Day: January 10, 2018

The Trump Tax Cuts and the Obamacare Mandate 'Repeal'


The new tax bill is now law; it’s on the books; it’s an addition to the U.S. Code.  But unfortunately, the new law doesn’t have a very catchy title.  Its original title was the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” which is most excellent.  However, due to punctilios in the Senate, the name had to be changed, and in the rush to get the thing passed, congressmen settled on “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.”  That’s not so catchy.  I don’t know if it can be retitled, but because titles matter, I’d wager that the new law will simply be called the “Trump Tax Cuts.”

Conservatives should be relieved that Republicans in Congress finally passed a big piece of legislation.  We were beginning to think they were incapable of coming together.

One of the pleasant surprises in the new law is the so-called “repeal” of Obamacare’s individual mandate.  But inasmuch as Obamacare is still “on the books,” just how did Republicans accomplish this repeal?

Okay, let’s look at the law.  One place to find the text of the Trump Tax Cuts is at congress.gov.  The copy there has hyperlinks, and in the section on the mandate, there is a single link, on “Section 5000A(c).”  But it doesn’t seem to have page numbers to navigate with, unlike the copy at the Government Publishing Office.  On page 101 of the PDF at the GPO, we come to PART VIII, which deals with the mandate, and it spans two pages.  Because I’m a nice guy, I’ve spliced together two screen grabs from the GPO copy for your convenience:

You can scour the rest of the text, but I don’t think you’ll find any other mentions of the individual mandate.  Notice at the bottom that the effective date is after this year, so folks still need to have health insurance in 2018 or pay the penalty.

The method by which the mandate was repealed is interesting: they merely zeroed out the penalty for noncompliance.  In the ACA, it’s called a penalty, but the Supreme Court ruled it a tax.  So the “tax” now has a rate of “zero percent” and a bottom levy of “$0.”  But because Obamacare is still on the books, some future Congress under Democrat control could easily raise the tax or penalty back to where it was, or even higher — and use reconciliation to do so!

Those who think Obamacare is bad law, bad economics, and grossly un-American won’t rest easy until the whole misbegotten mess is repealed (dashed to Hell, whence it came).  The snag in repealing the entire law is the soft hearts of some Republican senators who “don’t want to hurt anybody.”  That’s a fine and decent concern.  But there’s a simple solution to continuing with help for seriously ill Americans with “pre-existing conditions” currently getting Obamacare subsidies to buy private insurance: put them all in Medicaid.

The presence of these ill people in the tiny Non-Group market (the individual market) has caused premiums to soar, even reaching triple-digit increases.  It’s unfair for the smallest cohort to have all the sick, poor folks dumped into their pool.  By putting them into Medicaid, the costs can be shared by all Americans.

The individual mandate has been called the “linchpin” of Obamacare, but it really affects only the Non-Group market.  The Non-Group market could die (and it very well may), and the rest of Obamacare would continue.  We’d still have all the other taxes; the subsidy program; the expansion of Medicaid; the myriad demands on insurance companies to cover everything for everybody, regardless of what policyholders need.  Therefore, when some say the “repeal” of the mandate is really a repeal of Obamacare, they’re mistaken.

Perhaps the reason we haven’t heard a lot of caterwauling from the Dems about the “repeal” of the mandate is because the Non-Group market never was the primary focus of Obamacare.  Rather, the true aim of the ACA was to put a government imprimatur on an entire sector of the economy.  It was a fascistic power-grab.  The Non-Group market, only 4 percent in 2013, was just window dressing.  The real aim was all the new requirements on what health insurance policies must cover, the expansion of Medicaid, bringing “the several States” to heel, etc.

The entire “repeal” of the individual mandate takes up 77 words.  Because of that brevity, Republicans missed an opportunity, for they could have inserted some justification in it, perhaps even a little philosophy.  Compare PART VIII of the Trump Tax Cuts with Section 1501 in Obamacare on page 242 of the PDF (also see pages 907-910 for amendments to 1501).  This is where we find the Democrats’ justification for their “requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage,” aka the “individual mandate.”

Throughout Section 1501, we’re treated to the Democrats’ reasoning for requiring Americans to buy health insurance.  It rests on the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  The thing is, their justification was overridden by the Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius.  So it would have been terrific if the “repeal” had included some justification and had echoed the dicta in NFIB that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the authority to command Americans to buy stuff.

Republicans need to recognize that come 2019, their “repeal” of the mandate is going to seriously affect the Non-Group market.  If healthy young folks exit the Non-Group risk pool due to their new freedom, insurance premiums for those who remain in the pool should soar even higher.  Does the GOP want to get blamed for the further destruction of the Non-Group market?

