WILL TRUMP RE-BRAND THE GOP?

RE-BRANDING THE GOP?

 

This Op Ed was published in the Post Register on April 12, 2016

www.postregister.com/…/local-column-re-branding-gop

 

Jay B Gaskill

Jay B Gaskill

Our two political parties are brands and that “brand” represents a contract with a party’s voters, writes Jay B. Gaskill.

By Jay B Gaskill

I was proud of the Idaho GOP when its members decisively rejected Donald Trump. Clearly “The Donald” has challenged the GOP establishment. But he is also questioning the very idea of conservatism.

From local talk shows, columns and letters one can glean very little about what it means, on any deep personal level, for someone to say “I am a conservative,” except that he or she is unhappy with the current president.

What is conservatism, really? Over the centuries, conservatives were opponents of change – liberals were advocates of change. America’s founders were liberals in that sense, as were their allies in the British parliament. But context always matters. In Soviet Russia, the ruling communists were called “conservatives” and their opponents were “liberals.” The Reagan administration supported the Russian “liberals.” But Reagan was a conservative, wasn’t he?

There are underlying conservative principles. One is at the core: the elevation of individual human dignity over the collective, coercive “social improvement” programs. A conservative respect for individual human dignity translates to the right to earn and keep one’s property; the defense of the traditional family as an institution; and the robust commitment to law and order and national defense. Conservatives are committed to the U.S. Constitution as a unique achievement in world history that is designed to protect individual human dignity from enemies, domestic and foreign, including from the government itself.

Our two political parties are brands: The Republican Party brand emphasizes conservative values and goals, but not to the exclusion of some liberal ones. The Democratic Party brand emphasizes the progressive improvement of the human condition via large scale collective measures, but not to the exclusion of some conservative goals. For Republicans, the Constitution is a bedrock boundary, a bulwark against tyranny. For many Democrats, the Constitution is a living instrument that must bend to suit the times. Few of us are “pure” partisans – life is too complicated. Neither party is purely conservative or liberal.

Party branding represents a social contract with voters. Trump would change the Republican brand. A few years from now, we will remember how a celebrity with self-contradictory opinions sought to take over the GOP. For now, we can’t know the outcome. We can’t even be sure whether a President Trump would care about the property rights of an Idaho landowner, or whether he would regard the U.S. Constitution as something more than a problem for his lawyers.

Most GOP officials have not lost the ability to count actual votes. Polls are volatile and inaccurate. Votes are real. A majority of individual Republicans voting in the primaries have consistently rejected Donald Trump as their presidential candidate.

You doubt this? Find one primary race where Donald Trump broke 50 percent among actual GOP voters. The delegate count exaggerates Trump’s successes because GOP mavens miscalculated. They planned on a Jeb Bush consensus. They gamed the playing field to facilitate that outcome. The unintended result was that a candidate with a minority of votes could run the table. Trump saw the opening and ran with it.

If Mr. Trump never gets a majority of individual GOP primary votes, he should never get the nomination.

If either party’s brand is to change, that should be left up to its voting members.


Gaskill is a “recovering lawyer” who lives in Idaho Falls.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Jay B Gaskill and the Post Register

 

A longer, related article by Jay Gaskill: The Emerging Coalition of the Creative, Non-Left

 

link-    http://jaygaskill.com/ANewDay.pdf

 

More about the author at – http://jaygaskill.com/Profile.pdf

 

Somme collected articles on Webster’s Web Commentary at http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowAuthor.php?id=gaskillj

 

Please address all comments and reprint permissions to the author via email at law@jaygaskill.com .

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TRUMP IS BEHIND!

THE TRUMP “WIN” MYTH

 

Jay B Gaskill

Jay B Gaskill

Analysis by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

It is March 2, 2016 at 10:00 AM, Mountain Time:

 

Donald Trump has been defeated by the popular vote in every single GOP delegate contest, and trails in the number of delegates.

 

Somehow, for the chattering class (and a few GOP turncoats like the overweight governor of New Jersey) it is all over. NOT.

 

TAKE A CAREFUL LOOK AT THE ACTUAL RECORD:

 

 

TRUMP’S TOTAL DEFEATS ON MARCH 1:

 

  • ALASKA – TRUMP LOSES TO CRUZ
  • MINNESOTA – TRUMP LOSES TO RUBIO
  • OKLAHOMA – TRUMP LOSES TO CRUZ
  • TEXAS – TRUMP LOSES TO CRUZ

 

TRUMP’S SO-CALLED VICTORIES ON March 1, 2016

 

ARKANSAS –

Trump “wins” with a total of 33%

Trump actually is rejected by 67%

 

ALABAMA –

Trump “wins” with a total of 44%

Trump actually is rejected by 56%

 

GEORGIA –

Trump “wins” with a total of 39%

Trump actually is rejected by 61%

 

MASSACHUSETTS –

Trump “wins” with a total of 49%

Trump actually is rejected by 51%

 

TENNESSEE –

Trump “wins” with a total of 39%

Trump actually is rejected by 61%

 

VIRGINIA –

Trump “wins” with a total of 35%

Trump actually is rejected by 65%

 

VERMONT –

Trump “wins” with a total of 33%

Trump actually is rejected by 67%

 

 

TOTAL DELEGATES FOR TRUMP — 316 (25.5%) of the needed 1,237

 

TOTAL GOP DELEGATES NOT FOR TRUMP — 364 (29.4%) of the needed 1,237

 

The real question is what happens at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on July 18.

 

 

It is very likely that Trump and all the other candidates will fail to get the needed 1,237 delegates. As a result, ALL delegates will thereafter be free to vote as they individually see fit.  It also seems likely that a majority of the rank and file GOP voters will have rejected the leading plurality candidate, Trump. Will the delegates to the GOP convention then have the requisite grit, common sense and foresight to pick someone other than “the Donald” to stand for election in November?

 

Trump represents an attempted hostile takeover of an established institution. Like all takeovers of this kind in the business world, the insurgents have one clear shot at winning. Trump just can’t get there, unless the delegates break faith with a majority of republicans and give away the store.

 

This will be a lesson in statesmanship. If the GOP yields to Trump, in my opinion the party will have forfeited the moral authority to govern.

 

JBG

 

Copyright © 2016 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

Forwards and pull quotes from this article require no further permission, provided they are with full attribution.

 

For all other permissions, email the author at law@jaygaskill.com.

 

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www.jaygaskill.com

 

READ  THE COMPANION ARTICLE – AT THESE LINKS

http://jaygaskill.com/TrumpFlux.pdf

 

http://jaygaskill.com/outlawyer/2016/02/29/trumps-halo/

 

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TRUMP’S HALO

ALSO POSTED IN PDF FORMAT AT —

http://jaygaskill.com/TrumpFlux.pdf

 

DONALD TRUMP’S HALO

An Essay in Two Parts

 

I am here not to praise Trump nor to bury him, but to raise the following question: If this is to be a “settle for” election, can we reasonably and responsibly settle for Donald Trump as the next president of the United States?

