Airmen say Air Force is punishing evangelical Christians

Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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Five reasons why Americans already love ObamaCare

For those of you who have been too busy criticizing ObamaCare for partisan reasons to actually look at what’s in the law — and see what Americans like about it — here is a handy-dandy review:

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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The Coming Love Affair With Iran

Things are moving so rapidly on the Iran diplomacy front that it’s difficult to keep track.   But the last week, the UN speeches, Iranian President Rouhani’s generally well-received “charm offensive,” the anticipation of lunchtime handshake, the hawks’ relief when it didn’t happen, and then the phone call heard around the world makes one  think the glaciers of Mideast diplomacy could be break up with surprising rapidity.

Structures seemingly solid and impervious to change can collapse quickly when the time is right: the Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall. Who believed in 1987 that Eastern Europe would be more or less free of Soviet dominance within three years, or that the Soviet Union itself would collapse? Not, to my memory, a single high-ranking diplomat, businessmen, or university professor.

So imagine : the nuclear diplomacy track gets going, and Iran makes it  clear that it will trade transparency and inspections to ensure non-weaponization. Obama does what he can strip away the sanctions, encouraged by Europe, which is eager to trade and invest in Iran. And suddenly Americans realize there is this large, sophisticated Muslim country, with a large middle class and a huge appetite for American culture and business.  It is not a U.S.-style democracy, far from it—but no country in the Middle East is.  At worst it is in third place. Compared to the state of political freedom in China in 1971, contemporary  Iran is a New England town meeting.

Recall: in 1971, American elites fell in love with China.  The “China Lobby”—that large complex of anti-communist Chinese and Americans with personal and professional ties to  China who felt jilted by the Revolution and which had prevented any rapprochment until then—proved to be  a proverbial  ”paper tiger” once President Nixon  decided to reach beyond it.  American elites were suddenly enthralled by ping pong and pandas. New York Times columnist James Reston had an appendectomy with no anesthetic beyond acupuncture, and it worked out wonderfully—and became  the  source of  hundreds  of respectful news stories about Chinese medicine.  For years, China was the new flavor on the block. Growing ties with China were the backdrop to everything: America could be humiliated in Vietnam and the world hardly noticed.

Iran, of course, is a smaller deal—smaller in its size, cultural and military weight, and aspirations. But it is a Muslim country that is highly educated (which seems to be the nexus of problem for Washington’s hawks) and is moving seriously towards democracy. It is not Saudi Arabia, whose ruling princes have all the corruptions and weaknesses associated with vast unearned wealth. Iran has all the traits of a modernizing state—mass literacy, mobilized working classes. It has managed to hold its head high throughout almost 30 years of confrontation with Washington. It promises a vast market for American businesses to help rebuild its infrastructure. My guess is that many Americans will fall in love with the place—or at least with the combination of exoticism and profits that detente with Iran promises. Yes, there will be blind and naive …read more

Via: American Conservative

    

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Climate change warnings — science or "scientific-sounding"?

My biggest concern about the UN climate change report is that it presents a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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John Paul II — a saint before he hit the ground

Karol Wojtyla – John Paul II’s given name – was a living saint, one of those rare creatures who walk among us reflecting the love God has for us all by their everyday lives and actions.

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Via: Fox Opines

    

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Should the Government Mandate Vaccinations?

Vaccination has been a widely adopted practice in the U.S. since the very beginning. Thomas Jefferson himself was a great proponent–particularly of the smallpox vaccination, which he received shortly after its development in 1796.

Yet last week, in North Carolina’s Guilford and Forsyth counties, as many as 1,400 students faced suspension because their parents failed to vaccinate them. Those parents have opted out of the medical practice: their children have not received the required tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, commonly known as TDaP. According to North Carolina state law, children must have up-to-date vaccinations or face suspension.

The decision to vaccinate doesn’t merely affect the child in question, but can also affect a family’s community by threatening the health of other children. It pushes a family decision into the public arena. Some people, such as Phil Plait, argue that the community impact is so great, the government is right to mandate vaccination. Plait, despite his personal libertarian leanings, explains:

In some areas, public school authorities have mandated that students be vaccinated for various diseases, and that of course can run afoul of parents’ beliefs. I’ve wrestled with this problem for a while, and I eventually came to the conclusion that a parent does not have the right to have their child in a public school if that child is unvaccinated … It puts other children at risk.

The societal aspect Plait references is “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is “when a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, [so] most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak.” David Perry frames the problem this way:

Happily, in a population of vaccinated people, infectious but preventable diseases have trouble spreading even to the immunocompromised. But herd immunity breaks down when vaccinations are not administered to all who can medically receive them. At that point, people who chose to refuse vaccinations endanger those who had no choice.

“Those who had no choice” refers to individuals born with immunodeficiency disorders. Such individuals are protected if their community is, for the most part, vaccinated. But the more their peers refuse vaccination, the more at-risk these individuals become. The possible societal fallout explains why so many support vaccine mandates. Yet while such mandates are well-intended, particularly considering children who can become ill and even die from preventable diseases, the question of liberty still remains. When should the government demand vaccination from dissenters? Can the government, as the Center for Disease Control puts it, employ “the police power of the state” to coerce parents against their will and perhaps consciences?

