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Friday, January 9th, 2015





The Crisis in France, Europe and Here at Home

This is a two pronged war, one prong of which is steadfastly aimed at destroying secular liberal civilization. The second prong has spawned a deadly, multifocal war within the precincts and outposts of Islam. Clearly there are decent, well-meaning elements within Islam, until now smothered, intimidated, covert and confused. The blatant French attacks on the Western free press (and its most potent weapon, satire) have finally forced a few temperate Muslim voices to emerge from the background noise and protective shadows.  They are beginning to speak out.

This is just the beginning. 


The internal contradictions of postmodern liberalism are exposed, just as the fragile strands of a civil Islam, one capable of productively coexisting with modern Western life are being tested.

This situation is unstable, meaning it could go either way.


Postmodern liberalism has embraced tolerance as if it were a foundational moral value. But the reality of the matter is deeply different: Tolerance is a virtue practiced by individuals and societies that are held together by a well ordered and vital moral understanding that contains some tough boundaries between the permissible and the impermissible, the good and the reprehensible, the deeply honored and the evil.


When tolerance is allowed to slip out of its moral foundations, it becomes an agent of social suicide.


France may be waking up.

But we Americans need to take our situational understanding to a heightened level of alertness and depth. The few, timid Muslim voices that are tentatively seeking to form a moderate front in the intra-Islamic part of this war would not have emerged without our own country’s relentless retaliation on al Qaeda and its spawn.  These voices will fade and die unless we in the West continue to defend the vital boundaries on which a modern free society is based, including especially our hallowed traditions a free press (print and electronic). A truly free press is uniquely sacrosanct in just one major world power – The USA.

Required reading: a major new article by a Christian scholar who spent years living in a Muslim cultural environment.  It has been released by the respected American journal, FIRST THINGS. It is “Challenging Radical Islam, An Explanation of Islam’s Relation to Terrorism and Violence”, by John Azumah. Go to –


The author is informed, sympathetic to the decent, law abiding Muslims, and he pulls no punches when discussing Muslim and American leadership. He reminds us that this war is, at its very core, a moral struggle. This thoughtful and balanced piece is well worth your time to copy, read and reread.  Here are a few key quotes:

“Since the oil boom of the 1970s and ’80s, ­Saudi Arabia, whose official creed is Wahhabi Islam, has exported Wahhabism to parts of Africa, Asia, and the West through scholarships and the funding of radical mosques, preachers, and groups. Al-Qaeda is a direct spinoff of Wahhabi Islam, and IS an outgrowth from al-Qaeda, while the origins of Boko Haram lie in a network of Wahhabi-Salafi groups in Nigeria. This religious context provides the framework for justifying violence. Jihadists quote from Islamic scripture, prophetic traditions, and legal opinions to support their claims and activities. Jihad against non-Muslims and the ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or be killed are in fact based on Islamic law. The same is true of the tactic of capturing women and children as war booty and keeping or disposing of them as slaves. Islam also promises rewards and pleasures awaiting the martyr. It is therefore simplistic if not misleading to argue that groups like IS and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam.”

“…as is the case in Christian just-war theory, in which the power to declare war is carefully limited to governments, in Islamic law only legitimate Islamic governments can declare a jihad, not individuals or nonstate actors. An exception is made when a Muslim land comes under attack or occupation by an enemy force, which renders jihad or resistance an individual responsibility. But even then, jihad has to have been formally declared by the legitimate authority properly representing the people of the occupied nation. By declaring and conducting jihad on their own, al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, and other such groups act as heretical usurpers.”

“Given the clear consensus of the Islamic tradition, it is no surprise that Muslim leaders around the world have repeatedly and publicly denounced al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram.”

While these public renunciations and fatwas may have little impact on the leadership of jihadi groups, they play a significant role in delegitimizing jihadi ideology and thereby undermining its appeal to young Muslims.”

“Undoubtedly the disorientation caused by modernity and postmodernity is key. Economic development and an increasingly global commerce in movies, TV, and other forms of popular culture weaken traditional Islamic institutions and disturb and disorient many Muslims. It is in this context that heretical groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State flourish. They’re part zealot, part thug, part political entrepreneur, in societies undergoing profound social transformations.

“What, then, are we to say about Islam and terrorism? There is no question that the jihadists quote mainstream Islamic texts to justify their actions. But bear in mind that, in itself, quoting Islamic texts does not necessarily make one’s views and actions Islamic. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda quotes the Bible, as did the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, the People’s Temple of Jim Jones, and many other eccentric Christian cults. That does not make their views and ­actions Christian.”

While jihadi groups are heretical in their claim that they have the authority to interpret and impose these laws, the existence of the teaching alone is an invitation to rebellion and extremism. In other words, while it is neither true nor fair to argue that Islam is the problem, there is no doubt that Islam has a problem. When Jesus said that we will be able to discern the faithfulness of his followers by their fruits, he was speaking a common truth. And so, is it not time for Islamic scholars and leaders to reexamine the doctrines that are so easily abused by extremists? Isn’t the orgy of blood we are witnessing today a clear sign of the need for important and thoroughgoing reforms?”

