Category Archives: Our Contributors

Sloppy Thinking About ‘Torture’

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

photo via FrontPage Magazine

photo via FrontPage Magazine

Torture is one of those topics that often overwhelm sober reason with lurid emotion. Even people who usually are clear-eyed and rational sink into sloppy thinking and incoherent argument when it comes to torture. Peggy Noonan’s recentWall Street Journal column about the Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques illustrates this phenomenon perfectly.

Noonan is usually an astute analyst, but her column on the report is riddled with received wisdom and unexamined assumptions. For Noonan, the “important lesson” of the report is not that progressives, as usual, are shameful hypocrites and partisan hacks who will damage their country’s interests for ideological or political advantage. It is not that when fighting a brutal enemy who obeys no laws of war, things are done we’d rather not do in order to save lives. No, her “lesson” is that the enhanced interrogation techniques, “torture” in her view, are “not like us” or “part of the American DNA,” and that, quoting John McCain, such techniques damage “our reputation as a force for good in the world.” These assertions, however, are based on simplistic psychology and flawed reasoning.

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Hillary’s Bad Politics and Worse Ideas

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Once again Hillary Clinton has given the Republicans some suicidal soundbites they should stash away for 2016 in the likely event she is the Democratic candidate for president. A review of some of her recent statements reveals that Clinton is not just entitled, money-grubbing, unlikeable, unpleasant, and unaccomplished. Nor do they just show that she is a political dunce who has obviously learned nothing from her politically brilliant husband. More seriously, they expose her commitment to failed ideas and dangerous delusions.

First there was the “What difference at this point does it make!” she practically shrieked to Senator Ron Johnson during a January 2013 hearing on the Benghazi debacle that unfolded on September 11, 2012. Clinton had told the grieving parents of the victims during the transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force base that they died because of “an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” Four Americans, including an ambassador, had been murdered on her watch, but she refused to explain to the Senate why she blamed the hapless maker of a YouTube video, who spent a year in jail.

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The End of Feminism

Image credit: Duke University

Image credit: Duke University

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas

California recently passed a law requiring that sexual encounters between students in universities and colleges can proceed only on the basis of “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement.” Failure to resist or to ask the partner to stop the encounter can no longer be taken as consent. Institutions that wish to receive state funds or financial aid must adhere to this standard when investigating charges of “sexual assault,” a phrase redefined to include behaviors once considered boorish or insensitive, but not legally actionable. The California law follows on the 2011 Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’s “dear colleague”letter that instructed schools investigating sexual assault complaints to use the “more likely than not” or “preponderance of the evidence” standard of evidence rather than the “clear and convincing” one.

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Obamacare Architect Exposes Progressive Totalitarianism

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Jonathan Gruber-MSNBC

Jonathan Gruber-MSNBC

Professor Jonathan Gruber of MIT, who designed the Affordable Care Act, used to be the symbol of the Democrats’ technocratic bona fides, and an example of how big government with its “scientific” experts can solve social and economic problems from health care to a warming planet. Yet a recently publicized video of remarks he made at a panel in 2013, along with 2 other videos in the same vein, has now made him the poster child of the elitist progressives’ contempt for the American people, and their sacrifice of prudence and reason to raw political power.

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Obama Midwifes a Nuclear Iran

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Khamenei and Obama via Breitbart.com

Khamenei and Obama via Breitbart.com

The news that President Obama has sent a secret letter to Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei––apparently promising concessions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for help in defeating ISIS–– is a depressing reminder of how after nearly 40 years our leaders have not understood the Iranian Revolution. During the hostage crisis of 1979, Jimmy Carter sent left-wing former Attorney General Ramsay Clark to Tehran with a letter anxiously assuring the Ayatollah Khomeini that America desired good relations “based upon equality, mutual respect and friendship.” Khomeini refused even to meet with the envoys.

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Book Review: Crucified Again; Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim

by Terry Scambray // New Oxford Review 

download (17)                                                 Islam: Victors Vanquishing Victims

                             Crucified Again; Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim.  Regnery, 2013.  247 pp.

Throughout  the Muslim world from Morocco to Nigeria to Indonesia – and even occasionally in Western Europe and North America, Christians are being harassed, tortured and murdered.  As reported by Reuters in January, 2012, some 100 million Christians were then being persecuted while a few years earlier the British Secret Service, M-16, put the number closer to 200 million.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion worldwide.” (A statement that elicited condemnation from many world leaders.) The Organization for Security and Cooperation on Europe estimates that a Christian is killed for his faith every five minutes.

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Election Day: What’s at Stake

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

The election and reelection of Barack Obama have seemingly realized the progressive dream of transforming America from its traditional Constitutional order to one more similar to Europe’s––an activist rather than a limited federal government, one whose power and reach extend into the market economy, trump state sovereignty, and subject individuals to the ideological preferences and aims of the federal Leviathan and its managers. What is at stake today is the continuing dominance of these statist ideas.

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Janet Yellen Shills for the Democrats

by Bruce Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

At a conference last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen recycled a shopworn Democrat talking point about the supposed crisis of income inequality and stalled economic mobility. “The extent and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concerns me,” Yellen said, going on to wonder “whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history,” especially “equality of opportunity.”

Like the mythic “war on women,” this progressive sound bite is misleading and duplicitous, based on statistical sleight of hand. Worse yet, it is a pretext for more and more government expansion and intrusion into the economy, and for more and more redistribution of income through entitlement programs. It makes one wonder what one of the most powerful government officials impacting the economy, supposedly a politically neutral technocrat, is doing recycling Democratic campaign slogans.

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The Politics of Victimhood

Image credit: Squiddles

Image credit: Squiddles

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Gabby Giffords, the former Democratic Congressman from Arizona who was shot in the head at a campaign rally in 2010, has come under fire recently for exploiting her horrific experience for political gain. Using her celebrity as a famous victim of gun violence, Giffords has created a Super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, focused on gun control legislation. Her group has produced political ads for Democratic candidates that feature other victims of gun violence, and that suggest the candidate’s opponent supports policies that contribute to such violence.

Even supporters of Giffords’ own party are uncomfortable with this electoral tactic. At Politico, Alex Isenstadt wrote recently that Giffords “has unleashed some of the nastiest ads of the campaign season, going after GOP candidates in Arizona and New Hampshire with attacks even some longtime supporters say go too far. And Republicans on the receiving end are largely helpless to hit back, knowing a fight with the much-admired survivor is not one they’re likely to win.”

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The President We Deserve?

Will Americans choose a difference course for the country this election season?

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

In 1920 H.L Mencken wrote prophetically, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”

Like the long tradition of antidemocrats from Plato to Founding Father Fisher Ames, Mencken believed that a democratic leader would reflect the self-interested aims and passions of the necessarily mediocre mass of voters. The disaster of Barack Obama’s administration invites reflection on the truth of this proposition.

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