Friday, June 12, 2015

US accuses Russia of 'outright lies' on Ukraine

2015-06-12 08:51

The White House. (Susan Walsh, AP)
Kiev - Washington's UN envoy accused Russia on Thursday of spinning "outright lies" on Ukraine designed to hide the Kremlin's direct involvement in a war it launched to thwart Kiev's pro-Western drive.

Samantha Power's address to a crowd of hundreds in Kiev delivered one of Washington's toughest messages to Moscow since the warring sides grudgingly signed off on a loosely defined truce in February that threatened to collapse last week.

Her emotional 70-minute speech also came a year into a presidency Petro Poroshenko has used to try to wipe out decades of crippling corruption and anaemic economic growth that left Ukraine reliant on Russian help.

Power said Russia launched the war in Ukraine's vital eastern industrial heartland 14 months ago in order to drain the new government's remaining financial resources and undermine its public support.

She charged that the Kremlin then tried to disguise its agenda through a torrent of media propaganda and disingenuous speeches at global venues such as the United Nations Security Council, messages that helped President Vladimir Putin's domestic support touch record highs.

"The focus on Ukraine in the Security Council is important because it gives me the chance, on behalf of the United States to lay out the mounting evidence of Russia's aggression, its obfuscation, and its outright lies," said Power.

Putin has resolutely denied sending special forces into Ukraine's battle-scarred Donetsk and Lugansk provinces, a predominantly Russian-speaking region with ancient cultural links to Moscow.

'Call of the heart'

The Kremlin strongman has called armed Russians discovered in the war zone "volunteers" and patriotic off-duty soldiers who were answering "a call of the heart".

That message has been rejected by Washington and its EU allies.

Leaders of the G7 group of the world's richest nations threatened on Monday to toughen their economic sanctions on Russia should the bloodshed grow any worse.

But Moscow had viewed a rare meeting between Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry, held in what both sides described as a constructive atmosphere last month as a sign of the West gradually softening its tone.

Power's public appearance worked in part to dispel that speculation and reassure increasingly-disenchanted Ukrainians that Washington remained firmly on their side.

"You are still living in the revolution, and delivering on its promise will require all the resilience, smarts and compassion you've got," said Power.

"And that was before Russian troops occupied Crimea [in March 2014], something the Kremlin denied at the time, but has since admitted, and before Russia began training, arming, bankrolling, and fighting alongside its so-called separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine, something the Kremlin continues to deny," Power added.

"The Ukrainian people, stay engaged in the reform process," she urged.

Rattling nerves

Last week's fighting, which was along the twisting line splitting the rebel-overseen region of around four million from the rest of Ukraine, killed more than 30 people and rattled the nerves of EU powers Germany and France.

The two countries were instrumental in forging the so-called Minsk Agreements that aimed to finally settle one of Europe's most destabilising conflicts in decades.

But a quiet spell at the start of the week was followed by a new day of fighting that officials from both sides said claimed the lives of two soldiers and four civilians.

The United Nations estimates that the entire campaign has killed nearly 6,500 people and driven more than a million from their homes.

But Ukrainians' frustration with seemingly ceaseless warfare has been compounded by a growing list of economic problems that have left Ukraine's state coffers barren and the lives of many much worse off than they had been in years past.

Kiev has warned that its inability to win any relief from its private lenders may force it to stop servicing its outstanding debt payments as early as next week.

Such a decision would push Ukraine into a technical default and make its return to sustainable growth even more complex.

Ukraine's main private creditors warned on Thursday that they were "deeply concerned" by Kiev's current debt negotiating position.

It "is not in the interests of Ukraine," they said in a joint statement.

The International Monetary Fund has said, however, that it could continue to support Ukraine with bailout funding even if Kiev does not reach a debt restructuring deal with private creditors.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Police Union Fed Up With Obama

To his Peril, Obama crossed the wrong “Red Line”

Police union accuses White House of politicizing cop safety

Dear All,

 While working at the Federal Building in San Francisco, the common theme was, “Don’t do or say anything that will embarrass the president”; not even if the problem “is the president”.

The fear of losing federal funding was and still is of great concern which is where this fear of embarrassing the president is derived. 

The effect of stifling free speech is enormous and I believe is one reason why our country is in the poor shape we see it in today.

Those who are experts in their fields are afraid to speak out to the truth for the very fear of losing their jobs; and who suffers?  All of us!

