World leaders by the KGB against the US and the Western world. Both the KGB archive spirited out of the Soviet Union by Vasili Mitrockhin and the revelations of former Romanian Communist spy chief Ion Mihai Pacepa, who defected to the US in 1978, have demonstrated the nature of that war.

The KGB used the language of human rights and national liberation as a means to deny the US-led West the moral legitimacy to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union and its satellites. Castro and Arafat were leading fighters in this propaganda war.

The basic concepts behind this war were developed shortly after the end of World War II. Under the KGB, the US and its allies were deliberately smeared as colonialist and imperialist powers. Every liberation group and every state that was supported by the US was castigated as reactionary. On the other hand, every terrorist group and regime that were supported by the USSR were celebrated as authentic, democratic revolutionary movements seeking to free their peoples from the yoke of Western imperialism.

The political war placed the US and its allies into an intellectual trap. Inside the closed intellectual jail of liberation theory, every action the West took was necessarily reactionary and imperialistic. As a result the US and its allies could do nothing to defend themselves since every argument they made was simply dismissed as imperialist propaganda.

The political successes won by the Soviet propaganda war were extraordinary. For instance, in 1969, the Non-Aligned Movement comprised of newly independent post-colonial states sided with the Vietnamese Communists against the US at its fourth conference. The NAM was silent about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous year.

Vilifying Israel was a major component of the Soviets’ political warfare strategy. Israel was viewed as a key enemy of the USSR.

It wasn’t always this way.

Until 1949 the Soviet Union viewed the Zionist movement and the nascent Jewish state as a potential client. The Truman administration recognized Israel just moments before the Soviet Union did. And unlike the US, the Soviets supplied arms to Israel during the 1948-49 War of Independence. Without Soviet help, it is doubtful that Israel would have survived the joint invasion of five Arab armies the day it declared independence.

The Soviets soured on Israel for three reasons. First, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, decided to side with the US against the USSR in the Cold War despite the State Department’s hostility toward Israel.

Second, Ben-Gurion moved to purge Communists from the IDF and other power centers immediately after the War of Independence.

Finally, the Soviets soured on Israel because the birth of Israel awoke the yearnings of the Jews of the Soviet Union. In 1949, Israel’s first ambassador to Moscow, Golda Meyerson – later Meir – was mobbed by Soviet Jews when she visited the main synagogue in the city.

A wave of antisemitic repression followed the event. It was in 1949 that the Soviets began castigating Zionism as a form of imperialism and racism. Zionism became a code word for Jewish and prominent Jews in the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc were arrested, tried in show trials and murdered for alleged “Zionist” sympathies.

The Soviets also viewed their ideological assault on Zionism as a means of demonizing the US. The Jews’ native rights to the land of Israel were as old and wellknown as the Bible. If Westerners could be convinced that the Jews were colonial usurpers in Israel, they could be convinced that Western civilization was evil.

According to Pacepa, by 1968 the KGB completed its control over the PLO. It used Castro and his DGI agency as a means to promote the Palestinian political war against Israel. According to Cuban American researchers, Castro was a conduit for promoting anti-Zionism and support for Palestinian terrorists among Western radicals. For instance, the DGI introduced PLO terrorists to African American radicals like the Black Panthers, who were trained by Castro’s forces.

Castro’s lionization by the Palestinians and the international Left alike shows that 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the legacy of the Soviets’ political war against the US-led West was not only successful during the Cold War, but is still very much a part of our world.

Castro never taught the Palestinians how to live in peace. He never taught them how to raise crops. He taught them how to murder and libel. He taught them how to indoctrinate others to believe lies about themselves and about their perceived enemies.

The fact that these lies are still believed by so many in the Left shows that Castro died a victor. The fact that the terrorist methods he developed with Arafat under the guiding hand of Moscow are still viewed by Western intellectuals as legitimate “tools of resistance” shows that he won.

