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Paying ransom

Timothy Noah in The New Republic addresses the debate over who first proposed budget sequestration, which just about everybody thinks is dumb: "Bob Woodward of The Washington Post and Jackie Calmes of The New York Times both say it came from the Obama White House ... That's true in roughly the same sense that it was Charles Lindbergh's bad idea eight decades ago to fork over the equivalent in today's dollars of $840,000 to a German-born carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann. ...

"The sequester was a ransom payment. ... We can argue about whether it was wise for the Obama White House to pay ransom to persuade Tea-Party-inspired Republicans to permit a routine debt-ceiling increase on which the world economy depended. ... [But] Obama's full payment to the Republicans [on deficit reduction] did avert a default on U.S. Treasuries and the onset of a global depression."

Bully for fathers

Heather Mac Donald in The Weekly Standard: "President Barack Obama recently went to Chicago to promote his poverty and gun violence initiatives and actually spoke a good deal of truth. 'There's no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood,' he said.

"Reiterating a line from his State of the Union speech, he observed: 'What makes you a man is not the ability to make a child; it's the courage to raise one.' ...

"What Obama didn't say also came as a relief. ... He could have trotted out hackneyed poverty and racism themes from the academy -- that biased law enforcement and an 'epidemic' of incarceration, for example, are harming what would otherwise be law-abiding inner-city communities. Unfortunately, the president's deputies are pursuing policies informed by such ideas behind the scenes, but at least Obama is not putting the power of the presidential bully pulpit behind them."

Missing the terror target

Dena Sher on the ACLU Blog of Rights: "None. Zero. That's the number of fatalities or injuries from terrorist acts by American Muslims over the last two years, according to a recent report from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Here are some other numbers from the report worth noting: In the United States in 2012, there were nine 'terrorist plots' by American Muslims -- only one of which led to violence. Of those nine plots, only 14 suspects were indicted. Separately, six suspects were indicted for support of terrorism."

A chart posted by Ms. Sher shows a rising number of attacks initiated by far-right groups or individuals since 1990, peaking at more than 500 in 2008 and remaining at more than 300 per year through 2011.

Ms. Sher continues: "Terrorism is not a 'Muslim' phenomenon. Indeed, last year, the author of the report called terrorism by American Muslims 'a minuscule threat to public safety.' Yet far too many policymakers assume the opposite is true, and too many policies are predicated on the false and bigoted assumption that Muslims are more likely to engage in terrorism than other Americans. ... While there have been multiple congressional hearings on so-called radicalization of Muslims, there have been none on political violence emanating from the Far Right."

Stop demonizing preppers

Reason magazine's Jesse Walker: "My friend Ceredwyn Alexander lives on a homestead in the mountains of Vermont. She and her family raise a lot of their own food, from chickens to cabbage, and they heat their home with wood they chop themselves. ...They worry about peak oil. They try not to buy things on credit. They always keep a great deal of food and water and other supplies on hand. If everything goes to hell tomorrow, they want to be prepared.

"People who say and do such things are often called preppers, and Ceredwyn willingly applies the term to herself: It's a decent label, she says, for people who try to be prepared for sudden, disruptive emergencies.

"If you've been absorbing the recent portraits of preppers in the press, where they've been depicted as doomsday-fearing right-wing paranoiacs stocking up on guns and canned goods, you may think you know all there is to know about Ceredwyn. But before you use your stock of stereotypes to fill in those blanks, [you should know] a few more facts about her ..."

opinion_commentary

Compiled by Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com)


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