We tend to look back on the past and note a few differences here and there, and then our minds fill in all the blanks with similarities to the present. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry takes a small step to correct this enormous blind spot we all have by writing a bit about how Christianity invented children, and how modern humanity takes the worth of a child for granted. (Well, except for abortion.)

We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn't exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.

Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children -- their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural?

In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe's ancient pagan world.

(HT: Instapundit.)


The New York Times builds on Peter Schweizer's book, "Clinton Cash", with an investigation into Russian nuclear giant Rosatom's purchase of American owned uranium supplies around the world. It's hard to summarize the details, because transactions like this are inherently complicated, so read the whole article if you want to really understand it. Conflicts of interest abound, but it doesn't look like there's a smoking gun quid pro quo. The appearance is bad enough.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One's chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company's assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

It's inconceivable to me that Hillary Clinton could win the presidency with a history like she has, but then I was shocked when Obama won re-election.


North African refugees frequently attempt to flee to Italy from Libya by boat. The crossing is extremely dangerous and hundreds to thousands of people seem to die each year making the journey. It's worse than it sounds though: apparently Muslim refugees are throwing Christians overboard to their deaths.

Italian police said Thursday that 15 African Muslim migrants have been arrested after witnesses said the refugees threw 12 Christians into the Mediterranean following a brawl. ...

During the crossing, the migrants from Nigeria and Ghana -- believed to be Christians -- were threatened with being abandoned at sea by some 15 other passengers from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

Eventually the threat was carried out and 12 were pushed overboard. The statement said the motive was that the victims "professed the Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim."

The surviving Christians, the statement said, only managed to stay on board by forming a "human chain" to resist the assault.

Is this an isolated crime? Or do Muslim refugees commonly murder Christians at sea? Hopefully the investigation will look deeper than this single incident.

Update: President Obama has nothing to say about the persecution of Christians.

(HT: Stephen Green.)


James Taranto notes that the Left support speech by corporations, as long as the speech lines up with the Left's viewpoint. Everything makes sense once you realize that the modern Left is totalitarian.

The Times's position is that corporations (with the convenient exception of "media corporations" like the New York Times Co. itself) have no rights under the First Amendment. That view underlay its histrionic objections to both Citizens United and last year's Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, in which the high court extended the religious-liberty protection of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to corporations that objected to the ObamaCare abortifacient mandate on conscientious grounds.

But now the Times is urging corporations, and executives acting in their corporate capacity, to speak out aggressively in favor of a political cause the Times supports. How could they even do so without free speech?

That seems like a rhetorical question but isn't. Opponents of free speech, such as the Times editorial board, do not oppose speech. They oppose freedom. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes may not brook dissent, but they encourage speech in favor of the regime. Totalitarian regimes frequently compel pro-regime speech.


J. D. Tuccile makes a great point about this IRS pity party.

Whether they worked in Manhattan or Peoria, IRS veterans talk about something else that kept them at the service: the feeling of camaraderie. It was nice that they appreciated one another, because nobody else did. "You go to a party, and if you say you are from the IRS, half the people move into the other room," says Richard Schickel, a former senior collections officer in Tucson who retired in December 2013. "After a while, your wife and relatives get tired of listening to your stories. They say, 'How could you take those people's houses and their businesses?' The only place you get understanding is with other IRS people."

I guess we're supposed to feel sorry for these IRS employees, but Mr. Tuccile makes an insightful observation:

You know...When the people who live with you and (let's assume) love you recoil from you in shock and horror because of your behavior so that the only refuge you can find is among others guilty of the same conduct, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you're doing something really bad.

I don't think that the families of most government employees feel this way -- IRS families may be unique. We should consider why this is the case.


If you're looking for a new science fiction book or author then check out the 2015 Hugo Award finalists. This year they're guaranteed to make puppies happy!


Austin Bay rattles off a list of reasons that people don't trust President Obama -- using a weaving metaphor! What's not clear is whether the President intentionally or unintentionally over-promises and under-delivers.

Obama's "historic understanding" has the sad woof and warp of so many of his administration's domestic and international policy efforts: glowing, inspirational, dramatic rhetoric disguising episodic, hodge-podge, ill-considered, poorly planned and often hastily organized operations. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" is a domestic example. When Obamacare arrived, many Americans learned they could not keep their preferred doctor. Obama said Americans would eventually love the health care law. A substantial majority despises the legislative monstrosity. Now a foreign policy example: Obama's promise to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations. For Vladimir Putin, Obama's reset was a setup. Putin's Russia is now a neo-Fascist expansionary nuclear power slowing carving and digesting Ukraine. Obama's "red line" threat to punish Syria's Assad regime if it used chemical weapons against civilians, and his failure to do so when the Syrians used nerve gas, is another example.