And the fact that Palestinian murderers who learned the trade at his knee are still viewed as legitimate forces in world politics shows that together with his KGB bosses, Castro was able to get away with his crimes.
The West managed to defeat the Soviet state, but not the Soviet cause. And the flags at half-mast for Castro in Ramallah are proof of the Castro-executed Soviet victory over morality and over truth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Today's Laugh Track: 'Napoleon Dynamite' Stars Reunite - BURGER KING® | CHEESY TOTS™

The Golden Age of Mass Delusion

A strange controversy in Texas

By Kevin D. Williamson — November 30, 2016

Image result for abortion rights protest 2016 texas
Lexie Cooper, right, and other members of the National Organization for Women, protest the Texas Alliance for Life annual benefit dinner in Austin. (Laura Thompson/Texas Observer)

Texas has passed a regulation requiring that human corpses be disposed of in accordance with the state’s regulation for the disposal of human corpses. That this exercise in tautology was necessary — and that it is controversial — is a reminder that we live in the golden age of mass delusion.

The underlying question here, which properly understood isn’t a question at all, has to do with abortion, and what it is that an abortion does. The biological answer to that question is straightforward: An abortion is a procedure in which a physician or another party kills a living human organism, either prior to birth or in the course of inducing a birth. About the three relevant criteria — 1) living, 2) human, 3) organism — there is no serious question: The tissue is living tissue, not dead tissue; it is human tissue, not rutabaga or koala bear tissue; it is arranged into an individual organism rather than an organ or a tumor or an extension of the maternal body.

Because the biology is straightforward, maintaining the fiction that abortion is something other than the premeditated killing of a living human being requires a retreat into poorly wrought metaphysics. The same people who will lecture you about science eight days a week inexplicably embrace pre-modern superstitious notions of “ensoulment” and work up some fine angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin material about “personhood,” the legal construction one uses when one is trying one’s best not to notice that what happens in an abortion is killing and that what is killed is a distinct and individual human being.

The abortion ethic is based on a lie: that the procedure involves nothing more than the elimination of a meaningless clump of cells. That lie is bound up in a nest of lies of which it is one particularly poisonous constituent, all of which are aimed at denying the relationship between sex and procreation or at denying the deep and wide-ranging consequences of attempting to disrupt that relationship. And that larger tangle of lies is itself only a constituent of an even more sprawling mess of confusion and deceit holding that men and women are interchangeable social units, that motherhood and fatherhood are social fictions that were dreamt up rather than evolved, and that you, Sunshine, and your desires are the very center of this universe.

The dead baby in the surgical tray makes all that nonsense rather hard to sustain.

Texas governor Greg Abbott approved a proposal yesterday that would forbid treating the bodies of the dead like used bandages or other medical waste, instead requiring that they be cremated or buried. The burials, if they come to pass, will be surreal affairs. What would one say? Would the mother attend?

The rule does not apply to miscarriages or to “abortions that take place at home,” presumably a reference to pharmaceutically induced abortions.

The abortion lobby is apoplectic, which is what it always is, which must get exhausting. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas protests that the move is a “transparent” attempt to burden abortionists. “The rules target physicians that provide abortions and the hospitals that care for patients,” says Blake Rocap, the lawyer for the group. “Transparent” is a funny choice of word: NARAL is an organization that refuses even to say its own name — it is formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League — or to acknowledge what sort of “choice” it is advocating.  

Yes, the Texas rule is transparent: It is a transparent attempt to force Texans to face reality.

It probably will not prevent (at least not directly) a single abortion from taking place, and, though the particulars of their condition is unknowable, it seems unlikely that a grave or a dignified cremation will make the victims feel any better about having had their lives snuffed out before they had had a chance to take a breath, much less to take a step or fall in love. The dead, Private Joker informs us, know only one thing: that it is better to be alive — though Christians, who in one month will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, take a different view. Whichever story is closer to the truth, death is death is death.

But our children are not garbage. Not the living ones, and not the dead, as resolute as their parents may be in treating them as though they were. Reality will not be denied. Not for very long. Not in Texas. Not anywhere.

— Kevin D. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent.  