Also, because Democrats can so easily undo the “repeal” of the mandate, Republicans need to be thinking about making it invulnerable.  The way to do that is to repeal the ACA in its entirety and replace it with something better.  Democrats will not help Republicans do this, even if the health care system were roiling.  That means Senate Republicans need to be prepared to end the filibuster.

With the Trump Tax Cuts, Majority Leader McConnell and GOP senators may have thought they were out of the woods and wouldn’t need to again consider ending the legislative filibuster.  But how likely is it that Chuck and Nancy will allow their caucus to cooperate on any big bills this year?  I’d guess not very.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer and analyst from Kansas City. 

The new tax bill is now law; it’s on the books; it’s an addition to the U.S. Code.  But unfortunately, the new law doesn’t have a very catchy title.  Its original title was the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” which is most excellent.  However, due to punctilios in the Senate, the name had to be changed, and in the rush to get the thing passed, congressmen settled on “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.”  That’s not so catchy.  I don’t know if it can be retitled, but because titles matter, I’d wager that the new law will simply be called the “Trump Tax Cuts.”

Conservatives should be relieved that Republicans in Congress finally passed a big piece of legislation.  We were beginning to think they were incapable of coming together.

One of the pleasant surprises in the new law is the so-called “repeal” of Obamacare’s individual mandate.  But inasmuch as Obamacare is still “on the books,” just how did Republicans accomplish this repeal?

Okay, let’s look at the law.  One place to find the text of the Trump Tax Cuts is at congress.gov.  The copy there has hyperlinks, and in the section on the mandate, there is a single link, on “Section 5000A(c).”  But it doesn’t seem to have page numbers to navigate with, unlike the copy at the Government Publishing Office.  On page 101 of the PDF at the GPO, we come to PART VIII, which deals with the mandate, and it spans two pages.  Because I’m a nice guy, I’ve spliced together two screen grabs from the GPO copy for your convenience:

You can scour the rest of the text, but I don’t think you’ll find any other mentions of the individual mandate.  Notice at the bottom that the effective date is after this year, so folks still need to have health insurance in 2018 or pay the penalty.

The method by which the mandate was repealed is interesting: they merely zeroed out the penalty for noncompliance.  In the ACA, it’s called a penalty, but the Supreme Court ruled it a tax.  So the “tax” now has a rate of “zero percent” and a bottom levy of “$0.”  But because Obamacare is still on the books, some future Congress under Democrat control could easily raise the tax or penalty back to where it was, or even higher — and use reconciliation to do so!

Those who think Obamacare is bad law, bad economics, and grossly un-American won’t rest easy until the whole misbegotten mess is repealed (dashed to Hell, whence it came).  The snag in repealing the entire law is the soft hearts of some Republican senators who “don’t want to hurt anybody.”  That’s a fine and decent concern.  But there’s a simple solution to continuing with help for seriously ill Americans with “pre-existing conditions” currently getting Obamacare subsidies to buy private insurance: put them all in Medicaid.

The presence of these ill people in the tiny Non-Group market (the individual market) has caused premiums to soar, even reaching triple-digit increases.  It’s unfair for the smallest cohort to have all the sick, poor folks dumped into their pool.  By putting them into Medicaid, the costs can be shared by all Americans.

The individual mandate has been called the “linchpin” of Obamacare, but it really affects only the Non-Group market.  The Non-Group market could die (and it very well may), and the rest of Obamacare would continue.  We’d still have all the other taxes; the subsidy program; the expansion of Medicaid; the myriad demands on insurance companies to cover everything for everybody, regardless of what policyholders need.  Therefore, when some say the “repeal” of the mandate is really a repeal of Obamacare, they’re mistaken.

Perhaps the reason we haven’t heard a lot of caterwauling from the Dems about the “repeal” of the mandate is because the Non-Group market never was the primary focus of Obamacare.  Rather, the true aim of the ACA was to put a government imprimatur on an entire sector of the economy.  It was a fascistic power-grab.  The Non-Group market, only 4 percent in 2013, was just window dressing.  The real aim was all the new requirements on what health insurance policies must cover, the expansion of Medicaid, bringing “the several States” to heel, etc.

The entire “repeal” of the individual mandate takes up 77 words.  Because of that brevity, Republicans missed an opportunity, for they could have inserted some justification in it, perhaps even a little philosophy.  Compare PART VIII of the Trump Tax Cuts with Section 1501 in Obamacare on page 242 of the PDF (also see pages 907-910 for amendments to 1501).  This is where we find the Democrats’ justification for their “requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage,” aka the “individual mandate.”