 JBG head

Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

PART ONE

TRUMP’S GAME

 

 

For now, “The Donald” is enjoying a Halo-Effect. This is the fluctuating mirage that people tend to see when a new would-be leader shows up on stage during a time of discontent.  The Halo-Effect only works when a would-be leader’s image is a screen on which we can project all our hopes and expectations.

 

The Halo is always a mirage.

 

This is what has happened so far:  Our two political parties have effectively cooperated for the last half century (both voluntarily and involuntarily) in the creation of a social, economic and political vise. We intuitively know this has taken place. Even without naming the resulting situation, a moment’s reflection exposes the source of the current popular discontent: 

 

More and more policy is being determined outside the traditional democratic processes. As an exercise, I invite you to make a list of any specific policy concerns of yours that have been subject to a popular vote especially an election in which you were given a meaningful choice. Then make a second list of policies and rules that have impacted your life in which there was no meaningful electoral choice. The result will tell you a lot about the current discontent.

 

  • Do you recall being asked to vote on whether your passenger car choices would no longer include a new car without an exploding air bag in the passenger seat, or (a pending issues) whether that new car could be available with rear windows you can see out of (avoiding the pending requirement for rear view cameras)? That was a decree by an administrative agency, no member of which has to stand for election…ever.
  • Do you remember voting on whether regular physician visits can be metered out at 15 minute intervals, or that medical staff can be made to key treatment to “diagnostic codes”?  Voters were not consulted.

 

We can add many more examples. The takeaway point is that the growing list of such regulatory annoyances is very long, while the number of pertinent ballot choices is very short to nonexistent.

 

For many Americans, the very notion of meaningful popular consent to all of this is a sham. This is why so many are saying to themselves and to others: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

 

We have lived through the gradual expansion of vary large bureaucratic institutions that have taken larger and larger areas of policy and decision-making out of the hands of the so-called ordinary people. In other cases – thinking, for example of international trade arrangements that helped dismantle US factories – there was no meaningful choice between the two parties.  Vast policy changes affecting our lives have been enabled by the political class, yet the political class dodged accountability, in part by placing power in the control of experts and other unelected officials, removed by layers and layers of separation from any elected official. As a result, presidents, members of the congress and party leaders were able to dodge accountability when policies went wrong or were unpopular.

 

The sense that we are being “managed” by the governing class is deeply irritating to a large set of displaced artisans and blue collar workers. These are the people who used to be the mainstay of the Democratic Party. These are the people who temporarily became “Reagan democrats.” These are the people who are so disenthralled with both parties that, for them, a looming figure like “The Donald” is cloaked by the Halo Effect.

 

Over the last 20 years, the Democrats have narrowed their policy agenda into a single, hardline progressive catechism, one that leaves little room for the patriotic, law and order factory workers, miners, oil workers, police officers, fire fighters, not to mention all the other men and women who joined those who shouted “USA!” after September 11, 2001.

 

Unlike the monolithic 2016 democrats, today’s Republicans are split over a whole range of policy issues. This explains why, although both parties are waking up late to the depth and breadth of discontent, the GOP was the obvious Trump target.  Near term, little that happens on the Democratic side is likely to avert the pending Trump train wreck. So I will focus on the GOP’s ongoing primaries and the pending convention struggle

 

Why it is very late in the game:

 

GOP strategists falsely assumed that after a minor struggle, the presumptive heir, Jeb Bush, a centrist within the GOP spectrum, could quickly wrap up the contest, aided by a series of winner-take-all elections in delegate rich states.

 

Anyone who has followed “The Donald’s” career knows that he is a very shrewd operator.  The table that the GOP set for Bush was ready-made for a Trump takeover. No one in the GOP saw it. But no sharp operator would have been surprised. I conclude that the GOP had no sharp operators on duty.

 

I write this on Leap Day, on the eve of March 1, before the last big vote before Super-Tuesday. Trump’s lead in delegates is 82. This is against a total of 43 for the other candidates, but it is 1,155 short of the number to win the nomination.

 

Trump’s Nevada win in the popular vote, 45.9%, meant that 54.1% declined to vote for him. In South Carolina, his 32.5% win meant that 67.5 % voted for someone else. Ditto New Hampshire. And Trump actually lost in Iowa to Cruz.

 

The main GOP “stop the Donald” obstacles are the “winner-takes-all” states yet to vote — Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska, California, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. …And the “winner-takes proportionately more” states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Maine, Puerto Rico, Idaho, Mississippi and New York.

 

If Donald Trump consistently gets a larger plurality than the opposition, say in the range of 40%, the “free” extra delegates awarded in the “take all” and “take extra” states could actually award Trump, a candidate opposed by a majority of GOP primary voters, a majority of delegates and therefore the nomination.

 

This is a white knuckle period for the GOP.

 

If candidate Trump shows up at the GOP convention with only 1,000 pledged delegates, he loses on the first ballot; and all his delegates are set free to vote anyone who has been nominated. What happens next?

 

Look for trades, promises and conflict to ensue – high theater.

 

But the second ballot is a critical moment. If Trump’s support starts to erode, then the selection of a different GOP standard bearer is likely. But if Trump’s support increases, you will see blood on the floor.

 

At the moment, the polls show Trump winning in Florida, but Cruz is winning in Texas. That would be a gain of all 99 Florida delegates for Trump, but the 155 Texas delegates would be allocated by a formula, some for Cruz, some for Trump – because Texas is not winner take all.

 

 

TRUMP’S GAME, Continued…

 

PART TWO:

THE MAN BEHIND THE MIRAGE

Trump is the known, unknown candidate. For most Americans he’s the self-confident image of success, the millionaire (or billionaire?) of Celebrity Apprentice, brazenly charming enjoying the guilt-free glamour of a “self-made” rich man. He is a savvy manipulator with a gift for publicity. And – for most people – he is a likeable character, someone that people like Bill and Hillary liked to be seen with. His glamour is a projected image – a screen.

 

Back when I was a young law student in California, a second tier Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, first ran for governor against democrat Pat Brown. Governor Brown, the elder, was a lawyer, an old style pro-labor democrat who supported John Kennedy, bolstered California education and rebuilt the water infrastructure. Brown was the one who defeated Richard Nixon when he ran for California governor.

 

Reagan entered the gubernatorial race during Brown’s ill-advised bid for a third term. By then, Brown was vulnerable. He was weak on law and order issues (a flaw I had far less appreciation for back in my unrealistic liberal days, than I do now). And Governor Brown was embarrassed by the UC campus demonstrations, due to the Vietnam War, something Reagan’s operatives quietly exploited.

 

Reagan, the challenger, was an actor, seemingly coming out of nowhere. At the time, I had the deepest misgivings about Ronald Reagan’s capacity to run a state – a Hollywood actor!

 

Then, after Reagan’s election (his signature is on my law diploma), I was privileged to get to know several of his key staff people, and through them I learned of the others.  I met Ed Meese, who later became Attorney General; I knew D. Lowell Jenson, a democrat who served as the head of the Reagan Justice Department’s Criminal Division (who later became a highly respected federal judge).  And I knew Kirk West, who served in various roles in the Reagan statehouse. Through these and other contacts I was able to assemble a picture of the Reagan staff.

 

It was an impressive group with a skill, depth and quality that was unprecedented for California state government.

