Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Education, History, Intelligence, Islam, Israel, Law, Middle East, National Security, Regulation, Syria, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: State Dept Press Briefings, Talking Past Each Other, We Speak Different Languages
Early today I watched a video of the first press briefing for the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the Trump administration. It was over an hour long, conducted by Mark Toner who has been in the job for a number of years, is very competent, and knows most of the journalists present. I’ve seen excerpts of these things before, but this was the first time I have watched the whole thing.
I found it somewhat astonishing, for the liberal journalists trouble in grasping the distinctions among immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and the countries involved. They were really having a hard time understanding why some refugees should be turned away at the border, for example—why would we not allow refugees from Iran who didn’t like the government there. Certainly not all Iranians liked the government, why wouldn’t we accept those people? They clearly just didn’t grasp that we cannot tell or vet those who come from a nation that wants to destroy us, nor can we tell who is a jihadi and who is not.
I’ve been mulling over these language distinctions for some time. for it seems that Journalists just don’t grasp that when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his people in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”— that is exactly what he really means, and what his government is working for. That there isn’t really any way to tell the good people from the jihadis, and the next terrorist attack may hit their D.C. neighborhood. They are involved with the news, but they don’t grasp the nature of the world.
Rex Tillerson has said that we have been paying the UN for years to monitor and control North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weapons and it has not worked at all, so perhaps it is time to try something different. I would add that when Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had his older step-brother executed in another country, and just recently executed five of his supporters who offended him with anti-aircraft cannons, that something different is probably what is needed. I just don’t get the feeling that these journalists get it, and they are still out wandering around in issues of diversity and social justice. But perhaps I am unjust.
A very large issue is the one of religion. Two federal District Judges, one from Seattle and one from Hawaii, have issued stays on President Trump’s Executive Orders, which issued a 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries selected by the Obama administration because immigrants or refugees from those countries cannot be vetted adequately. Why would we have any special concern for Christian refugees?
The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… That seem so straightforward and clear. Congress cannot make any laws that establish a state religion. ( No Church of England here) Yet that First Amendment has caused an amazing amount of trouble as people try to overthink and over dissect the words. If a Christian cross is displayed on federal land is that “establishing a religion?” Do the Little Sisters of the Poor have to support abortion for their workers in spite of the fact that their religion prohibits abortion?
So the question becomes—what happens if the religion in question wants to destroy the United States of America because our existence conflicts with their religion. Do al-Qaeda and ISIS represent the Islamic religion, or are they something separate? Do they get to try to destroy us because they don’t believe in our Constitution or religions, and we have to refrain from fighting them because of freedom of religion? When you spell out the questions that arise, it clarifies things, but a full discussion becomes ever more necessary. And the questions that arise are litigated and re-litigated.
The Federal District Judge in Seattle and the Federal District Judge in Hawaii are dragging in casual remarks from the difficult election campaign as if that had anything to do with the President’s Executive Order. They can’t do that. The only thing they have to consider are the exact words of the Executive Order. They cannot drag in extraneous things. Federal Judges get a lifetime appointment and cannot be removed by Congress, though they can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So this will all have to go to the Supreme Court.
Our Founders were a lot closer to the European Wars of Religion 1524-1646, following the Protestant Reformation. That ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which recognized three separate Christian traditions in the Holy Roman empire: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.That was followed by the British Civil Wars or The Wars of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. The Reformation of the Church of England, begot Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the breakdown of state-controlled religious conformity bred an explosion of radical denominations: Ranters, Baptists, Diggers, Levelers and Quakers. The New England colonies were settled by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, the Carolinas by Presbyterians, and Virginia by the Church of England, and they changed as they were established in America. All fascinating, but necessary to understand at least a little, when we get into simple questions about freedom of religion.
To circle back to where I started, I got no feeling that the reporters at the State Department briefing had any understanding of the real nature of the religious questions involved. Religion is those backwoods people clinging to their Bibles and guns, or something like that. It undoubtedly plays a major part in our current problems with the mainstream media. Our conversations are not about real things, but about social justice, race, diversity, pronouns, race, safe spaces and snowflakes. We’ve got some very real problems out there and they remain essentially unrecognized.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, History, Literature, Military, Politics, Science/Technology | Tags: Explaining Intelligence, Herbert E. Meyer, Hillsdale College
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.
In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)”
Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.
To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.
Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.
Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.
In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.
You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.
Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Education, Freedom, Heartwarming, Media Bias, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, The United States | Tags: A Tangle of Red Tape, Striking Down Excess Regulation, The Senate Wins Two
Within just 24 hours, the Senate successfully overturned two sets of regulations finalized by the Department of Education in the final weeks of the Obama administration. As the Daily Signal reported:
Using the oversight authority granted to it by the Congressional Review Act, the Senate passed resolutions of disapproval for accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act and regulations for teacher preparation programs. These resolutions now proceed to President Donald Trump.
The use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back these regulations provides immediate relief for states and schools. It also prevents the Department of Education from promulgating substantially similar regulations in the future without congressional approval.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) rose to speak about the regulations, and said he had prepared some major thoughts, but put them aside because it all boiled down to two simple facts:
1.Government bureaucrats are not qualified to make highly specific decisions for remote programs.