This intimidation by the superiors in Washington D.C. is the way they control the information (or miss-information) that we get from those in our government; going as high as the Office of the President. (example below)

Remember when Obama stated, “Marijuana is safer than Alcohol” and the brave former DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhard took issue and criticized him for his stupidity....shortly after, USAO Holder took Leonhard to the wood shed and we all know what happened to her just a few weeks ago.

Well, finally we are seeing a shift in the trend of being silent in the face of adversity and fear of those in the Obama Administration. 

Men and women who have dedicated [and many who have sacrificed] their very lives to protect and serve communities across the America have finally said, “enough is enough”........these same men and women who thrust themselves into harm’s way, in all manners of ways, to protect our society have finally become to understand that they can no longer stay silent and are beginning to speak out in no uncertain terms that they will not allow this president to continue business as usual..........and as you will read from the article below...........after sending Obama this strong admonition, they have now forewarned this feckless president to strap on the gloves and prepare for the fight of his political life............the game is on!

Best regards,
Ronald L. Kirkish, Resident of Gilroy, CDFC/IFBC/CALM

 Fraternal Order of Police Logo

Police Union Fed Up With Obama

05/20/2015  /  By shawn

The largest police union in the country has had it with President Obama and his constant harassment of the nation’s law enforcement officers.

After getting wind of Obama’s plans to take military equipment out of the hands of local police departments, the Fraternal Order of Police is fighting back against measures that would put officers in greater danger.

The union’s executive director, James Pasco, told Politico on Monday that the FOP would be “at our most aggressive” when it came to defending the rights of officers in harm’s way.

“We need to only look back to Baltimore to see what happens when officers are sent out ill-equipped in a disturbance situation,” he said.

“Because you don’t like the optics, you can’t send police officers out to be hurt or killed.”

This week, Obama announced that military weapons such as bayonets, grenade launchers, and weaponized vehicles would no longer be accessible to local police departments.

He also said that police would have to be granted special permission to acquire riot gear and armored vehicles.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said Monday.

“It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”

Yes, perhaps that’s true.

And perhaps there are very good reasons to keep our law enforcement agencies from having all of the weaponry available to the U.S. military.

But the president isn’t being driven by common concerns about militarization, he’s being driven by the fictional narrative that says police are a brutal, racist force out there to keep the blacks in line.

This is his way of pandering to the civil rights leaders who are making this their cause, and to make sure he secures a legacy that makes him look like he did something for his own people.

Isn’t is funny how it’s always a one-way street?

It’s always the police that have to make the community feel better.

It’s always the police that have to change their ways.

What about these communities?

Why does Obama never criticize them?

Why is there never any responsibility thrown their way for steeping themselves in criminal activity?

No, it’s only the police that have to change, only the system, only the laws, only the juries…never the ones who riot and loot and make the cops have to get out their tanks and smoke bombs.

It may seem strange to the rest of us, but Obama believes that if we simply ignore crime, maybe it will go away.

That’s probably not going to happen.

And it may look better on the books when police are no longer arresting black men, but it’s going to look a lot worse on the other side of the ledger when crime statistics keep going up and up.

Is there a middle ground?


But disarming and vilifying the police isn’t going to get us there.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Truth Behind NFL's Anti-Brady Report


Tom Brady and the Patriots just got sideswiped.

The word that comes to mind is defamation, and the mock-judicial report that was just released (presumably paid for by the NFL) raises another – even deeper – question, about the NFL and what is really going on here.

When lawyers cannot find a “smoking gun” to prove something they feel they must prove to win a case, they often lean on a convenient catch phrase, bundling assumptions, hunches, hopes and findings into “totality of the evidence.”

In my opinion, that is exactly what the Wells Report on football pressure levels at the AFC Championship Game just did – and as such, to borrow a phrase, it is nonsense.

Moreover, the report appears to resemble a paid slight, an intentional and personal attack, circumstances notwithstanding, on one of the game’s most famous quarterbacks, as well as an intended denigration of his team’s record, practices and ethics.

It is clearly framed as conclusory, a well-aimed heart punch at the Patriots and their winning record.

Without significant factual predicates, it is simply a paid document.

For starters, there is no “evidence” against the Patriots, despite bold assertions and use of that word in the report.

