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Patriotism, Disney Style

Friday, May 31st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Mickey Mouse Independence Day

We live in an era where children in their formative years do not know what patriotism means. My grandparents’ generation knew what it meant to love America and to stand up for its ideals, but the leftists of my parents’ generation — the Baby Boomers — screwed it up for all of us. To them, the only measure of patriotism was opposition to President Bush. Remember: “dissent is patriotic.” (Tell that to the IRS.)

I was blessed to grow up with parents who loved America despite having lived through the ’60s, but many members of my generation don’t know how to be patriotic, thanks to political correctness, multiculturalism, and the growing influence of the far Left.

While the vast majority of pop culture mocks patriotism, one famous name has celebrated American exceptionalism for more than seven decades: Disney. This unabashed love of America began with the company’s founder.

Walt Disney grew up as part of the World War I generation — a time that saw both the enthusiasm of the dawn of the 20th century and the unspeakable horror of threats to freedom and peace across the globe. Though too young to serve in the war, Disney worked in the Red Cross Ambulance Corps after the war. He wanted to serve his country, one way or another.

After his move to Hollywood, Disney’s love for America drove him in many ways to develop the unique entertainment he created and to lead his studio the way he did. He believed that America’s values were worth celebrating and sharing with the world. He once said:

Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards — the things we live by and teach our children — are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.

Disney admitted to a patriotism that occasionally overwhelmed him. He once confessed, “I get red, white, and blue at times.” His love of country showed up in his films and television programs and has carried on in the theme parks that bear his name nearly half a century after his death. Sometimes the Disney brand of patriotism makes itself known in subtle ways, while at other times, it jumps directly in your face.

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5 of the Greatest Car Movies

Friday, May 31st, 2013 - by Becky Graebner


Fast and the Furious 6 just came out — and, according to the Wall Street Journal, it made a “record holiday haul” with $316m in sales.  Part six of the series broke all prior Memorial Day weekend box-office records. I applaud Fast and its success — especially since it revolves around a topic that some people, WSJ included, consider a “niche topic,” and not necessarily interesting to a large swath of the population. I disagree. I like to believe that Americans are still car-lovers and that automotive movies are not “niche topics.” For starters, look at the box-office record for Memorial Day that a car moviejust shattered and, second, take a peek at some of our favorites from the silver screen.  Many of the “classics” involve cars. Still a niche topic? Here are some of the best car movies out there, proving the critics wrong.

Note: they are in no particular order and I didn’t put anything on the list that I had not seen — even if I knew it was a classic.  Add your favorites if they were not included. We all love a good car movie on a Sunday night.

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A Joke for My Anniversary

Friday, May 31st, 2013 - by Andrew Klavan


Here’s one of my favorite political jokes in honor of my wedding anniversary:

Barack Obama, John Boehner and Harry Reid are traveling on Air Force One when the jet crashes and they are all killed. Barack Obama is immediately whisked off to a plain of eternal fire. Demons tear at him with pitchforks; hellhounds rip his flesh; flames engulf him. And a mighty voice from on high thunders: “BARACK OBAMA! THIS IS YOUR DOOM!”

John Boehner finds himself in an endless waste of ice. Ice devils scratch at him; hailstones pound him; freezing cold lashes his body. And a mighty voice from on high thunders: “JOHN BOEHNER! THIS IS YOUR DOOM!”

Harry Reid opens his eyes and finds himself in a spacious penthouse apartment in the clouds. The furnishings are lavish. Beautiful music plays on an amazing sound system. A crystal of single malt scotch is waiting for him on the stand near his plush armchair. The door opens and in walks Kate Upton in the sheerest possible negligee. And as the gorgeous super model moves slowly toward him, a mighty voice from on high thunders: “KATE UPTON…!”

I have been married 33 years. During that time, my wife and I have had one argument and a million laughs. Without sentimentality or exaggeration, I can honestly say it has been a romance out of a fairy tale. For me, it has been a gift from God and a taste of paradise.

For my wife? Well, I can only hope she doesn’t feel like Kate Upton in the joke!


Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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The 5 Biggest Box Office Flops Coming This Summer

Friday, May 31st, 2013 - by John Boot

Each spring, the showbiz hype machine talks up the excitement level of the summer blockbuster slate. In fact, despite a big May, Summer 2013 is looking like one of the dreariest and most useless summers ever, loaded with sequels to movies that weren’t worth seeing in the first place, lame vanity projects, overdone epics, and dull retreads.

