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Items filtered by date: Sunday, 30 April 2017
Monday, 01 May 2017 07:43

Is Macron the EU's Last Best Hope?

For the French establishment, Sunday's presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a "damn near-run thing."

Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France's national elite.

Marine Le Pen of the National Front ran second with 21.5 percent of the vote. Emmanuel Macron of the new party En Marche! won 23.8 percent.

Macron is a heavy favorite on May 7. The Republicans' Francois Fillon, who got 20 percent, and the Socialists' Benoit Hamon, who got less than 7 percent, both have urged their supporters to save France by backing Macron.

Ominously for U.S. ties, 61 percent of French voters chose Le Pen, Fillon or radical Socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon. All favor looser ties to America and repairing relations with Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Le Pen has a mountain to climb to win, but she is clearly the favorite of the president of Russia, and perhaps of the president of the United States. Last week, Donald Trump volunteered:

"She's the strongest on borders, and she's the strongest on what's been going on in France. ... Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election."

As an indicator of historic trends in France, Le Pen seems likely to win twice the 18 percent her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won in 2002, when he lost in the runoff to Jacques Chirac.
The campaign between now and May 7, however, could make the Trump-Clinton race look like an altarpiece of democratic decorum.

Not only are the differences between the candidates stark, Le Pen has every incentive to attack to solidify her base and lay down a predicate for the future failure of a Macron government.

And Macron is vulnerable. He won because he is fresh, young, 39, and appealed to French youth as the anti-Le Pen. A personification of Robert Redford in "The Candidate."
But he has no established party behind him to take over the government, and he is an ex-Rothschild banker in a populist environment where bankers are as welcome as hedge-fund managers at a Bernie Sanders rally.

He is a pro-EU, open-borders transnationalist who welcomes new immigrants and suggests that acts of Islamist terrorism may be the price France must pay for a multiethnic and multicultural society.

Macron was for a year economic minister to President Francois Hollande who has presided over a 10 percent unemployment rate and a growth rate that is among the most anemic in the entire European Union.

He is offering corporate tax cuts and a reduction in the size of a government that consumes 56 percent of GDP, and presents himself as the "president of patriots to face the threat of nationalists."

His campaign is as much "us vs. them" as Le Pen's.
And elite enthusiasm for Macron seems less rooted in any anticipation of future greatness than in the desperate hope he can save the French establishment from the dreaded prospect of Marine.

But if Macron is the present, who owns the future?

Across Europe, as in France, center-left and center-right parties that have been on the scene since World War II appear to be emptying out like dying churches. The enthusiasm and energy seem to be in the new parties of left and right, of secessionism and nationalism.

The problem for those who believe the populist movements of Europe have passed their apogee, with losses in Holland, Austria and, soon, France, that the fever has broken, is that the causes of the discontent that spawned these parties are growing stronger.

What are those causes?

A growing desire by peoples everywhere to reclaim their national sovereignty and identity, and remain who they are. And the threats to ethnic and national identity are not receding, but growing.
The tide of refugees from the Middle East and Africa has not abated. Weekly, we read of hundreds drowning in sunken boats that tried to reach Europe. Thousands make it. But the assimilation of Third World peoples in Europe is not proceeding. It seems to have halted.

Second-generation Muslims who have lived all their lives in Europe are turning up among the suicide bombers and terrorists.

Fifteen years ago, al-Qaida seemed confined to Afghanistan. Now it is all over the Middle East, as is ISIS, and calls for Islamists in Europe to murder Europeans inundate social media.

As the numbers of native-born Europeans begin to fall, with their anemic fertility rates, will the aging Europeans become more magnanimous toward destitute newcomers who do not speak the national language or assimilate into the national culture, but consume its benefits?

If a referendum were held across Europe today, asking whether the mass migrations from the former colonies of Africa and the Middle East have on balance made Europe a happier and better place to live in recent decades, what would that secret ballot reveal?

Does Macron really represent the future of France, or is he perhaps one of the last men of yesterday?

Patrick J. Buchanan

Published in Politics
Monday, 01 May 2017 07:39

Is the First Amendment Dead?

On Wednesday, officials of the University of California Berkeley announced that they were canceling a speech to be given by conservative writer Ann Coulter scheduled for April 27. Then on Thursday, facing the prospect of a lawsuit, caught between the First Amendment and the fear of violence, university officials proposed that Coulter's speech be moved to May 2 -- a move she and her supporters quickly rejected, pointing out that there would be no students on campus, as it coincided with a reading period before final exams.

This was a low point for the birthplace of the free-speech movement.