 

When Ronald Reagan moved into the White House, he brought with him key members of his California staff. As President, Ronald Reagan had the most competent staff of any president since Dwight David Eisenhower.

 

And Trump?

 

Whatever policy differences one might have, and whatever the ultimate verdict of history on the Reagan presidency, his presidency proved decisively that a good staff is absolutely essential to good governance. Reagan’s staff was first rate. Bill Clinton’s first term floundered because the former Arkansas Governor had poor staff support.

 

The contrast between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump is stark.

 

“The Donald” appears to be the hollow candidate in the race, the walking, talking mirage, the one POTUS aspirant without experts, without even a detailed policy outline – other than his trademark fogball slogans. As of now, Trump appears still to be winging it, as a man without a staff worthy of a President. At times Trump looks like a man on a high wire, holding the attention of the crowd, saying in effect – “Look at me! I’m still up here!”

 

What happens when he is on the ground?

 

Donald Trump is seeking the highest executive position in the free world, standing on a high wire without a strong policy portfolio, and with no visible presidential staff.  Presumably Mr. Trump thinks he can hire the necessary people at the last minute. One wonders if it has dawned on him yet that he will be legally required to put all his business ventures into a blind trust for the duration of his service. Of course, there are a number of reasons why someone in Donald Trump’s position would want to remain vague and fluid on concrete proposals, and to refrain from identifying specific experts and key staff members – assuming he has yet figured out who he even wants. But most of those reasons (still working on it, not ready yet, having recruiting issues) are no longer defensible.

 

The real reason to me stems from Trump’s shrewdness.

 

As soon as a candidate in his position starts to flesh out the prospective governance picture, to color in the lines, to fill the blanks, that candidate will pierce the bubble of unreasonable expectations. And with that “pop,” the fake halo is exposed. Donald Trump will then risk becoming that TV personality and real estate developer guy who wants us to trust him with the future of the United States of America. And based on what? Trump Tower? A few slogans? An honest face?

 

 

ISSUES

 

Trump’s position on the issues is deliberately vague, except where he wants to make a splash.  He straddles the abortion issue, in effect taking both sides, safely out of the discussion.

 

Trump has the gift of making simple, pungent statements that convey a feeling, an attitude, without revealing much more. They are like party one-liners. The style is cunning. When he supported waterboarding terrorists, he didn’t bother talking about interrogation effectiveness or the legal definition of torture. In effect, he just said, Why are we worrying about the feelings of these scumbags? They had it coming.  Most ordinary people were not shocked, because he was speaking for them.

 

What about foreign policy? Aside for a declared admiration of Putin and a promise that “The Donald” will broker an evenhanded deal between the Palestinians and Israel, Otherwise, we have a resounding foreign policy silence.

 

What about the economy? Or its cousin – monetary and trade policies? Trump appears to be willing to depart from the approved free trade policy by deploying protectionist measures as a weapon to get Mexico to fund a border wall. And the rest of the economic issues? Trust me. I’ll come up with something.

 

What about education? The stressed and shrinking middle class? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

But Trump did stake out a borderline censorship position on free speech, First Amendment law notwithstanding. Here’s what he has said:

 

“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. … So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace — or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons — write a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”

 

We are entitled to ask: Who is giving Donald Trump constitutional law advice? In the landmark Supreme Court case, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan376 U.S. 254 (1964), any libel suit against the press must meet the actual malice test, meaning that a publisher can only be held libel if the offending story is false, damaging and that the publisher actually knew that it was a lie at the time.

 

No one can be sure where a “hit piece” (see above) fits into this test, or whether Trump criterion, “purposely negative and horrible and false,” would ever pass First Amendment scrutiny.

 

But his threat of increased litigation against the press, “we can sue them and win lots of money,” will have a chilling effect on free political discourse. Whether most Trump-engendered lawsuits fail or succeed is beside the point. The ongoing litigation threat becomes form of censorship. And Donald Trump can be thin skinned.

 

I am far from comfortable with this. I suspect that Donald Trump is not about the constitution. He’s about Donald Trump.

 

So Why Trump? Why Now?

 

Donald Trump is an opportunist.  Now, he is the political opportunist who saw a political opening in the GOP and went for it.

 

Trump seems to actually believe that his self-confidence and sales abilities can make up for any deficit in his policy credentials and political governance experience, and that – when he gets around to it – he can hire all the help he needs.

 

Donald Rumsfeld talked about the unknown unknowns, the problem that careless policy makers (and physicians) fall into when they think they know everything – because they do not know enough to ask for more information.

 

Candidate Trump does not seem to have any curiosity.

 

We are entitled to ask: Is he motivated by patriotism? One suspects he is unable to distinguish between love of country and its institutions and love of himself and the smell of victory.

 

The American people are poorly equipped to tell prophet from profit, a celebrity from snake oil salesman, a message they want to hear from one they should hear.  They/we are living in the cyber age where electronic devices flood us with a torrent of information. This is a tsunami of un-vetted, untrustworthy information. Every day we venture into the internet, we must confront an info-swamp that can hide wisdom under an avalanche of slogans, and conceal truth under a mountain of advertising gimmicks.

 

Low information voters are the new normal.

 

As Hillary once argued, the Democrat party failed to vet young Obama. Now, as Hillary’s medical and legal issues loom, it is painfully clear that someone failed to vet her.

 

If we fail to vet Donald Trump now, it may never happen.

 

Where the presidency is concerned, the American electorate seems to be behaving like a lovesick teenager, disappointed by one romance, then rebounding to the opposite type. Obama was the anti-Bush. And now Trump is the quintessential anti-Obama.

 

So, really, what is behind the Trump mirage?

 

An adult electorate would demand to find out before it’s too late. To date, Donald Trump has been treating us as gullible children.

 

So my question is this: Are American voters still adults?

 

JBG

 

Copyright © 2016 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

Forwards and pull quotes from this article require no further permission, provided they are with full attribution.

 

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PREDATORS ARE WE

HUMANITY – EARTH’S APEX PREDATOR

Also available as a downloadable PDF file at: http://jaygaskill.com/PredatorsAreWe.pdf

A Reflection

By

Jay B. Gaskill

 

We survive and thrive because we humans are the apex predators on planet earth.

 

702838_web1_Female_Black_Bear_Campsite

A former apex predator at work

Our secret weapon as apex predators is our dramatically enhanced capacity for social cooperation, in a word – for civilization. Our single most important technology is the social organization made possible by language, literacy and a common moral order.

The current postmodern ethos is a muddle of incoherent ideas where confused notions of cultural and moral relativism cohabit with vague notions about “rights”.

A return to the common sources and ultimate authority of fundamental human moral wisdom is central to any recovery from this cultural dead end. The alternative is a descent into a form of cannibalism.

 

Let me open the discussion by posing a question:

Why are there reasonably consistent rules that apply within a working cohort of thieves?

The short answer is that the so-called “thieves’ honor” rules were acquired and perpetuated during the hunter-predator era of the human story.