“…A wind is blowing in the house of Islam, and a battle for the soul of Islam is earnestly underway. ­Disillusioned young Iranians are leaving Islam in droves and giving up on religion altogether. Other ordinary Muslims are turning away from Islam to other religions, including Christianity. We see also in Islam a growing progressive trend toward a critical rereading of Islamic texts and history. These are signs that a serious introspection is taking place across the Muslim world.”


We are not just spectators. An American withdrawal or premature holiday from the war declared by radical Islam against modernity and the Western freedom traditions will surely snatch the defeat of our sworn enemies from the jaws of victory.

To go forward, we, the French and the other ambivalent European cultures need to reestablish the moral foundations of modern civilization.

Years ago, the Jewish writer Dennis Prager asked us, “Can Believers Defeat Unbelievers?” (See my 2003 article “Secular Steel” and its reference to Dr. Prager’s trenchant piece at this link –

That, my fellow Americans, is the question of the moment.


Jay B Gaskill 1-9-2015

Copyright © 2015 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at law

A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at







Friday, December 5th, 2014



The president is counting on an ineffectual congress.


A new tool is urgently needed to restrain the illegal and/or unconstitutional exercise of power by the president.  Beyond the major policies at issue, the very relevancy of the legislative branch is at stake.  This article outlines a new legal weapon (more properly a shield) that will actually work.  At the moment, congressional leadership seems caught between ineffective grand gestures and a politically perilous strategy of relying exclusively on the power of the purse. In this proposal, the Congress would enact a streamlined response path for the Federal Court of Appeals to invalidate specific Executive Orders (or directives tantamount to Executive Orders) that violate federal law, the Constitution, or both.


Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

December 4, 2014


The full article needs to be read by all key House and Senate leaders.


Here are the links:






Tuesday, November 18th, 2014





Without the large scale military intervention of the USA, as the one viable, large, stable Western democratic republic in the world capable of fielding a major military force, the Nazis and Fascists would probably have overrun Europe in World War II. Russia may have survived, but could not have crushed the Axis powers alone, nor escaped its own internal tyrants. The post-war consequences in this hypothetical universe would have been a fatal or nearly fatal blow to the survival of Western civilization. Without the USA, the march of Soviet and Chinese Communism could well have overwhelmed the West during the Cold War period.  And in this scenario, too, the forces of darkness would have made the wreckage of institutionalized freedom a settled and widespread fact of existence.


A compelling case can be made that, without the USA, Western Civilization itself would now be dying or a dead.


Naturally, many voices are heard disputing this evaluation – and expressing postwar resentment of the USA.  These voices are either disingenuous or coming from deluded fools.


The very existence of the USA as a robust, viable fresh start, as the new model of Western civilization over there in in “the New World”, was an unprecedented historical development. The success of the American model has profoundly changed the history of Europe and Eurasia.  In my opinion, the viability of the American experiment is the chief reason to be optimistic about the future of modern, liberal civilization, itself.




We are living in a post-Darwinian phase of evolution of the human condition, one in which natural selection was trumped and greatly accelerated by conscious selection. This is the meta-context that frames the ongoing war between competing models of civilization. The long-term survival prize will go to those civilizations (or nodes of civilization) that can effectively optimize their own survival, endurance and the efflorescence of creativity.  These are the civilizations that honor creativity and creative freedom; that respect the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of their members (a formula that includes freedom to engage in creative activity) by actually building and maintaining institutions that work for their protection.


The American version of civilization has been almost uniquely creative-innovative.  It is no accident that the tyrannies of the 21st century were almost uniquely anti-creative.  It  is telling that the latest challenge to modern civilization, symbolized by ISIS but much more widely geographically distributed, is built on atavistic ideas and prejudices that are, at core, fundamentally anti-creative in nature.


When you examine the geographical and political distribution of creativity, great, transformative inventions, wonderful new forms and creative iterations of culture, art and music, they can be plotted like islands of light on a dark background.  They do not light up the places where tyrannies and repressive bureaucracies or repressive religious ideologies hold sway. They light up North America, parts of Europe, little Israel and they make islands of light everywhere in the world that repressive authoritarian power is held at bay. The areas of the world controlled by repressive Islamic fundamentalism are dark; they are places where the efflorescence of a more secular and tolerant Islamic civilization that flourished long ago[1] are forgotten.


Tyrannies of all kind seek to control human creativity and bend it to serve a single master, but creative freedom is the very soul and essence of creativity. It is no accident that among the very earliest asylum-seekers from such repressive regimes are the creative ones in the arts and even in the sciences.  Many bright minds were seduced at the beginning of each tyranny, but eventually, all are disillusioned.


What would the world be like if there were no free country like the USA, Israel, England and the other enclaves of comparative liberty?  What if there were no refuge destinations?  It would be a truly malignant Dark Age.


We Americans did not choose to be exceptional.  Circumstances chose us.


Yet, even we are fully capable of jettisoning our heritage, betraying our promise and succumbing to the dark side, as some of our European friends have already done – a few of them more than once.  We are swimming in a sea filled with toxic ideologies masquerading as moral crusades.[2] The dead hand of bureaucracy rests heavily, even here, on the creative spirit.