Forget the summer’s biggest hits. What will the biggest flops of the season be? Here’s an educated guess based on advance buzz.

1. After Earth (May 31)

This is a movie that goes wrong early. Really early. In the credits. “Story by Will Smith”? Huh?

Starring the top-billed Smith son Jaden Smith, who is no longer the adorable little kid he was in Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid but is now a sullen teen? Directed by notorious hack M. Night Shyamalan, he of The Happening and The Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender, the guy who hasn’t made a movie that wasn’t laughed out of theaters in a decade?

Despite all of these obvious problems, plus the additional worry that the similar Tom Cruise movie Oblivion came out in April and fulfilled its title’s destiny almost instantly, After Earth is somehow managing to underperform expectations, causing early viewers to wonder why the former biggest star in the world, the elder Smith, spends most of the second half of the movie injured and stuck in a chair giving his son long-distance pep talks after the two crash-land on Earth to fight monsters a thousand years in the future. And why do both of them talk like they’re from New Zealand? This one is headed for the Bad Idea Hall of Fame, and the Stale Prince’s stock is plummeting after Men in Black III and Seven Pounds.

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What Scraps of Song and Verse Have Haunted You Since Childhood?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Why Benghazi Is a Crime More Evil Than Anything a President Has Done in Our Lifetimes… in 60 Seconds

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle













Hat tip: Breitbart

I published this on November 4, the conclusion of an article titled “The 15 Best Books for Understanding Barack Obama’s Mysterious Political Theology,” and a summation of my conclusions after more than three years spent investigating the president’s ideology full time:

Sitting here on this Sunday morning before the election, the Sun now up, reflecting back on these years scouring through dusty old Marxist books, trying to understand a president who built his career on a mountain of lies, I confess a peace with either electoral result on Tuesday. A part of me almost wishes that Obama steals wins reelection (as I anticipate he will). The thought of him quietly retiring to a mansion in Hawaii in January to live out the rest of his life in comfort and adoration should inspire nausea. Only if Obama wins reelection do conservatives have a chance to hold him accountable for Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and all the crimes we don’t even know about yet. The man has blood on his hands and we can’t let him get away with it.

An ancient dictum popularized in recent years by the late Christopher Hitchens on the path forward, should Tuesday disappoint:

Fiat justitia ruat caelum

Do Justice and Let the Skies Fall


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5 Rules for California-Roll Conservatives

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by Jon Bishop

I love sushi.

It’s delicious, refreshing, appetizing — any adjective applies, really. On weekends my friends and I can often be found snacking on sushi and drinking Mai Tais at our favorite restaurant. I personally like nigirizushi.

What’s funny is that I used to hate the thought of it. I hadn’t tried it; the idea of consuming raw fish made me sick. But then things changed.

One day at school the dining area was offering free sushi. I tried and was immediately hooked. Now it is one of my favorite dishes.

It’s also Jiro Ono’s.

He constantly thinks of sushi — how to prepare it, serve it, reinvent it. He has since he was a young boy. It’s why he was able to ascend to the top of the international sushi industry. His restaurant is one of the few awarded three stars by the Michelin guide. In order to eat there, you have to reserve a spot a few months in advance. And bring cash — about three hundred dollars or so.

Ono is the subject of the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which premiered in 2011. It’s currently streaming on Netflix. Throughout the film he imparts much wisdom unto the viewer. We learn, for instance, that he considers the practice of making sushi a craft — not surprising, especially since he is seen as a master. But it becomes increasingly clear that his life is one of virtue, prudence, hard work, and tradition. He honors family by passing down his sushi-making techniques to his sons, as well as his apprentices.

The film is rich, powerful, engaging, and thoughtful, and as such it has many ideas to teach its viewers; think of it as “California-Roll Conservatism.” As mentioned, sushi is an art — a craft — and those who enjoy it can discern the difference between a good and bad product. So, in a sense, there exists a hierarchical order in the world of sushi.

I would like to take this Asian cultural insight and combine it with traditionalist conservatism — the kind associated with some of my favorite thinkers such as Roger Scruton, Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, and many others.

These are its principles: a prejudice toward the local, a respect for community and tradition, a recognition that man must be ordered toward God, the desire to pursue the permanent things, and the enjoyment of high culture.

A quick aside: As with sushi, I used to hate conservatism. This was back in high school or so. I started drifting to the right around my senior year. Everything clicked for me, however, in college:  it was when I discovered Leo Strauss, Scruton, and the meaning of the tragic in human affairs.