Throughout Section 1501, we’re treated to the Democrats’ reasoning for requiring Americans to buy health insurance.  It rests on the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  The thing is, their justification was overridden by the Supreme Court in NFIB v. Sebelius.  So it would have been terrific if the “repeal” had included some justification and had echoed the dicta in NFIB that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the authority to command Americans to buy stuff.

Republicans need to recognize that come 2019, their “repeal” of the mandate is going to seriously affect the Non-Group market.  If healthy young folks exit the Non-Group risk pool due to their new freedom, insurance premiums for those who remain in the pool should soar even higher.  Does the GOP want to get blamed for the further destruction of the Non-Group market?

Also, because Democrats can so easily undo the “repeal” of the mandate, Republicans need to be thinking about making it invulnerable.  The way to do that is to repeal the ACA in its entirety and replace it with something better.  Democrats will not help Republicans do this, even if the health care system were roiling.  That means Senate Republicans need to be prepared to end the filibuster.

With the Trump Tax Cuts, Majority Leader McConnell and GOP senators may have thought they were out of the woods and wouldn’t need to again consider ending the legislative filibuster.  But how likely is it that Chuck and Nancy will allow their caucus to cooperate on any big bills this year?  I’d guess not very.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer and analyst from Kansas City. 



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What Liberals Think America Is Doing Right


America’s in trouble, we’re told.

Our politics is coarse and divided.  The media have been driven mad by the need to break scoops first, leading to clumsy and embarrassing errors.  Social media are turning us all into Narcissus, staring distractedly into digital pools, erasing our ability to think critically.  The world’s rising powers no longer fret over our might.

Doomsaying is prominent, but not all are saturnine.  Haley Britzky of Axios recently tried to lighten the country’s dark skies by listing “9 things America is getting right.”

“With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it’s important to remember that there is good news out there,” Britzky informs us.  Her list, while optimistic, is broad and largely uncontroversial: higher economic growth, healthier kids, cleaner air, more charitable giving, better medical technology.

One item sticks out.  “We’re becoming more tolerant,” Britzky notes, citing a rising acceptance, specifically among baby boomers, of the idea that two men or two women are capable of marrying each other.

Britzky includes “tolerance” without a hint of what the word means or why it’s good that more Americans are loosening their views on moral strictures.  That’s not surprising.  Tolerance has become a catch-all word that implies progress.  But consider the form this progress takes.  It is with increased tolerance that’s we’ve become more accepting of broken marriages, sexual deviancy, alternative lifestyles, and drug use among minors.

More tolerance in some areas has certainly been a positive thing.  The abolition of Jim Crow laws was a victory for both freedom and acceptance.  That we no longer maim homosexuals and other sexual minorities in the streets with impunity is also welcome progress.

But tolerance qua tolerance is not a universal good, despite its cheery connotations.  As with any virtue, there are moral limits to its application.

To better understand why, we must first understand the point of discussing the benefits of tolerance in society in the first place.  What good does tolerance fulfill?  How does it encourage behavior that benefits the collective as well as the individual?  Does tolerance ever interfere with the rights and liberties of a people?

These are deep questions that get to the heart of politics.  At stake in all political discourse is the kind of society we long to live in.  Since the time when Plato and Aristotle discussed the governing principles of society, the essence of politics has been the supreme value around which we organize.

That value fluctuates depending on the society.  For instance, the jihadists in the Islamic State designed their caliphate to usher in an apocalyptic struggle between holy soldiers and hordes of infidels.  For a more familiar example, the Amish eschew individualism and modern technology to strengthen their communal bonds.

America was founded on an enlightened view of human nature that attempted to reconcile liberty with the collective good.  While personal freedom was emphasized in the Bill of Rights’ proscriptions against government interference, the Constitution itself formed a public-minded body within the federal government.

Underlying this balance was a higher vision, one that pointed toward Providence.  The natural law tradition that influenced the Declaration of Independence was drawn from many sources, including the great theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas emphasized the necessity of submitting passion to reason and action to faith.  By aiming our deeds toward God, and thus the greater good, we exercise liberty as it is meant to be exercised.  “Freedom,” George Weigel writes, “is the means by which, exercising both our reason and our will, we act on the natural longing for truth, for goodness, and for happiness that is built into us as human beings.”

Freedom that diverges from the greater good is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.  That brings us back to tolerance.  In order for a value to be virtuous, it must comport with the dictates of reason, which, in turn, should be directed toward the divine.

Toleration is beneficial inasmuch as it bolsters our ability to live freely and righteously.  It is not a value by itself – it is bound by shared ethical standards.

To understand the bounds of tolerance, ask yourself the following questions.  Would it be OK to legalize pedophilia?  Should incest be allowed?  What about bestiality?

