This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-host Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with Mariam Memarsadeghi, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Mariam shares remembrances from her early years spent in the Shah’s Iran, and emigration to the U.S. shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in 1979. They discuss the massive cultural and civic differences between the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its government controlled by religious leaders, and modern liberal democracies like the U.S., with constitutionally limited government, and how this difference is manifested in the treatment of women and political dissidents. Mariam describes Tavaana, an organization she co-founded that is dedicated to a free and open Iran, and how it is using the internet and other means to advance democracy, civic education, and women’s rights in Iran. They also discuss her involvement with “We the People”: The Citizen and the Constitution, a nationwide civics contest for American high school students that is run by the Center for Civic Education. She descibes her experiences as a Presidential Leadership Scholar, and one of 43 individuals chosen as a portrait subject for President George W. Bush’s April 2021 book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants.

Stories of the Week: From Texas, California and Colorado to Tennessee and Georgia, school districts are using some federal stimulus funding to award “thank you” bonuses to teachers to prevent resignations and boost morale after COVID-19. In New Jersey, one of nine states that have mandated in-person learning, some parents are raising concerns about the poor condition of the schools their children are being forced to return to.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the declining approval numbers for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and one poll even has her trailing her likely GOP opponent. They also hammer President Biden for not joining three European nations in condemning Iran’s latest nuclear actions and even trying to ease up on sanctions against Tehran. And they roll their eyes as the Biden administration plans to go door-to-door to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

Jim and Greg welcome the funny but pointed denunciation of Critical Race Theory from Lousisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy. They also wonder why the U.S. left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan without even telling our Afghan allies. And they roll their eyes as the Lincoln Project adds longtime Dem strategist Joe Trippi, essentially admitting it’s now nothing more than another left-wing group.

Join Jim and Greg as they applaud Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for staying consistent on her refusal to kill the filibuster, much to the dismay of her party. They also wince as the Taliban  regains control in much of Northern Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of American troops. They end their discussion by highlighting the voter ID flip-flopping of Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock and other Democrats after years of calling the idea racist and tool for voter suppression.

 

Greg and guest host Chad Benson appreciate New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang being the only one to admit that mentally ill people committing violent acts are a problem for the city and that residents have the right to not be assaulted. They also cringe as Iran prepares to install a new president who is already under U.S. sanctions for leading the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s. And they react to Sen. Ted Cruz saying that he hopes actor Matthew McConnaughey does not run for governor in Texas because he would be a very formidable candidate.

 

Greg and guest host Rob Long celebrate a federal court in Louisiana ending President Biden’s oil and gas lease ban on federal land. They also cringe as the Biden administration considers lifting sanctions on top Iranian institutions which finance terrorism. Lastly, they roll their eyes at California Gov. Gavin Newsom for failing to relinquish his state of emergency powers despite COVID-19 numbers being at all time lows in his state.

Jim and Greg discuss Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments attacking fellow Democrats for condemning fellow “Squad” member Ilhan Omar, another interview where Vice President Kamala Harris badly dodges questions on visiting the border, and the unwelcome return of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Ex-Mossad Head to Iran: ‘We Won’t Let You Get Nuclear Weapons. What Don’t You Understand?’

 

Retired Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

Every few months for the past several years, there’s an “incident” in Iran. A top nuclear scientist disappears. A centrifuge facility catches fire. A ship doesn’t make it to its destination. And the Israelis offer no comment.

That is, until now. Yossi Cohen, who stepped down as leader of the Mossad intelligence agency last week, provided a stunning inside look at Israel’s efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

It’s all good martinis today! Jim and Greg welcome the Senate parliamentarian making life much tougher for Senate Democrats and the Biden agenda. They also cheer the mysterious sinking of one of Iran’s largest naval ships. And they are glad to see COVID number continue to drop weeks after the CDC ended mask mandates for vaccinated people.

Calling Out Aggression in the Mideast

 

As of this writing, the relationship between Israel and Palestine has taken perhaps its most dangerous turn since the Israelis made their controversial decision to leave Gaza in August 2005. To my mind, that agonizing decision was, at the time, the lesser of two evils. For Israel to govern Gaza, which had only around 8,500 Jewish settlers, the Israelis ran the risk of becoming a hostile occupying force with little or no local legitimacy. Using powerful force to respond to concerted attacks from Gaza after pulling out was the better alternative. Once Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, it quickly initiated military attacks on Israel in 2008, 2012, and 2014, with large losses of life on all sides.

In this instance, as in all others, it is inappropriate to posit moral and legal parity between the two sides. In all cases, Hamas was the aggressor. It is a moral blunder to equate Israel’s targeted self-defense with Hamas’s aggression. To be sure, in practice there are often complex ethics that challenge the imagination, but the key to understanding Gaza is to avoid the mistake of assuming that any balance in the number of deaths and casualties offers evidence of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. As Bret Stephens recently wrote in the New York Times, the moral imbalance between Israel and Hamas looms as a huge obstacle to any two-state solution in the Middle East.

