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Skip West Wing & Get The Real West Wing Instead



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From a Turk Living in The U.S.



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An NRO reader who followed the link below writes:

My blood boils when I read stories like this. It is certainly embarrassing and saddening to me as a Turk who truly believes and also knows the Turkish people and their desire to be part of the European community of nations. Stories like this give plenty of ammunition to groups who want nothing but to see Turkey sidelined and excluded from the block of civilized nations.

I personally know a handful of missionaries in Izmir, Turkey who are absolutely terrified that Turkish authorities are going prosecute them for doing nothing but preaching their faith or holding Bible study classes in their own home. They have already been banned from holding classes in their own home but the authorities have made it extremely difficult to meet on private property in the city, so they are being forced to hold meetings outside the city.

I think this is more a problem with the local authorities than with the Turkish society in general. All Turks I know are very tolerant and open-minded to outside cultural activities. The local authorities are the ones living out their prejudices in exercising their official powers to make life miserable to anyone who dares preach another religion. Unfortunately, I believe the national leaders either don’t know the extent of what’s going on or are too ignorant to do anything to reign in the local authorities. They just don’t realize how even one little incident speaks volumes to people in western countries in which the only news they hear about this country are these kinds of negative stories.

For all it’s progressiveness in many areas, Turkey has a long way to go when it comes to respecting and enforcing religious freedoms.

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The Onion Meets Life



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A reader sends along the following story from the Onion:

Humane Society Worker Secretly Glad To See Nippy Dachshund Put Down

MARYSVILLE, OH-Union County Humane Society volunteer Catherine Moncrief, 23, admitted Monday that a small part of her was glad to see Oscar, a nippy, hyperactive dachshund, put to sleep. “I feel really guilty, but when they euthanized him, I was kind of like, ‘Ha, ha-serves you right, you obnoxious little shit,’” Moncrief said. “I went through a whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide in two weeks from feeding and washing him.” Moncrief then privately mused that the incessantly whimpering cocker in Cage 12 could go next for all she cares.

The reader added: “Replace ‘nippy dachsund’ with, say, ‘Beltway Sniper,’ and you pretty much get a sense of the self-contradictory (or ambivalent) feelings of this avowed ‘anti-death penalty’ Catholic.” I hear you, man, I hear you.

Web Briefing: September 17, 2014

Miss Emily Litella Says



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Better That Ten Guilty Men Escape Than One Innocent Suffer



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Alexander Volokh wrote a brilliant analysis of this proposition (mentioned
by Paul Craig Roberts in his Ryan piece) starting from the question: Why
“ten”? I think I may have posted this article — it’s titled “_n_ Guilty
Men” — to The Corner before, but it’s an evergreen and well worth
repeating.

Is Turkey Really European?



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Turkish authorities are investigating a Catholic priest who baptized a Muslim who later turned on him. According to the news organization Zenit, Turkish authorities have seized the Capuchin’s passport. It sounds like the monk was set up. The report says the 26-year-old Muslim insistently asked for baptism, and when the 70-year-old missionary gave it to him, the Muslim turned the old priest in to authorities. One of the monk’s brother priests asks, “Why does Turkey call itself a secular state and put a friar under investigation who baptized a converted Muslim?” Good question. The Corner reader who passed this story along says, “Whenever I hear someone call Turkey a ’secular democracy’ and complain about its exclusion from the European Union, stories like this come to mind.” Can anybody imagine the government of any historically Christian EU member state putting an imam under investigation for receiving a Christian into the Muslim faith?

Sheryl Crow Is Right



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Or at least her t-shirt is. War is not the answer. Victory is.

Another Conservative For Ryan (Kind of)



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Conservative columnist Paul Craig Roberts sees some merit in Gov. Ryan’s cleaning out death row in Illinois.

Court Martial--Two Takes



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Here are two quick takes on the friendly fire incident. I’m interested in hearing more.

–E-mail: “This is not a crime, or even a “war crime”; it was a mistake. We cannot court-martial our military for making mistakes, like the Carthaginians would crucify losing generals. If true, the “Go-pills” are another mitigating circumstance. Apparently, in the Air Force, these were not optional, but mandatory. The Navy claims that they do not even permit them, let alone have them optional. … This is nothing but a case of throwing these pilots to the wolves to appease Canada. Perhaps we have grown so accustomed to bloodless campaigns that we have forgotten that good people on our side die in war.”

