US Policy Helping Iran Regime

Over the last several months, peoples in several Middle Eastern countries have taken to the streets in protest of oppressive governments — reflecting a profound desire for reform and an end to corruption. Many politicians in Washington have hailed these protests and openly encouraged government leaders in the countries affected to take meaningful steps to transition to democratic rule. Except for Iran.

When the Iranian people rose up in June 2009 and began a wide and continuing protest against the Ahmadinejad administration and its religious leaders, all we heard from Washington was a modest degree of lip-service. Meanwhile, scores of Iranian youths wearing green, the color of the opposition, were killed, tortured, or imprisoned.

Iran remains the elephant in the room in terms of U.S. foreign policy. While sanctions have been placed on the country and other punitive diplomatic initiatives imposed, there has been no serious focus on or support for the Achilles Heel of the regime …

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Mission Creep at TSA Accelerates

The latest scare tactic employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is that al Qaeda operatives (and by implication, others) are considering implanting bombs surgically into the bodies of suicide bombers and sending them off on commercial air carriers. This scenario — similar to a scheme in the 2001 movie Stiletto Dance — while far-fetched, may indeed be under consideration by one or more terrorists somewhere in the world. Who knows what bizarre schemes and hypotheticals terrorists and wannabees talk about sitting around the dinner table?

The problem is, whenever some new terrorist plot falls into TSA’s in-basket – no matter how far-fetched or hare-brained – it quickly becomes the basis for new and more intrusive techniques to which the agency subjects the flying public. That this then leads to calls for enhanced budgets for TSA is axiomatic.

The timing of TSA’s release of this latest “plot” is suspect, considering the recent and substantial …

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US Lost “Space Race” Long Ago

Last week’s launch of the Atlantis Space Shuttle — the very last Space Shuttle mission — was described widely as the end of America’s leadership in manned space exploration. In fact, we lost the “space race” long ago — when as a nation we decided it was far more important to pay for cradle-to-grave social programs of all sorts, and to engage in multiple and costly military adventures around the world, than it was to focus seriously on manned space exploration.

The Shuttle Program itself, as the most visible aspect of America’s space program, was conceived in the 1970s based on that era’s technology, but which for years through its high visibilty and PR, masked the decline in America’s commitment to space exploration and the many medical, scientific, and technological benefits it produced. The tragic loss in 2003 of the Columbia Shuttle was a direct result of decisions to cobble together Shuttle missions based on outdated technology, rather than spend money to develop …

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Whitey Bulger Case Shows Law Enforcement Dark Side

Football coaching icon Vince Lombardi is credited with observing that in sports, “winning is the only thing.” In our legal system, on the other hand, winning is not everything – seeing that justice is done, is. Yet, as the still-unfolding “Whitey” Bulger case reveals, too often law enforcement and prosecutors adopt a winning-at-all-costs mentality; sometimes with tragic consequences for innocent people.

James “Whitey” Bulger is the Boston-raised gangster connected with the infamous “Winter Hill Gang,” and who had been on the lam for 16 years before being arrested recently in California. Bulger played both sides – serving also as an FBI informant, even as he bought off law enforcement to avoid prosecution for his myriad crimes, including 19 murders.

Ordinarily, the capture of a Top Ten suspect like Bulger would be cause for celebration. However, few if any current or former FBI agents connected with the investigation have been seen hoisting a celebratory …

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War Still Policy of Choice in Washington — Whatever the Cost

Congressional Republicans are engaged in a rare, internal debate over foreign policy. Prominent neoconservatives, including Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are chiding some in the party for what they describe as “isolationist” views. Of course, this label is dishonest; no one (at least in the Congress) wants to completely cut the United States off from the world.

But it is just as clear there is a pronounced and growing sentiment among Republicans that playing policeman to the world may be an unsustainable burden, especially at a time when we are experiencing a massive debt and budget crisis at home. And, with new, nonpartisan calculations of the costs of such an interventionist foreign policy now available, the questions are more timely and serious than ever. Whether the politicians in our nation’s Capitol will actually act on such sentiment, however, remains a question.

