Honoring Tyrants

A Saudi blogger has just received the first 50 of 1000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” He’s got 950 lashes and ten years of prison to go.

That’s the sentence the Saudis imposed on Raif Badawi last May for criticizing clerics. His blog is shuttered and — because 10,000 lashes and ten years behind bars just isn’t enough — Badawi (pictured with his children) must also pay a cleric-criticizing fee of a million riyals ($266,600). He was spared execution.

The motive for the sadism? Critics of the royal family say that if you do anything to possibly undermine the country’s religious establishment, you’re also threatening Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, of which recently deceased King Abdullah (ruler since 2005) was one member. And the government is ruthless about protecting its turf.

For controversial reasons, our own government thinks it’s important to maintain a strong alliance with Saudi Arabia’s. Even if that dubious proposition were correct, to cooperate on specific questions of foreign policy and to especially sanction the shapers of such a regime are two very different things. Yet with flabbergasting obtuseness, the U.S. military has just announced its sponsorship of an essay competition “in honor of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz” (who was alive in May). (Yes, seriously.)

The contest is a fitting tribute to the now-defunct monarch, according to General Martin Dempsey; it’s an “important opportunity to honor” his memory while also encouraging scholarly research, all at the same time.

Think it through, General.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Blood Sport Justice?

The trial of Dr. Annette Bosworth has been postponed from next week to May 18. She faces 24 years in a South Dakota prison on 12 felony counts of election fraud and perjury, as well as the loss of her medical license if convicted on even one charge.

Pursuant to her run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, Dr. Bosworth had gathered petitions, including at her office. When she traveled to the Philippines to care for those injured in a typhoon, folks back at her office continued to sign six petitions — 37 people in all, including her sister.

Dr BosworthWeeks later, the doctor signed an affidavit as the circulator of those petitions, stating that she witnessed each signature being affixed. Not true, but she did know each signer. Seems more of a mistake than a criminal act. Having garnered more than enough signatures to meet the requirement, she obviously wasn’t someone trying to cheat her way onto the ballot.

Still, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley pursues a case designed to crush not only her future in politics but also her career as a doctor.

For me, this story hits close to home. Seven years ago, a state AG launched a political war against two activists and me, the “Oklahoma 3.” Though eventually vindicated, it was scary.

The worst part? The impact on my wife and three daughters.

I know Annette is going through the same fright with her husband and three boys.

Putting Annette Bosworth, a caring doctor, a loving mother and a good, decent person, in prison — or ruining her medical career — serves only one purpose: to intimidate those people, like the doctor, who might dare step into the political arena against entrenched officials.

Politics in America isn’t supposed to be like this.

Let’s use the time between now and May 18 to help stop this injustice.*

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Action: Help Dr. Bosworth Today!

Action: Help Dr. Bosworth

Sometimes it is easy to help — help an important cause. Dr. Annette Bosworth‘s is such a cause.


Dr. Bosworth

Here is contact information for Attorney General Marty Jackley:

Ask him to do the right thing.


Phone: (605) 773-3215

Email: atghelp@state.sd.us

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MartyJackley

Background on the case:

To contribute to the doctor’s legal defense:

Annette Bosworth Legal Support Fund

P.O. Box 130

Tea, SD 57064

For information: bosworthlegalfund@gmail.com

Learning from Defeat

Coach Michael Anderson and the girls on his team did too well.

At least according to officials at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino, who suspended him for “running up” the 161-2 score.

Here we go again.

Anderson is, alas, apologetic. But there’s nothing morally wrong with winning — or with losing, either — an honest basketball game. No matter what the margin.

And it’s vicious to teach either adults or kids that they should shoot for less than their best. Should kids also be telling their bosses, twenty years down the line, that they’re deliberately doing third-rate work this month so that less able co-workers (or competitors) won’t feel so bad?

Bloomington Coach Dale Chung says people should not feel sorry for his team, but for the Arroyo team, which “isn’t learning the game the right way.”

No, coach. To accept responsibility for a bad loss without casting blame, then to work to improve, takes grit, persistence and grace. It’s something we all must learn to do in life. It’s the real magic of sport. And easy wins don’t teach us that. Hard losses do. Why are you communicating the opposite?

If you’re doing very badly at an important task — figure out how to do better. Don’t assume that you should be accorded a fraudulent “better” regardless of actual effort and achievement; don’t chastise winners and call them “unethical” for doing their very best; don’t teach your charges that winners should hobble themselves out of “fairness.”

And if you’re a winner? Don’t apologize.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Experience Denied

Jan Ellison is grateful for the low-wage jobs she had as a kid.

“The difference from the way my own children are being raised is that I was acutely aware of the financial burden of these [educational and other] pursuits. . . . I made money of my own from age 11 onward. I had a paper route. I cleaned houses and swimming pools. I took clerical temp jobs. . . . I can’t say that any of this was important work, but the act of doing it mattered.”

She learned to “work for the ticket” that would take her to better things.

That minimum wage laws make it harder to gain such experience is a problem raised not by Ellison but by a Cafe Hayek reader, Mike Wilson, who calls her memoir “as powerful a case against raising the minimum wage as I have encountered.” (Strictly speaking, against establishing or enforcing any wage-rate floor.)

Wilson’s sensible point is that when you’re just starting out in the work force, you must develop the habits and skills needed to do a job well and to then go beyond it. These include punctuality, mastering procedures, accepting corrections with grace, being civil, staying productive and careful when you’re tired, and more.

What you can bring immediately to a job is willingness to learn what’s necessary. But the higher your pay must be before you’ve made yourself worth that pay, the harder for employers to give you the chance to make yourself worth it.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Townhall: But One Life to Give for My Metro

The DC Metro story is going through its predictable stages of decline and folly. The irrational fanaticism of its supporters is the latest stage.

Click on over to Townhall for an expansion of the story covered here earlier this week. Come back here for the usual extra credit.

Video: Vivisecting Obama’s SOTU

The folks at Cato have something to say about the State of the Union: