Sep. 22, 2014
“With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but where I know a mind to be ingenuous, and to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be passive.” –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams, 1804
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Khorasan: The New Jihadist Threat
There is a brewing threat to the U.S. that may be even greater than ISIL. It’s known as “Khorasan,” and it’s a subgroup of veteran al-Qaida terrorists. According to The Washington Post, “Khorasan hasn’t arrived to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. It’s not interested in laying claim to great swaths of land and resources, as is the Islamic State. Rather, American officials told the Associated Press, its members have come from Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan to exploit the flood of Western jihadists who now have skin in the fight – and possess very valuable passports. According to the AP, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri dispatched this deputy to recruit those Western fighters, who have a better chance of escaping scrutiny at airports and could place bombs onto planes.” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, confirmed Khorasan’s existence for the first time Thursday. He warns that “in terms of threat[s] to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger” as ISIL. More so, perhaps, because while ISIL wants territory in the Middle East, Khorasan wants another 9/11, and they have the homegrown personnel to make that possible. More…1
Lois Lerner Speaks: ‘I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong’
“I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country,” Lois Lerner said during her two-hour conversation with Politico. The interview paints the former IRS official as a department head who lost control of her division, whose blunt, apolitical actions earned the animosity of the very political Washington theater. The interview is Lerner’s stage. We learn that Nice Lerner rescued animals after Hurricane Katrina, and she struggled at the IRS when she switched careers from a dental hygienist to government work. Politico also tells of her gardening, her supportive husband and the death threats she received. “Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” she said. Two things are clear: First, Lerner has a point of view justifying her political targeting that she has yet to explain ever since she pleaded the Fifth2. Second, her actions and the actions of her department broke the trust America placed in its tax system and we still need an explanation. More…3
Students Banned From Distributing Constitutions
The Young Americans for Freedom’s (YAF) fight for free speech on the campus of Penn State illustrates just how restrictive free expression can be on college campuses. On Constitution Day, the administration told YAF students to take down their table near an entrance to a building because it wasn’t in the right “free speech zone.” YAF was distributing copies of the Constitution and information on the school’s restrictive free speech policies. YAF members protested. In a video4, one student is recorded as saying, “We’ve seen people’s tables out here all the time,” implying the school’s administration selectively enforces the rules. In April, the students stood with signs5 in a zone where speech was not authorized, protesting the policies. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 59% of the colleges6 in the nation clearly and substantially restrict student speech. Administrators need to pick up a copy of the Constitution. More…7
Michelle Obama on ‘How Different Our Country Looks’
In 2008, Michelle Obama declared, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” The reason for her pride was that her husband was polling well and on his way to the presidency. Now, she’s proud of her husband for how much he’s changed our country. “Just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today,” she crowed. “Today, when folks ask me whether I still believe everything we said about change and hope back in 2008, I tell them that I believe it more strongly now than ever before, because, look, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” Unfortunately, every change her husband has brought has been wrong for our country – we’re more in debt, less free and weaker in the world. No wonder Michelle is proud. More…8
A Retired Soldier on the Dearth of Black Officers
Recently, the political-correctness police noticed there aren’t enough black officers in the Army9. A retired soldier writing as “Petronius Arbiter” says, “This should be a surprise to no one. But don’t go blaming the Army for the inability to solve this issue. This is a multi-faceted problem and one which must be solved involving all aspects of American society: Army, academia, family, and community leadership.” Recruitment of black soldiers isn’t the problem, he argues, and in the end there’s probably not a lot the Army can actually do. “My take on this,” he says, “is that the Army is just going to have to endure with whatever happens. It is highly doubtful anything can be done to produce more black or other minority officers in combat arms. And guess what? The same issue, but probably on a greater scale, is going to occur with women, should the decision be made to go that direction.” Because the politically correct will get there. More…10
For more, visit Right Hooks11.
Arming ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Is Questionable
Heeding the call to do something about ISIL, Congress passed and Barack Obama signed a measure12 approving weapons and training for “moderate” Syrian rebels. These moderates are ostensibly fighting against the new Islamic upstarts but are also sworn to overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. Obama has repeatedly assured Americans that no boots would be on the ground in Syria (or Iraq, for that matter), sending out National Security Advisor Susan Rice to state, “This program will be hosted outside of Syria in partnership with neighboring countries.” Rice added the process would take “many months,” which the administration hopes will be enough time to sort out all of the various regional players.