Here are five life lessons courtesy of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and the beginning of coming to define California-Roll Conservatism.

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Ronald Reagan Conservationism Vs Radical Environmentalist Pantheism

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by J. Christian Adams

Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why it Matters Today (Regnery, 2013) by William Perry Pendley, describes how radical environmentalists sparked a revolution against federal land regulation led by head rebel Ronald Reagan. Today, high fuel and energy prices, formerly caused by Carter administration policies, have returned with a new President to blame. Pendley’s book provides valuable lessons for the next Sagebrush Rebel who might try to end the environmentalists’ stranglehold on energy production and American economic potential.

Sagebrush Rebel details Reagan’s history as a conservationist. Conservationism was the original environmentalism. Conservationists considered humans to be stewards of natural resources. As a conservationist Reagan believed in a moral obligation to protect resources for future generations. Conservation’s elevation of human needs is a value thousands of years old and is described in the Old Testament:

You have given him rule over the works of your hands/ putting all things under his feet/All sheep and oxen/ yes, and the beasts of the field/The birds of the air/ the fishes of the sea/ and whatever swims the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8, 6-9)

Throughout the 1970s and culminating in the heavy handed policies of the Carter administration the human-centered conservation movement morphed into the environmentalist movement which revered inanimate objects and animals. The beasts of the fields and fishes of the sea were on par with human needs, or even superior to them.

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Greed Is Good: The Villainy of the On-Screen Capitalist

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

Star Trek’s “capitalist” Ferengi, how Hollywood views business.

Having written for some weeks now on the villainous archetypes found in our entertainment culture and how they both express and influence our philosophy, I now come to a personal favorite: the cliché of the corporate villain. The greedy, unscrupulous capitalist stands so well established that the introduction of a successful businessperson in our stories elicits animus just short of audible hissing. As with the black-hatted, silent film villain twirling his mustache, or the masked burglar wearing white and black stripes while holding a bag bearing a dollar sign, we know immediately upon beholding a well-dressed corporate executive that he is not to be trusted.

Much as The Princess Bride’s Vizzini abused the word “inconceivable,” far too many of our storytellers wield “capitalism” haphazardly. It does not mean what they think it means.

To explore this point further, let us first consider a few of the myriad examples of how capitalists in general and corporations in particular are portrayed on screen. No such listing would be complete or even adequate without mention of Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, orator of the infamous “greed is good” speech. Gekko flaunted his villainy as a badge of honor. His sole and unapologetic purpose was to make money, with the secondary but no less coveted objective of making more than anyone else. He didn’t care how he did it either. If blowing out a company and laying off hundreds or thousands of workers would turn a more certain profit than keeping its doors open, he pulled the trigger without a second thought.

Lex Luthor, arch-nemesis of Superman, evolved into a corporate villain over the franchise’s many years and several iterations. Luthor began life in fiction as a mad scientist, an embodiment of fears surrounding the nuclear age and discovery run rampant. In Richard Donner’s 1978 film, Gene Hackman portrayed Luthor as a scientific genius who proudly applied his talent to crime. The decade of Ronald Reagan saw Luthor reimagined as the chief executive officer of LexCorp. He was provided with more realistic motivations, coveting the Man of Steel’s power while fostering a xenophobic fervor to protect humanity from an alien. Luthor was even elected to become president of the United States in the comics, expanding his villainy to include the corporatism later reviled by both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Then came Star Trek’s Ferengi, a troll-like species of “Yankee traders” introduced in The Next Generation and more fully explored in Deep Space Nine. There may be no more egregious example of a “capitalist” strawman in all of entertainment history. The Ferengi were obnoxiously unreputable, cheating in their dealings with such regularity that their political leader saw the discovery of a wormhole leading to the another part of the galaxy as an incomparable opportunity to get one over on new life and new civilizations. Quark, a Ferengi bartender and regular on Deep Space Nine, proselytized exploitation and demeaned those around him who fairly traded value for value – or worse, expressed generosity.

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Which Gods Make War Inside the Premenstrual Woman Struggling To Maintain Her Mood?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question


56303897BB071_Winfrey       david_icke

via Prize-winning author Alice Walker gives support to David Icke on Desert Island Discs – News – Books – The Independent.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has voiced her support for the work of controversial British conspiracy theorist David Icke on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

When asked which book she would take were she to be an isolated castaway, the author of The Color Purple chose Icke’s ‘Human Race Get Off Your Knees: The Lion Sleeps No More.’