For a host of reasons, philosophical, historical and situational, the USA is the last best hope of Western civilization. The USA is virtually the only creative-adaptive model of modern civilization that still has the capacity to defend itself and, in selected instances, to defend key elements of modern civilization that are at threat elsewhere.


This is the context that chose America.


Creative civilizations are characterized by adaptive creativity and the resolve to defend their members against all predators, internal and external, natural or biological, human or inhuman. Nothing less than secure self-confidence at the level of the most fundamental values is required for the world’s handful of creative civilizations to fruitfully co-exist with the rest of humanity. That confidence is the cultural firewall against the atavistic undertow. Cultural relativism and the promotion of unearned guilt by those who live in such civilizations are breaches in that firewall.


Even a mighty creative-adaptive civilization can fail. The mere capacity to defend its own civilization and that of its friends, without the will to use it amounts to an open invitation to predators. The passive, “soft power” defense of civilization is a dangerous and short-lived exercise in suicidal risk-taking. Thus, we have arrived at one of those historical hinge points.  This is not a healthy era. I am reminded of lines from the prophetic poem of William Butler Yeats-


“The Second Coming”


Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.


— William Butler Yeats



Things are falling apart, once again.  The stage is set, once again.  The monsters are loose, once again.  If we choose not to act, how long do we have to huddle in denial and fear before the beast is at our very doorstep? The urge to sleep while under threat is deeply rooted and deeply dangerous.  The attacks of 9-11-01 were a temporarily awakening, but the enemies of creative civilization do not sleep.




Gaskill on – The American Creative Surge –


Podhoretz on – WORLD WAR IV –

…and in book form –

[1] The Islamic Golden Age 786-1258, by all accounts, was religiously tolerant, incorporating Christian and Jewish cultural and scientific contributions. Twenty first century radical Islam is an entirely different creature.

IT’S EBOLA & the ISIS Headhunters With Our Teaching Moment

Friday, October 31st, 2014



IT’S just EBOLA & the ISIS Headhunters

As revised 11-1-14


Analysis by Jay B Gaskill

                       Also posted at –



For a host of reasons, philosophical, historical and situational, the USA is the last best hope of Western civilization. The USA is virtually the only creative-adaptive model of modern civilization that still has the capacity to defend itself and, in selected instances, to defend key elements of modern civilization that are at threat elsewhere.  But capacity without the will to act, especially in the defense of civilization, is a short-lived exercise in suicidal risk-taking.

At no time in the last 80 years (i.e., since the decade before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 has our nation) our nation seemed as much like a toy tiger as it does now.  But this analysis goes far beyond mere military preparedness.  We are disabled and disarmed at several levels, including the moral, biological psychological, and strategic. Nature always provides teaching moments to those willing to recognize them. The tragedy is that we have so far ignored our teaching moments.

The Islamist fanatics have been seeking a nation to control and convert, creating a new force in world affairs, an “Islamostan,” a radically fundamentalist Islamic state endowed with superpower status by virtue of its control of deliverable nuclear weapons. This goal was evident to many analysts back during the second Clinton term, when the first World Trade Center attack was made, the USS Cole was bombed, and other attacks took place around same time, all against Western targets, all driven by the same fundamentalist, suicidal Islamic ideology. The 9-11-01 attacks on major US targets were part of the same attack pattern, and resulted in a temporary awakening among members of the US security establishment. Flash forward to the sudden appearance of ISIS in Iraq and nearby territories, well-funded, well organized, totally brutal and explicitly devoted the end of western civilization. If you trace the logistics and the money, you discover Iran.  If we follow Iran, we find an atomic bomb program on the verge of the point of no return.  And why should Fortress America worry?

Iran has almost enriched enough uranium to make several atomic bombs.  All it will take is a comparatively short run with its centrifuges, and possibly within a few months – far less than a year – they will be able to announce, “We have the bomb!” and thereafter no Western power will dare take them on directly.  The radical regime controlling Iran already has long range (not yet intercontinental) missiles. The ‘hands-off, we already have the bomb” moment will buy them all the time they need to build an arsenal. Iran is supporting ISIS. Connect the dots/

Now, this is what you probably do not know:


New climate modeling estimates, reworking the “nuclear winter” scenarios of the 1960’s, now raise the dire prospect that a much smaller nuclear exchange will have equally catastrophic world consequences.  These chilling research findings, using more powerful computers than were available in the 1960s, jointly released by Alan Robock[1], professor of climatology at Rutgers University and associate director of the school’s center for environmental Prediction, and Owen Brian Toon[2], chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics there.

Even a small regional nuclear bomb outbreak can “cripple global agriculture” with “the effects [that] would last for at least 10 years” dramatically reducing food supplies and producing mass starvation directly affecting “around one billion people” and indirectly affecting all the rest.[3]

This was never just about Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other single theater of armed conflict and unrest in the region or the world.  It was and is about restraining and eventually disarming a 12th century, fundamentalist jihad that is seeking to use 21st century weapons and the platform of a superpower Islamist state or coalition.  This vision potentially unites the Muslim nations of the Middle East in one glorious purpose: to use war to cancel the unjust sense of inferiority visited on them by the decadent modern societies that have out-produced and outperformed them on almost every measurable level.  Even the Saudi royal family recognizes ISIS as a dangerous apostasy and Iran as a mortal enemy to be stopped.