Gangs of thieves are really hunting teams; they are predator cohorts that cooperate in a common endeavor – to acquire resources by a combination of force and stealth. For success, a certain basic trust must be established, and a division of spoils agreed to. While modern thieves tend (in my professional experience) to screw up, this happens because they tend to violate their own agreed norms. But the utility and validity of the rules they apply to themselves are real, and surprisingly instructive for the rest of us.  Five rules are necessary for the success of any criminal enterprise:

  1. Veracity 

Without some minimum truth fidelity and avoidance of significant deception, the baseline cooperation for any criminal enterprise quickly disintegrates.  There is a kind of Darwinian selection in operation here. The criminal cohorts that fail to follow the rules are the first ones caught.

 

  1. No theft from fellow thieves

 

  1. No serious assault on fellow thieves

 

  1. Promise fidelity among fellow thieves

 

  1. Obedience to leadership

 

These “thieves’ honor” precepts are often observed in the breach, but that begs the point: These five norms are at the core of all moral systems that are necessary to support civilization.

 

Think about it: The rules needed for the close cooperation of a criminal cohort or a Paleolithic predator-hunter team are the same rules necessary for the accomplishment of any similar, survival-related task among otherwise independent, intelligent actors.

The rules that are the foundation of civilization’s necessary moral infrastructure are the “thieves honor” set writ large. The evolution was from hunting team to clan, to village, to tribe, to country, and so on. Within a given cohort, these essential norms apply equally to all members, but are subject to an agreed or imposed leadership principle. In primitive cohorts, this is the alpha-predator / follower model. There are other more sophisticated models as well, especially for larger, community-based cohorts.

Any working civilization represents, at a minimum, the extension of these hunter-cooperation norms to the entire civilization’s scope of authority; and therefore represents at least a partial universalization of the predator-cooperation rules.  This creates an expectation of equality of rule application within specific cohorts, one that has gradually been universalized to apply to humanity at large.

 

 

PREDATOR WISDOM

 We humans are now the planet’s dominant predators.  However we now choose to order our individual lives, whether by eating sprouts and beans, or shrink wrapped mammal parts, our species-as-civilization exists in a predator-prey relationship with the rest of the ecosphere.

We need not feel guilty. Our predator heritage is the inevitable end result of the successful emergence of intelligent life on any planet.  The question is not whether we will continue to be predators, but whether we will be responsible ones.

Aboriginal peoples, like the North American and Greenland Inuit, preserve a tradition of prey-reverence, a deep respect, both spiritual and practical, for the animals we humans kill to feed ourselves.

The predator-prey relationship eventually carries the obligation to conserve, i.e., the conservation ethos is concomitant with long-term predator status. The protection and preservation of prey in all its forms “goes with the territory”. 

Pre-intelligent predators tend to overgraze. Early humans acted like other pre-intelligent predators. But we were provided with the gift of intelligence for a number of reasons (e.g., in order to self-organize into civilization), but one of them was to develop the capacity to solve the overgrazing problem.

 

PRINCIPLED REASONABLENESS

Several group norms form the “normative architecture” of civilization. They can be restated as an integrated set of moral injunctions.  Biblical scholars find them among the Ten Commandments. Think of “Do not murder, assault, steal, or lie” as applications of a larger body of core principles and norms that are designed to ensure the reciprocal respect for human dignity.  The resulting general rule can be stated in one sentence: 

“Respect the volitional autonomy of others within the context of a rule set that restrains others from impairing your own.”

Without the recognition, allegiance to, and enforcement of core moral (or normative) principles that are accepted as impersonally valid, that is as “objective,” any human organizational system will decay into a corrupt form of predator-perversion –  a system that consumes its own young for “the greater good.”.

Human-on-human predation is a form of cannibalism – whether literal or metaphoric, because the outcome is the consumption of individual human dignity.

The worst 20th century authoritarian states were products of the same cannibal mindset, often disguised as a humanitarian project that “of necessity” treated millions of people as disposable objects. The process of such degenerate behavior begins with a single tendency: Any system of governance that is not founded on a principle-driven respect for individual human dignity inevitably degrades into a base and deadly tyranny.

In practice, a vital, morally based civilization must generate and utilize institutions that uphold the entire set of objective normative principles in a real-world framework. The day-to-day operations of these institutions are worked out on a case-by-case basis. This is the function of law and legal institutions.

 

Any such principle-driven system also entails a logical hierarchy of main and subordinate moral (or ordinal) principles. And, of course, those pesky application issues will inevitably arise — all principles tend to conflict at the margins. Their resolution is the function of adjudication by fair, honest, principled judges.

 

In any principle-driven regulatory environment, a policy of reasonableness is essential to allow necessary flexibility and adaptability. A dynamic stability that upholds the objective principles follows. But without objective principles that are reasonably applied, moral authority declines and a civilization degrades into chaos. Without principled, objective principles, all adjudication devolves to personality and politics. Then, as the poet Yeats warned us, “the centre does not hold[i].”

 

The term “predator civilization” is redundant because all civilizations are predatory.  But not all are founded in the essential moral principles. There is a minimum set:

 

  • The respect for one’s volitional autonomy, as a reciprocal obligation of citizenship within civilization (I will respect your human dignity as you respect mine) writ large;

The arrangement supported and optimized by bright-line rules of conduct as in-do not lie, cheat, steal, pillage, rape, assault or murder.

  • Mutual respect for human dignity is the only model of moral order, and reasonable accountability is the only enforcement regime that can sustain any viable, peaceful, working civilization of predators over the long haul.

 

There are only two competing models: a civilization caught in decay and dissolution; or one brought down in brutal totalitarianism.

 

We humans are still predators and cannot escape that role.  Our choices remain as follows:

  1. to be a prey-conserving civilization, or to become extinct;
  2. to remain free, responsible predators, or to become prey.

 

JBG

 

 

Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2015 by Jay B. Gaskill

 

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 law@jaygaskill.com.

 

 

 

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, Mr. Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.

 

His website, the Policy Think Site, is at — www.jaygaskill.com.

 



[i] William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, 1919, in part – “…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…”

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Hillary’s Medical Condition – The Issue that will not go away

Hillary Clinton –

The Medical Issue That Won’t Go Away

In her 2008 campaign for the presidency, candidate Hillary Clinton pointedly argued that candidate Barack Obama, the upstart junior Senator from Illinois had not been vetted.  The situation is suddenly reversed. It turns out that Mrs. Clinton has some not-trivial legal problems to resolve – one should never be careless with classified data.

 

We are now informed that she has been living with significant medical issues.

 

Will these medical issues become a “DQ” … or merely a caution?

 

 

Let me state our pending medical concerns plainly: Mrs. Clinton presents an uncomfortably high-risk medical profile for someone in her mid-50’s, let alone a candidate for President of the United States who will turn 70 the year of our next president’s inauguration.

 

 

We now know that Hillary Clinton is prone to blood clotting and fainting spells. She is, to put it plainly, a stroke risk.  Her famous 2012 collapse near the end of her grueling term as Secretary of State was more dangerous than the public was told at the time. Having spent much of her term as Secretary of State flying in aircraft, Secretary Clinton fainted in early December 2012, striking her head with sufficient force to cause a concussion. It is not unreasonable to conclude that she temporarily lost consciousness.

