Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein for stating that ISIS is not contained, is growing significantly and needs to be destroyed.  They also slam Pres. Obama for dismissing the ideas that American leadership and America winning are critical to defeating ISIS.  And they react to new emails from Huma Abedin telling a colleague that Hillary Clinton is “often confused.”

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review shudder at reports that ISIS communications have advanced to the point that intelligence efforts to infiltrate have “gone dark” thanks in part to the revelations from Edward Snowden.  They also slam President Obama for moving full steam ahead with his plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.  And they are glad to see University of Missouri police considering charges against the media professor who tried to stop the press from covering campus protests.

As the terror attacks in Paris unfolded, John, Scott and Steve hosted Episode 29 of the Power Line Show. The attacks threw both halves of the show into sharp relief. We started by interviewing Dan Polisar, author of in important article in titled “What Do Palestinians Want?

Polisar reviewed years’ worth of public opinion polling of Palestinians. He found several common themes; a common denominator is a lack of contact with reality. As twisted as Palestinian culture is, what we saw in Paris tonight reflects an even more virulent version of the same ideology.

From Generation to Generation, Semper Fidelis


WWIn 2009, my wife was invited to a function in Washington, DC. Our local library had won a prestigious national award and, as treasurer of one of the library’s most popular community programs, she was asked to attend. When she arrived, she found herself seated at a table with an elderly gentleman in his mid-80’s. Raised on a dairy farm in West Virginia, he had lived quite a life. He had worked odd jobs and drove both trucks and a taxi for a living before he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. He was working on a project through them in Montana on December 7, 1941.

Like most healthy American males, he went to enlist but he was rejected for military service for being too short. By May 1943, with the war dragging on, he was finally accepted into the Reserves of the United States Marine Corps. A little over a year later, this young man would be in combat with the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines on Guam and, in February of 1945, on the island of Iwo Jima.

It was on Iwo that he truly distinguished himself. With advancement stalled by a series of pill boxes built into the black volcanic sand, he became a one-man assault force. Covered by only four riflemen, he fought with a 70-pound flame thrower on his back and took out the enemy positions with fire and explosives. When his fuel tank was empty, he crawled back behind the lines and rearmed. Again and again he did this, for four long hours under withering Japanese fire.

What if Dick Cheney were to participate in the modern-day equivalent of the Frost-Nixon interviews? Now he has, in Cheney One on One: A Candid Conversation with America’s Most Controversial Statesman, by James Rosen of Fox News.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Rosen describes how he sat with Cheney for 10 hours as they talked about everything from the events of 9-11 to the former veep’s views of the Tea Party. Rosen also offers a unique theory on why Cheney is so disliked by so many liberals.

René Girard, R.I.P.


imageUntil his death in yesterday’s early hours, René Girard lived across the street from us, and becoming his friend — we used to get together for lunch or coffee — represented one of the signal joys of my life. Born in Avignon on Christmas Day 1923, René studied medieval history in Chartres while modern history, in the form of the German occupation, took place all around him. (Visiting Paris once during those years, he was once stopped by a gendarme, who asked him to produce his papers. When René displayed his passport, the policeman recognized it as a forgery at once. René thought the policeman would arrest him. Instead, he gestured to the other end of the street, where German soldiers stood peering at them, returned the passport, and told René to go back the way he came. ” Instead of putting me in jail,” René explained, “that man saved my life.”)

Traveling to the United States to pursue an academic career — René taught at Indiana University (where he met his wife, Martha, who survives him) and at half a dozen other institutions before settling at Stanford — René began to study myths, anthropology, and theology. In the course of a long career, he produced some thirty erudite, profound volumes. Much of his thought is complex; I’ve found myself pausing to consider a single paragraph or passage for minutes at a time. Yet, perhaps his best-known insight — certainly the one that has meant the most to me — is quite simple and turns one of the most famous works of comparative religion ever published, Frazer’s The Golden Bough, upside down.