Only the most morally lax of liberals are undisturbed by such sexual practices.  But is not acceptance of practitioners of pedophilia, incest, and bestiality a form of tolerance?

It is, which is why our judgment should always be filtered through the strainer of reason.  In his 1931 essay “A Plea for Intolerance,” Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.  Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons.  Tolerance applies to the erring[,] intolerance to the error.”

Today’s leftists take the opposite approach.  On college campuses, it is people who aren’t tolerated, while nearly every belief that isn’t associated with conservatism is accepted.  This is a misunderstanding of tolerance.  It demonstrates a severe confusion over the spirit of the word.

Too often, tolerance is tied to a liberal belief to make it more palatable to the public.  That was the unfortunate case of its inclusion on the Axios list of the best American trends.  A rise in tolerance should not be blithely celebrated.  Rather, it should be scrutinized to see if its application meets a noble standard.  Otherwise we forfeit the gift of discernment given to us by our Creator and are left adrift in a sea of moral anarchy.

America’s in trouble, we’re told.

Our politics is coarse and divided.  The media have been driven mad by the need to break scoops first, leading to clumsy and embarrassing errors.  Social media are turning us all into Narcissus, staring distractedly into digital pools, erasing our ability to think critically.  The world’s rising powers no longer fret over our might.

Doomsaying is prominent, but not all are saturnine.  Haley Britzky of Axios recently tried to lighten the country’s dark skies by listing “9 things America is getting right.”

“With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it’s important to remember that there is good news out there,” Britzky informs us.  Her list, while optimistic, is broad and largely uncontroversial: higher economic growth, healthier kids, cleaner air, more charitable giving, better medical technology.

One item sticks out.  “We’re becoming more tolerant,” Britzky notes, citing a rising acceptance, specifically among baby boomers, of the idea that two men or two women are capable of marrying each other.

Britzky includes “tolerance” without a hint of what the word means or why it’s good that more Americans are loosening their views on moral strictures.  That’s not surprising.  Tolerance has become a catch-all word that implies progress.  But consider the form this progress takes.  It is with increased tolerance that’s we’ve become more accepting of broken marriages, sexual deviancy, alternative lifestyles, and drug use among minors.

More tolerance in some areas has certainly been a positive thing.  The abolition of Jim Crow laws was a victory for both freedom and acceptance.  That we no longer maim homosexuals and other sexual minorities in the streets with impunity is also welcome progress.

But tolerance qua tolerance is not a universal good, despite its cheery connotations.  As with any virtue, there are moral limits to its application.

To better understand why, we must first understand the point of discussing the benefits of tolerance in society in the first place.  What good does tolerance fulfill?  How does it encourage behavior that benefits the collective as well as the individual?  Does tolerance ever interfere with the rights and liberties of a people?

These are deep questions that get to the heart of politics.  At stake in all political discourse is the kind of society we long to live in.  Since the time when Plato and Aristotle discussed the governing principles of society, the essence of politics has been the supreme value around which we organize.

That value fluctuates depending on the society.  For instance, the jihadists in the Islamic State designed their caliphate to usher in an apocalyptic struggle between holy soldiers and hordes of infidels.  For a more familiar example, the Amish eschew individualism and modern technology to strengthen their communal bonds.

America was founded on an enlightened view of human nature that attempted to reconcile liberty with the collective good.  While personal freedom was emphasized in the Bill of Rights’ proscriptions against government interference, the Constitution itself formed a public-minded body within the federal government.

Underlying this balance was a higher vision, one that pointed toward Providence.  The natural law tradition that influenced the Declaration of Independence was drawn from many sources, including the great theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas emphasized the necessity of submitting passion to reason and action to faith.  By aiming our deeds toward God, and thus the greater good, we exercise liberty as it is meant to be exercised.  “Freedom,” George Weigel writes, “is the means by which, exercising both our reason and our will, we act on the natural longing for truth, for goodness, and for happiness that is built into us as human beings.”

Freedom that diverges from the greater good is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.  That brings us back to tolerance.  In order for a value to be virtuous, it must comport with the dictates of reason, which, in turn, should be directed toward the divine.

Toleration is beneficial inasmuch as it bolsters our ability to live freely and righteously.  It is not a value by itself – it is bound by shared ethical standards.

To understand the bounds of tolerance, ask yourself the following questions.  Would it be OK to legalize pedophilia?  Should incest be allowed?  What about bestiality?

Only the most morally lax of liberals are undisturbed by such sexual practices.  But is not acceptance of practitioners of pedophilia, incest, and bestiality a form of tolerance?

It is, which is why our judgment should always be filtered through the strainer of reason.  In his 1931 essay “A Plea for Intolerance,” Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.  Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons.  Tolerance applies to the erring[,] intolerance to the error.”