I have compared this entire situation with a Star Trek episode wherein the Enterprise sent a crew down to study a primitive culture.  When some of the loosely primitive aliens wrapped got their hands on a modern weapon, Captain James Kirk made short work of problem.  No Phasers left behind. Flash to the present day: We modern earthlings still live in a world inhabited by some tribes with 12th century minds, neighbors who are acquiring 21st century weapons. The cultural and civilization gap is approximately the same as that between the enterprise crew and the aliens, yet we dither.  Yes, we dither while not being able to say, “Beam us up, Scotty!” No, we are stuck on the same planet with these dangerously suicidal fools.



Ebola, a kind of viral hemorrhagic fever, is now an ugly, quite deadly pandemic that has killed thousands by sweeping through Western Africa; and it now has found its way through the porous borders of Europe and the USA. Complacent US officials began by asserting that we will never be in any real danger because, after all, we are not a third world country.  But pandemics expand exponentially; and even a first world country’s medical system like ours lacks the capacity to isolate and treat more than a few thousand infected patients all at once.  Here is the elephant in the room: Even a “small” epidemic of Ebola inside the USA would wreak havoc by crippling transportation and overwhelming the US medical system for all the “lower priorities” – i.e., almost everything else that requires a hospital setting.

All viruses mutate. Typically they start in an animal population before they find their way into a human one.  For a time they propagate in small human populations but eventually break out. Without proactive containment any one of several pathogens can spread rapidly through any population, given the right conditions.

The easiest infections to contain – at least under modern conditions – are the bloodborne ones, such as Hepatitis A, B & C, West Nile and AIDS.  Bloodborne viruses can be sexually transmitted by individuals who are not symptomatic. AIDS was – and is – no trivial threat.

The airborne pathogens are exceedingly difficult to contain.  The liquid and infected-blanket infection vectors for Ebola, smallpox and its epidemiological cousins represent more a containable threat than airborne contagion vectors do.  But infected bodily fluids can easily travel through the air[4].  An airborne variant of Ebola is just a mutation away.

The problem with deadly plagues that get out of the box is that the resulting chaos destroys or profoundly degrades civil society. The set of liberties and protective institutions that make a creative civilization like ours possible are more fragile than most people realize. Fear can dissolve any civil government into authoritarian tyranny in a matter of months.

Dangerous pandemics, like deadly Ebola virus, and virulent, atavistic ideologies, like the ISIS jihad, can always erupt outside the boundaries of advanced civilizations. But in the profoundly interconnected world of the early twenty first century, our boundaries are so porous that external threats swiftly mutate into grave internal problems.

The current American administration has been far less than vigilant, competent and effective in addressing these threats, stubbornly treating each large-scale threat pattern as a scattering of disparate, almost one-off events.

Now, not later, is the opportunity, the perfect time to inaugurate and deploy a national epidemic defense, infrastructure, including but not limited humane quarantine and isolation facilities, far, far better capacity to monitor and restrict potentially infectious travelers, including returnees, and so on. We need much more attention to all of the potential, invasive pathogens.  Recall the problem when a ship dumbs bilge in a new harbor, discharging invasive species?  The entire biosphere is much more rapidly being mixed than ever before.  Aboriginal peoples lost 85% of their populations when the germ-bearing Europeans arrived.  Given today’s stirred and re-stirred population, everyone is potentially an aboriginal target for new pathogens.

I am not being alarmist here.  So far, these are just teaching moments.  But think how close we are to a worst case scenario: A fully nuclear armed Jihadist state, inevitably with lead to an arms race.  Even a “small” regional nuclear exchange could trigger the loss of crops around the world for a year, causing the starvation of hundreds of millions. If history is any guide (and it is) that scenario will lead to war.  And war will lead to pestilence.

And we are not prepared.



History is knocking at our front door.

The Roman Empire fell from stage of history, having missed all of its potential teaching moments. Postmodern Western civilization refused to answer the door – seemingly bent on ignoring its teaching moments.

I assert that the next three years will be later identified by historians as the critical turning point when modern civilization began its collapseor averted it. Why worry about civilization, you ask?  …Because a smart fish needs to worry about having water to live in.

It is not too late to learn from these teaching moments.  Better quarantine protocols, detection and emergency transportation and treatment will require an infrastructure that we can still deploy. We will be thankful now, and for the inevitable next time.



With the use of sufficient, sustained force Iran can still be compelled to abandon its dangerous atomic-bomb ambitions. The feckless misuse of a meaningless “red line” warning by our president has essentially taken ordinary persuasion off the table. European style soft power did not work on Hitler.  It will not work now.

The clock is running. There are a number of workable military scenarios, all unpleasant.  

The following scenario is just for illustration. Shockingly brutal as it might seem to the “soft power” crowd, it is actually sufficient to the cause. It very likely will work. I leave it to the experts whether something less would also be sufficient.