In the 750-page tome, Icke describes how the human mind is controlled from the moon.

The moon, he claims, is actually a “gigantic spacecraft” which sends us a “fake reality broadcast”.

This method of manipulation is said to work “in much the same way as portrayed in the Matrix movie trilogy”.

Icke, a former BBC presenter, drew mockery in 1991 when he pronounced himself the son of the messiah in an interview with Terry Wogan.

Since then, he has made a career as an author and public speaker.

One of his key ideas is that Earth is ruled by shape-shifting reptiles, including the Queen and President Barack Obama.

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Advice for Grads: Stop Working So Darn Hard

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg


Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column!

This week, I’d like to offer some Bad Advice to recent college graduates. Here are some pointers, practical and spiritual, on how to cope with adult life. Share them with a grad you know and it might actually get him or her to stop bugging you with questions about how to be a grown-up.

Personal Life: This may sound like bad advice, but pay your friends for rides, and go to a bar by yourself every once in a while.

1) Whenever a friend drives you somewhere (especially if you asked them as a favor), offer them gas money. Okay, this is less of an “adult life” thing, and more something you should have learned since you were old enough for you and your friends to drive, but it becomes more important as your friends move off their parents’ bankrolls and start getting those fun student-loan notifications in the mail.

2) Friendship is a lot harder when class schedules and a multitude of school-run clubs don’t bring you together on a regular basis, and you no longer live in a building full of people your age who freely socialize between rooms or suites. So, put the work in on the friendships you want to keep: schedule lunch meet-ups or happy hours, ask your friends about their days (because you are no longer spending most of it playing Rock Band or going to class together — he might have done something you weren’t there to witness!), and then honor your commitments.

3) If you feel all alone in a new city and there aren’t many people your age at your office to befriend, join a Meetup group, take up a hobby, go to a networking event, and, in the meantime, while you build up your group of friends, don’t be afraid to do stuff alone. Don’t sit in your apartment by yourself every night because you’re still getting to know folks. Some people are so scared of being seen in public without a companion that they’d rather stay inside all the time and get to know no one at all. Don’t be one of those sad people.

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My Secret Method For Getting Rid of That Cat Smell

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Writing fiction and being owned by cats seem to be related forms of madness.

Writing fiction and being owned by cats seem to be related forms of madness.  Here is Hemingway with his sons and cats.

Glenn Reynolds recently linked Althouse reporting on an interview with Patti Smith. The interviewer said the house smelled of cats, and every surface was covered in plastic. This led me to getting lost in the comments with people making all sorts of suggestions, the most prominent of which was “get rid of the cats.”

As someone similarly afflicted and unable to take that step because I take my Chinese Obligations seriously, I thought I’d write this for anyone having similar issues.

So, this is “What I saw at the cat-pee wars — or how to deal with your cats marking territory when you don’t want to get rid of the little monsters.”  (Without having to cover your entire house in plastic, which is apparently Patti Smith’s solution.)

Besides being a writer, I am a (crazy) cat lady. The two often go together, and the field, particularly science fiction and fantasy, is full of crazy cat ladies and gentlemen.

I’d like to place the blame for this on Robert A. Heinlein who not only was owned by several cats, but who also wrote about cats and thereby instilled an early love for the critters along with a love for futuristic fiction. However, truth be told, if you expand it to the field of all fiction writers, the fault for the cat mania would be Hemingway’s and his polydactyl and avowedly freely-spraying cats.

Needless to say if you are having a problem with your cats scent marking or peeing out of place, the very first thing to do – if you haven’t – is to have the males neutered.

My male indoor cats have always been neutered at a relatively early age.  Notwithstanding which, we have had marking problems with both the old firm – i.e. our first batch of cats — Pixel, Randy, Petronius and DT and the new firm – the new batch of four (my husband won’t let me have more than four at one time) – Miranda, Euclid, D’Artagnan and Havelock.

In both cases, the marking seemed to originate in a rivalry between two alpha male cats, to whom neutering did not seem to make much difference.

With our first batch of cats, the culprits were Pixel – a marmalade boy who looked like the perfect stuffed animal, and who, in fact, was too smart for his own good – and Petronius, big and black and probably part Bombay.

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Why We Love to Hate Politicians

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner


Check out the previous installments in Becky Graebner’s dissection of House of Cards. Spoiler Warning!

