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Versailles in California

September 22nd, 2014 - 12:11 am
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Versailles or San Francisco, it’s good to be the king.

California is run from a sort of Pacific Versailles, an isolated coastal compound of elite rulers physically cut off from its interior peasantry.

To understand how California works — or rather does not work — drive over the I-5 Grapevine and gaze down at the brilliantly engineered artificial Pyramid Lake. Thanks to California water project deliveries, even in a third year of drought its level still fluctuates between 90 to 100% full — ensuring, along with its companion reservoirs, plentiful water for the Los Angeles-area municipalities for the next two years. The far distant watersheds and reservoirs that feed Pyramid Lake are about bone dry.

The same disconnect is true of Crystal Springs Reservoir along the I-280 near San Francisco. The Sierra watershed that supplies the now 90%+full lake is drying up. But San Francisco will have an assured water supply from its manmade reservoirs for some time, even if the drought persists.

Yet most of the policies of the state that have led to cancellations of additional water projects over the last thirty years — or those that have resulted in vast diversions of diminished reservoir water from contracted agricultural use to fish replenishment — are made by Los Angeles and San Francisco area legislators, judges, and public officials.

It would be as simplistic as it is true to say that water policy in California has been set by those who have plentiful water supplies in manmade reservoirs with the highest priorities in claims on far distant snow melts. Water elites pontificate about environmental restrictions on water use to others who do not enjoy a rank so high in the water-allotment queue.

By that I mean at no time did any Los Angeles or San Francisco legislator offer to divert their Pyramid Lake or Crystal Springs allotments to replenish the San Joaquin River for salmon runs or to improve the delta landscape of the 3-inch delta smelt.  Instead I think the mentality could best be summed up as something like, “Unnatural dams and reservoirs are necessary to supply water for elite coastal grandees like us so that we can live in arid, picturesque Pacific communities without aquifers and thereby have the leisure to cut off water for others not so worthy.”

The same paradox is true of public utility policy. There are rarely frosts or scorching 100-degree temperatures from San Diego to Berkeley, the coastal strip where there is little need for air conditioners or for daylong use of central heating. For hoi aristoi, California’s public utilities can be regulated and taxed for all sorts of utopian alternative energy investments in lieu of drawing on massive newly discovered fields of California natural gas to lower generation rates.

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What Exactly Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

September 14th, 2014 - 7:56 pm

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Comprehensive immigration reform — rarely has a catchphrase been so widely invoked and yet so little defined. Why?

If proponents of so-called reform detailed exactly what they wanted, American voters would never support their self-interested agendas.

Most Americans insist that existing federal immigration laws be enforced. They are adamant that the border be shut tight to all unlawful entry. And they prefer legal immigration to reflect merit, diversity and ethnically blind criteria.

If those protocols were first established, half the public might also consider a pathway for legal residence for millions of foreign nationals already living in the United States without legal authority — but only if they could prove that they were without criminal records, not on public support, and have resided here for some duration.

Unfortunately those classically liberal ideals are not driving Barack Obama’s promise to grant blanket amnesties through executive order after the midterm elections. His planned gambit is an admission that he has neither public support nor congressional sanction nor the force of settled law nor a logical or ethic argument. The effort is instead fueled by an agenda of perpetual big government and a concern to expand future constituencies, allay the anger of Latino activists, and accommodate wealthy business donors.

Obama has all but suspended enforcement of immigration law as a way to force lawmakers to his point of view. He apparently assumes that no immigration law is closer to what he envisions as comprehensive immigration law than is enforcement of current settled law. If the traffic at the border builds, if chaos ensues, then Obama believes that his opponents will eventually concede. I think the message is something like “either amnesty your way through law or my way through no law.” So far such assumptions have backfired, but we must wait until after the midterm elections for the ultimate verdict on his ploy.

Current illegal immigration, of course, is largely synonymous with unchecked entry from Mexico and Latin America. An unspoken amnesty is extended en masse to those from south of the border. Such laxity does not necessarily extend to the Nigerian doctor who overstays his visa or the South Korean architect whose green card has expired. The great unspoken fact of illegal immigration is that it is utterly anti-diversity and ethnically chauvinistic, outsourcing immigration policy to the Latino-Democratic-employer lobby, and dubbing any who object to such racialist criteria as racist.

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Are the Orcs Winning?