The locations of Iran’s enrichment plants are now known. …As are the locations of most of Iran’s missiles.  Using heavy conventional weapons, these targets are repeatedly hit for thirty days.  After a pause, a blue line is announced: Cooperate in full measure with a permanent shutdown and cleanup of Iran’s atomic weapons program, starting with open inspections in 7 days, or Phase Two begins. A blue line in this case is one that cannot be avoided by silence or mere words.   Phase Two is the elimination of all of Iran’s oil refineries, its remaining air force and navy. In Phase Three, if necessary, we get serious.

If we take strong and sufficient action to avert an Islamist nuclear power, we will be criticized, even vilified, but the world will be a better place.

Iran is a beautiful country with an intelligent, beautiful population. So was Japan in the 1940’s.  No Eastern power came to Japan’s aid.  No Middle East power will intervene on Iran’s behalf. 

The cost in military resources and casualties will be far less if the US takes strong and sufficient action  within the next few months, than if we attempt to do “whatever it takes” after Iran has squirrelled away 20 kg of weapons grade uranium and / or plutonium.

Doing nothing effective at this critical juncture is tantamount to ignoring a burning fuse leading to an explosive chain reaction that can take down civilization itself.

Rome was a decadent bureaucratic state in which the capacity for creative, adaptive responses to serious challenges never took hold.  You might think that we in the USA – blessed as we are with an envied standard of living and a reputation for civil liberties, can weather any storm by hiding in Fortress America. Clinging to isolationism in the modern world is suicide, whether the threat is a rampant murderous ideology or a rampant deadly plague.

Sadly, it may well be us to us.  …Just us. Ideally, the USA should not have to act alone. But if we fail to effectively address such grave threats, no one else can pull it off in time.  And it will be all over but the weeping.

I would much rather cheer.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill

Please address comments, reprint permissions to the author at < >.


This is a license to my readers to forward links to this article and to use pull-quotes from it, with full attribution.


Jay B Gaskill

Alameda, CA


More about creative civilization and it challenges from JBG:





A compelling political thriller (2104 Central Avenue Publishing)

[3] “New analyses reveal that a conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas—only 0.4 percent of the world’s more than 25,000 warheads—would produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture.”

[4] I noted this recent New York Post article < > CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola …Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday. “If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC. Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.”




Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014


A Moral Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Also posted at –


John Adams, the composer, is an American genius. Among his truly remarkable achievements are the operas, Nixon in China (1977 and Doctor Atomic (2005). His orchestral works include The Transmigration of Souls (2002), commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as a memorial to the 9-11-2001 attacks on the USA. That work received the Pulitzer Prize.

His opera, Death of Klinghoffer (1991), was picketed in New York recently, in a revival performance at the Met. The problem was not with Adams’ music but with the libretto. In key passages singers emphasize with the Palestinian cause, and romanticize the murderers of the wheelchair-bound Jew, Dr. Klinghoffer.

The protesters’ charges are not unreasonable, although other works – thinking of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, have been given a pass.

I choose not to go farther with the libretto, except to say that the Met chose the worst possible time for this performance. The opera struck a particularly offensive note in the context of the recent eruptions of rampant anti-Semitism in Europe, and even here in the USA.



Old fashioned liberalism had a strong moral compass rooted in traditional American values. Harry Truman, who was the first to support Israel at its inception, is a perfect example of a morally-centered old fashioned liberal.

Our culture’s problem is postmodern liberalism. The litmus test is the failure of the postmodern ethos to recognize of evil as a relevant, central moral category.  Hitler and bloodthirsty child killers, mass murderers and those ruthless jihadists who single out infidels for beheading, belong to a special category of evil, one not amenable to medical treatment, one not worth an ounce of our precious empathy – and, yes, empathy is a limited resource.

I have written several important essays on evil, among them  (  and and  ).

My fiction writing (see the thriller, Gabriel’s Stand*) is rooted in a moral system that recognizes the existential and moral danger of evil (narrowly defined, but terrible to behold) and the concomitant moral duty of all civilized persons to resolutely oppose.

Dr. Klinghoffer’s murder (and any murder is more than a death) was the outcome of an evil force, perhaps less well understood and recognized in 1991 than now), but true evil nonetheless.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

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My readers have a license to forward links to this article, publish excerpts, all with full attribution.

* Gabriel’s Stand is a compelling and entertaining thriller for intelligent readers. More at

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Monday, October 6th, 2014

As posted on The Policy Think Site –


Opinion by Jay B Gaskill


Most of us by now have read the account of a decent man, a good Samaritan who helped carry a sick pregnant woman to an African hospital, became infected with her Ebola, then traveled from Liberia to the USA, and in that trip he has potentially exposed hundreds of people to the deadly virus.  Now he lies in a quarantined section of a Dallas hospital, in critical condition, close to death.

Texas authorities are reportedly mulling over the question whether to prosecute him.

At the same time, the trained medical personnel who examined this man and then sent him home; and the travel authorities who may or may not have been culpably careless; and the federal authorities who have yet to address the travel issues that a potential pandemic presents – all these players seemingly get a pass from accountability.

When the horse has left the barn, it is time to see to the other horses.  Recriminations can wait.