May 8: 3 Washington D.C. Stereotypes House of Cards Hits Too Close for Comfort

May 15: The House of Cards Vision of Infidelity: More Fact than Fiction

May 22: Seduce Your Way to the Top? Meet The Anne Boleyns of Washington, D.C.


Politicians… we love to hate them. And sometimes we love them more than they deserve.

Politicians have a tough rap in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, many citizens have come to associate public office with corruption. Thanks to the media, it has become the norm to see “scandal” written all over the papers, and these frequent scandals have exposed some of our leaders as immoral, untrustworthy frauds.

Playing with our already preconceived perceptions of politicians in Washington, D.C., House of Cards portrays almost all of its political characters as being corrupt.  I shiver to think that there are politicians running around D.C. killing their mentees, but sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.  A lot of the activities seen in HoC are things that our beloved senators, congressmen, and presidents have been caught doing. What’s even more shocking is that the public seems to take them back. Are we so jaded that bad behavior has become the norm?  Not quite — but I do blame Disney.

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You Can Build Your Writing Career Block By Block

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Write a sentence. Then write another sentence.

Write a sentence. Then write another sentence…

Introduction: The Thirteen Weeks Novel Writing Program

Week 1: 3 Questions To Ask Before You Write Your Novel In 13 Weeks

Week 2: First You Catch Your Idea

Week 3: The Plot Wars

Week 4: How to Find the Time for Writing

Week 5: How to Escape the Blackhole of Endless Research

Week 6: How to Develop a Dynamite Writing Voice

Week 7: Stop Rotating the Cat: My Tricks For Beating Procrastination

Week 8: Slow Dancing In The Dark: How To Avoid Giving Up On Writing Your Book

Week 9: How To Read Fiction And Watch Movies To Add Depth and Feeling To Your Writing

Week 10: I Believe I Can Fly! When Writing Clicks Together


It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that I’m not going to finish this by week thirteen. This is fine. It is fine because I did not start to write in week one, having first tried to lay the foundation for the writing program.

This should replicate your experience, particularly if this is your first novel, or if you are writing a novel that necessitates research – historical, scientific, or other. And there are very few novels that don’t.

For ease of calculation, let’s say you took the first three weeks either to brush up on writing craft – such as via Dwight Swain’s excellent Techniques of the Selling Writer – or to study up on the time of your novel, or even the theme of your novel. For instance, if you’re writing a novel involving space pirates it would behoove you to read novels about pirates past and present, so as to give your construction the necessary feel of heft and verisimilitude.

So, let’s say you took the first three weeks to research, study and plot. Depending on where you are on your writing development and how sure of yourself and this novel you are, it can of course take a much shorter time or a much longer one. Don’t be bound by my rules but by yours. Novels are an intensely individual endeavor, like any other art. While there are rules of writing and rules of craft, they don’t and can’t affect things such as how much preparation is enough for this particular writer or for this particular novel.

As I’ve said before, I’ve written novels in three days, and I’ve written novels in three years. All right, the one written in three years is near unreadable and never sold, but that might be a quality of my own, particular mind and lack of attention span – I have trouble carrying a theme coherently over a very long time. Or it could be the result of where I was at the time – that particular novel spanned the birth of both my sons, experiences that changed me profoundly so that the writer who finished the novel was not the one who started it.

Of course the conceit of the novel in thirteen weeks is that you’ll at least try to finish the novel in that time period. However, as has been noted in the past, this doesn’t mean you’ll manage it in a thirteen week period. It might very well take you two.

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VIDEO: In Defense of the Middle Ages

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 - by Anthony Esolen

What would we call a time of unsurpassed cultural invention? When teachers and students came together and founded the university? When poets, painters, and sculptors produced works of art utterly unlike any that had been made before?  When risk-taking merchants established international trade and banking? When chartered towns flourished under home rule, and kings were closer to governors or even mayors than to presidents or prime ministers now?

When ordinary artisans erected the most beautiful structures upon earth? When the glorious twelve-tone scale came into being, and the foundations were laid for Bach and Beethoven? When for three hundred years Europe was warmer than now, and harvests were bountiful, and grapes grew on the English hillsides?

When women enjoyed more freedom and social influence than they would again until the Industrial Revolution?  When celebrations were filled with color, and both sin and repentance were brave? When popular drama swept across a continent after more than a thousand years of slumber? When Thomas Aquinas addressed every question a man could ask, and Francis preached in saintly simplicity?