September 7th, 2014 - 6:43 pm
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Fantasy versus reality.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was sometimes faulted by literary critics for caricaturing the evil orcs as uniformly bad.  All of them were as unpleasant to look as they were deadly to encounter. There is not a single good orc or even a reformed orc in the trilogy. The apparent one-dimensional assumption of men, hobbits, dwarves, and elves is that the only good orc is a dead orc. So the absolutist Tolkien tried to teach us about the enduring nature of absolute good and evil. Apparently he did not think that anything from his contemporary experience might allow him to imagine reforming or rehabilitating such fictive folk.

Tolkien’s literary purpose with orcs was not to explore the many shades of evil or the struggle within oneself to avoid the dark side; he did that well enough in dozens of once good but weak characters who went bad such as the turncoat Saruman the wizard, his sidekick Wormtongue, a few of the hobbits who had ruined the Shire, and, best of all, the multifaceted Gollum. Orcs, on the other hand, are unredeemable. Orcs, goblins, and trolls exist as the tools of the even more sinister in proud towers to destroy civilization, and know nothing other than killing and destruction. Their reward is to feed on the crumbs of what they have ruined.

In the 21st century we are often lectured that such simplistic, one-dimensional evil is long gone. A ubiquitous civilization has so permeated the globe that even the worst sorts must absorb some mitigating popular culture from the Internet, Twitter, and Facebook, as if the sheer speed of transmitting thoughts ensures their moral improvement.

Even where democracy is absent, the “world community” and a “global consciousness” are such that billions supposedly won’t let Attila, Tamerlane, and Genghis Khan reappear in our postmodern lives. To deal with a Major Hasan, Americans cannot cite his environment as the cause, at least not poverty, racism, religious bigotry, nativism, xenophobia, or any of the more popular –isms and-ologies in our politically correct tool box that we customarily use to excuse and contextualize evil behavior. So exasperated, we shrug and call his murdering “workplace violence” — an apparent understandable psychological condition attributable to the boredom and monotony of the bleak, postmodern office.

But then suddenly along comes the limb-lopping, child-snatching, and mutilating Nigerian-based Boko Haram. What conceivable Dark Age atrocity have they omitted? Not suicide bombing, mass murder, or random torture. They are absolutely unapologetic for their barbarity. They are ready to convert or kill preteens as their mood determines for the crime of being Christian. In response, the Nigerian government is powerless, while the United States is reduced to our first lady holding up Twitter hashtags, begging for the release of the latest batch of girls.

Is the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab worse? It likes the idea that it is premodern. In addition to the usual radical Islamic horrors of beheadings, rape, and mutilation, Al-Shabaab even kills protected elephants, perhaps thousands of them, to saw off tusks and fund their killing spree. They seem to make the medieval Taliban look tame in comparison.

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The 4th Annual Silicon Valley Rubber Duck Race in Vasona Lake Park on June 12, 2011, in Los Gatos, California.

The third year of California drought has exposed all sorts of water fantasies. If in wet years they were implicit, now without rain or snow for nearly three years, they are all too explicit. Add them up.

Take the Bay Area, Ground Zero of water environmentalism. From Mill Valley to San Jose is where most of the green activists are based who have demanded, even as the snowfalls and rains ceased, that reservoir storage waters be diverted to the sea to encourage the resurgence of the delta smelt and river salmon. The Bay Area’s various earlier lobbying groups long ago helped to cancel the final phases of the California State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, and now talk about reducing world carbon emissions rather than building more storage capacity to solve California’s water crisis.

How odd that is — given that the San Francisco greater community has almost no aquifer to supply its millions. Environmentalists count instead solely on vast water transfers from the far distant Hetch Hetchy reservoir to supply the nearly three million water users of the Bay Area with their daily showers and lawn irrigations.

The brilliantly engineered project supposedly had ruined a Yosemite Park valley greater than its more famous counterpart below Half Dome and El Capitan. Odder still, the Hetch Hetchy conduits run right across the San Joaquin River that environmentalists are intent on supplying with reservoir water long ago designed for irrigated agriculture. When most Bay Area drivers cruise along the I-280 by the full-to-the-brim Crystal Springs Reservoir they have not a clue that the lake would be little more than a muddy slough of scant local runoff, without the importation of thousands of acre-feet of clean water from the Hetch Hetchy project. Nor do they grasp the greater irony that they have reservoir water to divert to fish only because someone else built the reservoirs that they near automatically oppose. Consider the logic: don’t dare build an unnatural reservoir to irrigate food lands; but if you dare build it over my opposition, I want the ensuing banked water to ensure the rivers run year-round for my fish projects — given that before your artificial reservoirs the rivers sometimes had a bad natural habit of running dry and suffocating my fish.