I've known Ann Coulter for years, and I've gone to great lengths -- truly great lengths -- to disagree with her. After she published a book called "Godless," which accused liberalism of being a godless religion, I wrote a book called "Soulless," which attacked the right-wing church of hate. I even donned her trademark sleeveless black dress, added about 10 inches of long blonde hair and posed for a cover that looked almost as sexy as hers.

We agree on almost nothing, except for the importance of free speech and public discourse. And we have always gotten along just fine.

Last summer, when a reporter went to her for comments about me, she could not have been more gracious. That's how it should be in a democracy.

Our Founding Fathers understood something that seems to be getting lost in the ugly partisanship that has gripped our country. You don't deal with speech you don't like by shutting it down. You deal with it by speaking up yourself. Speech is powerful; it is protected not because it is harmless but because the alternative is even worse. And that alternative is what we're facing now.

It is not just at Berkeley that this issue is rearing its ugly head. In response to the cancellation of a speech at Claremont-McKenna College by Heather Mac Donald, the president of Pomona College (part of the Claremont Colleges consortium) wrote an open letter defending the principle of free speech. To my shock, frankly, a group of African-American students went on the attack, claiming that "white supremacists" (Mac Donald is a fellow of the conservative Manhattan Institute, not the Klan) have no right to free speech. Come again? Who is supposed to decide who gets to speak? Do these students not understand that it is precisely oppressed minorities who have historically needed the protection of the First Amendment the most? Do they really think that if speech is regulated, they will be the beneficiaries? On which planet? Under which president?

For those who disagree with Coulter, shutting down her speech only elevates her position. Instead of speaking before a group of students two weeks before exams, the cancellation has brought her national attention -- and brought Berkeley the criticism it must surely have expected.

But blaming Berkeley is the easy way out. One way or another, the great majority of Americans who support the Constitution must stand up to the minority who think violence and censorship is the answer to speech they don't like. You cannot pick and choose which civil liberties to support, which opinions deserve protection.

As a writer myself, I get more than my share of ugly emails from people who disagree with me. No one enjoys reading those. And as a woman and a Jew, I have sharply felt the sting of hatred. But unless there is a threat of violence (the Constitution provides for shutting down speech if it poses an imminent threat of violence or an imminent threat to national security), the way to handle such ugly emails is simply hitting the "Trash" button, or better yet, responding with more speech. Because if you shut down free speech this time, next time, the one who is shut down might be you.

Susan Estrich

Published in National

When I first heard Barack Obama’s name I wondered, “Is this guy a Muslim”? Now, most people with Italian names are Italian and Polish names mean Polish, maybe Czech , or Russian, Irish names are usually hung on Irishmen. That’s why I thought this guy would be a Muslim, Egyptian, Pakistani.

When I heard he was BORN Muslim (if your father is Muslim, under Islamic law, you are Muslim) I worried, not because I knew much about Islam but because, as an FBI Agent in NYC, I had dealings with several Muslims. I formed\my own opinion about people who wanted to be “in” America but not assimilate to be American. When Muslims started killing Americans here…then 19 Muslims killed 3,000 innocent American infidels, and then this guy, Obama, wouldn’t reveal documents that would reveal his lineage… I became VERY suspicious of who he really is!

My suspicions of Obama changed, probably long before any of you changed your opinions or maybe even, before you formed an opinion. But I started reading the Koran and other Islamic writings and knew before he was elected, that a Muslim cannot believe in the separation of Church and State! I remember vacationing in the South, one Winter, when I met a guy FROM Chicago and when we talked about Obama being elected, I asked him if he knew he’s a Muslim and this guy got irate, said he “quit” Islam, became a Christian and “who cares, we have religious freedom here”! Muslims can’t “quit” Islam. They are labeled as the worst infidels (kafers) and those are the ones we saw Beheaded in Iraq and Syria!

I knew we were in trouble when people from the new President’s own City, didn’t even know who he is so I dropped the political discussion. You cannot reason with anybody who doesn’t want the facts because they already have an opinion.
The proven facts NOW are the Certificate of Live Birth (posted on Whitehouse.gov on 4-27-11), that Obama tried to pass off as a Birth Certificate has now been proven beyond ANY doubt to be a counterfeit , fake, fraudulent government documents! They have found the “source document”, the smoking gun!!!

If you want to learn about the overwhelming evidence look at the press conference 12-14-16 by Sheriff Arpaio. Investigator Mike Zullo explains how Reed Hayes, noted Forensic Examiner, Document Examiners from Italy and other Forensic Examiners who have examined the Certificate of Birth have all agreed it is a fake, forcing Hawaii Officials to now say there is NO record of Barack H. Obama being born in Hawaii!!!