 

There is a conflict in accounts about where she fell and why.  But in all versions, Hillary Clinton was hospitalized and her physicians discovered a dangerous blood clot in her head, described as a “right transverse venous thrombosis” – a clot located between brain and skull. Intravenous blood thinners were administered over three days and eventually succeeded in dissolving the clot, averting what could have been a catastrophic stroke.

 

Mrs. Clinton’s medical records also reveal at least two earlier blood clot incidents (in 1998 and 2008). After her release from the hospital, Hillary Clinton was seeing double for at least two weeks. Double vision often accompanies a severe head injury.

 

Because of Mrs. Clinton’s continuing risk of further blood clotting, she was placed on high-potency blood thinners (Coumadin) for the rest of her life. According to President Bill Clinton, she “required six months of very serious work to get over” the incident.

 

Another credible story has surfaced: Mrs. Clinton will eventually require heart valve replacement surgery. If true, she should undergo periodic tests. When or if open heart surgery is performed, Mrs. Clinton’s Coumadin doses will be stopped for about two weeks prior to the procedure. Stopping Coumadin raises the risk of a blood clot, even a stroke for someone with her profile. If we assume her open heart surgery is successful, a rapid, full recovery is not a slam dunk outcome.

 

So far, reporters have been given only one report – from Dr. Lisa Bardack, Hillary Clinton’s personal physician since 2001. The cardiologist, Dr. Allan Schwartz of New York Presbyterian Hospital where Mrs. Clinton was treated for the “potentially life-threatening blood clot”, is reportedly likely to be able add to Mrs. Clinton’s medical profile. When approached by reporters for more information, Dr. Schwartz declined. Mrs. Clinton has not yet released her full, pertinent medical history. Nor will she, in my opinion.

 

To be fair, heart beat irregularities traced to heart valve malfunctions may be tolerated for years before open heart surgery is indicated.  But eventually, it will.

 

One can reasonably conclude from all this that Mrs. Clinton presents a high-risk profile for someone in her 50’s, let alone someone who will turn 70 in 2017, the year the new president takes office. If it were you or me, no life insurance agency would issue us a policy.

 

There are no “unexpected POTUS vacancy” insurance policies, except the selection of a highly prepared and well qualified vice president. No matter how you look at it, the death of any sitting president is a disruptive event, something that, in my opinion, the United States cannot afford during a time of international peril. Any material risk of such an event should be a pass-fail vetting topic when candidates for POTUS are under consideration.

 

This may, but probably will not be a campaign issue. A medical risk profile like Hillary’s can reasonably justify voting for a different candidate on health grounds alone. But Republican candidates are not likely to raise it, fearing a partisan-feminist backlash. Ah, but the Obama surrogates are not so inhibited – the bitterness between the two camps (Clinton and Obama) seems to still run deep.

 

So, the issue still has legs, and it will probably work in the background, changing alliances, shifting loyalties. The current administration can be expected to turn up the heat on Mrs. Clinton’s other problems (her seeming carelessness with classified information is just one); and her health issues may provide a face-saving way for her to back out of the race. In this connection, I note that a number of current and former Hillary Clinton supporters have commented, privately – and with caution – in the public square, that she seems tired, appearing at times to just be going through the motions, like someone who is reluctantly keeping a promise, now regretted.

 

Time will tell, but who can miss the irony? Remember when then Senator Clinton asked voters “Who do you want in the White House when the phone rings at three the morning?”

 

Her point was sound, but now many will ask: “Without disclosure of all candidate Clinton’s pertinent  medical records, who indeed?”

 

JBG

 

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 law@jaygaskill.com. 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 http://jaygaskill.com/WhoIsJayBGaskill.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Some References

 

 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton released a letter from her doctor Friday … as the first candidate for president in 2016 to release detailed information about her personal health. [The report was by}…Dr. Lisa Bardack, an internist who practices near Clinton’s suburban New York home.

 

Hypothyroidism is a very common condition, and Bardack said other notable events in her medical history include deep vein thrombosis — or a blood clot, usually in the leg — in 1998 and 2009, a broken elbow in 2009 and a concussion in 2012.

 

..Due to her family history, she had full cardiac testing, including an ultrasound exam of arteries in her neck, and all was well.

 

Bardack said that Clinton got a stomach virus while traveling in 2012, “became dehydrated, fainted and sustained a concussion.”…doctors found a blood clot in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind her right ear. Clinton spent a few days in New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and took a month-long absence from her role as secretary of state.

… the concussion’s effects, include[ed] double vision, which Clinton wore glasses with specialized lenses to address.

 

Clinton’s current medications include a thyroid hormone replacement, …Coumadin…to prevent new blood clots from forming. ” ___

 

 

 

 

WALL STREET JOURNAL

By LAURA MECKLER

Updated July 31, 2015 5:57 p.m. ET

 

 

according to the letter from Dr. Lisa Bardack , chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Mrs. Clinton’s personal physician since 2001.… Mrs. Clinton … has suffered from deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion, which was well documented in 2012.… the concussion came in December 2012, after Mrs. Clinton suffered a stomach virus after traveling and became dehydrated and fainted. During follow-up evaluations, she was found to have a transverse sinus venous thrombosis. She began anticoagulation therapy, which reduces the body’s ability to form clots. Because of the concussion, the doctor wrote, Mrs. Clinton had double vision for a while and benefited from wearing glasses with a Fresnel Prism.…she continues to take a daily drug to prevent clotting.

 

 

ABC NEWS May 14, 2014

By MARY BRUCE

 

Hillary Clinton Took 6 Months to ‘Get Over’ Concussion, Bill Says of Timeline

 

The former president revealed that his wife’s injury “required six months of very serious work to get over,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation in Washington.

 

HUFFINGTON POST

 

…the 42nd president also revealed that he knows questions about his wife’s health and age can’t be ignored as the 2016 presidential race comes into focus. In fact, he called it “a serious issue.”

 

 

Ed Klein, Author of Blood Feud”


“She had managed to keep her medical history secret out of fear that, should it become public, it would disqualify her from becoming president.”

Page 193

… Hillary fainted while she was working in her seventh-floor office at the State Department, not at home, as Reines told the media. She was treated at the State Department’s infirmary and then, at her own insistence, taken to Whitehaven to recover. However, as soon as Bill appeared on the scene and was able to assess Hillary’s condition for himself, he ordered that she be immediately flown to New York–Presbyterian Hospital in the Fort Washington section of Manhattan. When Reines subsequently released a statement confirming that Hillary was being treated at the hospital over the New Year’s holiday, it naturally intensified speculation about the seriousness of her medical condition. …

She …a blood clot between her brain and skull. She had developed the clot in one of the veins that drains blood from the brain to the heart. … Hillary had an intrinsic tendency to form clots and faint. In addition to the fainting spell she suffered in Buffalo a few years before, she had fainted boarding her plane in Yemen, fallen and fractured her elbow in 2009, and suffered other unspecified fainting episodes. Several years earlier, she had developed a clot in her leg and was put on anticoagulant therapy by her doctor. However, she had foolishly stopped taking her anticoagulant medicine, which might have explained the most recent thrombotic event.