Could not Bay Area professors, journalists and politicians shower once a week or let their garden foliage die on the greater sacrificial altar of diverting Hetch Hetchy water into the San Joaquin River to save the smelt or facilitate salmon runs? After all, at least farmers can claim they are producing food for the masses with reservoir water. But what do Facebook and Apple techies claim — that without a verdant garden they cannot design social networking? In 1990 there was no Facebook or Google and people continued to live; without food they cannot at any time.

A larger point is that 70% of Californians prefer to live in places like the naturally arid seaside resorts of San Diego, Santa Monica, Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and the Bay Area, coastal communities whose growth long ago both outpaced the local aquifers and Coast Range small reservoirs, and thus required water transfers from wetter environs.

If greens were going to match their advocacy with concrete action, they would move from Santa Cruz or Mill Valley to Eureka or Yuba City where the rain falls — or at least inward to Fresno and Visalia where for eons runoff from the nearby Sierra has created a vast aquifer of easily accessible and clean ground water. Barring that, Menlo Park could shower on “smelt-free Mondays,” while Palo Alto could restore the salmon by paving over its lawns. In an honest world, we would admit that the Madera resident is far more ecologically attuned to his environment than is the Presidio Heights grandee or UC professor ensconced in the dry Berkeley Hills. The former at least chooses to live atop an aquifer, the latter assumes someone else had long ago found a way to import him his nightly shower from far across the state and at far greater cost.

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Ferguson Postmortem

August 24th, 2014 - 3:54 pm

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The backstory of Ferguson was that out of the millions of arrests each year only about 100 African-American suspects are shot fatally by white police. And yet we were falsely and ad nauseam told that Michael Brown was proof of an epidemic. There may well be an epidemic of blacks killing blacks, of African-Americans engaging in the knock-out game against non-blacks or flash-mobbing stores. But as far as rare interracial gun violence goes, in 2014 it is more commonly black on white. Ferguson is an anomaly that did not warrant hundreds of reporters who gladly skipped the real dramas of a world on the verge of blowing apart as it had in 1939.

In short, the only reason Ferguson erupted was because the police officer in question was white; had he been black and shot either a white or black suspect, there would have been no civil unrest, no visit by Eric Holder, but instead, liberal calls to ensure due process and not to rush to judgment.

Almost no one believes the myths concocted at the beginning of the Ferguson controversy. That is not to say that we know what happened, only that we most certainly know that what we were told did not happen.

Michael Brown, the “young boy” and “gentle giant” and shy college-bound student, tragically was not simply minding his own business on his way to granny’s as we were told. As in the case of Tawana Brawley, as in the case of the Duke stripper, as in the case of Trayvon Martin, the mythographies finally were unsustainable: Brown had just committed a strong-armed robbery and was lucky that he was not shot by an armed guard or clerk. He appears on the video as a brutal thug, who uses his size to intimidate and, in cowardly fashion, to bully a much smaller clerk. The world of Michael Brown in that store is the world of barbarism, where there is no law and the strong dictate without mercy to the weak as they see fit. And for that matter, the star eyewitness of the street Mr. Johnson, with a criminal past, should have been arrested as an accomplice in strong-arm robbery when he accompanied Mr. Brown into the store — as well as arrested for deliberately filing (another) false witness report.

Brown was walking down the middle of the street under the influence of marijuana and so he was lucky that he was not hit by a car. He struck an officer — no one denies that — which in itself is another felony. He was not shot in the back as the community insisted and still dreams. All that suggests many of the eyewitnesses fabricated stories, the media misled the public, and the race industry likewise serially lied. We are back to the doctored videos, altered transcripts, and fabricated vocabulary of the treatment accorded George Zimmerman or the mythologies at Duke or of the O.J. trial.