Today’s leftists take the opposite approach.  On college campuses, it is people who aren’t tolerated, while nearly every belief that isn’t associated with conservatism is accepted.  This is a misunderstanding of tolerance.  It demonstrates a severe confusion over the spirit of the word.

Too often, tolerance is tied to a liberal belief to make it more palatable to the public.  That was the unfortunate case of its inclusion on the Axios list of the best American trends.  A rise in tolerance should not be blithely celebrated.  Rather, it should be scrutinized to see if its application meets a noble standard.  Otherwise we forfeit the gift of discernment given to us by our Creator and are left adrift in a sea of moral anarchy.



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War with North Korea Is Inevitable


In 1969, I was a U.S. Army soldier on foot patrol on the banks of the Im Jin River, just a rifle shot from North Korea.  Although the war in Vietnam was raging at the time, getting all the headlines, there were Americans being killed along the supposedly demilitarized zone between the Koreas.  Despite the armistice, North Korea was, in fact, in an official state of war with the United States and remains so to this day.

Little has changed since, except for the worse.  We are on a collision course toward a major war, and nothing short of a miracle will avert it.

To understand why war is inevitable, we must look at recent history.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is recorded by many historians as a surprise attack, but a great many American leaders were not at all surprised.  The famous Army general Billy Mitchell was all but prophetic in his predictions of both where and how it would happen.  We can repeat his prognosis as it concerns North Korea.

The reasons for the Pearl Harbor attack are only partially understood, even by modern Japanese scholars.  Among the standard explanations are that Japan was emerging from medieval conditions onto the world stage without adequate natural resources to sustain a twentieth-century economy.   It needed to go outside its borders to obtain them.  Furthermore, having been an ally of Britain and the United States against the Germans in World War I, Japan felt disrespected in the 1920s and ’30s, when arms limitations treaties restricted its naval development.  Finally, American and European exploitation of Asia was resented by Japan, which felt it had more of a right to establish colonies in China and elsewhere in Asia than did non-Asians.

The final straw was the U.S. embargo on oil to Japan.  This was seen as an intolerable threat to Japan’s foreign ambitions, since American oil had fueled its invasion of China in the 1930s.  The only way for Japan to get oil after the embargo began was to expand its conquest of the Pacific region.  The U.S. Navy posed an obstacle to that conquest and therefore had to be sunk.  So Pearl Harbor was bombed, with the expectation that the U.S., having lost its naval power, would appease the Japanese much as the British and French had appeased Hitler.

That historical narrative has much to commend it, but it misses the most important point.  There is a much deeper reason why Japan embarked on war, and it is the same reason propelling North Korea toward making the same mistake.

From about 1930 onward, the Japanese government had become dominated by unspeakably brutal sociopaths, every bit as vicious in their methods as the Nazis who implemented the Holocaust. 

This fact is not a side issue; it is the main issue.  It cannot be over-emphasized.  Had the Japanese leaders had even a passing sense of compassion – not only for their subjugated populations, but even for their own citizens – they would have sought, and found, better ways to serve their own interests.  Instead, they committed atrocities so horrific that no depiction of them can reflect the agony and grief inflicted on millions of innocent men, women, and children.

It is the same with North Korea’s leaders.  They live lives of luxury at the expense of millions of their countrymen, vast numbers of whom have been starved to death by the Kim dynasty’s policies.  Kim Jong-un has one goal and one goal only: to preserve his power and perquisites, no matter the cost to anyone else.

Dictators must surround themselves with a ring of sociopathic murderers.  Only such people can be trusted to subject mass populations to hunger, disease, and lives of hopelessness.  Only such people can carry out the orders that imprison many thousands for the slightest hint of disloyalty and then torture them beyond description.

This inner circle will protect the “dear leader” so long as his ruthless rule benefits its members.  Kim knows that.  He knows that despite his best efforts to terrorize even those in his inner circle, they will turn against him the moment they perceive him to be too weak to preserve them in their positions.

Therefore, Kim has to bluster and bully the United States, and the threat he poses has to be real.  If the leaders fear they are about to lose their power, that threat must be carried out, regardless of the risks.  How else can they do that but to wield the threat of nuclear destruction against at least one major American city?  There is no other way.  The instant Kim is suspected (by his minions) of being willing to give up his nuclear weapons, his death warrant is signed.

Of all this, Kim is fully aware. 

Is peace possible?  Kim knows that the only way to truly make peace with South Korea and the United States is to do what they have done – to recognize basic human rights, including the right of people to change their governments at will, through a safe and orderly process of honest elections.

The Kim regime will never, under any conditions, do any such thing.  Those within it know that a liberated, just, and independent North Korea would try them for their crimes against humanity, convict them, and kill them.