“The unique thing about clotting in the brain is that it could have transformed into a stroke,” said a cardiac specialist with knowledge of Hillary’s condition.

Page 195
… She also suffered from a thyroid condition, which was common among women of her age, and her fainting spells indicated there was an underlying heart problem as well. A cardiac stress test indicated that her heart rhythm and heart valves were not normal. Put into layman’s language, her heart valves were not pumping in a steady way. … sources who discussed Hillary’s medical condition with her were told that Hillary’s doctors considered performing valve-replacement surgery. They ultimately decided against it. Still, before they released Hillary from the hospital, they warned Bill Clinton: “She has to be carefully monitored for the rest of her life.”

 

 

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OUR PREDATOR HERITAGE

As Published in

 

THE POST REGISTER

 

Copyright © 2015 by the Post Register

Copyright © 2015 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

JBG head

 

 

Guest column: Respect for our prey

August 12, 2015 1:43 a.m.

By Jay B. Gaskill

The serial killing of animals for sport tarnish the reputation of honorable hunters everywhere, writes Jay B. Gaskill.

By Jay B. Gaskill

The recent outrage against Dr. Walter Palmer, the lion assassin, was followed by titillating media focus on Sabrina Corgatelli, the big game hunter from Idaho.

Ms. Corgatelli was pictured with a dead giraffe, kudu, and wart hog in South Africa. She is reportedly an excellent shot with her Winchester; and there seems to be nothing unlawful about her recent African excursion.

Who’s next in the crosshairs? A jackrabbit hunter from Arco? A squirrel killer from Ammon? Dr. Palmer has gone to ground. Ms. Corgatelli has unapologetically pushed back.

We need perspective. This can’t be about killing animals as such. We humans are the alpha predators on planet earth (anthropologists use the term, apex predator). Farm animals are our former prey, tamed into a symbiotic relationship with us. We kill animals all the time. Why this outrage?

Our fellow mammals, especially the furry ones, are almost universally perceived as cute, unless, of course, you are running from one. Cuteness confers a survival advantage on young mammals. It is one thing to kill a dog. But a puppy?

What about our innocent water-dwelling friends? When was the last time anyone went ballistic about a cruel dentist abusing a fish? The message seems to be: Fish all you want, but don’t mistreat furry mammals! Our sympathy for whales is thin. Fur matters.

Something essential is missing from this discussion: the ancient traditions of predator reverence for and conservation of prey. That tradition is alive, well and relevant.

Wyoming poet and writer Gretel Ehrlich (“The Solace of Open Spaces,” “This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland”) lived with an Inuit tribe in Greenland and wrote movingly about the tribe’s respect, sorrow and gratitude when they needed to sacrifice a large mammal to feed and clothe themselves.

Almost nothing was left to waste. Deep respect (even reverence) for prey remains a common thread among Native American spiritual practices, and is prevalent among the older natural hunting traditions.

We still hear versions of that ethos expressed among the better hunters here in the West … although with a bit less sentimentality. We can even hear the echo of the prey-conservation spirit among the hog packers of early Chicago: “We use everything except the squeal.”

When the wolf population gets out of scale, hunters are enlisted to bring the numbers back in balance. Elk hunters tend to go for the older males, a practice that does not threaten the herd’s survival.

It seems we intelligent predators have an important function: keeping the prey-predator ecological relationship in balance. I personally believe that the biblical injunction that we humans have dominion over the animal kingdom means the dominion of a caretaker, not of a serial sport killer.

I’m not repelled by hunters, whether African big game hunters or Idaho deer hunters. But I am offended by the cavalier hunting practices of some of the wealthy trophy hunters. Their profound disconnection from the honorable and ancient hunting traditions is shameful; and it unfairly tarnishes the reputation of honorable hunters everywhere.

The Post Register is a regional newspaper for Eastern Idaho

http://www.postregister.com/

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THE AIRLINE MURDER

LUBITZ, the Killer Co-Pilot

Three Takeaway Points

 

Commentary

By Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

 
{ Also posted on The Policy Think Site at this link – http://jaygaskill.com/LUBITZ.htm }

 

If you’re just joining the parade, Andreas Lubitz is the name of the German copilot of the French airline that dived into the Alps. The plane was under his control all the way down.  The consensus so far is that Mr. Lubitz locked out the pilot while he calmly and deliberately aimed the Airbus jet – and its passengers – at the ground from its safe cruising altitude.  By all accounts, this was a mass murder.  A voice recording was recovered from one of the two “black boxes” kept aboard leaves little doubt.

 

Everyone naturally asks the same questions:

 

Why?

How could this happen?

How can it be prevented?

 

The New York Times trumped the other news outlets today.

 

Adreas Lubitz, “27, is believed to be responsible for slamming Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps on purpose, killing all 150 on board, while en route to Düsseldorf from Barcelona, Spain.”

 

“…among the items found at Mr. Lubitz’s home was a doctor’s note excusing him from work on the day of the crash, and another note that had been torn up. These documents “support the preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues…”

 

“…there had been an instance six years ago when Mr. Lubitz took a break from his training for several months. He said that if the reason was medical, German rules on privacy prevented the sharing of such information…”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/world/europe/germanwings-crash-andreas-lubitz.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

 

 

Here are the takeaway points:

 

  1. No commercial aircraft carrying passengers should be allowed to fly with only one person inside the lockable flight deck.  The US has a two person rule, Europe, so far, does not.
  2. Pilot privacy can never be allowed to trump passenger safety.
  3. Suicide is homicide. Allow me to briefly elaborate on this point.

 

Years ago in the process of defending a murder case, I interviewed a famous forensic psychiatrist, Dr. B. My client had first attempted suicide; then he later murdered his wife. It was a long and illuminating conversation.  Suicide is a homicide is which one’s self is the primary object of the killing.  But the line between a suicide-homicide and the killing of someone else-homicide is razor thin.

 

My expert told me that when one compares Tokoyo, say in 1980, with Dallas in the same year, the data reveal a very similar rate of killings per 100,000 of population, if suicides and homicides are lumped together.  The difference is explained by cultural and moral norms. In Tokoyo of the day, it was more honorable to take one’s life, but far more shameful to kill another.

 

When we read of some miscreant (my former clients tended to call these people, “sick f**ks”) who kills his or her spouse and children then commits suicide, my comment (only partly in jest) is that the killer got the order wrong – Why not try suicide first?

 

The most serious takeaway is that suicidal thoughts and urges are a red flag.

 

Applicants for responsible positions like the pilots of international flights with hundreds of passengers, tend to know that “mental issues” can be an employment bar.  We already know that people will train to the test.  Young pilots are no exception.

 

We are living in a secular era when people tend to project false self-images; are undeterred by the prospect of justice being visited on them by a higher power after they die; and we inhabit a culture in which some of the most heinous acts are medicalized, effectively drained of their moral significance.

 

There is growing and disturbing evidence that some medications approved for depression or anxiety can, in some cases, work the opposite. This is why the labels suggest that if you have suicidal thoughts, please immediately inform your physician. Even if you are a pilot? Even if the releation might end your career? 