It was a hard call whether Missouri Gov. Nixon or Attorney General Eric Holder proved the greater disgrace in their efforts to prejudge the case. The latter of “cowards” and “my people” infamy almost immediately talked up his racial fides among African-Americans while all but damning the police, while the former proved our version of a hapless Ray Nagin, in his jabbering about prosecuting Officer Wilson without an indictment.

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Our ‘Face in the Crowd’

August 17th, 2014 - 7:36 pm

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Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

So what is collapsing the presidency of the once mellifluous Obama? It is not the IRS, AP, VA, or NSA scandals. Nor did the nation especially fault him for Benghazi or the complete collapse of U.S. foreign policy, from failed reset to a Middle East afire. In each case, he either blamed Bush or denied there was a smidgeon of wrongdoing on his part.

Certainly, the stampede at the border, as disastrous as it was, did not ipso facto sink Obama’s ratings. Ditto the embarrassing Bergdahl deal, in which we traded a likely deserter for five Islamist kingpins. Was it the ISIS ascendance that is leading to genocide and a nascent caliphate? Not in and of itself.

We could go on, but you get the picture that it was all of the above that finally became too much, as Americans turned Obama off because they were all lied out. In all of these scandals a charismatic Barack wheeled out the teleprompter, smiled, dropped his g’s, soared with “make no mistake about it” and “let me perfectly clear,” and then, like Lonesome Rhodes, told the “folks” things that could not be true or at least were the exact opposite of what he himself had earlier asserted.

The result is that should Obama claim again that he is going to lower the seas, cool the planet, or that he is the man whom we are waiting for, Americans would laugh. They would chuckle about more promised recoveries, millions of new green jobs, an expanding economy, or a safer world abroad. Again, we are just too lied out to believe anything our slick version of Lonesome Rhodes says anymore. And that fact may best explain his 39-41% approval rating.

Barack Obama is once again lamenting the charge that he is responsible for pulling all U.S. peacekeepers out of Iraq, claiming that the prior administration is culpable. But Obama negotiated the withdrawal himself. We know that not because of right-wing talking points, but because of the proud serial claims of reelection candidate Obama in 2011 and 2012 that he deserved credit for leaving Iraq. That complete pullout prompted Joe Biden to claim the Iraq policy was the administration’s likely “greatest achievement” and buoyed Obama to brag that he was leaving a stable and secure Iraq. Think of the logic: pulling all soldiers out of Iraq was such a great thing that I now can brag that I am not responsible for it.

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The Un-Midas Touch

August 10th, 2014 - 7:06 pm
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“Tell me, doc. Why do all these bad things keep happening to me?”

Everything that Barack Obama touches seems to turn to dross. Think of it for a minute. He inherited a quiet Iraq (no American combat deaths at all in December 2009). Joe Biden bragged of the calm that it would be the administration’s “greatest achievement.” But by pulling out all U.S. peacekeepers — mostly for a 2012 reelection talking point — Obama ensured an ISIS wasteland. He put his promised eye on Afghanistan at last, and we have lost more soldiers there than during the Bush administration and a Taliban victory seems likely after more than a decade of lost American blood and treasure. The message seems to be that it is better for Obama to have his eye off something than on it.

Remember those threats to Syria? After the U.S. threatened and backed off, the violence only escalated and spilled into Iraq.

Libya was no paradise under Gadhafi, but it is now Mogadishu on the Mediterranean. Not even the president’s supporters believe that he told the truth about Benghazi. Reset with Russia green-lighted Putin, as he sized up Barack Obama as a lamb waiting to be eaten. The Bowe Bergdahl-for-five-terrorists swap (likely illegal) is not headline news only because dozens of scandals since have eclipsed it, and the likely deserter is apparently still kept incommunicado, lest he speak in the fashion of his father at the earlier White House press conference. I don’t think Bergdahl is a model for future negotiations with the Taliban.

Israel? We never have been more estranged from the Jewish state. Open mic outbursts against Netanyahu define our true policies. The terrorist state run by Hamas is now a partner for peace – tunnels, missiles, syringes, handcuffs and all. Did outreach to Hamas lessen or spike violence?

Did the “special relationship” with the Islamist Recep Erdogan lead to regional calm, and does it still exist?