As well they should.

In 1969, I was a U.S. Army soldier on foot patrol on the banks of the Im Jin River, just a rifle shot from North Korea.  Although the war in Vietnam was raging at the time, getting all the headlines, there were Americans being killed along the supposedly demilitarized zone between the Koreas.  Despite the armistice, North Korea was, in fact, in an official state of war with the United States and remains so to this day.

Little has changed since, except for the worse.  We are on a collision course toward a major war, and nothing short of a miracle will avert it.

To understand why war is inevitable, we must look at recent history.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is recorded by many historians as a surprise attack, but a great many American leaders were not at all surprised.  The famous Army general Billy Mitchell was all but prophetic in his predictions of both where and how it would happen.  We can repeat his prognosis as it concerns North Korea.

The reasons for the Pearl Harbor attack are only partially understood, even by modern Japanese scholars.  Among the standard explanations are that Japan was emerging from medieval conditions onto the world stage without adequate natural resources to sustain a twentieth-century economy.   It needed to go outside its borders to obtain them.  Furthermore, having been an ally of Britain and the United States against the Germans in World War I, Japan felt disrespected in the 1920s and ’30s, when arms limitations treaties restricted its naval development.  Finally, American and European exploitation of Asia was resented by Japan, which felt it had more of a right to establish colonies in China and elsewhere in Asia than did non-Asians.

The final straw was the U.S. embargo on oil to Japan.  This was seen as an intolerable threat to Japan’s foreign ambitions, since American oil had fueled its invasion of China in the 1930s.  The only way for Japan to get oil after the embargo began was to expand its conquest of the Pacific region.  The U.S. Navy posed an obstacle to that conquest and therefore had to be sunk.  So Pearl Harbor was bombed, with the expectation that the U.S., having lost its naval power, would appease the Japanese much as the British and French had appeased Hitler.

That historical narrative has much to commend it, but it misses the most important point.  There is a much deeper reason why Japan embarked on war, and it is the same reason propelling North Korea toward making the same mistake.

From about 1930 onward, the Japanese government had become dominated by unspeakably brutal sociopaths, every bit as vicious in their methods as the Nazis who implemented the Holocaust. 

This fact is not a side issue; it is the main issue.  It cannot be over-emphasized.  Had the Japanese leaders had even a passing sense of compassion – not only for their subjugated populations, but even for their own citizens – they would have sought, and found, better ways to serve their own interests.  Instead, they committed atrocities so horrific that no depiction of them can reflect the agony and grief inflicted on millions of innocent men, women, and children.

It is the same with North Korea’s leaders.  They live lives of luxury at the expense of millions of their countrymen, vast numbers of whom have been starved to death by the Kim dynasty’s policies.  Kim Jong-un has one goal and one goal only: to preserve his power and perquisites, no matter the cost to anyone else.

Dictators must surround themselves with a ring of sociopathic murderers.  Only such people can be trusted to subject mass populations to hunger, disease, and lives of hopelessness.  Only such people can carry out the orders that imprison many thousands for the slightest hint of disloyalty and then torture them beyond description.

This inner circle will protect the “dear leader” so long as his ruthless rule benefits its members.  Kim knows that.  He knows that despite his best efforts to terrorize even those in his inner circle, they will turn against him the moment they perceive him to be too weak to preserve them in their positions.

Therefore, Kim has to bluster and bully the United States, and the threat he poses has to be real.  If the leaders fear they are about to lose their power, that threat must be carried out, regardless of the risks.  How else can they do that but to wield the threat of nuclear destruction against at least one major American city?  There is no other way.  The instant Kim is suspected (by his minions) of being willing to give up his nuclear weapons, his death warrant is signed.

Of all this, Kim is fully aware. 

Is peace possible?  Kim knows that the only way to truly make peace with South Korea and the United States is to do what they have done – to recognize basic human rights, including the right of people to change their governments at will, through a safe and orderly process of honest elections.

The Kim regime will never, under any conditions, do any such thing.  Those within it know that a liberated, just, and independent North Korea would try them for their crimes against humanity, convict them, and kill them.

As well they should.



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Iran and Daesh Lite in North America


Recent mass demonstrations in Iran, and the government’s violent crackdown has been met with a deafening silence by Muslim “civil rights” organizations in the U.S. and Canada.  Why have they refrained from supporting the Iranian people’s uprising to overthrow the oppressive mullahs?  After all, the same organizations have vocally and financially supported the mass demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa that erupted in December 2010 and led to the rise of Egypt’s short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government and caused turmoil and destabilized these regions.