As the writers well know, unless you are in a legal courtroom, circumstances and assumptions are NOT “evidence,” since they cannot be challenged by opposing counsel as “hearsay,” “speculation,” “conjecture,” “biased,” “ambiguous,” “confusing,” “misleading,” “vague,” “argumentative,” “assuming facts not in evidence,” or any other well recognized and often-upheld objection.

None of the so-called evidence was actually ever subject to challenge and none has ever been “admitted in evidence” by a judge.

Second, this is a paid “study” or “investigation” – and that is exactly how it must be read, despite the fancy lacing and embroidery trying to dress it up as some sort of legal decision.

If tobacco companies, car makers, manufacturers of any kind, or sports leagues wish to get their ideas, surmises, hopes or claims into the public domain in a way that pushes their agenda, they often “commission” an “independent study.”

In many cases, the study is or tries to be “independent,” but is still conducted – with the full knowledge of all involved – against the backdrop of a hoped-for or expected conclusion.

Let us look at the NFL's expectations, as stated immediately after the game in which the Colts alleged ball-tampering by the Patriots.

The NFL first announced that the Patriots' balls had been underinflated (which proved true of 11, but two gauges differed widely, one measuring closer to full inflation), adding that this was by two pounds per square inch (a “fact” that proved to be false on both gauges), never bothered to conduct a scientific review before speaking (although a partial review was commissioned later), and apparently failed even to ask one critical question that might have led to a different thought-process:

Where were the Colts' balls were inflated?

Since that directly affects the physics, possibly explaining unobserved inflation in Colts' balls (only four of which, oddly, were ever measured).

Note: As a matter of physics, where the Colts' balls were inflated is absolutely a material fact, since the deflation (pursuant to the so-called Ideal Gas Law) might have occurred for ALL balls if all were inflated at the same temperature, in the same location.

One can just as easily assume they were not, as that they were.

Notably, that question appears not to be reported in the final document commissioned either.

So, before this “investigation,” neatly packaged in lawyer language, was commissioned – there certainly appears to have been a view as to what the NFL was paying for … or what it wanted to hear.

Let’s look deeper now at the paid document. 

That document – rather ironically, in view of the headlines condemning Brady – starts by saying that “Tom Brady wanted the game balls inflated at 12.5 PSI,” then arrays a number of non-Brady emails (hearsay), humorous texts (which are interpreted as admissions of guilt), a one-minute and 40-second trip to a bathroom by a designated ball handler (who may have wanted to keep one eye on the game balls for which he was responsible as he relieved himself), a scientific or statistical guess at conditions, which – taken together – magically now make it “more probable than not” that a bad thing happened and that superstar Brady “generally aware” – knew, knew, well knew something, even if there is objectively no evidence that he actually knew anything.

This then (rather predictably) becomes the paid, flashing neon condemnation the NFL seems to have rather hoped to get.

And what are we, the simple people out here in football-watching America, supposed to conclude?

Never mind that other esteemed Ivy League professors of physics – not on the NFL payroll – came to contradictory findings about the applicability of the Ideal Gas Law, essentially saying that the deflation was consistent with the radical shift in weather conditions observed on that day.

Never mind that there is no discussion in the report of league-wide or general pressure-adjustment and typical ball-handling practices (do all teams tinker pre-game with football pressure?

Is it simply assumed to be the equivalent of wiping sweat from a basketball midgame, changing air pressure in the tires of a racing cycle, or playing with a scuffed baseball?

Never mind that no warnings were ever issued on the topic, and no penalties ever previously discussed or assessed against any other team on this rule.

Never mind that there is also a raft of other rules that are interpreted loosely, such as rules against untucked shirts.

Were all the lines EXACTLY four inches wide, not 3.7 or 4.3 inches, at and throughout game time (Rule 2, Field Markings)?

Did any player scuff a line on purpose?

Did any wide receiver or running back try to put the ball down ahead of where his forward movement was later ruled to be?

Were all lines within a quarter-inch width tolerance without exception (Rule 3, Field Markings)?

Were all footballs technically “natural tan color,” even after hitting the mud a dozen times? (Rule 2, Section 1, The Ball).

There are dozens of other largely interpretable rules that govern the game, and leave room for some flexibility.

More importantly, were all game balls “under supervision of the referee” prior to the game (Rule 2, Section 1), and if not so (frankly, it was not so), why not?

Was this not a nod of acquiescence to flexibility in rule enforcement?

Would that not have been an NFL failing, rather than a team failing?