The war on terror? Obama has derided most anti-terrorism protocols, even as he kept some Bush-Cheney policies — to the incoherent point that no one has any idea what the U.S. is doing. Jihad a personal odyssey? Muslim Brotherhood largely secular? Major Hasan’s murdering mere workplace violence? Outreach to Islam NASA’s primary mission? Remember overseas contingency operations and man-caused disasters? In the Obama war on terror, waterboarding three architects of 9/11 is our “folks” torturing their “folks”; but judge/jury/executioner drone strikes that blow up 2,000-plus suspected (not confessed) terrorists — and anyone in the general vicinity when the missile hits — are far more moral. Out of sight, out of mind.

When CIA Director John Brennan speaks, we all assume he is not telling the truth, as in the past. Whatever the DC dictate is at the present, Brennan makes the necessary immoral adjustments.

Past cabinet heads? No one knows exactly the circumstances under which Lisa Jackson, Hilda Solis — and even David Petraeus — left their offices.

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1984 Redux: Orwellian Illegal Immigration

August 3rd, 2014 - 8:00 pm

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When Everything Is a Lie

Everything we are told about illegal immigration is mostly a lie, and a self-serving one at that. Remember that fact, and the current debate over the border becomes comprehensible.

Fleeing to an Oppressive Society?

Most of the advocates for open borders agitate from a position of criticism of the U.S. By that I mean we rarely hear La Raza activists explain why they want amnesties for millions of illegal aliens, at least in the sense of why millions have left Mexico to risk their lives to arrive in the U.S.

What is it about America that attracts patriotic Mexican nationals to abandon their own country en masse? That is not a rhetorical question, given much of the immigration debate is couched in critiques of the U.S. The pageantry of an open-borders demonstration is usually a spectacle of Mexican flags. How odd that almost no advocate ever says, “We want amnesty so that our kinsmen have a shot, as we have had a shot, at an independent judiciary, equality under the law, the rule of law, true democracy, free speech, protection of human rights, free-market capitalism, and protection of private property. For all that, millions risk their lives.” But instead there is either nothing, or a continual critique of the U.S. If we were to take a newly arrived illegal alien, and enroll him in a typical Chicano Studies course, he would logically wish to return across the border as soon as possible.

Unemployment Is Too Low?

Do we really need millions of new workers in a supposedly worker-scarce America from Latin America? The unemployment rate in the American Southwest is still high. Floods of illegal immigrants only drive down wages in agriculture, the hospitality industry, construction, landscaping, and social services. The influx enriches employers, dumps the resulting medical, legal, educational, criminal justice, and social costs on the taxpayers, and undermines the viability of U.S. workers, many of them, for example, Mexican-Americans. If one wished to hurt American maids, nannies, gardeners, plum pickers, roofers, cooks, and janitors, one could do no worse than flooding the border with illegal immigrants. Elites benefit from cheaper entry-level wages, and then brand all others as nativists and xenophobes who object to the hypocrisies involved (e.g., so the Menlo Park techie must sigh, “Juanita is the best maid I ever had; but I had to put our Connor and Ashley into prep school because with all these immigrants coming into our area, they watered-down the AP curriculum at the local high school”).

Diversity Bad?

Likewise, racist chauvinists who destroyed immigration law call others racists. But in fact the open-borders movement is race-obsessed to the core. Its message is anti-diversity, and anti-inclusiveness. Latino activists (in the age of the Redskins controversy, how has the racist rubric La Raza continued?) have essentially hijacked U.S. immigration policy and set the following parameters: almost all illegal immigration shall come only across the southern border from Mexico and Latin America. Almost all legal immigration shall be predicated on family ties, which ensures Latinos will be privileged over all other groups, regardless of skill sets or education. If one objects that such a de facto policy is ethnocentric and does not result in ethnic, cultural, or professional diversity, then he is rendered a xenophobe. Racialists through extra-legal means have expropriated federal immigration law. It no longer exists. The losers are the Kenyan dentist, the Filipino nurse, the Estonian doctor, the South Korean architect — any who are not Latino, any who do not break U.S. immigration law, and any who have  professional degrees and skill sets to offer America. How is that not biased to ignore all notions of diversity and meritocracy in favor of using only ethnic criteria?

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Border Disorders

Central American parents send their unescorted children northward in hopes of remittances and eventual anchor amnesty for themselves. Our friend Mexico facilitates the exodus through its own sovereign territory (hoping that no one stops along the transit, and happy that the border is further shredded). Central American governments seem happy too. More money will be sent back home. Fewer mouths will be left to feed. Possible dissidents will emigrate. A new generation of expatriates in the U.S. will grow fonder of and lobby for Central America the longer they don’t have to live there.