 

One final observation:  Character still matters. More now than ever. It is not really about the determination of the long distance runner. Character is a moral condition. It is about moral strength. It is about the moral courage to turn away from doing the wrong thing no matter what.

 

JBG

 

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 law@jaygaskill.com. 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 http://jaygaskill.com/WhoIsJayBGaskill.pdf

 

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SUCH A DEAL

SUCH A DEAL!

Posted at: http://jaygaskill.com/SuchADeal2.htm

 

NEW COMMENTARY

By Jay B Gaskill

 

Today AP exclusively reveals heretofore secret details of the Obama-Iran atomic bomb program “negotiations” with the Islamic Republic of Iran.I must quote Charlie Brown: “Oh good grief!” Under the deal, it appears that Iran will keep 6,000 centrifuges and the most punishing sanctions will be lifted. No intrusive inspections will be allowed by the regime.  And Iran gets to keep its missile program. 

 

READ THE ENTIRE PIECE at http://jaygaskill.com/SuchADeal2.htm

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Trust Moderate Iran or NOT

 

 

WHY WORRY ABOUT IRAN?

…       And why not trust the Obama administration?

►      After all, everything is under control, isn’t it?

 

Also posted at http://jaygaskill.com/WaitingForModerateIran.htm

 

You wake up and look out the window: You see a ghost on the horizon, standing astride the world like a colossus. This is no ordinary dream.  It is a premonition, the ghost of the future.

 

In that future, you will learn that the Islamic Republic of Iran, the declared enemy of western civilization, of Israel, of the USA, the primary state sponsor of terrorism for the last two decades, has covertly armed itself with the atomic bomb.  When that day arrives, it will be too late to recover the lost time. Because of the reluctance US leaders to use tougher measures, a grave threat was allowed to gestate and grow until it has become a fait accompli. Those voices who told you that the USA would have “options” are now silent. Negotiations have failed.  Maybe, some leaders now suggest, we can live with this nuclear Iran.

 

But a chain reaction leading to large scale genocide will almost certainly follow.  A dire threat has faced us, but no American president has so far been willing or able to effectively stop it.  Who will now bell the cat, now that the cat has atomic weapons? 

 

You think I exaggerate?  Please keep reading.

 

The good news is that we still have some time, though possibly not the months left in the current president’s term. A number reasonable people are still willing to side with our president’s less-than-strict approach to Iran’s atomic bomb program. But already it is clear to many – including the Iranian regime – that Mr. Obama has effectively ruled out the use of force.

 

As a result, an airstrike, using our bunker-busting bombs to disable Iran’s nuclear weapons’ fuel enrichment facilities is not a credible threat to the Iranian regime. Having bluffed before, our president now lacks credibility.

 

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that Mr. Obama’s supporters see the same world that the rest of us can see. If so, they would be relying on two assumptions:

 

  • That Iran will gradually liberalize during the life of the sanctions agreement, eventually seeing the light: a more democratic regime, a voluntary renunciation of aggression and a rejection of the pursuit of an atomic bomb;
  • Assuming Iran cheats and rushes for “breakout” (the fait accompli moment when actual Iranian atomic bombs are in play), some think that the US will then be willing and able to act with sufficient swift and decisive force to effectively destroy Iran’s WMD capacity before it can be used.

 

But what if the supporters of Mr. Obama’s current sanctions-without-war approach are not relying on those assumptions? What if, instead, they actually believe that a nuclear armed Iran would not be a real threat to us, just another player in the international sandbox that can be tamed?  If so, Mr. Obama’s supporters/advisors would not be looking at the same world that the rest of us inhabit.

 

They would be delusional.

 

I will limit my comments just to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and to rebutting the assumptions that Iran will liberalize in time or that we would be able to quickly and safely snuff out the nuclear threat once that regime quickly breaks out with a fait accompli bomb.

 

Some reasonable minds apparently are willing to entertain the two assumptions. But the trap we reasonable types often fall into is that we like to assume that we are dealing with reasonable people. It is the wishful thinking trap.

 

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) during the Cold War was a dangerous standoff that almost failed (study the Cuban missile crisis closely). The MAD standoff of the Cold War involved just two rational opponents.  Add more players with far less rationality; and you have a war far too close for comfort, far dangerous to tolerate.

 

From all the available evidence, Iran’s current regime (a) is well entrenched, and (b) is hell-bent on getting the bomb.

 

Yes, Islam is in transition, but for most of its current adherents, it is several centuries behind modern Christians, Jews and secular humanists in the developed West.  A thoughtful article in the Catholic journal First Things, CHALLENGING RADICAL ISLAM, An Explanation of Islam’s Relation to Terrorism and Violence, By John Azumah, January 2015, makes all the appropriate distinctions between peaceful Muslims and the radicalized ones that run terrorist organizations and control terror-sponsoring nations like Iran.

See  http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/01/challenging-radical-islam

 

Whatever is the case with Islam sui generis, Iran is a terror sponsoring Islamic state, one with a regime that exhibits the classic disconnect between technological sophistication and a radically retrograde culture, 21st century weapons wielded by 12th century minds, if you will.

 

Moderate figures like Rafsanjani or Hassan Rouhani (both are “liberals” in the Iran context) are not in charge of that country’s security policy, nor have they ever been, any more than Putin’s puppets are or have ever been in charge in Russia.  In effect, the “moderate” Muslims in Iran are hostages, whose visible presence works to stay the forces of the west.

 

Meantime, the radical clerics, principally Ali Hosseini Khamenei, a key figure in the Iranian revolution, pull all the strings all the time.

 

Many reasonable people believe that the harsh regimes in the world, like Iran, cannot ignore the needs and sensibilities of their people; and the consumerist benefits of modernity forever; that they must “liberalize” in the end.

 

The key phrase is, “in the end.”

 

Just how peaceful and trustworthy is the current regime in Iran? When will that “in the end” stage come?

 

The Iranian PR apparatus has apparently floated the notion that there is a fatwa in the supreme Leader Khameni’s name (dating to the Iraqi war when Iran was behind in Iraq in WMD development). This never-produced fatwa was to the effect that the possession of nuclear weapons is against Muslim beliefs.  I think that is a deception.  See the linked Washington Post piece for background.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2013/11/27/did-irans-supreme-leader-issue-a-fatwa-against-the-development-of-nuclear-weapons/ .

 

The pursuit of nuclear weapons is the only rational explanation for the number of centrifuges Iran has producing pre-weapons grade uranium levels. The 20% levels of fissile concentration in Iran’s stockpile are well beyond any reasonable civilian use. In context, their pursuit and possession constitute the “smoking gun” – “Yes we are trying to get away with making atomic bombs.”

 

Moreover, “popular expectations” in Iran are not against their country becoming a nuclear power, nor would the ruling mullahs have to yield to popular opinion in any event. Once Iran “goes nuclear,” most analysts think that the “liberalization” of that regime would be even farther away that at present.

 

So the danger is clear, growing and grave, and the current regime there cannot be trusted.