Obama has an enormous trust problem; the man does not keep his word. But his obedient, word-mongering national media corps consistently fails to call him on this grand malfeasance.


It's no coincidence that tax day is opposite of election day (April and November): this is the time of year we're all reminded of how confusing and inefficient our tax system really is. The IRS complains that it doesn't have enough money to administer the system properly, but what about the rest of us? What citizen is happy with the time and effort it takes us to deal with the system?

When callers do get a real person, they can forget about asking questions that require expertise. These are now considered "out of scope." The customer-service agents have been instructed to only tell callers what tax forms they need, where to get them and where to look for online information. Staff can no longer offer line-by-line assistance, provide guidance on tax planning or tax law, or help make payment arrangements.

The IRS doesn't know what it's doing, so how are we supposed to? Instead of pouring more money into the IRS, we need to drastically simplify our tax code to make compliance easier for everyone. Simplification is a separate issue from raising or lowering revenue. We can make a revenue-neutral tax system that is simpler for the government and for citizens.

Meanwhile, this statistic demonstrates the opposite of what the IRS probably intends:

And with 5,000 fewer agents than four years ago to go after tax cheats, officials estimate that $2 billion in revenue will go uncollected.

Each of these agents was only generating $400,000 in revenue? When you subtract the cost of their employment and the value of taxpayer time to deal with the hassle, it seems like a no-brainer to lay them off.

Says Ace of Spades, who advocates quitting the TV addition for personal and political reasons. I mostly agree, which is why I don't have cable, satellite, or broadcast TV. My wife and I probably watch five hours of TV a week on Netflix or the like. The kids watch more, but mostly educational shows and zero commercials.

It's hard to fill your time with productive and edifying experiences!

When we were kids, not a one of us thought about the lives we would live when we were adults and thought, "Some nights, I swear, I'm gonna just come home from work and then watch five hours of TV straight!! Whoopee!!"

TV is compromise, TV is defeat, TV is acceptance, TV is mediocrity.

And it's an industry held almost entirely in Enemy Hands, by the idiot descendants of carnival-barkers and pornographers who just happened to realize that every new technology which permits people to live less life will be a financial winner.

We can free ourselves and maybe, even, free this country.

We can Kill The Messenger.


Maybe American Millennials could get some tips from Kataguiri, Brazil's new libertarian superstar, who in turn seems to have been inspired by the older American Tea Partiers.

"What Lula and Dilma have done shouldn't just result in their being banned from politics. It should result in them being in jail!" Kim Kataguiri yelled, denouncing Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The March 15 demonstration was the largest Sao Paulo had seen in more than three decades, since 1984 protests demanding democratic elections after a long dictatorship.

But more surprising than the crowd of more than 200,000, according to the Datafolha polling and statistics agency, was the fact it was being led by Kataguiri, a skinny, 19-year-old college dropout, and other young Brazilian activists inspired by libertarianism and conservative free-market ideals.

It's encouraging that it's not only the far-left that can use modern technology to organize and publicize.


I've read a few stories about individual Christians (like Brett Felton and Tim Locks), but here's the first report I've seen of an organized volunteer unit deploying to Syria.

This is a very small unit, but if it signals a trend then we are witnessing a significant challenge to the Westphalian nation-state system we've enjoyed since 1648. Up till now only Muslims have been organizing for violence outside the control of a recognized nation, but now Christians are getting into the game. We get so comfortable with the lines on the map that we're apt to forget that the lines are human constructs with no inherent meaning.

An eight-strong team of former British Army soldiers is preparing to leave Britain to join the fight against Islamic State in Syria, the Standard can reveal.

The team are training to fight as a single volunteer unit alongside the Kurdish militias on the front line in northern Syria.

Images on social media show members of the group posing in combat fatigues and clutching high powered assault rifles on a training exercise in Europe.

The caption to one image of a soldier with a machine gun reads: "Bad news delivery system, if you're ISIS!"

The former soldiers are believed to include a number who have Special Forces training.