We utter “the children,” and discussion about proper culpability, cynical manipulation, and disinformation ends. In such a fantasy world, parents don’t manipulate “the children” as pawns; countries don’t try to export what they see as their surplus population; Mexico doesn’t stir the pot; and liberal activists don’t cynically calculate electoral advantage. There are children in need at the border — but there is a great deal more as well. When the president of the United States renders his nation’s immigration laws irrelevant, people notice. And when he establishes a radical expansion in entitlements, those abroad likewise notice. And when he offers a narrative that “they” are culpable and owe much to the exploited, people arrive.

What If?

Try a thought experiment of extending the logic of the current border disorder. Imagine a growing disequilibrium between Chicago and Canada. (On the other hand, why imagine it since it already exists?) Thousands of the children from the most violent areas of the inner city of Chicago — where shootings are approaching levels in Central America — decide to flee the misery for the chance of something better elsewhere. They head north. Some are preteens; some are teenagers; most are innocents; some gang members; some come with their parents; most do not. Most are poor and without resources and capital. They begin walking or getting on trains to Canada and soon mass there at the border in the thousands, as refugees from horrific conditions of the inner city of Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago. Some gang members have charged them transit fees. Imagine further that U.S. officials, with a wink and a nod, had encouraged them to leave, given the endemic violence, and the social costs of addressing it. Their parents likewise hope that they are adopted by the Canadians, given citizenship and that they soon become anchors for their own emigration out of war-torn Chicago. And imagine what might be the reaction if the children were not welcomed en masse by Canada. Would we then blast and damn Canada as nativist, racist, and uncaring for not openly bringing our “children” into their homes? Would the influx be a moral act on the part of the United States or American parents who willingly facilitated the transit, and would it be a fair charge against Canada for not immediately taking the arrivals in as likely future citizens?

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Obama’s Tranquility

July 20th, 2014 - 1:34 pm
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Smooth landing not guaranteed.

Barack Obama’s team recently took credit for improving the “tranquility of the global community,” and the president made it clear just what a calm place the world has become during his tenure.

But this summer Obama’s tranquil world has descended into medieval barbarism in a way scarcely seen in decades. In Gaza, Hamas is banking its missile arsenal in mosques, schools and private homes; even Hitler did not do that with his V2s. Hamas terrorists resort to trying to wire up animals to serve as suicide bombers. Aztec-style, they seek to capture Israeli soldiers to  torture or trade — a sort of updated version of parading captive soldiers up the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan.

Hamas cannot build a hotel, but instead applies its premodern cunning to tunneling and killing in ever more insidious ways. Yet it proves incompetent in doing what it wishes to do best — kill Jewish civilians. Its efforts to kill Jews while getting killed in the process earn it sympathy from the morally obtuse of the contemporary world who would have applauded Hitler in 1945 as an underdog who suffered greatly as he was overwhelmed by the Allies that he once tried to destroy.

In Paris, just seventy years after the Holocaust, sympathetic rioters hit the streets to cheer on Hamas’s efforts to kill more Jews with their crude versions of Vergeltungswaffen. The passive French solution apparently is once again to encourage Jews to leave the country, given the growing number of new Nazis in their midst. Whether Hamas or Putin, the European response is always the same: why cannot they just go away to bother to some Jews or Americans, and leave us alone?

Russian operatives, role-playing as Ukrainian separatists, shot down a civilian airliner, then tried to doctor the debris field, then let the bodies decay, and now are looting the wallets of the dead. You cannot get much less tranquil than that.

In Iraq, ISIS, not content with the usual Middle East savagery, resorts to warring on religious  icons, as if torture and murder of the living do not offer enough outlet for their barbarity. They blow up mosques, shatter tombs, and deface graveyards, in their eagerness to restore the 7th century. All that seems more Dark Age than merely medieval.

Iran just missed our “deadline” that was supposed to result in fewer centrifuges in exchange for suspending the sanctions. No sane person now believes that the Iranians will stop nuclear enrichment, or will not get a bomb, or will not threaten to use it when they get one. What will Secretary Kerry do, now that the currency of “red lines,” “deadlines” and “step-over lines” has been all used up?

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