In his massive study, Frazer noticed a recurring pattern, common to myths and religions throughout the ancient world: the pattern of the scapegoat; that is, the sacrifice of a sacred leader or king. In the Oedipus myth, for example, order returns to Thebes only after Oedipus has gouged out his own eyes and is driven into exile. Seeing the same pattern in the gospels — Jesus is crucified on a cross bearing the placard “king of the Jews” — Frazer concluded that Christianity represented merely one more ancient myth above which modern man could rise, abandoning “magic,” as Frazer often called religion, for science.

Why do so many people enjoy feeling afraid? Margee Kerr tries to make sense of this paradox in Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, she describes why people seek out haunted-house attractions. She also explains her book’s epigraph from Edmund Burke: “Terror is a passion which always produces delight when it does not press too close.” Finally, she names the scariest movie she’s ever seen.

Organizational Culture, Improvisation, Success, and Failure


Maggie’s Farm reminds us that October 21 was the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, which — in turn — reminds me of a thoughtful document written in 1797 by a Spanish naval official, Don Domingo Perez de Grandallana, on the subject of “why do we keep losing to the British, and what can we do about it?” His thoughts were inspired by his observations of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, a significant defeat for Spain, and addressed a question very relevant to us today. Specifically: What attributes of an organization make it possible for that organization to accomplish its mission in an environment of uncertainty, rapid change, and high stress? Here are his key findings, quoted from Adam Nicholson’s Seize the Fire:

An Englishman enters a naval action with the firm conviction that his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends and allies without looking out for directions in the midst of the fight; and while he thus clears his mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in confidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated by the same principles as himself, will be bound by the sacred and priceless principle of mutual support. Accordingly, both he and his fellows fix their minds on acting with zeal and judgement upon the spur of the moment, and with the certainty that they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, working under a system which leans to formality and strict order being maintained in battle, has no feeling for mutual support, and goes into battle with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of seeing or hearing the commander-in-chief’s signals for such and such manoeures…

You’ve heard about the Winston Churchill who won the Second World War. Have you also heard about the one who spent his life fighting socialism? Hillsdale College president Larry P. Arnn describes them both in his new book, Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Arnn discusses why we haven’t heard so much about Churchill the foe of socialism, why his message matters to 21st-century Americans, and what he’d make of Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” who presently seeks his party’s presidential nomination.

Sidebars of History: Death Stalks the Turnpike


PATPThe Southern Pennsylvania Railroad was supposed to compete against the mighty Pennsylvania. Among its backers was Andrew Carnegie, who didn’t like the rates charged by the dominant railroad to move his steel. In 1883, workers started blasting holes in the Alleghenies in the western part of the state. Sensing the threat to their business, the owners of the Pennsylvania came to an agreement more amenable to Carnegie and construction stopped. After two years, there wasn’t a inch of track, but the mountains had nine new holes.

Fifty years later, these tunnels would form the basis for the PA Turnpike, originally a 162-mile stretch of road from US 30 east of Pittsburgh to US 11 just west of the capital of Harrisburg. When the first section opened in October 1940, it became America’s first super highway. Twice in its history, the Turnpike became America’s highway of death. Not from the occasional accident, but through the deliberate actions of a mass murderer.

During a one week period in July of 1953 two drivers were murdered as they slept in their commercial trucks along the pike. A third was shot in the jaw and survived. That took place in Lisbon, Ohio about 18 miles from the Turnpike’s western termination.

The Ivy League Makes Excuses for a Progressive Racist



Portrait of a racist, obscured for purposes of mystery (and emotional safety).

The murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, over the summer led to demands that public and private institutions stop displaying (or selling) the confederate battle flag and other symbols of the Confederacy.

At my alma mater, Yale, the debate took the form of a campaign to remove the name of John Calhoun from one of its residential colleges, as I posted here a few weeks ago. The connection between Calhoun and Charleston was somewhat attenuated: Calhoun died ten years before the outbreak of the civil war, and — unlike the stars-and-bars — Calhoun is not exactly an iconic symbol for white supremacists. Nonetheless, the Yale community has been eager to denounce Calhoun as an irredeemable racist.