Was “rule of reason,” that is, some latitude in ball control, being clearly telegraphed by NFL deference to team ball handling?

And what is more – is this not already well known and understood by the NFL?

Never mind that the PSI rule – and how it has been interpreted since the rule’s introduction – may have been viewed as relatively immaterial to standard play, the same way that these paid lawyers who wrote the anti-Brady NFL report likely exceed the speed limit sometimes, or perhaps distractedly eat a burger while driving a car, or allow the pressure in their car tires to reach a level that might lead to being pulled over on a technical violation under state laws for maintaining de minimus car tire pressure.

Never mind that a certain “holier than thou” attitude permeates this anti-Brady report, as if God Himself were watching for these incremental PSI variations.

Never mind that some quarterbacks actually prefer the balls to be more inflated, not less, and that there is a certain randomness or capriciousness that seems almost adolescent or juvenile about saying a football must be this tenth of a pound per square inch more or less to be thrown.


Never mind that the Colts may have been able to intercept an underinflated football in that title game – which they actually did – more easily.

Never mind that, once balls were pumped up to fuller status in the second half of the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots actually scored MORE points than they had with balls later deemed underinflated.

Never mind any of this.

The truth is that this paid document is utterly inconclusive, a dance of fancy wordsmithing, neatly stuffed with lawyerly prattle that amounts to a collection of outcome-determinative conjecture.

And conjecture about what?

About a so-called rule that has never been enforced, appears to be subject to no systematic monitoring, may be no more than a pattern of NFL flexibility or indifference to many of the rules on the margins, and is immaterial anyway, since it appears to have little or no consequence for either scoring or game outcomes.

But indulge the NFL and the anti-Patriots bias in the media a bit longer.

Go one level deeper.

Even if there is something intentional in the acts of the accused equipment handler, a personal sense of getting away with something for the boss, wanting to help a famous quarterback, hoping on an autograph, what are we really talking about here?

The whole issue appears not only marginal, but immaterial to the outcome of either games or scores.

More, it seems oddly all-consuming for the NFL, which has by all indications otherwise been barely willing to measure – let alone enforce – incremental violations of other rules.

Why now, suddenly the enforcement of an obtuse, eclectic game rule, and at the margins?  

This begins to look like some sort of political “gotcha game.”

As someone utterly unaffiliated with either side of this dispute, with no link formal or informal to personalities or institutions under discussion in the report, I am left with a nagging feeling.

There is more to this story.

As an average sports observer, one is left wondering … is there something more nefarious, more personal, even actionable in a legal way – not in the Patriots’ locker room – but in the NFL board room?

Why expend all this effort, all this hot air, this much-touted, carefully commissioned, soberly presented report – with no real “there” there?

If I were Tom Brady, or were part of the Patriots organization, I would be more than interested in the answer to that question.

That may even be the real question, after all.

What do you say – maybe, we need another investigation, another comprehensive report?

Or maybe just this: some lawyers need to be brought to the other side of the table, to help get this squared away?

Robert B. Charles is a periodic commentator on national issues, former Assistant Secretary of State and counsel, no affiliation to or with any professional football team.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Don't legalize marijuana

The Washington Examiner

Don't legalize marijuana 

By Washington Examiner | May 9, 2015 | 5:00 am

States are challenging the supremacy of federal law on drug policy, so the Drug Enforcement Agency is likely to be confronted increasingly with petitions to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act — the drugs that have "no accepted medical use."

Whatever the failures of the war on drugs, removing pot from Schedule One would be a bad idea.

It would fly in the face of available scientific evidence and, to boot, would rely on demonstrably false promises from one of America's most self-righteous special interests.

The critical issue surrounding the reclassification of drugs in Schedule One is their medicinal value.

In the case of marijuana, this is a distraction.

The raw cannabis plant has no medicinal value.

For the same reasons people no longer chew bark in order to cure headaches but instead buy aspirin and other painkillers, there is no medical reason to smoke pot.

The pharmaceutical profession exists to isolate active medical ingredients from herbs and plants (or to synthesize them) and to provide safe, standardized doses with minimal side-effects.

This is how every other drug works.

There is no scientific or medical reason to make marijuana an exception.

The real issue with marijuana, beyond the medical ruse, is whether the drug should be available for recreation.

And there are several reasons why it should not be.