We’d call them the Brilliant Ages – and that’s what the high Middle Ages were.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Fellow Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand (Part One)

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle

When my (millennial) editor suggested I write about my favorite (fellow) Generation X-ers, it took me four days to think of one name.

Then the rest of the week to come up with the rest.

For someone who is as cohort-sensitive as I am, who rages constantly about “kids these days,” and who feels most comfortable socializing almost exclusively with other X-ers, I found this assignment surprisingly daunting.

I used a HighLowBrow post about Gen-Xers to try to kickstart my brain.

That site calls us “Recons” and counts those born between 1964-1973 as members of that generation.

The article features a labor-of-love list of famous Recons/X-ers that was invaluable in helping me put together this column.

Predictably, I take issue with their chosen start date, however.

It’s a weird definition of “Generation X” that excludes the guy who popularized the phrase (Douglas Coupland, 1961) or the fellow who wrote our “national anthem” (Gordon Gano, 1963):

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Why The Sword of Islam Cuts Apart Families

Monday, May 27th, 2013 - by Robert Spencer

Last Wednesday, the Islamic jihadist Mujaheed (formerly Michael) Adebolajo, his hands scarlet with the blood of the British soldier he had just brutally murdered on a London street and still holding the tools of his murder, approached a television cameraman and calmly began explaining himself.

In the course of his explanation, Adebolajo invoked the Qur’an’s ninth chapter (Surat at-Tawba), which enjoins Muslims to make war against and subjugate Jews and Christians, declaring: “we are forced by the Qur’an, in Sura At-Tawba, through many ayah [verses] in the Qur’an, we must fight them as they fight us.” He added: “I apologize that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same.”

“Our lands”? Adebolajo’s parents are Nigerians who immigrated to England in the early 1980s. But he meant neither English nor Nigerian lands, of course; Adebolajo converted to Islam around 2003, and that meant that in his mind he was no longer English, if he ever was. Islam supersedes everything else, demanding a loyalty above national allegiances and even ties of kith and kin. The Qur’an commands Muslims to “be good to parents” (17:22). However, even in that relationship, the overarching principle is that Muslims must be “hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to another” (48:29). This includes unbelievers of one’s immediate family: The Muslim holy book specifically forbids believers from being friendly with their non-believing relatives and non-believing clan:

O believers, take not your fathers and brothers to be your friends, if they prefer unbelief to belief; whosoever of you takes them for friends, those—they are the evildoers. Say: “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your clan, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, dwellings you love—if these are dearer to you than God and His Messenger, and to struggle in His way, then wait till God brings His command; God guides not the people of the ungodly” (9:23-24).

Explains the renowned Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir:

Allah commands shunning the disbelievers, even if they are one’s parents or children, and prohibits taking them as supporters if they choose disbelief instead of faith.

The Qur’an emphasizes not only that a Muslim must turn his back on his kinsmen and have nothing to do with them if they are unbelievers, but that he should not even pray for them:

It is not for the Prophet and the believers to ask pardon for the idolaters, even though they be near kinsmen, after that it has become clear to them that they will be the inhabitants of Hell (9:113).

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Captain America, The World War II Ideal

Monday, May 27th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

On this Memorial Day reflecting back on the heroic men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, I recall a symbol in our popular culture who signifies how much we’ve lost. Back in January I published a 7000-word polemical analysis of the religious, philosophical, and esoteric themes in my favorite superhero film: 10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film.

In the article I make the case that the reason why these characters resonate with us at such a deep emotional level is because they reinvent mysterious themes and symbols buried within our culture that we don’t fully understand. Here’s what I had to say about the significance of Captain America and how we can apply his lessons to our own fight against today’s tyrants both big and small:   

YouTube Preview Image

5. Captain America Embodies the Disk, Steve Rogers Has Mastered the Physical World. As the Super Soldier He Stands Shield-in-Hand as an Inspiring Symbol Against Nazi Slavery.

Back to Stan Lee’s deposition on the origins of the Marvel universe’s pantheon of demi-gods:

Q. To your recollection, were there any characters that Kirby had created before he was working with you or anyone at Marvel that he brought to Marvel and then were then published by Marvel?

STAN LEE: No, I don’t believe so. I don’t recall any. Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Captain America, for God’s sake. He and Joe Simon had created Captain America.