The Road to Chappaqua

Orwell's Advice for the Democrats
Howard Husock
November 29, 2016
Image result for george orwell
In her instantly notorious “basket of deplorables” speech, Hillary Clinton characterized half of Donald Trump’s supporters as “racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.” That statement got all the press. Nearly unreported on, however, was Clinton’s expression of sympathy for “the other basket.” These Trump voters, she said, “feel the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures.” This basket, she went on, contains “people we have to understand and empathize with as well.” George Orwell would have recognized Clinton’s combination of concern for, and discomfort with, the working class. The British novelist and critic captured it memorably in 1937’s The Road to Wigan Pier, a short book that should be required reading for the Democratic Party in 2017. 
The genesis of the The Road to Wigan Pier was a commission Orwell received from the Left Book Club, a publishing group founded by the prominent British socialist Victor Gollancz. As part of the Left Book Club’s mission to use literature and popular culture to build a case for socialism, Gollancz asked Orwell to live among—and write about—the coal miners, millworkers, and unemployed laborers of the greater Manchester area. (Wigan Pier itself was a wharf on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal). The first half of the resulting book did exactly what the Left Book Club wanted. In the powerful prose style he had honed previously in Burmese Days and Down and Out in Paris and London, Orwell detailed the physical tolls of working in a coal mine: “Every miner has blue scars on his nose and forehead and will carry them to his death. The coal dust of which the air underground is full enters every cut, and then the skin grows over it and forms a blue stain like tattooing, which in fact it is.” Orwell also managed to capture the misery of older men, who, unable to do the physical work of mining, were reduced to selling newspapers on the streets: “The newspapers engage poor desperate wretches, out-of-work clerks and commercial travelers and the like who for a while make frantic efforts and keep their sales up to the minimum; then, as the deadly work wears them down they are sacked and fresh men taken on.” Housing conditions in Wigan reminded him of “the filthy kennels in which I have seen Indian coolies living in Burma.”
Orwell was at the time an avowed socialist, hardly an apologist for capitalism and free markets. Yet, in the second half of The Road to Wigan Pier—the part Democrats should read—Orwell abandoned the Left Book Club’s script, outlining with candor and originality the awkward dilemma of the contemporary Left. That is, how to advocate on behalf of a working class that you find deplorable? Orwell described the “lower-upper-middle class” socialist thusly:
He idealizes the proletariat, but it is remarkable how little his habits resemble theirs . . . he still habitually associates with his own class;  he is vastly more at home with a member of his own class, who thinks him a dangerous Bolshie, than with a member of the working class who supposedly agrees with him; his tastes in food, wine, clothes, books, pictures, music, ballet are still recognizably bourgeois tastes; most significant of all, he invariably marries into his own class.
The bourgeois Left not only has different cultural tastes than the working classes; it disapproves of blue-collar tastes as well: “It is summed up in four frightful words which people nowadays are chary of uttering, but which were bandied about quite freely in my childhood. The words were: The lower classes smell.”
We see such disdain for blue-collar taste in our own modern American culture. Indeed, to many on the left, Donald Trump symbolizes bad taste. Snobbishness about food, country music, clothing, NASCAR, or “guns and religion” is as casual as it is accepted in the better ZIP codes of New York and Los Angeles. Orwell, to say the least, had the Left’s number, in ways we still recognize today: “One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist and feminist in England.”
Orwell’s advice for the Left was to begin by acknowledging its snobbery. He also felt strongly that redistribution—the dole—was an insufficient response to unemployment, or to the mechanization of work that he presciently saw coming to Wigan. Orwell had expected to see poverty as something affecting “tramps, beggars, criminals, prostitutes.” The poverty he found was more widespread—and more  significant. “I knew nothing about working-class conditions,” he confessed. “I had read the unemployment figures but I had no notion of what they implied; above all, I did not know the essential fact that ‘respectable’ poverty is always the worst. The frightful doom of a decent working man suddenly thrown on the streets after a lifetime of steady work, his agonized struggles against economic laws he does not understand, the disintegration of families, the corroding sense of shame—all this was outside the range of my experience.” Life, he wrote, “has to be lived in terms of effort.”
The working class, in other words, needs to work. No party that claims to represent the interests of the working class can afford to forget that.

Fidel Castro’s Admirers: The Dunce, the Coward, and the Criminal

Why Castro’s apologists aren’t worth talking to

By Mario Loyola — November 29, 2016
Image result for obama castro death
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro shake hands during their first meeting on the second day of Obama's visit to Cuba, in Havana March 21, 2016.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Since my first days at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I have argued with a lot of people about a lot of things. But I don’t argue about Fidel Castro, who finally died at long last on Saturday. The reason is partly personal; my mother left Cuba at the age of 13 with her family after Castro’s terror unfolded across her happy homeland. But the main reason is that the dictatorship of Fidel Castro does not raise any issue on which reasonable people can disagree.

There are basically three kinds of people who say nice things about Fidel: (1) those too ignorant or too stupid to have the first clue what they’re talking about; (2) cowards for whom everything is morally equivalent; and (3) those who know what Fidel did and are depraved enough to defend it anyway.

People in the first category don’t need my help defeating themselves. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau might as well have been wearing a dunce cap and a “kick me” sign when he claimed in a statement that even Castro’s detractors recognize Fidel’s “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’” As a bonus, he hailed Castro as Cuba’s “longest serving president,” as if that were a laudable achievement for a dictator.

In the competition for Maximum Idiot on the subject of Cuba, Irish president Michael Higgins wasn’t far behind Trudeau (Castro believed not only in “freedom for his people but for all the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet”), and Dr. Jill Stein wasn’t far behind that (Castro was a “symbol of the struggle for Justice in the shadow of empire”). These people are like college kids who wear Ché Guevara T-shirts: They have no idea what they’re saying, and nobody expects them to. Some people think that eulogies like these reveal the despotic left-wing tendencies of those who make them. I take a much more charitable view: They’re just stupid. If they knew only 5 percent of the reality of Castro’s dictatorship, they would be horrified.

The same cannot be said of people in the second category, moral cowards such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Jimmy Carter’s drivel about “fondly” remembering his visits with Fidel and Fidel’s “love of his country” was thoroughly familiar to anyone who knows Carter, the shining example of Dean Acheson’s observation that moralizing and being moral aren’t the same thing. For those who aren’t familiar, Jimmy Carter is a former American president who thinks that he’s no better than any other sinner, and neither are you, and so we’re all the same as Fidel in God’s eyes. He’s not ignoring Castro’s dictatorship because he’s unaware of its existence. Rather, he doesn’t think he or anyone else is in a moral position to judge Castro’s dictatorship, so he politely declines to mention it.

This moral cowardice was distilled to its purest form in the empty and thoroughly worthless White House statement. As you might expect, Obama’s statement was excessively wordy and mostly about himself. Here’s the bit about Castro:
We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.
The reference to Fidel’s “enormous impact” in “altering” the lives of millions in “countless ways,” was sterilized of any moral judgement. Cruel dictatorship? Who’s to say? History will judge. The latter was a subtle reference to one of Castro’s favorite phrases, “La historia me absolverá,” but the reference is so subtle, I’m not sure even an expert in reading between the lines could tell what it means, or that it means anything. At the end of the day, the statement tells us nothing about Castro but a great deal about Obama, the intellectual whose congenital narcissism makes it impossible for him to pick any side in a moral argument, except when he is the subject of it. It’s the response you’d expect from someone who thinks he’s being high-minded and even-handed when he blames the Israeli–Palestinian conflict on both sides equally. Such people speak out against violence and human-rights abuses only when their personal political enemies can somehow be blamed, and almost never on principle.

That helps explains the New York Times’ appalling double standard in its obituaries of right-wing Augusto Pinochet (“brutal dictator” and “notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption”) and Castro (“fiery apostle of revolution” who “defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader.”) Then again, the New York Times deserves a special place in the pantheon of Cuba’s tormentors, having done more than any other institution to burnish Castro’s image as a romantic democratic revolutionary in the critical early years when Castro might still have been stopped. The shame of New York Times columnist Herbert Mathews’s adoring portraits of Castro hangs over the paper still, but as their obituary of Castro shows, the New York Times is too vain for shame. So much for them.

By far the most poisonous of Castro’s apologists are those in the third category, those who know what Castro did and justify it still. It is the Cuban people’s cross to bear that most people in this third category are compatriots and friends — the Cuban Communists themselves, and their close allies in the dictatorships of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

These are not to be confused with more well-meaning Castro supporters across Latin America. Castro was a master propagandist, and the David-and-Goliath narrative (with imperialist Yankees in Goliath’s part) is viscerally irresistible. But most Mexicans and Brazilians who sympathize with Castro are really just in love with a Ché Guevara T-shirt. They see the huge crowds that gather for Castro’s funeral and don’t realize that most are there for the free food they have little hope of getting otherwise, many of them afraid of being noticed anywhere else. Most of those Latin Americans fall in the first category: Very few know anything about Castro’s dictatorship, and fewer still defend it.