2. The federal government lacks the constitutional authority to interfere in local decision-making about education.
He also pointed out that the regulations directed at local decision-making devised by the Obama administration amounted to 635 pages of densely worded directives. 635 pages! Federal micromanagement at its best.
That’s the essence of the Left’s drive for control. They are quite sure that they are considerably smarter than those rubes out there, and must control their every effort at individual freedom.
Striking down regulations one by one is a long and troublesome process. Thank your representatives when they succeed. The Left’s desire for control is, in the end, no match for the American people’s demand for freedom.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Domestic Policy, Immigration, Law, Mexico, National Security, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Searching Futily for an Issue, Senator Charles Schumer, The Border Wall
It’s the Border Wall. That will fix those Despicable Republicans! Senate Democratic leaders say there’s no plan for construction or getting Mexico to pay for it. Showdown! Shutdown! The Senate Democratic leadership team wrote a letter:
We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration.
It was to be modeled on the success of the border barriers in the San Diego sector of the U.S. border. The operative word was “secure.” Instead of this two-layer secure fence what has been built consists of flimsy pedestrian fencing or vehicle fencing consisting of posts people can slither through.
The two-tier fence in San Diego runs 14 miles along the border with Tijuana, Mexico. The first layer is a high steel fence, with an inner high anti-climb fence with a no-man’s land in between. It has been amazingly effective. According to a 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal alien apprehensions in the San Diego sector dropped from 202,000 in 1992 to 9,000 in 2004.
Democrats took back Congress, and in 2008 the White House saw in unrestricted immigration a way to fundamentally transform the demographics of the country and its political landscape. ICE was told not to enforce the law. The unrestricted flow of illegal immigration, drugs and crime soon became too big to ignore. That directive is the source of confusion in the language between Illegal Immigrant, Legal Immigrant, Refugee, Visitors who did not leave when required, and invited H1B workers to replace higher cost American workers. So we have “Sanctuary Cities” who are defying federal law, and all sorts of confusion about “Amnesty” and “Anchor Babies.”
Enter President Donald Trump who had promised to build a wall. Although there is historically a rise in apprehensions of illegals from January to February, since the administration’s message to ICE and Border Control that they were a law enforcement agency, and Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws—the number of illegal immigrants entering from Mexico has declined by 40 percent according to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Wednesday. It’s trending toward the lowest monthly total in the last five years, Kelly said. Just the simple statement that the laws will be enforced changes the situation dramatically. Someone should mention that to Minority Leader Schumer.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2016, History, Humor, Law, Media Bias, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Customary Resignations, Serve at President's Pleasure, U.S. Attorneys
Preet Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was fired on Saturday, since he chose not to tender his resignation as the other U.S. Attorneys did. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign when a new administration begins, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. Naturally this has been picked up by the Democrats, trying to make a scandal out of a normal function of government that takes place in every new administration.
James Freeman explains the dramatic situation at the Wall Street Journal:
At the start of the first week since 2009 in which Preet Bharara will not be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan residents are jamming local markets in search of emergency supplies of food and water.
Most shoppers are likely responding to a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. But given the outsize press coverage of Mr. Bharara’s Saturday firing, one could easily assume that New Yorkers, especially those who work in media, are simply trying to cope with a bout of post-Preet depression.
This is another enormous attempt to create scandal out of nothing at all. Pay no attention.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Health Care, Law, Regulation, Science/Technology, The United States | Tags: An Outstading Nomination, Dr. S, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Trump's Appointments
President Trump has selected a physician who is a policy expert to run the Food and Drug Administration—which may be one of the toughest jobs in Washington. Dr. Gottleib served as a deputy commissioner at the FDA during the G.W. Bush Administration, and has worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes regularly on physician autonomy, drug prices, antibiotic development and more. In other words, he’s familiar with the problems. We’ll see if he can fix them.
One of Dr. Gottlieb’s priorities will be moving generic medicines to market, and competition is the best way to reduce the price of treatments like the now infamous EpiPen. About 10% of 1,300 branded drugs “have seen patents expire but still face zero generic competition,” Dr. Gottlieb wrote in the Journal last year. “New regulations have, in many cases, made it no longer economically viable for more than one generic firm to enter the market.” Now he can roll back such arbitrary directives.
Dr. Gottlieb has also suggested that the FDA should explain its reasoning when declining to approve a drug. FDA does not release a rejection notice known as a complete response letter. The rule ostensibly exists to protect manufacturers, but the silence allows the agency and a company to peddle divergent tales about what happened. The public is left with minimal information and FDA can operate without fear of accountability.
The need for new antibiotics is dire, and a bureaucracy overburdened with regulation and fearful of accountability is not the way to get things moving. The FDA has been overburdened with caution ever since the thalidomide scandal in the ’60s. Thalidomide was a tranquilizer, marketed as a mild sleeping pill safe even for pregnant women, but it turned out to cause thousands of babies to be born with malformed or missing limbs. Careful testing for safety is essential, but getting drugs to market to save lives is also important. Avoidance of accountability is not.