Deadly disasters have a way of illuminating the dull, the slow and the careless for all to see.  Think of a battery of searchlights suddenly lighting up to reveal railroad tracks filled with cavorting children, just as the charging locomotive has already wreaked deadly havoc a quarter mile away.

Former Vice President Cheney caught a lot of flak for being too vigilant about threats to our security. In his famous 1% doctrine, he was quoted as follows: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

Let me restate the 1% doctrine in terms of the grave health threat posed by the Ebola virus:  If there is a one percent chance that someone or some set of circumstances will constitute a contagious vector for spreading Ebola  to the USA – or otherwise mutate it from epidemic to a pandemic, then we must treat that chance as if it were 50%.

Allow me to hazard two predictions:

[A] Ebola will prove to be more contagious than we have been led to expect.

[B] Commercial travel bans to and from Ebola hotbed destinations will only belatedly be imposed, if at all, with the result first world medical establishments, even in the USA, will overwhelmed. 

I do NOT want to be right.

But the battery of searchlights shining on the American health care establishment has exposed a fragile system, slowed and dumbed down by embedded bureaucratic institutions, suffering from inadequate training at the intake level, and all too often characterized by a complacent mindset. This is a system (exceptions noted) that is ill-adapted to curb an epidemic like the one that now looms. On the whole, it is a still-broken  system whose front-line representatives are too accustomed to delays and far too burdened by common, but non-fatal health issues.

We often use the term, Rude Awakening.  This time, I fear it is to be a Brutal Awakening.




The Ebola crisis is a grave threat with implications for public policy that can’t be ignored.  The chilling political thriller by the author (Jay B Gaskill’s Gabriel’s Stand ) is an all too plausible exercise in speculative fiction that has suddenly become  disturbingly relevant to the issues surrounding  Ebola threat.  Readers are praising it as a satisfying a page turner, but also as an object lesson.

Gabriel’s Stand is now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback; and as an e-book for Kindle, Nook and i-Pad.




Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Also posted on The Policy Think Site –



A Note of Concern for our President and the Country

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

The inevitable meltdown of a narcissistic personality is a terrible thing to behold. The term inevitable is appropriate because the world never quite conforms to the aggrandized fantasies of the true narcissist.


For the confirmed narcissists among us, such moments of truth are too difficult to bear. The classic narcissistic personality typically insists that the world must be wrong, and reacts unpredictably when the world pierces his or her illusions.  Such confrontations with reality are particularly dangerous if a narcissist occupies a key position of power and responsibility.  The responses to such unpleasant realities (they can manifest singly, serially or in combination) include these five:

  1. Blame your subordinates.
  2. Double down on your mistakes.
  3. Retreat from the world by avoiding decisions, seeking distractions,  hiding in the trappings of success, protected by a circle of approving acolytes.
  4. Indulge in paranoia.
  5. Escape through high risk (even passively suicidal) behavior.

This is no armchair diagnosis, but I am far from the first observer to call attention to the  narcissist elements in our president’s personality.  This president was at his happiest appearing before uncritically adoring crowds.  Those moments are gone.  Now the president seems happiest on the golf course or flying aboard Air Force One, surrounded by the trappings of power at least 40,000 feet away from his nearest critics.

I worry that only a conformed narcissist, caught up in the attractive delusion that no one would seek to harm “such a beloved leader as myself”, would tolerate lax security at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In such a situation, security personnel would be conflicted. Trying at the same time to please and protect a classic narcissist is an impossible task.

The cure for narcissism is character. Unfortunately, character is acquired over time; and cannot be quickly acquired.

There is no character app.



Narcissists sometimes dream of posthumous vindication, of the grieving multitudes suddenly sorry that they ever doubted the wisdom and greatness of the wonderful person they have just lost.  “How could we have ever doubted his leadership?”

In this self-indulgent dream, everyone rallies around the cause of the fallen hero, who looms larger in demise than ever in life.

That POTUS might, consciously or unconsciously , indulge in this dream is my personal nightmare.

I fervently pray that I am wrong.  But I have been disturbed by the thought that someone with a narcissistic personality caught in a large scale failure mode might secretly entertain some  version of that dark dream.

The recent security laxness at the White house was a tell.

Fortunately, this president does not seem to exhibit Nixonian paranoia. Mr. Obama’s attachment to his family is a heathy sign.  But his seeming laxness about his personal security (and of our national security for that matter) is unacceptable.

My concern goes well beyond party politics.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill [Permission to forward, or to use pull quotes with full attribution, is granted. For everything else, contact the author via email

The Ebola crisis is a grave threat.  What would happen if modern medical defenses were curtailed? See the timely and chilling political thriller by Jay B Gaskill, Gabriel’s Stand – a page turner, now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback; also as an e-book for Kindle, Nook and i-Pad.  More… < >


Thursday, September 11th, 2014

My September 11, 2014 reflection

On August 19th or 20th of this year, Journalist James Foley (a Roman Catholic) was beheaded by an Islamist fanatic. Once again, the gory event -remember Daniel Pearl?- was released on video.  The same Islamist fanatics have recently beheaded other captives, even children. Suddenly, a number of commentators are reacting to this outrage as if it is something new. Think of it – a fanatic Islamist movement that seriously intends to set up an Islamist state.  Who would have thought?  …And a beheading? What were they thinking?