–E-mail: “I’m a military officer, and the prevailing opinion around here is that these guys should be disciplined. Most of what we hear is rumor, but it leads us to believe they did not perform their duty. For example, the Canadian unit was in a no-fire airspace control zone. This information is published daily in the Airspace Coordination Order, which they are required to study prior to their mission. Add to that the conversation with the AWACS, and you hear very little sympathy from the military crowd. Some of us also think that maybe the squadron leadership should “get theirs” as well due to poor discipline within the unit.”

Question Versus Argument



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Derb, Now that’s an excellent point.

Dennis Miller Sighting



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E-mail: “A friend was in Santa Barbara recently,
eating at Via Vinos (he thinks that’s the name). Well, there at the restaurant was the unmistakeable Dennis Miller. He was wearing blue and grey sweat pants, a t-shirt and hi-tops. Fashion sense or not, there he was, by himself, reading National Review. Beautiful, huh?”

Re: We Will Not Attack Iraq...



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Jonah: It may be an unpersuasive argument, but it’s still a damn good
question. Giving SH all this time to hide things, organize things (e.g.
attacks on US territory by client terrorist groups) and develop things,
cannot possibly be cost-free. GWB should have made up his mind once for all
at the time of the “axis of evil” speech whether or not he was willing to go
without UN sanction. If he was, he should have done it ASAP–which, from
what I know of logistics, would have been within a matter of weeks. I do
take your point, though, that circumstances–e.g. a surprise attack on US
forces–would alter everything, though I think SH is much to smart to commit
any such blunder. My hopes for war rest on the following, in descending
order of probability: (1) GWB will realize that to stand down the assembled
forces without any attack, and without spontaneous regime change in Iraq,
will be an election-loser for him. (2) There has been frantic development
on some terrific and devastating new weapons system–an infallible
bunker-buster, for example–that GWB wants to have fully tested & in place
for the attack. (3) Colin Powell will decide he needs to spend more time
with his family.

Social Goods



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Rod, I think you misconstrued my point, or maybe I miscommunicated it. When you say cops need guns because that is a matter of necessity, I agree with you. But it’s still a matter of making choices. Police could use non-lethal weapons to stop criminals which would work 95% of the time. This would guarantee no suspects were accidentally killed or deliberately murdered by police. A good thing to be sure. The problem is that in a few cases more cops would die (and the numbers of dead cops would rise as more criminals learned that owning and using a gun was the best insurance against arrest). We decide to err on the side of allowing cops to protect themselves with lethal weapons for these and other reasons.

These sorts of cost-benefit analyses come up in every aspect of life. We spend only so much on hospitals or free drugs when we know that if we doubled that amount thousands of lives might be saved. We implement regulations which say a rollover rate of 1 in a million is acceptable, when we could say 1 in a billion is better, even though that might bankrupt the auto industry. It’s not just budgetary economics, it’s making choices about who lives and who dies. You might respond — as many readers have — that the government doesn’t intentionally kill X person with AIDS or Y person who bought a Montero. That’s true. But we also don’t willingly kill any innocent people on death row either. In fact, we try very very very hard to make sure we only execute people who deserve it. We try so hard, in fact, that we don’t know of a single innocent person who’s ever been executed. And we have lots of names of real people who died because the government chose a rollover rate of one in a million versus one in a billion or who would have lived if a doctor made it to them quicker or if a hospital had been a little closer to home. You say it’s a reasonable alternative to put murderers away for life. Well that takes money from saving more deserving lives too.