An obvious one is that the federal government should not be in the business of reinforcing misinformation spread by advocates that pot is harmless.

Removing marijuana from Schedule One would be a big step toward normalizing the use and abuse of a drug that has deleterious effects on individuals and wider society.

In teens and young adults, marijuana use has been shown to impede brain development and cause a loss of intelligence.

It thus causes permanent brain damage, affecting memory and impulse control.

In Colorado, marijuana was legalized in part because people claimed it would produce tax revenues to build schools.

Advocating better education by legalizing a drug that stunts brain development in the young is, frankly, grotesque.

Marijuana, very often the first drug with which young people experiment, initiates them into a culture of drug use.

It is thus a gateway in a social sense.

But it is also a gateway in a chemical sense, too.

Studies on animals have shown that exposure in adolescence to THC — the ingredient in marijuana that creates the high — primes the brain for an elevated response to other drugs later in life.

There is no need to exaggerate the threat; most marijuana users do not graduate to hard drugs.

But a 2004 study showed that marijuana users are between three and five times more likely to do so than people who do not use pot.

A society in which marijuana use is normalized can expect more trouble with methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and other such dangerous drugs.

The countervailing benefits of legalization have also fallen far short of what its advocates promise.

Pot advocates have long claimed that legalization would reduce crime by suppressing illicit trade and increase government revenue all in one fell swoop.

Neither claim has proven true.

Revenues from marijuana taxes in Colorado from the first full fiscal year since legalization are projected to be only 58 percent of what was expected.

And there has not been a drop off in violent crime either; the state's homicide rate rose 21 percent the year after voters agreed to legalize pot, and in Denver, gang-related murders are up this year, too.

These increases may have nothing to do with pot, but legalization certainly has not produced detectable benefits.

A coherent libertarian case can be made that the federal government should not tell people what drugs they may and may not ingest.

But all laws involve limits on individuals that a democratic society decides are necessary for the common good. Invoking the common good can be, and has been, often abused.

But normalizing a drug that is particularly harmful to the young involves a radical and irresponsible elevation of individual rights at the expense of the most vulnerable members of society.

To normalize the use of harmful drugs makes it more likely that the young will use them and do themselves long-term damage.

Individual liberty matters.

But so does social responsibility and cohesion, which should not be sacrificed lightly to meet the personal desires of those who are strongest and most resilient.

It is unwise to add to the centrifugal forces in society by normalizing irresponsible drug use.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Invidious Discrimination in America?


By Robert Charles  - April 28, 2015
Legal treatises define “invidious discrimination” as “treating a class of persons unequally in a matter that is malicious, hostile or damaging,” a definition that encompasses traditional religious beliefs, including moral standards and marriage. 

In other words, discrimination has not historically been allowed against any faith -- Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or any variant of Christianity. 

In the United States, we honor -- through our First Amendment to the Bill of Rights -- the freedom to worship and hold religious beliefs dictated by conscience.

Similarly, we honor the 14th Amendment’s equal protection of all Americans, and perhaps more simply, we respect each other as Americans -- regardless of how we manage our lives, so long as that includes mutual respect. 

Whatever one thinks about the religious views of the majority on homosexual behavior, or about the idea that same-sex unions codified as “marriage” under state law, we are all Americans. 

But, alas, something simpler and in some ways more heartbreaking than adults debating constitutional question brings me to write this column.

You see, a large majority of Americans self-define as people of faith. 

Within that majority, a vast majority belong to organized, traditional religions and these religions often proscribe homosexuality, including Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic and various protestant churches), Judaism (from the Bible), Islam (Quran), and Buddhism (according to the Dalai Lama). 

That is the state of play in America today. 

This produces a question for people of good heart: Are these faiths -- families and individuals -- not also entitled to be free from “invidious discrimination?” 

The answer must be yes, legally and as a matter of conscience. 

Thus, the irony. 

Those pressing to widen acceptance of certain sexual behaviors are, in effect, now punishing sincerely-held religious beliefs. 

Rather than tolerance, the parties asking indulgence from society in their sexual preferences (roughly two percent of the population) are now pressing legal cases that center on intolerance of others’ religious beliefs. 

How can this be? 

More to the point, how can this be resolved? 

Enter a personal story. 

Perhaps in this short story, there is an answer -- namely, preserving tolerance for religious convictions. 

A little girl in a schoolhouse in the metropolitan Washington DC area was recently part of a “Diversity Day,” ostensibly dedicated to learning “tolerance.” 