The dictatorship’s real defenders know what Castro did. They know about the Seguridad del Estado, the pervasive terror police that proudly took its name from Stalinist East Germany’s Staatssicherheit (“Stasi”). They know about the wretched political prisons, from which once healthy men would be released after just a few years on the verge of death. They know about the state-organized mobs that ransack old ladies’ houses because their children dare to criticize the regime. They know about the book clubs that meet in secret by candlelight, to read forbidden texts on pain of indefinite detention. They know that police harass and arrest people for wearing T-shirts that say “Change.” They know the desperate material privations that have pushed tens of thousands of wives to prostitution. They know about how Castro’s megalomaniac insistence on the socialist revolution produced a dystopia of everyone-for-himself. They know about the deprivation of the most basic freedoms of speech and movement. They know Castro was a sadist who delighted in ordering people to arrest their best friends, among many other tortures, humiliations, and crimes. They know that Castro’s Cuba is an island prison. They know all those things, and still they defend Castro.

I don’t talk to those people because they are my enemies. I would vastly prefer to engage them in a venue more appropriate for non-verbal communication — such as a battlefield. All three groups have this in common, however. They can all go to hell as far as I’m concerned.
There were celebrations in Miami after Castro died, but there was precious little to celebrate. Castro died in the comfort of old age, with all his sins on his head, leaving behind a Stalinist dictatorship that has already outlived Stalinism by many decades. As one uncle said to me yesterday, “We lost, and he won.” For the moment, that’s the truth. All I can hope is that the ingenuity and joyful spirit that comes so naturally to Cubans will outlive Castro’s dictatorship in the long run, and bring a future of hope and prosperity and freedom to that long-tormented people.

Meantime, to those Americans and others around the world who stood up to Fidel Castro, who took my family in, protected them, and treated them with dignity, I offer my deepest and sincerest thanks. Only a very few of you can begin to imagine the infinite calamities of Castro’s dictatorship. But you knew that the millions who risked and sacrificed everything to escape Cuba were the victims of one of the 20th century’s great crimes against humanity.

On their behalf, and even more on behalf of all those who suffer under Castro’s dictatorship to this very day, thank you. Let’s keep hoping and working for the day of Cuba’s liberation.

—Mario Loyola is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Competitive Federalism at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and a contributing editor to National Review

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Fake News Fake Story

Blame the media, not Moscow.