Lastly, I think people who make Ryan’s “demon of error” argument against the death penalty make a fundamental mistake of logic. If I have a batch of cookies and I discover that a piece of broken glass ended up in the batter, I have to throw away the whole batch because I don’t know which cookie the glass might be in. That’s Ryan’s argument against the death penalty. He says we don’t know who might be innocent, therefor we have to let everyone off. Well, that’s absurd. Just it’s okay to eat a cookie if we know there’s no glass in it, we can execute someone if we know he is guilty. We may not know for sure that everyone is guilty, but we know for damn sure that some of them are — and those are the one we can execute with a clear conscience if we believe in the death penalty. The guy who was caught with a knife to the throat of a little girl after raping her sisters and murdering her brother was guilty. He even said so. But Ryan let him off because he wasn’t sure whether other people on Death Row might have been innocent. If you believe in the death penalty, that’s moronic. If you don’t believe in the death penalty it doesn’t matter what the guy did, you’re against executing people period.

So, the ultimate test is a simple one: Are you in favor of executing the people we know are guilty or not? The rest is commentary.

I Disagree



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Derb, you write:

(1): if GWB is willing to go to war without UN approval, why didn’t he do so yesterday? or last month? or a year ago?

This strikes me as a pretty unpersuasive argument. I’m with you that things don’t look as good or as certain as they did a few months ago. But it seems to me obvious that Bush is willing to go to war without UN approval given the right circumstances. After all if Saddam launched scuds on American bases in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Bush wouldn’t wait for UN approval. The question is where Bush’s tipping point is. He threw the dice on getting UN approval and he may be regretting it now, I don’t know. But it seems to me an odd argument to say that just because he hasn’t gone to war yet without UN approval, he’ll therefor never go to war without UN approval.

Help—Court Martial



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I’m interested in hearing informed opinions about whether these guys in the Canadian friendly fire incident should be court martialed…

I’m Glad



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that The Onion’s back, but sorry to see that their Iraq coverage keeps getting more heavy-handed and unfunny.

Usa Today Is Always Worth Reading



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Today there is an excellent piece on how state spending is up, despite all the whining on the need for a federal bailout: “State and local governments are spending more money and hiring more people than last year, even as governors and mayors warn of draconian cuts in public services because of the economic slump.”

Jonah, Death Penalty



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Sorry I’m late getting to this, Jonah. I think the “acceptable risk” analogy re: the death penalty doesn’t persuade. We don’t have a reasonable alternative to arming the police and giving them the authority to use deadly force. So we have to allow for the fact that mistakes will happen. Same with cars: the social good (by now a necessity) brought about by the existence of automobiles outweighs the inevitable deaths brought about by same. With the death penalty, we do have a reasonable alternative to putting convicted killers to death. We could incarcerate them for life, without benefit of parole, in a supermax prison (by the way, an NRO reader who has spent years doing lay prison ministry on death row at Angola tells me that most people don’t realize how hard life on death row really is). Is the social good accomplished by executing convicted murderers that much better than imprisoning them for life? Is it so good that it’s worth risking the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man? I don’t see that it is.

Ramesh’s questions, though, are forcing me to examine my anti-d.p. thinking, and leading me to see that I probably buy more of the moral argument against the d.p. than I’d like to admit to myself. I think one reason I resist the argument made by the Pope and others [that the d.p. violates the sacredness of human life] is that I can’t stand to see these people go on and on about the poor prisoner, but have very little evident concern for the pain their victim(s) and the victims’ loved ones feel. That’s not a reason, I admit, but it’s what’s in my gut, and I struggle with it.

Don’t Look Now, But



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Today’s Cole Porter



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Entertainment Weekly music writer Chris Willman has a pretty great list of what was wrong with the American Music Awards on Sunday night. The first one stood out:

1) Missy Elliott has a huge hit, ”Work It,” that in more prudish times would’ve been classified as soft porn. Love it or hate it, the song is an unabashed celebration of sex, with its blatant lyrical references to oral sex, penis size, female genitalia, shaving pubic hair, sexual positions, and so forth. So how best to illustrate this raunchy number for millions of ABC viewers? Have some little girls come out and breakdance while Missy does her rap. On the very day that Pete Townshend was arrested, you’d think someone would have better sense than to associate prepubescents with the nasty.

Want to see what he’s talking about? Check out the lyric sheet. I was particularly moved by Elliott’s charming couplet linking The Little Drummer Boy to freaky sex. A music journalist friend of mine tells me that “Work It” is probably the most popular song with 11-year-old girls right now. Great, just great.

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