So long as Hamas is active, the Israelis cannot afford to deploy the same strategy of calculated withdrawal on the West Bank that they used fitfully in Gaza. Gaza can be isolated by land and sea. The West Bank, however, borders Jordan, through which other Israeli enemies like Iran and Syria can easily set up hostile military positions close to both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Member Post

 

Here is an interesting YouTube item from Deutsche Welle: Germans travel to Russia for Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccinations.  It’s news to me, anyway. I have no way of knowing if the U.S. hate media have already reported on it. It seems that Germans who can afford it are doing some medical tourism. They are frustrated […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they cautiously welcome the new shifting of congressional seats based upon the 2020 U.S. Census and the opportunity for Republicans to win a House majority. They also roll their eyes as John Kerry denies telling Iran’s foreign minister about covert Israeli operations in Syria while former Obama official Ben Rhodes comes up with a completely contradictory defense of Kerry’s actions.  And they sigh as Rep. Liz Cheney says she hasn’t decided one way or another on a 2024 presidential bid.

Join Jim and Greg as give President Biden credit for correctly labeling the Ottoman slaughter of Armenians last century as a genocide, They also rip John Kerry for reportedly telling Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif that Israel was responsible for more than 200 attacks against Iranian interests inside Syria. And they shake their heads as Vice President Harris seems unmotivated to solve the border crisis yet copies of her kids book are showing up at a migrant facility in California.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome House Republicans trying to force the Biden administration to keep the effective Trump-era sanctions on Iran. They also unload on Biden for his ridiculous, non-binding goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the end of the decade – and for his climate agenda that would really just grow government. And they have some fun with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggesting police officers get permission from a supervisor before chasing criminals on foot.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome an appeals court decision upholding an Ohio ban on abortions because the unborn baby has Down Syndrome. They also fume as the intel community admits there is only low to moderate confidence in last year’s reports that Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban and its allies for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan. And they shake their heads at the obvious court-packing hypocrisy of Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome steady progress in reopening schools, as nearly half of U.S. school districts are now open for in-person learning. While understanding the desire to exit Afghanistan, they’re wondering whether President Biden has learned anything from his botching of the U.S. departure from Iraq that helped trigger the rise of ISIS. And the short fuse of the Biden administration is on display again after left-leaning probability expert Nate Silver criticizes the decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Join Jim and Greg as they update the “incident” at the Natanz nuclear site and enjoy learning how it was much more devastating than first reported. Then they feel very weird agreeing with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but believe he right to warn the Democrats against court packing. They discuss the significance of the FDA and CDC calling for a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. And they discuss the inexplicable error of a Minnesota police officer in a recent shooting death there but also hammer Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib for suggesting this case is further proof that we need to abolish police and incarceration.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, founder of the AHA Foundation, and author of the books Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights, Infidel: My Lifeand Nomad: From Islam to America – A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations. Ms. Hirsi Ali shares insights from her upbringing and early education in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, as well as her courageous immigration to the West, where she experienced an intellectual awakening that led to human rights activism and a seat in the Dutch Parliament. They discuss why all human rights and free speech advocates should be concerned about the rise and growing militancy of political correctness and “cancel culture” in the West, its impact on reasoned public debate, and what educators need to teach young people about the importance of open mindedness and the free exchange of ideas. Lastly, Ms. Hirsi Ali reviews the central theme of her latest book, Prey, which explores the long-term ramifications of mass migration from Islamic-majority countries on the rights of women in Europe, given the different value systems between these countries and the West, with its commitment to the rule of law, rights-centered constitutionalism, science, and religious liberty. She concludes with a reading from the book.

Stories of the Week: The Biden administration is ordering states to continue federally required standardized tests this year, though there is flexibility on the exam format and accountability standards. Is this an opportunity for innovation in student testing? All members of a San Francisco-area school board resigned after mocking parents at a virtual meeting that they didn’t realize was already being broadcast live. Was this an isolated incident or a window into their general outlook toward families?

More year-end awards today!  Jim and Greg embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2020 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for the year.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the news that a top figure in Iran’s likely nuclear weapons program was targeted and killed and they marvel at how it was done. They also bang their heads against the table as some Trump supporters suggest opposing GOP senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for being insufficiently vocal about the alleged election fraud and believe writing in Trump in the Senate races would send a powerful message. And they groan as the media clearly intends to stay in full Joe Biden cheerleading mode, including one story featuring an animal psychic who says Biden’s dogs are convinced he will be a great president.