If all of that is true, what does it mean? Well… in the least, Obama conspired to and did pass Fraudulent Government Documents as originals to gain wealth (job as President)! But there are more problems to come for Barack Obama that George Soros can’t buy his way out of. If this is all true and I believe it is because “too many coincidences make a fact” , Indictments and Prosecution of Obama and others, for Treason and a litany of other very serious offenses against the United States of America, will follow!

It also goes a long way to prove Criminal Intent to overthrow our government (Espionage, Treason, etc) as that is what Islam is all about. See the Koran, Surah 8-12 ( and 100 more Surahs)...”I am with you; give firmness to the believers I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: you smite above their necks and smite their finger-tips off them”. Don’t try to convince ANYONE that the Christians book of Faith, the Bible preaches violence and so does other books of faith. There is only one “religion” that preaches and PRACTICES violence against Unbelievers and that is Islam! There are 37 Muslim countries with some 200 million Muslims following Sharia Law, beheading Infidels. If you haven’t seen it, go on You Tube…there’s thousands of beheadings! Name just one Christian Nation or any other non Muslim nation that practices beheading Unbelievers!

In my opinion, as a Criminal Investigator for over 28 years, the evidence is going to show that Barack Obama is a Muslim whose agenda is to overthrow our government by force and violence to become a tyrannical, Islamic nation. He was not born in the US but probably Kenya, has been bought and paid for by George Soros, the Saudi King and other OPEC Nations., and won’t stop until he succeeds or is convicted of a Capital Crime, like Treason!

The elements…he’s a Muslim, hid his beliefs, gave aid to our enemies by giving the Muslim Brotherhood F16 fighters, tanks, other weapons and gave Iran 1.7 billion dollars! Can you think of another ways he tried to weaken America and give aid to our enemies? I’ll bet you can!

J Gary DiLaura

Published in Politics
Monday, 01 May 2017 07:30

The Amazon 1-Star System

I'm not dumb enough to believe that all the reviews you read on various sites are authentic. I know that if a product no one has ever heard of has thousands of five-star reviews, something is amiss. Real customers aren't claiming a skin cream "takes years away in just minutes!" The only thing that does that is plastic surgery.

I know that companies pay not only to have good reviews posted but also to have bad ones removed. And I know that these "reviews" are not done by Consumer Reports (which seems like a careful and legitimate business).

I could only laugh when one site contacted me to tell me that the only one-star review I had ever written was not being posted because "it failed to adequately describe (my) experience." Really. There are many things I don't do well, but explaining an experience in plain and clear language is simply not one of them. My clients pay me a small fortune to explain their experiences -- in motions and briefs to the highest courts in the land. "If you want your review to get posted," my son told me, "select two stars, and then explain why you really think they deserve one."

But I never expected to have my name given to a seller on Amazon to whom I gave one star -- especially because all my "privacy settings" are set to protect me against just that.
Some background: My stomach hurts from a botched surgery (peritonitis and sepsis from perforating my colon and nicking my spleen) two years ago. And my back hurts from a more recent surgery, which was successful but still major. So, unable to sleep on my side, and still having severe stomach pain from the surgery two years ago, I looked on Amazon for help. And there it was: a pillow originally targeted to pregnant women but said to be a miracle for back pain, stomach pain -- a miracle for me. And it had hundreds of five-star reviews.

Originally priced at nearly $200, it was "marked down" to around $50 (I later discovered it's available on Alibaba for $3). Even better, because Amazon fulfilled the orders, it would arrive sooner than similar products. One click and it was on its way.

Calling this pillow "junk" would be putting it gently. From the minute I opened the box, I knew it would be going back. The zipper was broken. The cover felt like horsehair. The pillow was hard as a rock. Sleeping with it was impossible.

I did what I have never done before on Amazon. I gave it one star. But it wasn't "Susan R. Estrich" who wrote the review. I used a pseudonym for privacy, a combination of my two grandmothers' names. Almost every other rating I've given has been five stars -- written simply to support people who are working hard and writing good books or selling good products at fair prices. This was none of the above.

But then what's not supposed to happen happened. Within an hour, the seller emailed me, telling me they had already given me a full refund, that I could keep the pillow (it now occupies the space in my garage for things I can't give away because no one wants them) and to please take down my one-star review.

I wrote right back to the seller. I had only one question: "How did you find out my real name?"

They answered: "Amazon gave us your name."

Amazon gave you my name. And Google will tell you where I live, what I do, how many children I have and how to find me. I took down the review.