“Fake stories” are in the news. The narrative goes something like this: fabricated accounts that misrepresent “the truth” are proliferating on the internet, and once they appear on a social networking site, they are frequently spread far and wide, often doing serious damage along the way to whatever or whomever was the target of the initial posting. Reportedly, Google and Facebook are now alert to the problem and doing their best to monitor and eliminate such material. How exactly that will work is not yet clear, as it would be blatant censorship, and the relative openness of the internet is a major part of its appeal.
And there is, of course, a political aspect to the fake stories. Allegedly, most recent tales were focused on denigrating the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, accusing her of a series of crimes both high and low, challenging her veracity on issues relating to her health, and claiming that she was seeking to “hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.”
That the overwhelming majority of the media’s campaign coverage actually consisted of negative reporting on Donald Trump would appear to contradict that narrative. But because most of those currently promoting the “fake news story” theory can be comfortably described as Clinton supporters, it is perhaps not surprising that whatever benefit might be obtained from the political angle would tilt in her direction.
And there’s something even more nefarious that fits neatly into another storyline that was intensely pursued in the lead-up to the election. It has now been discovered by the assiduous researchers attached to several previously unknown and somewhat shady inside-the-Beltway think tanks that the Kremlin was behind it all, described in some detail by the Washington Post in an article entitled“Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” The front-page Post piece, which was promptly replayed uncritically elsewhere in the mainstream media, concerned the alleged existence of “a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.”
With two coauthors, a fellow at one of the obscure think tanks cited by the Post, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, had released an article called “Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy” on November 6 through the War on the Rocks online magazine. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, just before the election, and the article shilled heavily for Clinton, asserting absurdly at one point that “A Trump victory could pave the way for Russian ascendance and American acquiescence.”  
A second group cited in the article, PropOrNot, revealed on October 30 the keys to “Identifying and Combatting Russian Online Propaganda,” including a convenient table that names all the internet sites that are apparently “useful idiots” engaged in supporting the “active measures” produced by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his shadow warriors. PropOrNot alarmingly warns that unless something is done about Moscow’s propaganda, there might be in the “immediate aftermath of the upcoming election, Russian orchestrated political violence in the U.S.”
The research and analysis conducted by both the Foreign Policy Research Institute and PropOrNot is based on physical connections between sites featuring the “fake stories” as well as repetitive language and expressions, but that is precisely how information moves around on the internet in any event.  The completely respectable Consortium News,,, and Ron Paul Institute are four of the sites PropOrNot includes on its “peddlers of Russian propaganda” list, rather suggesting that discussing Moscow’s foreign policy objectively outside the comfort zone of the Washington establishment bubble is enough for inclusion.
The Post article accepts that Moscow was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee files and other accounts to “embarrass Clinton,” even though actual Russian government culpability has never been unambiguously demonstrated and has been denied by both the Kremlin and WikiLeaks. And it might surprise the Washington Post, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and PropOrNot to learn that Moscow was watching the U.S. presidential election very closely based on its own self-interest. On one hand, there was a major-party candidate who compared Putin to Hitler and who was advocating confronting Russia in the Baltics, Ukraine, and Syria, including expanding NATO and increasing direct lethal military assistance to Kiev while also intervening directly in Syria. That intervention would include creation of a “no-fly” zone, which would virtually guarantee an incident involving U.S. warplanes and the Russian aircraft supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
On the other hand, there was another major-party candidate advocating dialogue and détente with Russia, arguing that the current level of hostility with Moscow was unwarranted. He was also uninterested in increasing U.S. direct involvement in Syria.
There should be no mystery about whom Putin was going to favor. Yes, Moscow undeniably has a large bureaucracy that engages in media management in support of its own perceived interests, but the State Department does the same thing, as does the CIA overseas, and the Pentagon manages the news coming out of war zones through its embedment of journalists. The White House itself fed false information to journalists in the lead-up to the Iraq War.
Many other governments, including those of Israel and China, also engage in methodical global media manipulation to promote both their foreign and domestic policies. And one might also add that the U.S. mainstream media exercises considerable self-censorship over stories that would displease the corporate and political establishment. One must ask who is manipulating whom and whether it is fair to suggest that the American public is so gullible as to believe everything that appears on the internet, on television, or in print?
In addition, I would argue that there is a vast abyss between using a country’s global media resources to favor a certain political outcome in a foreign country and deliberately seeking to destroy that same nation’s political institutions, which is what the Post and its associated think tanks are attempting to link together. And it is not like posting false or misleading stories to obtain some political advantage is something new, having been something like the norm since the invention of mass journalism in the 19th century. It is not for nothing that “truth” has been described as the first casualty when nations engage in conflict and go public to explain their respective points of view.
The Post article wraps its allegations about Russia around the kernel of truth that there have been many false stories on the internet. In my own experience placing false or misleading articles overseas during the Cold War, the trick was not to use a sledgehammer but rather to base an account on a substantially and unimpeachably true story while inserting an element that would convey some additional information. Linking something that was false to something believed to be true would validate the former. Ironically, that is precisely what the Post article seeks to do when it tries to establish as solid its view that Russia was behind the fake news before it demurs, “There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump.” The newspaper is planting the seed that Moscow’s role was decisive by including the reservation.
The Post article also describes the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s health issues and implies that the negative commentary was somehow linked to direction coming from Moscow, but the reality is that Clinton actually did stumble and almost fall on camera. That video was played repeatedly, unleashing a torrent of discussion worldwide, including on Clinton-friendly networks like CNN, without any need for Russia to do anything to popularize the story. Russian trolls might indeed have been onto the story quickly, as the article suggests, but they were not alone.
The mainstream media, which clearly is having some difficulty in explaining why anyone should pay attention to it, is eager to discover new reasons why the reporting in the lead-up to the elections was so awful. It is convenient to claim that the Russians planted false stories, and furthermore are attempting to destroy our democracy, which would be a good segue if only anyone would actually believe any of it. The fact is that the public does not trust the media because the reporting has been both intrinsically biased and selective, with Team Clinton being the beneficiary of the status quo far more often than not in the recent electoral campaign. The clearly perceived bias is precisely why the public seeks out alternative sources of information and latches on to fake stories—and while it may be true that a Russian government ministry is responsible for some of what is being produced, the allegation that there exists a plot to destroy American democracy is a bridge way too far. The Democratic and Republican parties are already doing that without any help from Moscow.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.