But there is plenty of skepticism – even from the CIA13 – that we’re training the wrong people. Given the fact that thousands of Iraqi soldiers we previously trained either turned tail or jumped onto the Islamic State locomotive as it steamed its way across northern and western Iraq earlier this summer, can we really expect that the Syrian rebels we choose to train won’t do the same if the tides of war turn against them? Or that they’ll focus on the correct target14?
Meanwhile, top military brass expressed frustration15 with the lack of options being presented by Obama. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” warned retired Marine Gen. James Mattis last week. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.” Obama’s promise not to put troops back into Iraq or directly expand the Long War to Syria seems to be aimed more at placating his leftist base than advancing America’s strategic interests.
Indeed, Obama doubled down on that promise again in his weekly address16. “Going forward, we won’t hesitate to take action against these terrorists in Iraq or in Syria,” he said. “But this is not America’s fight alone. I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures. We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight. This isn’t America versus ISIL. This is the people of that region versus ISIL. It’s the world versus ISIL.” And he isn’t George W. Bush. Therefore, no ground troops.
Even as Obama tries to walk the fine line between doing what’s necessary and what’s politically expedient in the short term, his fellow leftists aren’t buying into it. Instead, they demand he eschew any military option. Protesters from anti-war radicals Code Pink interrupted Senate testimony17 by Secretary of State John Kerry, prompting him to tell those women, “[Y]ou ought to care about fighting ISIL” because they are “killing and raping and mutilating women.” (Sort of like the American troops did in Vietnam, according to Kerry’s twisted version of history18.) It was yet another reminder of the political calculation that led Obama to abandon Iraq in the first place.
It’s often been said that if you want to have something done right, you have to do it yourself. After five-plus years of feckless foreign policy that alienates our friends and comforts our enemies, we have to realize ISIL isn’t the “JV team” and can’t be eliminated by proxy. As opposed to the asymmetric war posed by al-Qaida, ISIL is fighting by more or less conventional means using weapons which, in some cases, we have provided – either through capture of Iraqi army munitions and equipment, or covertly to Syrian rebels19 through the CIA. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – one of the 22 senators who voted against the Syrians arms and training package – put it, we’re “dependent on unreliable actors in the region.”
Some of those “unreliable actors” will win the lottery of sorts by becoming American-trained, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be fighting with American interests foremost in mind. In the end, only we can be trusted with that mission.
Don’t Know Much About…
Special commentary by Arnold Ahlert20
Last Wednesday, September 17, was Constitution Day21, marking the 227th anniversary of that wondrous document’s ratification. Unfortunately, a new survey22 released the same day by the Annenberg Public Policy Center reveals an embarrassing but ultimately predictable level of public ignorance regarding its contents.
The numbers are stark. While just 36% of the 1,416 adult respondents could name all three branches of the federal government, another 35% couldn’t name a single one. Only 27% of Americans know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto, and over one-in-five (21%) believes a 5-4 Supreme Court decision will be sent back to Congress for reconsideration.
Even worse, the survey reveals the term “low information voter” is not only distressingly accurate, but may be far more endemic than even an ardent pessimist might have imagined. When asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38% correctly answered Republicans, while 17% said Democrats, and a whopping 44% admitted they didn’t know. That last number represents a 17 point increase from the 27% who had no idea in 2011.
The numbers were no better with regard to who controls the Senate. While 38% correctly answered Democrats, 27% thought it was Republicans, and another whopping 42% didn’t know, the same 17 point increase from the 27% who didn’t know in 2011.
“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center23 (APPC). “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.”
What’s the likelihood of that occurring? A column24 I read just under two years ago haunts me to this day. In “Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches,” writer Glenn Fairman speaks of his discovery during a stint as a substitute teacher in a social studies class some 20 years earlier. It relates directly to the subject at hand. “In a dusty corner shelf of the room was a set of thirty-year-old textbooks from the mid-1960s, and although my memory cannot now relinquish their title, their contents burned themselves into my brain,” he writes. “As I flipped through the pages, I was astonished to find what I would now consider an upper-level college textbook under color of what in the high schools used to be termed ‘civics.’ … I spent the rest of the day in slack-jawed amazement, perusing what a student in a working-class town was expected to know before the mavens of education began tinkering with the curricula of our schools.”