Go to – LATE TO THE PARTY at his link

Never give up.


Jay B Gaskill




Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

  From the Desk of Jay Gaskill

Author Page –



The Policy Think Site:




Without a moral foundation, the Enlightenment is a hard sell.

The institutions of modern Western civilization that protect liberty rest on a shaky edifice. To call the Enlightenment an edifice is a stretch these days – it is scarcely reflected in the typically dumbed-down, politically correct American curriculum. The Enlightenment, that grand vision of the 18th century that would dissolve tribalism and royalism in an ocean of equality, has been overtaken by postmodernism.

The Enlightenment[1] promised a new age of flourishing human freedom based on a respect for universal human dignity.  The blessings of liberty are fruits of an indivisible principle (embracing freedoms of property ownership as well as speech, religious practice as well as esthetic expression). But the principled support of liberty seems almost beyond our grasp. Why?

Postmodern means post-Enlightenment.

The blessings of ordered liberty in a civilized setting are always at risk because the natural tendency of most people is to yield to control or to seek to impose it; to fear independence and to retreat from responsibility. Too many of us, whatever our protestations to the contrary, are still captivated by the notion of our tribal identity. The Enlightenment only seemed to do away with tribal thinking, but postmodern ideas have opened the door to neo-tribalism (think of identity politics, the self determination of retrograde third world regimes, and so on).[2]

I believe that modern Western Civilization is at grave risk for a number of reasons, but the most prominent of these is the weakening of support for the Enlightenment ideals on which it was founded.

Modern western civilization emerged from its pre-modern medieval period in the mid 1700’s.  Twentieth century postmodernism opened the door to neo-tribalism and neo-paganism. Contrast the brutal, decadent, but self-confident ethos of ancient Roman civilization in its prime. Deep tradition, founded in myth and a pagan mindset, propelled a four century run of an ancient civilized order. The architectures of the Roman Imperium (both buildings and bureaucracies) still shape institutions in the West.

If the Enlightenment really is the wave of the future, this poses a question:

On what foundation does our Enlightenment now stand?

There were roughly three branches of the Enlightenment: the intolerant, secular French version (suggesting images of the bloodthirsty Robespierre & the guillotine); the English version (suggesting more images – a boisterous parliament paying respect to their King, in turn the King deferring to God); and the American individualist variant, represented by the Christian deism of Thomas Jefferson (evoking images of the inventor, diplomat Ben Franklin holding a kite in a lightning storm, the philosophical farmer, Thomas Jefferson, with his inventions).

All three versions of the Enlightenment were originally informed by an underlying moral understanding (I note Jefferson’s language in the Declaration of Independence – “We were endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights.”)  But by virtue of example and philosophical force, the American branch of the Enlightenment was a true world-changer.

America has altered world history more than any nation in the modern era. I recall images from Normandy, the acres of the white grave markers of the American soldiers who crossed the Atlantic in ships for the sole purpose of rescuing Europeans from their anti-enlightenment demons. One sees row and row of crosses, some holding the Star of David. They are American graves on French soil, a legacy of the colossal American sacrifice in WWII. Is it remotely plausible that European soldiers would have done the same for Americans? I try to imagine a world without the vigorously American version of the Enlightenment. Without our dedication to those ideals, we might not have taken on the task of defending Western civilization at all. Europe would almost certainly have succumbed to its pagan demons.

The American version of the Enlightenment is still a beacon to the world. The revolt in China’s Tiananmen Square (remember the tanks rolling toward a mockup of the American Statue of Liberty?) is among the prominent examples of the moral force of the American ideal.  But there are opponents of the American strain of the Enlightenment. They are gaining ascendance in postmodern America. Patriotism and religious conviction among urban Americans have declined. Have you noticed the shaky moral courage of the 21st century defenders of Western civilization? For them, everything of value rests lightly on the shifting sands of consensus, the collective conscience of the “decent” people, the moral intelligentsia. But our new intelligentsia – whatever their moral aspirations – are not morally confident.

Few members of the governing elites now believe in the existence of any secure moral foundations – outside of psychology, anthropology, cultural tradition and myth. Men and women are not willing to fight and die for a mere social construct stripped of any link to the transcendent.

The old religions have lost their grip in the developed West, particularly in Europe. The surviving modern and postmodern religions are weak and unreliable allies of the American branch of the Enlightenment at best. The moral influence of these religious communities has been dramatically weakened because their moral focus has shifted: the pursuit of rightness has given way to the pursuit of comfort; the call to resist evil has given way to conflict resolution. In this new age culture can we realistically imagine whole nations rising up to resist evil? Can we imagine them mobilizing to defend Western civilization?

As the Irish poet Yeats prophesized,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.