Q. Right.

STAN LEE: Now, by the time in the 60s, Jack came to work for us, we weren’t — there was no more Captain America. We weren’t publishing it because Martin Goodman thought it was just a World War II character and people wouldn’t be interested in it anymore.

I always loved the character, so I decided to bring it back. And I tried to write a story where he had been frozen in a glacier for years, and they found him and he came back to life, and so forth. And I tried to give him some personality where he always felt — he was an anachronism. He was living in our day, but yet he had the values of 20 or 30 years ago. And I tried to make him a little bit interesting.

Captain America reflects the ideal American soldier both in body and patriotic values — two realms not often understood as interrelated. He reveals that the real power lies in ideas. Captain America’s authority flows from his moral character — the pursuit of mastering one’s mind, emotions, and will generates the strength to control one’s own body and then the rest of the physical world. One must master his body in order to accurately project his will out from it.

We don’t often realize that the shield is not just a big hunk of metal one hides behind. Captain America reminds us of its devastating use as a weapon. With shield in hand one can deflect an opponent’s attacks back at him. Then, when the moment is right and they are most vulnerable, you fling your shield with precision like a discus. Just because the shield is smooth doesn’t mean the edges can’t cut deep.

Here’s a clip of Breitbart.com Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro providing an example of how to do this in real life:

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And here’s what the edge of the shield feels like:

SHAPRIO: This is what I wanted to ask you, Piers, because I have seen you talk about assault weapons a lot, and I have seen Mark Kelly talk about assault weapons. The vast majority of murders in this country that are committed with guns are committed with handguns, they are not committed assault weapons. Are you willing to ban handguns in this country, across this country?

MORGAN: No, that’s not what I’m asking for.

SHAPIRO: Why not? Don’t you care about the kids who are being killed in Chicago as much as the kids in Sandy Hook?

MORGAN: Yes, I do.

SHAPIRO: Then why don’t you care about banning the handguns in Chicago? 


Click here to read all of 10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film. But really you should just bookmark that for another day. If you read one article today before starting up the barbecue make it Paula Bolyard’s moving reflection:

Out of Gratitude for the Blessings of Freedom —Remember

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Out of Gratitude for the Blessings of Freedom — Remember

Monday, May 27th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard


Happy Memorial Day! Have you heard the greeting on TV or seen it on Facebook this weekend? It always bothers me when I see it because the word “memorial’ generally connotes something other than “happy” — or at least it ought to. I understand that most people who proffer the greeting do so perfectly innocently, wishing upon their friends a pleasant holiday weekend spent barbecuing or shopping for mattresses. But whenever I hear the flippant greeting, my mind goes back to the trip our family made to our local national cemetery last year on Memorial Day. We went there to visit the grave of my husband’s grandfather, Ivan Kerr, a WWII veteran who had marched across Europe during the Battle of the Bulge, and also to pay tribute to those who had paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

It was a gorgeous Ohio day with a cloudless blue sky and row upon row of grave markers decorated with small American flags, courtesy of the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We arrived several hours after the official Memorial Day ceremony, after the crowds had dispersed. People were wandering around the cemetery, some looking like they had a purpose and others, like our family, reading the headstones and thinking about the individual lives and families and stories they represented. In the distance we heard a lone bugler playing “Taps.” There were no funerals or ceremonies going on, so we were left to wonder whether he played to honor a fallen friend or if he just played as a simple act of patriotism to pay tribute to all the fallen heroes, unknown to him, who lay beneath the tiny flags and white marble markers.

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Who Was the First Great American?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question


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Food Idolatry: Why Our Lust for Cheap Food Will Kill Us

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

It’s complicated.

Blame it on advertising. Blame it on the industry. It really doesn’t matter who or what you point to. The evidence is everywhere: the vast majority of Americans have a fantasy relationship with food.

What we eat is an extremely intimate, personal relationship with ourselves. It is precisely how we maintain the partnership between the soul that we are, and the body we live in.

It took half a century for me to grasp the fact that the stability of my mind, vitality, and longevity all depend heavily on what I eat.

It’s the same for you. Although our diets vary vastly, that statement still holds true.

However, like most people, I always thought of my diet, only in the narrow terms of “dieting.” Rather than the food we routinely eat, let alone its nutritional value.

Our weight and overall health is, more often than not, a direct reflection of our high expectations and extremely low standards of the food we eat.

Without realizing it, the manufactured food we crave, even desire, is carefully designed to reach our “bliss spot.”