 

The Saudis have announced an intention to pursue their own uranium enrichment program to the very limits of whatever is allowed the Iranians per any US agreement.[1] Their concern is obvious.  They want the same breakout time to bomb manufacture as the Iranians will enjoy.  The obvious implication: Iran’s nuclear breakout would guarantee that other ME regimes will follow suit ASAP. This is a recipe for a regional nuclear war, whether by miscalculation, terrorist overreach and retaliation, or some other dire turn of events.

 

At the end of this piece, I am providing links to some of the pertinent “raw” information. The best of these is the first, a detailed report about the Iranian program, and the capacity of its huge number of centrifuges to rapidly produce useable bomb material, especially starting from the retained stock of 20% enriched uranium that it already has. That source is the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, and the pull quote is:

 

By using the approximately 9,000 first generation centrifuges operating at its Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, Iran could theoretically produce enough weapon-grade uranium to fuel a single nuclear warhead in about 1.7 months.

 

Iran’s more advanced IR-2m centrifuges, about 1,000 of which are installed at Natanz, would allow Iran to produce weapon-grade uranium more quickly.

 

Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium is now sufficient, after further enrichment, to fuel approximately seven nuclear warheads.

 

Because Russia has a ten-year contract to fuel Iran’s only power reactor at Bushehr, Iran has no present need for enriched uranium to generate civilian nuclear energy.

 

Iran could fuel approximately 25 first generation implosion bombs if it had the ability to enrich the uranium needed to supply the Bushehr reactor annually.

 

The second piece is a 2014 report by the BBC in which Iran reportedly diluted half of its 20% enriched uranium stockpile as a gesture of good faith.  The key points here are three:

 

  1. This action was a result of the US freezing Iranian funds. When told of the “voluntary” reduction in the 20% stockpile, the Obama administration reversed that sanction.
  2. At the same time, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the negotiators that that Tehran will never give up its nuclear program.
  3. Iran has never agreed to effective on-site nuclear inspections.

 

The remaining piece is an excerpt from the World Nuclear Association that explains the enrichment process, and makes a couple of key points: Civilian reactors run on 3 to 5% enriched fuel. Fuel enrichment processes pose an inherent threat, requiring “tight control.” To put differently:  Iran’s centrifuges are inherently “dual use” tech, i.e., both civilian and military in nature.

 

The sheer number of known centrifuges in Iran, not to mention its secret centrifuge installations (a point made by Netanyahu) are a red flag.  No one worries about the French centrifuges.  But Iran is a rogue state with imperial designs.

 

Of course, the Saudis are worried.  So are the Egyptians.  So are the Jordanians. None of the Middle Eastern players will sit still while Iran exploits the Western naiveté in pursuit of the unholy grail – an atomic bomb arsenal.  They, too, will arm themselves.  Peace will not break out in that region.  Too much tinder.  Too many sparks.  MAD worked for two relatively rational players.  But the Islamic fanatics will introduce MAM (Mutually Assured Martyrdom.

 

The damage from a “modest” nuclear war in the region war cannot be contained. The reasons have already been outlined (even a moderate regional nuclear exchange can plunge world agriculture into dead-crops nuclear winter, even a couple of years of which could starving up to a billion people): see my earlier article — http://jaygaskill.com/TickTickTick.pdf.

 

A catastrophe on that scale will damage civilization as we know it, possibly beyond recovery.

 

Now, let’s take this analysis to the next level. Assume that Iran tries a covert breakout. What will be the state of US military preparedness then? Which allies will join us? Will the US administration then have the will and the means to launch a fully effective preemptive strike? Suppose that Iran – at the breakout detection point – already has just one atomic bomb and may be capable of using it on Israel.

 

Would we act? Really?

 

So it boils down to this: Given the stakes, what risks are we willing to take right now, and for how long must we wait before we must do something decisive?

 

We already know that the Iranian regime responds to a chokehold on its economy.  We already know that international sanctions are difficult to enact and maintain, especially rapidly and decisively.  And we know that the earlier referenced cutoff of access to funds (prematurely withdrawn by the administration, in my opinion), produced a quick concession by the regime.

 

The inescapable conclusion: The concentration should be on really tough, relentless sanctions imposed now, long before the breakout scenario presents. The approach needs to be (dare I say it?) more ruthless and much more effective.

 

Kinetic sanctions can stop far short of all-out war. They are particularly effective for two reasons: (1) They demonstrate to the adversary a willingness to cross the line into a new category – the really tough measures that cannot be gamed or avoided. (2) They hold back a full-on war, while sending the unambiguous message that noncompliance will bring on far worse consequences.

 

Here is single example of the kind of thing I am suggesting (used for illustration only):

 

A sudden” disaster” takes out a major Iranian gasoline refinery. It is coupled with a back channel message that we will fix it, of course, but only if the nuclear program is dismantled.  If this kind of diplomacy seems familiar, take a few hours to watch the Godfather. A dead race horse in one’s bed is a special kind of message. …As in a burning refinery.

 

We are dealing with thug minds here, dressed up in religious trappings to be sure, but their language, their mindset, is right out of an earlier era.

 

Who will bell the cat?

 

JBG

 

 

 

Links:

 

The BBC article

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27076367?print=true

 

The World Nuclear Association piece

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Conversion-Enrichment-and-Fabrication/Uranium-Enrichment/

 

The Nuclear Timetable Piece from Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control

http://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable

 

 

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 law@jaygaskill.com. 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 http://jaygaskill.com/WhoIsJayBGaskill.pdf

 

 



[1] This prospect of the Saudis beginning an enrichment program was broached earlier this month at the Munich Security Conference. Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal, the kingdom’s powerful former intelligence chief, if any final agreement that allowed Iran to maintain an enrichment capability would cause Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to invoke their own right to enrich uranium. “I think we should insist on having equal rights for everybody, this is part of the (Non-Proliferation Treaty) arrangement,” the prince said.

 

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ISLAM, THE CRISIS IN LIBERALISM & THE CHALLENGE TO CONSERVATISM

New

POLITICAL LIBERALISM AS A SECULAR RELIGION

 

This is a revision by the author of an earlier article of the same title that went viral after its release in 2004 – at least 6,000 readers saw it before 2008.

 

[] ISLAM,

[] THE CRISIS IN LIBERALISM &

[] THE CHALLENGE TO CONSERVATISM

 

An Ongoing Analysis by

 

Jay B Gaskill

 

A pull quote

 

As I revisit and revise this essay, the progressive liberal establishment finds itself confronted by the murderous intolerance of a malignant mutation in Islam.  Our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, purports to speak for his fellow liberals when he refuses to use the term “Muslim extremists” much less “Islamo-fascists”, “Islamo-Nazis” or even “radical Islamists,” seemingly in order not to offend the delicate sensibilities of all peace-loving Muslims, multiculturalists, or even the Wahhabi Muslims who rule Saudi Arabia.

 

Thus the postmodern liberal mind has turned tolerance into an endorsement of intolerance.

 

A recent article by Dr. Dennis Prager describes an incident where “Bill Maher, a man of the left on virtually every issue, began by defending liberalism’s honor against liberal hypocrisy on the subject of Islam.” Maher took hell for it from some of his fellow liberals.

 

LINK TO THE FULL ARTICLE — http://jaygaskill.com/liberalismasreligion.pdf

http://jaygaskill.com/liberalismasreligion.htm

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