It bears repeating: never consent to a search. If the authorities have a legitimate cause to search you they won't need to ask first. If they ask, always say no. Then ask if you're under arrest, and if not then walk away. Don't say anything else.

In a cold consent encounter, a person is stopped if an agent thinks that person's behavior fits a drug courier profile. Or an agent can stop a person cold "based on no particular behavior," according to the Inspector General report. The agent then asks people they have stopped for consent to question them and sometimes to search their possessions as well. By gaining consent, law enforcement officers can bypass the need for a warrant. ...

Moreover, agents can seize cash they find during a cold consent encounter. According to data analysis conducted by the Institute for Justice, half of all DEA cash seizures from 2009 to 2013 were under $10,000. Thanks to civil forfeiture laws, law enforcement can take cash and other valuable property, based on an officer's often subjective determination of probable cause, even from those who have not been charged with a crime. ...

Disturbingly, the Inspector General found that DEA interdiction task force groups have been seizing cash from travelers and then urging them to sign forms disclaiming their own cash and "waiving their rights." In one cold consent encounter, DEA agents stopped another African-American woman in part because she was "pacing nervously" before boarding her flight. After gaining her consent, the agents searched her luggage and found $8,000.

A drug dog then alerted to the cash, and the DEA seized it. However, the Inspector General report did not state if any drugs were actually found or if the woman was ever charged with or convicted of a crime in connection with the seizure. Not to mention that most U.S. currency in circulation has been exposed to drugs.

(HT: Simple Justice.)


Apparently it's protocol for departing State Department employees to hand over all their work emails when their employment ends, and they attest that they've done so using a standard separation agreement. I've seen similar documents in private industry. So, did Mrs. Clinton sign such an attestation when left the State Department in 2013?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, like all departing federal employees, was required to fill out and sign a separation statement affirming that she had turned over all classified and other government documents, including all emails dealing with official business.

Fox News Megyn Kelly reported Wednesday evening on the requirement and that a spokesman for Clinton had not responded to a request for comment, including an explanation of when the former chief U.S. diplomat signed the mandatory separation agreement or, if she didn't, why didn't she.

The Washington Examiner also asked Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill for comment late Wednesday but had received no response from him early Thursday. Clinton did not respond when asked about the issue earlier this week by the Associated Press.

If Mrs. Clinton didn't sign such a separation agreement, why not? I'm sure an FOIA request has already been submitted to retrieve this document, if it exists.

If she did sign such an attestation but failed to turn over her email, then she broke the law and could face serious penalties, including jail time.


Many people find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton's home-brew email server hosted zero emails containing classified or foreign government information. She was America's top diplomat, and nothing she sent or received was classified?

Mrs. Clinton insisted that she kept classified information out of her email, as the law required. Storing classified information in a personal, nongovernment email account on a private computer server, like the one at Mrs. Clinton's home, would be a violation of secrecy laws.

And relations with other countries are particularly subject to secrecy claims. "Foreign government information" -- information received from another government with the expectation that it will be held in confidence -- is an official category of classified information in secrecy regulations.

A former senior State Department official who served before the Obama administration said that while it was hard to be certain, it seemed unlikely that classified information could be kept out of the more than 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton's staff identified as involving government business.

"I would assume that more than 50 percent of what the secretary of state dealt with was classified," said the former official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to seem ungracious to Mrs. Clinton. "Was every single email of the secretary of state completely unclassified? Maybe, but it's hard to imagine."

She also deleted tens of thousands of emails, at her own discretion.

Mrs. Clinton said she turned over some 30,490 emails to the State Department in December, nearly two years after leaving office. But she said she had deleted nearly 32,000 others

Mrs. Clinton claims that her decision to use a private email server located in her own residence was purely for convenience. In what world can you not check two email accounts from the same device? Couldn't she have used a government mobile device to check her personal email?

"I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two," she explained. She asked, in effect, that voters trust that she was disclosing more of them than she needed to -- and even to credit her with an unusual degree of transparency.

Paul Mirengoff derides Mrs. Clinton for putting her convenience ahead of national security.

Even if one takes Clinton's explanation at face value, we must conclude that she placed her desire not to carry two devices ahead of Obama administration policy and the security interests of the United States. Whether or not Clinton's email system was breached, Clinton's use of her own server increased the likelihood of such a breach.

It's characteristic of Clinton that she would ignore rules and best practices for her own convenience. Simply put, she thinks she's better than everyone else and thus above the rules.