Surely some revelation is at hand…

Russia, China, the Jihad in the Middle East, their proxies and terrorist tools face down an ambivalent President, a toothless NATO and a fragmented Europe. I recall Yeast’ last lines in his Second Coming:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


..Just one rough beast?  How do we count them? The earliest human civilizations gathered to keep the wild beasts at bay.  The beasts of the 21st century have modern weapons and come cloaked in mendacious propaganda, masked by postmodern rhetoric. They are tolerated, even welcomed in the name of diversity. We are now witnessing the sorry spectacle of the mature, advanced civilizations, enthralled with the spirit of moral pluralism, allowing the rough beasts to move about the world at will. Great civilizations are unwilling to go to war even when their mortal enemies are pouring through the gates. But there is hope:

When the moral foundations are restored, the Enlightenment will prevail over the darkness, and:

Turning, the falcon suddenly hears the falconer. Things come together. The center holds.  Rampant anarchy is tamed and the blood-dimmed tide ebbs. Once again, the ceremony of innocence is celebrated.  The best have recovered their courage; and the worst are swallowed up by their own madness.

Hope still comes from America.


JBG: Saturday, August 2, 2014


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

For all permissions and comments, please contact the author via email as above.


Read more about the author’s latest project –  and his other published books – .

[1]  Some Enlightenment references include – INTERNET ARTICLES: , , , – BOOKS: A Revolution of the Mind by Jonathan Israel; The Society for Useful Knowledge by Jonathan Lyons; Revolutionary Characters by Gordon S Wood.




Wednesday, July 30th, 2014



Also posted –

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law


This is the condensed version. For the Full Monty, go to –


Israel is a sovereign country established with the blessing of the United Nations and the USA, as a refuge state for fleeing Jews.  European leaders recognized that the virulent anti-Semitism that lived within their borders had spawned the holocaust. The Jews were still faced with a dangerous malignancy that would undoubtedly return. Clearly, Jews needed a refuge, their Israel. Where else could they go? I can well imagine that, had the Jews chosen to settle in Antarctica, its enemies would be talking about Penguin exploitation and oppression.

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently reaffirmed that the only solution for the region is the destruction of Israel, and that the armed confrontation must expand beyond Gaza.

Israel and her people are in more danger of extinction than at any time since Israel’s improbable victory in the Six Day War of 1967.  Israel is tiny (it would fit inside LA County) with hard-to-defend borders; and one border is occupied by its deadly enemy, Hamas. The threat from Hamas, client of Iran, is but one the threats to Israel’s existence. And a nuclear Iran looms.

Iran’s ruling clique is too close to success to becoming the first Islamist nuclear power to turn back. Iran will not have to test a nuke in order to shift the balance of power.  Sanctions have allowed the time window of comparative safety to shrink from years to months.  The overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens no longer trust the American president to honor our long term commitment to come to Israel’s assistance in the crunch.

The nasty scenes of 2006 and 2010 are being replayed, with more missiles raining down on the last Jewish homeland. Thousands of additional missiles are well secured in the Gaza Strip territory on Israel’s border. Every 50 non-combatant Israeli casualties is the scale equivalent of 1,950 US dead.  How much would we passively put with, if we were attacked? Gaza has been ruled by Hamas since 2007, when the more peaceful Fatah faction was forcibly evicted from the Palestinian coalition government. Hamas, having infected the nascent Palestinian democracy, clings to a grim agenda: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”.

This bloody-minded jihadist gang now controls enough missiles to inflict grave damage on the Israeli civilian population. When the scale is adjusted, the potential damage may be proportionately a thousand times worse than our 9-11-01 attack casualties. The missiles held in reserve by Hamas may overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield, which already is letting 10% of the missiles get through.  The ground offensive by the IDF is an effort to locate and close all the tunnels, destroying as many missile launchers as possible. But there far more tunnels and deadly weapons than early intelligence predicted.

Imagine living within missile range of an adjacent territory governed by fanatics bent on your destruction.  Imagine waking up to find that hundreds of their missiles have detonated near schools and homes. Imagine that thousands more missiles are ready for the next barrage – that the next missile assault might overwhelm your country’s missile defense system. Imagine that your “friends” are pressing your government to agree to a cease fire that would leave those missiles ready to fire again.  When the intentions of the brutal fanatics of Hams are peeled back, only a graveyard peace is sought by Israel’s attackers: “Stop all your self-defense efforts. Don’t attack us because we need time to regroup and rearm. You must move out of your so-called country, or face your ultimate immolation. We will distract you while our friends in Iran perfect a nuclear bomb that can wipe the Jewish vermin.”

Even though a ground assault is essential to rooting out the threat, your “friends” do not approve. The UN Security Council has called for a cease fire in Gaza  – barring Israel’s forces stop the search and destroy mission to protect their civilian population from the Hamas bombing campaign, an attack that will resume the moment the cease fire ends.  The USA voted in favor.

…trouble is upon me, and no one to help me! Many bulls are encircling me, wild bulls of Bashan closing in on me. Lions ravening and roaring open their jaws at me. My strength is trickling away. From Psalm 22

We should pray for the swift success of the Israeli Defense Forces in this crisis, for the continued support of Israel by the US, and for the ultimate defeat of all the forces that have aligned themselves against the prospect of a peaceful, safe and thriving Israel.   Israel’s fate will be ours. There is no escape from moral responsibility.


 Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Forwarded links and pull quotes with full attribution are welcome and encouraged. For everything else, please contact the author via email at

Jay Gaskill is the founder of the Policy Think Site and author of the new thriller, Gabriel’s Stand,