So far, so good. 

As part of the day, the school commissioned outsiders to come and educate about the correctness of support for the “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.” 

Put aside the question of whether this topic, and these behaviors, are appropriate for young girls. 

Focus just on what happened.

At the completion of a session instructing on the normalcy of and need for tolerance for these minority sexual behaviors, a class of young girls was asked to “stand if they supported” this community -- including everything related to their lifestyle.

Two young girls in the large class remained sitting. 

They were both traditional Christians. 

The instructors praised those standing as “strong and intelligent.”

One of the sitting girls asked quietly to be excused. 

After a discussion among teachers, the girl was escorted out -- then cross-examined in the hallway. 

When she tried to explain the basis for her belief as traditional Christian teachings, she was told that her religious views were fine for home and in church, but that at school she had to participate in these “educational” events. 

The little girl began to cry. 

The teacher instructed her to return to the lecture -- which she did not want to do, having been singled out and feeling “uncomfortable.” 

The teacher said being “uncomfortable” was part of the “educational” moment.

The girl then explained that she could not leave her beliefs at home, since they go with her where she goes. 

She explained that she is not judgmental, and does not try to change the views of others. 

But she cannot change inside her what God expects of her.

Apparently, this response produced a stalemate. 

In the presence of another adult who joined the conversation, the initial teacher retreated to expressing disappointment that the girl would not return.  

In short, the girl was singled out. 

She was singled out for perceived intolerance, ironically for her religious beliefs, which reflected her views of right and wrong. 

The teacher implied that the child’s faith was unacceptable. 

She sought to coerce conformity, separating the child from her heart, family, and church. 

So, the question: Is that where America now is?

Is this really where we want this country to go? 

Parents were later notified that an “incident” had occurred. 

In the end, the issue was squared through discussion, ironically about deference to differing, strongly held views. 

But why was that not the starting point? 

Is this not also a seminal lesson in tolerance, never mind constitutional prerogatives?

In this moment, the national debate was telescoped into one family.

The encounter may be coming to a school near you.

What does it reveal?

People arrive at faith and live faith from different perspectives, rooted in different cultures, life experiences and religious traditions. 

As Americans, should we be turning on ourselves, teaching our children to reject their hearts, faiths, families and religious convictions? 

For a preoccupation with sexual preferences?

I think not. 

To do so would be to sanction invidious discrimination against each other, against those who follow their conscience, who hold in their hearts a sense of what they believe to be right and wrong, reinforced by an established religion of the world, and of America.

None of us has a monopoly on truth. 

None is therefore entitled -- under our Constitution or most faiths -- to judge the convictions of others. 

Why can we not leave it at that? 

Let us turn down the rhetoric and turn off this “us and them” mentality. 

Tolerance of one group’s private behaviors and beliefs does not require intolerance of those who hold different beliefs. 

How about that discussion on a “diversity day?” 

If we do not learn to live with each other, we will all slide into the pit, or what a friend recently called “a culture of outrage and victimhood,” defaulting to snap judgments on each other, and not generous ones. 

In deference to that little girl’s conscience and courage, let’s pull back on the reins. 

Let’s not condemn ourselves or misguide our kids, or turn our future into one of reflexive condemnation, especially when the topic is sincerely held religious views.

Glibly promoting intolerance in the name of tolerance is a fool’s errand. 

It is dangerous, especially for a people who must remain united in an increasingly fractious world, true to a moral vision that includes, at its forefront, genuine patience with each other.  

Invidious discrimination, especially against those of religious grounding -- the majority of this country -- should not be permitted, in any direction or for any reason. 

The real solution is to cool our jets, one and all. 

On the next “diversity day” – or whatever day people choose to talk about our nation’s strengths -- maybe the conversation can turn to listening harder to how different families, kids, teachers, and Americans view the world, and trying to understand their personal convictions -- not change them. 

That little girl taught me something. 

She was strong, true to herself, and to her faith. 

She was true, without knowing them by name, to principles embodied in our First Amendment. 

Surrounded by cherry trees, on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial, are these arresting words. 

“Almighty God hath created the mind free. 

All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens... are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion. 

No man shall… suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” 

By extension, I think he must have also meant little girls.


Robert B. Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State, former litigator, and onetime teacher at the Harvard Extension School.  He now runs a consulting firm in Washington DC.