Dan McLaughlin has the tweet of the day.

palin phones.jpg

(HT: Glenn Reynolds.)


Hillary Clinton is promising a press conference after she attends an event at the United Nations; Ashe Schow has 18 questions worth asking Mrs. Clinton, and they aren't all about her email.


Scotland Yard is advising homeowners to install security cameras in their homes "at eye level" to capture images of burglars and help police catch them using facial recognition technology.

Homeowners should consider fitting CCTV to trap burglars, the country's most senior police officer declared yesterday.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said police forces needed more crime scene footage to match against their 12million images of suspects and offenders.

And he called on families and businesses to install cameras at eye level - to exploit advances in facial recognition technology.

If you're living in a free country, buy a gun.


Wait But Why blog has a great layman's primer on the potential for artificial super-intelligence and the potential dangers. They're very lengthy, but fun reads.


The New York Times broke the news about Hillary Clinton's secret, private email server that she used "exclusively" while secretary of state, but now the paper is poo-pooing the suggestion that this revelation could affect her chances to win the presidency in 2016.

The actual public response to the controversy is likely to be a combination of apathy and partisanship. Few Americans are paying attention to any aspect of the campaign at this point. Those who do notice will most likely divide largely along partisan lines, with Democrats interpreting her actions more charitably, especially once they see Republicans attacking Mrs. Clinton on the issue.

Any significant political costs are also likely to be fleeting because the revelations came so early in the campaign cycle. It is hard to believe that a lack of transparency in Mrs. Clinton's use of email will have a significant effect on a general election that will be held some 20 months from now. As the political scientist John Sides wrote on Twitter, "In October 2016, no persuadable voter will be thinking about Hillary Clinton's email account." It's equally implausible that this revelation will draw a second top-tier candidate into the race for the Democratic nomination given the advantages Mrs. Clinton retains over possible rivals like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

I'm certainly rooting against Hillary, so maybe I'm biased, but I'm not so sure of Brendan Nyhan's conclusion. Some thoughts:


Should the punishment for intentionally false accusations match the punishment of the accused crime? (Ugh, that's a hard sentence to frame.) This mind-blowing story about several police officers and prosecutors falsely prosecuting an innocent man for assault is an appalling test case.

But here's my question: Why aren't the seven witnesses to Dendinger's nonexistent assault on Cassard already facing felony charges? Why are all but one of the cops who filed false reports still wearing badges and collecting paychecks? Why aren't the attorneys who filed false reports facing disbarment? Dendinger's prosecutors both filed false reports, then prosecuted Dendinger based on the reports they knew were false. They should be looking for new careers -- after they get out of jail.

If a group of regular citizens had pulled this on someone, they'd all likely be facing criminal conspiracy charges on top of the perjury and other charges. So why aren't these cops and prosecutors?

I could be wrong, but my guess is that they'll all be let off due to "professional courtesy" or some sort of exercise of prosecutorial discretion. And so the people who ought to be held to a higher standard than the rest of us will once again be held to a lower one.

Intentionally false accusations should be punished severely and should never be forgotten by the legal system.


I love this idea -- the federal government is already involved with accrediting colleges, so why not create a National University that accredits courses and offer degrees? There's a plethora of great online courses, but none of the universities who created them are willing to offer online degrees because they don't want to dilute their brands or lose out on tuition money.

That's where the federal government comes in. With some authorizing language from Congress and a small, one-time start-up budget, the U.S. Department of Education could create a nonprofit, bipartisan organization with only two missions: approving courses and granting degrees.

Don't worry, federal bureaucrats won't be in charge of academic matters. Instead, National U. would hire teams of leading scholars to evaluate and approve courses. Some of the decisions shouldn't be difficult. ...

National U. would also map out which courses students need to take to earn an associate or bachelor's degree. This won't be difficult, since existing colleges have already established a standard set of requirements: a certain number of approved lower- and upper-division courses, plus an approved sequence in an academic major, adding up to 60 or 120 credits. Once students complete the credits, National U. will grant them a degree.

While many of the courses will be free, students will bear small costs for taking exams through secure online channels or in-person testing facilities. (Textbooks will be free and open-source). Students will also pay a modest fee of a few hundred dollars for the degree itself, enough to defray the operating costs of National U.

When my six-year-old goes to college I bet it will look a lot different than it does now.

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