This past summer I took the opportunity to fill a hole in my own civics education and picked up a copy of the Federalist Papers25. What struck me above all else was the profound understanding exhibited by authors James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay – not of government, but of the various aspects of human nature that must be recognized and reconciled to produce a viable government. I was fascinated by the brilliance of these men and their spirited arguments in favor of the new Constitution – yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that their eloquence would be incomprehensible to the average American at the present time.
The above survey confirms my worst fears.
Unlike many of my fellow Americans, I don’t believe those who are conspicuously lacking in a fundamental understanding of our government are stupid. I believe they are ignorant, and while I used to believe that ignorance was a direct byproduct of educational establishment’s incompetence, I have changed my mind. I now believe the dumbing down of Americans is being intentionally cultivated. “From elementary school and into the colleges, disciplines of objective knowledge have been either discounted or leveled, and critical thinking has been pushed aside for the subtle indoctrination of a specific worldview,” echoes Fairman.
Unfortunately, it is the progressive worldview, a vapid stew of feel-good “isms,” that has elevated “caring” above the acquisition of critical knowledge far too many Americans lack. A 2006 Zogby poll26 illuminates the same lack of knowledge about the three branches of the federal government – only 42% could identify them eight years ago. But that poll added a dose of cynicism to the mix, revealing nearly three-in-four of those same Americans could name each of the Three Stooges. I’d bet my life Moe, Larry and Curly could name all three branches of government. They were educated in a time before the current wave of mavens and their union collaborators took the best system in the world and tossed it over a cliff.
In a couple of recent columns, I spoke about “Jihad Chic” and what attracts young men and women to a group like ISIL, and its glorification of bloodthirsty depravity. As crazy as it might sound, the Annenberg poll gives a hint. The foundation of our entire culture is the Constitution, and the glaring ignorance demonstrated by the poll respondents suggests a profound cultural rot – one that might be accelerating faster than we know. When our own commander in chief tells us that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “is not Islamic,” we are in a place where truth itself is apparently optional, which in turn suggests our entire cultural ethos is being stripped of all substance and meaning. ISIL may be a savage organization, but its cultural ethos radiates clarity.
The dire implications? You can’t beat something with nothing. And we have allowed the cultural flagellators, who reduce America to little more than a nation that must atone for its “sins,” to dominate the conversation for far too long. The spectacular theories that formed the basis of our Constitution, our government and our nation have been bastardized beyond recognition, and unless we restore them to their former greatness, a giant darkness will descend. Not just upon us, but everyone who sees this nation for what it truly is: an exceptional beacon of freedom throughout the world.
The good news? During the restoration process, we have nothing to lose but our ignorance.
OPINION IN BRIEF
The Gipper: “Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom.”
Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “Sam Sutter, the district attorney for Bristol County [Massachusetts], announced [recently] that he would drop the criminal charges pending against two global-warming activists for illegally blocking a shipment of coal to a power plant… He announced, in a manner calculated to attract maximum publicity, that he was letting [the demonstrators] off the hook because he agrees with their political views. … It was an egregious abuse of his authority as a prosecutor: not that he dropped the charges against two lawbreaking protesters, but that he did so because he wants to promote their controversial cause – and to promote his own ‘leadership’ on the issue. … It may be tempting for those who see climate change as a crisis to applaud Sutter’s overtly political decision. Would they feel the same way about an anti-abortion DA who refused to prosecute demonstrators for blockading a Planned Parenthood clinic? Would they cheer a prosecutor whose antipathy to Islam led him to drop the charges against trespassers preventing construction of a mosque, and then to trumpet his ‘leadership’ in doing so? Prosecutors aren’t elected to make public policy – not on fossil fuels, or civil rights, or abortion, or anything else.”
Columnist Peggy Noonan: “[W]e focus on Mr. Obama personality and psychology – he’s weak or arrogant or ambivalent, or all three – and while this is interesting, it’s too fancy. We are overthinking the president. His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment. And we don’t say this because he’s so famously bright – academically credentialed, smooth, facile with words, quick with concepts. (That’s the sort of intelligence the press and popular historians most prize and celebrate, because it’s exactly the sort they possess.) But brightness is not the same as judgment, which has to do with discernment, instinct, the ability to see the big picture, wisdom that is earned or natural. Mr. Obama can see the trees, name their genus and species, judge their age and describe their color. He absorbs data. But he consistently misses the shape, size and density of the forest. His recitations of data are really a faux sophistication that suggests command of the subject but misses the heart of the matter.”
Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “If you told me as a child that in 2014 people would stand hours in line to buy a phone, I would have thought the Soviets had won.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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