American and Canadian Muslim organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the U.S. and Canada, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the U.S. and Canada, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) (including its Canadian branch), share the similar agenda and boards and serve as umbrellas to many smaller associations and community-based groups.  Their charities aim to expand the implementation of their agenda, and a few of them have been identified as unindicted co-conspirator in Islamist terrorist financing trials in the U.S.  Their common mission: dedication to “da’wah” (proselytization), building “an Islamic way of life in North America[, and] commitment to Islam as a total way of life” by practicing sharia (Islamic law).  This desire to impose any version of Islam on society to establish global Islamic theocracy via political activism, has been accurately described by Prof. Clive Kessler as “political Islam” or “ISIS/Daesh lite.”

Political Islam has been successfully enforced by the mullahs in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.  Over the years, they have increased their efforts to enforce and spread political Islam everywhere.  Their efforts did not stop with Shite groups; rather, they extended especially to Sunni Muslim Brotherhood offshoots such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda.  Not surprisingly, the first foreign trip of Egypt’s now deposed Muslim Brother president, Mohammed Morsi, was to visit Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  But Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s short-lived government (June 2012-July 2013) has failed because the Egyptian people rejected its oppression early on.

The ousting of the M.B. government was followed with banning its activities in Egypt and later in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria.  But by then, the global Brotherhood’s movement has been well entrenched in the West, where their activities are not limited and often encouraged.  The leaders of the Islamist movement have doubled their efforts to spread and whenever possible, to enforce political Islam on Muslims and infidels alike.

The el-Sisi government, which banned the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates, arrested many of their leaders and activists and seized documents, which identify many of their supporters everywhere, including in North America, where political Islam has been gathering force. 

Followers of the movement in Britain have been recently identified by the Egyptian authorities as funding terrorist attacks in Egypt and the Sinai.  A list of such funders was provided by the Egyptian government to law enforcement in England.  A similar list of North American M.B. activists and sympathizers and organizations that support them would help curb the expansion of political Islam in the U.S. and Canada.  Such information is especially needed because M.B.-affiliated groups in the U.S. and Canada, have recently turned opaque, deleting pertinent information from their websites.

Take for example ISNA North America and its Canadian branch.  The new executive director of ISNA Canada, Taha Ghayyur, has been active and listed as a board member in several U.S. and Canadian M.B.-affiliated groups who promote political Islam.  He has openly spoken about how to gradually implement Islamic law (sharia) in North America.

In an article originally published in English by the Young Muslims website and entitled “Understanding Punishment in Shariah,” Taha Ghayyur explained the rationale behind the harsh punishments in Islam (execution, stoning, cutting off thieves’ hands, etc.) and argued that the Islamic law (sharia) can be implemented in North America.  (Detailed information on Taha Ghayyur’s involvement with North American Muslim organizations is available here.)

The following are excerpts from Ghayyur’s article:

[If o]ne wonders if [sharia] can be practically implemented in our contemporary North American context[,] … [t]he principles of [sharia] are universal and are not bound by the limitations of time and culture.

Ghayyur argues:

It is certainly possible to apply [sharia] in the North American society only if three conditions are fulfilled:


· One, when an environment is developed, provisioned with preventative measures, that is conductive to a just and productive lifestyle, which is often not compatible with a consumer lifestyle.


· Two, if the [sharia] laws are implemented gradually, accompanied by continuous public education and training on the importance of justice, freedom, and one’s purpose on this [E]arth, the way it was revealed and practiced, as a strategy of pre-crime social reform, over a period of twenty-three years at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the first generation of Muslims.


· Three, if the punishments in the [sharia] are given their due place, only to be used as a last resort, and not to be practiced in isolation from the other major objectives of the [sharia].

He then clarifies why it is important to introduce these measures gradually:

If a comprehensive approach to [sharia] is not adopted then one may expect to witness horrific images of extremist, selective, and literal application of the Islamic text, the likes of which we have witnessed in recent times.

To prevent this from happening, Ghayyur recommends his version of Daesh lite.  Nonetheless, Ghayyur is recommended by Toronto’s District School Board as a speaker “willing to come to schools” to “create a healthy dialogue in order to build bridges between communities.”

ISNA’s Ghayyur is preaching for gradually enforcing sharia in North America and “commitment to Islam as a total way of life.”  This is not different from what the mullahs are imposing in Iran.  So it is not surprising that none of ISNA- and other M.B.-affiliated groups in North America has expressed support to the Iranians who wish to free themselves from the shackles of the mullahs’ version of Daesh lite.

Recent mass demonstrations in Iran, and the government’s violent crackdown has been met with a deafening silence by Muslim “civil rights” organizations in the U.S. and Canada.  Why have they refrained from supporting the Iranian people’s uprising to overthrow the oppressive mullahs?  After all, the same organizations have vocally and financially supported the mass demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa that erupted in December 2010 and led to the rise of Egypt’s short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government and caused turmoil and destabilized these regions.