Vaccination could be a strong case for governmental health mandates: no one wants a child to die from a preventable disease. Nevertheless, if the government has a right to mandate vaccination because “it knows best,” it may slide into legitimating other less crucial mandates. Many people agree that children should receive vaccination, but such agreement should not authenticate governmental coercion. …read more

Via: American Conservative

    

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How a Shopping Mall Becomes a Killing Zone

This really is frightening.

Terrorist incidents tell us nothing new about human nature. We already knew that people are capable of horrendous violence, especially when they have come to regard some other subset of human beings as unworthy of full human status. It’s not surprising, then, to see the terrorists of Somalia’s loathsome al-Shabaab movement violating all laws of humanity by slaughtering innocent victims of all ages. People can become monsters, and they did in the Nairobi mall attack that began on September 21.

What really is alarming, though, is to see terrorists create a radical new tactic against which there is no obvious response or defense. There was nothing surprising, for instance, in the idea that terrorists might hijack airliners, but only in 2001 did we realize that hijackers might use them for suicide attacks, turning those aircraft into deadly missiles. Nairobi has just shown us another horrible innovation. It might be that we won’t realize how effective this could be against the U.S. until we face yet another day when we are counting the dead in their hundreds. We have to confront this issue immediately.

Think about it. How would one attack a shopping mall, whether in Nairobi or Minneapolis? Presumably a number of pickup trucks draw up in the parking lot, and 20 or so armed men and women get out, carrying their weapons and ammunition. Then they enter the mall and begin killing until they can do no more harm. They are strictly limited by the number of bullets and grenades they can carry. When police and military forces arrive, the terrorists might hold out for an hour or two before being eliminated.

That’s one way to do it, but it’s clearly not what happened in Nairobi, where firefights were still in progress several days after the initial assault. Even more amazing, terrorists were still putting up resistance against strong Kenyan forces, reputedly trained and assisted by British and Israeli special forces.

How on earth did the terrorists do it? Why, they rented a store.

They rented a store.

Several months before the attack, possibly a year, they rented a property in Nairobi’s Westgate mall and began a business. All the while, they were using the property to store huge quantities of ammunition, explosives, and grenades. When the terrorists eventually arrived for the deadly day, they already had a fully equipped arsenal on the premises. And they had spent months learning all the mall’s vulnerabilities, all the best places to set ambushes. It’s nothing short of brilliant.

The tactic must also be gravely worrying for U.S. agencies that have to be thinking very hard about whether—or when—it could happen here. Is there a giant mall in Los Angeles or Minneapolis or Washington, D.C. where some ordinary-looking people took out a lease last year and then ran it quietly and inoffensively, attracting little attention? And where, in the interim, they have been preparing an arsenal in preparation for some key day when shoppers show up in droves?

Assume this is true, that such a plot …read more

Via: American Conservative

    

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GOP Activists vs. ‘Donorists’: Pick Your Poison

After Mitt Romney’s failed bid for the presidency, the GOP’s first brainstorm was to tackle the immigration issue and thereby mend fences (as against building a literal one) with the country’s growing Hispanic population.

The resultant legislation—the so-called Gang of 8 bill—was a perfect expression of business-class consensus: a reform whose approach to the importation of temporary workers would have aggravated the plight of low-wage, low-skill workers and eventually paved the way for a two-tiered labor market.

The flawed immigration reform proposal, added to the party’s longstanding fealty to the investor class when it comes to upper-bracket tax rates, drove Ross Douthat to complain of Republican “donorists”: rich social moderates who mix more easily with the cosmopolitan elite than with grassroots conservatives.

This past weekend, after which a government shutdown over Obamacare seemed all but certain to proceed, has seen the ascendance of a more authentically populist conservatism.

As Tom Petty sang years ago, I can’t decide which is worse.

For the push to “defund,” or merely delay the implementation of, Obamacare is maybe the most moronic and counterproductive gambit yet devised by the fire-breathing right flank of the congressional GOP.

It drops the ball of debt reduction—the putative reason conservatives confronted President Obama so dramatically in back in 2011—and exposes many Republican lawmakers’ cowardice when it comes to reining in the growth of entitlement spending. (I’m old enough to remember a “grand bargain” that included chained CPI and raising the eligibility age for Medicare!)

It invites public fury over dysfunction in Washington.

It has unified Democrats at a time when President Obama had lost his foreign policy footing and seen his domestic policy agenda stall completely.

It has, in turn, fractured Republican ranks. The party seems less like it’s taking the fight to Obama than it is chasing its own tail.

Oh—and the whole sorry exercise was futile to begin with!

Here’s the bad-to-worse takeaway: the K-Street Republicans may be about the cynical business of lining the pockets of their bespoke suits. But the true believers are no more capable of leading the party out of the political wilderness in which it found itself last November.

If the choice is between between Wall Street and the self-assured ideological commandos of aging all-white R+20 congressional districts—between Goldman and Bachmann, if you will—well, then I’m just taking my ball and going home.

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Via: American Conservative

    

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