Write to Jeff Bezos, my son told me. I did. That got me to the "Executive Consumer Support Communities," to a customer-support representative named Amanda, who offered me $50 credit and said she was just "stumped" by what happened. She said she would have to investigate, and she gave me a phone number to call. No one answered the phone. That was weeks ago. I wrote and wrote. I asked over and over how it was that my privacy settings were completely ignored. They were "stumped"; they were investigating; they didn't understand. I called and called, and no one called back. A month later, they are still working on it.

And a month later, I'm telling you: Buyer beware. It's not just money that you risk losing. It's your privacy.

Susan Estrich

Published in Business

Of course Donald Trump over-promised for his first 100 days. What presidential candidate hasn't?

During last year's campaign, Trump spoke frequently of all the things he would do almost immediately upon entering the Oval Office. He'd repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code, destroy ISIS, build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, fix the nation's roads and bridges, take care of veterans, deport criminal illegal immigrants, and much, much more.

By the last weeks of the campaign, Trump actually dialed back some of his promises. On October 22, he traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to announce his "Contract with the American Voter," which formalized his pledges for the first 100 days.
The "Contract" was a single piece of paper. The front listed 18 actions Trump would take under his executive authority as president, and the back listed ten pieces of legislation he would introduce in Congress.

Now, three months into the Trump administration, the front and the back of the Contract are two very different stories.

On the executive action front, Trump has kept a significant number of his promises:
-- Candidate Trump promised to "begin the process" of selecting a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia. As president, Trump did just that, and Neil Gorsuch is now on the Court.
-- Candidate Trump promised to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As president, he did it.
-- Candidate Trump promised to require that "for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated." As president, he did it.
-- Candidate Trump promised to "lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks" on the Keystone Pipeline and other infrastructure projects. As president, he did it.
-- Candidate Trump promised to "begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants" in the U.S. As president, he did it.

On other issues, Trump has kept front-page promises, but with decidedly mixed results. The most significant of those is his pledge to "suspend immigration from terror-prone regions." Trump has done it -- twice -- only to see his executive orders tied up in the courts. His first try was botched, while the second try will likely survive judicial scrutiny.

Trump also promised to "cancel all federal funding" for so-called sanctuary cities. He has begun to do so -- the Justice Department is beginning to threaten to withdraw some grant money -- but the promise was overbroad and will likely never be fully kept.

In addition, Trump promised to impose a "five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service." He kept the pledge for White House officials but does not have the authority to tell Congress what to do -- so again, a partially kept, but originally overbroad promise.

Some promises Trump has openly chosen to break. He promised to "direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator." Now, he says he will not do so if China is helping the U.S. solve the so-far-intractable North Korea problem.

The net result of Trump's promises involving executive authority is that he has done well when it comes to keeping the Contract. Indeed, the two biggest successes of Trump's first 100 days are on the front page of the Contract: the Gorsuch nomination and Trump's immigration executive order tightening controls at the Mexico border. "We've seen a dramatic reduction in illegal migration across the southwest border," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Friday. "In fact, March apprehensions were 30 percent lower than February apprehensions -- and 64 percent lower than the same time next year."

That is a solid success by any measure.
But the back page of the Contract is a different story. Unlike many of his speeches, Trump was careful not to promise legislative success. "I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage with the first 100 days of my administration," he said in the Contract.

But Trump has not even introduced promised legislation like the American Energy and Infrastructure Act, or the School Choice and Education Opportunity Act, or the Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act, or others on the 10-point list.

The president, mostly following the lead of House Republicans, has taken a shot -- and failed -- at repealing and replacing Obamacare. To the extent that work continues -- a vote in the House could be just a few weeks away -- he can be said to be working on keeping that promise. And Trump has pledged to bring out some sort of tax proposal this week -- not an actual tax reform bill, but movement closer to the goal of reforming the tax code. So on the two biggest items on the back page of the Contract, by the time the actual 100-day mark arrives next Saturday, Trump will be able to say he's making progress.

But the fact is, on the whole, Trump failed to keep the back page promises of the Contract in his first 100 days.

On the other hand, the president has been a crucial part of a determined effort by Capitol Hill Republicans to use the Congressional Review Act to abolish rules put in place by the Obama administration. Trump has signed 12 such bills into law voiding Obama rules on energy, firearms, federal labor contracts, local control of education, and other topics.

The bottom line is that Trump has been a 100-day success when it comes to exercising the executive powers of the presidency. He has done a great deal of what he said he would do, and promises to do more.

Byron York

Published in Politics

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