American and Canadian Muslim organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the U.S. and Canada, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the U.S. and Canada, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) (including its Canadian branch), share the similar agenda and boards and serve as umbrellas to many smaller associations and community-based groups.  Their charities aim to expand the implementation of their agenda, and a few of them have been identified as unindicted co-conspirator in Islamist terrorist financing trials in the U.S.  Their common mission: dedication to “da’wah” (proselytization), building “an Islamic way of life in North America[, and] commitment to Islam as a total way of life” by practicing sharia (Islamic law).  This desire to impose any version of Islam on society to establish global Islamic theocracy via political activism, has been accurately described by Prof. Clive Kessler as “political Islam” or “ISIS/Daesh lite.”

Political Islam has been successfully enforced by the mullahs in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.  Over the years, they have increased their efforts to enforce and spread political Islam everywhere.  Their efforts did not stop with Shite groups; rather, they extended especially to Sunni Muslim Brotherhood offshoots such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda.  Not surprisingly, the first foreign trip of Egypt’s now deposed Muslim Brother president, Mohammed Morsi, was to visit Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  But Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s short-lived government (June 2012-July 2013) has failed because the Egyptian people rejected its oppression early on.

The ousting of the M.B. government was followed with banning its activities in Egypt and later in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria.  But by then, the global Brotherhood’s movement has been well entrenched in the West, where their activities are not limited and often encouraged.  The leaders of the Islamist movement have doubled their efforts to spread and whenever possible, to enforce political Islam on Muslims and infidels alike.

The el-Sisi government, which banned the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates, arrested many of their leaders and activists and seized documents, which identify many of their supporters everywhere, including in North America, where political Islam has been gathering force. 

Followers of the movement in Britain have been recently identified by the Egyptian authorities as funding terrorist attacks in Egypt and the Sinai.  A list of such funders was provided by the Egyptian government to law enforcement in England.  A similar list of North American M.B. activists and sympathizers and organizations that support them would help curb the expansion of political Islam in the U.S. and Canada.  Such information is especially needed because M.B.-affiliated groups in the U.S. and Canada, have recently turned opaque, deleting pertinent information from their websites.

Take for example ISNA North America and its Canadian branch.  The new executive director of ISNA Canada, Taha Ghayyur, has been active and listed as a board member in several U.S. and Canadian M.B.-affiliated groups who promote political Islam.  He has openly spoken about how to gradually implement Islamic law (sharia) in North America.

In an article originally published in English by the Young Muslims website and entitled “Understanding Punishment in Shariah,” Taha Ghayyur explained the rationale behind the harsh punishments in Islam (execution, stoning, cutting off thieves’ hands, etc.) and argued that the Islamic law (sharia) can be implemented in North America.  (Detailed information on Taha Ghayyur’s involvement with North American Muslim organizations is available here.)

The following are excerpts from Ghayyur’s article:

[If o]ne wonders if [sharia] can be practically implemented in our contemporary North American context[,] … [t]he principles of [sharia] are universal and are not bound by the limitations of time and culture.

Ghayyur argues:

It is certainly possible to apply [sharia] in the North American society only if three conditions are fulfilled:


· One, when an environment is developed, provisioned with preventative measures, that is conductive to a just and productive lifestyle, which is often not compatible with a consumer lifestyle.


· Two, if the [sharia] laws are implemented gradually, accompanied by continuous public education and training on the importance of justice, freedom, and one’s purpose on this [E]arth, the way it was revealed and practiced, as a strategy of pre-crime social reform, over a period of twenty-three years at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the first generation of Muslims.


· Three, if the punishments in the [sharia] are given their due place, only to be used as a last resort, and not to be practiced in isolation from the other major objectives of the [sharia].

He then clarifies why it is important to introduce these measures gradually:

If a comprehensive approach to [sharia] is not adopted then one may expect to witness horrific images of extremist, selective, and literal application of the Islamic text, the likes of which we have witnessed in recent times.

To prevent this from happening, Ghayyur recommends his version of Daesh lite.  Nonetheless, Ghayyur is recommended by Toronto’s District School Board as a speaker “willing to come to schools” to “create a healthy dialogue in order to build bridges between communities.”

ISNA’s Ghayyur is preaching for gradually enforcing sharia in North America and “commitment to Islam as a total way of life.”  This is not different from what the mullahs are imposing in Iran.  So it is not surprising that none of ISNA- and other M.B.-affiliated groups in North America has expressed support to the Iranians who wish to free themselves from the shackles of the mullahs’ version of Daesh lite.



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