Crimea River, Says Sputnik News


article-2127660-1288DA1D000005DC-0_634x396Today’s report on the unbelievably fraught, perilous, unstable, and ghastly state of the world is brought to you by Russia’s пропаганда organ Sputnik News. (I still cannot believe they gave it that Leika-the-Space-Dog of a name: Didn’t they market test that? Hell, maybe they did — maybe I’m just old as dirt and these new-fangled Millennials think Sputnik sounds like a totally credible name for a Russian newspaper.)

Anyway, they write:

Jumping at a Chance? US Makes Fuss of Russia Violating Turkish Airspace

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review explain why Hillary Clinton is an an increasingly difficult position as more classified emails are released and why her “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer” defense is politically unwise.  We also rip House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for suggesting the House Benghazi Committee was about damaging Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.  And we marvel at the new movie that still claims Dan Rather was telling the truth about the George W. Bush national guard documents that are proven forgeries.

Congratulations on Your New Job!


departmentseal2So, it’s Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Perhaps you slept in, after staying up late to watch the results of the elections. The results are okay. They suggest shy grounds for hope among those of us who dearly love our country and pray it will retain those qualities that cause us to love it — or hope, at least, that it will continue to exist, because as you’ve probably noticed, things are getting awfully hairy out there, and we’re all kind of wondering.

The phone rings. You answer groggily, but you pull yourself together fast when you realize, to your surprise, that the voice on the other end of the phone is the president-elect’s. For a second, you’re baffled — is this a hoax? Why me? — but no, the voice quickly persuades you that it’s not a joke at all: He (or she) has been reading you on Ricochet, likes the cut of your jib, and feels you couldn’t possibly make a worse hash of our foreign policy than the last few we’ve had, so why not?

Nancy Pelosi Gets It. Will We?


Smarter than she soundsLong story very short: the president will almost always beat the speaker. To win the presidency, the Right needs not barn-burners but fire discipline. To understand the Boehner fiasco — and for conservatives, it has been a fiasco of our own making — we need to understand a bit of history. We need some perspective, and it would help to start with the first modern speaker, Tip O’Neill.

Tip O’Neill reinvented the House of Representatives. Previous Speakers, like Sam Rayburn, had been effective because they were able to put together large bipartisan coalitions to pass bills. But O’Neill put a partisan stamp on the House: he weakened the committee chairs and did his best to pass bills on party lines. O’Neill’s revolution wasn’t widely understood at the time, however, because O’Neill usually lost legislative battles to President Reagan. Why? Because when the president and speaker fight, the president nearly always wins. The president speaks with one voice, while the speaker frequently gets drowned out by the loudest and dumbest members of his caucus. National Review was right to note that Tip O’Neill shut down the government, but Stiles forgot to mention that O’Neill mostly lost those battles to Reagan.

Newt Gingrich continued the trend that O’Neill started. Gingrich liked to compare himself to British Prime Ministers, who very nearly elected dictators. But when Gingrich tried shutting down the government, the blowback forced him to yield to President Clinton. In Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Gingrich made a rueful admission:

Remembering 9/11 and 9/10


Nuke-deal-negotiators2ipad_635x250_1436869560.gifI really don’t give a damn what Donald Trump said about Carly Fiorina’s face. Nor do I much care about what he might have said before about Dr. Carson. Those, and a few other tidbits, seem to be what the media consider important and feed us. The only importance they seem to attach to dissent about the administration’s collaboration (and yes, that is what it is) with Iran is to discredit it.

Today we remember the impact of the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001. Those attacks were an important turning point. The impact of those events seems, to some, to have only lasted only a brief historical moment. Perhaps.

But make no mistake: On September 10, 2015 — yesterday — the world really did change forever.