According to a new study from the Watson Institute at Brown University, the so-called …

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Strauss-Kahn prosecutor failed to do homework

The criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is growing weaker by the day. All indications now are that the Manhattan District Attorney, who almost gleefully announced the salacious sex charges against the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May, is preparing to drop all charges. As noted in this blog on May 30, 2011 many media pundits, including such well-known neo-cons as Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, were quick not only to declare Strauss-Kahn guilty, but by implication, all rich Frenchmen, especially those working for international organizations.

While I certainly will not hold my breath waiting for those who rashly decreed “DSK” guilty as charged, serious questions should be asked of DA Cyrus Vance, Jr.; whose office apparently was so anxious to pull Strauss-Kahn off an airplane set to take off for his native France, and very publicly send him off to Rikers Island to cool his heels for a few days, that they failed to conduct even the most basic …

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College Entrance Test Shown To Be Flawed

Education has always been considered an important factor in gauging a nation’s strength. Thomas Jefferson understood that an uneducated populace was doomed never to be free; and virtually every modern president proclaims “education” a top priority.

Determining how well a citizenry is in fact educated, however, always has been problematic. Standardized testing has long been employed as part of this evaluation.

However, in a rush to simplify the processes whereby colleges and universities judge the potential for success of their schools’ applicants, many educators rely on – and legislators in North Carolina recently mandated reliance on — the use of a standardized test now found to be significantly lacking in predictive capability.

The test in question is the ACT; which has been gaining in popularity among high school students as an alternative to the SAT.

A study released in May by the independent National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), casts serious doubt …

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Ethics And Georgia Politics – Like Oil and Water

Sure I stole, but I stole for you. – Former Ga. Gov. Gene Talmadge

Things haven’t changed much in the nearly eight decades since Gene Talmadge whipped up an audience declaring that if you steal for the right reason, it is okay.

Rarely in Georgia’s modern history has the notion of “ethics” overlapped with the practice of “government service.” And recent actions by the state of Georgia and the Atlanta Public Schools system, indicate ethical lapses by public officials at all levels of government in the Peach State continue to pose a systemic challenge to those who actually understand that serving the public carries with it a responsibility to act not only lawfully, but ethically as well.

At least two Georgia lawyers — former state Attorney General Mike Bowers and the current occupant of that office, Sam Olens – are fighting what must at times seem a lonely battle to enforce the quaint notion that ethics does play a role in public service. Bowers is leading …

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TSA Continues To Harass Tots and Seniors

What I want is men who will support me when I am in the wrong.

These words were uttered by a British Whig politician, William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, in the early 19th Century, reportedly in reply to a fellow politician offering to support him when he was in the right. The principle the words embody, however, might as well be emblazoned on the employment contract for each TSA (Transportation Security Administration) manager, especially those at the highest levels of this federal bureaucracy.

The latest example of TSA leadership supporting its personnel no matter how outrageous the conduct, can be seen in the agency’s response to an incident in which a wheelchair-bound, 95-year old woman was pressured to remove an adult diaper before TSA agents at Northwest Florida Regional Airport would permit her to board a flight to Michigan. When details of this most recent controversy involving overly intrusive TSA pat-downs surfaced, the agency quickly circled the wagons and declared …

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Freedom Rings – At Least In Some States

“Freedom” and “liberty” are common buzzwords in politics; uttered and heard with increasing frequency as each off-year and presidential election approaches. Every candidate – no matter the office being sought — supports “freedom” and “liberty”; and none would ever admit to acts that might diminish either one.

Unfortunately, a cold, hard analysis of the degree of freedom actually enjoyed by American citizens belies this highfalutin rhetoric. Americans are far less free than government officials admit; and citizens of many states are considerably less free than their compatriots elsewhere.

This is the situation revealed starkly in the latest study, Freedom in the 50 States, just released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. As explained by authors William Ruger and Jason Sorens, its purpose is to examine “state and local government intervention across a wide range of public policies, from income taxation to gun control, from …

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