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Why Coolidge Matters: an Interview with Charles C. Johnson

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 - by J. Christian Adams

Charles C. Johnson is the author of Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President. Coolidge presided over the roaring 1920s, which saw massive technological and economic expansion. He provided a model of the presidency squarely at odds with the current occupant of the White House. Charles sat down with PJ Media to discuss his book.

Why Coolidge?

Calvin Coolidge is one of our most underrated presidents and among our very best, both by what he achieved and by what he knew about the American republic. He was our last classically educated president and one of our most well spoken. And far from being Silent Cal, as so many think today, he was, in fact, silenced by New Deal historians like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who disliked both his political philosophy and its attendant success. The thinking went that if Roosevelt was to be the hero of the Great Depression, Coolidge, who had presided over the roaring 1920s, must have been its villain. Of course it’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s what we’re so often told in our public schools. Rather than rebut Coolidge, these historians tried to caricaturize him in much the same way they tried to with Reagan. It was only after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed that Reagan got his just place in history.

Far from being silent, Coolidge ran for office nineteen times and won election to eighteen offices, working his way all the up from city councilman of Northampton through the presidency of the Massachusetts state Senate and governorship, all the way to president of the United States. He was a career statesman who was always aware of the issues facing the local population because he worked and lived alongside them and admired them.

He wrote three interesting collections of speeches, gave over 500 press conferences, wrote a thoughtful autobiography, and wrote a very interesting post-presidential column.

I set out to write the sort of book about Calvin Coolidge that I wish I had read and to report faithfully what he did. As an investigative journalist, I love puncturing myths that are out there about the world, especially political history. To paraphrase Reagan, there’s so much we know that isn’t so and that’s principally because of how the political left controls our understanding of history.


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Abraham, Part 5: Can The ‘Wild Man’ Ishmael Be Tamed?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 - by P. David Hornik


Abraham and Sarah, the progenitors of the Jewish people, were for a long time a childless couple. After they lived that way in Canaan for ten years, Sarah suggested in desperation that Abraham have a child with her Egyptian maid Hagar. As Sarah puts it, “that I may obtain children by her.”

The child born to Abraham and Hagar is Ishmael, of whom an angel of God says:

…he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him….

Abraham, though, develops intense concern for the “wild man.” Sometime after Abraham and Sarah — by God’s intervention — finally have a son of their own, Isaac, Sarah sees Ishmael “mocking.” She reacts by demanding that Abraham expel Ishmael and Hagar for good.

Although Abraham is deeply pained to do so, God reassures him that — as in the case of Isaac — “also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a great nation, because he is thy seed.”

Indeed, God has already told Abraham earlier:

…as for Ishmael…: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

But my covenant will I establish with Isaac….

Ishmael, then, appears to be loved and valued both by Abraham and by God; but not to have equal status with Isaac.

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Is Fisker About to Join Solyndra and A123 Systems in the Green Failure Graveyard?

Saturday, May 25th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Was Hurricane Sandy’s infamous destruction of the Fisker Karmas an omen?

Thanks to Justin Bieber’s platinum Fisker Karma, which has been the frequent recipient of traffic tickets and an unfortunate party of a few auto accidents, electric car maker Fisker has been a popular name in the headlines in the past few months. Although it wasn’t the best PR to have the “Biebs” and his friends crash the Karma throughout the U.S., Fisker might be wishing it were Bieber splashing its name in the headlines again this week. The story this time is that the end may be near for Fisker; which means, yet another “alternative energy initiative” might go belly up.

The faster Fisker is sold, the better.

Wall Street Journal reports that Fisker is holding out against bankruptcy, hoping they can locate a private buyer to salvage its name. One of those paying court to Fisker is Wanxiang Group — the same company that bailed out A123 Systems. That name should sound familiar — it is usually paired with the words “Solyndra” and “bankruptcy.” It seems Wanxiang wants to swoop in once again and snap up the carcass that used to house A123′s batteries: Fisker.

The other company paying tribute? VL Automotive. But, instead of thinking “green,” VL is thinking “black” — as in the black rubber mark that will be left on the pavement after their new Fisker-bodied sports-car peels away.  VL unveiled a prototype last January that had a Corvette engine in a Fisker body… that would definitely rev some gear-heads. It is called the VL Destino. We will see if it’s Fisker’s destiny to live…

The next few days are going to be like the last lap of the Daytona 500… who will pull ahead and win? Will someone actually BUY Fisker, will DOE take possession, or will Fisker decide to roll over and die?

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